At the recent IUFOC in Phoenix, for example, Bentwaters witness James Penniston re-told the story about how in September 1994 he allowed himself to be hypnotized to help him recall what happened in Rendlesham forest and what it might mean. In the session, Penniston stated that he received telepathic communication from a landed craft in the forest and that the craft’s occupants had come from Earth’s future to gather genetic material to help them survive.
When I heard this, I knew that sounded more than a little familiar to me. Then I saw a post today from UFO skeptic Ian Ridpath who offered the explanation that Penniston may have gotten the idea from a movie he'd seen that claimed the same thing and aired just ten months before his hypnosis.
I wrote that movie.
In November 1993,the first original film for the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) was produced from my screenplay, Official Denial. Although it was about the UFO cover-up and was the first piece I wrote that invoked Majestic-12, it contained a twist ending in which the question turned out to be not where the aliens were from, but when they were from. The Others were not alien after all: they were ourselves. Having bred diversity from their DNA in order to survive an environmental collapse, they had returned backward in time to save us, and thus to save themselves. The abduction of certain people was part of a protocol to follow specific bloodlines that were important in DNA development and ancestry. Later, I followed that "Bloodlines" theory up in Dark Skies as well, as that was the title of our final episode.
For those who aren't familiar with him, James Penniston was an Air Force Staff Sergeant at a joint U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force base at Bentwaters in the UK. On December 26, 1980, he was sent to investigate strange lights in the forest. What he and others found was a triangular craft that he examined at close range and for an extended period. This has become one of the best documented UFO sightings in history, referred to as the Rendlesham Forest Incident.
My film was released on video in May 1994, only a few months before Penniston’s hypnosis. As Ridpath interprets it, "The similarities between the film and Penniston’s story are striking. Of course, we have no evidence that Penniston actually saw this film, so it could simply be coincidence."
Not could be, apparently, but is a coincidence. All debunker Ridpath had to do was ask James Penniston, something I just did. He wrote back: "No, sorry to say, never heard of the film nor watched it." There are probably lots of reasons why someone might recall what Penniston did under hypnosis (one of which, at least, has to be that it's the truth.) But we can rule out watching Official Denial.
For myself, I can tell you that my choice to explain aliens as being from our future came from believing it would be a surprising storytelling choice and not from any inside knowledge or even exposure to the concept. When I first wrote "Fade In" on the project, it was what we call a "spec script," meaning I was writing it for myself to potentially sell later and not on assignment. I had never read any theory about UFOs and time travel and, in actual fact, every person I told it to seemed pretty rocked (in a good way) by the choice. I just thought it would make a good movie.
In any case, while such a left-turn makes for a dramatic surprise, over time it came to answer for me several questions which have been asked about beings that have been variously known as Visitors, aliens, ETs and Others, and in a surprisingly consistent manner. It might explain why sightings increased markedly after World War II. That could simply be the "jump time" when the modern age began to truly unfold and where they began to develop the ability to track DNA lines successfully.
On a personal note, I wrote the first draft of Official Denial back in 1988 under another title, Progenitor, and it changed my life. My agent at the time sent it over to L.A. Law's executive producer David Kelley who read it and called me in to discuss working on his series. I was astonished when I got to his office and saw the hundreds of screenplays that agents had sent over as writing samples and found my own on the top of the pile. I wasn't complaining, I pointed out, but what caused him to read a UFO script and then call the writer in to work on his law show? Kelley said that the script had "authenticity," and that was it full of surprises and it held his attention through the entire read. So we worked together on an episode known as "Justice Swerved" in the fourth season of L.A. Law that was about parents who killed their baby, blamed each other and had, in its final 15 seconds a surprise even bigger than the time-traveling aliens.
