Writing Karma Magnet

I had a vague idea people might be interested in how a script changes from treatment, through the first draft to the final shooting script and the finished film.

Mind you, I also had a vague idea I could Velcro my baby to the wall when I needed to use both hands. That was wrong so I hold no hope for this new inspiration.

However, I’ve never let the prospect of being wrong stop me and Alice did eventually recover, so I’m ploughing on regardless.

Karma Magnet started life as a pitch for Channel Four’s ‘Coming Up’ competition.

They weren’t interested.

But never mind, because Martin Kemp and Jonathan Sothcott of Black and Blue Films were.

My original idea was sparked by being generally annoyed at how easily people ascribe things to fate. People look at things which are amazing coincidences and try to make them less amazing by fitting them into a pattern: it was fate, or one of the Gods or Karma or Santa or someone or something like that.

A friend had recently lost his mind by looking back over his life and trying to find a common thread, one which linked all of his experiences. It amazed me how an incredibly intelligent man could genuinely believe all the events of his life were linked (other than by having happened to him and each effect being the product of the preceding cause) and then find an external force to blame.

This human gullibility, the desperate need to believe the universe cares one way or the other what happens to you, was the jumping off point for this treatment.

I’m assuming everyone can work out you need to click on the blue words to read the document.

I can’t remember getting any notes about the treatment and so the first draft was more or less a literal translation.

There followed a short period of development with most of the changes being about reducing the number of scenes by amalgamating some and cutting others; and the addition of an additional twist for the end.

The final shooting script also included extended radio and TV reports which could carry on in the background and a doubling of the length of the rooftop scenes – the fear being they would look too choppy in the final version. As it happens, they were fine and the additional lines gave us more to choose from in the edit.

So there we are, a brief overview of the treatment, first draft and final shooting script.

If you’ve actually bothered to read all or any of those, then why not go Dread Central and re-watch the finished film?

Go on, you know you want to.

Oh, and if anyone’s interested in my patented Velcro baby-care system, please send a large cheque and a promise not to sue.

Categories: Karma Magnet, My Way | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Writing Karma Magnet

  1. This is great stuff!

    I’m curious as to why you decided to abandon the more rational take on things and go for the mystical ending that appears in the finished version?

  2. Good question.

    The ending was Martin’s idea (as in Kemp, the director). I was initially against it and did say so, but I didn’t have a massively strong objection so didn’t push it. Plus, I figured if the ending didn’t work it would be simple to remove it afterwards without damaging the story.

    As it happens, I quite like the ending. Some people may choose to interpret it as Joel was right all along; me I think it highlights the theme of the film. After Joel dies, a random collection of ‘good’ things happen across the globe – it’s up to the viewer to decide whether the two things are connected or not.

    Do you believe the circumstantial evidence or do you follow a logical thought process?

  3. I’m not criticism the ending – it’s just that it seemed to go against the spirit of the treatment by suggesting that there was something mystical going on. Although I like your point about the ambiguity of it… was I just making the same mistake Joel made by attributing it all to his death?


  4. Damn it – noticed “not criticism the ending” just as I hit submit. Really should proof read my comments more thoroughly.

  5. Ah, who has time to spallchock in this day and age?

  6. Lilly (you know, the one from SMAS)

    Despite the fact that this post is less than chock full of Timothy Spall, erm…thanks for making me giggle shamefacedly for far too long at remembering how I used to have a photo of Martin Kemp prominently displayed on my bedroom wall back inna day. (As did probably a lot of girls [and boys] in the U.K., although perhaps not so many here in the U.S. Then as now, I could be quite the elitist pig.) Thanks for reminding me of just how friggin’ ancient I am, though.

    My kompyuter isn’t letting me download PDF’s at the moment, grrrr. ::glares at poor blameless compie busy downloading Photoshop for entirely nefarious purposes::

    Though cos I helped to raise my twin nieces from the time they were nine days old, in their early days I often pondered the feasibility of old-timey-religious swaddling clothes; after all, they immobilise the child and allow you to get on with other things. For some reason my sister never let me try that out, dunno why…maybe a suitably-padded ‘n insulated backpack might work with Alice? 😉

  7. Yeah … the only problem with that is I’ll end up with Jedi fantasies and start trying to do one-handed handstands and sommersalts with her on my back.

    Probably best not.

  8. Pingback: Karma Magnet online « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

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