Monthly Archives: June 2007

TV ambivalence

I want to write for TV, but there is nothing on TV I want to write for.

Except Doctor Who, which is exceedingly unlikely at the moment.

As an aside: There are a few people who contact me and ask me for advice. I have no idea why. One of them asked me: “What’s the best way to go about writing for Doctor Who?” Seriously, who does he think I am? I told him I didn’t know, but to let me know if he finds out.

Every time the BBC runs some kind of competition or scheme I enter it in a really half-arsed manner. A few years back they ran a scheme to find new sitcom writers, someone with fresh ideas and a new approach.

The winner was a guy who’d written a script which was a bit like ‘My Family’. After development, it was exactly the same as ‘My Family’, just with the character’s names changed.

How do you compete in that kind of competition? I mean, it’s great for whoever it was who won – can’t remember who it was, sorry – but why bother? Why not just advertise for spec ‘My Family’ scripts?

The BBC competitions for their various radio sketch shows always spark a particular level of ambivalence in me. I listen to the shows and I don’t find them funny. That’s not to say they’re not funny, just I don’t like them.

How do you write sketches for a show you don’t find funny? I always have a go, because you never know when you might inadvertently hit the right tone; but I never hold out any great hopes.

Similarly, the BBC Writer’s Academy. A chance to be mentored by professionals and be paid to write for some of the BBC’s flagship shows. It’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone who wants to write for Doctors, Holby, Casualty or Eastenders.

And there’s the problem, because I don’t. I can’t stand those programs, they bore the shit out of me. Yet, I always have a vague stab at entering on the grounds I’d rather be paid to write crap than not paid to write stuff I like.

This year, in the section on the application form where it asks: “Why do you want to write for these shows?” I put something along the lines of: “Because I need the money.”

Needless to say, I didn’t get short-listed.

And I’m not sure if I care or not. I don’t want to write for those shows, the training might be interesting; but the actual writing would be soul-destroying.

Again, this is for me, not for someone who loves the shows.

But what else is there? What other avenues are available to writers of my status?

Channel 4 runs their ‘Coming Up’ season every year. I entered this year, with a story I really like … and I’m praying they don’t pick me. I think I would have heard by now if I’d been short listed and I really, really hope I haven’t been.

Why?

Because the same story starts shooting in about two and a half hours, directed by Martin Kemp and starring Gary Kemp, Adele Silva and Toby Richards. It’s the first segment of ‘The Summoning’ to be shot and everyone involved loves it. That’s worth more to me than a half-hour slot buried mid-week near midnight on Channel 4.

But still, the question remains: do I bother entering these competitions or not?

I don’t want the prize, but hopefully the prize is a stepping stone to better things. Should I be feigning enthusiasm and entering these comps? Or should I not bother and make room for people who really, really want to win?

Is it better to just stick to writing what I enjoy, or should I grit my teeth and write something I don’t like just for some imagined gain later on?

I don’t even know if it’s realistic for a writer to sustain himself at any reasonable level in this country without writing for the soaps. I’d like to think it is, that I can make money on my own terms for writing things which excite me; but that’s the problem: there isn’t anything on TV which does excite me.

But there might be soon.

A friend is working on a sketch show at the moment. It’s just got commissioned and he put my name forward as a writer. He explained a couple of the sketches from the pilot to me and I think they’re hysterical. The scope of the show is fantastic and it covers areas and themes I really love. The few scripts I’ve seen are hilarious and the way my friend describes it sounds absolutely amazing.

In short: I really, really want to write for it.

I wrote eleven sketches yesterday and sent them in. Now all I have to do is wait and see if the producer likes them. This isn’t a competition but I am actually nervous about it. I think this is the first time I’ve submitted something to anyone at the BBC and actually cared whether or not they like it.

I’ve a feeling I’m setting myself up for a fall.

Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show, Career Path, Industry Musings, My Way | 9 Comments

Research

This is really important, I can’t stress this enough. Before you go and meet someone about a potential job, do your research.

You need to know who, what, why, where and when.

Who are they?

What’s the job about?

Why …

No, wait a minute. Maybe the ‘what’ should be – What have they done before? Or is that part of the ‘Who?’ question?

