Monthly Archives: April 2011

Offski

Bugger, it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. I was planning on being a bit more regular … but then I haven’t.

Been regular.

With the posts.

I do have a great long list of things I want to talk about. The next post should be called eBehave … but I can’t remember why. I think it was meant to be quite good though. Mind you, they all sound good until I actually start typing them out. Take this rambling drivel for instance – it’s just meant to be a quick post to say I haven’t had time to post anything recently and now I’m off on holiday for a week or so, so there won’t be any posts in the immediate future.

Except this one.

Which, let’s face it, is a complete and utter waste of everyone’s time.

Sorry.

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Categories: Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | Leave a comment

Jealousy

You should be inspired by me.

All of you.

Every single one of you reading this, should find me an inspiration for success in your writing career.

Why?

Well, because, let’s face it, if I can make money at this writing lark, any fucker can.

I am not a good writer.

Hell, on a good day I’m barely mediocre; but people seem to like my work and keep coming back for more, so I must be doing something right. You lot reading this should take comfort in the fact that you’re a better writer than me and therefore, if you’re not already having some success then it’s surely just around the corner.

Or you’re doing something slightly wrong. In which case, all you have to do is fix that something and you’re off!

Actually, I’m going to rephrase the opening sentence: If you consider yourself to be further down the success totem pole than me, then you should find it inspiring that someone with less talent than you is doing reasonably well. If, on the other hand, you consider yourself to be further up the success totem pole (perhaps by that weird dragon/eagle thing about half-way up? You know, the one with Jeremy Paxman’s face) then you should probably just revel in the fact your obviously superior talent has carried you further.

But you know what? People are rarely inspired by others’ success. Instead of looking at someone and going:

“Fuck it, if he can do it, so can I!”

We tend to go:

“What’s wrong with me? Why aren’t I getting the same breaks? How come he has more success than me when I’m obviously better?”

Shut the fuck up. Stop whining, for fuck’s sake.

It’s not like success is in limited supply.

Well, okay, technically it is; but it’s not THAT limited.

Be pleased for other people’s success, find out how they achieved it and then do something similar. Be inspired by the thought your peers are progressing and congratulate them.

And mean it, because it is hard and it’s fantastic when people succeed. Plus, on a purely selfish note, pride and joy leave you feeling better and more capable of writing than jealousy – which is the wasp of emotions; completely fucking pointless and just upsets the entire picnic.

It’s hard not to be jealous sometimes, but it really doesn’t help so don’t do it. I’ll tell you a secret which might help … there’s no such thing as talent.

Honestly.

There’s just hard work and applying that hard work in a way that makes sense to you.

That’s it.

Luck is another function of hard work. Lucky people work hard to get themselves into a position where they can be lucky.

In that context, being jealous of someone for having more success is actually just being jealous because they’ve worked harder (or possibly smarter) than you. So, you know, wind your neck in, send them a congratulatory email and keep plugging away.

Remember the golden rule: I’m doing okay and you lot must, by default, be better writers than me – therefore all you have to do is keep going and it will all pay off.

Probably.

You know, this post sounded better in my head.

Categories: My Way, Random Witterings, Someone Else's Way | 6 Comments

Excitement

One of the many subtle ways we undermine ourselves as writers is by getting excited in the wrong places.

You frequently hear writers bleating on about not being respected in the industry or not being considered an essential part of the movie making process and they’re absolutely right; but really, we don’t help ourselves.

Weirdly, a lot of writers don’t consider the script to be their art form and try to take ownership of the finished film; which, let’s face it, stands little chance of bearing any resemblance to the initial script.

Okay, so sometimes you work with people who only want to film what’s on the page and work really hard to protect that vision; but there are multitudes of film makers who treat the script as an inconvenience used to get financing for their fickle whims. There are directors who don’t seem to have read, let alone understood the script; actors who treat dialogue as guidelines and improvise the script back to the place-holder dialogue you’d discarded before you’d finished the first draft; producers who genuinely thinks tits are a substitute for plot and editors who just seem to be fucking mental.

Add to that the damage that can be caused by bad lighting, pedestrian camera work, cheap CGI, bad sound design and the wrong incidental music and by the time the film’s finished you sometimes wonder if anyone read the script you sent them.

Maybe my email isn’t working, they got fed up of waiting and just went ahead without a script?

Who knows?

The point is, the finished film has been through so many hands with so much potential for being fucked up that the chances of actually feeling like the film belongs to you are quite slim.