As that Progentor script went on to production for SyFy as the newly titled Official Denial, it was plagued by its broad ambition and extremely low budget. Shot in Australia, the key alien was played by a 12-year-old ballerina in a latex mask that allowed virtually no expression whatsoever. The film is not available on DVD, only VHS (and, of course as an illegal download), and that may be a blessing. The ideas are powerful but the execution was not. It taught me one lesson, though. Two years later when I produced Dark Skies for NBC we gave creating the aliens as much attention as possible, given the state of the technology at the time.
Finally, I still have to make a shout-out to the lead, Parker Stevenson, who agreed to shave his head bald because I had called for it in the script. He played a character who was used by the government as bait (because of his continuing abduction experiences) in Operation Forced Encounter, a plan to shoot down an ET spacecraft. The secretkeepers kept him around when one of the aliens survived, thinking it might be possible that he could communicate with it. Stevenson's character, Paul, shaved his head to look more like the Gray as a way of trying to create empathy. So, thank you for that sacrifice, Parker!
Incredibly, to this day (last month at Orange County MUFON, for example) people still come up to me and say they loved the twist in that script and they just ignore the low production values. Bless them, I say. According to the Writers Guild of America, writers like me maintain the ownership of our own produced screenplays and can sell them or give them away. I choose to give it away now. If you want to read the draft of Official Denial, here it is available safely and securely from the YouSendIt site.
By the way, people are always accusing UFO authors and lecturers of profiting from their work which is clearly insane. By way of full disclosure to those who think I'm flogging Official Denial for monetary gain, there is none. Well, there is $1.33, which is what I got in a residual check the last time I got one.
Anyway, this particular draft is closest to the final shooting script of anything I can find in my library, although it certainly evolved over time (pardon the expression) from that original draft that got me hired at L.A. Law. My own thoughts and analysis of this issue has certainly evolved over the last two decades as well but, as a way to start a conversation on the topic, I think it still holds up decently. And with the Penniston angle now added in, it seems to have a certain amount of historical value ufologically-speaking.
I don't know if James Penniston is right about this hypnotic interpretation of his, but I do believe completely that something extraordinary happened in the Rendlesham Forest back in 1980. So while I'm intrigued to see that Ian Ridpath wants to use my film to explain Penniston's theory as a way of debunking it, I am not on board with that. Halt, Penniston and the others at Bentwaters are telling the truth. I've had my issues with Ridpath on this site before on this issue and his own pet theory doesn't shake anything I know about the quality of these witnesses which is extremely high.
When Rich and I were writing A.D. After Disclosure last summer, we discussed the entire time travel paradox. He thought this theory might even explain why UFOs have been seen throughout human history. Could it be that, in different time streams, there were no "ancient aliens" visiting our ancestors, but that future time traveling humans made the decision to appear in our past? From our present-day perspective, we would perceive these visits as ancient when, conceivably, they might be occurring at the same time as ours.
The notion of "aliens" as extratemporals, or time-traveling humans from the future, is intriguing, if a bit convoluted. Still, the idea of the Others as evolved, time-traveling, versions of ourselves has its own puzzles and inconsistencies. If people of the future are our visitors, then presumably there is another time stream in which we do not have a UFO phenomenon -- at least in the original time stream where the decision was made to go back into the human past. Or does the whole thing go in some bizarre loop?
All I know is that I thought about this so hard when I was writing that movie that there were times that I thought my head would explode. And when it came time to develop it with the production team from Wilshire Court Productions, the conversations got so insane we all started thinking we were on a par with Einstein which is a weird way to discuss any Hollywood movie, let alone a low-budget one shot on another continent, trust me. (Here's Professor Michio Kaku talking about it.)
In any case, the consensus today is probably that time-travel appears to be only theoretical, and that the full weight of UFO sightings and reports do not easily fit the time travel thesis. Maybe it would explain Nordics but, in my movie, it explains Grays.
The only thing we all agreed upon back during the development of Official Denial was the core concept: The Future Is Unwritten. That being the case, I am still in favor today, as I was then, in writing up a future that includes full, capital "D," Disclosure.
End UFO Secrecy Now.
To read other essays by Bryce: