Monthly Archives: February 2011

Drama condoms

I’ve been reading a lot of scripts recently and there’s one problem which keeps cropping up – mobile bloody phones.

Mobile phones exist, people use them. Okay, I get that. Watching a character run all over town instead of just phoning ahead is fucking ridiculous to watch; but conversely, watching two people argue using mobiles is fucking tedious.

Phones are drama condoms; they weaken the tension and lessen the intensity – if two people are having an argument, for fuck’s sake just put them in the same room.

Okay, so if one character’s in danger and the other person can only hear the danger over the phone, can’t help and doesn’t know the outcome – that’s dramatic and tense … but if they’re arguing with each other – Christ. Just put them in the same room! I want to see them scream at each other, I want to see how one person reacts when he sees how his words affect the other person. Flecks of gob should hit the other person’s face! Don’t fucking separate them.

Physical separation is bad. Eye contact is good. Stop taking the safe option – you’re a writer. Your job is to make your characters go through hell – do nothing to help alleviate that hell. Don’t help them. Don’t go easy on them. And for fuck’s sake don’t have the tense, complicated bits happen off screen! That’s not using a condom, that’s letting someone else have the sex for you.

Goddamn it, I want my drama on screen, in front of me with lots of shouting. SHOUT! Get angry. Or cry. Or cringe in fear, just be Goddamn dramatic. Face to face, eye to eye! Make those shiftless, work-shy actors earn their fucking money!

Unleash hell! In person!

Phones. Are. Bad.

Except when they’re not.

Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.

Categories: Rants | 5 Comments

Persona Catch-Up

Someone once said “Life is like a whodunnit, only you’ve missed the first five minutes so have no idea what’s going on, who anyone is or even who was murdered in the first place. Your only option is to keep going and hope it all makes sense in the end.”

Actually, I think it was me who said that when I was a teenager.

Hmm … if I ever do invent/steal/inherit a time machine, the first thing I’m going to do is go after my teenage self with a big stick. Precocious dick.

Still, if only there was someway of catching up on all the things you’ve missed …

Well, there isn’t. Not for life. Tough shit, learn to deal with it …

However, there is for Persona!

Yes, you could wait until the end of next month and watch it all in one huge drama-ery pile; but it’s not meant to be watched like that and you’ll always be a month and a bit behind your friends. Sooner or later you’re going to have to man up and dive in.

Luckily, help is at hand. Simply click this link: http://persona-catch-up.blogspot.com/ and you’ll be magically whisked away to a land where all the information you need is at your fingertips, ready to be flung into your eyeball at the speed of light.

Don’t worry, it won’t hurt a bit. You will, however, be suddenly and instantly given the wonderous gift of wisdom.

Not general wisdom, but the quite specific kind which relates to the lives, loves, laughs and longings of our four Persona characters.

Go on, click it. Click it now. You know you want to, you filthy drama-whore.

http://persona-catch-up.blogspot.com/

Categories: Persona | 3 Comments

Junk file

Back in 2010 (remember that?) the excellent Mr Arnopp wrote a blog post about Running Notes.

I do that, I make running notes; but it got me thinking: are there other techniques we use which may not be universally used?

Is there anything you do which you assume every other writer must do … but what if they don’t?

For example, I use a junk file for every script. Anything which gets edited out during the writing of that draft, gets dumped into the junk file. I keep every draft, subsequent drafts are saved as a new file; but every now and then I write a page or two in the current draft and the next decide it’s shit or takes up too much room – rather than just deleting it from the draft forever, it gets moved to the junk file.

The reason I do this is because I once wrote a segment for a Horror anthology movie which had to be 12 minutes long. I hit page 6 and realised it was going to be too long, so I edited it down to make space for the end. All well and good.

During a discussion with the producer I told him about the original beginning and he got all excited (a horrible state of affairs) and asked if he could read it … but he couldn’t, I’d deleted it. Which left him looking all sad (an even worse state of affairs – a sad producer looks like a kitten which has fallen into a toilet).

Never wanting to be in that situation again, I set up the junk file system and now I never lose anything. Ever. Except when I forget to do it, in which case I do lose it. Quite frequently, in fact.

So there you go, the junk file. Do you use one?

What else do you do that I should?

Categories: My Way | 7 Comments

Persona – USA

Congratulations! If you’re living in America, you too can get Persona on your iPhone!

For those of you not in the know: Persona is a daily, 2 minute drama delivered right to your phone for the very reasonable price of  … something a year. £1.19 in UK money … $1.50 maybe? It’s not very much, anyway – not for 2 minutes a day, everyday for a year, of top-notch UK drama.

For those of you even further not in the know, the UK is a tiny island off the coast of Europe. That’s the bit between you and Russia, no, the other way … to the East.

