Monthly Archives: March 2009

Free lunch

I read some advice to scriptwriters somewhere recently about never paying for lunch. I can’t really remember where it was or who said it. I can’t remember whether it was an instruction:

NEVER pay for lunch!

Or on a list of mistakes scriptwriters make:

7) Paying for lunch.

I can’t even remember whether it was serious or meant as a joke; but I do know this: it’s bad advice.

Yes, the producer is hiring you. He called you in for a meeting, he wants to buy your services, he’s probably paying your travel expenses, so he should pay for lunch too. Sounds right, doesn’t it? After all, they’re the big money bags producers and we’re the poor, starving writers …

Fuck that shit.

That’s an employer/employee relationship. You don’t want that relationship; you want to be their friend, you want to be their equal, you want to be their partner in crime.

I’m not saying you should pretend to be friends with people – that’s pointless and soul destroying – but if you like this guy and you get on, then you being friends with them gives you advantages over being an employee.

If an employee tells you your script idea sucks, you sack him and find someone who’ll do what you tell them. If a mate tells you the same thing you listen. Yes, you might have an employee whose opinion you trust and whose judgement you listen to, but a friend is someone you’ll want to work with again and again.

With every new project, the producer has a list of writers he can go to. Different writers are better at different things and he’s more likely to go to the horror guy for a horror film and the comedy guy for a comedy film … and being one of those ‘go to guys’ is a great position to be in.

But isn’t it far better to be the mate in the pub the producer is having a few drinks with and a bit of a laugh when the idea first hits?

When he says he’s got this half-baked idea for a film and through the laughter and the beers (or coke, or even tea in my case) you thrash out a story … who’s he going to go to for the script? You’ve already worked on it together, you’ve already shown you’re on the same wavelength and you get his idea. You’re friends – he knows you can deliver what he asks for on time and to standard AND he likes working with you. Yes, he may think of you as the horror guy; but what the hell, he might as well let you have a go at being the comedy guy too.

And all this starts with three simple words:

“I’ll get this.”

You don’t have to buy all the drinks, you don’t even have to match him round for round; but you can at least offer to pay once in a while.

My mate had a few dates with this girl a few years back who never, ever brought her purse with her when they went out. He intended to pay for all the drinks, after all he’d asked her out – hell, he wanted to pay for all the drinks, probably because it made him feel more masculine and vaguely superior … but the fact she expected him to pay for everything and had no intention of even offering to pay rang alarm bells and just pissed him off. Did she just see him as a meal ticket? Was he just a wallet on legs to this girl? With a penis?

Is that how you want producers to think you see them? As two legged cock-wallets? Offer to pay for a round now and then you tight bastards.

Same with lunch, just pay every now and then – pick the cheap restaurants if it really bothers you – but get yourself on that even footing. He’s not your employer, he’s your mate and together you’re going to take on the world.

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, well there is … but it’s a bad thing.

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Categories: My Way, Random Witterings | 9 Comments

Unimportant stuff

1) Put the link of the person who tagged you on your blog.

Piers

2) Write the rules.

  1. Put the link of the person who tagged you on your blog.
  2. Write the rules.
  3. Mention 6 things or habits of no real importance about you.
  4. Tag 6 persons adding their links directly.
  5. Alert the persons that you tagged them.

3) Mention 6 things or habits of no real importance about you.

