work in progress

SEQ 1 :

We open in a dark, infinite space of pure tranquillity,
with 3D light particles moving around to give a sense of endless depth to this world.
These sparks of light feel organic, energised, vibrating slightly like atomic particles
on the same frequency (see art direction for visual references).

SEQ 2 :

Suddenly, the particles start to draw together as if magnetised, forming the outline of a recognizable scene: Soon we can identify the dramatic mountains, spotless sands and lush palm trees of HAWAII. It’s paradise. These scenes of natural beauty are punctuated by the sounds of daily life and activity on the island; citizens going about their day.

When I received the guidelines, you know, about how to survive a nuclear attack, and I didn’t pay attention to them because I couldn’t allow myself to accept that that would actually happen…. now all of that has changed.

The scenes of a tropical paradise suddenly start to distort, the particles wobbling out of formation as if hit by radio interference. The sounds of the natural world – the waves, the wind – also start to be distorted by the rising sound of static.

SEQ 3 :

As this sensual experience dissolves in front of us, our right touch controller BUZZES – in our hand we can see a mobile device, lit up with an SMS message. As we raise our hand to see the screen, we can make out the following message:


You initially can't even process it. It's something you have to stare at for a moment and say "Wait a minute, what is this? This is not possible." And then the fear jumps in. This could be possible.

As we hear these words, the cell phone in our hand starts to dissolve into particles,.

SEQ 4 :

As we hear these words, the cell phone in our hand starts to dissolve into particles, transitioning into the shape of several interconnected cell phone towers. We see trails of particles emitting from the towers, radiating out across a relief map of the Hawaiian islands, transmitting this message across the entire state.

And straight away I realised: “If I’m getting this message, then so is everybody else across the Hawaiian islands….”

[NB: To be recorded]

As the wave of particles sweep across the map, we see identical missile alerts – almost like the Google Maps pin graphic – popping up in their dozens, above cars, houses, schools, office blocks. This is a statewide alert. The digital noise accompanying the transmissions grows in pitch and frequency until suddenly it STOPS

SEQ 5 :

The Hawaiian landscape dissolves back into particles, which re-form in the shape of A FARMHOUSE KITCHEN. Two characters (Cynthia and Bruce) are looking at their phones in a state of shock. Bruce shakes out of it first – he grabs his keys, and heads for the door, not stopping to pick up a jacket.

“There was this impulse first to be with loved ones. If people were with their kids, it was: where do we go to protect them? How do we protect them? Our girls are seven miles away, and Bruce said:

As Bruce turns back towards Cynthia, he lip-synchs the following words in time with Cynthia’s dialogue:

“I don't know if this is real or not but I need to be with them.”

Bruce turns to leave and Cynthia moves towards the door, following him. As he touches the handle to exit the room, the scene suddenly FREEZES, time standing still.

“What I should know, what someone with my knowledge and background and expertise should absolutely know, [is] that if this was real and there was a ballistic missile coming to us, I would probably never see him again.”

SEQ 6 :

The frozen scene now dissolves again, re-forming as an aerial perspective, hovering above the Pacific ocean. We can just about make out the shape of THE KOREAN PENINSULA at night, a few lights denoting the capital, where the rest of the country is in darkness. Suddenly, we see a burst of light as a rocket is launched. It accelerates towards us, before arcing across the Sea of Japan and out into the North Pacific Ocean. It’s heading for Hawaii.

If it was from North Korea we had maybe 25 minutes. And at that time it was very, very possible that Kim Jong Un could get a warhead to the Hawaiian islands.”

The sound level grows as the rocket increases in velocity. The frame starts to shake, and the image then breaks up into particles once more, re-forming to take us back into Bruce and Cynthia’s kitchen. We see the door swinging on its hinges, as she looks outside. Bruce is gone. She never got the chance to say goodbye.

SEQ 7 :

The particles dissolve once again, re-forming as the interior of a TRUCK, travelling on the freeway. To our left, Bruce is in the driver’s seat.

“ As soon as I got onto our two-lane highway, there was also growing chaos all around me. The people driving at high speed, some speeding already at about 90 to 100 miles an hour.”

Cars speed past Bruce, overtaking him on both sides, and criss-crossing the lanes in the opposite direction. He’s trying to dial 911 on the car’s screen interface, but all he gets is a busy message. He curses, tries again. By the side of the road we can see large electronic traffic signs with the missile alert message on them, as cars continue to speed by. Bruce halts at a stop light, the only driver showing a semblance of calmness, as the chaos continues around him.

“I saw cars driving across the median strip, people running into stores, laying down in the aisles.”

A car crosses the central reservation and screeches to a halt outside a store. A young mother hauls her two kids out of the car and sprints inside with them. 
Suddenly our attention is drawn by the sight of another car on the wrong side of the road, heading straight towards us. We brace for impact as the roar of the engine rises inexorably. Seconds before impact, the car disintegrates into particles, and the sounds of the freeway ebb away until we’re floating in a liminal space. We can hear a faint sound of distorted cross-chatter – a girl’s voice combining with that of a middle-aged man – as if we’re intercepting scrambled radio transmissions.