Yes, that’s us!

Hello!

A brief potted history of the UK, just to bring you up to speed.

A few thousand years ago, there was no one here. Then people started turning up and they were quite angry. For reasons no one can figure out, everybody and his dog invaded the UK, or Britain as it’s sometimes known, for about a thousand years or so. All of these angry people attacked, raped a bit and then settled down: Romans, Vikings, Angles, Saxons, Jutes – they all came over and had a pop.

About a thousand years ago, the last bunch of invaders (the French) turned up and murdered so many people we had no choice but to proclaim one of them King – because that’s how monarchy works, the biggest mass murderer gets to wear the crown.

Despite being a mixture of pretty much everyone who happened to be walking past with a big stick, the British don’t really like foreigners and are immediately suspicious of anyone who isn’t British – ie: descended from violent psychopaths. We like to cherish this heritage by dressing up in bright colours and hurting people, we used to call this war; but then some bastard went and invented machine guns so now we call it ‘football’.

Our football is different to your football since in our football we actually use our feet. Although the main reason for football is so we can all get together and punch foreigners. If there are no foreigners present, we’ll settle for punching each other. If someone turns up with a ball, all the better.

For reasons no one really understands (mainly because this entire period of history has been banned from British history books) Britain once ruled the entire world … even you guys. We were the ones you were fighting during the War of Independence – we lost! But for some reason, we seem to have started celebrating it on TV in recent years.

After the two World Wars, Britain was bankrupt and had to start running after America like some yappy fucking lapdog who’s desperately hoping its owner doesn’t find out it’s taken a shit on the rug. To some of us, this is an affront to our national pride. To others, it doesn’t really matter since America has cool stuff like explosions, guns and fast cars … or at least that’s what TV tells us.

Britain invented the Industrial Revolution and for a while we were the cleverest people in the world. For some reason, we’re not particularly proud of this and we never talk about that either. Instead, we try to be as stupid as possible by shouting at anyone who seems remotely clever (except Stephen Fry – we like him, he’s a national treasure).

We do like to think of ourselves as being important on the world stage … but then, who doesn’t? And let’s be honest, if there is another World War, we’ll be the first ones to look cross on TV.

One thing we have done recently, which you haven’t quite managed, is to invent Persona – the world’s first, daily continuing drama created by App-Media exclusively for iPhones.

We’ve got that. We’ve done it. And now we’re giving it to you. Simply click this link:

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/persona-drama/id417940950?mt=8

Purchase the app (for mere cents) and you’re away! 2 minutes of UK drama on your phone each and every day. It’s set in London, if that helps – London was in one of the Bourne films so you may have heard of it.. And Mission Impossible. And Austin Powers.

In fact, Austin Powers is pretty much a documentary for how life works in the UK.

Although, if you really want to see how life in the UK works … simply download Persona from App-Media at your local iTunes store.

Please.

Oh and if you could tell lots of people, that would be brilliant too. Thank you.

Categories: Persona | Leave a comment

Persona launches … right now!

Persona, the world’s first continuing drama series created exclusively for smartphones launches … right now. Right this second. A daily 2-3 minutes of sizzling drama delivered right to YOUR phone!

Yes, you madam!

No, not you; your phone’s shit. I’m talking to the woman behind you. Yes, you! You can get PERSONA delivered each and every day to YOUR phone!

Every day, 365 days a year for  … wait for it … £1.50!

I know!

Actually, if you’ve got an iPhone, you can get it for £1.19 – there has to be some compensation, I suppose.

And you can get it right now! It’s started, it’s happening right now!

If you’re an iPhone user – get it from iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/persona-drama/id417940950?mt=8

If you’re on Android, Windows or indeed any other internet-capable phone, just text PERSONA to 87474 and magic pixies will grant you access to the happy place.

Or send you a link so you can watch the appisodes. One 2-3 minute appisode a day for a whole year.

Awesome, isn’t it?

Hopefully.

Okay, so here’s the skinny, kid – I appear to have been transported to the 1930s. What the hell am I talking about? Skinny? Really?

Okay, so here’s the deal – this is a completely new venture. No one has tried it before and it will either be a rip roaring success or a complete and dismal failure.

Or somewhere inbetween, I suppose; but that doesn’t sound as snappy.

I’d rather it was the former.

And so would you, you just don’t know it yet.

At the moment we have approximately 20 writers on the roster and if PERSONA takes off, we’re going to need a fuck load more. That’s where you come in – helping us now helps you in the future.

And helps me now, which is the important bit.

But it will also help you.

Yes, you madam! The one with the shit phone!

I’m particularly keen on giving new and emerging writers their first paid, produced credit. I like working with experienced people too, don’t get me wrong – but there’s something lovely about giving people a leg up. If PERSONA goes the distance, we’re going to be recruiting more writers and, of course, I want you to apply.

