Monthly Archives: April 2010

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Sometimes I worry about causing offence.

It’s not a daily worry, not something which keeps me up at night and, to be honest, on the occasions when I do cause offence I usually decide fairly quickly it must be the other person’s fault.

I mean, come on, it must be! I’m lovely.

I don’t like to upset people. Or rather, I don’t like to upset people accidentally. I don’t mind upsetting the people I’m trying to upset, that’s more of a hobby. Although I’m considering going pro.

It mildly bothers me someone may take offence at something on this blog, but only mildly. After all, this blog isn’t really directed at anyone and isn’t meant to target specific individuals. Except when it does.

What bothers me more is people taking offence from a personal message. Emails and more specifically text messages. Emails are easier to control, I can send longer messages using longer sentences and generally make myself vaguely understood. I think I still occasionally manage to cause offence but it doesn’t worry me unduly.

Text messages though. Jesus, they upset me. Every time I send one I stare at it for far longer than it took to write, wondering if it’s too curt or too abrupt or just down right insulting. It’s really difficult to get tone across in such a short message, to get across the meaning behind the words. Okay, so yeah, this is bad news for a scriptwriter given that’s the whole job but still … I worry.

Take a short message for example, just three little words:

“You’re a cunt.”

It would be really easy for someone to take that the wrong way.

I know I’m (probably) joking, but will they? Will it upset them? Do I really need to send that message? Well, yes, it’s vital. Not to the future of humanity or anything but it’s pretty damn important. But then, I don’t want to offend …

Recently, I’ve taken to adding exclamation marks to the end of every text:

“You’re a cunt!”

There, much more friendly! I admit, it must be a bit weird for friends and family, since to me exclamation marks indicate raising both the pitch of your voice and your eyebrows! Every time I get a text which ends in an exclamation mark I imagine the person squeaking the words whilst their eyebrows make a spirited break for their hairline!

Surely, no one can take offence at anything which ends in an exclamation mark, can they? You fat, talentless, shit-reeking, infected ballsack!

See? It’s foolproof!

A bit wearing after a while, but basically guaranteed not to give offence!

Hooray!

I recently mentioned this exclamation mark obsession to a friend and he sheepishly admitted to having a similar fear. He’s not worried so much about giving offence, but more about coming across as stupid via text. He fires them off so quickly, sometimes without really thinking them through, that he says things he doesn’t really mean and which make no sense.

Or at least, that’s the fear. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed anything especially moronic. To cover himself, he adds an ellipsis to the end of every text …

That way, if he’s said something truly cretinous …

He can either correct it with a second text …

Or in extreme cases, when others notice the apparent stupidity, claim he sent a second text revealing the first to be a joke … which didn’t arrive!

There is no point to this post!

I just thought it was funny …

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Categories: My Way, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard, Someone Else's Way | 5 Comments

How do you know when your script is good?

You’ve finished the script (or as close as it’s going to get) and it’s ready to be filmed.

Or is it?

How do you actually know what you’ve written is any good?

I’m not asking if you’re a good writer – that’s a different thing. Good writers occasionally write bad scripts because … well, they just do. Even geniuses aren’t geniuses all the time.

Primarily because there’s no such thing. Some writers are merely very, very good. Usually.

So how do you know your script is good? Whose opinion can you trust?

You can’t trust your own, obviously. Because if you didn’t think it was good you wouldn’t be handing it over. Probably.

Unless, of course, it’s one of those drafts.

You know, one of the ones where the producer has asked for an extra female role so he can try and sleep with someone. Or the director has insisted you make the lead character a talking sock because it’ll look cool. Or you know this piece of shit is never going to be filmed anyway and just want the money.

A ‘give ’em what they want’ draft because you know they don’t know they don’t want what they think they want until you’ve given it to them.

But apart from those drafts, you should always be happy with what you’ve done and you should always think it’s good.

Doesn’t mean you’re right though. Let’s face it, how many times have you listened to a writer bang on about theme and what certain scenes represent and the motivations of the characters … only to read the script and realise in all this depth they’ve forgotten to include a surface. Stories should be interesting and coherent first and foremost, deep and subtle is a bonus. Sometimes we just don’t get it.