SEQ 8 :

The particles then accelerate towards one another, re-forming in the shape of a domestic LIVING ROOM. A young teenage girl sits cross-legged on the floor, opposite Bruce.

“When I arrived, I called into the house, and my older daughter came out, who’s thirteen. She said that she was told to sit down and prepare to die. They were in a state that this could well be my last few minutes on Earth. But I don't know, and I don't want to believe that. I looked in her eyes, and she was looking to me for comfort. She was looking for me to say it's going to be OK.”

The girl looks up at Bruce, who holds her gaze, unsure of what to say to her. As the user looks around the room, we’re aware that Cynthia is on our shoulder too. She looks on as Bruce and his daughter talk.

“There's no way to give a satisfactory explanation to your child as to why we live in a world that has nuclear weapons.”

SEQ 9 :

Suddenly the floor of the room transforms into paving slabs. Bruce and his daughter are gone, and we’re standing on a sidewalk in Hawaii.

“ So many people panicked. People were shoving their children - and this still haunts me - down storm drains against their will.” 

We see several parents lifting up a drain cover and pushing their children down into the holes, even as the children plead to understand what’s going on.

“ How do you explain it to a child that has no idea not only what this is but that it doesn't make any rational sense that we would live in a world where we would have to do this?”

SEQ 10 :

The sidewalk scene vaporises into particles, which reorganize as a GLOBAL MAP, which spins slowly on the earth’s axis.

“ There were so many nightmare nuclear scenarios that could have been possible, and that’s when I realized: I have no idea, because I don’t know where this missile is coming from.”

As Bruce and Cynthia speak the next section of dialogue, we slowly push in on the globe, entering the earth’s atmosphere..

“ So there are now nine nuclear states that are known to have nuclear weapons.” 

We see red buttons popping up in those nine nuclear states.

“ The greatest danger comes from miscalculation. The United States and Russia have hundreds of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles –  ICBMs – and they’re on hair-trigger alert.”

We see dozens and dozens of nuclear launch sites across the US and Russia, flashing red, as if prepared to launch.

“What if this was the beginning of a civilization-ending event, a collective death experience for all of humanity. Is that what it was leading to?”

A countdown appears on-screen as we start to zoom in on one of the nuclear launch sites in the Mid-West, which is increasingly moving to launch capability.

“If the US President were to receive warning of a Russian attack, there would be simply minutes before a decision would have to be made to launch.”

The countdown accelerates as Bruce’s dialogue continues. Finally, a flash of light illuminates the sight of a missile leaving the mainland US, bound for Russia. Our viewpoint follows the missile as it heads into the sky and sets its course.

“ And once they’re launched, you can’t call them back. There’s tremendous risk that we could have an unintended nuclear war due to miscalculation or accident.”

SEQ 11 :

We rush towards the earth at speed, as if traveling on the tail of the missile itself. As we break through the clouds and start to see a city forming below us, we slow down, detach from the perspective and come to float just above the horizon line. Instead of Moscow, we’re surprised to see the iconic skyline of LA.

“ I didn't plan to call my daughter in Los Angeles until the last moment, but that's when I think this became most real for me.”

SEQ 12 :

The skyline dissolves into the shape of a phone, which vibrates on the counter top of a MODERN APARTMENT, its interface lighting up with an incoming call.  

“ The phone was ringing and ringing and ringing and when she finally picked up, I say: “Mackenzie, I don't know if you’ve heard the news but we have this message on our cell phones saying there’s this incoming ballistic missile to Hawaii and we have to take immediate shelter and that this is not a drill. I just want you to know that I love you.” And she says:

The actor playing Mackenzie speaks into the handset, lip-synching her reply verbatim:

‘I love you too mum’.

“ And then there is just silence, and I didn't want to hang up...”

SEQ 13 :

Very slowly, painfully, the scene dissolves into particles one last time. There is a pure and profound silence, as we float through this abstract 3D space, without any physical or visual anchor. It’s a moment of both tranquillity and disorientation which lasts tens of seconds, before the particles very slowly start to re-form in the shape of a cell phone screen. Eventually, the words on the screen can be read clearly:


Slowly pulling out as we process this information, we see that the phone is now in Cynthia’s hand. She is still standing in her kitchen in Hawaii. She shakes with emotion as she reads the message, breaking down in tears.

“When we finally heard that it was a false alarm… [….” [NB: To be recorded] what I felt in that moment was gratitude, just gratitude. Everything was still the same. You know, everything was. And yet nothing was the same. It would never be the same.”

SEQ 14 :

The scene dissolves and re-forms once more in the shape of the paradisal landscape with which we opened the experience. Only this time the colours of the imagery are far richer and more saturated – the trees are more verdant, the water bluer, the sand on the beaches almost sparkling.

“Taking a moment just to stand there and feel the wind on my face, hearing the ocean. You feel the sensual experience of life.”

The sound design is richer too. Everything feels hyper-sensual, as if we are seeing the world anew for the first time.

“ There was no space in that moment for “How did this happen? Why did this happen?” It was just… OK. Of course there was a mistake made, but that's the point. We have weapons of mass destruction. We've made so many mistakes and we've been so lucky. How have we survived every close call for all these decades? I said to Bruce in that moment, I said: "It's a gift. It's a gift. It's a gift."