Monthly Archives: April 2008

Love the script

As a project nears production, everyone involved is keen to tell you how much they love the script. It’s a fantastic script, you’ve done a great job … etc, etc.

My usual response is to mumble thanks and try to change the subject.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate positive comments, it’s just … surely not every script is fantastic and not every person involved can like it?

Rightly or wrongly I’m suspicious of profuse praise. It wouldn’t be so bad if, every now and then, someone turned round and told me they “hate the genre, but the script is tolerable”.

And you never hear: “It’s a pile of shit, but I need the money.”

Or: “The script sucks, but I’ve just slept with xxxxx and owe him/her a favour” (where xxxxx is someone involved in the production; usually, but not exclusively limited to, the producer).

I’m not saying I want to be bombarded with torrents of abuse either; hell, I’m not even sure I want people to be honest: “It’s fairly mediocre but I quite like my part.”

Nah, I don’t need to hear that.

But I always remember having a drink with a visual effects guy who’s worked on some fairly high profile films. I’ve mentioned it before, and no doubt will do so again, but he told me everyone involved in the film he was currently working on (big film, big budget) knew it was shit except for the director, the producer and the writer.

Everyone. Cast, crew, teaboy … everyone.

So why do they work on a shit project?

Because they still get paid and good visual effects in a bad film will still generate work for the effects guy. Plus, he enjoys doing the effects, he doesn’t really care what the words are around them.

Sure enough, when the film came out the reviews were all the same: an expensive pile of wank.

So how do you tell when people are being honest and when people are being professional?

And by professional, I mean lying, sycophantic bastards.

Hence my embarrassed mumblings and desire to change the subject whenever anyone offers any praise. I really don’t have any idea how to behave in this situation. I’ve experimented with declaring my genius and refusing to speak to lower lifeforms; but, weirdly, that just seems to upset people. I’ve tried shouting random words to confuse them:

“Trousers! Fishsticks! Voles riding negligent sisscors!”

But that just seems to scare people. I’ve even opted for staring fixedly at their teeth, dribbling and saying:

“Wrestling makes Mister winkie go hard.”

But apparently that’s normal behaviour for a writer and To Be Expected. So I give up, I have no idea how to react and might opt for just not talking to people at all.

Either that or stick to my guns: mumble thanks and try to change the subject.

One thing I do know, if any actor, male or female (usually female) tells you “Thanks for the words” … punch them in the throat. The world doesn’t need that level of pretension and any court of law would reward you for meting out swift justice.

Probably by giving you community service and a fine; but secretly they’d be commending you for services to humanity.


Categories: Random Witterings | 9 Comments

Writing for Doctor Who

That’s right, that’s the secret.

Me, Phill Barron putting words into the mouth of The Doctor.

Sort of.

Okay, so it’s not the current Doctor and it’s not actually Doctor Who, but it still counts.

What? Don’t look at me like that.

I’ve just had a phone call from producer Jonathan Sothcott (who I now love in a totally manly way, and promise not to refer to as my pimp for at least a week) saying Sylvester McCoy has confirmed for the new film.

In a fairly exciting day with lots of work stuff materialising out of the blue, this is by far my favourite piece of information.

(Apologies to everyone else; but in fairness, I don’t own a crappy plastic figure of anyone else I spoke to or about today)

The new film already had a great cast, but in my eyes it just got better. With only six days to go until shooting starts, I am now officially too excited to sleep.

Hee hee hee … Sylvester McCoy.

Categories: Sad Bastard | 9 Comments

Hee hee hee

I know something you don’t.

Well, hopefully I know lots of things you don’t; like passwords, bank account details and where the spare keys to my house are … but, there’s one specific thing I know which you don’t.

Which I can’t tell you.

I want to …

But I can’t.

Not even to the usual people who email me privately asking for details. I’m not going to tell you, not this time. Hopefully, I’ll be able to talk in a few days time …

Which is not to say I’m in any danger of losing my vocal chords, but hopefully contracts will be signed and I will be free to tell you.

The sad thing is, this is probably only exciting to me … but I don’t care. It excites the geek in me.

I know and you don’t.

Hee hee hee.

Categories: Sad Bastard | 7 Comments

Do they really have sex in sex scenes?

For some reason, that question is the top search string for this blog. I have no idea what post it finds or what the hell I’ve been talking about; but since people are obviously really interested, I thought I’d clear it up in a neat, concise post …

No, they don’t.

Unless it’s porn; in which case … yes, they do.

I hope that answers that burning question and people can get back to finding my blog by searching for “Phillip Barron” and “genius writer”.

Categories: Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 22 Comments

Karma Magnet online

I hate this bit, you know, the bit where people can actually see your work and be nasty about it … but here it is, Karma Magnet for your viewing pleasure:

I’m going to go and hide.

Categories: Karma Magnet | 13 Comments

Spring writing

Spring is here and life’s comfortably busy. It’s all ticking over in a constant stream of work, which, as long as I keep on top of it, is perfectly manageable.