  1. There are a large number of products I will never buy because the advertising annoys me. Chief culprits among these are Apple, FCUK, Abercrombie and Fitch – in fact, most ‘high end’ clothing shops – and every male perfume ever and/or yet to be invented (you mean to say, if I had a perfectly sculpted body, the looks of a male model, a team of make up artists, professional lighting, was in black and white AND splashed flavoured water on my neck I’d be irresistible to women? Wow. Obviously the perfume is the key ingredient there, where do I sign up?). Basically I get unreasonably angry by anyone who tries to sell me anything by telling me ‘it’s cool and everyone else is doing it’ without actually telling me what’s so good about their product in the first place. The epitome for me is the iPhone 3G – now with added 3G! Which is a bit like Ford advertising a Fiesta as ‘now with FOUR wheels!’ Oh, you mean it’s finally got something it should have had in the first place? It’s finally achieved one of the basic standards? I get particularly incensed by the current crop of ads which show it doing something wonderful but carry the disclaimer “Steps removed and sequences shortened” in other words – “Doesn’t actually do this”. “Imagine a phone which can browse the Internet!” You mean like all phones have been able to do for years? And since browsing “all of the net” was a chief selling point, it gives me great satisfaction to see everyone releasing iPhone versions of their websites. “Imagine a phone which can take photos!” Yes … imagine if your camera was anywhere near the current industry standards, had a flash, could take video and could actually send the pictures to someone once you’d taken them. You know, like every other phone on the market. The phone itself is a perfectly good, middle of the range smart phone; but the advertising and the cult of Apple (who followed me around telling me my phone wasn’t as good as the iPhone for six months before the damn thing was even released) keep insisting it’s the best phone ever made – presumably because it does slightly less stuff than every other smart phone on the market yet costs more. Honestly, the phrase ‘Sent from my iPhone’ sends me into paroxysms of rage. It is very, very pretty though. Why can’t they just say that on the adverts?
  2. I slip into rants far too easily and get unreasonably annoyed by things when I really shouldn’t. I shout at the TV a lot. I sometimes even shout at the screen in the cinema. And not just during the adverts.
  3. Tom Baker sent me a postcard.
  4. You can punch me or hit me with sticks quite hard and I don’t really notice, but I’m very ticklish and may wet myself with prolonged tickling activity.
  5. I hate it when people try to motivate me – it doesn’t work. I’ll do it when I’m God damn ready, now fuck off and leave me alone.
  6. Tea should be served in a mug and the shape of the mug is very important. Saucers are evil, pointless and obviously the work of Satan. Mugs should have straight sides because they’re easier to carry two in one hand, are more stable on curved sofa arms and lose heat slower than tapered mugs. They shouldn’t have a flared lip because the lip stays cold and annoys me. The handle should accommodate at least two fingers, preferably three, to make it easier to carry. And they shouldn’t be dainty porcelain or bone china because I always worry I’m going to bite through the side. Starbucks’ middle sized mugs are perfect. Costa’s large mugs are fucking awful. And really, really, don’t get me started on those fucking stainless steel teapots and milk jugs which EVERY fucking cafe in the world uses. You know, the ones which don’t actually pour but dribble down the sides and all over the table, leaving a pool of liquid which I then put my elbow in and … ah. See point 2).

4) Tag 6 persons adding their links directly.

No.

5) Alert the persons that you tagged them.

See above.

Categories: Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard | 7 Comments

Mobile library

I was out and about the other day, for occasionally I’m allowed time out from behind my monitor as part of the EU’s ‘introduce a writer to fresh air initiative’, when I got an email from an old contact asking if I had any scripts I could send them.

Um … no, not really.

Well, okay, sort of. A few shorts maybe. Oh, and there are a couple of odd features knocking around which might one day deserve a re-write.

Okay, yes. I have a few things I can send you … except, I can’t. I’m not at home right now.

True, I have this very clever program which lets me use my phone to tell my desktop to email scripts to people from anywhere in the world – but it has one fairly limiting flaw: I have to leave my desktop on all the time. Which seems a bit wasteful in these times of global climate change.

Second option would be to find somewhere to sit down and either use a wireless network or my mobile as a modem and send the script from there. But again, that has a flaw – I have to have my laptop with me and I don’t always feel the need to cart it around. I rarely take it to Tesco, for example.

This sort of thing bugs me. I feel like I should have my scripts to hand all the time – just in case. I frequently get emails from people I work with who have unaccountably lost the latest draft or are out and about and want the script sent to someone and are inexplicably incapable of doing it themselves. And what happens if I meet someone who wants to read something and I have to wait a whole hour or two before I can get home to do it?

What then? Hmm? Disaster, that’s what.

So I was mulling over solutions. I read on someone’s blog about keeping copies of your scripts in the boot of your car – but that seems a) so 20th Century b) relying on me having my car closer to hand than a computer and c) a fucking fire hazard when your car’s as old and likely to burst into flame as mine is.

I toyed briefly with carrying a tiny USB flash key around with me all the time. They’re small, I could fit one on my keyring with my entire back catalogue stored on it … and still be completely unable to send the damn things to anyone. I’m still ashamed of that line of reasoning on the grounds it’s fucking stupid and still requires access to a computer to work.

There must be another solution …

And then I realised how retarded I was being.

The event which sparked off this fairly pointless chain of thought was receiving an email whilst being without a computer … receiving an email on my phone.

A phone which has 16gb of memory plus a 4gb memory card.