The thing is, PERSONA is a for-profit venture. If it doesn’t make money, it won’t last. The only way for it to make money is if YOU get behind it.

Yes, you madam. Fuck it, both of you. No, it doesn’t matter how shit your phone is.

What we need at this crucial, fragile post-natal moment is your support. Either by watching PERSONA yourself (come on, £1.50? You can afford that. Tell you what, I’ll buy you a drink next time I see you, deal?) or by spreading the word far and wide: friends, family, Facebook, Twitter, down the pub, a sticker campaign – carve it into a dog’s face if you have to (don’t do that, please) but just help get the word out there.

Preferably, do both. Or just one of them.

No, do both for fuck’s sake – do it. Now!

Please?

Any support you give us is greatly appreciated. You can find out more about PERSONA at these fine establishments:

There’s more info here: http://persona.app-media.com/

A Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/Persona.App.Media

And a Twitter feed here: http://www.twitter.com/persona_gossip

I’d love to hear what you think.

PERSONA – a big drama in the palm of your hand.

Categories: Persona | 2 Comments

Persona – an uncertain number of days to go!

What’s this? Uncertain?

They aren’t I am. I know it’s starting on Saturday; but how many days is that from now?

3?

That makes sense, it’s the ninth today so 12 minus 9 = 3.

I think.

… checks on calculator …

Yes. 3.

Although – today, tomorrow, Friday and Saturday – that’s four days to go.

Does today still count as a day? Or do you just count tomorrow, Friday and Saturday?

Or just tomorrow and Friday?

Life is so confusing!

Regardless, Persona (the world’s first continuing drama series created exclusively for smartphones – try to keep up people) starts this Saturday – 12th February 2011.

For a measly £1.50 you get a whole year’s worth of appisodes. A whole year! 365 appisodes for £1.50! That’s …

… checks calculator …

£907.43 per appisode!

No, that can’t be right. Which one’s the divide button?

0.41 of a pence per appisode.

.41! That’s got to be worth a punt, surely?

You can get all the latest Persona news here: http://www.facebook.com/Persona.App.Media#!/Persona.App.Media

Or follow and discuss the characters on Twitter here: @persona_gossip

I’m quite giddy with excitement.

Or is it sunstroke?

Who knows? Check out the latest BTS footage while I go and have a lie down.

Categories: Persona | Leave a comment

Karma Magnet online

A short film I wrote, Karma Magnet is available over at Dread Central:

http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/42380/short-film-debut-karma-magnet

Directed by Martin Kemp,  the film stars Gary Kemp and Adele Silva.

And if you enjoy it (or even if you don’t) I wrote a blog post about writing the short here; which includes links for the original treatment, original script and the final shooting script which may (or may not) prove illuminating.

Categories: Karma Magnet | Leave a comment

Persona – release date!

Persona, the daily drama delivered exclusively to your smartphone (yes, you!), has finally gotten a release date.

Hooray!

It’s had three release dates so far, but I’m assured this one is THE ONE.

When?

Why, the 12th of February, of course!

Why?

Why the fuck not?

Think of it as an early Valentine’s Day present from me to you; because I love each and every one of you. (Especially you, don’t tell the others.)

To whet your appetite, here are some behind the scenes videos:

and

I’ve written a bit of Persona, these people have written most of it:

John Soanes

Adam Spinks

Ronnie Mackintosh

And a damned fine job they did too.

Don’t believe me? Well, you can see for yourself on the 12th, can’t you? I’ll see you there!

Well, okay, I won’t see you there; because ‘there’ is wherever you happen to be on that day with your phone. The chances of me being anywhere near anyone who reads this blog on that specific day are pretty minimal; but just in case, and as is traditional, I shall be fucking off to the Caribbean and hiding amongst the bikinis and cocktails.

Thinking of you, obviously.

Oh, and I’ll probably post some details about how to actually watch the show as soon as I understand it myself.

I’m going now.

Bye.

Categories: Persona | Leave a comment

#scriptchat and agents

On Sunday night, I guested on #scriptchat, talking on ‘How to get writing work without an Agent?’

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Him? Really? They’d already scraped the bottom of the barrel and he was still the best they could get?”

Well, apparently, yes. Maybe there’s been some kind of writers’ cull?

Anyway, I came, I chatted, I wished I’d learnt Latin so I could write this sentence in a really cool way.

If you can make head or tail of it, there’s a transcript here. Once I’d got my head round trying to process questions flung hither and thither and answering in 140 characters or less (less, if you include the #scriptchat hashtag), I really enjoyed myself, even if I did seem to end up firing out a string of sub-Jerry-Maguire’s-mentor-isms. I mean, seriously, I was pissing myself off after a while, God knows what anyone else thought.