Despite me saying I was going to focus on some TV stuff this year, I seem to be working almost exclusively on more movies. I can’t say I’m particularly upset since I like working on films; but I really must look at getting some TV work soon.

Or at least, as soon as I finish off my current workload. It’s a sort of conveyer belt system at the moment with five feature films on the go in a constant cycle of moving them from synopsis to treatment to longer treatment to first draft to rewrites (ad nauseum) and finally to shooting script.

Right now I’m niggling at Mixed Up which starts shooting in a few weeks – the script’s as good as done, there’s just the odd change and tweak for production reasons from now on.

There’s the sequel to K which is now a three page treatment awaiting comment and discussion.

Night Junkies: The Cure which is at first draft stage – although that’s a co-written thing, so the first draft wasn’t done by me but is from my treatment which in turn is based on Lawrence’s ideas.

Tripping Up which is at second draft stage and awaiting further instructions.

And a new comedy which I’m turning into a synopsis today.

I like working like this, just breezing from one project to the next until you get round them all. It’s easy to budget my time for and it’s relatively stress free. I know roughly how long each stage should take for each project and I can just relax and get on with it.

I’m even having to turn down a few things – two features in as many weeks – on the grounds I haven’t really got the time to devote to them. They were both projects I probably would have done given the time, but ones I would have had to drum up the enthusiasm for rather than being fired up by just the idea.

So instead of piling on project after project until I’m screaming at the walls for interrupting me when I’m thinking, I’m progressing at a comfortable pace and enjoying the work. It’s all tranquil streams and calm summer meadows in this office right now.

Of course, there’s always that cloud of pure panic on the horizon. The nagging sense that someone, somewhere is going to ask me to do something I can’t say no to. Something which is going to cram itself into my schedule and destroy any luxurious free time I’m currently able to spend on anything I damn well please.

But then, that’s the whole point of not overcrowding my plate – I can do it if I feel the need. Until that thundercloud of franticness breaks, I’m just sculling lazily along from project to project like a contented bee.

In a boat, apparently. I must stop mixing metaphors.

The sun’s shining, my fingers are remarkably blood free and all is well.

Categories: K, Progress, Tripping Up | Leave a comment


I’ve just been doing a bit of research for a new project and I’ve noticed something peculiar. In the world of fictional detectives/heroes, there don’t seem to be any female sidekicks.

There are plenty of female detectives or female heroes and superheroes – but very few, bordering on none, instantly recognisable female sidekicks.

And by recognisable I’m talking Robin, Doctor Watson, Tonto level of recognition; not Carrie-the-female-Robin-no-one-except-people-who-read-comics-has-heard-of level.

It’s bugging me a bit, I need to find at least one female sidekick for this thing. There are plenty of people who almost count: Willow, Amy Allen, Thelma and Daphne, but they’re not really sidekicks.

There’s Gabrielle from Xena, I suppose …

Damn, I’ve just answered my own question, rendering this post a bit pointless.

I hate it when that happens.

Categories: Random Witterings | 17 Comments

Not meeting the producers

Right, so last night

Imagine a room about half the size of a tube carriage only without the seats and less windows.

Imagine filling it with around 150 people who all seem to know at least two or three other people in the room, whilst you yourself know absolutely no one.

Now imagine maybe half a dozen of these people are the BBC producers. Only you don’t know who they are or what they look like.

Let’s complicate this further by imagining you’re the type of person who a) hates being in people’s way and b) doesn’t like to disturb people when they’re busy.

Oh and the room is hot, sweaty and slightly too noisy for you to fully understand what the people around you are saying.

So some of these things are my fault – I’m not the most gregarious of chaps. I like talking to people on a one to one basis but splitting up a group of people who are merrily chatting away just to introduce myself is a bit beyond my social abilities. These people don’t know who I am and most of them won’t care. A couple might possibly have worked on The Wrong Door – but I don’t know which ones and have no way of finding out. And even if I could work it out, I know nothing about the show except the sketches I wrote … and even then I don’t know which ones have made it into the show.

Add to that my dodgy hearing, which I permanently fucked by going to six clubs a week for the best part of 1996, and you might get an idea of how awkward I was feeling.

So I stood in the corner.

I made a valiant effort to edge nearer to a group in the vain hope of maybe joining in their obviously riveting conversation only to overhear something which sounded like:

“Yah, I’m like a writer/performer, yah? I like to experiment with the urban passivity of cultural icons in the context of light sensitive interconnectivity.”

Which is the kind of sentence which makes me want to punch people.

Luckily these three guys came and stood right in front of me. Three guys who thought being loud was a substitute for being funny and proceeded to shout at each other, effectively drowning out a lot of the nearby pretension.

For about an hour and a half.

I shall refer to them from now on as ‘the pricks’.

This is ridiculous, I thought. I need to go and talk to someone.

But who?

Well, there’s a guy over there who might be the guy who’s running the College of Comedy thing. You know, the guy whose name I can’t remember?

Then again, maybe it’s not him since I can’t actually remember what he looks like.

