Atul’s Earth 14 February 2018
MINNIE is a feature film script with an environmental theme that reached the semi-final of Screencraft’s International Screenwriting Competition, 2015.
Please click the video file below to see the trailer. The feature length version has not yet been made. Please read the article below and contact me if you would like to help with funding or producing the feature length film.
’ve been on the lookout for a comprehensive solution to the challenge of climate change and energy supply for most of my life. Whilst renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are clearly a major part of the energy mix of the future, there are questions about the speed of their deployment, and debates about their negative impacts or limitations, such as the amount of land, plastic and other materials they would require to power the whole planet by themselves. Just ask any NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) whether they’d like a wind farm within their picturesque view of the countryside. Furthermore, in some cases there are questions about the ability of solar and wind to provide the explosive power needed for specific industries, such as aviation and those that require the melting of metal.
MINNIE is about a solution that doesn’t exist yet: nuclear fusion power that puts out more energy than it takes in to make it work. Scientists are working towards the ‘breakeven’ point, but are not there yet.
Nuclear Fission vs Nuclear Fusion
I’m sometimes asked why an environmentalist is supporting nuclear power. There have been valid and interesting debates about the place of nuclear fission in the energy mix of the future. But most debates so far have been focussed around nuclear fission, with nuclear fusion having a very low public profile and level of understanding.
Did you know that nuclear fusion is almost literally the opposite of nuclear fission, not only in terms of how it works, but also in terms of its waste, and the risks of something going wrong? Fission splits atoms, whereas fusion fuses atoms together. Fission produces significant radioactive waste with half lives of thousands of years, whereas fusion produces minimal radioactive waste with half lives of around 12 years. Fission is prone to meltdowns if something goes wrong, whereas fusion is so difficult to achieve that if anything goes wrong, it would simply stop rather than have any risks of meltdown.
Why this film needs to be made
Athletes are known for visualising success as a tangible method of achieving it. As a species we need to visualise a future scenario where the breakeven point of nuclear fusion has been reached, a portable sized rather than factory sized design has been invented, and the short half life of the waste has come down to zero.
That’s why I’ve written this feature film. To set out a fictional scenario where a genius scientist finally works out exactly how to make nuclear fusion work on small, portable devices that everyone can have in their homes, cars, planes, etc. You may remember ‘Mr Fusion’ in the back of the DeLorean at the end of the film Back to the Future. I watched that film over 20 times as a kid. It was obvious to me that something like that is needed, but it wasn’t until many years later that I learned more about the potential of fusion technology, and really understood its pros and cons. The main con being that it doesn’t yet exist as a net source of power!
Wouldn’t it be great if it was a reality? Fusion energy in small, portable devices could be so important for the future of mankind. We can make it happen, with enough investment.
But this film is about more than visualising a future with this technology. It also visualises what might happen to the person or company that makes the breakthrough on the technology. Would it be shot down, literally or metaphorically? Would it be so disruptive to the established energy companies that they would do anything to prevent the technology coming to market? Has this actually already happened, and most of us are simply unaware?
In this sense, MINNIE is about a whole lot more than ‘just’ climate change and the energy industry. The concept also applies in other scenarios of invention and innovation, such as finding cures for cancer, and the idea that pharmaceutical companies may already know exactly how to prevent cancers, but don’t want the solutions to come to market, as they need to sell cancer treatment drugs to continue their businesses and profits.
So that’s what MINNIE is really about. It’s about what humans might do when someone comes along with a disruptive invention that could utterly transform mankind. What would happen? Humans generally don’t like change: try folding your arms the opposite way to how you normally fold them, and you’ll feel the discomfort. Imagine if change means you’ll be out of a job, or unable to pay your mortgage, or feed your children. Would you try to prevent that change, even if it’s good for ‘other people’ in the long run?
If humanity wants to survive as a species in the long term, we must do whatever is required to survive as a species in the long term. And to do so, we need to be consciously aware that we must fight our own instincts towards short term rather than long term thinking.
As a ‘wise’ man, Sylvester Stallone, once said: if you have a message for the world, a feature film is the best vehicle for it.
That’s why MINNIE needs to be made as a feature film.
Like any great film with a message, it’s wrapped up in comedy, explosions, romance, drama, action and an awesome sound track. I want people to enjoy it, regardless of the message.
Documentaries can, and recently have, been made about fusion power. But I believe the entertaining, fictional approach will reach a more mainstream audience.