In the question free-for-all, I think I managed to miss one or two – I did go back and answer one or two privately, but re-reading all the chat just made my eyes hurt and brain wobble, so I gave up. If I missed you out, I’m sorry – ask me again here or email me and I’ll answer as best I can.

One thing I do want to clear up though is one of my initial, panic-fuelled statements:

Agents aren’t needed to get work, not initially. In fact, I’d say they hamper you in the initial stages of your career.

I feel I should explain this, since it sounds like I’m pooh-poohing agents, and I’m really, really not. If you can get an agent at any stage of your career, you should. Absolutely, you’d be a bloody fool not to.

However, sometimes, under certain conditions I think they can be detrimental. I’ll try and explain, but will probably end up talking myself out of it, since I rarely think these things through beforehand.

Sometimes I think a new writer can write an absolutely excellent script (possibly several excellent scripts), bag themselves a well-deserved agent … and never actually find any work. The problem as I see it is agents want to make money for you and them (which is fair enough) but there are only a few places to get paid proper money for writing in the UK and there’s a lot of competition.

This new writer is a small, inexperienced fish competing with the bigger, more experienced ones.

Sometimes that works out – which is cool, congratulations.

Sometimes it doesn’t, because the writer has no idea how to write to deadlines, to a brief, with co-writers, with a script-editor, a producer, a director, to a budget … basically, they have no idea how to do the actual job. Some learn very fast from lovely people and it’s no problem – after all, the only experience which counts is on the job experience.

But what if the people you work with aren’t so sympathetic? What if they get pissed off with you because you argue notes instead of steering them towards sense or you miss deadlines or you can’t grasp the concept of how many camera set-ups are needed per scene? You can end up getting a bad name for yourself because you’ve jumped into the game too soon and don’t understand all the rules.

Another problem could be you find yourself going up against writers with more credits – if a commissioner has two equally good ideas, they’re more likely to go with the person who they KNOW can deliver the goods. If your agent only wants to put you up for well paid jobs, you might find yourself constantly passed over for more experienced writers.

And this is where my knowledge of agents and their practice really starts to show me up, because maybe none of this happens? Maybe agents are sensitive to the need to gain experience and credits and recommend their clients work for free occasionally? Or work on cheaper productions?

Some facts I have observed/been privy to:

A few agented writers I met them seven years ago who had no credits – still have no credits now. They might well be earning a living behind the scenes doing development work, but on the Internet, they look like they’ve done nothing.

A writer who was offered a feature film gig – for good money. Their agent demanded more money … and lost them the gig. Because for that money the producer could get X – who is a much better (or at least better known) writer. If the new(ish) writer hadn’t had an agent, they would have got the gig, been paid what (to them) was a lot of money and gotten a credit on a really good film.

A brand spanky new writer who landed a flurry of high-profile TV work, couldn’t quite handle the pressure/deadlines/writing to budget skills and doesn’t seem to have worked since. The initial flurry seemed to be a cascade effect from being offered one show – everyone else assumed she must be good and hired her too … then they found out she wasn’t. Not that she’s a bad writer, just inexperienced.

And probably other such stories, if I can be bothered to use my remembering engine.

Which I can’t.

So that’s why I say an agent COULD hamper you in the initial stages of your career. Only could, mind. Probably won’t, just could. I am in no way anti-agent or bitter because I can’t get one or angry because the one I’ve been trying to sleep with slept with my best mate.

In a way, I’d quite like an agent. In other ways, I’m quite happy pootling along writing whatever the hell I like for whoever I please.

I have this vague fear an agent will want me to compete with writers who are better than me, when I can avoid the confrontation by working with people who want to work specifically with me.

I have no basis for this fear and do wonder if I should make some kind of agent-getting effort soon; but at the moment I’m in constant employment (too constant – sorry, sorry, I am getting to your script), I’m getting work produced and I get to keep 100% of the money I earn – apart from the tax; but thinking about that just makes me cry.

Every now and then I make a quick sweep of Agencies, wondering if I’d like to approach some of them. I did once, long ago and had a lot of positive responses … but didn’t really follow any of them up. If I’m totally honest, I’d like to be represented by these people:

The Rod Hall Agency

Purely on the grounds their website is orange and elements of it are a little silly. I like silly. And orange.

The colour. I’m fairly ambivalent about the phone company.

So, yes, this was a long post; but the salient points are:

  • #scriptchat – I enjoyed it.
  • Agents, I don’t have anything against them.
  • Getting an agent too soon might not be as brilliant as you think (but probably is).
  • I like the colour orange

And that’s it, really. I should probably do some work now.

Probably.

Categories: Industry Musings, Random Witterings | 2 Comments

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