First Person: Going Viral Before Contagion

August 25, 2011 Bryce Zabel

While virtually everyone in the Internet world wants to go viral, back in the real world not everyone is so big on the concept. And for good reason.

Remember how lousy you felt the last time you had the flu? Now imagine that instead of getting better, well, that was it. The End.

The medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control think about such things all the time and, for over a year back in 2005-2006, we also obsessed about how a flu epidemic would change the world.

We came to the conclusion that it would be a pretty rough ride. Rather than expressing our opinions through a strongly worded letter-to-the-editor, though, we got to have our say in a multi-million dollar four-hour television miniseries.

Now, from what we can see of the new feature film Contagion, we feel like we were ahead of our time.

Although the final produced version of our project — Hallmark’s Pandemic — can’t compared to the brilliant production elements (fueled by studio cash and budget) that Steven Soderbergh brings to his version (written by Scott Z. Burns), our take Pandemic (written by Bryce Zabel & Jackie Zabel) won the Writers Guild of America award for “Outstanding Longform Original” in 2008. This means that multiple writers read our script that year and decided that, in our category, ours was the best of the bunch. We were pretty jazzed, we can’t lie about that one. […]

Extraordinary Measures (2010) -vs- Lorenzo’s Oil (1992)

January 21, 2010 Bryce Zabel

Both movies are all about overcoming the odds and a parent’s love that allows them to suffer anything to help their children. In “Extraordinary Measures,” this involves the Internet but “Lorenzo’s Oil” takes place in the world before all the answers were at your fingertips and, initially, it seems like a tougher problem. God knows it’s hard for an average guy to find venture capital and start a company but it’s not quite the level of problem as actually becoming a scientist and curing a disease. So, in set-up, “Lorenzo’s Oil” has more obstacles but it’s also way more daring with the characters. Although there are characters in “Extraordinary Measures” who aren’t saints (notably, the prickly scientist played by Ford), the parents sure are. “Lorenzo’s Oil,” in contrast, is daring enough to suggest that in this war to save a child that both parents become sort of, well, unlikeable because the stakes are too high to care about being nice. It’s a bold choice. Both films try to strike a balance in not stereotyping the medical establishment as unfeeling money-grubbers and to see them as scientists who are trying to solve a problem by being unbiased in their approach, something that a desperate parents can never really be.
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