Monthly Archives: September 2010

My balls on your face

My phone contract’s up for renewal and I’ve hit a bit of a problem – there’s nothing I want. No, that’s not true, there is something I want but it’s not available in the UK and it’s beginning to look like it may never be, despite being all kinds of fucking awesome.

You see, the problem is I want a new phone to be different. I want it to do something new. Preferably something no one else’s phone (or at least, not everyone’s phone) can do, but I’ll settle for a gadget which is new to me. And there isn’t anything, not really. Most smartphones seem to be pretty much the same and have been for at least three years: GPS, turn-by-turn sat-nav, voice commands, minimum of 5mp camera (although the average seems to be 8mp now, with some hitting 12mp), email, video calls (which no one uses), radio, mp3 player, video player – they’re pretty much all the same.

My current phone, the N96, has a digital TV tuner in – which made it stand out when I got it a few years back; but since no one transmits fucking anything whatsoever on that particular digital format, it’s completely fucking useless. Nearly two years now and I’ve never, ever watched anything on it. Same thing with the BBC iPlayer program – it works, I’ve just never got round to watching anything on it.

I’ve been idly looking at specs for various phones for a year or so now and nothing was standing out. I’m not sure what I was looking for, some kind of laser which can write on the moon or something like that, I guess …

And then I saw this little puppy:

The Samsung Galaxy Beam. You know what DLP stands for? Actually, I’m not 100% sure; but it’s something like DIGITAL (something beginning with L) PROJECTOR.

A fucking projector built into a phone! A projector! An actual projector which will project stuff onto other stuff!

Sadly, not the moon, but come on! A projector in a phone!

This baby will project anything on the screen, videos, photos … um … well, I suppose that’s it. It will even project whatever the camera is looking at in real time.

Up to 50 inches!

50!

That’s bigger than my TV!

I have to have this phone, even though I have ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING USE FOR IT AT ALL!

None!

I don’t need a portable digital projector, but goddamn do I want one. I have two plans for it:

1) Make up some simple slides, black text on white, then hold the phone in my hand with my arms crossed so it’s hidden under my armpit. Then, whilst talking to people, project stuff onto the wall behind me. So, for example, when I say “I like your shoes!” It will flash up behind me: ‘HE’S LYING’. Or when I’m people come round to try and sell me God, it can say ‘JESUS HATES YOU’. The possibilities are literally endless … although those were the only two I could think of.

The only other plan I had was: 2) take a photo of my balls and project it onto people’s faces. There is no reason for this beyond making me giggle.

I’m sure this sort of thing is exactly what the designers had in mind when they created this awesome (if chunky) bit of kit.

The major flaw in my testicle-projecting plans is this: the phone is only available in Singapore and currently there are no plans to ship it worldwide. I tried emailing Samsung to find out when it’s coming to the UK, but the reply appeared to have been translated through several languages and made little sense – especially the bit about the dog and the escapulating hairs. To add to the misery, it looks like they’ve stopped selling it in Singapore anyway.

So I’m stuck in limbo.

There isn’t any other phone I want, but if forced I would pick something and move sideways. Thing is, what happens if the Beam is released the day after I give in and settle for second best? What then? I may have to wait 18 months for it and I can’t wait that long. I can’t, I tell you! My balls need faces to be shown on!

I could just wait, but I’m not a patient guy and what happens if (as I fear) the Beam won’t be released in the UK? How long do I keep waiting for something which isn’t going to happen? Like puberty or the ability to write?

It’s maddening, I tell you. Maddening.

In the meantime, whilst trying to find the answers to this conundrum, I’ve opted for buying new front and back covers for my N96 so at least 18 months of toddler abuse no longer show and the phone is all shiny again.

Shortly afterwards, I was on a bus and this guy leant over to look at my lovely, shiny, if somewhat old, phone and frowned. He turned his head this way and that, scowled, peered, peeked and stared … until he asked me what phone it was. I told him, the N96 – because that’s what it is and I don’t like to lie to strangers unless there’s a chance they’ll give me some money. He immediately tutted and said:

“It’s amazing how low Nokia have sunk isn’t it? I can’t believe they’ve copied the design of the iPhone 4.”

At this point, he produced an iPhone 4 and brandished it at me to prove his point.

“You do know this phone is two years old, don’t you?”

“What? Oh, well that explains why it’s so useless.”

“Right … why’s that?”

“Well, it can’t do all the things an iPhone can do.”

“Like what?”

“Like access the Internet and things like that.”

“All phones can access the Internet.” (I know, I know, there are still some dirt cheap handsets which can’t, but I’m not telling him that.)

“No they can’t, not ALL of the Internet.”

“No, that’s true, the iPhone can’t access the bits with Flash in it.” (I have no idea if this is still true.)

“Yeah, but you can’t get apps for your phone.”

“Yes you can.” (They’re mostly shit, but you can get them – I didn’t say that bit.)

“Yeah, but you can’t–”

“I’ll stop you there. If you’re going to say FaceTime, don’t. Bringing up multi-tasking would be a mistake and so would mentioning games, the camera, GPS, geo-tagging or sat-nav.”

During the sulky pause, I took a nice long look at his phone.

“Tell you what though, you’re right, they do have a similar design.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he snapped “they don’t look anything like each other.”

And instantly I was back to wishing I had a projector phone, because a dickhead like that desperately needs my balls on his face.

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Categories: Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 7 Comments

Up ‘n’ Under

I went to the theatre last night.

This in itself is rather odd behaviour since, as previously mentioned, I tend to have a limited attention span for things which don’t explode fairly quickly and theatre rarely blows up or gets invaded by giant robots.

Last night was no exception since the stage steadfastly refused to combust and none of the cast bore even the slightest hint of roboticism. However, it turns out that’s sometimes a good thing and leads to a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The play in question was ‘Up ‘n’ Under’ starring Abi Titmuss, who was great, and some other people whose names are on the flyer in the other room. You know, the room I can’t be arsed to walk to. They were great too. In fact, if you live anywhere near Eastbourne, I’d highly recommend it. If for nothing else but for seeing a seven a side rugby match awesomely represented on stage by only six actors.

Of course, yet again, this recommendation would be more useful if it came at the beginning of the play’s run rather than at the end, but there you go – that’s just how useless I am. I think it’s going to Malvern next – does that help?

Anyway, I enjoyed it and felt like mentioning it.

Categories: Someone Else's Way | Leave a comment

The BIG Idea

I’m sure if I know about this, you all do too; but just in case anyone’s missed it, this seems like a superb opportunity:

So what’s THE BIG IDEA?

Shine Pictures are proud to announce a National competition for feature film concepts, with a prize of a £25,000 feature film development deal.

We are looking for ingenious concepts, compelling writing and intriguing characters that will elevate genre films making them both distinctive and commercial. The stories can be set anywhere, with characters of any nationality, just as long as the audience is a global one. Feel free to be ambitious in scale and scope. You can imagine big stars in lead roles. It can be 3D! You can have big budget visual effects. Go for active, attractive, bold, vibrant, energetic concepts. We are looking to stimulate ambitious ideas that will capture the global imagination in the following genres:

  1. Romantic Comedies (e.g.: The Proposal, What Women Want, Notting Hill)
  2. Action Adventures (National Treasure, Top Gun, Blood Diamond, Cliffhanger)
  3. Sci-Fi or Fantasy (Inception, Harry Potter, 28 Days Later, Back to the Future)
  4. Family Comedies (Nanny McPhee, Cheaper by the Dozen, Johnny English)

Who can apply?

This is not an entry level competition, so you need to have either a produced or optioned screenplay, an agent, a festival acclaimed short, an hour of broadcast TV drama, a play that has been performed, writing that has been published or an equivalent industry achievement.

How do you apply?

