Jeffrey Morris is a film producer and lifelong fan of Science Fiction Television and Cinema. He is also the founder of Futuredude Entertainment, which has been rocking it of late with some great short films like Oceanus and Parallel Man and all manner of other great science fiction concepts. At present Futuredude has several projects on the go. One of which is Persephone which tells the story of a desperate journey to save humanity and The Eagle Has Landed, which is a documentary about the much loved 1970s Sci-Fi Series Space 1999, which has just secured funding to warp ahead with its unique story about the creation and cultural impact of The Eagle Space Ships that featured on the series.
So wanting to learn more about Futuredude and its many projects. SciFiPulse caught up with Jeffrey and set our mind probes to work by asking a few searching questions about his many films, projects, and future plans.
SciFiPulse: First off can you tell us a little about yourself and the work you’ve been doing with FutureDude Entertainment?
Jeffrey Morris: I’m an independent filmmaker developing original science-fiction content. I develop adventure tales for live-action and animation that are often grounded by plausibility. I’ve always been a huge science aficionado and I think there is room for more grounded narratives with a basis of real physics and projected technologies. I also want to tell human stories with memorable characters that can serve as a new breed of heroes and role models.
SFP: From what I’ve seen you’ve done quite a lot with your company in what seems like a very short time. I recently watched the First Act of Oceanus, which I really loved. From what I could tell from my limited knowledge of Science. Oceanus felt very real and very much in the realms of possibility. Would you mind talking about that project a little and perhaps give some clues about where the story might go?
Jeffrey Morris: I’m glad you enjoyed it. As a child, I was equally interested in space and undersea exploration. I watched Jacques Cousteau specials and the Saturday morning cartoon Sealab 2020. I was super excited when seaQuest DSV launched in 1993, but was ultimately disappointed with its execution. While there have been lots of movies and shows set in space, virtually none have been made about the future undersea, so I created my own.
I tried to make Oceanus a mostly realistic human adventure. Obviously, we were projecting technologies like clear ceramic windows and hydrodynamic submarines that could withstand enormous pressure. I decided to shoot a short film to introduce the world. I also wanted to prove that I could make a compelling film in a single set with a limited number of characters.
My hope was that the film would encourage a studio or streamer to invest in expanding the project. To that end, I wrote several motion picture screenplays and TV bibles. We actually got very close to shooting a feature version a few years back. Unfortunately, like many projects, the financing fell apart before we could get it off the ground.
My goal is to relaunch the concept in the next year or so. I wrote a treatment in early 2023 for a new version that would be the first of a trilogy of movies. The story revolves around what happens to a futuristic underwater settlement in the mid-21st Century after a World War breaks out. Ultimately, the crew of visionary scientists are isolated the crew beneath the sea and forcing them to figure out how to survive on their own without support from the surface.
I’ve been in talks with a major European studio to bring the first story to life as a $60 million dollar film. My good friend, the late actor Lance Reddick, was set to star and his untimely death was a tremendous setback. However, we’re all determined to carry forward. We believe this is what he would have wanted us to do.
SFP: From the little have seen of your work. It’s very obvious to me that you have gone out of your way to learn about various disciplines in science and are looking to discuss topics like climate change. Would you mind talking a little about your scientific background and how you have been using it in your projects?
Jeffrey Morris: I’ve always been a huge proponent of science and critical thinking. I’m also a lifelong learner. I’m constantly keeping up with the latest science news in a variety of areas. This goes back to childhood. My mother took me to the library on a weekly basis as a child. I would constantly check out books on science topics. Weather, oceanography, and space exploration were my favorite areas of interest.
Carl Sagan is probably my greatest hero and role model. His series (and book) Cosmos altered my perception of reality when I saw it back in 1980. I’ve always sought to evangelize science to the masses. I think scientific literacy is the key to building a successful society—something sorely lacking in many countries these days. To this end, I actually taught science in the 1990’s to K-12 students and founded a non-profit called PROJECT UNIVERSE.
That organization focused on creating curricula that melded media literacy and science education inside of a space-exploration theme. That organization went on to become a contractor of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. There I worked with the Outer Planets Program in Education and Public Outreach. We developed exhibits, animations, and websites that helped bring hard science down to Earth for a broad audience.
I’ve tried to base most of my productions—with the exception of Parallel Man (which is something I call a techno-fantasy)—on a foundation of real physics and cutting-edge or projected technologies. I have what I call the “85% Rule” where I try to make my stories mostly plausible while leaving a little room for fun and speculation.
SFP: I notice that you have a few big things in the pipeline. One is your Space 1999 documentary The Eagle Has Landed and the other is the feature film Persephone. Would you mind talking a little about Persephone?
Jeffrey Morris: I’ve always been fascinated by the Alpha Centauri system. It turns out that the nearest star to the Sun, Proxima Centauri, hosts a planet (Proxima B) in its habitable zone. It was discovered in 2016. I wanted to tell a story about what it might be like to travel there. The only issue is that Proxima is a red dwarf star with violent solar flares.
Persephone is the story of a group of colonists escaping a climate-ravaged Earth who arrive at Proxima B expecting their pre-established colony to be intact and functioning. When they discover that the colony’s radiation shield is non-functional, they dispatch a team to repair it. This leads to a crash landing on the surface and a discovery that calls into question whether or not they should continue their mission to live on the planet.
It’s my 2001. The goal is to tell a sweeping adventure tale that is ultimately about Humanity and how it will proceed as a species as we move out into the universe. Will we make the same mistakes we made on Earth as we venture to new worlds?
