…Hollywood steals your ideas!
I wrote the novel “The Watch” in 2016 after many decades of research into some of the darker corners of the origins of World War II. The novel explored the legend of the Spear of Destiny, from its moment of creation to its role in the occult influences on the rise to power of Adolf Hitler. Some of the stranger ‘high technology’ projects of the Nazi regime were closely related to the occult interests of Hitler and Himmler, “Die Glocke,” the Bell, was one of them.
In the novel I create a cave system in Antarctica where Nazi explorers discover a portal to an alternate universe. This is a place where time runs much, much slower than in our world. The Nazis take advantage of this to create a base in Antarctica from which they begin to emerge in 2032 – to once again attempt to establish their vision of a new world order.
In Chapter 53 of the The Watch I describe the discovery of the portal to the alternate universe. It is deep within a cave system.
After The Watch was published, several Hollywood agents and producers asked for copies of the book. One was a well-known producer for Netflix. On Netflix today you will find a movie about a cave system somewhere in the American desert where explorers find….you guessed it …a portal to an alternative Universe where time runs much slower than in ours.
Coincidence? No, that’s not plausible.
In the 1970s I wrote a newspaper feature about the descendants of slaves who still lived in the slave cabins of their ancestors on a Waynesboro, Ga. Plantation. I sent the story and photographs to an editor at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He promptly sent a reporter to a similar plantation in Alabama. His story won a Pulitzer prize.
In 1980 I wrote a science fiction story about the creation of a computer system using a massive organic brain. The brain’s first project was to gather images of faces from modern and ancient sources in order to create a program that could analyze facial features, an important element in the plot of the story. I sent the manuscript to Sci Fi magazines everywhere. It was never published (rightly so it was badly written). Later scientists posited the possibility of organic brain matter computers. Someone created a software program just like the one in my story – and called it facial recognition.
In 2010 I wrote a screenplay called “Faces” based on this science fiction story. In it I create a scene where the protagonist uses contact lenses in which micro-circuitry has been embedded. The lenses provide him with messages only he can see. A Hollywood producer sent the screenplay to Tom Cruise, who was filming “Valkyrie” in Germany at the time. Mr. Cruise did not pick up the screenplay. His next “Mission:Impossible” movie included scenes where he gets messages…you guessed…from contact lenses embedded with micro-circuitry. A little later ‘electronic’ contact lenses became a reality.
Am I pissed about this? No. There is always the possibility of independent co-invention. We see examples of it everywhere. Even so, I prefer to believe my creativity is being ripped off. At the very least – it would have been nice to have gotten a nod from Mr. Pulitzer, in the credits of Cruise’s movie, a mention in the back of a software manual…or a thank you note from those Hollywood agents or Netflix execs maybe…
The reality is that there is no ownership of ideas. You can’t copyright them. Rather than wingeing about being ripped off (is that what I am doing?) I would rather feel that creating original ideas that others use successfully is an indication that I am headed in the right direction. I would be upset if, after a life time of writing, nothing I had to say was worth stealing.