I’m staring at a device which not only has ludicrous amounts of storage space, not only can send and receive emails independent of a computer; but, crucially, is never, ever far from my person.

There’s a solution here somewhere. I can feel it meandering through my brain …

Nope, it’s gone.

Suffice it to say I now carry everything I’ve ever written around with me all the time:

638 synopses, treatments, outlines, notes and multiple drafts for 40 feature films (20 actually written, 20 never got past the arguing stage); 114 of the same for 16 short films; 481 more of the same for 13 different TV projects and a silly 751 sketches. 1,984 documents at my fingertips 24 hours a day and the majority of it almost completely useless at any given time.

And that’s not including the three online series, the musical, the folder labelled ‘Postcards’ which I’m loathe to look in in case it’s something disappointing and the tantalisingly named ‘Other Projects’ which seems to contain two files which aren’t in English.

In total there are 143mb of data which really doesn’t seem that much when you look at it. What the hell have I been doing with my life? Surely I should have written at least 1gb worth of material by now?

Still, it’s all there – poised, ready and waiting. Not only can I now email any script to anybody, anywhere in the world at any time at the drop of a hat. Or the press of a button. Well, several buttons I guess … but I’ve also got everything backed up to a third location just in case there’s a sudden and catastrophic calamity which destroys both my laptop and my desktop.

And that flash drive I lost six months ago which must be in the house somewhere.

Okay, yes it’s a little pointless – but at the same time … ain’t technology marvellous?

Categories: Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 5 Comments

Weird … oh no, it’s cool

A few weeks back I had a handful of emails from actors looking for work.

Nothing unusual in that, it happens with alarming regularity and I usually politely respond with one simple fact:

I’m a writer, I have no opportunity to get anyone any acting work on any production whatsoever. Seriously, no one listens to my opinion or even remotely cares about anything I have to say. I could be best mates with Tom Cruise and wouldn’t be able to get him a job. My opinion means nothing.

Which is precisely how it should be. No one should ever listen to my opinion – it’s always wrong.

Actually, you could listen to it and do the opposite. That’s probably a good course of action.

Anyway, what made those particular emails unusual is they were enquiring about roles for a specific film … a film I probably didn’t write and as far as I knew wasn’t getting made any time soon.

Except … it turns out it is. This Friday as it happens … but I didn’t actually write it.

Confused?

Me too. Let’s go back to the beginning.

A few years back, producer Jonathan Sothcott was talking about remaking ‘House on Straw Hill’ also known as ‘Exposé’ and apparently the only film still banned in the UK. I watched the DVD (how naughty, can I get arrested for that?) and by the halfway mark I’d come to the conclusion the only way the film could make any sense would be if … something, something, something …

Which Jonathan liked. A lot. He actually wrote down genius on a bit of paper and circled it – but in retrospect he may have been talking about himself.

I wrote out a longish synopsis, which everyone loved, rushed out a script, royally fucked it up and delivered an absolute turd. Which I am still ashamed of, but I make a point of bringing up every now and then to remind myself never, ever to do it again.

And that was pretty much it. I moved on to pastures … different. None of them are particularly greener – they’re just different – and I kind of forgot about the whole thing.

Until I started getting emails asking for roles in the film.

Apparently there was an advert on Casting Call Pro for ‘Exposé’ and an Internet search brings up my name because I haven’t got round to taking it off my website. A quick call to Jonathan confirmed they were going ahead with the film on the 27th March (this Friday). Martin Kemp‘s directing a script he’s written and it stars Philip Davis, Jane March and Anna Brecon.

There’s an article in Fangoria about it here.

What’s all this got to do with me?

Well, not a lot to be honest – apart from my mate’s making a film and because I mumbled a few words in a pub a couple of years ago – I get a ‘story by’ credit. Which is nice. It’s another produced feature credit, for no extra work, with a share of the glory if it’s good and plausible deniability if it’s not.

I’m pretty confident it will be good though, so hooray!

I was beginning to think I wouldn’t get my name on any films this year.

Mind you, it’s only March and the pipeline is looking pretty full …

Categories: Exposé, Progress | 1 Comment

Horror of horrors

I’m a bit tired this morning, it was a bit of a late one last night and I’ve been up unreasonably early this morning. Even Alice thought I was up mentally early this morning and she’s only 9 months old.

Truth is I just couldn’t sleep, last night was a bit … odd.

