Progress

Hammer draft

Stop-Hammer-Time

I’ve spent the last few months doing casting rewrites on a script which is due to shoot in September, as well as rewriting another script which was recently optioned.

The casting rewrites are … a thing. If you’ve not had to go through that, I’ll probably blog about the process soonish.

The option rewrite, on the other hand, I’ll blog about now. If you’ll indulge me?

You will? Splendid.

So the script was optioned and the notes came back from the producer and director: one set of coherent notes presented by one person, first by email and then in detail via conversation.

This is how it’s supposed to be done.

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Everyone giving notes agrees between themselves first before giving them to the writer so there are no contradictions.Notes come via email (as opposed to dumped on you in a room) so you’ve got time to cycle through the stages of grief (anger, resentment, more anger, crying, fury, anger, rage, denial, incandescent rage … then accepting all the notes are correct) before responding. A follow up conversation by phone or in person to talk through the notes and explain what the intention is. Normally, the intention isn’t always what you think it is. A note asking you to cut a scene often means there’s a different scene earlier on which muddies the waters and makes this scene seem irrelevant. A conversation about these things allows you to state your case.

So with all that out of the way, I went to work.

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Sort of.

Christmas got in the way, but after that I got straight to work.

In this instance there were three notes and a realisation which kind of made a lot of the other notes irrelevant. This can happen. In this case the three notes were:

  • Moving the script from the UK to the US.
  • Changing the secondary character’s motivations to make him less of a one-note dick.
  • Bringing three of  the minor characters to the forefront to make the starring duo part of a five-piece gang.

And the realisation (by me) was that I wanted to change the theme which meant the protagonist’s motivation had to change, which meant all of scenes in the first act have to be different. And all of his scenes in the second act need altering. And the ones in the third act too.

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Basically draft 2 is going to be a completely different version of the same story. Everything is going to change … but a lot of scenes will probably still work in a slightly altered form.

I’ve often said that 50% of the script often gets abandoned for draft 2. I think this is kind of a benchmark to expect, if not aim for. Assume you’re going to be throwing away 50% of what you’ve written and you’re prepared.

That was probably true in this case … but the other 50% was going to be heavily rewritten too. And in a different order.

So it’s time for a hammer draft.

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My hammer drafts are lumpen, misshapen monstrosities which barely make sense. Essentially I’m picking up square scenes and hammering them into round holes elsewhere in the script.

So A, B, C … becomes:

New A, X, Q, second half of old A, B, F, G, H, C, something with a chicken, Y, V … and so on.

The task at this point is just to get the pieces roughly fitting. The next pass is for smoothing off the splintered edges and tightening up dialogue and checking everything flows properly … this draft is just hammering things into place. Because here’s the thing I visualise – they say you can’t put a square peg in a round hole … well that’s just silly, of course you can. You either have to fill in the gaps around the edges of the peg with something else or you hammer it in with enough force to knock off the corners and leave you with the important core of the scene.

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It’s not pretty and the joins/breaks will be clearly obvious … but only at first. Next time through you’re filling, sanding and painting until it all looks like that’s the only place any of these scenes could ever have been.

It’s a process I really enjoy even though it’s bastard hard work and sometimes harder than just throwing it all away and starting again. It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle where the challenge is to disassemble an existing jigsaw, trim the pieces and reassemble them into a different, yet familiar picture.

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Hammer drafts, I love them.

But they come with a warning: NEVER, EVER SHOW THEM TO ANYONE. EVER.

You’ll think that everyone’s on the same page as you and they’ll understand you’re just showing them a work in progress … but they might not get it. And if they don’t understand that what they’re not supposed to be looking at the intricacies of the dialogue or the transitions … you’re fucked.

My hammer drafts are for my eyes only … because they make no fucking sense.

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A draft or two later, when they’re all shiny and the welds have been smoothed and painted over … that’s the public draft. The one that gets torn apart so the whole process can start again …

 


 

* Except when the notes are inherently contradictory. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, contradictory notes can both be true. The protagonist can be too aggressive and too passive in different places, we all just have to pick which one she’s supposed to be or devise a mechanism to explain why she flips from one to the other.

Categories: My Way, Progress | 1 Comment

2015

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So that was 2015.

No flying cars, there were hoverboards … but they didn’t hover, they just set fire to people’s houses.

Behind the scenes I had a thrilling and exciting year … but I can’t really talk about it.

Not yet, anyway … but one day. soon.

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This is what’s immensely frustrating about being a scriptwriter – all the exciting things happen (and often die) out of the spotlight. By the time I’m allowed to talk about things (because contracts have finally been negotiated and signed) it’s old news and any excitement is feigned.

Well, not feigned … diluted. Like having to remember how excited you were about a Christmas present you got last year when it’s since been broken by the kid next door.fake-smile

But hey, it’s been a busy year with lots of stuff going on. On paper, it probably looks like not a lot … but that’s just the nature of the business. I’ve done a few uncredited rewrites, one of which has just been released … which is a yay I can’t publicly acknowledge.

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But never mind. If I was in it for the applause, I wouldn’t be a writer.

The rest of 2015, the bits I did talk about, went something like this:

JANUARY

Apparently all I did in January was talk about 2014, which although it included Ghostbusters and a suspicious looking codpiece …

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… seems a bit of a waste of a bloggy month.

FEBRUARY

Ah, hello groove I was wondering where you’d gone.

February was a proper blogging month full of blogs and … well, just blogs.

First off I tried to get you all to commit acts of phone-related mischief by adding ‘Okay Google’ phrases into scripts which would punish anyone who had their phone on in the cinema.

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Did any of you do it? Please say someone did it.

Then I defended Footloose because … it’s fucking Footloose. Footloose is awesome.

After succcessfully re-educating the world about the joys of ’80s dance, I went on to prove the three act structure is fine – stop trying to reinvent the wheel, it works just fine.

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And then I immediately explained why it doesn’t really work that well for a scriptwriter.

Aren’t you glad you’ve got me around to explain these things to you?

MARCH

March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb …

I, on the other hand, came in with a thing about the joy of failing

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… stumbled into a confused ramble about clichés

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… mumbled something I can’t be bothered to reread about page thinking

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… compared Joss Whedon to HTC and rambled about how frustrating it must be to be either of them …

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… and went out with an in-depth discussing about liars and lying for a living.

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APRIL

April is where things got interesting …

Just not at first. First I wondered if maybe you shouldn’t really be able to point to the midpoint in a film.

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Then I used my blog to educate my producer as to why he shouldn’t get his hopes up about the first draft I was just about to deliver …

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Just as it might have got interesting … I got angry about spoilers instead.

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Then it got interesting. I had a phone call

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It was Danny Stack … and he didn’t want anything except a chat.

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Where it got interesting was it kicked off a string of phone calls between me and … well, just people. Nice people. People like Calum Chalmers.

MAY

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And it carried on with more nice people like Robin Bell, Andrew Mullins and Dominic Carver.

In fact, most of May was taken up with phone calls, broken only by me trying to figure out how to write the perfect cameo (it worked! I wish I could tell you how well it worked … but I can’t) and to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary.

Oh and I went on a bit about competition and how much I enjoy it.

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JUNE

June continued the #PhonePhill-ing bringing delightful chats with Dee Chilton, Rosie Claverton and Rebecca Handley.

In fact, June was all phone calls apart from one post about being better and how we should all pursue knowledge as if it were a … thing. I don’t know. Insert your own simile, I’m tired.

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JULY

July brought yet more telephone awesomeness …

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This time in the shape of Mac McSharry, James Moran, Jay Sutherland and Terry Newman.

As well as yakking to people, I also (gasp!) worked over a weekend.

Apparently this is so shocking to me I felt the need to blog about it.

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I also made an uncredited appearance as Iron Man at a little boy’s birthday party in a homemade, cardboard costume:

I enjoyed that.

AUGUST

In August I had a little panic about potentially offending  someone I quite like by giving them script notes. In order to cover my anxiety, I wrote this post about the kind of script notes I get and how upsetting they can be … if you don’t take them in the spirit they’re intended.

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Later on, I followed that post up by giving myself notes on an old script.

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I also pretended a meal/drink with some friends was a sort of #PhonePhill episode … even though it wasn’t.

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But it did lead to this picture, which is my favourite of the year:

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I rounded off August by highlighting my inability to not focus on background detail.

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SEPTEMBER

Man, I did a lot of blogging in 2015. Too much, some might say.

In September I added one more thing to a script and felt the need to tell everyone.

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Then I added a second thing and banged on about that too.

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I did a thing about tokenism and … well, I don’t know what my point was there. Feel free to read it and let me know.

Oh, and then I added some nonsense to Jason Arnopp’s blog post about hands.

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OCTOBER

I kicked off October by contrasting Rose Tyler with Jurassic Park … which, you know, is clearly two different things and needs a blog explaining why.

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And then … the future arrived!

I meant to take a photo of myself with my trousers on inside out … but I didn’t. Possibly because I don’t think I wore any in October.

Instead of wearing trousers, I watched some videos about deleted scenes from all three Star Wars films:

I say three because I’m a prequel denier. At that point I was adamant there were only three Star Wars films. Now, of course, there’s been another half of a Star Wars film.

Hopefully we’ll find out in a couple of years whether or not any of it makes sense.

NOVEMBER

Just when you thought I’d forgotten about it, another #PhonePhill – this time with William Gallagher. He’s written a book, you know. Bits of it are about me.

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Inspired by the resurgence of telephonic communication, I immediately didn’t do it again and instead waffled on about River Theory …

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Expressed my love for the Verity podcast …

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And raved on and on and on about this speech from Doctor Who:

Oh, and I found this photo of a Burt Reynolds crab.

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DECEMBER

Which brings us to now. All I did in December was a handful of short blogs about other people’s stuff. Things like:

Arnopp’s patreon campaign, the UK Scriptwriter’s Handbook and the Heaven Sent/Hell Bent scripts.

There were meant to be more, but there wasn’t.

I didn’t even wish you a merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

There, I did it.

And so, with this year nearly spent, all eyes turn to the next one.

Hopefully it’ll include at least one blog about my new office:

And loads and loads about my next script to be produced:

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Happy New Year, let’s chat soon.

Categories: #PhonePhill, Bored, Career Path, Christmas Crackers, Industry Musings, My Way, Progress, Publicity, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Someone Else's Way, Sparkle, The Ties That Bind, Things I've Learnt Recently, Two steps back, Writing and life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

January and on

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Hooray, it’s 2014 and has been for a few weeks.

Happy slightly-less-new-than-it-was-two-weeks-ago year!

How was the whole Christmas/New Year thing for you? Mine was pretty cool. I know Christmas is supposed to be about the giving, but this year I actually got presents I wanted, so that makes it cool.

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And New Year’s eve we had an incident with a firework which resulted in me and my mate being chased around his garden by a boxful of fiery death … which was also cool. And fucking scary.

But that was so last year.

This is this year and already I’m off to a great start. I’m happily ensconced on my Secret Writing Island and building up a nice head of script-speed.

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Before plunging back into a not-quite-spec script I’ve been picking at between paid assignments for six months now, I decided to give myself a little post-festive break and crank out the first 10 pages of something I’ve wanted to write for a while for the Red Planet Prize.*

Not that I know why I bother – the first ten pages of everything I’ve ever written has been utter shit until I’ve finished at least six or seven complete drafts. I find, no matter how much I plan, plot or outline, my understanding of what needs to go into those first ten pages shifts so much during the writing process that it’s pretty much a waste of time writing them first.

If I had any sense, I’d leave them well alone until I’d written and re-written all the other pages several times … but I guess I haven’t because I never do. So entering a competition which relies solely on the first ten pages is pretty pointless for me unless I’m about around half-a-dozen drafts in.

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Sometimes not even then.

But you know what? Fuck it. It’s a free competition with an awesome prize, but mainly it’s a catalyst to get the script out of my head and onto the drawing board. Or keyboard.

By the way, I’m not saying I just scribbled down ten pages and sent it in without caring, because I think that’s probably a pretty disrespectful thing to do to the poor bastards who have to read through reams and reams of scripts looking for the diamonds in the rough.

That would be tantamount to me just deciding to make someone’s life a little bit worse on purpose, just in case I might be experiencing an unexpected twinge of genius on that day.

I never twinge.

So no, it wasn’t a rough ten pages – it was the best I could make them … on the proviso mine are usually pretty poor until I’ve been through the whole story several times.

Which, actually, now I come to write it down like this seems just as bad.

Hmm … not sure if I’ve been a bit unpleasant there or not?

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Oh, we’ll see.

To be honest, I always feel guilty entering competitions anyway. I sort of feel like I’m just taking up valuable space which could be utilised by newer writers without any other contacts. I’m quite capable of generating work for myself, so should I be entering these things?

Well … yes. Because I’m a complete and utter industry nobody.

And I want to.

Because it’s a great competition.

So that was last Tuesday.

Since then I’ve also finished the not-quite-spec script and it’s suddenly turned a corner. I was beginning to think I was going to have to perform a complete character-ectomy because the bastards just weren’t doing what I wanted them to do … when a chance line suddenly made it all click into place.

And now that’s gone off to the producer (hence it being a not-quite-spec) for evisceration.

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So yay for January!

Two weeks in and two projects ticked off.

Writing! Lots of it!

And progress!

In the right direction as opposed to the horrible backwards kind.

Happy 2014, write like the wind!

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*My entry starts at a location I’ve tried to use in scripts for years. I have photos of it on my phone, which I bore people with at every and any opportunity and every single person I’ve shown it to has at least faked interest and enthusiasm. It’s a great location, one which really adds to a script, one which (to my knowledge) has never, ever been seen on TV or film … until yesterday, when it was in Sherlock.

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Now every fucker’s seen it.

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Anyone reading the script yesterday would probably have googled the location thinking I’d made it up and been amazed (or at least mildly surprised) to find out I hadn’t. Anyone reading it today will find it passé – they’ve seen it before, everyone knows about that for fuck’s sake! Why don’t you try being original for once?

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What a difference a day makes.

Oh look, it even mentions Sherlock on the Wikipedia page now too. Lovely.

Categories: Progress, Random Witterings | 3 Comments

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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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

The long dark edit of the soul

tick's back

And I’m back!

Miss me?

I know you did, don’t be coy now. Come on, we’re all friends here.

Well, not all friends. I know no one likes Gerald*; but frankly, if you’re going to behave like that in public then you deserve all the shunning you get.

So I’ve had my head buried in this script to the exclusion of all else and managed to completely neglect nearly every aspect of my real and e-life.

So sorry for that, but I’ve been busy.

But it’s done now. It’s over. I have triumphed. I have journeyed into the foetid depths of my dwindling imagination and emerged victorious once more.

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Or possibly victorious, it’s hard to tell until the client comes back with his thoughts – the whole thing might be a complete and utter pile of poo.

I hate the first draft. Hate it. Every time I write one I wish I wasn’t. Anything’s better than writing a first draft. Watching juggling, that’s better than writing a first draft. Organising the kitchen utensils by date of purchase – that’s better than writing a first draft too. Hell, even nailing your genitals to something acidic would be preferable.

Your genitals, please note. Not my own. That doesn’t sound like fun at all.

You know what I hate most about the first draft?

Apart from all of it?

The final check and edit before sending.

It all just feels so pointless. I fully expect to ditch at least fifty percent of the first draft during the second draft. At least, possibly more. So fifty percent of the words I’m scrutinising for sense and originality and zingy-ness will be chucked out. It’s methodically polishing stuff which is going to be just chucked in the bin.

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Add to that the fact I’ve been staring at these scenes (in various forms – synopses, outlines, treatments, character breakdowns) for months now and can no longer tell if any of it is good, bad or indifferent … and the whole thing takes on a kind of Kafka-like level of inanity.

I’m fiddling intricately with stuff I no longer understand for a client who’s going to hate half of it. And if he doesn’t hate half of it, it’s my job to convince him half of it is shit; because, you know, the scariest comment you can get about a first draft is:

“I love it! It’s perfect!”

Um … no. It can’t be. Half of it must be shit. It just must be. Read it again and read it fucking properly this time.

The other end of the fretful rainbow is maybe this client is one of those clients who doesn’t understand that fifty percent of the first draft is MEANT to be shit.

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What if he doesn’t get it? What if he thinks this is as good as it’s going to get and loses interest in the whole project? What if this is my only stab at writing this and I’m actually going to be permanently judged on THIS draft? What if he does something weird like send this draft out to everyone in the fucking world for an opinion and they judge me on this draft, not knowing which draft it is?

It has happened. And it’s not fun.

Couple those feelings with an all day session of squinting at a monitor until late into the night while everyone else in the house has gone to bed and perhaps you can see why I hate the first draft so much?

The second draft, on the other hand, I fucking love. Deleting whole swathes of shit with one keystroke, joyous!

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So here I am, the day after submitting the script, waiting in fear of the judgement and in eager anticipation of being able to gut my own work. I’ve come through the long dark edit of the soul and am trying to reintegrate myself into society.

So what else has happened while I was away?

Well, I had one of those lovely meetings with a lovely TV development script editor at one of those lovely major production companies. Where the aforementioned lovely development editor explained, in a very lovely manner, why all my ideas were shit.

Now this may not sound lovely to you, but let me assure you it’s absolute fucking gold. I’ll go into how and why this meeting happened some other time, but the essence of why this sort of thing is so valuable is this: explaining why ideas are no good is exactly the same as explaining which ideas are good and what everyone’s currently looking for. Getting that information from someone who’s actually in the industry and actively seeking that content (as opposed to nobodies reposting the same old falsehoods on their pointless self-aggrandising blog) is amazing.

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Plus, despite hating everything I pitched, she still wanted to read something else! Although, she may have just been being polite.

Either way, that was a beautiful experience.

I’ve also finished a script I’ve been writing with an actor friend (or to be more precise, my brother’s best friend’s brother) and it’s really something special. Or at least, we think it is – and I generally hate everything I’ve ever written.  Just need to make time to market that one now.

It’s a spec script! I’ve written a spec script! Me! Something I’ve written for me!

On top of that I was offered a script job I really, really want to write. Always a happy day.

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And the cherry of delight on the cake of absolute awesomeness … a script I wrote years ago which has been in development for … well … since about six months before I’d actually come up with the idea, has found its way onto the desk of a guy who’s one of those people everyone’s actually heard of!

And I don’t mean just industry folk, I mean everyone.

He wrote that movie we all love. And that other one we all love. And that one I love but most people never saw. And he directed those two movies everyone except me loves which were produced by that guy we all worshipped as kids. Oh, and he directed those movies which everyone in the whole world went fucking nuts about.

That’s him!

And by ‘found its way onto his desk’ what I actually mean is ‘he asked to read it’.

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So, you know, that’s a good day right there. Even if he hates it, that guy who wrote that movie we all love and that other one we all love and that one I love but most people never saw and directed those two movies everyone except me loves which were written by that guy we all worshipped as kids and directed those movies which everyone in the whole world went fucking nuts about … will have read at least one page of something I wrote.

He knows who I am! Even if he thinks I’m a talentless twat, he still knows who I am!

Happy days.

And that’s about it for now, because I’m no longer accustomed to all this bloggy chat.

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In essence, I’m well. Hope you’re well too. Feel free to brag about your latest efforts in the comments, I’m keen to catch up. Next time (which will be soon) I’ll find some free shit for you.

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*Not you, the other Gerald. You’re lovely.

Categories: My Way, Progress, Random Witterings | 1 Comment

2012

Every year, for reasons I can’t quite remember, I do a post which rounds up exactly what happened to me over the past twelve months. To me, these recap posts seem interminably long, dull and quite pointless … but for some reason they always get read more than the original posts did. I have two theories to explain this odd behaviour:

  1. The majority of you wait until the end of the year so you can get the whole  sordid tale in one go.
  2. The majority of you are fucking mental.
  3. I said two theories, why would there be a three?

But with that in mind, let’s  begin. I promise this list will be as dull and as pointless as ever. We begin, in …

JANUARY

I began the year seven days after everyone else because I’m fucking hardcore, despite having been teetotal for 22 years now.

Maybe I just forgot the new year had begun?

Either way, I began with an explanation of one of my favourite writing techniques, THE BOX.

This technique is so awesome and so useful, not only have I not used it since; but I have no recollection of ever using it in the first place. I’m assuming I just made it up.

You know, lied.

Then I had a moment of genius. I know it was genius because Steven Moffat said it was. On Twitter. This is as close to a fact as you can possibly get without using things like set-squares and alphabet-heavy theorems.

This post garnered more views than my arse did that time I accidentally left it in Trafalgar Square. What’s more, people seemed to  like it. It wasn’t really anything much to do with writing and had more to do with my inability to repair a car … but it’s quite funny.

Essentially, I explained How to beat procrastination and was generally awesome while I was doing it. Assuming ‘awesome’ is a synonym for ‘a bit sad’.

You should read it.

I’ll wait.

I immediately failed to capitalise on this massive new following by bloging about some confused Thundercats and rounded off January by having a film I had almost nothing to do with, Stalker, released on DVD.

FEBRUARY

And lo, the second month did dawn and lower, I did shout a bit about baby-earrings, hotel sink-plugs, iTunes and shitty writing advice.

Ten days later, I was still pretty upset about people charging writers for bad advice and gave my own bad advice for free. This time about dual time-period script writing. I have since ignored every single one of these ‘rules’ … with catastrophic results.

I should learn to listen to me more.

Or at least learn to read the stuff I write.

I also got upset about Tuesdays and stupidity.

Decided Rosie Claverton is ace …

… and then drowned in bullshit.

MARCH

I watched Deviation in various international locations.

Wondered when The Descendants was going to end.

Showed you the quad for Strippers vs. Werewolves

… which is far better than the film itself.

And then went on a trailer frenzy for season three of Persona:

I finished March by getting into the quarter-finals of The Sitcom Mission.

APRIL

Don’t know about you, but I’m bored now. I’m also full of duck and empty of sleep. I might give up at any minute.

April!

April was the month … some stuff happened.

Stuff a bit like …

Pointed out ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITIES happened fairly regularly, best not to get too upset about them.

Explained the difference between a character being likeable and people fucking right off with their stupid fucking notes about kittens and fucking rainbows. Or something.

Swore I’d fucking show you all by explaining why script format was important. This would be it, the definitive guide to every aspect of script format explaining why I’m right and you’re all fucking wrong.

Which isn’t egotistical at all, it’s just the way of the world.

And then there was the Strippers vs. Werewolves première.

This post is well worth reading. It’s a master-class in how to blog about the première of your own film when you think it’s shit, without mentioning how shit you think the film is; but instead mentioning sausages. A lot.

Seriously, go read it. See if you can find any mention of how shit the film is.

They were fucking awesome sausages, mind.

After the première, the film came out in the cinemas because this is what happens.

Here, watch the trailer. Just because, alright? Just fucking watch it so I can have a rest from all this fucking typing.

MAY

I began May by making good on my promise to explain every aspect of script format. I started with the title page … and then gave up. For ever. I mean … what’s  the fucking point?

The 7th of May was Me Day when the whole world revolved around me for 24 hours.

It wasn’t my birthday or anything, it was just a day when the whole world gathered round to worship me and celebrate how amazing I am. Or was. You may not remember it because I think you were temporarily dead that day.

Ooh, this post on Script Trajectory was quite good. Must have been ill that day.

The papers in May did a mighty fine job of promoting the BluRay/DVD release of Strippers vs. Werewolves by pretending not to know something they patently do and being all sniffy about it in a headline grabbing way.

I can’t be fucked with this, I’m knackered. I’ll finish it off tomorrow.

JUNE

Hooray! It’s tomorrow!

For me, probably not for you.

June! The month of … more stuff.

Surprisingly little stuff, actually.

All I did was make a mis-step and bitch about people asking me perfectly reasonable questions.

Fuck you, June, you suck.

JULY

July was the month I was recruited by a clandestine organisation to invade a nation of pixie warmongers who live in an old forgotten tea cup behind my garden shed. I was given a spud gun, a nifty secret hat and a licence to break wind in public and sent off to murder pixies. After a series of, frankly, quite dull adventures involving grit and teaspoons, I found myself in Yakatang (the capital of the pixie nation, it looks a bit like Harlow only not quite so grim and with a few extra pixies). I was all set to assassinate King Ian (Yakatang’s chief biscuit maker and all round bastard) when I realised the whole incident was merely the result of a dodgy kipper that morning and I had actually invaded Lakeland, naked save for a pink Santa’s hat and brandishing a small clockwork frog.

Come to think of it, that might not have happened either.

I can’t really remember July, can you?

Oh wait, yes I can. In July I …

Went to the BBC TV Writers’ Festival, met all sorts of splendid people and burbled insanely about The Dukes of Hazzard at every opportunity.

I also said Fuck You, Mr Arnopp.

… and then got all serious with some musings on disability in scripts. That one’s worth reading again.

AUGUST

In August I declared myself FREE to whatever the fuck I want, any time I fucking want to do it!

Then did this …

… which probably wasn’t worth the effort.

Then I watched The Dark Knight Rises … which was worth even less effort.

I did fuck all for a couple of weeks and then I had a serious think about the difference between horizontal and vertical careers. Basically, producers can opt for horizontal careers, scriptwriters can’t.

I rounded off August by giving away literally hundreds of literal pounds … because I’m either nice or a complete fucking mug.

HELLO-is-it-tea-youre-looking-for-Mug

SEPTEMBER

Slipped off to the secret writing island for interesting conversations about ‘the first ever genital piercing’ and ‘how to wake someone up with a spoon’ before proclaiming I had a new regime … and then failing to do anything about it.

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Bigged up Helen Smith‘s new book The Miracle Inspector, because she’s all kinds of lovely and I felt like it.

The Miracle Inspector by Helen Smith

I paused for a bit longer and dropped in a secret plug for Jason Arnopp’s new book without anyone knowing I’d done it.

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Hmm … it kind of looks like I spent the entire month on my secret writing island. Wonder if that was true?

Ooh! I got really shouty about people giving bad advice!

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Which was probably uncalled for. Except it wasn’t! Don’t listen to the cunts!

And finally I rambled a bit about changing writers/directors/producers on a film. Which is just fucking annoying, so stop it.

OCTOBER

For fuck’s sake, are you still reading? Go out, get some air. Have some fun or otherwise do something more useful than your time.

Like what I am.

October was the month I …

Rambled about recycling jokes.

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Realised I shouldn’t be allowed to write horror movies because I don’t really like ’em.

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Wrote a long, boring, yet strangely fascinating blog about file names.

And then gave away a free BluRay of some shit or other.

Here’s a photo of me with a spoon.

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Why? Why the fuck not?

NOVEMBER

Thank fuck this is nearly over. I’m not doing this again, I’m bored shitless, fuck knows how you feel.

Met up with some writers …

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… and talked about Pets and Zombies. A subject which is nothing to do with either, but just more dull talk about scripts.

And then I saw Looper and explained the RULES OF THE UNIVERSE. There are surprisingly few of them.

Wait, is that all I did in November?

Cool. Let’s hope December was as pointless and then I can go and get some food. I’m having a curry, in case you cared.

DECEMBER

Got beaten up by a four year old.

Explained why fighting naked isn’t always sexy and having your arse and boobs on the same side definitely isn’t.

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Somehow managed to defend iPhones while slagging off myself. How the fuck did that happen?

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And then promoted a festival because someone asked me to and it was easier than thinking of anything new to write.

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And really, that was it. That was the whole year.

Fuck me.

I did do quite a lot of proper writing too, I just didn’t really talk about it much. I script edited hours and fucking hours of Persona, wrote far too much of it and worked on multiple drafts of seven features … so not too bad.

But not good enough.

I will do better next year.

Which is in about five hours’ time.

If you want proper stats and all kinds of flashy animation about all the stuff I blogged about this year, then you need help.

Or this link.

Hope 2012 was super-sexy-awesome for you, now stop reading this, go out and get pissed.

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Categories: Bored, Career Path, Festivals, Industry Musings, My Way, Opportunity, Persona, Progress, Publicity, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Sitcom Mission, Someone Else's Way, Stalker, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Things I've Learnt Recently, Two steps back, Writing and life | Leave a comment

Pets and zombies

Every month or two I meet up with a bunch of exceptionally talented writers in London for gossip and booze.

This is, of course, a lie.

It’s not every month or two. It’s very infrequently, as and when I can make it. They meet up every month or two, I turn up occasionally to bask in their greatness.

Last month, the heavens had aligned properly and I could actually make the day. Possibly because the whole thing had been specifically planned around my schedule just to make me feel important.

Which it did.

As the booze flowed and the sheer loveliness of the company washed over me, I found myself being asked the same question over and over again (twice):

“Have you stuck to your promise and actually managed to work on your own project or are you working on half a dozen films again?”

If you’re new to the blog, have a short memory or just don’t care – earlier on this year I vowed to refuse all new work and write a pet project – something just for me.

I haven’t really seen anyone since I made the vow, so it’s a good question. To which the answer is:

Have I fuck.

(Sort of.)

To be fair, I sort of have. I have refused several projects and a couple of introductions which may have led to new working relationships.

Check me out, turning down work – just thinking about it makes my teeth itch.

Unfortunately, despite refusing the call to adventure on several occasions, I have somehow found myself working on five or six (depending on how you count them) projects.

How?

Well, mostly zombie projects.

The funny thing about the film industry is projects rarely seem to die. Sometimes you think they’re dead on the seemingly plausible grounds the producer hasn’t been touch for over a year, doesn’t respond to phone calls or emails and appears never to have existed.

In cases like this it seems prudent to just give up. So long as they’re up to date with your payments, then … fine. Dead project, these things happen.

But then you get the call – they’ve found the budget and are heading into production!

Maybe.

First they need a teeny-tiny rewrite.

This appears to be the norm and nothing to get upset about.

The problem is there can be several zombie projects which reanimate at the same time. In fact, they do seem to spontaneously erupt all at once.

So two days after I’d finished my last job, my writing island was besieged by a small army of zombie projects, all of which demanded a piece of my brain.

A very small army, if I’m honest.

Three, to be exact.

Which, okay, doesn’t seem like a lot; but each script takes up a lot of mental real-eastate (of which mine is in short supply). Especailly when you can’t remember who any of the characters are or why you felt it was important to have so many of them naked.

So there are three zombie projects battering at my mind-door. On top of that there’s the new Time Travel Head Fuck project I’m doing just for me, and another pet project I’m (slowly) doing with a friend (actually, it’s my brother’s best friend’s brother; but we’re on first name terms, so that makes us best mates in my book).

Which is five.

Then there was the call I got recently:

“I’ve met a guy with some money, he wants to make a film, what do you want to write?”

That’s the sort of call you don’t pass up, even when you are steadfastly turning down every project which comes your way.

Admittedly, that’s all gone a bit quite since I sent in my wishlist of project ideas; but that may or may not mean anything. It could mean none of the ideas are desirable or it could mean the guy’s busy or even that he’s an incredibly slow reader. Hell, it could even mean he loves all the ideas and has sent them onto the money guy … who is so overwhelmed by the awesomeness he can no longer speak, type or point.

Or they could have all been shit. Who knows? Chances are, this opportunity will kick into gear to precisely coincide with something else going into production.

So although I have managed to resist new projects, I am still working on five (ish). Having said that, I suspect the three zombie projects have gone quiet again, so maybe I will be able to keep my vow for November/December … but I doubt it.

 

Categories: My Way, Progress, Random Witterings | 2 Comments

The new regime

I’ve been told I don’t blog frequently enough by Martyn Deakin. Martyn’s an excellent writer and all round decent bloke. He’s someone I both like and respect. You should hire him. Seriously, go do it now.

And, you know, he’s right … but he can fuck off.

I’ve been busy, I’m not here for your entertainment. It’s not my job to fill your worthless lives with diverting tidbits, nor to regale you with (largely imaginary) tales of …

What’s that?

Oh.

Right, apparently it is my job to do all that. Apparently that’s what being a writer is all about.

Bugger.

Okay, so a funny thing happened to me today on my way to the secret writing island …

Actually, it didn’t. I had a lovely flight and had many an interesting conversation including ones about ‘the first ever genital piercing’ and ‘how to wake someone up with a spoon’.

I also had a lovely meal on the plane of creamed tomato soup with chive créme fraiche and coriander micro cress, followed by braised cheek of beef with horseradish mashed potatoes, cumin-scented hispi cabbage and red wine jus and topped off with a lovely lemon-curd-filled lemon cheesecake with raspberry couli .

That’s really not important, but it was yummy and I felt the need to share. The words, not the meal itself. I’m a bit Joey in that respect, I don’t share food under any circumstances.

Anyway, here I am, ensconced on my secret writing island and ready to roll up my metaphorical sleeves.

My sleeves are metaphorical because it’s too damned hot for real ones.

And so begins the new regime.

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know I’ve decided to draw a line under the work I’ve done to date* and to pursue new career paths. Largely in the hopes of actually making a decent film. Or failing that, to know for certain the film is shit because of my script and not because of adventures it’s enjoyed on the torturous road to production.

The plan was to withdraw, write in isolation for a year or so until I had some scripts I wasn’t embarrassed of, and then make my triumphant return in a burst of technicolour splendidness.

I lasted about three days, snapped, rang up a director I know and asked him if he wanted to work on a new project with me.

Happily he does. Even more happily, he likes the idea and now all I have to do is write it. And be awesome. The former is well within my capabilities, the latter … well, we’ll see.

Oh, and then we have to try and make the fucking thing.

That’s probably the tricky part, but we’ll jump off that bridge when burns it down around us.

The beauty of the idea is it’s easily scalable. Five or six actors, one location (ish) and no special effects. It can be shot for pennies or for well, it’s all pennies I guess. This film could be made for thousands of pennies or billions … we’ll have to wait and see. It could even be split up and shown as webisodes if all else fails. The important thing is control, to execute the idea to the best of my ability as opposed to the best of people who haven’t got any.

Best of all, it’s an idea I want to write. Done well, it’ll be a complete and utter sci-fi head fuck with a very sweet and heartwarming tale at its core. Done badly, it’ll be … well, it’ll fit in with my back catalogue, if I’m brutally honest.

And there you go, that’s where I am. Warm, happy and full of cheek. Braised cheek.

How are you?

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* save a few hangover projects which are still in development – four at last count, although a fifth may just have lurched back into life and punched its way out of the grave. Much to the horror of Aunt Nellie who was kneeling on said grave, paying her respects at the time. Poor Aunt Nellie, she may never recover from the indignity.

Categories: My Way, Progress, Random Witterings | 4 Comments

How’s the writing going?

Blimey, it’s been ages since the last post.

Well, not ages.

Not like two Ice Ages and a Bronze Age; but very probably somewhere around a month, which is like half an Ice Age in Internet terms.

