Monthly Archives: November 2007

Things I don’t know

I’ve just heard, indirectly, that my sketches for the (I’m assuming) still untitled BBC 3 sketch show have been put back to the second block of filming.

In theory, assuming they make the final cut, there are at least two of my sketches in each show – a running series of sketches which build on each other. There may well be others, there were some which were touted as being good enough, but I have no idea if they made the final cut.

Basically; as of yet, I don’t know which of my sketches are being used.

I don’t know when the filming is, when the series is due to go out or even what it’s going to be called. I do know one particular batch of sketches have been cast, but I don’t know who any of that cast are.

And I find it all very exciting.

Why?

Well, apparently, the reason the filming of this particular batch has been put back is because they are waiting to see if an actor is available.

An actor I’m very excited about.

An actor who … I can’t tell you about.

Or at least I’m assuming I can’t. I don’t even know that.

So here I am, bed-wettingly excited about something I know almost nothing about and unable to tell anyone the one tiny piece of news I do know.

I’m not even really sure why I wrote this post, except I had to (almost) tell someone.

Pathetic?

Yep.

Do I care?

No! I’m too excited!

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Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show | 3 Comments

You don’t say …

Or rather, I don’t say a lot about the WGA strike – doesn’t mean I don’t care.

I’ve avoided covering it primarily because I’m getting my information from other blogs – I don’t think there’s anyone who reads my blog who doesn’t read them too; and re-posting the same stuff everyone else is seems a bit pointless.

In a similar vein: I don’t write any ‘How to …’ posts.* Partly for the same reason: everyone else either already has, or is in the continual process of doing it better than I could; but mostly because I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would want script writing advice from me.

I mean, why would you?

Even I don’t want writing advice from me.

John August, William Goldman, Tony Jordan yeah fine. I’ll accept they probably know what they’re talking about. If they want to give advice, I’ll listen.

I may not understand, but I’ll definitely listen.

My information comes primarily from reading the Internet witterings of other scribes and from bits and bobs I’ve gleaned whilst bored in Waterstones – it seems a bit pointless passing it on as if I’ve got any deep insight or indeed even the vaguest idea of what I’m doing.

So I won’t.

On the strike front: I’m aware the AMPTP and the WGA are sitting down for a chat today, and I hope it goes well. If it doesn’t, I’m over in the States next month, I might pop down to LA and join the picket lines for a day.

Maybe. If I get time.

I’d blog about that, but otherwise I’m going to leave it to wiser and more informed heads than my own to spread the word.

Just wanted to clear that up in case anyone thought I was a heartless opportunistic fiend.

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* Except when I have.

To pick some names at random, without thinking, and whilst watching the telly. If your name’s not included, don’t worry, I love you too.

Which I am, I just don’t want anyone to know.

Categories: My Way, Random Witterings, Someone Else's Way | 13 Comments

Stupid Precedents

I find it quite difficult being me.

Not in general terms, my life is generally pretty easy and moderately fun; but in specific, scriptwriting terms, I find it a struggle to live up to people’s expectations.

And it’s all my fault.

I’ll explain.

Through some furious typing, a smidgen of cheating and a sprinkling of propaganda I’ve acquired a reputation for being an extremely fast writer.

Some people recognise this as a talent and think it’s amazing. They make jokes about my ability to pitch on the fly or reminisce about the time I re-wrote a scene with one hand whilst making dinner with the other.

It’s not a bad reputation to have; but it does lead to two problems:

  1. Any story which is told and retold inevitably ends up being exaggerated out of all proportion. These people now believe I’m twice as fast as I actually am, or was when I worked for them.
  2. They come to expect this ludicrous level of speed from me as a matter of course.

Other people I work with, here in the shallow end, are too inexperienced to know any different.  When they’re in a rush to get things done and I achieve a seemingly impossible deadline, they just assume that’s normal behaviour for a writer. They don’t seem to have any concept of how long it takes to write anything … and it’s my fault.

Again, I’ve created a rod for my own back.

It’s getting ridiculous.

If I say I’ll start to write something on a particular date, people assume I’ll also deliver it on that date. If it’s a feature script, they’ll probably expect it within the week.

You know this concept of finishing a script, sitting on it for a week, re-reading it, correcting it, expanding sections you’ve had better ideas about … basically re-writing which is what writing is supposed to be?

