Virus ensemble film from Informant writer
Scott Z. Burns, who recently wrote The Informant, had been on the set of the film discussing with Steven Soderbergh a scene where one character sneezes and another complains about catching viruses, and as the topic wandered onto viruses they had a brainwave. An idea for a script was born.
The story is being described as Traffic meets Outbreak, so we're looking at an ensemble story about a virus spreading through them by the narrowest of contacts. As the virus moves, so would the story.
While discussing that scene screenwriter Scott Z. Burns and director Soderbergh took the idea further and talked about how a virus could be used to deal with…
"…issues of sovereignty…"
…and also how it could be used as a metaphor for how…
"… information and misinformation travel…"
…all sound interesting concepts, and it'll be even more interesting to hear how these play out in an entire story, especially one described as Outbreak meets Traffic, although he's distancing the script from the former film much less than he is the latter.
What I hope it doesn't turn out to be is a disappointing straight up virus film. However that might not be the case.
Burns was talking on a Creative Screenwriting Magazine podcast through The Playlist and First Showing and revealed that just three months into the writing and some sixty pages through, the swine flu epidemic began and it was leaping across the world. That's when he stopped writing.
Rather than leap forward with a virus story and try and get a film made before the epidemic was over, it seems there's been a high degree of intelligence applied here and Burns wants to wait until the swine flu story has run its course before writing the entire story.
Mind you, as positive as that sounds it's a very long way off of being a film. There are rewrites, possible other writers, director, producers, editors and the studio to all live through before the final show, and you know that the studio would prefer Outbreak over Traffic.
Burns says that if swine flu and bird flu were to combine the results could be very deadly, a very non-scientific analysis, but good for Hollywood. The real danger is when these diseases move into the human population and mutate, that's when the deadly viruses can really hit humans hard, no matter where they come from and how many other animals they have combined with.
With our daily reliance on anti-bacterial everything, viruses are building immunities and resistances to our anti-viral sprays, creams and drugs becoming stronger and more dangerous. Combine these things and then we'll have one hell of a pandemic.
It'll be interesting to see where this goes. Will it be a story of doom of how humanity has a hand in their own downfall, will it tell a similar tale to When the Band Played On and we'll get a tale of government incompetance in the face of a pandemic, tracing patient zero and possibly finding a way of halting the epidemic before ot grew further?
Or will it touch on the lives of the people that the virus leaps onto, travelling with it and giving us a glimpse into all these aspects through the lives of others?
Any of these sounds interesting, and with Scott Z. Burns behind the story then it does hold a lot of promise.