Last night, the luscious Lara Greenway and I were in the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds. For business, not pleasure.

Have you been there recently?

It’s not very scary.

There’s a kind of cafe area at the entrance with those really crappy metal tables, you know, the ones which are either freezing cold, unpleasantly sticky or both and you spend all your time wedging beer mats under the legs to try and get them stable.

Immediately outside the entrance to the Chamber of Horrors is a model of Frankenstein’s Monster, but a not particularly scary one. It looks like they’d started off with a basic Herman Munster statue and then tried to make it scary by spraying it in dayglo paint. Even stranger, they’ve made him a cyclops with a badly painted on luminous eye.

Hardly the sort of thing to curdle the blood.

Slightly scarier was Terry Wogan.

Not a waxwork, the real deal. He was there to interview Lara and I for a new TV series he’s making.

And here’s where it all starts to fall apart.

You’d be forgiven for thinking, given Lara and I are both writers, that this was some kind of ‘Up and coming British Writers’ type show. ‘New Talent’ perhaps? Or ‘The Future of Entertainment’ ? Which I am.

But no.

It’s a medical show  … sort of. Basically it’s a documentary(ish) show about unusual diseases which, given that it’s hosted by Terry Wogan and filmed in Madame Tussauds Chamber of Horrors probably isn’t going to be a sensitive outing.

Basically,  I think the premise is Terry Wogan takes the piss out of people with unfortunate illnesses. You know, freaks.

The more charitable among you are probably thinking Lara and I are far too attractive to suffer from any such freakish ailments.

The more realistic among you are probably thinking Lara is far too attractive to suffer from any such freakish ailments but the ginger one  … not really that surprising.

The truth is … and Lara, I really hope you don’t mind me saying this – although since it’s going to be on national TV (or whatever crappy Sky channel Wogan’s slumming on nowadays) it’s a bit late to get all secretive … the truth is, Lara and I both suffer from a (relatively) rare genetic disorder – Adrenal Induced Transmutational Gene Disorder*. Which is neither cool to say nor have. It doesn’t even have a snappy acronym.

I was quite pleased Lara was there and not a little surprised. There aren’t many of us in the country with this … affliction, I guess. It’s not really an illness or even a disorder. It’s just a bit annoying. I think there are somewhere between 20 and 30 people in the UK who suffer (without suffering – it doesn’t affect your daily life too much. Except when it does, which you can manage with pills) from AITGD and the chances of someone I know actually having the same problem is quite frankly amazing.

Still, me and Lara versus Wogan.

Bring it on.

So we’re sitting in this crappy cafe thing, laughing about the crappy glow in the dark Frankenstein/Cyclops/fun fair reject and waiting for the crappy crew to stop dicking about with the cameras and the lights so we can film this thing and go home. We haven’t even got to meet Wogan yet because apparently he doesn’t step on set until they’re ready to go and was off having his eyebrows primped or something.

We were talking about our various projects and Lara said she was thinking of writing something about AITGD and was talking to the film council about funding.

Which was awkward.

I hate situations like this, but I’ve got a similar project on the go and I feel honour bound to warn her I’m already writing it and am slightly further down the path than she is since I’ve already got a producer, director and most importantly, money on board. So I tell her and after a brief bit of ‘you show me yours and I’ll show you mine’ only sadly without the promise of seeing any rude bits, we tell each other our ideas.

And delightfully they’re completely different.

Phew.

And mine’s better.

Ha!

And then the horror strikes.

Lara has this list the film council gave her. It’s a list of horrible cliches which should never, ever be in any fantasy film … a list of things which are ALL in the sword and sorcery epic I’m waiting to hear back against.

All of them.

Every single fucking one.

My blood runs cold and I break out in an icy sweat. The script I’m waiting to hear back about, the script which may very well be the biggest thing I’ve ever written and would set me up for life, is the biggest, cliche ridden piece of shit turkey in the history of film making and Lara has a piece of paper from the film council to prove it …

And then I woke up.

It was just a dream … or was it?

* Click here for an explanation.

Categories: Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 12 Comments

How odd

It appears The Wrong Door has been nominated for a Rose d’Or:

http://www.rosedor.com/content/festival2009_competition_nominees.php

Is that good?

Apparently:

“Throughout its history, the festival’s goal has always been to reward originality, quality and creativity in entertainment programming, and to encourage excellence in television and new media. Each year, since the festival began, the Rose d’Or has acquired the best of the year’s new entertainment and made it possible for international broadcasters, buyers, producers and press to view it all.”

