Mixbag

A few random things which have happened in the last few days:

        1) Completed the rewrites to the five day feature, they only took half a day. Not because I was moving at lightning speed, but purely because there were very few notes on the original draft. I could take this as a sign of my blossoming genius, but I suspect it’s more to do with the producer reading the script and giving notes on the same day. The further I get from it, the more little flaws I keep finding; there’s bound to be a few major ones somewhere.

 On the positive side, the producer emailed the revision (which is really the first proper draft) to the money men without reading it. He says he has enough faith in me to know it’s good enough to send out.

Which I thought was jolly nice of him.

        2) Had a meeting with Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp and Jonathan Sothcott about ‘The Summoning’ and other stuff. An intense, short meeting which was basically four people shouting ideas at each other until we had too many. Now I’ve just got to try and sort them into a reasonable order.

        3) Wrote out a list of a dozen sketches for the, as yet untitled, BBC sketch show, and had just sat down to write them when I got a phone call from the producer asking me to tweak the selected sketches from the 30-odd I wrote at the beginning of the month.

The great thing about this was I got to see which of these particular style of sketches are currently in the running (it may change, who knows?) and I get to tweak them so there’s a story which runs through them. Basically, because they were all written as individual sketches, one of the characters gets a little repetitive after the third week. Now she has a bit more to her – assuming the changes are acceptable and don’t get the entire series of sketches binned.

The bad thing about this is I was asked to write them to the specific format they use on this show. That’s not a bad thing in itself, except I was struggling to work out what the format is. It seems to me to be fairly random and to change from page to page. Plus, I had to amend word scripts, so I couldn’t use Final Draft (or Sophocles or Movie Magic. I tried importing the script into all three and they just got confused) which meant I had to type all the character names out by hand.

And the scene headings.

And format everything individually.

Very retro.

Very annoying.

I’ve never really realised how much slower it is to write without proper screenwriting software, it’s a fucking nightmare. By the end of a long day’s work, I’d only managed to tweak the twelve scripts and write two new ones. I think under ‘normal’ circumstances I’d have managed to write at least another five or six.

I finished the day in a blaze of swearing and a resolution to buy the BBC a copy of Final Draft.

        4) The BBC then redeemed itself by telling me who they’re approaching to play the lead in my sketches.

I’m not saying who it is, because he may not do it; but suffice it to say, I was excited enough to shit myself.

        5) One change of pants later, I realised my list of twelve new sketches was mostly shit anyway. So it’s probably a good thing I spent the day swearing at Word instead of committing them to paper.

        6) One of the feature films I’m working on is no longer a feature, it’s something much, much cooler.

        7) I read a script by a guy who’s just had one of his other scripts optioned by one of the top Hollywood producer/directors. Ignoring the fact it was full of passive tense, wrylies, unfilmables, camera directions and bland characters … it was still a bit shit. Good premise, badly done. I read the script he had optioned by said ‘big cheese’ and that was even worse. It didn’t even have a good premise.

        8) I read another script by a guy who used to be in a soap of some kind and that had absolutely no formatting whatsoever. Dialogue was sometimes in bold, sometimes in brackets and seemed to float around the page. Action wandered about all over the place. Sometimes it was full page width, the  it would be in brackets in the centre, then it turned up inside people’s dialogue.

Honestly, you’d think this guy had never seen a script before, instead of having been (or maybe still is?) an actor in a long running soap. Unless, that’s how they write their scripts and all these formatting rules are an Internet myth put about by bored readers who just want to confuse people? I mean, seriously 3) , 7) and 8) – all three scripts by people who should (and probably do) know better – not one of them has anything remotely like the format the gurus tell us to use.

I’m still sticking to these ‘rules’ because I happen to like them; but really, does anyone else give a shit?

        9) Made up a feature pitch on the spot. It went down well. Now I’ve just got to find the time to write it.

And that’s it. That’s been my week. A lot of little bits and bobs with no cohesive whole.

A bit like most of the scripts I’ve read recently.

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Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show, Industry Musings, Progress, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Someone Else's Way, The Summoning | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Mixbag

  1. Jesus, that’s a long post.

    Sorry.

    I’ve also noticed 8 and ) comes out as 8) – why?

  2. I didn’t notice it was long – it reads easy.

    Software – I thought the BBC promoted Scriptsmart on their site as a free-to-download script formatting programme? It’s Word-based rather than a true stand-alone programme. Wouldn’t be a file from that programme that was sent to you by chance? Which might account for Word mixing the format up from page to page.

    If others are sending screenplays in any-old-how, then to any experienced producer etc., it’s got to strike them as a newbie or first time amateur. So if you stick to your guns your work has just got to look the more professional in comparison before they even start reading and that must at least give you an edge.

    Oops ten to eight. Time for r-u-g-b-y!

  3. Yes, except what if I tell you I’ve had scripts of mine tweaked by experienced producers who add in all the passive, camera angled, wryly bullshit?

    Honestly, so far I’ve yet to meet a producer or director who knows or cares anything about these rules.

    But I’m still not taking the chance.

    Software – maybe it was that Scriptsmart thing? I remember downloading it once, swearing at it for a long time and then deleting it.

    Rugby – is it that time already?

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