Who else can you trust? Not family or friends, not even if they’re writers themselves, because they will lie to spare your feelings. I do. I try not to, I write pages and pages slagging people’s work off and then follow up with something like “Apart from that, it’s not bad!”

It is. It is bad. I’m lying to spare your feelings and, in the process, failing both of us.

The producer? It is technically his film, surely you can trust the producer?

You fucking idiot! Never, ever trust a producer! Ever.

I recently heard a director describe a trustworthy producer as “someone who wouldn’t steal more than 10% of the budget.”

Okay, so producers come in all shapes and smells and they’re all differently competent at their jobs. Focussing on the story is your job, they have different thought processes like:

“Fuck me! How much will that cost!”

or

“Maybe I can buy the location using the budget and then sell it afterwards for a profit?”

or

“Maybe if I give the lead actress more lines she’ll sleep with me?”

They don’t know good writing, if they did, they’d write it themselves. Plus, producers read a lot of scripts. A lot.

Think of a number.

Double it.

They read more than that.

Some of them anyway. A lot of them don’t and just pretend they do.

And of all these scripts, every single one of them is an astounding pile of shit. Bad writing abounds and most scripts are plain fucking awful. When you hand in a mediocre one it’s like someone’s shit rainbows into their eyes and pissed honeydew over their tongue. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King. In the land of the producer, the retarded dyslexic is still in the top ten percent of writers. If he can spell his name right he makes the top five percent.

So they haven’t got a clue – they’re just grateful if they can read to the end without falling asleep.

Directors? You can trust their opinion, right?

Nope.

Directors tend to think in pretty pictures without stopping to think if the pictures make any fucking sense whatsoever. If your script has room for some cool camera moves and shit blowing up, they’re happy.

Actors. Come on! You’ve got some great actors onboard – they must think the script’s good, surely? Trust the actors’ opinions.

Or don’t.

Actors, unless they’re Hollywood A list, are permanently unemployed. As soon as one shoot finishes, they’re desperately looking for the next because coke and hookers cost money. Even the ones in demand have to face the tidal wave of shitty scripts which wash up on the shore of their self-infatuation. Again, with so many bad scripts out there they’ll cling to a mediocre one like a rat to a turd.

If your mediocre script has one decent part in it, one character who’s even vaguely different to the roles they normally get offered with at least one good scene, then they’ll fall over their ego to do it.

Other reasons an actor might say your script is good:

  • It’s a day’s work for a few grand. Why not? Beats staying at home with that whore/wimp they married.
  • It gets them out of the country until that whole pregnant teenager/drug bust/animal felching thing blows over.
  • They owe someone a favour.
  • They like the director and want to work with him again.
  • The producer has a different script and they want to star in that one.
  • They want to sleep with one of the other stars.

And so on. Of course, the number one reason an actor might say your script is good is because they’re fucking actors. They lie for a living. Do not believe a fucking word they say.

Who else is there? The crew? They don’t care. They get paid the same for a good film as for a bad film – the script is inconsequential. Yes, they’d all love to work on something which is awesome so they can tell granny about it, but at the end of the day the only good project is one where everyone gets paid.

What about when the film’s finished? If all the critics say the film is awesome it must vindicate your script, right?

Wrong.

Critics judge the film, not the script. They haven’t read the script. When they say the script sucks, they mean the director’s interpretation of the script, the actors’ delivery of the lines and the editor’s ability to splice it all together sucks.

Conversely, when someone watches a film and pronounces the script to be great – punch them in the balls. Unless you’ve read the script, how the fuck do you know?

And that really is the point – you don’t know if your script is good. No one does, not ever. Because ‘good’ is a subjective opinion and everyone who reads it has their own agenda and filters the script through their own unique world view.

At the end of the day (and this ridiculously long post) ‘Is my script any good?’ is the wrong question to ask.

‘Am I happy with it?’ is the closest you’re ever going to get and really, the only thing which matters.

Apart from ‘Am I getting paid for it?’

Which really comes down to ‘Is the client happy with it?’