He’s surrounded by people who are talking at him, he looks stressed and harrassed … but that might just be the heat haze which hovers over the room.

Oh, and now he seems to have done a runner.

Okay, so I have met Jack Cheshire – the producer of The Wrong Door – he might be here somewhere.


Except, I only met him once; detailed here if anyone wants to refresh their memory. In a nutshell, I asked if I could steal one of his TVs, stared out of the window a lot and may or may not have fallen asleep.

All of which was six months ago – I can only vaguely remember what he looks like and from here there are three people who could potentially be him.

Right, I’ve been standing here in everyone’s way, listening to the pricks shout at each other for far too long. I’m hot, I’m slightly ashamed of myself and I’m going home.

Except now someone’s talking to me – she’s someone from the BBC but I’ve managed to miss her name and her job title. When I mention my name it rings a slight bell, but she doesn’t really know who I am. When I mention which sketches I wrote for The Wrong Door she gets very excited and animated and seems generally a lovely person. She’s very enthusiastic about this particular series of sketches and gives me a few details about the cast and how the shooting went before disappearing back into the crowd.

Then Jack Cheshire gets up and makes a speech and it turns out not only is he was one of my three possible candidates, but he also seems to be in charge of this New Comedy Unit. (Which, incidentally, I still don’t know if it’s the New-Comedy Unit or the New Comedy-Unit.)

Jack’s speech includes details of what the unit are looking for and maybe even how to go about pitching stuff to them.

At least I think that’s what it’s about.

Luckily, the pricks talked loudly and continuously through it and I didn’t hear a word.

Then they showed some clips from some shows (they being the BBC, not the pricks) – one of which might possibly have been The Wrong Door; but there were approximately 149 people between me and the screen.

Including the pricks … who took the opportunity to call Jack names.

Nice guys, really.

By this point I’d had enough and decided to leave. On the way out I realised there had been some free food, but it had all been eaten. I cornered Jack briefly just to say hello.

Said hello and realised I really didn’t have anything useful to say.

Stood there for a bit longer until he looked like he really wanted to get away.

And then I left.

To go and stand on the tube for a bit … which was a lovely, cool, refreshing and spacious change.

I’m sure people found it a useful and informative evening; but for me, it was a complete waste of time. I know I should have made more effort to speak to people, but since the nearest ones were pricks or people who use words like ‘interconnectivity’ – then I think I was fully justified in not bothering.

It might have been helpful if there had been some kind of handout which described, or possibly even had a photo of the producers for the benefit of people like me who don’t get out much … but there wasn’t.

Erm, so … yeah, that’s it.

I went, I stood in a corner, I left.

Categories: BBC, Sad Bastard | 23 Comments

Meet the producers

Well, that was …

You know, I don’t have the words.

I’ll try again later.

Categories: BBC | 12 Comments

Simply the best


So, this is the thing I got an invite to.

Which is very exciting.

The email also said:

A meet, greet and have a drink kind of a night. An informal evening to gather together the best of Britain’s new young writing talent and to let you know what we are up to and what we are looking for here in the BBC New Comedy Unit.”

Which is also very exciting.

… the best of Britain’s new young writing talent …

That’s me that is.

the best …”

And that’s from the BBC so it’s official.

See? I told you so. Didn’t I tell you so? And no one would believe me.

Anyway, this sounds like a great opportunity and one I’m really looking forward to.

Did I mention I was excited?

I did?

What about being the best? Did I mention I was the best?

Okay then.

I figured it was important to do a bit of research; you know, find out which producers are going to be there, what shows they’ve done, what sort of thing they might like. Then I figured I should prep a few ideas, or at least review the ones I’ve written in the past, just in case anyone asks or it happens to come up in conversation. Plus, I figured it might be nice to find out if there were any other writers I know who might be able to hold my hand or at least let me hide behind them if it all gets too much.

Obviously, this is a lot of figuring to do in one go, so I needed a little lie down.

Unfortunately, the little lie down lasted a bit longer than I expected and I haven’t had time to do any of it.

I did put ‘BBC New Comedy Unit’ into Google, just so I’d have a rough idea who was going to be there.

Ah, Google, the old faithful source of all knowledge. Google, who’s never yet let me down. Google, who’s … oh.


Google – you bastard.

Well, not nothing. There was a New Comedy Unit in Manchester in 2005.

Doesn’t help really.


Never mind, I know a few people at the BBC – I’ll ask them.

Nope, they’ve never heard of it either.



Obviously, it’s so new that it’s still a secret. Cool! I’m getting in on the ground floor – presumably because I’m the best.

Did I mention that?

Yes, that must be it; it’s obviously a secret unit which only reveals itself on the first full moon after the vernal equinox. A secret revealed only to those deemed worthy enough of being titled ‘the best’


I probably shouldn’t have blogged about it then.

Oh well, too late now.

I have no idea what to expect, I have no idea what’s going to happen or who will be there or even what’s expected of me … but I am looking forward to it and I’m hoping it will at least be fun.

I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Categories: BBC, Progress | 10 Comments

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