Monthly Archives: August 2007

What story?

While I’m on the subject of stupid people advertising for writers, there’s another issue which constantly surprises/confuses/annoys and amazes me: the directors/producers who advertise for a writer to flesh out their story.

They’ve got money behind them (proving there’s no link between money and common sense), they’ve got a story outline, they’re just looking for a writer to flesh it out.

Brilliant.

Someone’s going to pay me to write a script from their treatment – they’ve already done half my work! Getting the idea, outlining it, writing the treatment – that’s the hard part. Writing the script is a cake walk compared to everything which comes before hand – it’s all in the preparation.

So I apply for these jobs and invariably they send over the story outline.

Or at least, what they think is a story outline.

Usually, what they send you is a random series of notes which may or may not be about the same story.

Here’s how they’d outline the story of the ‘Three Little Pigs’.

“There’s these three pigs and a wolf and some bricks. They play golf a lot, sometimes on a Tuesday. One of the pigs builds a house but the wolf kills him. Then we have a bit with a vicar who wants some magic jelly, but the wolf is too busy with his PlayStation. Oh, and there’s a forest or maybe some Meccano and I think Charlton Heston would be great for the elephant rider. So after the house has been sold to a terrorist, it gets invaded by bees, but all the bees have got wellies on which is symbolic. And then the wolf marries a pig. It’s a kind of love story/social commentary on the state of Britain.”

Which often leaves me with three thoughts:

  1. What the fuck is that all about?
  2. Do I really want to work with this numpty?
  3. How much is he paying?

I’ve turned down so many of these idiots I have a standard reply … which I’m not going to post here in case any of said idiots are reading.

Which they probably can’t.

Honestly, I don’t expect a director/producer to be able to write – if they could, they wouldn’t need me and that would be bad; but I do expect them to have at least a vague story.

And by story, I mean something with a beginning, a middle and an end – not a random collection of words and images.

And the worst bit, the bit that really, really amazes me – some twat has given them development money.

Who? Where are these rich fucking idiots who obviously can’t read and have never been to a cinema in their life?

What the fuck is going on?

I mean really, I have low standards, I’ll work on anything – but how the fuck do you go about teasing a story out of the shit which spouts from the faces of these morons?

Do they ever get films made? Does anyone ever read their ideas and go “Ooh wow, a film about bees in wellies with pigs and shit! Sign me up!”

Unfortunately, yes.

It’s called ‘The British Film Industry’.

Categories: Rants | 6 Comments

Is it me?

Every now and then I apply for a job on Mandy.com which asks for script samples – fair enough – but they also want you to apply using their online form, which has no facility for attachments.

So how the hell are you supposed to send samples?

The producers or directors in question don’t provide an email address and they obviously ticked a box which specified ‘Applications only via this form’, so are they making the mistake?

Are they asking the impossible? Is it another challenge to weed out the unworthy? Are they on some kind of A-Team/Mission: Impossible trip – if you can find me, you can have the job? Or have they misunderstood the application process? Do they not have a look at their advert afterwards?

Or, and I’m prepared to accept this as more likely, is it me who’s as confused as a brain-damaged bee?

Is there some hidden (or blatantly obvious) box I can tick to attach files? Is there a way to get the person’s email address? Is replying to them directly (when they’ve asked you to use the form) the electronic equivalent of using the wrong colour pen?

In short, what the fuck is going on?

For whatever reason, the people who specify they want samples and don’t provide an email address rarely get back in touch. Presumably on the grounds I don’t send them any samples, even though I specifically state on the form I will provide them on request.

Only one of these mysterious people has ever got back to me (as opposed to almost all of the ones who don’t want samples yet or provide an address) and she seemed quite miffed because I hadn’t sent her any scripts. I pointed out the lack of email address and the form’s short-comings and she sent me a snotty email back claiming she had included her email address and insinuating I was obviously of a lower intelligence if I couldn’t find it.

I double checked, and still couldn’t find it.

So I’m begging you, someone please put me out of my misery – am I being remarkably stupid, or is it an oversight on their behalf? Maybe there’s some paid version of Mandy.com where all the serious writers can get the proper contact info/attach scripts?

What’s the answer?

Is it me or them?

Categories: Rants | 9 Comments

50/50

A day later, how far did I get through my list?