Categories: Industry Musings, Random Witterings | 3 Comments

That was better

I’m not planning on giving a running commentary for every episode of Doctor Who, partly because it’d be incredibly dull, but mostly because who gives a fuck what I think?

I think you’re in trouble when you go around believing your opinions mean anything to anyone outside of your own head. Mind you, that’s just my opinion and is therefore neither fact nor to be trusted.

Still, since I went out of my way to express mild disappointment with last week’s episode, I feel it’s only fair I redress the balance here.

The Time of Angels – fuck me, that was awesome.

In my (nominally worthless) opinion.

Categories: Random Witterings | 13 Comments

Just for the Record – Poster

Ooh, new poster for Just for the Record:

You can click it if you like. Go on, try it. I promise you won’t regret it.

I’m not saying you’ll necessarily enjoy it,  but it probably won’t be an action you rue in days to come.

Or maybe it will, I have no idea how you feel about slightly larger images.

It’s quite nice though, isn’t it?

And here, just to show I’m in no way biased towards Play.com, is the Amazon.co.uk link. You know, just in case you felt the need.

Categories: Just for the Record | 3 Comments

Just for the Record – coming soon to a cinema (possibly) near you!

Just for the Record, the film based on a script wot I wrote (not, you’ll notice, the film wot I wrote – I wrote the script, other people took it off and made a film out of it. Script/Film – not the same thing) is being released in cinemas on May the 7th.

Personally, I find that rather exciting.

Not quite enough to add an exclamation mark to that sentence, because I’m just not that kind of guy. (!)

“What cinemas? Where?” I hear you cry.

Which is odd, since I’m currently trapped in a remote country house in France. And surely that should be ‘Which cinemas?’

“Which cinemas? Where?”

Hold on, I’m getting to that part. Jesus, you fucking people.

From the 7th of May, Just for the Record is showing in Apollo Cinemas in six splendid and worthy locations:

Amazingly, these six cinemas are NOWHERE NEAR WHERE I LIVE!

Nowhere near.

Fucking miles away, in fact. Hundreds of fucking miles.

In a strange bit of synchronicity though, Leamington Spa is where I grew up.

Well, sort of. It’s where I spent my teenage years. Growing up is perhaps an optimistic term for a man who still salivates over the Toys’R’ Us website.

I want this for my birthday, by the way.

The Apollo in Leamington, formerly The Regal, is where I saw Return of the Jedi, Gremlins, Back to the Future (1,2 and 3), Rocky 4 (got involved in my first riot outside), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, E.T. and almost every other film which made me want to write films in the first place.

That’s quite exciting.

To me, anyway.

Just for the Record! In the cinemas! Soon! Ish!

Oh fuck it, here’s the trailer again:

And for those of you who similarly live nowhere fucking near any of these cinemas, here’s the Play.com link again in case you feel the need to pre-order the DVD.

Categories: Just for the Record, Progress | 8 Comments

HELP! I’m being held prisoner by the French!

Well, not the French, more the English really.

And not really the English, just some of them. Two of them. My parents, to be exact. But they do live in France.

And if I’m honest, I’m not being held prisoner, I’m just stuck in France because of that whole volcano jiggery-pokery.

So I guess you could say the title of this post is a complete lie given none of the words are actually true.

Except maybe HELP!

Which seems a bit melodramatic since I’m actually staying with my rather lovely parents in their rather lovely old mill

surrounded by rather lovely French people, enduring rather lovely weather and watching Alice serve tea to a gorilla.

In fact, HELP! is completely unnecessary. Thinking about it, I guess the title of this post should have been:

Hello, I’m stuck in France where everything is lovely and relaxing.

Except the being stuck part. I have no pressing need to get back, but still … I’m trapped. Pinned in. Confined in a single location … even if that location is an entire country which is considerably bigger than the one I usually live in. Even the house is rather roomier:

But trapped I am and trapped I’ll remain until the volcano stops erupting (in about 2 years time) or the airlines decide to find their balls and at least have a go at doing their fucking job. I mean, come on, what’s all this pessimism about? No knows for sure it’s going to blow up plane engines, why not operate on a suck it and see basis? Simply fly your regular schedule until the first plane goes down, then worry about it. I think we’d all agree a plane load of dead passengers is better than all this inconvenience.

