Monthly Archives: June 2009

1st October 2009

According to IMDb, that date (1/10/09) is the release date for ‘Just for the Record’.

Hooray!

Now all I need to do is work out exactly what that means. Released where? And via what medium? Or media?

In short, what the hell’s going on?

Perhaps if I actually read some of these emails it might shed some light?

Bigger penis, bigger penis, better drugs, cheaper drugs, cheap drugs to make your penis bigger, cheap drugs to make your penis better, cheap penises …

This could take a while.

Fuck it, let’s just watch the trailer again:

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Categories: Just for the Record | 2 Comments

Summer shorts

In a rare moment of benevolence, I suddenly feel the need to promote other people’s short films. I know, I know, I must be either ill or under the influence of some particularly potent tea; but never mind. I’m feeling promotey …

First up, two short films from one Lara Greenway:

Runner

and

Hostile

followed closely by one short film from one Lucy Hay:

Safe

and finishing with one each from two Dans – or one Dan and a Danny, which is close enough:

Origin, by Danny Stacktrailer and official website are here; but no actual film yet. Still, it’s nice to be prepared, isn’t it?

and finally, the absolutely superb:

The Big Idea by Dan Hartley.

Watch them, love them, rate them – where appropriate.

Categories: Someone Else's Way | 3 Comments

Spinal Flap

Earlier today I was reading the paper over someone’s shoulder …

I should explain, I don’t buy newspapers any more – they’re depressing, inaccurate and generally full of shit.

For example: according to the papers, Britain is a perilous place to live full of knife wielding youths, lethal viruses and is about to be completely overrun by illegal immigrants. The police are either buried under piles of paperwork, incompetent and impotent ora bunch of baton toting fascists who’d rather beat the shit out of you than tell you the time – depending on what best suits the story of the day.

However, if you don’t read the papers, Britain (or at least Eastbourne) is a lovely sunny place full of reasonably friendly people who rarely knife you and the police are now so young they look like they might burst into tears if you stare at them too long.

Seriously, if you’re depressed, anxious or fearful about the modern world – stop reading the news and you’ll find you brighten up immeasurably.

Anyway, I was reading the paper over this guy’s shoulder – not because I suddenly felt the need to know how soon we’re all going to die from Swine Flu, but because it was The Sun and I thought I might see some boobs – when this article caught my eye:

Spinal Flap

Specifically, this bit:

Spinal Flap002

By the way, if you’re wondering how I managed to get a scan of someone else’s paper – there’s this little pressure point under the ear which, if pressed while pulling back on the head, will result in a complete neurological shutdown. After that, stealing a paper from someone who’s unconscious is child’s play. It’s fun, practice on your friends … if you don’t like them much.

Bruce has been making films and a pilot for a TV comedy called Spinal Flap, set in the world of boy bands.”

That’s me they’re not talking about there.

Yes, I can exclusively reveal I co-wrote Spinal Flap (or ‘Untitled Boy Band Sitcom Pilot’ as I prefer to call it) with my enigmatic and mysterious co-writer Earl Grey. A man so enigmatic and mysterious he needs two words which mean exactly the same thing to describe him.

In fact, he may not even be a man, that’s how enigmatic he truly is.

Shit. I meant ‘or she truly is’.

No, it is a man. To be honest, I think I’ve given his identity away many times on this blog.

Fuck it, it’s Lee Otway.

Anyway, the sitcom pilot mentioned is one I co-wrote with Lee (he did most of the work and it’s his idea), which was filmed last month (or was it the month before?) with Bruce Jones and SOME OTHER PEOPLE!

That isn’t to say the other people aren’t as exciting or famous as Bruce Jones, but they haven’t been promoting it in the papers and as yet are protected by an impenetrable shield of anonymity.

In other words, I was hiding in the Caribbean during the shoot, didn’t meet any of the cast and can’t find the email which contains the list of actors.

I was going to write a post today about the Movable Goalposts of Excitement, but I thought not being talked about in The Sun was more interesting.

Maybe tomorrow.

If you’re lucky.

Categories: Publicity | 7 Comments

What do you want?

As everyone knows, writing is hard …

Well, perhaps not everyone. I know a few producers who think you just slap the words on a page and then get on with the important stuff – like seducing the actresses.