Never happens to me.

It’s always: type ‘THE END’, hit send.

No waiting, no read throughs, barely even any spell checking.

The weirdest part being, no seems to mind. I can’t remember the last time someone wasn’t happy with something I’d written.

Okay, so sometimes they’ve had new ideas and want to take it in a new direction; but I’ve yet to have someone turn round and tell me the last draft was a bag of shit.

Maybe they’re just being polite?

The point is, I don’t know how to get off the merry-go-round. When I explain to people that it’s not possible to deliver the script in the time frame requested, they think I’m joking.

And then I go and ruin it by doing it anyway.

It can’t go on much longer, I must be reaching the limit of what’s feasible for me. I know there are writers who are much faster than I am, but I really feel like I’m running on the edge. Every script I write is a mad panic to get it done before the deadline.

I even (gulp) miss deadlines.

Not by much, you understand, just a minute or two.

The problem, the real problem, as Mandy frequently points out, is I don’t ever really say no. I don’t want people to think I can’t do something, it’s all part of Operation: Cuckoo; which I will blog about at some point.

If I can do it without making myself sound like a megalomaniac control-freak.

Or at least, more of a megalomaniac control-freak than normal.

So here I am, saddled with a reputation which is partly my own creation, and wholly my own fault, with no hope in sight.

Pathetic, isn’t it?

Categories: My Way, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 11 Comments

Back with a bang

The airport tannoy crackled into life:

“Mumble, mumble … unattended baggage … mumble … destroyed … mumble … passengers near … mumble … move away from … mumble … to protect your ears from the blast.”

Eh?

Did she just … What did she just say?

I was in the toilet in Toulouse airport, on my own. There was no one to ask.

Out in the terminal, Mandy and my mum didn’t hear anything, my dad heard less than me and there still wasn’t anyone else to ask.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a small group of people in an airport terminal on your own in the immediate aftermath of an announcement which appeared to proclaim an explosion, but it’s a bit eerie.

There’s one of those moments which can only be summed up by the reader-unfriendly line:

‘Everyone looks at each other in stunned silence.’

We hovered uncertainly for five minutes, but the announcement wasn’t repeated. There were no screams of panic, no orders to evacuate … in fact, no people of any description.

Weird.

But you can only hover in stunned silence for so long, so we headed for check-in.

There were staff behind the check-in desks, but it’s a struggle to get them to look at you, let alone answer any questions and we walked away none the wiser.

In the face of imminent death and destruction, with only uncommunicative (and frankly bored) airline staff for guidance, we did what any true Brit would do.

We went for a cup of tea.

Twenty minutes later, with no further announcement of any description, there was an explosion.

A proper, terminal shaking, dust falling from the ceiling, explosion.

I was quite upset … I got dust in my tea.

And still there were no announcements. No one seemed bothered, or even the least bit surprised. So Mandy and I boarded the plane and came home.

It was a nice holiday, but I’m back now and ready to write until my eyes bleed.

Today kicked it all back off in style: three good meetings about three separate projects.

First up was a meeting about the Vampires and Nazis thing, which quickly became a Witchcraft and Nazis thing.

Next up was a discussion about collaborating on a potential TV comedy series.

And I finished off the day with pizza and a meeting about co-writing a different Vampire feature.

In no particular order, the meetings involved Lee Otway, lots of dogs, calamari, a life-size dalek, Zara Dawson, a discussion on the history of Green Arrow and a surprising amount of high definition pornography.

To be honest, any amount of pornography is surprising when you’re in a meeting; but this was good quality, high definition on a fifty inch TV with surround sound.

Not your average day.

Or not mine anyway.

There was even time between meetings to fit in a brief discussion about a fourth project which needs some minor tweaking.

All in all, it was a very productive and fun filled day.

The result is I’ve filled every day for the next two weeks with writing assignments, all of which are either re-writes of current projects or treatments for new projects.

I even managed to fit in a run this morning, and I got a free horror mag into the bargain.

I want more days like these.

Categories: Progress | 8 Comments

Oooohhhh!

I’m still on holiday, but there’s always room for a bit of shameless self-promotion:

http://www.fangoria.com/news_article.php?id=5479

Categories: Progress, Sad Bastard | 2 Comments

Enough is enough

I’m off.