So what’s been going on? What have I missed whilst out in the wilderness?

Apparently a meeting with a TV channel about a sitcom thing went well. Sounds good.

The last two scripts I wrote seemed to have gone down well, or at least the emails don’t have too many swear words in them, so that’s got to be good. A synopsis appears to be well received too, so I’m kind of on top of the writing pile right now.

Apart from all the stuff I haven’t done yet because I decided to bugger off to France instead.

What else? Another episode of Doctor Who … yeah … hmm.

Liking Matt Smith, liking Karen Gillian, love the new TARDIS interior, bit confused by the shiny new TARDIS exterior (is the Chameleon Circuit working now?), loved the first episode, liked the second, kind of unsure about the third … is anyone actually thinking about these stories? You know, beyond the ‘wouldn’t it be cool if …’ kind of thoughts?

I mean, that last one in particular, stuff just happened. Presumably on the grounds it looked cool. Shouldn’t there have been some, I don’t know, reason, logic or thought behind it all? How long does it take to manufacture, test and install a gravity bubble thing in a Spitfire? Let alone training the pilots, providing an oxygen system, propulsion, actually flying into space … apparently about four minutes. Wouldn’t it have made more sense if Project: Danny Boy was something the professor was already working on as opposed to something he built (from pre-existing designs, I admit) and installed virtually instantaneously?

Not really loving the fat, hunchback, multi-coloured Daleks either. I thought the last design was possibly the best ever, something really sinister about them. These ones … well, perhaps they had to eat their way out of that Easter egg they were trapped in?

Also, what exactly was the Daleks’ plan?

“Right. Nigel, Nigel stop fucking about with that Easter egg and pay attention. Okay, so, we’re got three Daleks with a space ship–”

“Which is fucked.”

“Yes, thank you Reg. With a fucked space ship and an Easter egg which, if we’re lucky, has some new Daleks inside it.”

“Or some Smarties!”

“No, Nigel, I keep fucking telling you. There are no fucking Smarties in that fucking Easter egg. Now pay a-fucking-tention.”

“Might be Smarties.”

“It’s not fucking Smarties! You make me so fucking mad, I swear, you’re one step away from a fucking extermination, you hear me? One step away. Where was I?”

“The plan.”

“Right, yes. Thank you Reg. The plan. Let’s paint ourselves green, design and build a completely foolproof fake human with a bomb inside him.”

“Or some–”

“Shut the fuck up! Seriously, shut the fuck up! Mention Smarties once more and it’s the fucking egg-whisk of doom. I’m not fucking kidding. We pretend the fake human made us and … you’re going to love this … ”

“Yeah?”

“Wait for the Doctor to show up.”

“Eh?”

“Genius, yeah?”

“Why don’t we use the bomb to blow up the Earth? That’ll probably get the Doctor’s attention pretty quickly.”

“Yeah, or we could just rampage around the planet and kill all the humans until he turns up. That’ll be fun and it’ll bring him running.”

“No! This is my fucking plan, got it? We’re going to paint ourselves green, hide in an office and make some fucking tea.”

“For how long?”

“As long as it fucking takes. At least a month.”

“Ooh!”

“Yes?”

“With this tea, will there be–”

ZAAAAPPP!

“Right, so there’s two Daleks left …”

Serving tea for a month until the Doctor shows up … not very Dalek, is it? Unless they put the milk in first, that’s proper evil that is.

And let me ask you this, you’ve got what you want from the Doctor, you’ve got him in front of you, he’s your mortal enemy. You’re armed, he’s not. You’ve got no conscience and have been serving fucking tea for a fucking month. What would you do? Run away? Yep, sounds plausible. They must have been reading the script. Oh, and why shoot the fake man they’ve created in the hand just to prove he was a robot? Because it looks cool or because it makes sense?

Why can’t, and this might be a radical thought, but why can’t it look cool AND make sense? What if he had a weapon i his hand and that’s why they had to shoot it off?

Sorry, got a bit carried away there. I loved the Jammie Dodger line, just to redress the balance.

