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US military sends scientists to film school

Posted: 2005-08-06
From: Guardian
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He will have the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the brain of Stephen Hawking. Step forward the Pentagon's perfect Hollywood hero, possibly coming soon to a screen near you.


by Jamie Wilson in Washington

He will have the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the brain of Stephen Hawking. Step forward the Pentagon's perfect Hollywood hero, possibly coming soon to a screen near you.

According to the New York Times, the US military is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to send scientists on a screenwriting course in Los Angeles, with the aim of producing movies and television shows that portray scientists in a flattering light.

It is being billed as a radical solution to one of America's most vexing long-term national security problems: the drastic decline in the number of US students pursuing science and engineering.

The students at a five-day course at the American Film Institute included experts in rocket science, nanotechnology and genetics.

They agreed that films such as Deep Impact, the 1998 blockbuster starring Robert Duvall and Morgan Freeman, were the sort that should be emulated.

While the decline in interest in science is a problem for US industry as a whole, it is particularly acute for defence laboratories, which, because of security concerns, cannot use immigrants to take up the slack.

The idea of teaching screenwriting to scientists was that of Martin Gunderson, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California and a technical adviser to Hollywood.

"My thought was, since scientists have to write so much, for technical journals and papers, why not consider them as a creative source?" he told the New York Times.
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