I can’t stand by and watch this shit anymore, I’m going in.

Tomorrow I’m on the first flight to the States and I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with …

Alright, so I’m lying.

I’m off to see my folks in France; but I’ll be thinking of the striking writers and wishing them well.

If you haven’t already done it, there’s a link to a petition on Bill Martell’s blog and a link to a ‘pledge your money in support’ site on James Moran’s blog. Go on, you know you want to.

I’m just on my way home now from a meeting about ‘K‘. I’ve just met the co-producer, the DP and the fight coordinator.

It’s all terribly exciting.

When I get back there’s a whole host of uber-exciting meetings lined up with the potential for three new jobs.

Who wants to lay odds on how many I’ll fuck up?

And that’s me done. Behave yourselves and I’ll see you all in a week’s time.

Categories: K, Progress | Leave a comment

Nazis, Vampires, Nudity and the Caribbean

So the call comes in:

“Can you write a treatment for a sexy vampire film? There’s a Caribbean location, some Nazi costumes and a UK country mansion – mix in some nudity and we need it immediately.”

That’s a pretty specific brief, not something I have knocking around. Not even an idea I’ve ever really thought about before.

Well, not in public anyway.

Hmm, Caribbean Nazi Vampires?

Sexy Caribbean Nazi Vampires?

Who retire to a UK country mansion?

No.

Naked Nazis attacked on a Caribbean island by Vampires looking to invest in a UK country mansion?

No, nearly there but not quite right.

Caribbean Vampires who join the Nazi party in order to set up a nudist camp in a UK country mansion.

Now you’re talking!

One treatment coming up, this puppy practically writes itself.*

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*It didn’t write itself, I wrote it. It was quite difficult.

Categories: Progress, Sad Bastard | 7 Comments

Lame meme

Thank you Piers, thank you very much. I’ve survived over a year without being tagged by anyone and you had to go and do it, didn’t you?

So, five things I’m proud of which other people think are lame …

I can’t help noticing a lot of other people list ‘crying at sad movies’ as one of their five.

Wimps, the lot of you.

Crying at sad films? For God’s sake, grow some balls. Real men don’t cry, not ever.

Maybe, just maybe, if your first born is being sacrificed on an altar made from the murdered corpses of your parents, your partner is being raped by Satan and a muscular chap repeatedly kicks you in the balls whilst wearing steel toe-capped boots encased in concrete, maybe then a single manly tear is acceptable; but crying at films … ?

Okay, yeah, I do that too. Doesn’t everyone? Something’s sad, you cry … what’s the problem? Since a lot of people have listed that as one of their five, I’ll try and think of something different.

1) I LOVE MY WIFE

Okay, so on the surface this may not sound that lame; but to put it in context, I regularly find myself in the company of people who cheat on their partners. The majority of people I hang about with, almost 100%, have cheated at least once. Most of them do so with gay and reckless abandon at every opportunity and expect me to join in.

I frequently find myself having to explain to people that I’m married and don’t want to go whoring. They usually point out they’re married too. I have to quantify being married with ‘happily’ married, before they understand.

Actually, they don’t understand, it’s an alien concept to them; but they leave me alone.

2) I HAVE A BATMAN COSTUME

Aha, more familiar territory. This is definitely lame, sad and downright pathetic; but it’s a great costume. I made it myself. When I first met Mandy, I made her a Robin costume too. Some people might think dressing your girlfriend as a twelve year old boy is a little odd, but there you go. These are the costumes:

all-camera-piccys-007.jpg  all-camera-piccys-008.jpg

Two photos, because in one I’m pulling a silly face, and Mandy is in the other. I made both costumes, I even made batarangs for my utility belt. This was a Halloween party. On the way there, we got accosted by some kids who demanded sweets. I told them I didn’t have any pockets, but they thought I might be carrying some in my belt.

Meanwhile, one of them was studying Mandy.

“Are you meant to be Robin?” She asks, Mandy confirmed she was. “Oh, you’re a bit of a slutty Robin, aren’t you?” The other kids told her she couldn’t say that, she protested she ‘meant it in a good way’.

