Monthly Archives: June 2011

Joy

That’s what’s missing from a lot of my scripts, Joy.

You know, besides good dialogue, great action sequences, intimate moments of drama and a plot that actually makes some fucking sense – I know those things should be in there too, but they’re difficult and I’m inherently lazy.

Joy. All my favourite films have it, little moments of pure joy snatched amidst the unfolding drama.

Take this clip from Lilo and Stitch for example:

(Okay, so I’m writing this on a plane with no internet access. The clip I’m after may or may not be available online. If it’s not, the rest of this post makes no sense. By rights, I should really go back and edit this bit out; but that conflicts with my pre-stated fundamental laziness. If the clip’s not here, it’s meant to be the surfing scene with the Hawaiian music. I’m actually writing this in January too, but for reasons I’m not prepared to explain I’m going to choose a random future date to publish it. It’ll be a nice surprise for us all.)

If you haven’t seen Lilo and Stitch – you should. If you have seen it and didn’t like it then you’re wrong in every conceivable way. So wrong in fact your very wrongness is probably seeping into the fabric of space/time itself and causing all sorts of other wrongness across the universe.

Like the Middle East and murderers and wasps.

See what you’ve done? Your selfish dislike of a movie I love has ruined a million picnics. You bastard.

What’s that? You’re entitled to your opinion? That’s true, just not when it conflicts with mine. True fact. So shut the fuck up, you’re arguing with me months into the past – it’s just weird now.

Anyway … Lilo and Stitch, surfing, joy. That’s a joyous scene (unless it’s not there because I couldn’t find it), a brief moment of pure joy which makes my heart soar … sandwiched between two of the film’s lowest points.

I mean, literally, something bad happens, they go surfing and get all happy, something worse happens.

And it works.

And it’s absolutely necessary. It’s a great sequence and something I rarely include in my scripts – something I intend to rectify.

Look at me, ma! I’m learning stuff about writing and shit!

I’ve now (then) been involved in 47 (hopefully more by now) feature film projects and I reckon roughly a third of them have those scenes which are pure joy (preferably connected to the theme and demonstrating the perfect ideal the characters are searching for). In fact, of the eight or so active projects, I reckon only two of them have a moment of joy.

It’s not good enough, damn it. I need to be more joyous.

So I will.

Promise.

Categories: Bored, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard, Things I've Learnt Recently | 4 Comments

Bitter sweet symphony

One thing which annoys me when reading a review of a film is the phrase ‘lacklustre script’ – I mean, how do you know? You’re reviewing the finished production, not the script. You haven’t even read the fucking script, so how can you know it’s lacklustre?

It’s not like watching an orchestra perform a concerto where they (should) play exactly what was written down. Sometimes, film making is more like giving the orchestra the music … only to have some musicians decide they’d rather play different notes because they don’t understand the original ones and for some reason haven’t bothered to ask anyone what they mean.

Other musicians are quite happy to play the music as is … but can’t because they haven’t been practising – they thought they were going to be offered a different instrument and only said yes to the triangle as a safety net. Despite the triangle being an essential part of the concerto, they’ve decided it’s beneath them and only ting it half-heartedly thirty seconds or so after being prompted by the conductor.

For some reason, instead of violins, someone’s bought bass guitars because they’re cheaper and, let’s face it, they’re pretty much the same since they’ve both got four strings and are made of wood – no one will notice. Except the violinists who end up hospitalised twelve seconds into the performance.

The lead cellist can only be there for half the performance, so his part is just crossed out at the halfway mark and the kettle-drum-guy asked for a couple of minutes off in the middle and someone just said yes without bothering to check if he was needed.

The conductor has decided to change the ending, but hasn’t bothered to tell *all* the musicians so they’ll just have to improvise when they get there. Luckily, the money runs out three-quarters of the way through recording so the orchestra just rounds it off with a burst of ‘shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits’ instead of the thundering seventeen minute finale.

Afterwards, the sound engineer decides it would be ‘really’ cool’ if the entire middle section was played backwards and because no one really knows what ‘cool’ means … they agree.

The beginning has been lost because no one remembered to start the microphones and the end is unusable because the ‘concert hall’ was actually an open space at the side of a runway and no one realised the planes taking off would be an issue.

What started out as months of carefully plotted musical notation ends up sounding like someone’s pushed half an orchestra down the stairs while the other half hit their instruments with wet cats.

And then, the final insult, some fucking nob end decides the original score must have been ‘lacklustre’ because the resulting mess makes his eardrums bleed.

There is a difference between a script and a finished film and sometimes that difference is incompetence.

Not always, mind you. Sometimes, possibly even most times, the script is lacklustre … but the only way to find out is to actually read the fucking thing. Review the film you’ve watched, not the script you’ve never fucking seen.

Categories: Random Witterings, Rants | 6 Comments

Chinese whispers

Somehow, some people seem to have got hold of bits and bobs of information and put them all together in a rather odd shape.

I have a feature script shooting at the moment which I’m not supposed to talk about. True.

Some people seem to think it’s shooting in Croydon, specifically around the Wellesley Road area – which sounds feasible, it wouldn’t be the first script I’ve had shot there; but to be honest, the only location I’d deny shooting in right now is the heart of the Sun. And I wouldn’t even do that in print. Except here. Bugger.

Other people have noted The Dark Knight Rises is shooting in and around that very same location. This is also true.

Some people and other people have gotten their ideas together, forced them to mate and come up with the bastard offspring of an idea that my secret film and The Dark Knight Rises are one and the same … and have decided to spam the hell out of my email address demanding I tell them the truth.

Can I just say, for the record, that I’m not allowed to talk about the film I’ve been working on.

So I’m not.

Yet.

Accusatory emails from random strangers demanding answers are unlikely to get me to spill the beans, so can we just stop?

Okay?

Thank you very much.

Categories: Random Witterings | 1 Comment

No apologies necessary

Another day, another email/phone call from the set asking for changes to the script – prefaced, as always, with an apology.

Some writers get pissed off at this sort of thing – why can’t they just film the damned script as it is? Are they really so fucking incompetent they can’t schedule/cast/budget the fucking thing properly? Why do I have to compromise my artistic vision to satisfy their pedestrian problems?

Because you do, get over it.

Things crop up in production which can’t be avoided. Time runs short, locations turn out not to be suitable, actors suddenly become unavailable, an unplanned sequel might be in the offing … there are a myriad of reasons why a script can’t always be shot as is.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to make changes.

Actually, no.

It’s nearly always necessary to make changes. On very, very rare occasions scripts get filmed as they were written – these are an exception to the rule.

When a producer/director rings/emails you and asks for changes – it’s a good thing, one which doesn’t need apologising for, because if you’re doing the changes then NO ONE ELSE IS.

The times they should be apologising for is when they haven’t asked you to write any new scenes – because those are the times when the actors have just improvised a new scene on the spot (one which contradicts every other scene in the film and gives away the ending in the first minute; or the director has decided to cut out the love interest in a Rom-Com because … he’s a fucking twat; or somebody’s fucking mate, who’s always wanted to be a writer but never really bothered to put the time in, happens to be hanging around the set trying to see actresses naked and scribbled some nonsensical words on the back of your script using a fucking crayon and the producer loves it because it’s got a nob gag in it and anyway this guy is soooo funny down the pub – let;s face it, inaccurately repeating a famous stand-up comedian’s jokes is perfect training for writing a movie.

Oddly enough, no one ever apologises for that – they just keep quiet.

So instead of getting annoyed when some is asking you to do your job (write stuff) think of it in the opposite terms. If you’ve got a film shooting and no one contacts you and asks you to fix the latest production catastrophe RUN! RUN TO THE SET! RUN LIKE THE WIND! Because you can guarantee someone else is about to make a shit load of mistakes you’ll get the blame for.

Categories: Industry Musings, Rants, Writing and life | 2 Comments

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