Where and when? That’s easy, that’ll be where and when the meeting is. I’ll get back to you on the others.

They’re important though, whatever they are. Don’t go into a meeting without at least knowing a little bit about who you’re meeting. It could make the difference between you getting the job and looking like a complete tool.

For example:

Yesterday I had a meeting at 18.00. In the afternoon I dropped off the first draft of ‘Kapital‘, collected my cheque and attended a screening of ‘Thee Minute Moments’, director Don Allen‘s first movie. The second, hopefully, being ‘Kapital’.

After that I had lunch. I was sitting quite happily on my own when Don mysteriously reappeared, asked if I wanted company, dropped two actresses at my table and vanished.

This must be a bonus in my contract I wasn’t previously aware of.

They seemed pleasant enough, but as soon as Don had gone they said they’d rather eat at a different table.

In a different restaurant.

And they wandered off.

What can I say, I have that effect on women.

An hour now until the meeting, so I take refuge in Starbucks where I have my normal rage over the order:

“Tall, Grande, Venti? They all mean big. I want a small one, and don’t you fucking dare ask me what flavour tea I want. Tea flavoured tea. Got it?”

I’ve been thrown out of a lot of Starbucks.

And it occurred to me. I have no idea who I’m meeting or what it’s all about. It’s for a feature, I know that; but that’s all I can remember.

I do remember applying for the job and I have the letter I sent to remind me. What I don’t have is a copy of the original ad or indeed any memory of what it said.

I have a name. That’s it. And even that I’m not sure of.

Angus Parry, said the first email I received.

Angus Parry, that’ll be someone Scottish. He probably looks a lot like that bloke off the front of the Scott’s Porage Oats box. At first, I fully expected to meet a Scottish Shot Putter in a Kilt.

The second email was less clear. Angharad Parry.

Ah, that’s an Indian name. Obviously an Indian chap of Scots descent. Now I’m expecting to meet one of The Magoons. It’ll be some Indian guy in a Turban and a kilt. Maybe carrying a shot put, I can’t be sure.

Imagine my surprise when Angus Parry turns out to be a rather attractive, young white Welsh woman.

She wasn’t even wearing a kilt.

Right, yes. Now I come to think of it. Angharad does look like a Welsh name.

While I’m still reeling from this error in judgement, she hits me with the question:

“So, what did you think of the treatment?”

I think, I haven’t read it.

See how a little research can make the difference bettween getting the job and looking like a complete tool?

Can you guess how I came across?

As it turns out, I didn’t receive the treatment. Either I got missed out or my increasingly erratic email service decided I didn’t need to receive that one.

Either way I had to try and talk intelligibly about something I hadn’t read. Just like being back in school.

An apology, a spare copy of the treatment and a hurried scan later, the meeting was back on track.

How did it go?

No idea. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Categories: Kapital, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 5 Comments

Cheap Versions

One thought has dominated my mind this last week.

“I don’t think this is possible.”

Partly due to the laptop mishap, but mostly due to my blase attitude and general ‘it’ll be alright’ laziness. I left myself very little time to write the script for ‘Kapital’.

10 days ago I still had 100 pages to write. 10 pages a day?

Easy.

5 days ago, I still had 100 pages to write. 20 pages a day?

Easy, maybe.

Then I went out for dinner a lot.

2 days ago I had 60 pages to write. 30 pages a day?

Fuck.

Plus editing and I have to hand deliver it tomorrow. Or is it today yet?

Yep, it’s today.

Hand delivering means no last minute tweaks before emailing. It has to be right now for printing tomorrow morning. I mean this morning, in 7 hours.

I’ve been in a blind panic for most of the week; even when I was arsing around in pubs and restaurants, maintaining my vague semblance of tranquility.

“I can do this.” My surface thoughts told me.

“No you fucking can’t, and you know it.” Said my unconscious.

I’m good with deadlines, I rarely miss them. I tend to ignore them until they arrive, but I never exceed them. I honestly thought today was going to be the exception …

But it wasn’t.

I’m done and I’ve still got 12 hours to spare.

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but somehow I have 114 pages of glory finished and edited before me.

Reading back through it, I thought it was going to be horrible; but it’s not.

It’s quite good.