But the beauty of being a writer is your art form, the bit you sweated over at four in the morning, is always there. If the resulting film is a pile of crap, it still doesn’t change the fact your script attracted enough interest and (lack of) talent to get made.

We really should be more excited about the script than the film because the script is OUR product. It’s what WE do. The film is what other people do with out work.

And yet, the biggest irony of all is we’re generally not allowed to be excited about the script stage of a project. One of the most exciting bits of any film, for me, is when I’m given the go ahead to write the script – someone likes my work and wants to pay me to write something for them. Sometimes I get paid to write one of my ideas which is even more exciting … and yet I’m rarely allowed to mention it.

Part of that is self-censorship since projects collapse so frequently that mentioning them would be completely pointless; but sometimes I’m banned from sharing my excitement because of … well, tricksy producery stuff.

Don’t mention this on your blog.” being one of the most frequently uttered phrases at any meeting.

Generally, you’re only allowed to get publicly excited at a project when they start casting. Sometimes not even then – casting is, after all, no guarantee of production. I keep watching films and thinking I’ve worked with that actor … only to remember I haven’t, they were going to do one of my scripts but the producer stole all the money.

Basically, one of the annoying bits of the job is you’re not allowed to get publicly excited about doing your job until the bit you actually contribute is over and done with.

So we don’t.

We keep quiet during our bit and then shout with giddy excitement when everyone else is making the film … and then complain no one respects our contribution. You know, the bit we didn’t tell anyone about.

I have no solutions, just a degree of frustration … one of the few emotions I’m allowed to share.

Categories: Random Witterings, Writing and life | 6 Comments

Sexism

I’ve been having arguments with directors and producers about women characters for years now and it’s really beginning to piss me off.

In fact, the arguments are so frequent and so numerous I’m beginning to suspect I’m in the wrong. Which, let’s face it, seems unlikely.

Me? Wrong? Never.

Except when I am.

The arguments usually begin with a producer or director (almost exclusively male producers or directors) telling me I’m not allowed to write negative traits for my female characters, because it’s sexist. Women can’t be portrayed as stupid or selfish or violent or conniving or brutal or … well, human.

To me, this is piffle of the highest order. Some women are unpleasant. Not all, not even most; but there are definitely some I’ve met who I’d happily push under a bus.

Some are rude, thoughtless, vain, asinine, greedy, lazy, racist or downright sneery. Just like some men, because, guess what? Yep, women are human beings too. Shocking, I know.

The stupid part of all this is frequently the producer or director in question doesn’t think women are perfect, innocent and flawless (some of these guys seem to pretty much hate all women); but they genuinely believe PORTRAYING them as anything but angelic is sexist and will get them into trouble.

This is bollocks, isn’t it?

The worst thing (for me) is that some of these guys claim to be feminists because they won’t have ANY women being unpleasant or treated badly in their films.

What a load of shit.

To me, the question you need to ask yourself is “If I reversed the character’s gender, would I still think it was sexist?”

If the answer’s yes, then something needs to change; but if you’d be happy with a vain, selfish, aggressive male character … then let it ride.

I think you can (generally) apply that gender reversal to all your characters as a loose sexism test. Take, for example, Indiana Jones vs Lara Croft.

Indiana Jones is sexy because he’s a good looking guy who can fight, think and win the day in an all out heroic fashion.

Lara Croft should be sexy for precisely the same reasons.

Indiana Jones should get his shirt off occasionally.

Lara Croft should show a bit of leg or cleavage. *

All well and good. However, can you imagine an Indiana Jones film where they show him showering and have long, lingering shots of him rubbing soap all over himself? In super-sexy slo-mo?

No?

I’m not saying women (or some guys) wouldn’t want to see Harrison Ford soaping himself up; but in the context of an action-adventure film it would be a bit odd. So why do it for Lara Croft?

Sometimes, I think sexism in films doesn’t really apply to individual characters but to the film as a whole. If all the women in the film are unpleasant or all of them are subjected to extreme violence for no particular reason then you may have a problem.

Or you may not, depends on the type of film, I suppose.

Take the ‘woman in a fridge’ syndrome where women in comics tend to exist as easily murderable characters to give the man some motivation to wear tights and beat the fuck out of bad guys.

Taken on a case by case basis, it’s not really a problem. Killing a character of any gender to create motivation for the main character works well. If a bloke was killed to motivate his wife towards revenge then there’d be no problem. The issue comes from the sheer amount of murdered women whose death spawns an avenging man. Once you get past twenty or so it does seem to be a policy statement rather than a plot point.