So there you go. That is good, isn’t it?

According to the Swiss I’m original, creative, excellent and the best of the year.

Well not me personally, but a show I contributed a little bit to. So I guess that makes me only slightly original, creative, excellent and only partly the best of the year.

I hope it’s a part of me I like.

The Swiss are encouraging me. That’s nice of them.

Truly we live in a wondrous age.

Categories: The Wrong Door, Things I've Learnt Recently | 12 Comments

Spinning plates

I finished film number three in the Easter Extravaganza on Sunday. So far it’s all going swimmingly, I even managed Saturday off for Mandy and I to catch my brother’s play in London. Here’s a vaguely Danish video link:

http://www.tv2lorry.dk/moduler/nyheder/showregvideo.asp?dato=17-03-2009&cID=1&vId=474536

If you accidentally find yourself in Copenhagen in the next week or so, I highly recommend it.

I’ve got one more film to go now before Easter and plenty of time to do it in.

Sort of.

Because the problem is, the workload for each script doesn’t finish when you send it off. It’s just not that simple. It really is a case of setting the plates spinning then rushing back and forth occasionally to make sure they keep going. With each successive project set in motion it gets harder to keep them going, but so far it’s been remarkably easy.

Which worries me a bit.

A quick recap – four feature films before Easter:

Plate #1 – is a sword and sorcery re-write I’d been nibbling at since the last meeting in September. This was a major re-write which changed pretty much every word in the script. I finished this on the 3rd of March and so far haven’t heard anything back. This could be innocuous and just means producer and director haven’t had time to read it yet (we’re all busy) or it could be bad and they’re sitting around trying to work out how to tell me how truly awful it is. Either way, it’s a plate which has been spinning unaided for a long time and is beginning to look a bit suspicious …

Plate #2 – is ’til Death which had a minor re-write somewhere around the 5th and 6th of March in between me fucking about with Legoat my parents’ house. That draft was well loved but has generated some new ideas which I’ll get told at a meeting on Friday, and that means another minor re-write. In addition, the one-pager (logline and synopsis) no longer reflects the script so that has to be changed to match. It’s not the end of the world, we’re talking a couplle of days to do both but it’s a wobbling plate which needs a quick flick.

Plate #3 – was the solid gold brick shat by a producer and I a couple of weeks back and the one I finished on Sunday. Which, since I only started it on Wednesday and had Saturday off, surprised the hell out of me. No outline, no planning, no cards, notes, character outlines, treatment or synopsis – just sit down, start at the beginning and write with the central premise in mind. Not something I’d recommend, but it seemed to fit the style of the project. I was on a bit of a roll with that, finished it at 23.06 on Sunday and handed it in safe in the knowledge I could forget about it for a few days at least. I’ve only just started it spinning, I don’t need to do anything for a while …

Except I get an email at 00.07 on Monday morning – the producer had read it. One hour and one minute later! The plate’s wobbling already! Crap, it might fall off before it even gets going. Worse still, he might have an immediate set of notes which interfere with moving on to plate #4 … but no. He read it, he laughed, he liked it. Meeting on Friday to discuss the next draft.

Cool.

I’m ahead of the game!

So Mandy and I buggered off to New York for a few days. We saw the Statue of Liberty:

Statue of Liberty

Carrie Bradshaw’s house:

Mandy at Carrie's

Real movie steam:

steam

Went to Times Square:

Times Square

And had a drink in a revolving restaurant:

16032009039

Shortly after that we got attacked by a T-Rex:

T-Rex

But luckily, Spidey turned up to save the day:

Thwip!

And all was well in the Big Apple. Which is neither big nor Apple-ish. It is quite tall though.

Whilst queing endlessly for the ferry out to the Statue of Liberty and having to strip naked to get through the x-ray machine, it occurred to me terrorists are badly named. On September the 11th I imagine there were quite a lot of terrified people – but within a year that terror gives way to being bloody annoyed. “Why have I got to take my belt off? What the fuck do you think I’m hiding there? I was a child when I joined this queue.”

They should call them annoyingists, not terrorists. They’d get the same effect if they just followed people around and hummed all day or snuck up behind people and licked their ears – it’d be cheaper, kinder to the environment, nobody would have to die and it would have exactly the same impact on society.