  • Cast Report for ‘Kapital’.
  • Go through my files looking for sketches suitable for two women.
  • Read and consider a rewrite to a short film
  • Watch the latest edit of ‘LVJ‘ and make notes about possible changes.
  • Write a new segment for ‘The Summoning’.
  • Write a comedy short for a DoP I’ve worked with before.
  • Rewrite a feature which may or may not be going into production soon.
  • If there’s any time, write some sketches for ‘The Treason Show’/‘NewsRevue’.

Hmm, four of eight. Not so good. Let’s take those one by one.

  • Cast Report for ‘Kapital’.

Took an hour or so: two minutes to generate the report, half an hour to sum up the characters in a pithy sentence and the rest of the time to comb through the script and try to find all the non-speaking roles.

  • Go through my files looking for sketches suitable for two women.

This also took about an hour. Mostly because I had to open and read all these sketches I’d forgotten I’d written. Some of them were really funny, some of them were really shit. The balance is about 50/50.

Must try harder.

I only found 8 which were suitable for two women. That’s a poor show.

  • Read and consider a rewrite to a short film

Read it, considered it. I think it needs a lot of work. I’ve emailed my opinion, I’ll wait and see what the response is before going any further.

Would you believe it? I’ve just had the response. I’m going to have a stab at a rewrite at the earliest opportunity (next Tuesday).

  • Watch the latest edit of ‘LVJ‘ and make notes about possible changes.

This took up most of yesterday and today. The film’s less than two hours, but I had to keep stopping it, rewinding, making notes, comparing the film to the script – finding the original script and seeing what the fuck it was supposed to be about. Realising the actor was improvising and had forgotten to say key lines. Combing through the movie to find the odd second where people are turned away from camera and exposition can be dubbed in … and so on.

Despite the raw state of the footage and the lack of effects in some of the key space battles – it’s still absolutely fantastic. It’s hilarious where it’s supposed to be (and occasionally where it’s not) and it’s dramatic when it needs to be.

And that’s as good as it gets.

And I found out I wrote some great dialogue such as:

“I’d just taken down this big case, I was the man of the hour, you know? So I was hiding in the can; there was a light and this big, purple-faced creature; a bit like Joey’s mom only without that funny eggplant smell. Next thing I know I’m here, pant-less in trees-ville, being interrogated by a giant, two year old midget.”

Which unfortunately got improvised over and lost. Oh well, them’s the breaks. If you haven’t already seen the trailer, it’s here.

Oh, and in a moment of quiet reflection after lunch, I edited the first ten pages of a script and sent it in to the Red Planet Prize. I’m not big on competitions and I don’t expect to win, but everyone else is doing it and I felt left out.

This is tomorrow’s revised list:

  • Tweak the synopsis for ‘Kapital’ so it actually describes the new draft. (1 hour)
  • Write another music video. (2 hours)
  • Write a new segment for ‘The Summoning’. (3-4 hours)
  • Write a comedy short for a DoP I’ve worked with before.
  • Rewrite a feature which may or may not be going into production soon.
  • If there’s any time, write some sketches for ‘The Treason Show’/‘NewsRevue’.

I’ve got to get to number three, the others are extras which can wait; and I’ve got a meeting in London at 17.00 so I’ve got to leave here by 15.00. That means I’ve got to be sat at my computer by 08.00.

Hmm.

Who wants to take bets on me not achieving any of it?

Categories: Kapital, LVJ, Progress | 3 Comments

Back to work

I had a day off yesterday, and very nice it was too. It’s been a long time since I did nothing all day, or at least intentionally did nothing. I’m not counting the odd days I have when I sit at the computer and completely fail to achieve anything – they aren’t days off, they’re just annoying. Fortunately they’re few and far between.

I finished the second draft of ‘Kapital‘ on Sunday, just waiting to hear back from the production team now. I’m curious to know if it makes any sense. It does to me, but getting the balance of exposition right can be quite tricky when you’re working on a project. Particularly when said project is designed to be the first of a trilogy and events in the second and third films have to be foreshadowed here, without confusing people.

Although there is one overall story, each film has to be self contained. We don’t want to go for the ‘Lord of the Rings’ thing of only giving you a third of a story at a time.

