Poster for The Eagle Has Landed documentary featuring Jeffrey Morris (FutureDude) holding a scale model of the eagle fromt he 1970's tv show, Space: 1999.

Jeffrey Morris is the writer, producer, entrepreneur, and production designer at the helm of Future Dude Entertainment, a premier source for original and captivating, future-focused adventure stories that span genres, media, and generations.

Jeffrey Morris (FutureDude) holding a scale model of the eagle fromt he 1970's tv show, Space: 1999.
“Visions of the future move our culture forward, propelling us toward the next frontier of invention and creativity. While we inhabit a world inconceivable to those living 100 years ago, we still believe the best days of humanity are ahead of us. But to realize the world of the future, first we have to imagine it.”

~ Jeffrey Morris

I recently got a chance to chat with Jeffrey about The Eagle Has Landed, a documentary featuring a spaceship from the 1970’s television show, Space: 1999.

What is the most important thing that you want the audience to know about you?

It’s interesting because I’ve been at this for a long time trying to develop these projects and get them off the ground. The vision I have and the projects that I intend to create are on par with something like a Spielberg, or Lucas, or Roddenberry.

I’ve been told by others that I’m creating at that level and I’m just hoping that I can finally get out there and show the world what I’m capable of as a creator. The most important thing is that have a solid vision. I think that’s part of why the team that I have and everyone I work with believes in me and believes in the IP and the things we’re creating. I think that’s super important. I have a real belief in myself and in the content that we’ve been developing and creating.

I think it’s wonderful. Now, The Eagle has Landed is all about Space 1999…

It’s about a vehicle from the show Space 1999 and its influence. There are fans from around the world who collect models of it, and I’ve been collecting them since I was a kid. It was a big deal. As a matter of fact, I got really lucky on Christmas in 1976. One of Mattel’s best-selling toys in the seventies was a version of that ship and I was actually able to get two of them on Christmas. It was amazing! My parents got me, my great-aunt and uncle were coming to visit for us for got me one too. It was a big icon of my childhood.

I run into people all around the world who collect them and believe in them, and I was trying to figure out why. I think I’ve captured a much bigger um story which is that at the end of the day, it’s about the fact that in 1975 when that show came on, we were only a couple of years past the last Apollo moon mission.

There are a lot of people who, like me, were really enthralled with those moon missions. I think a big part of that was—we were so interested in what was really happening with space at the time. Project forward this story that takes place 25 years in the future (as opposed to 300 years in the future like Star Trek or something like that) and you could look at it and think: if that really happens, that’s gonna be me. I’m gonna be up there.

One of the things that was really neat about Space: 1999 is that it also had more diversity than Star Trek. The cast and characters were very diverse. Watching that show, you absolutely could see yourself. You could easily think I could be up there on the moon. I could be one of those guys. I could be one of those pilots. I could be in charge of that base.

I think that the Eagle, the fact that future never happened, represents a future that we never got to be a part of, and it still hasn’t happened yet. I think that’s part of why so many people have captured it and held on to it.

Which brings me to my next question because I for one, I feel a lot of disappointment. What do you think about the current state or progress of space exploration? How do you think we can move beyond this kind of static state that we’re in?

Well, here’s the thing. I personally know there’s a lot of excitement—and what I’m gonna say is controversial. I know there’s a lot of excitement around the private space initiatives. I still believe in a governmental Space initiative where a culture comes together—not billionaires and not, not individuals who are just out for themselves or whatever it is.

I’m talking about a culture and that culture comes together and says: we, we as a group have decided to do this and we are all going to work together. We’re all going to work on the education that’s necessary, the critical thinking that’s necessary, and the engineering and mathematics skills, and the necessities to build that society.

I think if we could make that choice as a society and put our effort there, it would solve a lot of our problems. I think it could move us past a lot of this left versus right fighting. I think it could move us past so many things if we could all come together for some collective goal. That’s doesn’t just have to be traveling into space and creating a civilization for us there. It can be anything would be a positive goal for humanity.

I also think it could help the earth in a lot of ways in terms of the ecosphere. As humans we need the ability to get off this planet, start looking back on it, realize how fragile it is. How unique it is to have this planet, in this ecosphere, in our universe.