Come to think of it, I’ve also met directors who find the whole writing process just an inconvenient series of arguments which happen before the creative process can begin.

Oh, and then there’s the script editors, actors, ADs, costumers, makeup artists, cinematographers and indeed most of the technical crew who think writers moan about having the easiest job going – sitting still and thinking.

Okay, so it’s only writers who know how hard writing is and you know what? We’re fucking right. And it’s only made harder by producers/directors who DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY FUCKING WANT. They know what they don’t want, but only after you’ve said it. Other than that they haven’t got a clue and it’s really, really difficult to divine exactly what it is they might possibly be thinking the film may vaguely be about. Meetings involve long periods of Guess Who style guessing games as you try to winkle some kind of opinion out of them on what kind of script they think they’re paying for:

“What I’m looking for is Jaws meets The Karate Kid.”

“Right. So the Karate Kid fights a big fucking shark? In the water? Or does the shark sprout legs?”

“No, no, no. When I said they meet, I don’t mean they actually meet – I mean thematically.”

“A shark teaches a kid how to defend himself against bullies? Or maybe a weedy teen martial artist terrorises a local fishing community?”

“No! You’re not listening”

“I only wish that were true.”

Another favourite of mine is when I get asked to write something which is A crossed with B when A and B are the same fucking thing. A bit like asking for ‘Life on Mars’ crossed with ‘Ashes to Ashes’ – unless you’re looking for a series set in 1977 I have no idea what you’re talking about.

And this is what makes writing difficult – the picture they have in their head, the one they want the writer to translate into a script, isn’t really a picture. It’s not fully formed and it actually makes little or no sense. Usually it’s more like a dream – something which makes perfect sense until they have to describe it and then turns into a random stream of unconnected images:

“I was in this room, only it wasn’t me and it wasn’t really a room but there was this iguana wearing a trilby … or possibly a smoking jacket, I can’t remember. Anyway, the iguana which is now a 1964 Studebaker Challenger who’s got this fruitbowl, says … something in German. Possibly about a spatula.”

“Sounds great. How much are you paying me again?”

And so here I sit, staring at a pile of index cards with random words on them like SPATULA, IGUANA and FRUITBOWL, trying to rearrange them into an order which makes some kind of sense, whilst vaguely wondering if it’s too late to just give the money back … when suddenly it hits me …

I’ve done it again.

I’ve completely forgotten why I started this post.

What the fuck was the point of all this?

Shit.

Sorry.

Something to do with hats I think …

Categories: Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard | 6 Comments

Just for the Record – poster

Ooh look, a natty new poster:

JFTR Poster

Categories: Just for the Record | 1 Comment

Just for the Record trailer

Today, and I suspect for the foreseeable future, I have a big silly grin on my face.

And here’s why:

If you like it, spread the word.

Categories: Just for the Record, Progress | 10 Comments

Fleeced promo

Last year … or maybe this year?

What year is it?

Hmm … no, it was last year.

Last year, a feature script I wrote – one of the first feature scripts I ever wrote, one of the six for anyone who can remember what that means – Fleeced went into production … sort of.

As it turns out I’d got the wrong end of the stick somewhat and actually they were just shooting a promo to try and raise the money for the film proper.

And here it is:

I was going to link to the Facebook group too, but it seems to have disappeared.

Never mind, I’m sure it will be back.

There’s a blog here though. Does that help?

Categories: Fleeced | Leave a comment

Picture translator

In the last post I drew a picture which I thought best summed up my thoughts during the Screenwriters’ Festival Launch (Part 2 – Revenge of the Buffet) although, actually, as I listened to the writers and agents talk about how hard it is to get anyone interested in your script, the main thought running through my head was:

‘Thank fuck I’m not in the spec market any more.’

True, one day I may have to start peddling my scripts again – this lucky streak I’m on probably can’t last forever … but it might. I guess if I managed to get into writing for TV (trying might possibly be the place to start), after a period writing for other peoples’ shows I might start touting my own ideas for series; but as it stands, I’m so happy to always be writing a script FOR someone.

It’s a fuck load easier for several reasons:

1) You already have someone waiting for the script, so you don’t have to go out and find them when it’s written.
2) The person you’re giving the script to already likes the genre, the story and probably the characters – or else they wouldn’t have signed off on the treatment.
3) You know you’re getting paid.