Where was I?

France, yes.

Checking out my what I’ve missed in the last week …

Ooh! Here’s a fucking awesome bit of info, it appears Just for the Record is …

You know what? That’s so exciting (to me) it deserves its own post.

To be continued.

Or concluded.

Depending on your point of view.

Oh yeah, there are some SPOILERS up there somewhere.

Categories: Just for the Record, Rants, Sad Bastard, Things I've Learnt Recently | 8 Comments

Stress

I’ve always wondered how much I can take.

I don’t generally think of myself as a particularly stressed person, but it’s perfectly possible my self image is massively out of whack. I mean, does anyone think of themselves as an easily stressed person who finds it difficult to cope?

Hmm, yeah, well I guess they do. I think I know a few people who would happily proclaim that trait as part of their identity.

I find stress a funny thing, I’ve never really noticed I’ve been stressed until whatever’s been bothering me has wandered off, then I suddenly notice the absence of stress. Getting stressed is usually a slow, gradual process. One you don’t notice. The removal of stress tends to be instant and a sudden change. A bit like it slowly getting dark as opposed to switching on the light.

I’m working on five feature scripts at the moment, which is frankly ludicrous. Occasionally a project I thought was dead or finished with rears up and leaps into the mix, just to add a little more pressure. You know, something along the lines of:

‘can we have a character breakdown for …’

or

 ‘I need a bio for the press pack.’

or

‘I’ve had a completely pointless idea which in no way benefits the story. I think it’s a two minute tweak because I’m a director, not a writer; but in reality it necessitates a complete page one re-write for a project I haven’t been able to finance for three years now and have absolutely no hope of getting made yet I keep bothering you assuming someone will magically recognise my genius any day now.’

The last type is always the most fun.

My life right now could be summed up thus:

Imagine you’re standing on a boat in a storm, juggling five randomly shaped objects.

Each object contains an incredibly difficult puzzle.

In order to solve all of the puzzles you need to be (or be able to fake being) an expert in firearms, police procedures, European folklore, mythic animals, chronology of 2007, 2003, 1997, political history, the development of mobile phones, geographical layouts and historical knowledge of Loughton, Argentina, the Arctic, the Antarctic, Leamington Spa, London and somewhere I’ve made up, Egyptology, construction, swordplay in the Dark Ages, clothing from 1000 AD to present day, the music industry, BDSM, pet cremation, diamond formation, fair ground cons and monkeys.

Every time you solve one puzzle, you have to throw it into a hole no bigger than the object itself on one of five boats which are moving around you at different speeds and bouncing up and down in the storm. Assuming you get it into the hole, you have an unspecified period of time to work on the other four puzzles before the solved one gets thrown back with a more complicated puzzle. Sometimes it might be three or four weeks before it comes back, sometimes it might be within the hour.

Occasionally, another boat, one you haven’t seen or heard of for months, passes by and hurls you a smaller, simpler puzzle, expecting it to be solved and thrown back within hours. The number of objects you’re juggling may look like five, but occasionally it can become eight or nine before dropping back to the base level.

Oh yes, and everyone wants their puzzle solved first.

At first, it all seemed like fun. Five projects? Yeah, sure, pile them on. Easy.

I’m beginning to suspect that was a very stupid decision. Since committing myself to the five, I’ve turned down two paying projects (which galls me immensely) and may have to turn down a third (or should that be eighth?) which is staring at me from my desk right now.

For the first time I’m feeling stress while it’s present. I’m not sleeping properly, I’m getting styes, spots, I can’t focus properly, my hands are shaking and I’m beginning to drool. I’m getting the work done, but it’s a painfully slow business and I feel like I’m constantly disappointing people as I continually shuffle deadlines around. I’m beginning to hate my computer. Twice this year I’ve thought of jacking it all in and taking up a less time consuming hobby, like arranging every insect in the world in alphabetical order.

This isn’t fun, this isn’t what I signed up for.

I

can’t

do

this

any

more

And then this arrives via email:

And suddenly it all seems worth it again.

Categories: Sparkle, Writing and life | 14 Comments

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