I also had a car like this at the time:

toyota-supra-mkiii.jpg

Which helped set the costumes off.

Lame? Yes.

Proud? Oh yes, but perhaps not as proud as I was of the Spiderman costume my mum made for me when I was 7. I used to wear that one to school under my uniform … just in case of emergency.

Some people grow up, some just get older.

3) I DON’T DRINK

Alcohol, I don’t drink alcohol. Not that I need to clarify that since it’s such an invasive drug that it’s actually hijacked the verb, but I have some really picky friends who feel the need to pull you up on statements like this.

What’s to be proud of here?

Well, not drinking is really difficult.

Don’t smoke?

Fine.

Don’t take heroin?

No problem, it’s not for everyone.

Don’t drink?

What the fuck is wrong with you?

I used to have to pretend I was a recovering alcoholic just to get people to leave me alone. It’s not just a socially acceptable drug, it’s a socially expected one and I don’t like being told what to do.

If pushed, I will tell people why I stopped:

I was the first of my friends to learn to drive and the first to own a car – hence I drove everywhere. I can remember sitting in a pub at 17 thinking ‘I’m not having fun’. I vowed the next week I wouldn’t drive so I could enjoy myself.

Then I got angry.

I didn’t start drinking until I was 14, I know I definitely had fun before that. So I obviously don’t need booze to have fun. I’m in the same place with the same people, doing the same things and I’m not enjoying it – why? Why does not drinking suddenly make something not fun?

Ah! Because it wasn’t fun in the first place, I was just too drunk to notice.

At more or less the same time, some of my friends started to get into harder drugs. I didn’t want to. Their argument was it was no worse than alcohol. I agreed.

I changed my vow, I decided I wasn’t going to drink ever again, I was only going to do things which actually were fun.

I’ve never been bothered by other people’s boozing until recently. I keep meeting girls who get so drunk they don’t know how they got home or who they got home with. Basically, they get raped on a regular basis and they’re fine with it.

I meet guys who get drunk and punch things: the walls, the furniture, their girlfriends and they think this is fine (both parties think it’s fine) because they were drunk and couldn’t control their actions.

You can control your actions, you don’t drink at all.

Almost everyone I know is addicted to alcohol and doesn’t know it. As far as they’re concerned it’s not a problem because everyone else does it. I’ve seen fathers allowing their toddlers a sip of beer every night because ‘they want them to be proper drinkers when they grow up’.

As an experiment, every time you hear someone talking about drink, replace it with the word ‘heroin’ and see how odd it sounds to a non-drinking.

Nowadays, when people ask me why I don’t drink I tell them: “Because it’s a lethal toxin which destroys your productivity and ultimately kills you. Why do you drink?”

Fuck, that was a long rant.

Sorry.

I’ll try something a bit lighter.

4) DICK GRAYSON IS MY FAVOURITE COMIC BOOK CHARACTER

There are two lame parts to this.

1) I have a favourite comic book character when the majority of the planet thinks comics are for kids.

2) Dick Grayson? Dick? The first Robin? Everyone else hates him.

They’re wrong.

Dick is a great character. Why does Batman need a Robin? Well, because his parents were killed when he was a child and he’s never grown up. Dressing as a bat and hitting people is a very childish response to the world’s problems, especially when you’re an intelligent billionaire. Why not run for president and sort out society’s problems? Why not buy businesses, run them as non-profit making organisations and give people meaningful jobs which pay well? Why not improve education? In short, tackle the cause of crime, not the end result.

Bruce Wayne suffers from Peter Pan syndrome, hence he takes in a young boy. People giggle about their relationship, it makes Bruce look like a gay paedophile; but the truth to me is he’s a child in an adult’s body who needs a like-minded friend. The only solution is to find a boy of the same mental age as him.

But Dick grows up and the two of them fall out. They argue because Dick is no longer a child. Bruce pushes Dick away and replaces him.

From Dick’s point of view … well, every child (even a lot of the abused ones) looks up to their father. There’s a particular point in your life when you realise you’ve become better at something than your dad, when you realise he’s not perfect and it’s crushing. Then you get over it and get on with your life. If he’s not perfect, you don’t have to be either. It’s a moment of acceptance and becoming.