Anyway, we’re back now and it’s time to set plate #4 in motion – a completely new feature project this and terribly exciting. I may even have to break out the new pack of index cards.

As long as nothing else wobbles in the meantime.

Categories: My Way, Progress, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, til Death | 2 Comments

Clothes maketh the man … look stoopid

I found a jacket last week.

Not in a skanky, ‘oh look what’s that rolled up behind that wheelie bin, covered in tramp piss’ kind of way.

Although I have been through that phase of my life.

No, last week I opened my wardrobe and there it was – a new jacket. Weirdly it’s almost identical to several I’ve been looking at mournfully around town.

Perhaps I should explain I have a jacket fetish in exactly the same way some people have shoe or handbag fetishes. Mandy, for example, has a shoe fetish – we have shoes stuffed into every nook and cranny here, a painful process I can tell you. If you’ve never had your cranny filled with shoes, don’t. Run now.

If Mandy had a mission statement in life, a basic line of programming it would go like this:

10 buy shoes
20 goto 10

If we ever became rich, and money was no object, the whole world would be lost in a mountain of shoes – none of which fit or go with her outfit.

Well, I’m exactly the same with jackets. I don’t know why, but I can go out to buy a pair of socks and come back with a pair of jackets. Sometimes I suspect I’m looking for some kind of uber jacket – the jacket to end all jackets – the one I will wear for the rest of my life.

Other times I think I’m just a sad bastard with an odd fixation.

I have a lot of jackets. 50% of my wardrobe is just jackets, meaning the rail bows alarmingly. However, this was not one of those jackets – this, was the holiest of holies – a new jacket.

My first thought was: Aliens!

But that seemed unfeasible. It does seem to be suede though so maybe that’s what all those cattle mutilations are? Maybe aliens leap in their customised saucers, travel thousands of light years, hack up a few stray cows, make jackets round the barbie and then secret them in strangers’ wardrobes?

You scoff, I can hear you, but it could happen.

Probably.

My second guess was Mandy must have bought it for me. I do so love her, have I mentioned that? She’s obviously taken note of my lingering, longing stares whilst in … whatever shop it was … the one with the rails, you know … and secretly bought it for me.

Then put it in my wardrobe without telling me.

Then filled the pockets full of receipts.

Hmm … maybe I should go back to the aliens theory?

Close examination of the receipts bore the following information:

  1. This jacket has been to Carcassonne.
  2. This jacket has been to London Victoria from Polegate.
  3. This jacket shops in Boots and buys Mach 3 razor blades.

Hmm …

By applying some specialised knowledge I can add three further facts to the investigation:

  1. My parents live near Carcassonne.
  2. I regularly travel from Polegate to Victoria
  3. I occasionally buy Mach 3 razor blades from Boots.

I know, I know – I fell for the old three blades are better bullshit. I’m sorry. At least I haven’t fallen for this newfangled five blade nonsense.

Add the first three facts to the second three and you reach an inescapable conclusion:

Whoever the jacket belongs to has been stalking me.

Luckily, the receipts are all from 2007 so it looks like the jacket guy gave up and … somehow … left his jacket in my … yeah. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? It can’t have been in my wardrobe for two years without me noticing.

Still, I’m not one to look a gift jacket in the sleeve, so I don said jacket … and it’s lovely … and head off into London for my meetings.

Actually, the first of which was at Gatwick – but London sounds better.

The first thing the director says when we meet is … “You haven’t worn that jacket for a while.”

Eh?

Actually, the first thing he says is “Put that gay laptop away before someone thinks I’m with you.”

But still: eh? I haven’t worn this jacket for … ?

Oh my God! My stalker must be a clone of me!

Or me from the future!

I left myself a present, that’s thoughtful.

And then filled it full of receipts from the past. Not so thoughtful. I must remember that when I become future me and have access to time travel technology and this jacket, to stuff the pockets full of money. I’ve got that tattooed on my inner thigh now. I just hope I’m wearing hotpants that day.

At the second meeting, which actually is in London, I relay the oddness of the first meeting: “He said I hadn’t worn this jacket for a long time.”

“Well you haven’t.” says meetingee number two.

Huh?

“I remember it because I said it was the sort of thing I might buy.”

God damn my future self and/or clone gets about.

And so, by the close of the day I’m forced to admit – I bought a jacket, wore it once or twice and then forgot I had it … for two years! That’s right, I’ve now reached the point where I have so many jackets I’ve lost track of them.