What about after the film has been made?
I hope that MINNIE starts an informed conversation in society about the potential of nuclear fusion, and raises awareness of it. From there, I hope that raised awareness leads to increased investment in the technology, and turns it into reality.
With enough investment, small nuclear fusion devices have the potential to solve the energy crisis and provide a safe, clean source of energy. MINNIE raises awareness of this, and the reality that vested interests of other energy companies might limit the development of the technology. With this clarity and awareness, such vested interests can be called out, and overcome.
Thanks to Pete Nicholson for animating the trailer, and to Dr Melanie Windridge from Tokamak Energy for technical consultancy on the script.
Call to action: this film needs funding, producers and actors
Whilst the feature length script and trailer have been completed, the feature length film version has not yet been made.
To make this feature film a reality it needs funding, a production company, and well known actors to attach themselves to the project.
To discuss your role in producing the feature version of MINNIE, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see below for summaries of the feature length script.
When an eccentric nuclear physicist’s eco-friendly invention threatens the profits of the world’s energy companies, a bumbling detective teams up with her robot and a Scandinavian to save her life.
The Prime Minister appoints an eccentric nuclear fusion scientist, DR MINNIE CHAMBERS, as his Chief Energy Adviser, sparking concerns from the oil, nuclear fission, fracking and solar industries. Minnie is due to make a public speech the following week. DETECTIVE CONSTABLE CHRISTOPHER CULHAM is appointed to head up security.
At the Chambers Institute Minnie shows Chris a small nuclear fusion machine she has created, around 6ft high, when a bomb goes off in another room. Chris and Minnie see a black BMW driving away, and Minnie summons her robot assistant, FARADAY, to chase after the car and capture a facial recognition image from the rear view mirror. This identifies gangster rapper THE SNOOZE, leading Chris and his new Scandinavian colleague, OSLO, to the Rosie Summers club. Minnie is also there and sings a song about plasma. Chris and Oslo leave the club with Minnie, but in the car park, The Snooze and his henchmen kidnap Minnie.
ARTHUR GIBBS, NOEL MOORE, RICHARD COX and YVETTE GRIFFITHS from the oil, nuclear fission, fracking and solar industries meet after their bombing of the Chambers Institute. LLOYD ASTON, of the ‘big’ nuclear fusion industry, and Minnie’s boyfriend, is in charge of the group. He reveals that he has hired an actress with a 3D printed facial reconstruction of Minnie. This MINNIE LOOKALIKE will deliver an alternative speech next week, containing advice for the PM that favours their businesses.
Faraday’s logic leads Chris and Oslo to visit the fracking site owned by Richard Cox. On site they recognise The Snooze, who tries to escape, but dies by falling into a fracking hole. Richard escapes in a helicopter, with Faraday hanging onto the skids.
Minnie is being held in a cell in The Shard, and skilfully escapes, killing Arthur and Richard in the process. Minnie finds her private plane and flies across the UK heading north. Noel chases Minnie in another small aircraft, but crashes trying to keep up with Minnie’s fusion powered plane. Minnie flies to her hideaway in Iceland, only to discover it’s been burgled. She returns to London and reveals to Chris what her latest invention is: a tiny, portable nuclear fusion device. One of her prototypes is powering Faraday, who gets shot by a sniper. Faraday reveals the sniper is Oslo. The Mayor of London throws Chris off the case, forbidding him from attending the event where Minnie is due to make her speech.
On the evening of the speech as guests arrive, Chris and Faraday watch from a distance in the hotel car park. Chris sees the Minnie Lookalike, and then the real Minnie being reluctantly escorted by Oslo.
Minnie notices that Oslo is concealing a bomb. She pushes Oslo down an elevator shaft, and evacuates the hotel. As the hotel explodes Minnie and Minnie Lookalike run shoulder to shoulder across the car park towards Chris, who distinguishes between the two by asking a question relating to the plasma song that the real Minnie sang in the Rosie Summers club. Chris punches the real Minnie, tricking Lloyd into shooting the Minnie Lookalike.
Faraday shows Lloyd on a 24hr news channel that Minnie has shared her small fusion designs with the world, enclosing them on memory sticks inside the heads of thousands of FUSION GIRL cuddly toys. Lloyd realises this means he can no longer prevent Minnie’s invention coming to market, and he doesn’t fight his arrest. Minnie, Chris and Faraday celebrate with a song on stage at the Rosie Summers club.