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Off-World Discussion Forum

Forum for science fiction related material not listed in Movies Galleria or Upcoming Movies ONLY. If you want to chit-chat, please visit the Pilot's Mess.

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Old Feb 10, 2010, 02:21 PM   #1
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10 flights since Feb 2010
Location: NYC
Sci-Fi Film

Just wanted to post this thread and see where it can go.

So, as I stated in the "First Contact" section, I am an independent filmmaker. I'm in the writing stages of my next film, a sci-fi. So, I thought I would dig in deep and ask everyone what they expect when they see a science fiction movie. This could possibly help me sway some decisions when I'm writing my script.

Just to give some information about my story, it's about a marooned astronaut in space who loses communication with Earth.

I'm going to be filming and documenting everything that goes into making this film. I am even going to be broadcasting live via BLOGTV so people can see it live and in real time. I think that could be a neat thing to experience.

But yeah, what do you guys look for in a good sci-fi. What makes it stand out from those watered down films that had potential to be a good science fiction movie but flopped?

Interested in hearing your responses!


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Old Feb 10, 2010, 03:14 PM   #2
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3,854 flights since Jul 2001
Location: The Uplift Mojo Party
Re: Sci-Fi Film

Great question and welcome to Sciflicks (you can't even begin to imagine how happy we are to have you!).

For me, science fiction should begin with relatable characters who find themselves in fantastic (SF) situations. Every great science fiction film is grounded in at least one great science fiction character. I think in SciFi this is especially important. As an audience we have this need to approach other worldly environments or fantastic situations on the context of something concrete and believable - a concept accomplished by presenting the story through the eyes or from the perspective of a character we can relate too.

To take it a step further for film - all great Science Fiction films are a marriage of classic characters and superb acting. If I were making a film, with nothing but my basic story and premise I would find my actors and let them become my characters. Once this happens, the dialogue writes itself.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 03:30 PM   #3
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Location: NYC
Re: Sci-Fi Film

Thanks for the welcome!

Great reply...

I agree, especially in science fiction, you definitely need a relatable character because when throwing people in such a fantastical world, they need some kind of familiarity to grasp onto. Hence, the character they can relate too. Something or in this case, someone they audience can share a common bond with.

Okay, let's take another step up. When dealing with the would or surroundings... what makes it a science fiction movie you want to watch... And a little more with that. When dealing with story, do you look for anything in particular when watching sci-fi?

For instance, my film that I am writing is about an astronaut marooned in space. He lost all communication with Earth and he is basically in his metal coffin counting down time until he will die. He knows he will die. He can take the easy route out and swallow a pill and get to the finish line without having to wait.... But it's the journeyman inside of him that keeps him hanging on as long as he can....

So, in this case... What would make my story soon to be FILM enjoyable to a science fiction fan!?

Again, thanks for jumping in for some discussion! This is great!
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Old Feb 11, 2010, 11:44 AM   #4
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2,877 flights since Nov 2001
Re: Sci-Fi Film

I like SF that is more about the social consequences of speculative technology than it is about the technology itself.
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Old Feb 11, 2010, 11:58 AM   #5
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Re: Sci-Fi Film

Hmmm.. That's interesting...
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Old Feb 11, 2010, 12:12 PM   #6
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2,558 flights since Aug 2001
Location: Helghan
Re: Sci-Fi Film

I'd say given the topic you mentioned, probably watch "Sunshine", "Children of Men" and "Enemy Mine" about a hundred times each.
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Old Feb 11, 2010, 12:31 PM   #7
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1,492 flights since Dec 2001
Location: Portland, Oregon.
Re: Sci-Fi Film

something I like to look for is a technology that looks super advanced and futuristic but also has some link to current tech stuffs.

Selling the society of the future also needs to happen. if you cant sell that society as something that could exist your story kinda drags along.
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Old Feb 11, 2010, 03:02 PM   #8
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Camfan's Avatar
364 flights since Mar 2002
Location: Where the history comes from
Re: Sci-Fi Film

I'd still say the paramount issue is acting, obviously there are a lot of factors that make a good Science Fiction film, but if the actor's are no good, it doesn't matter how much money you have, or how good the script is. As someone who's done a little acting in my time I just wish I lived in New York and not several thousand miles away now!

I'd agree with Sith on the whole, relatable characters in a futuristic/other worldly setting. At the end of the day, your audience will need to feel something for your characters, even if that something is revulsion or hatred.

As for your movie, I'd say a feeling of claustrophobia is key (unsurprisingly).
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Old Feb 11, 2010, 03:10 PM   #9
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2,121 flights since Feb 2003
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Re: Sci-Fi Film

I'm going to skip reading everyone else's to answer you (reserving the right to come back later).

Genre does not make a stand out film. Nor does it make a boring, or, tragically laughable one. You have to engage your audience and genre is not enough, it's just a taste: like red wine or white.

There are several ways to do it, most major on one but will have several in the background, however, try to be selective and ensure it fits together, rather than being too busy or overly comples.

Things you may want to consider are (and yes they overlap):
  • themes i.e. death, rejection, growing up, dissassocation
  • character motivations i.e. revenge, ego, love, ambition
  • political/social/religious/scientific environment
  • archetypes - these are the building blocks which every story uses, understand them and which ones fit with what you want to tell, they have massive power (i.e. Star Wars). Have a care though, you don't want clichés.
These are your hooks and if you blend them well into the story, the audience will not be thinking about them as they watch because they will be too involved. However, afterwards, these are what make it memorable.

You then need to understand how that fits. Basic, topline. What's your plot? Where do you start, where do you want things to wind up, how might you get there?

Think about your character motivations and identify your protaganist, antoganists, advisors, sidekicks etc - then think about the journey (character arc) you may wish some to take, which will generally be informed by the themes you want to get across.

Audiences need a resolution, it doesn't have to be a happy happy, but there must be a journey that either makes them identify emotionally or makes them think (philosophically, potlically whatever).
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Old Feb 12, 2010, 11:24 AM   #10
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1,670 flights since Nov 2001
Location: Chilling with Stuntman Mike...
Re: Sci-Fi Film

As well as watching the films that Iwata mentioned - to which I would add Moon - I would reccommend reading a lot of claasic science fiction. Isaac Assimov, Philip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein - those that have stood the test of time. Look at how the themes maybe be fantastical, but how they are still relevent today.

Although I agree that good acting goes a long way in science fiction, I believe the story comes first. We all know that De Niro, Pacino et al aren't always available. But great themes, great characters and great plot will always shine through, even in average actors. Look at District 9, one of the most successful science fiction films of recent times, apart from Sharlto Copley, the acting isn't great at all.
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 06:41 PM   #11
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10 flights since Feb 2010
Location: NYC
Re: Sci-Fi Film

Thanks guys for all the feedback...

I already have Theme/Character motivations/etc. covered... My story is pretty tight and interesting. I think you guys are going to like it. I can't wait to post some behind the scene stuff. Trailers, etc. for you to see!...

...In time...
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Old Mar 2, 2010, 04:18 AM   #12
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1,988 flights since Dec 2002
Location: Planet Earth
Re: Sci-Fi Film

well, i agree with camfan that you need good acting, but keep in mind that some of the best sci fi uses little known actors, and in fact, the sci fi/syfy/science fiction genre audience is pretty die hard and will watch anyway - look at the stuff we sit thru on the syfy channels!

beside, i like to think that a lot of actors got their start in science fiction.

anyway best wishes on that, and do post links when you have them!
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