If only I was rich enough to do that with cars. Imagine wandering into the garage, past replicas of KITT and the 1966 Batmobile only to find a cheeky DB5 in the corner you can’t remember buying!

I long for that day.

But until that day comes I’ll content myself with my new jacket and marvel at how cheap this makes the thrill of acquiring new clothing. If I could do this all the time it would be brilliant. Imagine opening your wardrobe every day and thinking you’ve just been given something new!

Brilliant!

I do wish I hadn’t had that tattoo though.

Categories: Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 3 Comments

How did you get into writing?

That’s the third question anyone asks me upon finding out I’m a scriptwriter:

“How did you get into it?”

The first two, as I’ve mentioned before, are usually:

“What do you mean?”

and

“So … do you write the story and someone else writes the words?”

Which is the kind of moronic question I reserve my blank ‘what the fuck are you talking about?’ face for. It’s right up there with “Well if evolution’s true and man did evolve from monkeys, why are there still monkeys around?”. What are you, fucking eight? I knew the answer to that before I had pubes … and other such rants about stupid people.

Anyway.

“How did you get into writing?”

The answer is: LEGO.

Lego Evolution

Which, despite the picture, isn’t the same answer as the answer to the question about monkeys and evolution – the answer there is ‘ask something sensible or fuck off’.

When I was a kid there were only three toys: Star Wars figures, Action Man and Lego.

There were probably others, but who cares? A list of three is easier to deal with.

The cool thing about Lego is Lego is ALL toys. Everything you can imagine, you can build – given enough bricks and ingenuity.

This was brought home to me over the weekend when an early finish to the ’til Death re-write prompted an impromptu visit to my parents’. Being the doting grandparents they are, they’d gone rummaging around in the loft, found a box full of Lego and separated out the Duplo bricks for Alice to play with.

Whilst digging around in the Lego, my mum found this:

TARDIS

and after a further spot of digging, I unearthed these:

Hatstand

and

11032009036

The first one, obviously, is a Lego TARDIS. The second one is a hatstand, complete with 4th Doctor scarf and hat – all that remains of the separate and extensive TARDIS interior, and the third is a grandfather clock created to double as the Master’s TARDIS.

An old (and not very funny) joke in our house was if you couldn’t find anything it would invariably end up in the Lego box – primarily because once scattered all over the room, the Lego would stay there until my brother and I were forced at knife point to put it all away; a process which involved grabbing handfuls of anything small, untangling them from the nasty polyester carpet and hurling them into the box.

And because of that, all sorts of crap is now preserved in that old Lego box …

Although when my Mum came up with the idea of putting all the Lego on a curtain before play (meaning the corners could be gathered together which scooped all the Lego up in one go) that ‘crap accumulation’ process stopped. Cleverer people than me could probably pinpoint the exact date when it happened by examining the amassed fragments of toys in a Jurassic Park, fly in amber type process.

But there is still a lot of stuff preserved, a history of games I played and toys I once owned. A brief search on Sunday revealed Superman’s boot circa 1978, the rudder from an Action Man Sea Wolf submarine, a Bayko brick (a particularly nasty construction set which involved sticking foot long, razor sharp pins into a board and then tripping, spearing your face and killing yourself), a Scalextric … thing (it’s green and diamond shaped?) and half a Thundercat’s logo stuck to bits of Lego.

But it’s the TARDIS and the Thundercats thing which got me thinking. You see, I didn’t just build things with Lego – I stuck bits of paper to them too. When I built the Thundertank (which had working claw grapples, opening cockpit and rear section and removable hoverboards) I also made costumes for the characters – likewise for Doctor Who, initially there was Tom Baker’s costume but later on my brother and I created our own Doctors to play with.

“What the fuck has this got to do with writing?” You are doubtlessly, and quite rightly, asking.

Well, in addition to creating costumes and sets, I used to come up with storylines for us to play. These reached their zenith when …

Do you know, I think I’ve blogged about this before.

Bugger.

I could just give up here or I could plough on regardless …

Oh I’ll finish what I’ve started.

My brother, his friend and I built three Lego spaceships and invented a whole world they belonged to. Crucially, we were always convinced these spaceships belonged to a TV series. I used to come up with the stories, then we’d build any sets and costumes needed to tell them. We’d play a bit of music as an intro and again for the end credits and we’d always finish on a cliffhanger.

Over the years the world and the stories became more and more complex until there was a whole mythology around the characters and five years worth of individual stories which built up to an explosive climax.

