This Savage Life Makes Us Hard to Kill

Tech wunderkind Thaviola “Vee” Quereau is ripped from her self-indulgent bubble into a violent, state-sponsored conspiracy when her estranged Black Lives Matter activist sister vanishes, inciting Vee to mobilize her vast intellect and resources to find her.

  • Courtney Young
  • Project Type:
    Short Script
  • Genres:
  • Number of Pages:
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • First-time Screenwriter:
  • Student Project:
Writer Biography - Courtney Young

Courtney Young is a writer and entrepreneur who splits her time between Southwest Louisiana (where she was born and raised) and New York City. She is the founder of Think Young Media Group, a boutique firm that writes film, TV, and documentary projects. She is currently completing a collection of short stories entitled Scar Tissue of the Extraordinary. She is a graduate of both Spelman College and New York University.

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Writer Statement

On This Savage Life Makes Us Hard To Kill --

This Savage Life Makes Us Hard To Kill is a TV series employing elements of action, afrofuturism and horror to explore the specific challenges Big Tech, the shrinking rights to individual privacy and the pervasive use of surveillance pose to African Americans and the possible repercussions this increased vigilance may hold in the near future. Utilizing a chronological structure, This Savage Life occurs in the Autumn of the year 2030, a month before the United States mid-term elections, and takes place in three locales -- Silicon Valley, Washington D.C. and New Orleans.

In the world of Savage, Big Tech is King. A handful of tech unicorns possess trillion dollar valuations, more money than the GDP of most countries, including the United States. Artificial intelligence and machine learning run the fundamental aspects of American life -- health care, policing & incarceration, elections, immigration, work, dating and even death. The country is governed by a Democratic administration with centrist leanings. Income inequality has skyrocketed, with the 1% becoming exponentially wealthier and the income of the working and middle classes staying fairly consistent. Demographically, the United States is browner, younger, and integrating more and more gender non-conforming language into the cultural lexicon. For some in power, these social and cultural changes are unsettling.

While Big Tech has, in many ways, made life convenient and less messy, it is also raising legitimate concerns for many, especially those from marginalized communities. As Big Tech becomes more omnipotent and more omnipresent, activists and activist groups are becoming more of a fixture in American political life. Those groups from Black communities have been responsible for the most aggressive cultural shifts and the majority of these groups are led by Black women. But in the world of Savage, those in these leadership positions are mysteriously becoming sick, disappearing, being incarcerated or otherwise just dropping out. This forms the basis of the conspiracy at the heart of the film in which a state-sponsored rogue group of powerful individuals, in collaboration with players in the tech world, seek to eliminate “troublemakers” and discredit their movement work in time for the mid-term elections.

Parallel to this political environment, in major cities around the country, local governments are building pockets of “smart cities”: neighborhoods that engage in the complete application of technology to empower local principalities to solve their own problems and create safe and problem-free spaces. “Smart cities” are feedback rich with the constant data flow from its residents allowing each neighborhood to optimize its resources in real time.

For example, neighbors can crowdsource approvals for a permit for a block party or vote for local office through the neighborhood app. Sensors in the sidewalk can heat up or cool, adjusting to the weather. Traffic signals can auto-calibrate to ease traffic and pedestrian congestion. Self-driving cars are a normal part of life. These pockets in America’s most populous, well-known urban cities are making life more reliable, responsive and efficient. These “smart cities” are typically wealthy, discriminating and overwhelmingly demographically homogeneous.

The constant reams of data smart cities accumulate ostensibly remain in the local city’s servers. This convenience, however, comes at great risk as hackers (or officials in local government who control all this information) can access these servers and orchestrate chaos with power outrages or the potential for massive amounts of real-time, personal data becoming available for nefarious purposes.

As Savage begins, a Black Lives Matter-esque movement is building as a result of the disappearances of dozens of African American women over the course of several years after they have entered the correctional system. The disappearance of a young woman, ReJoyce Sweet, is a top news story and it’s notoriety has led into investigative reporting that has found other women who have simply vanished. Behind this crisis is a cabal inside the federal government that is known to only a select few and headed
by the Vice President (although the President has no knowledge
of this secret society). The aim of this project is to track,
incarcerate and collapse (TIC) African American political power
and cultural influence.

Modeled in part on J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO program, once
someone enters the system, they are fitted with a surveillance
tag that can track their whereabouts and movements. Because the
incarceration rates are so staggering, every Black person in the
United States is at most two degrees separated from someone who has gone to prison making the US Black community the most highly surveilled community in the US and, consequently, severely
deepening economic and social divisions within the African
American community. Thaviola’s Better Cities initiative is,
unbeknownst to her, funded by members of this government cabal
who have siphoned the money through her Venture Capital firm to
further increase their strong hold on gathering intel.

THEMES/WHY NOW: Prior to beginning a writing project, my process is to ask one question. The work that follows is an ambitious attempt to answer this question. With This Savage Life, I’m attempting to answer the following: what is the responsibility, if any, of the creator of technology when that technology is co- opted, unbeknownst to her, for malicious purposes?
This Savage Life can most succinctly be described as Cambridge
Analytica meets Sandra Bland and the Black Lives Matter movement and concerns itself with how African Americans, African American women in particular, are especially and uniquely impacted by surveillance, privacy concerns and technology as both users and more and more frequently as creators.

Thematically, This Savage Life explores the following:

— racism (in tech and society)
— sexism (in tech and society)
— afro-futurism
— technology as a simultaneous source of good and evil
— political corruption
— surveillance
— privacy

As the United States grapples publicly with corporate and credit
bureau hackings, government malfeasance, the #metoo and #timesup movements, Russian involvement in our last presidential
election, vast changes to our immigration policy and the largest
incarceration rate relative to our world population, a highly
surveilled world is emerging making privacy a thing of the past
and the chance that any one person or specific community is at