So how are you? Are you good? Syphilis cleared up? How’s your hubby? Dead? Oh, I am sorry. Oh, you murdered him … I have no idea how to react to that. Well done?

How’s the writing going?

Now, I don’t know about you; but I fucking hate that question. It’s not really a question writers ask other writers. Writers tend to ask something more along the lines of “What are you working on at the moment?” because at least you can answer that one honestly and succinctly. “How’s the writing going?” tends to be asked by non-writers. Beyond a generic, conversation stopping ‘good’, how are you supposed to answer it?

Actually, in all probability, all the person asking the question wants to hear is ‘good’ so they can tick that box. They’ve successfully remembered a tiny detail about your life, have integrated it into the conversation so they look like they care about you and now they want to move on to talking about themselves. It’s like when someone you vaguely know asks how you are – they don’t want to get into a long conversation about the death of Auntie Edna and how it’s affected your depression. The correct response is supposed to be: “Good, yeah. How are you?”

But that’s beside the point. I am a borderline sociopath with scant regard for human convention and a crushing need to be brutally honest in all aspects of life (apart from the bits where I lie habitually). If someone asks me how my writing’s going, I want to give them an honest answer … but I can’t. Because I don’t know.

I mean, here’s my year so far:

 

I’ve had two films released both theatrically and on DVD.

That sounds good right? That sounds extremely good. In fact, in scriptwriting terms, that’s fucking amazing … but to non-writers, that sounds about normal. Well, normal depending on how they view your ability. If they think you’re a loser who only fantasises about being a writer, then it confuses and amazes them:

What, like real films with actors in proper cinemas?

Yes. Real films, with actors you’ve heard of in an actual, proper cinema with walls and popcorn and mystery-meat hotdogs and everything.

Oooooooooh! You’re not just a lying bastard after all!

If, on the other hand, they think you’re a serious, highly-paid professional (which I rarely get mistaken for) then it probably sounds a bit shit.

Obviously, the truth is (some ludicrously high)% of “scriptwriters” never finish a script; (a similarly ludicrously  high)% of scriptwriters never sell a script; (a further ludicrously high)% of sold scripts never get turned into films and (a really ridiculously ludicrous)% of scriptwriters who accomplish all three of these things never, ever work again.

I’ve had nine feature films produced now. In industry terms that’s both surprising and fucking amazing. The fact the resulting films (or at least the ones released so far) are utter shit is completely beside the point. Climbing Everest is always an achievement, no matter how badly you fall off the other side.

So, you know, two films out theatrically and on DVD in one year is awesome … but they are shit. I mean, absolute dross.

Actually, let’s be fair here – one is an appalling pile of sloppy elephant turds, the other I can’t bring myself to watch.

So is that good or bad?

 

I’ve been offered four other feature films so far this year

I have no idea if that’s good or bad. How many feature films do you get asked to write in six months? Am I on the motorway or the cattle track of the scriptwriting world? I just don’t know.

I turned them all down. Is that good? Or is that really, really fucking stupid?

 

I’ve overseen the writing of four seasons of PERSONA

PERSONA, if you didn’t know, is a daily smartphone drama series. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play and watch three minutes a day of top notch drama in the palm of your hand for absolutely nothing.

I’ve been involved in six seasons of PERSONA so far, four this year. I can honestly say it’s the most consistently good project I’ve been involved with. So that’s good, right?

On the other hand, I’ve fucking hated almost every minute of it.

So, um, that’s bad, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not hated the show or the producers or directors or even (most) of the writers; but I’ve hated my role and the amount of time it’s taken up. I’ll probably blog about that in more detail one day.

 

Out of the blue, I got asked to submit sketches to a BBC show

That’s definitely good.

Probably.

Actually, I suspect my name was on an old mailing list and it’s a mistake. Oh, and either the show was never made or my sketches weren’t used. Either of which tilts it back towards the bad axis.

Or does it? I don’t know. It’s nice to be asked, TV has a similarly ludicrously high percentage of ‘going nowhere’ – it’s the norm, so it’s probably good no matter what the outcome.

Probably.

 

I’ve got two more feature films on the go

This is definitely good.

Definitely.

Although, PERSONA, sketches, life, marriage, fatherhood and exploding engines have all got in the way of these two, with the result being … well, there’s no result. Not yet. There have been far too many distractions to give them my full attention; but all the writing-based ones have been resolved now and it’s full steam ahead.

Probably.

Maybe half-steam sideways?

 

There’s a phone game being developed as a companion to a script I wrote

This is good. This is exciting. This … has absolutely nothing to do with me. I mean, it’s all progress, right? Just nothing I’m actively involved with, so … is that good?

 

There’s a webshow being filmed as a companion piece to a script I wrote

This too is good. This too has very little involvement from me. Although, I think not being heavily involved is a good thing because it doesn’t distract from the stuff I’m supposed to be doing.

 

And … um …

No, that’s probably it. I think I’ve forgotten something, but it’s beside the point. The point is: I have no idea how the writing is going, so how am I supposed to give an honest answer to people who don’t actually want one?

It’s a conundrum I’ll never solve to a question which prompts a confused sigh and a feeling of intense hatred. So do me a favour, ask me a different question.

Preferably one on Sci-Fi.

Categories: BBC, Career Path, My Way, Progress, Random Witterings, Writing and life | 8 Comments

2011

As the year limps to a close in a trickle of damp grayness, it’s time to reflect on what’s gone before and wonder vaguely about what may come.

How was your 2011? Mine went something like, if not exactly the same as, this:

 

JANUARY

I began the year by joining Twitter. Actually, I began the year by tweeting using an account some mysterious person set up for me against my will a year earlier. I still don’t know who that was, but would dearly love to know.

Wrote a post about a project so secret I can no longer remember what it was about.

Offered to write someone’s name on a fighter jet.

And then gave a free video projector to anyone who wanted it. Turns out the people who wanted it most were the people who were supposed to have been given it eight years earlier until idiocy intervened.