Which are the best kind.

As time went on I never forgot those stories and always maintained they were better than any of the then current Sci-fi on TV until people got so pissed off with me talking about an imaginary TV series they told me to write it or shut the fuck up.

Preferably the latter.

And as soon as I started the floodgates opened – before long there were more ideas coming than belonged to that one series … besides, I wanted complete control over it and obviously needed to build a better reputation for myself first. So the series went on the back burner and there it stayed until Joss Whedon made Firefly – an exact replica of the series I’d had in my head since I was a mere whippersnapper.

Balls.

Still, Lego, that’s where it all started for me. I’ve still got that Lego Spaceship in my office and here it is, The Morning Star:

The Morning Star

It still inspires me to keep writing whenever I feel a bit blue and serves as a constant reminder – I’ve been making shit up for a long, long time.

And there you go.

How did you get into it?

Feel free to treat this like a meme if you wish – I’m not tagging anyone because I don’t really like putting people under pressure and can’t bear the crushing rejection when they don’t bother. So if you want to have a go, have a go – if not, don’t.

I’m off to play with my toys.

Categories: Random Witterings, Sad Bastard, Writing and life | 7 Comments

Did I shit a solid gold brick?

Sort of.

The first meeting was very successful, the one about ’til Death (one I almost missed due to Stuart Perry), where lots of good and better ideas were thrown around. The kind of meeting where the only question really asked is “Why’s this character doing this?” If there’s a good answer, move on. If not, why not? These kind of meetings aren’t about lack of clarity in the script, there’re about making absolutely sure writer and director have the same opinion about the motivations of the characters.

Just in case anyone asks any awkward questions.

Afterwards I made my way to the next meeting, a meeting which promised mystery, surprises, laughter, madness and me shitting a solid gold brick. So, pants in hand, I ventured into the lions’ den …

Which is a weird place to hold a meeting. You probably don’t know this, but lions are incredible know-it-alls and have an opinion on *everything*. After I’d had my hair, my clothes, my shoes, my laptop, my use of language and my opposable thumbs criticised, we moved the meeting to a bar which was much quieter.

Fucking lions.

On the way to the meeting I kept thinking about what might happen. I knew we were meeting to discuss a troubled project and how it could possibly be saved. I knew the producer had an idea he claimed was the greatest idea ever, part madness, part genius and one which would really appeal to my sense of humour.

I’m not that fussed about madness or genius, but I like things which appeal to my sense of humour. So while I’m musing about these things I remember how little I like superlatives.

At least, not when someone else is using them.

Basically, I want my idea to be better, madder, more genius-er and more humourously appealing than his. He’s the god damn producer – I’m the writer. Ideas are my domain, he should stick to schmoozing, raising money and trying to sleep with actresses.

So I tried to think of a better idea. What would be so outrageous his idea would seem pitiful by comparison? Obviously we’d still do his idea because he’s the producer and it’s his film; but I want to chuck something into conversation first which makes his idea seem sane, rational and boring by comparison.

Mulling over the nature of the problem and the possible causes (of which there are many) … I had the idea.

No, that doesn’t do it justice.

I had THE IDEA.

No, still not good enough.

I had THE IDEA.

Right. That last ‘THE IDEA’ is supposed to be in really big letters, a funky colour and flashing.

But it’s not.

Fuck it, you’re mostly writers. Use your imagination.

I get to the pub (the bit about the lions’ den was a lie) and after all the usual pleasantries – you know, what do you want to drink? That’s a nice jacket? My have you lost weight? Usual stuff – we get onto the meat and potatoes …

After the meal, we were ready to talk.

“So,” he says, breaking all the conventions about starting speeches with the word ‘so’ … “do you want to hear the biggest, craziest, bestest idea about how to fix the problem you’ve ever heard in your or anyone else’s life?”

“Yes, but I’ve got an idea too.”

“It won’t be better than mine.”

“We’ll see about that.” I gloat unnecessarily …

And I tell him my idea …

Which, as it turns out, was exactly the same as his idea – to the letter … and the five exclamation marks at the end of the pitch.

And the rest of the meeting was a flurry of laughter and stupid ideas about how best to realise the monumentally stupid solution, whilst both of us squirmed with discomfort. After all, it’s hard to be comfortable when you’ve both just shit a solid gold brick.

Categories: Progress, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard, til Death | 11 Comments

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