There’s a meeting scheduled for Thursday, hopefully it won’t revolve around the rest of them calling me names and swearing at me.

The second draft was a massive pain in the arse … and the fingers, back and eyes.

It’s taken me longer than any rewrite ever has, I’ve been working on it non-stop from 8 in the morning until 11 at night, every day for ages.

Except when I haven’t.

Like when I went to the pub last Thursday – but even then I worked on the train on the way up and back. The first outing for my gay laptop, I might add. An outing which proved no one wants to sit next to a bloke with a pink laptop. One guy sat down, but after a brief glance at the sheer pinkness of the thing, he upped and left.

Space to stretch out on a train, sheer luxury.

But the second draft’s done now (until the next lot of notes come in) and it’s time to move on to the next project. Jason Arnopp asked me when the last time I worked on a spec script was, and I honestly can’t remember. As appealing as it is, it’s difficult to find the time amidst the list of the things pending for other people.

As it stands today, the list, in no particular order, is:

  • Cast Report for ‘Kapital’.
  • Go through my files looking for sketches suitable for two women.
  • Read and consider a rewrite to a short film
  • Watch the latest edit of ‘LVJ‘ and make notes about possible changes.
  • Write a new segment for ‘The Summoning’.
  • Write a comedy short for an DoP I’ve worked with before.
  • Rewrite a feature which may or may not be going into production soon.
  • If there’s any time, write some sketches for ‘The Treason Show’/‘NewsRevue’.

And there’s something else. Something I know I’ve forgotten which is lurking at the back of my mind. Something someone asked me about writing for them …

Nope, no idea. If you’re reading and I’ve left you out – I will remember, I promise.

For anyone whose work is on the list – rest assured YOU are top of the real list. YOUR project is much more important to me than anyone else’s.

Honest.

Categories: Kapital, LVJ, NewsRevue, Progress, The Summoning, The Treason Show | 3 Comments

Fame beckons

Ooh, check me out, I’m 624% more famous than I was last week.

That’s a lot more famous than the paltry 141% more famous I was a few months back. I must be as famous now as some of the extras on Eastenders, surely?

And if fame is here, surely fortune can’t be far behind?

Well, yes, apparently it is. Fortune is stuck behind a tractor on the A27.

Categories: Random Witterings | 18 Comments

Short scripts wanted

FOR THOSE OF YOU FINDING THIS POST VIA A SEARCH ENGINE, PLEASE NOTE THE DATE – 14th AUGUST 2007 – I DOUBT MICK IS STILL LOOKING FOR SHORT SCRIPTS.

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You lucky people, here I am, giving away leads for free. If anyone’s got a 10 minute film script they want made, or even an idea they can write up quickly, then you could do a lot worse than get in touch with this guy:

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I’m going to be shooting several short films over the next year or two. I used the TriggerStreet forum a few years back and hooked up with a very successful writer with whom I collaborated on a short film which is in post as we speak. The initial purpose will be to show it to the execs at “CSI” where I work as the sound mixer, but I will also enter whatever festivals I think will be advantageous to forwarding my aspirations as a director.

I’m looking for synopses that involve three people or less and that have some action, flashbacks and a twist in the tale. I will contact whichever writers’ synopsis appeals to me and my producing partner and we’ll go from there. I am researchable at all the film sites so that you can ascertain my credibility and I look forward to submissions and ideas at mfproductions@bigplanet.com.

Thanks in advance,
Mick Fowler

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He’s a nice guy, he is who he says he is and he can do what he says he can. If you’ve got a suitable short film, drop him a line. I’ve worked with him, and it was a very pleasurable experience.

Categories: Opportunity | 10 Comments

Back on track

I’ve managed to move past the sophisticated block and get on with the plot, thanks in part to the director; but mostly to my wife, Mandy.

In the original draft, the character was a bored socialite who wanted something more for herself but didn’t know what that something was. She was cleverer than she felt she was allowed to be. Not having a job or any ambitions was part of her character.

And that worked fine, but the director wanted her to be more sophisticated – and I had no idea what that means.

To me, sophisticated equals boring. I racked my brains, trying to think of an actress I considered sophisticated without thinking they were dull, pompous or stuck up.