The fact is we don’t know of any other life, let alone intelligent life, in the universe, right? There’s a massive responsibility that I think comes with that. If we could have a civilization where everybody– even if it’s just our country, the United States, that came together and said: we all believe in this collective vision. It could change the world and move us to a much better place.

I really believe in endeavors like NASA where we can say: we believe in this, and we’re gonna work together, and we’re gonna do it. That’s what I wish could happen.

I feel very strongly about that too actually. When I was growing up—I grew up on a small island and we didn’t really have access to a lot of television. Space: 1999 is something I entirely missed out on. I didn’t even learn about it until I read about The Eagle Has Landed. Are there reruns out there somewhere?

I think it’s like on YouTube, the streaming service. It’s also on Peacock, which is the NBC streaming service. There are a lot of places where the series is available on DVD and Blu Ray

I would caution you that it’s very Seventies. It’s not like modern television. For the time it was made, the production values were unbelievable. The quality of the production, the art and design, and its wonderful cast were impressive. It’s really, really well executed for what it is.

It was almost like a motion picture quality experience. The only thing I could say about it, though, is that the stories are very all over the place. There are some episodes that are fantastic, and some episodes are like, wow, what did I just watch. That’s part of the seventies-ness of it that makes sense, you know. So, when people go oh my gosh, this is so great. I gotta go watch this. It’s like, well, wait, wait, wait. You know, I’m gonna give you caveats because even my vision of that show and the feelings I have about it are really colored by the love that I had when I was a child.

I was watching the show, and I was 7-8-9 years old. Now, it wasn’t a show for kids. It was a grown-up show, but it’s a Seventies grown-up show where there was a lot of made-up science, a lot of contrived plots and things like that. Again, the positive though, is that there’s a lot of heart.

The premise might be a little crazy, but they lean into it and take it seriously. The first season, especially, is very intense and it has an almost spiritual angle to it. ow. There are a lot of different, different mixed things. It doesn’t compare to modern shows, but I would still recommend checking it out, but I would say check it out under the caveats of what I told you.

I noticed that the ship design for the eagle seems to have inspired a lot of modern-day design in video games and stuff like that. The first thing that came to mind when I saw the picture of the Eagle was—actually, I was recently watching Stef Stanjati stream the new game, Starfield. The Eagle reminds me of the ship that she designed for her character. In what ways do you think shows like Space: 1999 have influenced other creative properties over time?

There’s no question that it had a massive influence. Not only in there, but it also actually influenced Star Wars. The original design of the Millennium Falcon was similarly designed to the eagle that they had to change the Millennium Falcon’s design because they didn’t want to have a lawsuit. George Lucas actually tried to hire Brian Johnson, who did the visual effects for Space 1999 and designed the Eagle, to work on Star Wars. Brian didn’t get to work on the first Star Wars film, but he did work on the Empire Strikes Back.

What would you say that your own lived experience has taught you about how parents or families can engender a love for the stars? A love for space exploration. The kind of optimism that made the fifties through the seventies the Golden Age of sci-fi. How can they instill this in their children?

I think one of the things that’s missing right now is motivating critical thinking. I don’t think that a lot of the popular media does that. We’re not being challenged to think. We’re actually being encouraged to shut it off as opposed to turning it on. I think that parents have a responsibility because they brought these kids in the world, to look at them as entities that have potential impact. In other words, they’re not just somebody who’s just here to consume but somebody you hope will contribute and who you hope will be of value to our civilization. That’s how I raise my kids. It’s the idea that you have a responsibility to bring more to the world than you take from the world. You have a responsibility to learn how to think for yourself, reason for yourself, develop your own destination.

First, you have to learn what your skills and what your gifts are. The you’ll be able figure out how to exploit and take advantage of those gifts. That’s how you make a positive impact, not only in your own life but in the lives of others. Even if most parents today are very loving with their kids, they’re still not engaging with them. They’re not asking them questions. It’s always been very important to me to ask my children questions. For example: say there’s a book we read. When we got to the end I’d ask: what do you think? How do you interpret these things? Would you tell the story differently? What would you do differently? It challenges them to actually engage their brains and look at the world differently.