Mind you, my eyes are burning and I can barely think straight. So maybe my opinion is not to be trusted, but I think I’ve fulfilled all the criteria.

It’s going to be way too expensive to shoot as is, but it’s the draft I was told to write. The next step is to find out which bits we can’t afford and swap then for the cheap versions.

And that’s my handy hint for today. Or maybe this month. I don’t really give handy hints, I don’t feel I’m in any position to go handing them out; but for what it’s worth, this is mine:

Always have a cheap version.

Every scene, every sequence. Write the one you want to see, but always hold a cheap version up your sleeve.

And by sleeve I mean in your head. Not literally up your sleeve. That would be weird. Unless it’s currently in fashion, I have no idea.

Why am I talking about sleeves?

Cheap versions, right. Stay on topic.

Yeah, it’s twice the work and if you’re lucky, the cheap version will never see the light of day; but damn does it make you look impressive when people question it.

“We need to find a cheaper way of doing this.”

Always pause here. You don’t want to look like you’ve already thought about this. Coming up with it on the spot is so much more impressive.

BAM! Lay it on them. There’s your cheap version mofo.

Where’s my cheque?

Categories: Kapital, My Way, Progress, Random Witterings | 6 Comments

Killing Ken

I’ve writen 30 pages of ‘Kapital‘ today, taking me up to 90 in total.

Judging by the board, I’ve still got at least another 30 pages to go, which means I’m going to have to prune considerably before Wednesday’s deadline. 120 pages isn’t too long for this kind of script, but it feels long to me. I’ll be happier with 110.

At the moment, the structure feels out of whack. I think I’m taking too long to set things up, but I won’t find out until I re-read it.

No idea when I’ll do that.

I’m also fairly confident that this draft will be way too expensive, but this is the ‘dream’ draft. The next one will be more realistic, once I’ve managed to talk things over with the director and explain the cheap versions of the scenes.

Today was a new writing first for me. I killed a character because his name was annoying me.

No, that sounds bad. He has the same name as a friend of mine – that’s how lazy I am.

The name itself doesn’t annoy me, the problem is: the main character is called K (easy to type. Told you I was lazy), which is fine until you have any other characters whose name starts with the same letter, like Ken’s does. Then Final Draft won’t let you choose ‘K’ as a character name and always greys in ‘KEN’.

At first it wasn’t a problem. The character was only in one scene, I needed an Irish name, I have an Irish friend called Ken – that’ll do. No one speaks his name, the only reason he’s not called ‘IRISH THUG #1’ is because producers often tell me actors complain about numbered thugs because they like to have a name for their CV.

Fair enough.

By the way, the real Ken is just Irish, not a thug. He’s a very nice chap.

After Ken spoke, I deleted his name from the smart type list and tapped on my merry way. 

The problem comes when Ken keeps on reappearing. The fucker just seems to be everywhere, I can’t get rid of the bastard (character Ken, not the real one. I can’t even keep in touch with the real Ken).

Solution?

Kill the fucker.

So I have. Ken’s dead now. I killed him.

(Character Ken, the real one isn’t dead. At least I hope not, I haven’t spoken to him for a while.)

Some of you may have just taken the easy option and renamed Ken something else (character Ken, not … you get the idea); but I say you guys are just quitters. I wrote myself into this bind, I’ll write my way out.

And I have.

Ken got shot.

He deserved it, too.

In other news, more actors have signed up for ‘The Summoning’: Billy Murray and Toby Richards. There are at least three more, all women, but I’m not allowed to say yet.

For fuck’s sake, I’m rubbish at keeping secrets. I wish people wouldn’t tell me them.

Did I mention a friend asked if I wanted to write for a new BBC sketch show?

Can’t remember.

Oh wait, was that a secret too?

Oh, too late. He did. And I do.

As I’m writing ‘Kapital’ with one hand, I’m jotting down notes for sketches with the other.

I won’t tell you what I’m using to answer the phone.

The plan is to finish the script tomorrow. Edit it in the space between seconds. Deliver it by hand to the director on Wednesday, whilst attending a screening of his last film. Thursday I’ll knock out a dozen sketches and Friday I’ve got to write a treatment for a proposed feature.

Well, I don’t have to; but they’re threatening to pay me, so I want to. I pitched my idea to the producer and he called me some very nice names.

Well, one nice name.

To be fair, he called the idea the nice name, I’m just claiming that as a victory. You’ve got to take them where you can.

Right, that’s enough of this blogging malarky. Back to work.

Oh fuck, I’ve gone blind.

Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show, Kapital, Progress, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 7 Comments

141% of what?

According to IMDb, I’m 141% more famous than I was last week.

Why?

I’ve always been mildly curious about this star rating. Not enough to actually pay the $12.95 a month to find out, but mildly curious none-the-less.

How do they work it out? What does it mean? I assume there’s some kind of numerical ranking system, so what number am I? Who’s number one?

How can I be 141% more famous? What does that actually mean? I’m not 141% richer, quite the opposite (see the last post), I’m not 141% better known (I think. I have had 3 people ask to be my friend on myspace, but I suspect 2 of them are trying to sell me something) and I’m not working on 141% more films than I was last week, so how do they work it out?

And since I’m not at all famous, on the weeks when it goes down, does that mean my friends and family are forgetting who I am?

There are 1.6 million people listed on IMDb. I’ve got to be in the bottom 100 or so, so what does a 141% increase mean? Have I gone up 1 place? 100? What the hell are they talking about?

I think it does tell you somewhere on the site, but I’m far too lazy to actually read it. I guess what I’m looking for here is someone who’s already got IMDbPro to find out how famous I am, learn how it’s worked out and précis it here.

Anyone?

No?

Categories: Progress, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 19 Comments

Cannes I afford it?

I got my phonebill this morning. The one which covers my brief stint in Cannes. The one which covers the period I spent in France when a friend’s phone malfunctioned and wouldn’t stop ringing me.

I’ve only just stopped crying.

I’d arranged a French sim card to use while I was over there. It’s a great idea: local calls are free, it’s free to receive calls and texts are cheap. There was only one snag, the company were waiting for me at the airport on the wrong day – the day before I arrived. On the day I did arrive, they were nowhere to be seen.

Never mind, I thought, I’ll just do without. It’s not like I use my phone that much anyway.

Except, apparently, in France. In France, Cannes in particular, I’m a mobile demon; and not just me, suddenly everyone wanted to phone me. At home, my phone rings so infrequently I forget what it sounds like (which, to be fair, is more to do with the inability of a mobile signal to penetrate my house walls than lack of calls); but not when I’m abroad, no. When it costs me just to receive a call, people ring me every half hour. In the case of Mark Shields, whose phone was making it’s own calls, I got a phone call every ten seconds.

For an hour.

Even when I switched it to voice mail, the voice mail kept ringing me to tell me I had 107 messages from the same number.

I thought something had gone desperately wrong and he was trying to get in touch with me. When I realised it was a mistake, I compounded the situation by firing off a large number of abusive (and expensive) texts:

“Knock it off, fuck nuts.”

“Leave me the fuck alone”

“Seriously, man; you’re going to get such a fucking kicking when I see you.”

And to be fair to Mark, he did buy me a fairly expensive dinner that night as an apology. At least, I think he did. If he didn’t, I ran away without paying.

That’ll teach ’em to seat me so near a handy exit.

All these mistakes, and more, add up to a phone bill which is greater than the Gross National Product of many small countries. Put together.

On top of that I had to post another script today. Post. That means printing stuff. That means realising I’ve got no paper or ink, driving to Staples, driving back, finding out I’ve got no card stock, deciding to send it anyway because I can’t be arsed to go back to Staples, then driving to the Post Office and hoping they’re open.

They were. Miracle of miracles.

If I had any sense, I’d have a little stockpile of paper, ink cartridges, card stock, envelopes and other such useful items.

But I haven’t, because I can’t afford to splash out on a bulk buy.

And do you know why?

Because I’ve just had a fucking massive phone bill, that’s why.

All in all, Cannes has cost me somewhere in the region of fucking loads. Which has got me wondering: was it worth it?

I had fun, true; but then I would have had a similar amount of fun locking myself in my house with my wife.

I met some producers and directors who I’ve worked with before and want to work with again. Some of them I even think of as friends, despite only seeing them once a year.

I met some new producers and directors, all of whom have singularly failed to bring in any new work – so far. One did contact me with a view to working together in the future, but we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out.

The two main leads I came back with: one asked for a proposal, then a re-write, then seems to be ignoring me. The other was optioning a book which I’ve tried to read so I can offer my services as a writer – only for me to find out I can’t bring myself to even finish the book, I just can’t stand it.

So the question remains: was it worth it?

And the answer is a resounding NO!

I could have bought a new TV, a big one, with the cash I dropped in Cannes. Using ‘The Evolved’ as a budgetary model, I could almost have funded a feature film.

Will I be going next year?

Probably.

Why? Because it was fun, there’s nothing on TV worth watching and you never, ever put your own money into a feature film. And you just never know. I did get a couple of potential leads, some of which may yet convert into a paying job; and a lot of the people I was chatting to may be in a position to help me next year, or the year after or the year after that.

So where the question for me at the moment is: Cannes I afford to go next year?

The real question I have to ask is: Cannes I afford not to?

Categories: Festivals, Rants, Sad Bastard, Writing and life | 5 Comments

Arrgh!

Right, time to knuckle down. Got to have the first draft of ‘Kapital‘ done by the 27th.

No problem.

Except, no, wait. Someone has rather helpfully poured tea into my laptop while I’m away from home and I’ve just had to spend four days staring at the completely dead screen of what is now just an expensive paperweight.

“I bought this ipod and haven’t got any songs on it” he says ” Can I borrow your laptop and nick some of your tunes?” he asks.

“Of course you can, just be careful you don’t … you fucking idiot!”

The actual order of events was: he sits down with my laptop and a cup of tea. I go to get the charger to plug it in. I come back, the cup is empty and he points out that the keyboard is ‘a bit wet’; but he has no idea how it happened.

“Did you drink your tea?”

“Yes. … Well, most of it. … Some of it. … No.”

“You spilt it on my laptop, didn’t you?”

“Maybe?”

He’s dead now. Buried in a shallow grave, marked only with one word: BASTARD.

So here I am, back where I started, with only 10 days left until the deadline. Not only do I not have a laptop for writing on the move, but I’ve also lost the work I’ve already done.

“Did you not back it up?” I hear you cry.

“Fuck you, you smart arsed prick.” would be my stressed response.

I’m confined to my desktop, hoping it goes the distance and doesn’t have one of its semi-regular bouts of shitness. I’m backing up now, believe me. Every twenty seconds.

On a more positive note, something really cool happened this morning. I got word someone wants to do a feature script of mine, someone who’s very, very famous in the UK and completely unheard of anywhere else. The part was written specifically for him, and he wants to do it. I’m very excited, I probably shouldn’t be, but I am.

Can you guess who it is?

I bet you can’t.

In fact I know you can’t and I’m not allowed to tell you even if you did. So there.

Anyway, back to work. Only another 100 or so pages to go. In 10 days, no problem.

Do you know what Don Allen, the producer/director, said when I told him I’d had a little setback?

“Good. You work better under pressure.”

That’s great, thanks very much. I’ll just lop off a hand too, shall I? That’ll really pile the pressure on. And then, 24 hours later, he chimes in with:

“Oh, sorry to hear about your laptop.”

Yes, so am I; but not nearly as sorry as the bloke what done it in. Bastard.

Categories: Kapital, Two steps back | 9 Comments

Hi-lo-hi

I had a bit of a weird day yesterday, apart from the whole stamps issue; which was really a minor wobble caused by a period of emotional instability … your honour.

I started in a good mood: I’m working on a feature project – that’s good. Someone’s paying me to do it – that’s even better. I had a couple of calls about other work – that’s positively excellent.

Working, getting paid for it and hope for the future: a good position to be in, I’m very happy. In a moment of idle browsing, it all came crashing down.

I was thinking about a script I read recently, which was really good; but I felt flapped a little bit on the change of the acts. To me, it felt like you could end the script at either point and gone away happy – which I don’t think is right. I feel these are the points where if you stop, people should get angry.

I sent off my opinions, which were gratefully received (although it’s hard to see gritted teeth through an email) and I went on with my life.

But then I started wondering.

I know the writer of this script is friends with Mark Mahon, and I’d hung out with Mark for a couple of nights in Cannes, I wondered: did he like it?

Apparently he did, a lot. Quite a lot in fact. Bordering on loads, by the sound of it.

This doesn’t worry me unduly, the industry’s all about opinions, after all. You can send a script to two people and one will love it, the other hate it. Neither opinion is necessarily right or wrong; but if I was the writer in question, I’d go with the award-winning writer’s opinion and ignore me.

I remember talking to Mark, he’s a good guy and has done really well for himself; but I don’t really know much about him apart from what he told me.

Hell, I tell people all sorts of shit. I told the entire Romanian pavilion at Cannes I was the best writer in the UK. I also told a Polish producer I’d won a ‘Best Newcomer’ award for screen writing – neither of these claims are true.

Well, the first one might be. I’m still working on it.

And to be fair, the second one started as a joke which got carried on too far and the opportunity to reveal it was a gag/lie never arose. (If you ever read this blog, sorry! There was a punchline attached which never survived the sudden shift in conversation.)

So anyway, I thought I’d check Mark Mahon out, see if I could substantiate any of the things we were chatting about and I found this article here.

And instantly felt really, really depressed.

What the fuck have I been doing with my life? This guy’s made some serious progress, what he’s achieved is incredible and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

I’ve never pursued this contest/spec script/make your own movie route. Partly because it seems too unrealistic – kind of walking in at the top. Yeah, you hear about people doing it, but surely the larger percentage of working writers start small and build up? There’s something about aiming for the top without working your way up which really jars with me. Plus, I don’t think I’m good enough yet.

I know I’m not a genius scriptwriter, I just don’t have that spark – but I am good at what I do. I seem to be slightly better than average, people do like my work and that’s good enough for me. I’m quite happy to pay my dues and get better with time.

Then I read about someone like Mark and the reality hits me – there are people who write scripts which blow people away first time. Writers who are infinitely better than me and it starts me wondering: am I pursuing the wrong path? Should I ditch all the low paid projects I’m doing and concentrate on that killer spec which will bag me respect and awards? Is it better to build up a raft of low budget credits or keep pushing for that one break-through idea?

It was about this time I realised I’d run out of stamps. Hence the low self-esteem induced hissy fit. I really must remember not to blog when I’m angry.

My self-loathing lasted most of the night. I went to Kung Fu and the teacher was running late, so I ran the first half of the class and took it out on the students.

When I got home I had a whole bunch of emails from the producer of ‘The Summoning’: Jonathan Sothcott. They contained a bunch of photos of the cast for me to put on my website. With each attachment I opened I felt better and better about myself and my work. All these people like the film enough to want to be in it, I can’t be that bad.

This is the list so far:

Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, Adele Silva, Anna Brecon, Gillian MacGregor, Terry Stone, Paul Marc Davis and Hugo Myatt (Look! It’s Treguard!).

And these are just the ones who’ve confirmed so far. There are quite a few others on the list who are apparently up for it (and being in the film – ha! Never pass up the opportunity for a Carry On gag).

There are photos of them all, arranged in a neat pyramid, on my website here; but if you want the full effect, go through the front door:

www.phillipbarron.co.uk >Projects>Feature Films>Pre-Production>The Summoning.

All of a sudden, life is looking rosy again. I finished the day as I started: on a high, pleased with the way my career is moving ahead. Yeah it’s slow and I’m not leap-frogging straight to Hollywood fame. I doubt very much I’ll be interviewed by any scriptwriting magazines in the imminent future, but you know what? I don’t care.

I’m doing something I love – no wait, I’m getting paid to do something I love and with so many projects on the go, one of them’s bound to get made soon and who knows where that will lead?

All in all, life is good.

Categories: Career Path, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 1 Comment

Stamps

Are the bane of my existence.

No, strike that, the Post Office is the bane of my existence; but I’m in a mood about stamps right now.

Someone once told me the secret to financial stability is to only buy one stamp at a time. There’s no discount for buying in bulk and you’ll only lose them if you buy a lot in one go.

I forget who it was, but I suspect they need to get out more.

Right now, I need to post something and I bitterly resent it. I could just email it, with the click of a button – providing my computer isn’t having a hissy fit and refusing to do anything – but no, they’ve asked for it to be posted.

Posted!

How quaint. How very twentieth Century.

I used to live right next to a post office and it was way too much hassle to post things. It kept such odd times, I’m fairly positive lunch was whenever they saw me step out of my front door and on the off chance I did manage to catch them open they responded by filling the aisles of the little shop with kids and pensioners. – both of whom smell of wee.

Now I live that awkward distance where I could walk it in about fifteen minutes, but by the time I’ve queued up and managed to interpret whatever strange language they speak behind the counter

– she looks English, she was talking English to the last customer, but when I get to the counter she seems to have suddenly reverted to Urdu or Vulcan or ‘Aha, fuck you, I’m making my own language up’.-

and walked back, it’ll knock a good hour out of my frantically busy day.

That’s assuming they’re actually open.

I could drive down, but then I feel like a fat, environmental murderer. I could pop in as I drive past on my way to Kung Fu this evening; but oh no, they’ll be closed by then.

The best alternative would be just to put some stamps on and pop it in the post box tonight – except I can’t do that, can I? No, because the ‘rules’ are so arcane. I have no idea how much it costs to post an A4 letter with four pieces of paper in, because they keep changing it.

Every time I go, they hold up this bit of plastic with holes in and claim they can’t get it through any of the slots. That means it’s expensive.

“Fold it in half, you fucking bitch.”

Oh, wait, she’s lapsed into Mongolian again. And now security are heading in my direction.

I posted a contract off a couple of days ago – that was only 48p. This is in the same envelope and has less pages, it must be the same price or cheaper, surely?

So the plan is simple – stick two first class stamps on, that must come to more than 48p.

Which brings me back to stamps. I know I have some, I remember buying them; and against the advice of whoever it was, I bought a book of 12.

Where the fuck are they?

I know I put them down on the shelf, behind a particular photo – but they’re not there. I can’t ring Mandy since she’s on a plane to Kingston (Jamaica? No, British Airways did. I thank you.) so I have to find them myself.

Now, logic suggests: if they’re not where I put them and no one else (I think) has moved them, then I must have picked them up and used them. That means I’ve either put them down somewhere else, or I’ve left them in a jacket pocket.

Which is a problem, since I have a jacket fetish which results in me having about 50 million jackets.

Well, 15 – I just went and counted.

And at least 7 in the loft. I’m the kind of guy who goes out to buy socks and comes back with a new jacket. Presumably on the grounds I will one day find one which makes me look like Han Solo.

By contrast, I have hardly any socks.

15 active jackets at a minimum of three pockets each that’s … hang on, I need a calculator … 217,000 pockets.

No, wait, that can’t be right.

45 pockets.

45 pockets. Do you know what I’ve learnt after searching them all?

Three things:

  1. I don’t need to order any more business cards. I haven’t given them out, I’ve just hidden them in the pockets of all my jackets.
  2. I need to buy some more jackets, I don’t like any of these and rarely wear them – hence not knowing the pockets were full of business cards.
  3. I still can’t find any fucking stamps.

This means I have to buy more. Which means I have to go to the post office anyway, or brave the little shop where that guy with the wonky eye keeps looking at me funny.

To be fair, he looks at everyone funny. He can’t really help it; but he does seem to manage an extra funny look for me.

I just don’t have time for this shit, I’m a busy man. I’ve got just over two weeks to write a feature script and I’ve already had two phone calls today about other projects – which of course I’m not going to turn down because they might find out other people are better than me and not come back. Where would my plan for cross-genre, multi-media world domination be then?

So it’s off to the post office I go, with an impending sense of doom and the sure knowledge I’m going to miss lunch and ‘accidentally’ buy another jacket from the shop next door.

First thing I do when I rule the world is buy the post office and force it to stay open 24 hours a day. Then I’m going to invent languages and pretend I don’t understand them.

But first, in an act of defiance against whoever gave me the stamp advice, I’m going to buy another book of stamps; and this time, I’m going to keep it somewhere really safe.

Categories: Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard | 1 Comment

A sticky situation

I’m busy at the moment, very busy. Work is piling up, which is great, and I keep looking for (which is sensible) and accepting (which is very stupid) more.

Does that sentence make sense?

It does to me, but then I’ve been up since bastard early yesterday morning.