And in case any of you were thinking it’s more satisfying to write your own stories rather than anyone else’s – you’re absolutely right; but it’s EVEN MORE satisfying when someone says to you: ‘Have you got any ideas for a rom-com?’, you say yes and they pay you to write the idea you were going to write on spec anyway.

But all this is a digression. The point is, whilst listening to the various speeches …

Oh, another digression – during Christopher Hampton‘s speech, at one point he mentioned Julia Roberts being attached to one of his scripts and a ripple of scornful chuckles ran through the audience.

“Not Julia Roberts, pshaw!”

This really pissed me off.

On the one hand you’ve got an audience full of sympathy for writers who can’t get films made, yet they scoff at having one of the most successful actresses in the world attached to a script. And what’s wrong with Julia Roberts? She’s very good at was she does, pretty much guarantees a theatrical release (or at least guarantees distribution interest) and is rather foxy to boot.

Yes her films are unerringly commercial and you could argue she tends to play the same role; but what’s wrong with making money at the thing you love doing? And ‘having a limited range’ is an accusation you can level at all of the best movie actors. The reason they’re ultra-famous and uber-rich is because they’re good at what they do and are instantly recognisable. Robert De Niro is ALWAYS Robert De Niro in every film he does – you never watch a film and think … was that Robert De Niro, I’m not sure? And have to look it up on IMDb. I think actors who become other people to the extent their body language is totally unrecognisable – tend not to become mega famous because no one knows who they are from one film to the next.

I’ll happily say this for the record, right now: I’d be delighted to write a film for Julia Roberts and would never scoff at someone for being popular because they’re good at what they do.

Except, you know, when I do.

But all that’s still beside the point. Or not even beside the point, it’s actually miles away from the point and I’m guessing ‘all that’ and ‘the point’ have never even met. Not even at a party. Which is shame because I think they’d get on famously.

The point is, whilst listening to various speeches – I had a very clear image in my head. This image, in fact:

 Scriptwriting in the UK

For those of you too lazy to look further down the page, with short memories or who’ve come here directly from a search engine/link.

And unusually, given I’m a writer not a drawer (hmm … I need to find a better word for that) I chose to draw the picture rather than describe it; because, it occurs to me, the process of scriptwriting is actually one of picture translating. We translate mental pictures into words and get someone else to translate the words back into pictures.

You start with a picture of the scene in your head and even though we all know a picture is worth a thousand words (possibly a bit less in the current economic climate) our job is to describe that picture in as few words as possible. So we carefully choose the words which do the most work or somehow tap into pictures we already have. Hence we instantly know an IKEA kitchen looks different to a country kitchen or a restaurant kitchen.
Two word descriptions which, by just changing one word, create three completely different mental images. To me, an IKEA kitchen looks, smells, feels and sounds totally different to a restaurant kitchen. I immediately associate them with different types of people and imagine different atmospheres, different characters and different scenes. Those two words negate the need to describe colours, materials, light dappling on stuff, furniture,  textures, light fittings, dimensions … and all the other millions of data a computer needs to recreate a picture of a …

Oh fuck, I’ve wandered off the point again. I’m talking about kitchens now.

Sorry.

It just amuses me that we think of a picture, create a two word sentence which describes it and then someone else comes along and recreates the picture. Or more likely, a totally different picture which, if you’re lucky, has the same basic intent as the picture you had in your head whilst combatting insomnia at three o’clock in the morning by masturbating to reruns of Mr Ben.

Or whatever works for you.

It occurs to me you don’t write films, you write the script the film is based on. The finished product is always different to how you imagined it … unless of course you write, direct, produce, costume design, makeup design, light, edit, score and do all the other things needed to bring a film to the big, small or tiny screen.

The bugger, of course, being when the finished product is a bit rubbish and nothing like you imagined it – yet you have to promote it anyway in the interests of being polite to the filmmakers and not being a complete cunt. Even if the completed project makes you look like one.

Oh look, this post didn’t really have a point after all.

I think I’ll stop now.