And I couldn’t think of anyone. This girl is the principle love interest, by definition she has to be interesting and lovable. Sophisticated is not a word I’ve ever applied to anyone I’ve ever fancied.

I had a chat with the director, but his vision of sophisticated wasn’t something I could get behind. The character he mentioned I found icy, boring and aloof – difficult to use her as a role model. He suggested a job for her: yoga teacher, which helps give her some direction; but I still had no mental image. Mostly because I’ve only ever met two yoga teachers and they were fucking nuts.

Later on, I was chatting to Mandy about my inability to get a handle on the character and she instantly suggested Audrey Hepburn, Lana Turner, Ingrid Bergman – in fact almost any actress from the thirties/forties/fifties.

Suddenly the word sophisticated was replaced with the words elegant, poised, graceful, charming – words which have a much better association for me and a whole new image popped into my head.

I can get on with the re-write now, I have a clear image in my head and her dialogue springs easily to mind.

And that’s why I love Mandy, she has the ability to say one or two words which cut right to the heart of the matter. She sees solutions to my problems; problems I’ve struggled with for days, she solves in a flash. And afterwards, I always wonder why I never saw that solution; they are always simple and always obvious – after the fact.

That to me is true genius, the ability to see the simple solutions from an angle no one else thought of.

Mandy’s the youngest of three sisters – she likes to play the baby, she likes to play the dizzy blonde; but underneath it all is one of the most insightful minds it’s ever been my pleasure to meet. There are very few people in the world who are allowed to see this side of her – I’m very privileged to be one of those few.

She’s got great tits too.

Categories: Progress, Someone Else's Way | 4 Comments

A post with no point

I’m stuck in the middle of the re-write from hell at the moment. It’s taking ages to get done, despite having written a new outline which details all the things which need changing.

The problem is, whereas in the broad stream of things the changes all make sense, when I’m going into detail with every scene – they don’t.

It doesn’t make sense for a character to know certain information – because she would use it. So I stop her finding out, but then a specific role she fulfils later on has do be done by someone who knows this info. If I get her to find out later, I have the same problem. So I have to create a new character.

But then the new character has to …

And on and on it goes. So far, every scene has had to be re-written – and not just tweaked, totally re-written. There’s a certain point in a script when the re-writes get so in depth it’s easier to ditch the script and start again.

I’m not at that point, but I’m not far off it. I think there will only be three sequences left untouched by the time I’ve finished, and I’m not really sure about one of them.

And there’s more trouble to come. The director’s asked for a change to one of the characters and I just can’t get a handle on her. He wants her more sophisticated, but she keeps ending up cold and boring. Possibly because I don’t know anyone who’s sophisticated without being stuck up.

I think the problem is I view the word ‘sophisticated’ as an insult along the lines of ‘pretentious’ and, weirdly for a writer, ‘creative’ and ‘artistic’.

When people hear I’m a writer, they inevitably say: “You must be very creative.”

Which to my mind sounds like: “You must be a cunt.”

What kind of wanker would describe themselves as creative, let alone very creative? How the fuck do you answer that question?

“Yes. Yes I am very creative. You may touch me now.”

I frequently describe myself as a genius, but that’s just simple arrogance; and hey, if you were as clever as me, you’d be arrogant too.

And as far as I’m concerned ‘artistic’ is only one step away from ‘autistic’.

The best painter I ever met never once mentioned ‘the transcendent nature of reflected light and its influence on the artist’s choice of pigment’ – he just put the paint on the canvas.

Then went to the pub.

Similarly, a writer just puts a story on paper. I do it because I like telling stories. I used to do it a lot when I was a kid, but back then they called it lying. Turns out, if you write it down you get paid for it.

Time will tell if I’m any good at it.

Sorry, this post is spiralling out of control. I have no idea what my point is and I really should get back to being stuck on the script. I’ll leave you with this one story which sums up why I hate artistic people. I think I’ve told it before and I’ll probably tell it again because I tend to repeat myself a lot:

I was standing in Kwik-Fit or ATS or one of those places, and there was a girl in front of me who was filling in a form to get credit for a £70 exhaust. She was complaining because there was no tick box for ‘Doctor’ on the form.

“Look, there’s one for Miss, Mrs, Ms but no Dr.”

The sixteen year old spanner monkey couldn’t really get to grips with her argument.

