Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013

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Oh come on! That was never a year!

Really? Did we have all the months? Does everyone remember having all the months? We must have skimped on one of the summer months. July? Anyone remember there being a July in 2013?

The rate time’s passing is getting ridiculous.

On the plus side, if it’s 2014 tomorrow, then it means we only have one more year until hoverboards and flying cars!

And yes, they are both on my future Christmas list.

So how was your 2013? Was it good? Did you enjoy it? All of it? Even the July which I’m sure the Government have covertly pinched?

Mine, since you’re doubtlessly asking, went something like this:

JANUARY

I started the year by getting a bit excited about January. No, I have no idea why either.

Then, inspired by this post by Debbie Moon, I got a bit ranty about jealousy.

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And I finished off the month by rambling on a bit about HMV maybe shutting down.

Which it didn’t.

The essence of my argument was it would be a shame if HMV went bust because the immediate next wave of filmmakers would never know the elation of walking into a shop and buying a copy of your own DVD. HMV is one of the last outlets who stock pretty much any low budget films. If they went, the only shelf space would be in supermarkets and they are a bit funny about what films they’ll sell.

Now, okay, DVDs (or Blu-Rays, if you prefer) will ultimately go away and people will feel giddy and excited about something else.

But a year later, DVDs are still here (as is HMV) and they’re still exciting. I don’t know about you, but I have a hierarchy of film-love. Only my absolute favourites get bought on DVD. Films I really enjoy … I probably won’t bother to buy. I might watch it several times on TV or pay to stream something … but only my absolute bestest films get bought.

Unless I know the writer and want to annoy/promote them.

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Having a film produced is exciting. Attending the première is more exciting. Seeing it in released in the cinemas is even more exciting still. But holding a physical copy in your hand, one you can put on the shelf or lend to people or just look at and smile … that’s the best bit.

For me.

Because that, in a small way, puts the thing I wrote on a similar footing to all the other films I love. Even when I fucking hate the actual film itself.

FEBRUARY

I began February by busting the shit out of the motivation, willpower and confidence conspiracy myth bullshit.

Or possibly by just ranting aimlessly about those imaginary things. One of the two.

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I finished off the month by loving Wreck-It Ralph. A lot.

At least I was right about that.

Was that it? Hmm … didn’t blog much in February, did I? Probably because I gave up chocolate, biscuits, sweets, crisps and cake in a vague effort to stop looking like a fucking hippo. That kind of thing is bound to make someone less bloggy.

MARCH

I began March by explaining, politely, that they don’t fucking love your script in Cannes – no matter what they may have said. If they loved it, they would have bought it. Did they buy it?

No. Then they didn’t love it.

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Yes, you can still pay me to re-write it.

I also blogged about exercise, P90X and biscuits – somehow finding it appropriate to insert myself into Death in Paradise wielding a spoon.

ginge-in-paradiseNo, I have no idea why either.

That was a weird thing to do. Although, the good news is I still have that spoon. In a lovely bit of serendipity, I stole it from the Jamaican hotel which initially inspired Death in Paradise. It’s now my emergency back up spoon.

Then I wrote a blog about Other People’s Ideas and how hard they are to write. For some reason I equated it to making a human being and having too many ears.

Seriously, never give up biscuits. It’s just not worth it.

APRIL

Wait … what the fuck? THERE WAS NO APRIL! I fucking knew we hadn’t had a full year! Here’s the proof …

Or rather, here isn’t the proof because April never fucking existed. It can’t have existed or I would have blogged about it.

You fuckers stole my April!

I’m a bit cross about that.

MAY

All I did in May was give away a really cool book which, despite the cover, has no information in it about how to get laid by writing scripts.

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What a rotten swizz.

JUNE

Apparently, some insanely exciting things were happening in June … but I have no idea what they might have been.

My laptop had a bit of an accident. That was annoying.

laptop-exploding-battery-fireBut I fixed it. Sort of.

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What else happened?

Ooh, I wrote some stuff and edited some stuff and had some meetings and all sort of proper writing stuff. That was exciting.