The Eagle Has Landed has been funded. What’s the next step?

Production will begin. We’re gonna have our first shoot in Bloomington, Indiana this weekend I’ve got a pretty intense shooting schedule that’s gonna carry me all the way to the end of the year. After that, we go into post-production where we have a lot of visual effects, music, and all the other stuff that we have to put together. We’’ have a rough cut put together by mid-January in order in order to submit to a film festival.

Then the really hard work starts. We’re gonna fine-tune and finesse it over the next five months. The goal to have it in the can and ready to distribute by May 2024. We’ve been working on it for about a year. I had already invested some into it. My company has already done several shoots. We’re just gonna keep that momentum going and keep producing it. That’s the plan.

I noticed that you have another very interesting sounding project coming up as well. What can you tell me about PERSEPHONE?

PERSEPHONE is grounded in real science, unlike most of the space fantasy we’re familiar with these days. I think a lot of people mistake the idea. They look at something like Star Wars and they call it science fiction or sci-fi but the truth really a space fantasy. I wanted to tell a story that was grounded in science that was set in space.

What I want to do with PERSEPHONE is it tells the story of a colonists who have left the earth behind, and they’ve traveled over 50 years to get to Proxima B, which is a real planet that was discovered around the nearest star in 2016. The basic idea is that there were some robotic ships that got there early and started establishing a colony.

One of the things about Proxima Centauri is it’s a red dwarf which puts out a lot of big solar flares. In PERSEPHONE, there’s a worry that while you might have a planet in the habitable zone, that planet could be hit by a lot of radiation. In order to live on that planet, they’re gonna need some sort of radiation shielding. What happens is they get there and after the colony has been established, the crew realizes that the radiation shield isn’t working. Since some of the crew are in hibernation, they now have to wake up the engineer who was key to the designing the shield.

Two crew members were born on the ship between the journey between Earth and Proxima B. They’ve never been to earth before, so they have a different perspective on life, the future, and everything. I’m pitting a person from earth, an older woman engineer against these younger people, who are in their early twenties, who were born on this spaceship. Now, imagine that amidst this powder keg of a high-pressure situation, they discover something happening on the planet that no one ever expected. Then the story becomes about questioning what life is, life as we know it, and maybe there’s life in the universe that isn’t as we know it.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s out to get us. It might mean that it’s just trying to exist and live its life. What if we trying to colonize and live there? What if we’re out to get it inadvertently? Then it becomes a question of which species matters more. There are a lot of moral dilemmas involved. Even so, it is an action-adventure film. That’s the kind of movie I want to see.

There are no guns involved. It’s not violent but it is an adventure with a lot of peril, danger, and intensity. We’ve had a couple of false starts. COVID hit us and derailed the project. We’re hoping to get back into production on this thing by the end of 2024.

We currently have Ming Na Wen who is a wonderful actor. She’s set to play the lead. We have Esai Morales who we’re targeting to play the captain of the ship. It’s a pretty cool cast that we have put together.

Comment:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recommended Posts

portrait of an angry robot
Writing Craft & Inspiration

AI “Writing” and “Art” IS Theft & Yes, I’m Willing to Die on This Hill

The US Copyright Office is conducting “a study regarding the copyright issues raised by generative artificial intelligence (AI)” and the public has been invited to submit comments on the matter. The Office published a notice of inquiry on August 30, 2023. Initial written comments are due by 11:59 p.m. eastern

Tonya R. Moore
Photos of authors Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Joshua Uchenna Omenga alongside the cover of their book Between Dystopias: The Road to Afropantheology
Interviews

Digging Deeper into Afropantheology’s Roots

I recently had the opportunity to interview Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Joshua Uchenna Omenga, the authors of the forthcoming Between Dystopias: The Road to Afropantheology, a collection of short stories and essays examining the lore and and lived experiences comprising the foundations of African speculative fiction.  Two weeks ago, Publishers

Tonya R. Moore

Discover more from Tonya R. Moore

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading