Posts Tagged With: Calum Chalmers



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.


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.


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:


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


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


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.


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.


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 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


… stumbled into a confused ramble about clichés


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


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


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



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.


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 …


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


Then it got interesting. I had a phone call


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


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.



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.



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.



July brought yet more telephone awesomeness …


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.

download (1)

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

I enjoyed that.


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.


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

Notes 1

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


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


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



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.


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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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


Expressed my love for the Verity podcast …


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

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



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:

Sparkle Poster

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

#PhonePhill – Conversation #1: Calum Chalmers


Surprisingly, this actually worked. It turns out there are people in this world who actually want to talk to a complete stranger about writing and/or random stuff on a whim.


Conversation #1 was with Calum Chalmers.

Actually, technically #1 was Tim Clague who rang up on a whim just because … well, just because he can, I guess. I think it was meant to be a gag but it was foiled by technology – my phone correctly identified him before he could spring his dastardly trap. But hey, he rang, so let’s call him Conversation #0 and use that opportunity to slip in teaser trailer #2 for Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg?

But back to Calum Chalmers, the proper Conversation #1.

Calum is a writer/director who has also acted at least once. Here he is, on the left, in David Lemon‘s Faintheart:


As often happens in these situations, although Calum and I have never met or spoken before, we do have a few mutual friends. It’s a small industry on a small island, be nice to people – everyone knows someone who knows you.


As the appointed time for the call approached, I remembered one key fact: I fucking hate talking on the phone. Especially to strangers. You might think it’s odd that I decided to try this experiment … and you’d be right.


Still, as it happens the conversation was easy and flowing and genuinely interesting, entertaining and fun. Or at least I thought it was, I’m not going to round putting words into Calum’s mouth.

We talked about a lot of industry stuff, films in general and about Calum’s career so far and his future plans.

I had no idea going into this how long the call might last and was quite surprised to find out it went on for about an hour and a half. Didn’t feel that long, but unless there was some kind of incredibly localised temporal anomaly … that’s how long it was.

Calum’s written and directed two shorts so far:

If You Go Down


Graduation Afternoon

He was kind enough to send me a link for Graduation Afternoon and it’s very good. Here’s a trailer:

One of the things we talked about is something I think we all struggle with: what should I do next?

We have all these ideas, far more than anyone could possibly write in a lifetime and somehow we have to pick the one to focus on, the one we think has the best chance of moving our career forward.

The glib answer is ‘pick the one you care most about’.


But which one’s that?  I know I have a good dozen ideas I’m equally as excited about … until I actually try to write them then I quickly discover how interesting things like bus time tables and bits of wall are.

So maybe we should be more mercenary?


Maybe we should focus on the one which is most likely to catapult us to fame and fortune and … something else beginning with ‘F’.

Um … Fridge? Foot spa? Falafel?

No idea.

But which one is that? Which project is most likely to get us the falafel we so desperately crave? Is it the low budget thing we can make ourselves? Is it the sell out thing we’re pretty certain we can get funding for even though it’s bound to be terrible? Even if we can get the money, do we use it for a micro-budget feature or a big-budget short? Do we aim for commercial success? Or Internet notoriety? Or festival love?


Well, the answer’s simple:

I have no idea.

In pretty much the same I have no idea why anyone would want this:


All I do know is I enjoyed chatting with Calum and look forward to Conversation #2 on next week’s #PhonePhill.

If you want to be Conversation #3 then drop me an email and we’ll work it out.

If you’d like to chat with Calum yourself, you can find him on Twitter here.

Categories: #PhonePhill, Career Path, Industry Musings, Someone Else's Way | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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