  • Complete our application form including your 700 word (max) concept document.
  • Upload your CV and a maximum 15 page writing sample with its log line.
  • Application deadline: 29th October 2010
  • Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview and then the winner will be selected from those interviewees.
  • Interviews for shortlisted applicants: Late November 2010
  • Winner announced: 20th December 2010
  • All inquiries to be directed to THE BIG IDEA Project Manager thebigidea@shine-pictures.com
  • For more details see our FAQ

CLICK HERE to apply.

Categories: Opportunity | Leave a comment

What to do when your protagonist changes AFTER the shoot has wrapped

Cry.

Seriously, what else is there to do?

Just to clarify, by ‘change’ I mean stop being the protagonist so someone else can have a go. As in, I don’t think this film should be about Marty McFly, let’s make it about the adventures of Doc Brown’s dog.

Would that make you cry, if you were the writer and the director or producer made that decision?

By now those of you reading this post will probably have split yourselves into one of three groups:

  1. Those who haven’t had anything produced and can’t believe this kind of shit actually happens.
  2. Those of you who have had things produced, but have never encountered this sort of behaviour because everyone you’ve worked with has been extremely capable, professional and competent.
  3. Me. Because, really, does this kind of shit ever happen to anyone else?

I don’t know what your average writer’s quota of pain is, but here are three case studies, in ascending order of ‘Oh for fuck’s sake!’, all of them true and all of which have happened to me:

ONE

I was hired to rewrite the opening of a script. Just the opening scene, so I did. The producer and director liked it and asked me  to rewrite another scene.

And another.

And another.

And … so on. At a certain point I found out I’d rewritten the entire script … which was a bit of a surprise since I still had no real idea what the story was or how it all fit together. But never mind, everyone was happy, everything was filmed and then … the change.

At some point during the editing, someone (or possibly everyone) decided the film shouldn’t be about the protagonist, but about the sidekick and the film was re-edited.

As it turns out, that was probably the right decision. Or rather, it would have been the right decision if it had been made at the script stage.

The downside, in this case, to changing protagonists late in the game: the structure is a bit out of whack and it takes a fair chunk of the film to get to the bit you tell everyone the film is about. Imagine ‘Back to the Future’ if Marty hadn’t gone back in time for an hour and a bit into the film. Not a guaranteed problem, but unless people are really enjoying the journey they’re going to fidget quite a bit. And probably turn it off.

The upside: the film is actually better than it would have been, so … hmm.

TWO

A trilogy of films, written in a very specific way with a very specific triple arc for the main character throughout all three films. Funding is in place (depending on the success of the first film) and everyone is not only happy with the script but excited to be part of the production.

Shortly after the shoot wraps, everyone falls out with each other. Everyone. Well, everyone except me, who was too busy sitting at home and weeping. Suddenly, everyone hates everyone else, big arguments, everyone has their own go at editing the film and it all turns to liquid shit.

Eventually a compromise is reached and the film is finished; but, for reasons which remain unclear, no one wants the protagonist in the rest of the trilogy. They still want the rest of the trilogy (although, personally, I think the funding will disappear with the lead actor) but it now has to be about someone else. Basically, we spend the first film positioning the protagonist for an epic tale … and then ignore him for the sequels.

Great.

Upside: the film is finished and there are no major changes to the story.

Downside: the sequels, the ones with the bigger budgets and therefore bigger fees for me, will never, ever fucking happen. Ever. Because they’re now fucking stupid.

THREE

A script which was designed to do a very specific job regarding pre-existing material (which was then completely cut out of the finished product leaving a big ‘What the fuck was that about?’ hole in the story) is filmed (badly and ignoring the central conceit of the film).

It’s already gone wrong, but there’s worse to come.

For reasons unknown (again) the producer and the director decide they don’t like the actor playing the protagonist. Not his performance, but him as a person. So they cut him out of the film.

Completely.

He’s gone. There is no protagonist any more.

For a week or so, they briefly toy with re-filming bits of the protagonist’s scenes with another character (which makes no fucking sense). Bits. Not all of the protagonist’s scenes, but some of them. Bits of some of them.

Eventually, they work out that’s a fucking stupid idea and, reluctantly, they edit bits of his scenes back into the movie.

Again, bits. Not all, not some of, but bits of some scenes.

Downside: No one knows who the film is about and, as a consequence, what the film is about. This isn’t helped by the decision to remove the point of the film in the first place.

Upside: there is no fucking upside, it’s a pile of shit. The film’s about no one, doing nothing, to something we don’t see.

Jesus.

So what can you do about this? Apart from insist on some kind of moron test for anyone who wants to make a film? Is there really nothing to do but cry? The only other solution I’ve found is to claim, loudly and at great length, that the resulting film is nothing to do with me. I wrote the script, not the film so there.

Hopefully, none of you will ever experience this. No, fuck that, hopefully I’ll never have to experience this again; but because as it stands, it seems like the only sure fire way to escape this kind of shit is to not be me.

Come on, someone, please tell me I’m not alone.

Categories: Random Witterings, Someone Else's Way | 2 Comments

Free feature screenplay competition

Dear Phill,

Aw, he spelt my name right. I love it when people do that.

 I hope you’re well.

I am!

I thought readers of your blog might be interested in hearing about a free feature screenplay competition at Circalit (www.circalit.com) in partnership with the London Screenwriters’ Festival where the winner gets a £100 cash prize, a meeting with a top literary agent, and free tickets to the festival. 

I think his thought is probably right, that sounds like a cool prize.

I hope you will help us spread the word about this fantastic opportunity by posting about it on your blog.

I will! In fact, I’m doing it now right now!

I’ve included a press release about the competition and the London Screenwriters’ Festival itself (see below) in case you are interested in writing about it.

He has, it’s there!

Kind regards,

Not just regards, but kind ones. That’s a much better way of finishing an email than my usual ‘fuck you, I hate you’

Richard

Get an Agent with Circalit and the London Screenwriters’ Festival!

The London Screenwriters’ Festival have teamed up with Circalit to offer screenwriters a chance to get representation. Screenwriters are encouraged to enter the free competition at www.circalit.com. The winning writer will meet with a top London agent, get £100 and free tickets to the London Screenwriters’ Festival! The competition will be judged by the executive team at the London Screenwriters’ Festival and is free to enter.  The deadline for submissions is October 15th.

Creative director of the festival and Oscar shortlisted film director Chris Jones commented, “We’re very excited about this competition with Circalit. Circalit’s unique style of competitions don’t just give writers the chance to win prizes, but also to share their work, gain valuable feedback and make industry connections. Circalit are doing the screenwriting community a great service with their free online social network and we’re very pleased to be able to do a competition with them.”

For more information or to enter your script please visit www.circalit.com

 

 

Categories: Festivals, Opportunity, Someone Else's Way | 2 Comments

Roger & Val Have Just Got In

Have you been watching this? I think it’s excellent, I really, really like it.

Which is odd, because there’s little nudity and so far nothing’s blown up or turned into a giant robot.

Still, it’s good. I mean, superbly good and well worth the watch.

Although, possibly this post should have been a few weeks earlier so you could actually act on the recommendation. Never mind, since I’m always the last to the party, I imagine you lot have all been quietly loving it for weeks now.

Um … that’s kind of it, really. I like it, hope you do too.

Categories: Someone Else's Way | 10 Comments

Back to Back to the Future!

Mandy and I went to the cinema the other day to watch Toy Story 3 – and it was awesome, despite my continued apathy towards 3-D.

But for me, the awesomeness of the film was overshadowed by seeing this poster in the lobby:

Hmm … should probably have turned the flash off there.

But fucking hell! Back to the Future in the cinema for the first time (for me, at least) since 1985!

I love this film! In fact, where’s that teaser trailer? Ah, here:

It wasn’t the first film I saw at the cinema, it wasn’t the first one I saw with my mates instead of my parents and I frequently forget it exists when people ask me what my favourite films are; but somehow the opportunity to see it in the cinema again has me shivering with delicious expectation.

Would I like this film as much if I were seeing it now for the first time?

No idea.

Am I far too excited to sleep until October?

Yep!

Categories: Sad Bastard | 3 Comments

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