The first draft of Mixed Up is done and away.
As usual in these situations, I have three completely conflicting emotions:
Pride: because the script is a fucking masterpiece.
Shame: because I fear it may be the worst thing I’ve ever written.
Resignation: because I know it will probably be fine and it’s just the first step in the development process.
Luckily, numbers 1 and 2 cancel each other out and leave me with the more realistic number 3.
Which is good enough.
This script has presented me with some new challenges and some old familiar ones.
The new stuff is keeping away from movie and TV references and trying to couch everything in terms of music. I tend to be more into film and TV as a cultural touchstone. We want to make this film very much of the moment, but it’s hard to do so without slipping into the wrong frame of reference.
I used to be very into music, back in the day when I played an instrument myself and hung around with a lot of other musos. Nowadays, those people are all scattered around the world, with a surprising amount of them dead or in mental hospitals. I’ve drifted away from music in general, primarily because writing has taken over. To be honest, the only time I listen to music is in the car and I tend to listen to things which would cause the teenage me to die of shame.
If anyone fancies a laugh, this is a video of my first band playing for only the second time since we broke up in 1991.
I am embarrassed, believe me.
One consequence of my decreased music interest is all my knowledge is out of date, so writing a script with music lovers throwing in current references takes a fair bit of research.
And it’s difficult to judge. If I want to mention a band everyone will know is great, but would be unknown to someone who only ever listens to chart music, it’s tricky to know which one to pick. I could do it easily for a ’90s flick; but a ’00s?
Basically, it’s not happening in this draft; but that’s fine. I’m reading, I’m browsing, I’m listening and I’m making notes – the names of bands and the stories associated with them can change right up until the last draft, so I’m not worried about it.
On more familiar ground, there’s always the challenge of making it funny. I like writing comedy, I seem to be good at it; but it can be stressful. Trying to get the balance right between a dramatic scene and the need to be funny can be trying, especially when you’re staring at the joke for weeks on end. It’s really hard to know whether something is still funny when you’ve been prodding it constantly, but sometimes you just have to trust your original instincts and go with it.
Which I have.
Now it’s just the agonising wait for notes.