Categories: Festivals, Industry Musings, Random Witterings | 8 Comments

Screenwriters’ Festival Launch (again)

So last night I went to the second launch night for this year’s SWF and I’ve got to say the evening was a bit of blur … not because it involved any kind of great rampage on my behalf  (it’s kind of hard to get that effect with a cup of tea and a diet coke)nor was it bewildering, star-strucking (which I know isn’t a real word – but it should be) or fast moving … no. Last night ws a bit of a blur because I forgot to take my glasses.

I’m new to the whole glasses wearing game and rarely remember to take them anywhere. In fact, I wear them so infrequently I often forget I actually wear glasses at all and sometimes spend weeks at a time wondering why the world is out of focus. So even though we (me, Piers, Michelle, Jason, Helen and Elena) were sitting on the second row (which Piers complained about) the people on stage were a little fuzzy.

I could give you a blow by blow account of who said what and when, but I’m fairly certain since journalist extraordinaire Arnopp was sitting not four seats away – he’ll be covering all that. Instead, I thought I’d give you my impressions of the underlying message and the the reality of screenwriting in the UK.

Just so you know roughly what happened while we’re waiting for Jason to pull his finger out …

Some drinks.

David Pearson (Festival Director) and Kevin Loader (Chairman) introduced the evening.

Two writers who are finalists in the ScriptMarket initiative talked about how difficult it is to break into the industry.

Two agents, Rob Kraitt (A P Watt) and Matthew Bates (Sayle Screen), talked about how hard it was for writers to break into the industry and how there actually isn’t really an industry as such to break into.

Christopher Hampton talked about how difficult it was to get a film made after you’d broken into the industry and then given up and gone to America (he’s written 42 scripts – 14 have been produced, the other 28 vanished up their own arses).

And then we had some more drinks.

A lot of what was said is interesting but the basic message I kept getting from everyone on stage and everyone asking questions in the audience was scriptwriting in the UK looks something like this:

Scriptwriting in the UK1

There are only a couple of companies with money and thousands of people jumping through increasingly smaller hoops to compete for a minuscule amount of money which has almost no chance of making you rich but might, just might, if you’re very, very lucky make you a modest living.

Getting a film made under these conditions is nigh on impossible but it does happen so although it’s mostly fruitless, it has to happen to someone so don’t give up. Even though most of you aren’t good enough and haven’t got a hope in hell.

Hmm … inspiring stuff.

But hang on, I can’t help thinking this is only half the picture.

While all these people were talking about it being virtually impossible to get a project off the ground … I’ve had seven feature films produced and haven’t had to jump through a single hoop.

One of the the writer/finalists mentioned the Microwave Feature Fund – where 90 odd projects were competing for 2 lots of funding. Funding which, if memory serves (and it probably doesn’t), is a maximum of £100,000 … so nobody’s doing that for the money. Getting that kind of funding means you can make a feature film for almost nothing as a calling card and hope it will lead onto better things, whilst basking in the satisfaction of having achieved what should be your real goal – getting the script right.

I firmly believe the script should be the writer’s ultimate goal – getting it to the point when you’re proud of it and other people think it’s good enough to get made. The feature film is the bonus at the end and belongs to the cast and crew – they made the film, you wrote the script – the two things are different.

The script is your work, your product and I think should be your ultimate goal. The produced feature film is the advert someone else makes to promote your product – your next script.

So if you’re resigned to not making much money at first and just want to get some adverts for you as a writer into the market place, then why spend all your time and attention competing for the one egg? There is another way and I’ve had seven feature films made to prove it.

True, only one of them has actually been finished so far, so it’s an experiment with no proper conclusion and may turn out to be hopelessly inaccurate – but it seems to me the full picture of screenwriting in the UK is this:

Scriptwriting in the UK

You may need to clicky clicky make biggy biggy in order to see it properly.

Or you may not. Maybe you don’t need glasses or actually wear the ones you have?

There are a lot of very rich people in this country who are happy to hand over a £100,000 in return for telling their mates (and the people they want to sleep with) they’re in the film business.

There is a lot less competition in this sector of the industry and no hoops to jump through, hence mediocre writers like me can easily get films produced … so why aren’t more people doing it?

Or maybe they are and I’m just not paying attention?

Categories: Festivals, Industry Musings, My Way, Random Witterings, Someone Else's Way | 11 Comments

SWF launch thingie …

So … tonight … anyone going?

Categories: Festivals | 10 Comments

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