Category Archives: Feature Films

The Martian Movie Poster


Mixed feelings about the scientific accuracy of this film (artists ought to be held to the same standards as scientists…we should no more accept depictions of Martian dust storms toppling a rocket than creationism as a plot catalyst). Nevertheless badass supersedes all. Good to see a masculine educated hero!



“Hello VRnauts,

When I had the idea for SpaceVR, I was sitting at a coworking desk. No team. No funding. Recently spent most of my money to move to San Francisco from Tampa, Florida. I wanted to do something I could spend my life on. Something that could really change the world.

During my research, I found a documentary called Overview. A beautifully done, short film interviewing astronauts about their experience in space. After enough interviews, it became clear that the experience of being in space wasn’t just an experience. It was a life changing event.

It changed them. They now understood something from direct exposure that we on Earth do not. They realized that the world we know and love, the world that we wake up and go to sleep on everyday is not significant. It’s small and delicate. Something to be fiercely protected.

We hear about issues every single day. Syrian refugees. School shootings. Short term policy decisions. Military overspending. Education underspending. We approach these issues like they have nothing to do with us. Like they only exist somewhere else.

I believe that we can bridge that gap. With as simple of an act as exposing the world to space through virtual reality, we will have the opportunity to know who we really are as a civilization. We can realize that this small world is ours and we can shape it into the beautiful paradise that we want.

Here we are today in front of you with ambitious hearts, a functioning prototype and a solid plan.

Let’s show the world that there are no limits. There are no borders. That anyone with a dream can change the world forever.

Ryan Holmes

CEO, SpaceVR”


Miseducating Millions of Taxpayers en Masse

Unacceptable: “I just wanted to be as accurate as I possibly could. There are, there are a few places that are inaccurate. The
biggest place that’s inaccurate is right at the beginning. Um, don’t – don’t tell anybody but if you’re in a dust storm on Mars
you’re not even going to feel it. Mars’ atmosphere is less than one percent of Earth’s – so a 150 kilometer per hour wind, would
feel like about a 1 kilometer wind does on Earth. It wouldn’t do any damage to anything. Shhhh. […] Most people don’t know
how Martian dust storms work. People don’t realize that it’s not like being in a sand blaster and it’s just more dramatic that way,
so I just made that concession. I know I’m a liar I just – I just, uh, wanted that more, it’s just more dramatic.”

Update: Weir‘s turning out to be a decent guy…(speaking at the Mars Society’s conference helps too!)…from a Reddit AMA:

“If you were given the opportunity to go back in time to change one thing in The Martian, would you
change anything? A character, a plot point, or something to do with the story?”

“Yeah, I’d probably make the initial disaster an engine test failure instead of a sandstorm. It’s the most
glaring physical inaccuracy in the book and I wish I hadn’t made that concession to drama. I think I could
have set it up so an MAV engine test blasted Watney, impaling him with debris, and started leaking
fuel, forcing them to launch. Something like that.”


1) You have to actually write. Daydreaming about the book you’re going to write someday isn’t writing. It’s daydreaming.
Open your word processor and start writing.

2) Resist the urge to tell friends and family your story. I know it’s hard because you want to talk about it and they’re (sometimes)
interested in hearing about it. But it satisfies your need for an audience, which diminishes your motivation to actually write it.
Make a rule: The only way for anyone to ever hear about your stories is to read them.

3) This is the best time in history to self-publish. There’s no old-boy network between you and your readers. You can self-publish
an ebook to major distributors (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.) without any financial risk on your part.

Zubrin: “The Matt Damon character in The Martian isn’t interested in Mars. He doesn’t care about the search for life on Mars, or about Mars as humanity’s new frontier. He just wants to get home. In contrast, Howard’s ensemble crew is fascinated by Mars. For them, the Red Planet is not just a place of peril; it is also a place of wonder. So while Mars may not have the star power of Matt Damon, it has something that The Martian lacks: the star power of Mars.

