Filming Science Fiction Short Stories

Over at Rusty Keele got an email from a film director asking him about which science fiction short stories would make great 10-15 minute films.  Go by and post your suggestions.  I suggested “The Menace From Earth” by Robert A. Heinlein, even though it would have to be cut down some to meet the time limit.

I remember the science fiction stories from the old Twilight Zone series that started back 1959.  Those short films had tremendous impact, so it is possible to tell a gripping story in 25 minutes, but I think it’s going to take a special kind of tale to work in 10-15 minutes.  Maybe it will be flash video fiction.  However, limiting the length of the film makes it much easier for an amateur film maker to produce, and with people watching videos on YouTube, Hulu, and on their iPods, making short science fiction films might be a great idea.

Since I’m always wishing for more people to discover the wonders of the science fiction short story, and support the dying science fiction magazines (F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog), I’d especially love to see short films based on recent stories from the magazines, and use those films to promote the science fiction short story market.  Even though those markets are dying, they still have 15,000-30,000 readers, so that’s a ready audience for the films.  I wonder if some kind of marketing synergy could be attained by tying several small enterprises together.

Could we see a film opening with the flashy logo graphics marketing A SFSignal Production partnered with Asimov’s Science Fiction Films of a John X Smith film …, and maybe backed by money collected from online fans from genre entrepreneurs like those great Broadway producers Max Blaylystock and Leo Bloom?

The trouble is getting people to see the short films.  Every year at the Oscars when they present the award for short film I always wonder where to do people see them.  It’s a shame theaters can’t replace those annoying trivia shows and commercials they torture their patrons with while they wait for their movies to start with good short films.  SFSignal has become a great place to catch a short video.  I wonder if short Flash based films on the SF/F magazine sites would get them more subscribers?  Macromedia Flash based films have evolved into high tech ways of watching videos online.

Most great science fiction short stories are more suitable for film length productions.  I wish movie makers would audition the genre mags every month for potential films to make.  Hollywood movie makers are obviously short on material when they have to make Terminator movies over and over and bring back Star Trek for the nth time.  I mean, when was the last time you saw a really innovative SF film?  There are way too many classic SF novels from the 1950s and 1960s that Hollywood has never filmed for them to be wasting their money on remaking The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Another good game to play, would be to list which great classic SF novels would make mind blowing films.  Here are some of my suggestions:

  • Empire Star by Samuel R. Delany
  • Mindswap by Robert Sheckley
  • The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Have Space Suit-Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein
  • The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick
  • Women of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason
  • Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

I could go on and on.

JWH – 2/26/9

2 thoughts on “Filming Science Fiction Short Stories”

  1. “There are way too many classic SF novels from the 1950s and 1960s that Hollywood has never filmed for them to be wasting their money on remaking The Day the Earth Stood Still”

    Amen to that!!!

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