“Can’t you just tick one of the others?” He, quite reasonably I thought, asked.

To which she flies into a rage.

“No. I worked hard for my doctorate in ART. I want to tick a box marked doctor.”

Do you know when you want to tap someone on the shoulder and tell them how much of a twat they’re making of themselves? Or that perhaps a doctorate in art is the reason they need to get credit on a £70 exhaust?

Anyway, that’s it. There’s no point, just a meaningless ramble and some vague insults. I’m going back to my script now.

Categories: Random Witterings, Rants | 10 Comments

I’ve lost my mojo

I’m resting on my laurels and I haven’t even got any. Time was, I’d finish one project and bang straight on with something else.

  • Not working for someone else? Write a spec script.
  • Finished what I’m doing but don’t want to go to bed yet? Write a handful of sketches.
  • Got a spec project I’m happy with? Look for someone to send it to.

At the moment, I’m not doing any of that. I’m busy, true – but not so busy I can’t squeeze extra work in. Today, for example, I finished this music video script (another first for me – I didn’t even know they had scripts) and then I … just gave up. I downed tools at about five this afternoon and just fucked around for the rest of the day.

It’s not like I haven’t got stuff to do, but I can’t be bothered. I know exactly how long it’s going to take me to work through my list of jobs and I’m not pushing myself. I could have cracked on today with the feature rewrite I’m in the middle of, but I’ve already planned to do a little bit each day and I just can’t muster the will to push myself harder.

The way I’m acting, you’d think I’d actually achieved something of note which meant I don’t need to try as hard. Yeah, I’m working; but once the current list of jobs is done, there’s nothing to replace it.

I’ve got a feature in production, one in pre-production and five in development – but so what? There’s a better than average chance none of them will ever come to fruition – and even if they do, miracle of miracles, actually result in a film; there’s a very good chance none of them will be good enough to garner any attention whatsoever.

That’s not a slur on the people/companies who intend to make them, it’s just a statistical fact – most projects never see the light of day and most of the ones which do are a pile of shit.

And even if they all sprang into production tomorrow and even if they were all good enough to draw attention to my career – it’ll still be over a year before I’d see any discernable effect.

So what the hell am I waiting for?

Why aren’t I cracking on with one of the mountain of spec ideas I have lying around? Why don’t I make an effort to send out my three remaining spec scripts? At the very least, why aren’t I making some pocket money by writing sketches?

In short, why am I being so fucking complacent?

I think part of it is not having seen my wife, Mandy, for over a week (she’s an air hostess, you know?). If I’m lucky and her flight lands on time, I’ll see her for an hour tomorrow before I have to head off. If I’m unlucky and her flight is delayed, I won’t see her until Thursday. That’s shit, at best. I miss her.

Even that’s not really an excuse. Time was, as soon as she left the house, I’d throw myself at the keyboard and write continuously until I passed out from hunger.

Maybe it’s the heat, I don’t know. Whatever it is, it’s annoying the piss out of me. I’d like to say I’m going to turn over a new leaf tomorrow (or perhaps, go back to my old leaf); but it sounds like an awful lot of work and there’s bound to be something good on the telly.

Oh well, hopefuly it’s just a passing phase and I’ll be back on track soon.

Categories: Bored, Two steps back, Writing and life | 11 Comments

The first hurdle

My gay laptop got its first real test this week – I’ve been away from home for four days and I can report it completely failed to be of any use whatsoever for three and five sixths of those days.

I got exactly one sixth of a day’s work out of it – one battery charge – before it packed up and stopped working. It turns out one major component failed to operate in a reasonable manner and it rendered the whole thing useless.

Me, I failed to operate in a reasonable manner – I forgot to take the power cable with me.

There’s a technical name for this sort of behaviour, in an uncharacteristic display of non-swearing I’ll let you fill in the blanks.

Suffice it to say, the ultra portable laptop suddenly seems a lot heavier when it’s no fucking use to anyone.

Luckily, I haven’t got anything I desperately need to do – like, for example, a feature re-write, a music video to outline, a perfume commercial to write, a batch of replacement ideas for ‘The Summoning’ and a new short film to tweak; otherwise I’d have got really upset.

Categories: Kapital, The Summoning, Two steps back | 2 Comments

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