Critical Notes on ‘The Martian’ Script: Unhelpful Nonsense


Negatives from the script (available online as a PDF):
  • appearance of Mars compared to a “blast furnace”
  • protagonist’s first word is “Fuck” [unimaginative use, no problem with word]
  • multi-paragraph undramatic expositive dialogue
  • dumbed down unintelligent boring main character
  • cheesy dated dialogue “our bad”, “shitstorm”, “I’m going to have to
    science the shit out of it” heh heh
  • crucifix sole combustible at base
  • overriding obvious question: why doesn’t he fix the damn antennae???!
  • 30 day mission rather than standard 500 day Mars Direct (which would allow enough foodstuffs for one person to live many years of emergency survival on Mars…not to mention a spare antennae)
  • astronauts from military backgrounds/pilots
  • inability to launch during sandstorm due to “wind”
  • crew must lean in to “force the doors closed against the wind”
  • “We’ve never had a manned ship controlled remotely before.”
  • Mark holds up his middle finger. Fuck you Mars.” [emphasis original]
  • Drug glorification “I’m dipping this potato in Vicodin and there’s nothing
    anyone can do about it.” [This criticism seems to receive the most attention…a person close to me nearly died from alcoholism recently, as a result I have a new hatred of addictive substances which would have surprised my past self. I enjoyed alcohol but this tragedy was by far the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed. My hope is we as a free society come to abhor drugs of all kinds, and disdain their use as we have cigarettes.]
Constant corny uptight hierarchical conflicts:
  • “We’ll do our best.” “Mark dies if you don’t.”
    “We discussed this.” “You discussed this.”
  • “I’m sorry commander you need to verbally–” “Launch!”
  • Even afflicts CNSA: “Are you kidding?” “Have you ever known me to kid, sir?”
  • “Bullshit it should be Commander Lewis’ call.” “We need to make this decision. It’s a matter of life and death.” “She’s the mission commander. Life and death decisions are her damn job.”…”You goddamn coward.”
  • “We’re talking about mutiny which is not a word I use lightly.”
  • “Easy, cowboy. You and I are military. There’s a good chance we’d be court martialed when we get home.”
  • “When this is over I’ll expect your resignation.” “I understand.”
  • “You’re sending him to space under a tarp?” “Yes. Can I go on?” “I’m not sure I want you to, but okay.”
  • “…I feel obliged to mention that setting off an explosive device on a spacecraft is a terrible, terrible idea.” “Copy that. Can you do it?” [thinks, then] “Ja.”
  • “Oh wait a minute. Yep. I’m looking at my shoulder patch and it turns out I’m commander. So shut up.”

Sole Positive:

  • blue sunrise

Mars Landing Radio Drama of 2057: “Transmissions from Colony One”

Screen Shot 2013-07-04 at 10.00.59 PM

From their ‘About’ page:

The Story
Transmissions From Colony One is a radio drama set in the near-future of 2057. Twenty years prior, United States President Richard Thorpe (R-CO) announced the start of a “New Dawn,” a global attitude shift toward widespread space exploration. Technological advents such as fusion energy, worldwide high-speed railway systems, and internet speeds faster than ever envisioned laid the groundwork for an economic explosion, but it lacked a platform on which to occur. Thorpe gave the world an outlet for its immense wealth, asking people across the world to simply look up for humanity’s future.

In the twenty years since, the world has changed drastically. MECTI (Mars Exploration, Colonization and Terraformation Initiative) was established with the goal of starting a permanent human presence on Mars. This meant using fusion-propelled rocketry, the construction of a massive space elevator to make transportation from the surface of Earth to low orbit more cost and energy-efficient, and the creation of a mammoth space station that would dwarf today’s International Space Station. All of these things needed to be done in order for MECTI to work. Now, twenty years after the birth of MECTI, the first crew, MECTI-1, is about to land on the surface of Mars, in the flat expansive region of Amazonis Planitia. This will be the first manned mission to the surface of Mars, and the first of thousands of MECTI manned missions to the Red Planet.

Transmissions From Colony One chronicles the on-board recordings of MECTI-1 as the international crew of sixteen (eight men, eight women) conduct their mission…

Making Transmissions
In 2010, series creator John W. Richter read an article detailing NASA’s idea of having the first manned mission to Mars traveling on a one-way trip – meaning whomever traveled to Mars would remain. The thought of people making this conscious decision to sacrifice everything for the good of a mission intrigued John greatly, and the project was born.

Transmissions From Colony One is a project years in the making, at times in different formats. It had begun as a comic book series, then as a TV pilot. It wasn’t until 2012 when Zak White, a friend and colleague of John’s, had begun airing Murder on Skull Drive, a comedic murder mystery radio play. Upon hearing it, John realized that he could not only adapt this project as a radio drama series, but produce it for almost no budget whatsoever. It meant John would need to teach himself audio production completely from scratch, but it was a challenge he welcomed.

Pre-production for Transmissions From Colony One ran from July 2012 – February 2013. John quickly partnered with friend and colleague Dustin Weiskopf as story editor and creative consultant. Without budget limitations, John and Dustin realized they could be as ambitious as possible. The number of cast members doubled, and from locations ranging from Saint Louis to Los Angeles to Japan.

Production on season one spanned from February to May, with John directing every performance in every episode. In May 2013, the first audio teaser was broadcast on the website, along with the launch of both the official Facebook and Twitter pages. The Twitter page featured “Transit Logs,” daily Tweets from the fictional crew en route to Mars from Earth, which also follow the storyline of the series. On June 23, a video trailer was released, and on July 4, the 16th Anniversary of the landing of NASA’s Pathfinder/Sojourner Rover on Mars, Transmissions From Colony One premiered.