SFP: The big project you have right now and one that is very close to your heart is The Eagle Has Landed, which sees you getting to look back at Space 1999 with many of the actors and designers that brought the show to our Television sets in the 1970s. Would you mind talking about your love of this show and how you have gone about getting this all setup?
Jeffrey Morris: I first saw Space: 1999 in 1975 at the age of seven. As a huge fan of NASA’s mission to the moon, it seemed logical to me to have a moon colony established by the end of the century. The world depicted in the show was so fascinating and enthralling. I wanted to grow up to live and work there. I was obsessed with the Eagle Transporter and desperately wanted one as a toy. I was thrilled when the Mattel Eagle was released in 1976.
Over the years, I kept collecting Eagles and ran into many other aficionados of the vessel and the series. I wondered why so many of us were so taken by a decades-old ship. I believe it has to do with the time the show made its debut. I think the Eagle represents a future we all thought we were going to have that never came to pass. This documentary explores that notion.
The project will include astronaut Charles Duke who walked on the Moon during the Apollo 16 mission. It will also showcase Barbara Bain and Nick Tate from the original Space: 1999. cast and many others. I’m going to give everyone a sense of the fan perspective while also looking at the cultural impact of the show and the Eagle specifically.
SFP: One of the many things that has really impressed me about the movies you have made thus far is the actors you have managed to attract. How did you go about attracting such well-known actors to your films, and who would be a dream person for you to cast in any given future project and what do you think they’d bring?
Jeffrey Morris: I think the key has been to focus on good writing and solid presentations to illustrate my vision. Actors have taken to that. I would love to work with Lee Pace. I think he’s a phenomenal actor. I’d love to write a part for him to play multiple roles. Perhaps twin brothers? His Emperor Cleon in Foundation is terrifying and memorable. I think he’s someone I could collaborate with to spin an amazing tale.
SFP: Obviously, you are a huge fan of Space 1999. What other Gerry Anderson TV shows did you enjoy and what was it about them that appealed so much to you?
Jeffrey Morris: I’m really into his live-action material, starting with Doppelganger (Journey to the Far Side of the Sun). UFO is my all-time favourite series. I love its retro-futurism. The cars, the ships, the clothing and hairstyles—all of it was amazing and before its time.
SFP: Given that you are a fan of Space 1999. Then I don’t think that I’d be on the wrong track by guessing that you are also a Star Trek fan. So with that subject in mind. What do you think of the current state of Star Trek and the weird journey that it has been on in recent years?
Jeffrey Morris: I wouldn’t normally share my opinion, but, you asked. I’m actually a huge Star Trek fan of TOS through DS9. I think TNG is about the best sci-fi television has had to offer. However, if I’m going to be blunt, I am not a fan of Star Trek since 2009. It’s been mostly about scene-chewing villains, lazy plots, and video game-style visual effects. I don’t care about the characters and I don’t find the depth, intelligence, and humanity featured in previous incarnations. I don’t think the writers get what made Star Trek work in the first place.
I actually think the universe has been in decline since Star Trek: Voyager which I labeled TNG-Lite. Regardless, the final shows and films of the Berman Years at least felt connected to Roddenberry’s original vision. To me, the recent material just doesn’t track. It feels forced, contrived, and very much off-course. I think it would be better called “Space Journey” and would rather see it as a new IP with some simple similarities to Star Trek.
The one outstanding aspect for me was Season 3 of PICARD. I really, really enjoyed that and it felt nice to have material that felt like actual Star Trek again. I do like STRANGE NEW WORLDS way better than DISCOVERY, but I think the retconning of certain aspects of the Trek universe is troubling.
SFP: What are your thoughts about current discussions about A.I. and Robots potentially being a threat to humanity? Do you think that we’ll learn to use these new tools in a hopeful and constructive way for the greater good? In other words, are you an optimist like me?
Jeffrey Morris: I have to admit that I’m on the fence, not because I’m specifically afraid of AI and robots, it’s more that I don’t necessarily trust the humans programming them. Humans are flawed and make mistakes. They also can have evil intent. I think I would personally slow development and work more on ourselves as a species. Look at the way social media has impacted our culture—in so many ways it’s been a disaster, especially for young people.
I think we need to focus on education and critical thinking via relying on developing the human mind as opposed to relying on technology to save us from the issues we face. It’s a human problem. I think fixing humans is the starting point. We can do better.
SPP: Finally, you grew up in the ’70s and ’80s like myself. So you most likely would have seen great shows like Star Trek and Space 1999. But you’d have also seen a lot of SciFi and Fantasy series get canceled after 12 or 13 episodes. Are there any canceled shows from the last few decades that you’d loved to have seen get more development? And if there is one. What sort of stories would you have liked to see that show produce?
Jeffrey Morris: I think Space: Above & Beyond is one of the greatest sci-fi shows of all time. It should have run multiple seasons. I would love to have seen where the fight with the Chigs led. I also think Firefly deserved a lot more time as well. I also think Caprica was canceled right when it was getting interesting. All of those shows were outstanding. I really hope the future will bring more great programs like the above.
SciFiPulse would like to thank Jeffrey Morris for taking the time to work with us on this Q&A. You can check out some of Jeffrey’s short movies on the Dust YouTube channel. We highly recommend that you look at Oceanus and Parallel Man to get a feel for the kind of work that FutureDude is putting out there.
You can also visit Jeffrey’s work at https://futuredude.com/