Saturday, June 11, 2016

The M Zone: A Short Story That Could Make an Interesting Short Film

This past week, hard on the heels of our local Duluth Dylan Fest, we were treated to the 5-day Duluth Superior Film Festival. Saturday afternoon I found my way to the Short Films segment, fortunate to have a seat. Certainly the price was right (Free) and the bad weather outside could have played a part, though it's clear by the participation of local film makers and the consistent size of the crowds that Richard Hansen and his film fest team have been gaining traction in our community. Over the years I've enjoyed a lot of original films, and have especially enjoyed the shorts.

Four or five years ago the DuSu Film Fest showed the Adam Fish/Matthew Detisch screen adaptation of my story Episode on South Street. The film came about as a result of my having shared many of my stories on my first website in the 90's. Three of the stories I posted there were translated into foreign languages. Two stories that my daughter wrote when she was twelve ended up in print, which was cool.

Another of my stories, The M Zone, led to my receiving an email that had a 3-4 page screenplay attached. I liked it. A few weeks later, a the short film script had been revised to fill five minutes. I found it interesting how they turned the incident covered in the story into a news story.

Picture the familiar scene with a cameraman focused on a news journalist holding a microphone, staged in front of a scene. In this case, the executive offices for a successful tech firm. The journalist is telling the audience that a something is happening inside and a major story is about to break.

Translating the written word into cinema has many challenges. This past winter a friend and I attempted to convert my Young Adult novel The Red Scorpion into a screenplay treatment. When all was said and done, after many false starts it became a wholly other story, much more dramatic but not at all the story that I'd originally spent many years writing, revising and re-writing.

All this to say that if you're casting about for a story that might work as a short film for next year's film festival season, this one has possibilities.

It begins like this....


The revelation came suddenly. Like an "Aha!"... only it was an "Oh no!"

Richard Busby slumped into his chair, leaned his head back and stared off into space, attempting to make himself deaf to what he was hearing. "This is verified?" he asked, referring to the data in a report that had fallen from his hand.

"Yes, sir. I'm sorry, sir," Dr. Frey, Director of R&D, said.

Busby's brain was numb. Even though he begun to suspect it, had himself experienced the effects, he had remained in denial. "Do you realize what this means?" Busby asked.

Frey nodded, the small, thin line of mouth grimly expressionless. His dark eyes scanned the desktop and came to rest on the latest Forbes, which featured the ten most significant men of the first half of the 21st century. There, alongside Bill Gates, the world's first trillionaire, was Richard Busby, developer of the M Zone.

In the instant of Busby's epiphany his whole life flashed. His birthday in 1991. His celebrated experiments in computer design at age twelve. His national awards for innovation in computer aided brain mapping while still a teen. His leadership on the A.I. Research Team at Stanford resulting in the development of silicon implants to improve memory. His discoveries regarding the nature of memory, including his renowned theorem that memory is a series of hyperlinked rooms in an endless hallway, each room filled with neural impressions braiding internal and external stimuli.

His father had been an entrepreneur who distrusted government. Like his father he brought his ideas to the marketplace. Eventually he founded a company of his own with enough venture capital to attract the best minds from around the world. His breakthrough using wet wire connectivity allowed computer hardware to be integrated with brain synapses.

His chief claim to fame had been the development of the M Zone product line. By means of a cerebral probe a person could locate and re-experience memories. Busby verified, in his early research, that each memory is contained in a tiny shell or room within the brain, draped in such a manner as to both reveal and conceal it. When properly stimulated, the full and complete memory is revived and re-experienced.

Connections between man and technology were nothing new. The twentieth century saw the development of pacemakers, cochlear implants, pain relief modules and other forms of embedded electronics. Implantation of chips inside the heads of paraplegics to interpret brain signals and silicon retinal implants to recover sight were ancient history now.

Utilizing the M Zone Activator (MZA) one could safely locate, experience and re-experience the best times of one's life. Once approved by the FDA and BGS the patented MZA took the world by storm. At first it was presented as a means to comfort people in their twilight years. Before long Busby's marketing team exploited the general consumer markets with ads like, "Relive the Best Times of Your Life!" and "Can Memory Be More Real Than Reality? Try It & See" and "Deja View? Yes, You May!"


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Meantime, life goes on all around you. Make the most of it. Especially today.

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