A near future.
At first glance everything kind of looks… well… boring.
Not dystopian, nor some technological nirvana.
No gadgets. No flying cars. No alien invasions.
People going about their daily lives but things are different.
No watches, no phones, no screens.
Just a delicate corona of light enveloping everything you see.
Technology has become so advanced that it has been forgotten, woven so intrinsically into the fabric of our lives as to disappear, just a vague memory of a time that once was, and may never be again.
Storing data had long since ceased to be of concern whilst ubiquitous internet connection allowed even the poorest on the planet the thrill of capturing and recording their lives in perpetuity.
Advances in cryptographic security had provided the foundations for people, corporations and devices to communicate, share information and stitch together a new web of meaning.
An eternal scripture - reputation, relationships, identity carved into a permanent uncensorable state.
What began with wearable computing had become augmented reality.
What became augmented reality was now just, well.. life?
Biomimicry had dissolved hardware into literal software solutions.
The daily spray that created a smart contact lens film just a micron thick
Not only did it record and report real-time information to the wearer, it was also tuned to the environment, itself a product of embedded sensory bio-materials.
With this new civilisational mesh, humanity became ever more aware, connected, informed than ever before, but somehow still adrift.
It is here, in this time, in this place and at this moment that we meet our hero. Or anti-hero, depending on your perspective.
Someone stuck in what any generation, past, present or future would describe bluntly as ‘a bit of a rut’.
This is the story of that rut.
Why they arrived there.
Where it was taking them.
And how they endeavoured to make good their escape.
Sunrise across London, light races up the Thames, orange light flickers through trees, as a beautiful new day begins.
A sight to make you glad to be alive. A sight that would look great on film. A sight that you could get up and watch every morning.
Except you don’t.
A train of ants weave a merry path through fallen leaves, as traffic moves slowly towards the city. All of life, animate and inanimate, tinged with a faint glow.
Clouds blow past, their silver lining a sign of the early stage bio-engineering that would soon assure the weather would be, like the hours of the day, reassuringly predictable.
A small, messy flat.
A tiny window lets in a small amount of sun, lighting up a shelf littered with awards.
Our hero is getting up.
And the toothpaste has run out.
Dark rings under tired eyes.
White teeth, crumpled clothes, unkempt hair.
Gargling as the mirror reflects an interactive surface alive with numbers.
Regular stuff. Heart rate, hours slept… cortisol level in hair.
A weary finger stabs at the stats, switching the panel to black, then moodily back, to mirrored.
Dirty nails. Thumb and forefinger snap together in practiced style.
The scene is transformed.
We’re not in East London now, we’re on a beach… the peeling plaster and 90’s posters are obscured by a perfect blue sea, waves lap gently over the pizza boxes piled up on the floor.
Further flicks of fingertips and the ambient noise marries the imagery.
Light from some unknown point projects a message onto his wrist.
Marshall, 9:30. St Mary’s
The hand shakes, the message disappears.
We’re in a car. Making serene progress. No noise.
We hear the crunch of pebbles. Parking. Pulling on a well worn jacket. Sunglasses.
A procession of people walk into a church, all in black.
As they pass, our protagonist claps and begins to play pong with two orbs of light dancing between their palms.
The last mourner passes, the game has reached a peak. Walking to the front of the church, opening the door, siting down quietly, careful not to disturb proceedings.
The service has begun, the eulogy read by a middle aged woman.
"He was a wonderful man. Of course he wasn’t afraid to say what he thought. It wasn’t like Marshall to hold back. Mad, grumpy, difficult… the love of my life"
A gentle ripple of laughter crosses the church as her voice cracks.
"...seems like just yesterday we met. I’m going to miss you so, so much."
Her eyes fill with tears. The reverend moves to the lectern, helps her down and offers a small metal canister, she takes it, wipes away the tears and sprays a little onto her eyes.
The reverend picks up proceedings.
"A truly special life, a dedicated family man, a life shared with so many of you here, taken far too soon."
We move a little out of the shadows, getting a clearer view of the front of the church.
The reverend pauses and performs an elaborate gesture as if summoning a spirit from on high.
"Let us remember him now"
The church is transformed into a new reality... we see a simple graphic.
James Marshall - 1999 – 2035
As it fades away music begins to swirl, birds singing, kids laughing, swaves crashing… ambient noise, then images begin to flash onto the screen, one by one, flash cuts of wonderful moments in life all point-of-view.
We're flying through childhood memories. Stopping to savour small victories. School days. Lost in the woods. Teenage scrapes.
We reach adulthood, it's the woman from the lecture - younger now - she’s in bed, staring directly at him, she goes in to kiss.
We see a man look in the mirror, he’s good looking, bright eyed. A wall of green numbers greets him - alongside a series of charts. Perfect metrics.
A flash on hands and then then black, there are hands over his eyes. We see glimpses of light sparking through her fingers.
The congregation sit back, smiling, basking in the memories of a special man’s life recorded, edited, ‘best of’d’.
Our hero isn’t interested in the film - instead he’s watching their reactions, hearing their laughter, absorbing their sorrow, tapping his boot in time to the music, content when each narrative beat connects.
He opens his front door. Throws down his keys, and slouches into a well worn chair behind his desk, cracking open an energy drink.
The wall in front of him lights up - an edit timeline.
Swipe to the left, scrolls down and selects a folder.
He clicks into,
Scrolling through a seemingly endless list of names.
He drops into the folder and begins scrolling through the timeline.
Cutting, looping, splicing. Adding transitions. Switching POVs. Filling missing scenes with AI renders.
We zoom in on the timecode and the titles of the files imported.
Shit goes wrong
Graphics, white on black.
Triumphant moment #3
Sad but uplifting moment #5
We fast scroll through the footage and we follow his fingers as he opens up other files, we see his file structure.
We move back to the timeline again… and onto the black gaps.
There are 40 numbered spaces.
40 shots he doesn’t have.
40 experiences he hasn’t recorded.
40 scenes to complete the masterpiece of him.
He scrolls to the start of the timeline. He starts the reel again and the intro board comes up. It’s a black canvas. He clicks in and a cursor appears. He begins to type, the font and style is the same as that we saw in the church earlier.
Frank Daniels 2000 – 203…
The cursor ticks on and off for a few seconds - then black.
So that’s Frank.
He's got the recipe for a great life. So why not make it happen?
Sure he's crazy, deluded and lost - but no more than the rest of us.