I must write this script
The first draft of Deployment Strategy was completed in March 2005. There were approximately 3 complete revisions and a brazilian tweaks made all over the place before any pre-production began. It continued to change all throughout pre-production and changed some more during the shoot as it came out of actorsâ€™ mouths. (isnâ€™t that always the case?)
How I describe the movie depends on how much time you have.
If we met in the elevator Iâ€™d say,
"Deployment Strategy is like Aliens + Bladerunner with some Evil Dead 2 in it. There are guns and cyborgs in it."
If we met on the subway, Iâ€™d say ,
"Deployment Strategy is a 30 minute, sci-fi narrative set in a world where artificial intelligence is a reality, where all software development is federally regulated for reasons of national security, and where rogue programmers are detained by gunpoint."
Now what if I were talking to you on my production blog? ;)
I got the idea for Deployment Strategy one day when I was working for a client as an IT consultant. I used to be a freelance web developer (Iâ€™m staff these days ;) and was working on a software project for a finance company. The tool would provide its users with price quotes for very large quantities of stock purchases that were traded in the Nasdaq exchange. Given a certain stock symbol, the tool would take several variables like price, volume, time of day, the type of customer you were, run them through some algorithm, and give you a price quote. I was working with a team of other programmers running the tool through itâ€™s beta test to iron out any bugs before launching the system to customers. We uncovered several and one that took a particularly long time to pinpoint was caused by a misplaced decimal point and number that was off by .0001. Because of those seemingly small mistakes, the result of the toolâ€™s calculation was off, meaning the price quote would be off, meaning the revenue and profit would be off, meaning my head would be off...if it wasnâ€™t found in time (thank the Maker it was!).
So yeah, anyway as the bug was corrected and the tool retested, I got to thinking,
"Yo, what if this (boring) software tool was actually a sentient AI mind like Skynet and what if the number that was off was a numerical representation of how Skynet perceived risk and what if the number was way too high and Skynet thought every thing and action posed a risk to it which would basically mean it thought everything was a threat which would basically mean Skynet was paranoid and what would a sentient AI mind like Skynet do it was paranoid???? Oh shiiiit, thatâ€™d be coooool." (hey if you donâ€™t know who Skynet is, then you better just go ask somebody. Just kidding- Skynet is the sentient AI from the amazing sci-fi movie, The Terminator. Itâ€™s never actually seen in the films but is the destructive mastermind behind Schwarzeneggerâ€™s cyborg character).
So thatâ€™s the real genesis of the idea and that became the narrative thread that all other plot points and conversations gravitated around - How would a world in which software intelligence actually exist? It sounds pretty heavy and I donâ€™t mean it be cuz the filmâ€™s packed with soldiers and guns and explosions and guts, but thatâ€™s the underlying idea, and in this short 30 minute story, Iâ€™ve introduced ideas and played out some scenarios that I found fascinating about a society dealing with this type of technological break through. If software was self-aware, how would it look at the world and how would it look at humans, its creator. Would it hold life and freedom as dear as we do? Would it have religion and have a sense of God-given rights? Or would it see us, Mankind, as its Creator? And would humans react to such ponderings? Would we pull the plugs in a panic or teach and nourish this new species as mentor?
So the script came from these ideas and the storyâ€™s basic skeleton has been retained throughout the revisions quite faithfully. Many of the changes were out of necessity as a low budget project. For example, the final climactic scene was originally set to take place in the private residence of a rich foreign diplomat. The location became pretty much impossible given the number of cast, crew- basically everything- not to mention lights, stunt work, and special effects!! So this was changed to a warehouse which gave us tons more freedom to work in (although he did have power issues). Other interesting notes about the script changes include how I couldnâ€™t find an older Japanese actor to play my Major, but did find a talented 30-something sci-fi junkie actor who I just had to find a part for- so it worked out in my favor anyways!
One final note about the script: This is really a genre film when it comes down to it. The script assumes its viewers come with certain understandings of common and popular sci-fi elements- so for example it doesnâ€™t spoon feed you too much about how it might be dangerous to let self-aware robots walk around doing whatever they want. The story will assume you know that already and cut immediately to characters debating the role of government in AI civil rights restrictions. You try to make everything accessible to the audience as much as you can, but thereâ€™s only so much you can do to help grandma understand The Matrix when she doesnâ€™t know where the "any key" is on her computer!!!!
Share your thoughts about scriptwriting or drop me a comment!