I then went on to promote a writing development scheme thingy.

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What was exceptionally exciting about that is a writer friend of mine later told me she’d applied and been accepted onto the course – something she never would have known existed if I hadn’t mentioned it.

That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I love being vaguely useful occasionally.

Buoyed on by that, I promoted some free stuff. Which probably isn’t free any more, so … don’t bother clicking that link.

Assuming anyone’s still reading and is even clicking anything. Are you?

Really?

Why? Go do something more fun.

Oh, no, wait! This next post was my most popular post of the year. Still is.

I think.

MAN OF STEEL – 3 THINGS I TRY NOT TO PUT IN A SCRIPT

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JULY

July was simple. All I did in July was reveal the meaning of life and the meaning of illegal.

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I got both of them completely and utterly right too.

Because I’m awesome.

I totally rocked July.

AUGUST

I’m getting bored now. Anyone else getting bored?

August! What did I do in August?

NOTHING!

There was no August either.

Wait a minute … no April? No August? No months beginning with the letter A?

Hmm …

That video would probably be more relevant if it was actually about the letter A.

SEPTEMBER

There was a September! Since September doesn’t begin with the letter A, this completely proves my theory.

It fucking does!

In September I went to see Monsters University.

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Then I gave you writer-based fashion advice.

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And I rounded out the month by getting upset about a wine glass.

fu8bkhJesus.

OCTOBER

In October I had a letter from Linda Aronson, which was far politer than I deserved.

Then I wrote the first two parts of my fantastically successful Notes from the Other Side series; which was about my inept fumblings as a script editor for PERSONA.

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They were called Part One and Part Two. I’m original like that, I am. I was the first person ever to think of calling something part one and part two.

NOVEMBER

I’m really bored with this now. I’ve no idea why I do this every year, I mean what is the fucking point? Does anyone read this far? I will send a five pound note to the first person who quotes these three words in the comments:

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Turpentine

Jamais vu

That’s a serious offer. I’ll send you a proper five pound note through the proper mail and everything if you’re the first person to copy and paste those three words into a comment.

And 12p to the first person who can use them in a sentence.

And now that I’ve (hopefully) successfully proved no one’s reading any more … on with November.

First up, Part Three of the Notes from the Other Side trilogy. I broke boundaries here by calling the third part Part Three. I also got a bit ranty about it all.

Sorry.

Especially to the person I referred to as a fucking twat; but to be fair. You were.

Or I was.

One of the two.

Possibly both.

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Then I talked about tailoring. It was in relation to an upcoming meeting … at which everyone behaved in almost exactly the way I hoped they wouldn’t.

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For some reason I then had a pop at actors who don’t afford my scripts the same respect as Shakespeare’s.

No, seriously. I can only assume I was heavily medicated at the time.

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And I finished the month by gushing about my love for a man. Well, eleven men. Twelve, as it turned out. Thirteen now.

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If you’re feeling particularly geeky, you can spot seven differences between this photo and the one uploaded in November. Although, I warn you now imaginary person who’s never going to fucking bother doing this … number four is almost impossible to spot.

DECEMBER

I began December by delivering my verdict of The Day of the Doctor … I fucking loved it. I know I fucking loved it because I wrote “I fucking loved it.”

You can’t argue with that kind of proof.

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Then I decided to tattoo something on my forehead so I wouldn’t forget it. This is the worst possible way of remembering stuff … mainly because it’s really fucking hard to see your own forehead.

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Don’t do this. Seriously, it’s silly.

And I finished off the year with a series of Christmas crackers – little bloglet mentions of things I either think are cool or just felt like mentioning:

  1. The Elephantom
  2. Totally Serialized (there’s a competition on this one – you can win free tickets!)
  3. Dead Elf
  4. Production Hell
  5. Kung Fury

And that was pretty much it in blogging terms.

Behind the scenes, this was an interesting year. It’s the first year for nearly a decade I haven’t had anything produced or released … and yet I probably earnt more this year than any previous year to date.

Apparently a writer can earn more money by not getting films made than by actually getting involved in all that icky and annoying shooting business.

Who knew?

At the beginning of the year, I made a conscious decision to write something for myself. Something I really, really wanted to write which I would then try to sell.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, I worked almost continuously on other people’s ideas with varying degrees of success.

I had some lovely meetings with some lovely people and at least one of them I didn’t completely screw up.

I got paid to write stuff I enjoyed writing for people who actually cared about the script and wanted to get it right … as opposed to caring about the shooting date (tomorrow) and wanting to get it finished … even if ‘finished’ means ‘nobody fucking cares how good it is, we just need some words’.

As an added extra bonus, a producer sent one of my scripts to a director whose work I really, really admire. I’ve no idea if that guy actually liked the script or not. Probably not, but he wanted to read it and therefore at least now knows who I am.

I’m the guy who’s script he (probably) didn’t like.

Unless he hasn’t read it yet. Which is entirely possible and extremely likely.

2014 already has some super cool awesome stuff lined up with a couple of projects lining up on the starting blocks and even a few lumbering asthmatically towards the final set of hurdles.

Beyond which are another set of even higher hurdles, because that’s what the whole writing gig’s about.

So bring it on 2014, do your worst!

Just nicely.

Please?

Categories: BBC, Bored, Career Path, Christmas Crackers, Industry Musings, My Way, Opportunity, Persona, Progress, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Someone Else's Way, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Things I've Learnt Recently, Two steps back, Writing and life | 16 Comments

Christmas cracker #5: Kung Fury

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I’m still going. I know! I can’t believe it either, I normally don’t have anything like this level of concentration.

I suppose, technically, this is all just procrastination … which counts as work.

IT DOES!

Anyway, number 5 – KUNG FURY

This one’s a Kickstarter project for a film. I know, I know … one of millions, but this one’s got time travel and uzi-firing Vikings and a renegade kung fu cop riding a dinosaur whilst trying to kill Hitler.

Oscar-bait, if ever I saw it.

And most of it’s already filmed – they just need cash for post-production.

Okay, so it’s just after Christmas and no one has any money. My list of broken-needs-replacing items includes the telly, the shower, the living room carpet, my desktop, my phone … oh, and the oven sounds like the Millennium Falcon starting up (just not in a good way). My next script commission will all be spent on just repairing/replacing stuff to get us back to a  normal (in Western, capitalist, 21st Century, consumerism-driven terms) standard of living.

But hey, if you can’t afford to donate, you can at least enjoy the trailer and spread the word:

Categories: Christmas Crackers, Someone Else's Way | 1 Comment

Christmas cracker #4: production hell

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Production Hell is a free website for Indie Filmmakers to list their upcoming productions, and for crew and potential investors to see what productions are happening up in their local area.

It’s brand spanking new. So new, in fact, that there’s not a lot there at the moment; but maybe you could change that?

As a writer who has zero interest in making films myself, I’ve no idea if this sort of thing is interesting to other people or not. Is it something you’d find useful? Have you been looking for this sort of thing to help get your project off the ground?

If so, here it is.

You’re very welcome.

For me pointing it out to you. I have nothing to do with the website itself.

Of course, if you already knew about it or even set it up yourself, then I didn’t even point it out to you.

I think I’ll stop now.

Categories: Christmas Crackers, Someone Else's Way | 1 Comment

Christmas cracker #3: A Dead Elf

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Number three! I really thought I’d get fed up of these long before now, but apparently not!

This one’s an ebook. I haven’t read it myself because … well, it’s an ebook and I just can’t be doing with them.

Partly because I have nothing to read them on (besides a phone, which just isn’t much fun); but mostly because, in certain areas of life I’m a complete Luddite and can’t see what’s wrong with good old-fashioned paper. I stare at a brightly lit screen all day, I don’t want to do it over breakfast or in bed too.

So why is this ebook number three in my festive fun-bag?

Because it’s by Terry Newman and I really like him, that’s why. Plus, it’s my fucking blog, I’ll champion whatever the hell I like.

A DEAD ELF: Comedy fantasy meets detective fantasy in a seedy underworld bar run by a defrocked wizard.

The world turns and changes, as it has an annoying habit of doing, and Midearth changes with it. History becomes tradition, becomes fable and is reborn as the main feature at your local Palantire Picture House. This is the shiny, bright New Age, you see. In modern Midearth they’ve got steam wagons, speech horns and performance art. And in Midearth the various peoples, men, goblins, elves, gnomes and the pix, have to get by as best they can – especially in the seething metropolis that is The Citadel.

Crime is still with us too, but now that goblins carry shooters, down those mean cobbled streets a dwarf must walk tall. Yes, dwarves are still around as well; dwarves like Nicely Strongoak, Master Detective and Shield for Hire, and this is his toughest case.

A dragon’s dunghill may smell bad, but not half as bad as politics. The elves came back you see, bringing with them the democratic process, but it’s funny how they still seem to be running everything; ‘all peoples are created equal’, but some with blue eyes, blond hair and pointy ears are more equal than others. Now a new political party has sprung up amongst the younger elves and men, the Citadel Alliance Party, with smart blue shirts, a fancy logo and some nasty ideas about equality.

Nicely’s search for a lost boyfriend takes him deep into the murky world of Citadel politics, via surfing elves, a race horse called Rosebud, a stolen emerald ring and a pocket dragon. But it’s only when Nicely and an elf called Truetouch have a narcotic-induced crash into the river that the case really heats up. Nobody misses Truetouch and that is not right, because in the Citadel there’s always somebody around who should miss a dead elf.

There, doesn’t that sound lovely?

You can get the book here.

 

Categories: Christmas Crackers, Someone Else's Way | 2 Comments

Christmas cracker #2: Totally Serialized 3

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From 16 to 19 January 2014, Ciné Lumière will hold the third edition of Totally Serialized, London’s favourite TV series festival. It will showcase the best of new productions from both sides of the Channel as well as European TV series. Audiences can enjoy their favourite shows on the big screen (Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, The Returned, My Mad Fat Diary) attend premières of tomorrow’s cult series and meet the creators during Q&As and masterclasses.

Totally Serialized is back for it’s third year and this time I’ve got some tickets to give away. Three pairs, to be precise.

You (yes, YOU! And two other people.) could win a pair of tickets to:

Saturday 18th January

14.00 Cult Comedy Marathon
in English, or in French with English subtitles
The Cult Comedy Marathon will feature episodes of French shows Love Bugs (Un gars, une fille) and So (Bref), as well as favourites from the UK.

or a pair of tickets to this double bill:

 Sunday 19th January
The Line / Un village français
2.00pm | UK premiere season 4, episode 1 | cert. 15 | in French with English subtitles
France | 2012 | 52 mins | creators Frédéric Krivine, Philippe Triboit & Emmanuel Daucé; with Robin Renucci, Audrey Fleurot

and

Les Anonymes
3.30pm |  UK premiere single drama | cert. 15 | in French with English subtitles
France | 2012 | 125 mins | dir. Pierre Schoeller; with Olivier Gourmet, Mathieu Amalric, Karole Rocher
Followed by a Q&A with director Pierre Schoeller and James Rampton, arts feature writer at The Independent.

or even a pair of tickets to this double bill:

Sunday 19th January

Salamander
7.30pm |  UK premiere
season 1, episode 1 | cert. 15 | in Flemish and French with English subtitles
Belgium | 2012 | 45 mins | creator Ward Hulselmans; with Filip Peeters

and

The Protectors / Livvagterne
8.30pm |
season 1, episode 1 | cert. 15 | in French with English subtitles
Denmark | 2008 | 45 mins | International Emmy Award

Maybe you’ve been to this the last few years and fancy going again for free? Maybe this isn’t something you’d normally consider but are willing to try something different? Or perhaps you just live nearby and are just looking for something to do?

Whatever the reason, if you want to win tickets then simply tell me how depraved your excesses were whilst watching TV on Christmas Day. Did you eat a whole roast goose stuffed with Quality Street and smothered with pan-fried otters’ bile for breakfast before preparing your main meal? Or perhaps you marinated your own liver with five litres of Baileys, in situ, coughed it up and ate it with lashings of piccalilli before visiting the hospital and lightly dying? Maybe you had half of that second dry cracker, which is more than enough for any God-fearing human?

Invent your tales of excess, leave them in the comments below (or email them, if you must – why do most of you email your comments these days? Are you ashamed to be seen with me? Don’t blame you, I am) and don’t forget to say which of the three pairs of tickets you’d prefer.

Maybe leaving the comment with a valid email address might help too?

The closing date for this will be … I don’t know. New Year’s Day 2014? That sound good?

Off you go then.

Here’s more info about the festival for those of a curious nature:

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The rise of TV shows in the past few years has been meteoric, with clunky acting, minimal plotlines and pre-recorded laughter replaced by multimillion-dollar productions starring A-list actors, with staggering special effects, and the finest writers churning out complex stories and incisive dialogue designed to keep the viewer hooked. An even more recent development in the British TV industry has been the breaking down of frontiers, with international buyers moving away from a remake-centred strategy and now broadcasting the original series with subtitles. French shows such as The Returned, Braquo, Spiral, Hard and Maison Close have benefited from this shift, and have proven to be a success on Channel 4, FX, BBC Four and Sky Arts respectively. One of the aims of this festival is to encourage this trend by showcasing tomorrow’s cult series.

TV professionals will get a chance to participate in an industry event dealing with various aspects of the constantly-evolving field of TV series, including producing, screenwriting, and financing, as well as case study of The Tunnel featuring writer Ben Richards amongst others. There will also be networking opportunities to allow ideas and future collaborations to flourish. The general public can also have a peek at what goes on behind the scenes with our Craft Masterclass on women and TV writing, organised in collaboration with BAFTA, during which leading screenwriters such as Virginie Brac (Spiral), Paula Milne (The Politician’s Husband, White Heat, Small Island) and Emma Reeves (The Dumping Ground, Young Dracula) will examine women’s contributions to screenwriting and the particular obstacles they face.

This masterclass will be a central part of our Leading Ladies strand, which will also include UK premieres of the French hit Mafiosa in the presence of director Pierre Leccia, and of season 2 of My Mad Fat Diary, in the presence of Sharon Rooney and writer Tom Bidwell. Our other highlight will be on political thrillers, with three gripping UK premières on Sunday 19 January: the Belgian Salamander, recently acquired by BBC Four for its Saturday Night Slot; the Danish hit The Protectors, an Emmy Award-winning offering of Nordic noir which is set to delight fans of Borgen and The Killing; and the French Les Anonymes by Pierre Schoeller (The Minister), who will be here for a Q&A.

Following the success of our UK premiere of The Returned in last year’s edition of Totally Serialized, we are pleased to host a marathon of the full first season of the now Emmy-awarded French show as part of our Saturday Fright Night, which will also feature a 10th anniversary screening of all the episodes of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace – with a Q&A with Matthew Holness – and a zombie party. For those who prefer laughter to chills, our Cult Comedy Marathon will showcase the best comedies from both sides of the Channel.

www.totallyserialized.co.uk

Categories: Christmas Crackers, Festivals, Someone Else's Way | 1 Comment

Merry Christmas!

merry_christmas_2013-HDWhat else is there to say?

Eat too much, drink too much and make sure you’re back on the sofa in time for this:

eek!

Categories: Random Witterings | Leave a comment

Christmas cracker #1: The Elephantom

It’s Christmas! In a general all-the-days-at-the-end-of-December-are-Christmas kind of way.

To celebrate, here are some* cool things (in no particular order) you can check out over the holiday period:

——NUMBER ONE——

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The Elephantom at The Shed is just wonderful. We had a family outing to go and see it yesterday and it was well worth braving the howling winds and torrential rain for.

The Elephantom

Adapted from the book by Ross Collins it’s the story of a little girl who’s haunted by a ghost elephant. At first, it’s fun …

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… but quickly becomes annoying when the elephantom’s friends start to turn up.

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The set design is wonderful, the cast are hilarious, the music is enchanting and the puppetry is fantastic. It’s a truly magical show, if you’ve got kids and you live somewhere nearby (or are visiting London over the next couple of weeks) then you really should take them along.

If you don’t have kids, then you should go anyway because it’s fucking brilliant.

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* I have no idea how many cool things there will be because this is the first one and I haven’t got bored yet. Rest assured, I will fairly soon.

Categories: Christmas Crackers, Someone Else's Way | 1 Comment

Finding the irony

If there’s one lesson I need tattooed onto my fucking face, it’s FIND THE IRONY.

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I know this, you probably do too. It’s so fucking obvious and makes the whole writing process so much easier and more meaningful … and yet, I forget. Every fucking time.

The irony I’m talking about is the one inherent in the premise. The ironic element which links the protagonist to the story. The thing which makes the protagonist the perfect and only choice of character to tell this particular story.

A recent example which springs to mind (recent to me watching it, not to it being produced) would be Pitch Perfect. If you haven’t seen the film, you really should. I loved it. Everything about it. It’s funny, well constructed and the music’s fantastic.

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If you haven’t seen it, you may consider the rest of this post to be chock-full-o-spoilers … but it’s not really the sort of film you can spoil, so it probably doesn’t matter.

SPOILER ALERT ANYWAY

So, partly for the benefit of those who haven’t seen it but mostly just for the sake of discussion, Pitch Perfect is about rival a cappella singers at an American university. To me, it’s one of those films like Dodgeball or Strictly Ballroom where you take an inherently silly competition and have everyone take it really, really seriously. In a funny way.

The irony in Pitch Perfect comes, as it should, from the protagonist – Beca.

beca anna kendrick pitch perfect

She’s a loner, someone who doesn’t really interact (or harmonise) with others, who finds herself joining a competitive a cappella club for (slightly) spurious reasons. Basically, in order to be left alone to pursue her loner musical interests, she has to work intimately with a close-knit group.

bellas-header

If she was a loner who had to live as a hermit … it just wouldn’t be the same. The beginning and end of that story, the character arc doesn’t leap out at you because “a person gets everything they want without trying” isn’t really a sound basis for a story.

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A loner who has to join something, especially something which relies heavily on working so closely with others … a loner who can only achieve her goal by not being a loner … it’s all there.

You have the start point for Beca’s character (loner) and the end (joiner-in-er). Done badly, the film would start and end like that with the main character turning completely around to be someone else.

Pitch Perfect is better than that. Beca keeps her individuality whilst working within the group. She learns how to use her loner, anti-harmonic tendencies within the crowd. As do the rest of the Barden Bellas. She learns how to fit in without forgetting how to stand out … and that’s great.

pitch-perfect-2012-film

What’s also great is she realises she was pursuing the wrong goal. Or at least, she can achieve her goal in a completely different way to the one she expected. An ironic way, for her.

The rest of the characters spring from this central irony. You could argue for Aubrey or Bumper as the antagonist – both represent opposite ends of the spectrum. Aubrey wants everyone to fit in and be exactly the same, following the same path … which just isn’t going to work. The more she pushes the Bellas to conform, the worse they do.

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Bumper, on the other hand, is almost sociopathic in his pursuit of his own goals, screwing over his team mates for personal gain.

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Aubrey is what Beca is scared of becoming if she fits in. Bumper is what she could become if she doesn’t. The solution is the middle way. The ironic way.

The annoying thing about this kind of irony is it’s so fucking obvious … yet so easy to forget. Like I say, I need it tattooed on my face so I don’t forget, because I do … all the fucking time.

If you’re writing a story about a guy who becomes a hermit then the protagonist should either be a sociable soul who can’t be on his own; or a loner who took the job to get away from people only to find the hermitage is infested with squatters or has a lot of annoying neighbours … or something.

Something better, preferably.

But that’s the point I need to remember – find the irony in the premise. Find the worst possible character to star in the story and then use them as the branching out point for everyone else. Make the antagonist either the opposite or the same but further down the road. All the other characters should reflect this irony in some way.

Then make sure it’s all very subtle and hidden in the subtext.

Now all I need to remember is to tattoo it backwards so I can actually read it in the mirror.

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Categories: Someone Else's Way, Things I've Learnt Recently | 2 Comments

That was the 50 years that was

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This post is a follow up to last post’s self-indulgent Doctor Who love fest. It’s been a couple of weeks, is that long enough? I don’t want to risk spoilering anyone, but I feel like adding my thoughts about the celebration now it’s all over.

Yeah, okay so that’s an excuse for just being busy and failing to find time to write this down until now. It would have been better at least a week ago; but it didn’t happen. I’m sure we’ve all been coping without it though.

Anyway …

SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T SEEN EITHER THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR OR AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME YET.

(SERIOUSLY, THOUGH? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?)

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Well … I fucking loved it.

All of it.

I saw The Day of the Doctor in the cinema, in a packed auditorium of fans and the experience was amazing. First off there were the odd costume here and there, a smattering of fezes. Then there was the extra Doctor Who-themed adverts and trailers like the Anchorman 2 bit:

The Strax “turn off your phones” lecture and the 3D Zygon-detector introduction by Doctors 10 and 11 (or 11 and 12, as I guess they are now?) really helped build up the atmosphere …

But most of all there was the silence.

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An awed, respectful, eagerly-anticipating-awesomeness type of silence. When the BBFC rating came up, the whole auditorium fell silent – an event so rare and unusual I found myself looking around to find out what catastrophic event had befallen the audience … but it was just an entire roomful of fans staring excitedly at the screen.

That used to happen all the time in cinemas^. Believe it or not, kids, there was a time when people went there to watch films (or for a variety of back row activities which ranged from holding hands to fucking) instead of checking Twitter, making phone calls or discussing what they did last weekend.*

The silence was unnerving … and beautiful.

The episode itself … well, I just loved it. Seeing it in that environment probably helped. Sitting in a room full of adulation is the best way to see something you’re excited about. It is for me, at any rate. I can honestly say my critical faculties just disconnected for the entire length and I loved every second of it.

Well … okay, there were a few niggles – what were those handles for on the bottom of the TARDIS? Why couldn’t they have got people the same body shape as the past Doctors to play the past Doctors in that last shot? Who did that head replacement? Was it a child with some cut out photos and a PrittStick?

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But who fucking cares? I, like everyone else in the cinema, laughed at all the right bits, cried at all the right bits and sat on the edge of my seat for most of the bits in between. I honestly can’t remember ever being in a screening where the entire audience punched the air at the same time over a two second glimpse of someone’s eyes.

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And as for the revisiting the favourite faces bit (I can’t bring myself to spoiler that, even over two weeks later – just in case) … I couldn’t have been happier about that, even if the favourite face in question dropped round my house for a cuppa. In costume. Which he then let me keep.

Overall, I just loved it. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. Which is amazing, because I’m a fussy bastard.

The fact it made to number three in the box office top ten is just the cherry on the cake. This is the show I loved as a kid. The thing I loved when everyone else had forsaken it and the thing I still loved when everyone else thought it was dead and buried.

Number three!

For a programme which was available for free on the TV!

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AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME was similarly superb. Initially I felt like I wanted a little more detail about things like how they decided on a Police Box and a bit more insight into the original committee meeting where they worked out what the show should be before they had the idea … but that was before I realised the story was actually about William Hartnell.

For the first few minutes I thought I was watching a docu-drama about the making of Doctor Who; but (as I saw it) that was actually a secondary story which ran alongside Hartnell’s emotional journey.

And what a journey it was. Again, I have nothing but effusive praise for the programme. I thought it was absolutely amazing and really made my heart soar and weep throughout. The “I don’t want to go” line and that appearance in the TARDIS at the end in particular had me blubbing.

I was so pleased with the result I even resisted the temptation to ring up the two friends I’d mentioned the exact same idea to last year at the BBC Leeds thing ( the guys who LAUGHED IN MY FACE AND TOLD ME IT WAS A STUPID IDEA) and tell them I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO.