There’s a whole other debate there though about more men reading comics than women and since they tend to prefer male heroes there’s a natural tendency to make the murdered loved one a woman.

The counter argument being, maybe if there were more female heroes then perhaps more women would read comics in the first place.

Chicken, egg? I don’t know.

Actually, I do. It was the egg; but that’s beside the point.

Here’s an interesting scenario – let’s say you write a sitcom based on five guys you know. One of them is an idiot, the rest aren’t. Now let’s say an actress reads the script and decides she wants to play the stupid character – if you cast her, is the script now automatically sexist since the only stupid character is a woman?

Or is it less sexist than it was because it was originally written for an all male cast?

Or maybe the correct answer is ‘oh fuck off’.

The point is, having an unpleasant female character isn’t sexist. Thinking ALL women are or aren’t unpleasant is.

Try reversing the genders in your script – do you suddenly feel the characters don’t ring true? If so, why? Have you gone wrong somewhere or does it genuinely only work if the genders stay the same? It’s an interesting exercise.

—————————————————————————-

*If Lara Croft got her nipples out, even if it was shot in a totally matter of fact, shirt was used to stem the flow of blood from dying child way … it would probably look odd and feel exploitative no matter what; because, the bottom line is men and women are fundamentally different in some ways and some sexist attitudes are so deeply ingrained that breaking them would just be weird.

Categories: My Way, Random Witterings | 4 Comments

Last night’s Moviebar …

Or possibly two nights ago depending on whether I finish typing this before or after midnight.

23.53 … it’s going to be after, isn’t it?

Well, I had fun I really enjoyed myself. Highlights of the night for me were meeting organiser Chris Regan, director Jonathan Glendening and Persona scribe Jonathan Bennett; watching these sketches by Sheep Films:

And the first episode of the webseries The Traffic Patrol Tapes:

And WINNING the movie quiz.

ME!

I WON!

I AM THE WINNER FOR I WAS VICTORIOUS AND KNEW SLIGHTLY MORE ABOUT MONKEY THEMED FILMS THAN THE OTHER PEOPLE PRESENT!

I won some DVDs.

Which was lovely.

Seriously though, Moviebar is a great night out. Some good films, some nice people, a bit of film making chat and the potential to win some DVDs by demonstrating SUPERIOR MONKEY KNOWLEDGE, LIKE WHAT I DID.

ME!

I WON!

If you live in, on or near the Brighton area then I highly recommend it. You’ll meet some affable, like-minded folk, watch a variety of films and you’ll be supporting local film makers.

For free.

How good is that?

I tell you how good it is, it’s great. See you next month.

Categories: Things I've Learnt Recently | 1 Comment

Moviebar

Tomorrow night, which is Monday 4th April, 2011 if you’re reading this in the future (hello! Do they still have blogs where you are? What about cake? Or have the evil robot gerbils banned that too?), Karma Magnet, a short film I wrote, will be screening at Chris Regan’s Moviebar night in Brighton.

Karma Magnet was directed by Martin Kemp and stars Gary Kemp and Adele Silva and is about some people doing stuff.

I’ll be there and may even have to say something or answer some questions or dance like a trained monkey or something. Hopefully it won’t involve some kind of trial by combat; but if it does then fuck it, bring it on.

If anyone fancies some short films and a chat, it would be cool to see you. I’ll be the nervous ginger one who’s incapable of intelligent thought or speech.

Moviebar: tomorrow night, 8pm at:

The Cornerstone
2-6 Elm Grove
Brighton
East Sussex
BN2 3DD

Categories: Karma Magnet | Leave a comment

A week(ish) to go!

The London Comedy Writers’ Festival is next weekend, so if there’s anyone who still hasn’t bought a ticket … why not?

The tickets cost £149 if bought direct from the festival.

If, on the other hand, you buy them from anyone of the numerous and worthy bloggers who are flogging them then you can get £25 off.

Buy them from me, on the third hand, and you’ll not only get £25 off the price; but I’ll also give you another £25 cash back after the festival – making the tickets a rather juicy £99.

Why am I doing this?

Oh, I can’t be bothered to explain again. The details are here.

Suffice it to say, you can get this deal by going here and using discount code ‘JobbingScriptwriter’

Send me an email (phill@phillipbarron.co.uk) to tell me you’ve done it, include your address and I’ll post you a cheque as soon as I get the funds from the festival.

Go, learn, enjoy … for £99

Categories: Festivals | 3 Comments

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