One of the talks was on writing a sci-fi screenplay. An interesting talk, and I wish the guy had had more time to go into details like character and world building. Nonetheless, I picked up some useful tips and ideas about how to write science fiction.
- Science-fiction has to make logical sense within the world. His example being Back to the Future. Flux capitors may be completely imaginary, but the science of the film stays consistent. Marty needs 1.21 gigawatts to get the car into the past, and he needs the exact same to get it into the future.
- You can find good ideas by reading online news and magazines, so it is worth having an RSS feed. His example was a great news story about a doomsday ark that scientists were suggesting to put on the moon - as he said, there was a story already!
- Avoid cliches. A good general rule perhaps, but science fiction has lots of cliches and often requires a very original feeling concept to make it stand-out. The speaker mentioned a list of science-fiction cliches that was apparently really helpful. I'm not sure which particular list, but TV Tropes has a Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Cliches, which looks pretty extensive.
I'll write some more about sci-fi screenwriting and Sci-Fi London another time, but do check out the website - click the link in the first paragraph - and take note that they are holding a film competition at the BFI soon, where the challenge is to make a film in 48 hours, with only the props and idea they give you. The prizes will include camera equipment.