 

FEBRUARY

I was a guest on #scriptchat (transcript here) and waffled at great length about getting work without an agent.

Karma Magnet turned up online. You can still watch it here.

Persona launched!

If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, then I’ve failed and that’s pretty much all there is to it.

I revealed my deepest secrets. No, wait, not secrets … just a bit of witter about junk files.

And then tried to encourage everyone to whip off their drama condoms and ride that script bareback. Dramatically speaking.

 

MARCH

In which I finally explain how to read.

Gave some people £25 each.

Explained what a reboot means for the hard of thinking.

And explained why having your script re-written was exactly like having your best friend spunk in your face. (An analogy which came back to haunt me months later when someone pointed out I’d spunked in their face.)

 

APRIL

Karma Magnet was shown at the Brighton Movie Bar and I was invited to talk shit about it. And talk shit I did. And I won the movie quiz. ME! I WON FOR I AM THE WINNER (on this specific occasion).

Had a bit of a rant about sexism.

And another rant about getting excited in the wrong places.

And another one about why you should all feel inspired by my presence.

Then apologised for not ranting more.

 

MAY

I went on holiday and did this to my child:

Stole ideas from Jason Arnopp.

Felt guilty, so I linked to the Stormhouse teaser:

Was amazed to find out half of Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who episode was exactly the same as half an episode I’d outlined for Big Finish. Just not the good half.

Told you all how to eBehave. Actually, this one’s important, you should all go and read it and spread the word.

Took you on a tour of my rooms on the secret writing island:

And reviewed a book I didn’t want to read about a program I don’t use.

Actually, somewhere around here Strippers vs. Werewolves went into production; but for reasons too horribly complex and horribly horrible, I didn’t actually mention it until months later.

 

JUNE

Explained why having to do re-writes mid-production is a good thing.

Denied I’d written The Dark Knight Rises. Because I didn’t.

Shouted at critics for reviewing the script they haven’t read instead of the film they have seen.

And promised to include more joy in my scripts. Joy like this:

 

JULY

I learnt a new word! Callipygous … and then explained why you should never use it in a script.

Explained why comedy is and isn’t subjective.

Called a producer a parochial twat.

Wrote a film-makers’ glossary. Wish I hadn’t.

Swore at Final Draft. A lot.

Debated misogyny. Still not convinced I spelt it right.

Gave you one of the most useful writing tools you’ll ever use: snippety-snip.

And voiced an opinion on gangsters and the low budget movie industry.

 

AUGUST

I explained why I keep swimming with the gangster fishes.

Demanded you tell me what to feel.

Explained my career in a series of pretty graphs and charts. Like this one:

Explained why I quite like being replaced on a project. Sometimes.

Warned everyone to stay clear of hyphenates … whilst consistently using a slash instead of a hyphen. I did a flowchart too:

And unsuccessfully tried to give everyone £30.

 

SEPTEMBER

Finally admitted I’d done the production re-writes on Pat Higgins‘ Strippers vs. Werewolves:

And listed all the lovely press about it.

Told people to stop hassling me, the script will be done when it’s fucking done.

Ranted about notes … before remembering Sam Bain said it better.

 

OCTOBER

Persona relaunched.

This time for the bargain price of free!

iPhone app here: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/persona-drama/id417940950?mt=8

Android app here: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.appmedia.persona

Explained the secret of success

Talked about the sheer horror of realising someone’s made a bad film out of your script.

Stalker had its London Première – hooray! Here’s the trailer:

Strippers vs. Werewolves had a fantastic set report in Bizzare Magazine:

http://www.bizarremag.com/entertainment/movies/11503/strippers_vs_werewolves.html

Highlighted why slagging people off and then asking them for a job is a bit daft.

Re-wrote Monty Python’s Parrot Sketch in an ill-advised attempt at humour.

Mumbled about being depressed in the middle of every script.

Was disappointed by the American art for Strippers vs. Werewolves:

Tacky. And has one notable lie on it.

Blogged about Fade In scriptwriting software – nearly what I want, but not quite.

And finally revealed the AFM Promo for Strippers vs. Werewolves:

My favourite comment about that promo is:

Looks pretty bad, but I like werewolf movies and tits, so I’ll probably watch it.

NOVEMBER

In which I finally admit there are no stupid notes.

Explained why Scrivener is brilliant … but no use to me.

Defended soapstars.

Reaffirmed the old maxim: PATRICK STEWART IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

Gave away a (very) small library.

And began using Fade In scriptwriting software because the developer developed it to suit me. Sort of.

DECEMBER

Explained how to think.

Debated the lack of comedy tribute acts.

Explained how to action a note now and undo it in the future.

Expounded my theory on how writers sideline themselves.

Went to see Piers‘ production of Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales. It’s awesome, if you hurry, you’ll catch it too.

Rambled on, at great length about mystery in TV

And rounded off the year by analysing decades old Star Trek films. Because I like to be topical.

—————————————————————————————-

So that was 2011. Wow. I explained lots of stuff, didn’t I? Did you need those things explaining to you or was I just being presumptuous? If the former, you’re welcome. If the latter, sorry.

But onwards and upwards!

What does 2012 hold?

Well, hopefully it holds nothing new.

Or rather, nothing new film-wise.

I’m hoping not to get involved in any more writer-for-hire jobs for a year or so. I really, really want to write some spec stuff, you know, something just for me.

I’ve got one or two commitments to tie up and then I’m going to (hopefully) spend the whole year writing stuff I want to write so I can build up a decent catalogue of spec scripts and venture into pastures new.

I say hopefully because I am easily swayed by money and may end up doing something completely different. Feel free to sway me. I like a good swaying.

How was your 2011? Did you enjoy it? Have you learnt stuff? What will 2012 hold for you?

Whatever happens, have a great New Year and I’ll see you in January.

Categories: Career Path, Future Tense, Industry Musings, LVJ, My Way, Persona, Progress, Publicity, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Software, Someone Else's Way, Stalker, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Things I've Learnt Recently, Writing and life | 2 Comments

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