Dick has never had that. His ‘father’ is Batman. Batman doesn’t make mistakes, how do you live up to that? Dick lives with a constant inferiority complex brought on by trying to live up to an impossible standard.

Then Batman pushes him away.

To Dick, this feels like an admission from Bruce of Dick’s failings as a human being. He’s never reached the point of becoming a man and goes out into the world with a massive inferiority complex. This is a man who can out fight almost anyone on the planet, who’s a superb athlete, stunningly good looking, well liked, brave and has just about every advantage anyone could ever wish for … and he thinks he’s worthless.

I like Dick.

A statement I thought I’d never commit to print.

5) I LIKE LEARNING THINGS

Okay, last one.

Anyone still reading?

No?

I like learning things, I like knowing things.

At some point in the UK (can’t speak for the rest of the world) knowing things became bad. At school, I had to pretend not to understand anything because it wasn’t cool. Cool people don’t know stuff, they’re not clever.

Well fuck you.

I like knowing things and I like learning things. I like to alternate my reading between fact and fiction. The problem is I get so excited when I learn something new I feel the need to share it with other people. People who then think I’m showing off because I’m cleverer than them.

I’m not cleverer than anyone, I just read it in a book and think it’s interesting. I like to share knowledge and I like people to share knowledge with me.

I have friends who are very intelligent, but are convinced they’re stupid. Why? Because they don’t have the knowledge to back it up and they feel acquiring knowledge will make them a target of ridicule. Learning stuff is just not the done thing.

I do find this attitude wears off as people get older. I find myself in discussions with twenty-year-olds who won’t discuss anything except tits and football (boys) or make-up and big brother (girls) because they fear being ridiculed. If I make an effort to drag them onto a different topic of conversation, they invariably say it’s nice to talk about something different; but then go straight back into comfortable ground with the next person they talk to.

Most days I can’t be bothered. People in their thirties tend to be a bit more relaxed, have less to prove and are happier to talk about more interesting topics. Not all of them, but they’re generally more comfortable with their place in the world.

In short, I’m a geek and I’m proud.

So there you go, my five lame things meme. I would tag some other people, but it seems I’m the last person to be named. Everyone else has already done it, or at least the people whose blogs I read.

Oh, except maybe Sally Lawton.

Anyone else who hasn’t done it yet, consider yourself tagged.

And anyone who actually read all the way to the end of this post, well done you.

Categories: Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard | 10 Comments

The verdict’s in …

Balls.

It wasn’t good enough.

Time for a rethink.

Categories: Two steps back | 4 Comments

Torture

I’ve just finished the third part of a project, the first parts of which were here and here and is also connected with this puddle of shame here.

I’m not supposed to say what it is yet, so I won’t – but it’s very exciting.

For me, anyway.

Whereas the first two parts of this went well, if in unexpected directions, this third part has been a nightmare.

It’s one of those projects which didn’t quite make sense on the first draft, but has stubbornly refused to make any sense since. There was one thread which needed sorting out, it wasn’t completely wrong, it was just … a little odd.

No problem, just fix it and make it work.

Except I couldn’t.

I spent a whole day on Thursday trying to pick it apart and make it make sense only to find time and again I was causing myself more and more problems. Every time I thought I had one part sorted I realised none of the rest made any sense.

A whole day.

At the end of the day, I deleted everything I’d written – it was a complete pile of shit.

Friday was pretty much the same. I spent the majority of the day trying to find the answer, trying different methods of putting the story together, looking for a solution which would make it all fall into place.

Unlike the other two parts, there wasn’t a ‘Eureka!’ moment when it all suddenly fell into place. It was a gradual struggle which resolved itself so slowly I wasn’t really aware it had worked until I’d finished.

Part of me is angry about wasting so much time. I could have written something else on Thursday – one of the three movie treatments various people are expecting, for example. Instead, I fannied around for hours and eventually wrote myself into a dead end.

On the other hand, I recognise it’s a necessary process to eliminate the weaker ideas and (hopefully) produce the best version possible. Sometimes the ideas come easily, sometimes they take a while to be coaxed out.

I’d like to say it’s more satisfying the longer it takes to perfect – but it’s not, it’s just more irritating.

Oh well, it’s done now and it’s away. Just got to wait patiently and see what the verdict is.

Categories: Progress | 4 Comments

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