Script : The Last Earth Station
Writer: Kathryn Radmall
A graduate of The University of the Arts London, Kathryn has worked in repertory theatre , for BBC Television, and at The Victoria & Albert Museum, in the Performing Arts Archive.
Hello Kathryn! Welcome to Scénema! It is good to have you here!
Tell us how you came up with the idea of The Last Earth Station?
It was a logline challenge, set by Scott Myers on social media, using a word cloud as a prompt. I saw ‘Earth, station, black, star’ and immediately thought ‘What might an ‘Earth Station’ be? and decided it was Black Star, a generational vessel, flagship of The Homestead Project.
I’ve always loved maritime myths and legends; the mystery surrounding the Marie Celeste and the Resolven; ghost ships and lost treasure. I’m also a huge fan of science fiction, so this seemed an ideal opportunity to combine my interests.
The name Erebus symbolises utter darkness. It is a darkness that leads to Hades. Why did you choose this name for the team?
It’s strange the way names present themselves. I knew of the story surrounding the fate of the real Erebus and The Terror during the exploration of the North West Passage, so it seemed appropriate for a scout ship, venturing into the unknown, via an experimental warp tunnel, chasing what’s considered a ghost ship.
In addition, I wanted to explore the dark side of human nature, and how a virtue could become a flaw. Someone making a life-changing decision in dire circumstances that leads to their personal Hell.
The story is well crafted. The plot never seemed to waver. How long did it take you to write this?
Around eight months. I began outlining the plot in December 2020, writing character biographies and researching emerging technologies that might become commonplace in the future. Names are important. I spend a lot of time finding one appropriate for each character.
Sarah’s story is particularly appealing and filled with emotional moments. How did you shape her character?
I ‘interview’ my characters early on in the process. Setting a fictional journalist to question a fictional character may seem strange, but I find it frees them up to express opinions or share their ambitions, without my interference. I just take copious notes!
Writing such a diverse and well knit story is exhausting at times. How was your writing process?
I typically work on two or three scripts at the same time. For me, hopping between thrillers, rom-coms and holiday-themed stories helps to keep things flowing. Problem solving in one often knocks something else loose in another.
I take frequent breaks, and switch to handcrafts.. The almost meditative state that knitting brings on allows me to consider the several ways a story might evolve.
The setting is futuristic. Would you like to share what are the pros of having a futuristic setting? And what are the cons?
I think that ‘grounded science fiction’ demands you present reasonable scenarios to an audience. Generational ships may be a possibility, as is having to leave an inhospitable Earth in search of a new home. Superpowers are all very well, but if you’re going to leap between dimensions, or travel through time, you need to impose restrictions that give your characters practical and emotional problems to solve.
From your style, it is evident that you have a flair for such stories. Which stories would you particularly like to mention that fueled your imagination?
Growing up, I read a lot of science fiction – John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids fascinated me, as did Chocky, and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Current favourites are Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven, Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and Jodie Taylor’s Just One Damned Thing After Another.
Sci-fi is a fantastic genre to explore. You can paint large or small pictures; go anywhere in the Universe, stray into fantasy, if the mood takes you. I’ve loved the Star Wars franchise since the premiere of A New Hope. Having said that, the sci-fi movies I really connect with are character-driven; Solaris, Arrival and Blade Runner on the big screen; First Wave on TV.
Imagining how technology might evolve is both fun and frightening. We’re familiar with dystopian fiction and might be thrilled by strange new worlds and advanced technology, but also fear being enslaved by our own creations. I can imagine new propulsion systems that would extend the range of our travels, but on a psychological level, I wonder how we might cope in the vastness of Space, which as we know from life and fiction, does not play well with others.!
If you are asked to pick one character as your favourite. Whom would you pick? Who would receive the plot armour from you?
The station’s commander, Michael Decker is the character who both attracts and repels. I knew when I began writing the script that all would not be as it seemed aboard Black Star, but as the story progressed, Decker became more complex – a real study in light and shade. He’s been forced to make the most appalling of choices to protect his passengers and crew, keeping his dark secret for far longer than humanly possible. His actions may be understandable, but forgivable? Well…
As far as plot armour is concerned, all my characters are disposable, which may seem harsh, but life isn’t always fair, and sometimes, no matter how beloved a character is, the answer is ‘no’.
When are we going to see the script come to life? Do you have any plan to adapt your script to a film?
I would love to see these characters brought to life. They’ve been living in my head for so long! It could be a long process, but if I can gather enthusiastic producing partners, and attract cast and crew, perhaps Black Star’s secrets will be revealed onscreen.
Kathryn, as a writer, what do you want to offer your readers? How do you wish to inspire them?
I would say it’s never too late to start writing. My career path had seemed meandering; taking in sales & marketing, property management, and product development, but looking at it now, I realise my work and life experiences had a cumulative effect. Stories related by friends and family are woven into your psyche, ready to be re-told; and as I prefer to believe, ‘nothing’s ever wasted.’
It was nice talking to you Kathryn!