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I resisted that temptation. This is me still resisting it.

Despite, you know, the fact I did.

Tell them so.

Those two programmes and the assorted other bits and bobs scheduled around them were a magnificent and fitting tribute to a very special part of my childhood. Oh fuck, who am I kidding? My life, not my childhood. I’ve never outgrown Doctor Who and I’ve no intention of starting now.

So a huge thank you to everyone involved. You did yourselves and The Doctor proud.

Last post, I went through (nearly) every Doctor Who related moment in my life.

Nearly.

There were two I forgot to mention.

One was because … I just forgot. Sorry. The second has effectively been completed wiped from history (or at least the internet).

The first was this postcard, sent to me by Tom Baker.

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Out of the blue. For no reason. Without me asking or knowing anything about it.

What the fuck?

“Dear Phil, we talked of you at 30,000 feet and now down to Earth, I send best wishes to you from old Doctor Who IV, Tom Baker.”

Seriously … what?

First off, is that really from him? It’s postmarked from France, which was where he lived at the time. It’s his signature. or a very good copy; but … how does he know who I am? How does he know where I live? How does he know I’m a fan?

Turns out, my good lady wife met him on a flight to Toulouse (for she is an air-hostess, don’t you know?). She asked him for an autograph (for me). He apologised for not having one of these postcards to sign (even though she would have been happy for him to sign a scrap of paper) and asked for my address so he could send one.

That is lovely.

What’s more lovely though, is he actually did. He actually put a stamp on this and went to the Post Office to post it.

At least, I’m assuming he did. Maybe he didn’t Maybe he has a specially trained postcard monkey who does all this sort of thing for him? I don’t know. I choose to believe he did it himself because it’s such a lovely thing to do.

Generally, I don’t give a fuck about autographs and would never ask for or keep one. But this … well, it’s special.

Someone else told me (possibly on a comment on this blog, I think I’ve mentioned this story before) he’d done the same for them, so maybe he does this all the time. Which is even lovelier or lends credence to the trained monkey theory. Again, I choose to come down on the side of lovely because it makes the world more magical.

The second was when I actually wrote for Doctor Who.

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Sort of.

Wrote for an ex-Doctor Who in a non-Doctor Who movie, if you must know; but it still fucking counts.

It does!

The film itself was abandoned three-quarters of the way through due to personal politics, incompetence, spite, quality or general muppetry depending on whose story you believe. I have my own opinion, but it’s not worth going into here. Regardless of the actual quality of the film itself, the fact remains Sylvester McCoy once recorded scenes I’d written. He spoke dialogue I’d invented, spouted facts I’d researched and mutilated golf balls in a manner I’d specified with these here very fingers.

That is probably as close to writing for Doctor Who as I’ll ever get.

And no one will ever see it.

The production was shut down, the raw footage (for reasons which escape me) was thrown into a canal. All mention of it on the Internet was expunged and everyone tried to forget it ever happened.

It truly is a lost film. Only about ten people in the world have ever seen the footage and that’s it. No one else will ever see it.

Unless I do something like this:

Turns out, I’ve still got a rough edit on an old hard drive. Out of context, it makes no sense. The footage isn’t graded, there are no sound effects and whatever music cues are on there, like the actual edits themselves, are just temporary. But you know what … I once wrote for Doctor Who and now seems like the right time to share it. Hopefully, posting that video won’t offend any of the people involved.

So there you go. My thoughts on the fiftieth celebration and a little bit of hitherto unseen (sort of) Doctor Who (not really) related footage.

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^To be fair, some of the flea-pit cinemas back in the day were far worse than the modern multiplex.

*Seriously? What the fuck? My daughter is five and she knows how to shut the fuck up when a film is on. A child asking questions about the story I can tolerate; but why the fuck would an adult pay to go and see a film and then chat about how the skirt Tiffany was wearing made her earlobes look fat? Why? Not even when the film is boring, but all the fucking way through. What is wrong with people? Shut up! Show some fucking respect! For your own time/investment if nothing else.

Categories: BBC, Random Witterings, Someone Else's Way | 4 Comments

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