I had a lot planned for today, I’ve got a load of odds and ends to tie up before I start work on ‘Kapital‘, which is the new working title for the action/thriller feature ‘K-Past’.

I started off by writing up a report on a feature script I read last night. One of the questions the producer asked was: What could I do to make it better?

The answer is simple: I could burn the screenplay, that would improve it 150%.

To be fair, it wasn’t that bad and there were a number of things (apart from a good fire) which could improve it immeasurably.

Like wiping my arse on it.

No, it wasn’t that bad – it’s all fixable. Honest. Pay me enough and I can fix anything.

Next up was writing the elusive sixth segment of ‘The Summoning’. Producer Jonathan Sothcott and I came up with the idea at our last meeting on Tuesday. It’s a voodoo tale, so the first half of the morning was research; then it was down to work.

I tend to start with a two page outline, nailing down the salient points of the plot and odd bits of dialogue. I was about halfway through when I poured a can of Diet Coke into the keyboard of my spanky new(ish) laptop.

Funnily enough, my dad always warned me about the dangers of having a drink next to the computer; but I never believed him.

He was right. Sorry, dad.

After feverishly mopping things up with handfuls of wadded toilet paper, I was able to assess the damage.

It’s still working. Hasn’t gone ‘bang’ or ‘fizz’ or anything. I suppose I should have unplugged it and let it dry out, but I haven’t got time. Onwards!

Now, I have a complicated system of typing where I press twice as many keys and then delete the ones which aren’t needed.

Don’t ask me why, I don’t know.

The backspace key is the most used key on both my computers, I hit it almost every other keystroke. Which is a shame, because that’s exactly where I poured the Diet Coke. Two letters in, I hit backspace and watch in horror as it deletes the last letter and just keeps on going.

All the way back, to the top of the page.

Meanwhile I’m shouting NO! a lot and trying to find a spoon to prise the key up.

Why a spoon? No idea, what can I say, I’m complicated. Suffice it to say, there was no spoon in the vicinity of my laptop and I lost all of the text.

All of it, every single last paragraph, sentence, word and character.

I think ‘deeply miffed’ covers how I felt.

But wait! The ‘redo’ button! That beautiful little right facing arrow of joy.

Nope. Doesn’t do fuck all.

Start again.

Oh, and I’ve just realised I’ve got a spoon in my back pocket which has been there since breakfast. Joy beyond measure.

I prise the button up, hoping it won’t break. Clean it all out, then panic because I can’t get it back in. It’s an incredibly complicated affair with springs and clips and little plastic things which fly out when you look at them.

But I persevere and I prevail. Oh yes, no computer will ever best me.

Except now it’s shut down.

Why has it shut down? Shit! Is it death by Diet Coke?

Nope, there’s a power cut and has been for hours –  the batteries have died.

I’m going to have to do this the old fashioned way – pen and paper at the ready. Can I even remember how to use a pen? It’s been a while.

Fortunately, the power came back on and stayed back on; and apart from one little backspace mishap (two lines!) I was able to finish the outline without incident.

Next comes the script which flows out beautifully – even if it is a little on the long side – 19 pages as opposed to an average of 14 for the other 5 shorts.

A little trimming is probably in order; but after a read through, I decide against it.  I think it reads well, but I’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the official verdict.

I’ve even managed to invent a new language for the ‘voodoo curses’. It’s got a solid grammar, logical rules and is almost pronounceable. I just hope no one works out what it says – it’s not very voodoo.

I’d arranged to meet people for dinner, and I finished the script at four minutes to. How’s that for timing?

If anyone cares, dinner was Thai and it was very nice.

Oh, and I almost forgot – it looks like I’ve had another screenplay optioned. The contract has been agreed; I haven’t signed it yet, but since the details have appeared on the company website, I guess I can mention it. It’s a twenty-something comedy called ‘Geeked’, optioned by Black and Blue Entertainment.

That means I’ve got seven features in development now.

Seven!

That’s one for every dwarf!

I’m a little worried that having one of my scripts in development is becoming a fashion accessory, are people even reading these things? Will I fall out of fashion next month? Who knows? I don’t, but it’s going to be fun finding out.

Categories: Geeked, K-Past, Kapital, Progress, Sad Bastard, The Summoning | 12 Comments

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