Thursday, December 29, 2005

That was the year that was

Okay, 2005 is nearly over, so it's time to look back and do the whole summary thing that everyone else is doing. But because this blog is a journal of my writing career, this wrap-up will be concentrating on that. It's quite long, and all about me, but it's my football so I get to score all the goals.

Things I Achieved in 2005:
  • My first feature script, Severance, was filmed (okay, I didn't achieve the filming, but it's the biggest news of the year, so I'm counting it)
  • Sold a pitch outline/treatment for a movie - yes, the secret is out, Curfew sold, so I've been working on a new outline for the lovely people who bought it. If all goes well and they like what they see, it'll go to script, and then Another Big Movie will happen! Wahey!
  • Co-wrote a short film (should be filming in Jan/Feb)
  • Met other writers
  • Pulled out of an adaptation thing that was turning into a "hey, write it for nothing, we'll pay you later" type of thing - I really wanted to work on it, but wasn't prepared to be taken advantage of (I'll tell the full story next year, it's a shocker)
  • Pitched to a Very Big Film Company, got a deal, then pulled out because it wasn't what we'd agreed
  • Finally realised that I deserve to be In The Room (the movie-making room), and regained my confidence
  • Started getting some much needed exercise, walked a lot, and lost a stone in weight
  • Wrote some DVD extras and did my first DVD interview (for Severance)
I realise that two of these involve pulling out of deals, but they were two of the hardest fucking things I've had to do. The conditions were all wrong, so even though I really wanted both of the jobs, I had to walk away - and it turned out I did the right thing in both cases. I'm happy with the list, even though there aren't that many solid achievements - there's only one proper sale, but it was a really satisfying one. I'm so excited about Curfew, it's going extremely well at the moment - the New Film Company are great fun, and want to make it as cool as possible. I've also established some good relationships with industry people, one of which should result in a low budget movie next year, and a cool short movie. Fingers crossed.


Things I Messed Up:
  • The adaptation thing. Should have been firm with the guy right from the start, but didn't realise how dodgy things were getting.
  • My general behaviour - I've been far too obsequious and unassertive, and I've lost out because of it.
Not too bad, all things considered. Both items cover lots of other things, but I've learned from them. I won't be making the same mistakes again. I'll be making all new mistakes, hopefully - if you're not making new mistakes, you're not trying new things. But the passive behaviour ends here and now, in fact it ended a while ago. Obsequious Jimbo is dead. Long live Take-No-Shit Jimbo.


Things I Have Learned:
  • Characters and background first, then plot - it's so much easier that way round
  • It's a lot harder to sell an outline, than a script
  • Shorter, shorter, shorter - you can always trim more stuff out of a script or outline, it's always too long
  • Everyone else is pretty much making it up as they go along, too - not just me
  • No matter how nice movie/TV people seem - Don't. Fucking. Trust. ANYONE. Most of them are decent people, but some of them are fucking evil, greedy sharks in human form, that will slice open your kidneys with a homemade shiv if you give them half a chance. Even the nice ones who you're friendly with are looking out for their career, not yours.
Being able to say that I'm a writer is a huge step. It's vital to recognise your strengths, without bragging. And, of course, your weaknesses - but they're easy to see; being nice to yourself is much harder. As for that final bulletpoint, I am *not* exaggerating. It's a harsh, harsh world out there ("it's a shit business!"), but particularly so in MediaLand. I've learned the hard way that you have to be extremely tough and thick-skinned. Never climb into a shark tank without cast-iron underpants. You don't have to be a bastard to people, just don't let them walk all over you.


Things I Want To Do In 2006:
  • Become a better writer
  • Sell another movie
  • Write two full spec scripts, and just write more in general
  • Go to a film festival to plug Severance
  • Write an episode of Doctor Who (fuck it, aim high)
  • Do a DVD commentary
  • Get fitter, and lose more weight
  • Write shorter blog entries
I'm on the hustle. I want to get out there, show my face, put my name into hats (or something). Things move way too slowly in MediaLand - you make your own luck, and you have to push for what you want. I've wasted a lot of time this year when I could have been writing or outlining. 2005 was great fun, and watching the creation of Severance, from casting, storyboards, location scouting, shooting, to editing, has been an incredible ride. Seeing something get organised, filmed and edited can only improve my writing - already my stuff is shorter, snappier, and more effective. Except for my blog entries. They just get fatter and more self important. But hey, like I say, get your own blog, I'm in charge here.

Happy Whatever you celebrate, and if you don't celebrate anything, Happy Several Days Off Work. Let's kick 2006's ass...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Last few things

Okay, the tree is up. We have some fake snow from here, which is amazing. Most of the pressies have been bought. We have well over a case of wine already, and today 6 more bottles of Pino Grigio arrived. Along with a bottle of fizzy booze for Christmas morning (got two more as backup). And a bottle of Jim Beam Black for me (aged 8 years in oak casks, the sweetest, tastiest bourbon I know of). And two bottles of Limoncello, a lethal but gorgeous Italian liqueur (ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, and a punch in the face). Oh, and some vodka, pack of Stella, and a little bit of single barrel Jack Daniels leftover from last year. I think there's some Baileys coming on Friday, for Jo, who is currently sitting next to me, knocking back Nurofen and Limoncello to kill the pain of her braces adjustment. So obviously I'm having a glass too, it'd be rude not to. Plans for Christmas: Eat. Get wrecked on booze. Sleep. Watch telly. Repeat, rinse, hang out to dry.

We've kind of been caught unawares by Christmas this year. Why wasn't I informed that it's on the 25th? I'll be writing a stern letter to my MP. We've just about managed to get most things sorted, but purely by luck and determination. And that's why you're not getting a card this year - because nobody is. Nothing personal, I'm just shit.

I meant to post this earlier - it's a photo of me, taken by my friend Katie, who is a wicked clever pinhole photography expert. I had to sit still for 2 or 3 minutes, trying not to blink too much, so my expression is slightly tense, focused, and, judging by the comments on the pic, totally deranged. Pinhole pics freak me out a bit, they have that whole Victorian death photograph thing going on. Very cool though.

Christmas movies lined up: Muppet Christmas Carol, Patrick Stewart's version of Christmas Carol (the movie, not the one man show), and Elf. Got some others on the short list too. Couldn't get hold of Christmas Evil, maybe next year. The centrepiece of the viewing though will be the Christmas Day Dr Who episode, which I can't wait for. Finally, something decent on the telly during the festive season. Christmas music: A selection of Elvis Christmas songs, which are fucking fantastic (and bizarrely sexy), and a compilation of punk and indie versions of Christmas classics.

Oh yeah, and we watched Flash Gordon the other day. It's as silly, and as fun, as I remembered. More so. We had to wind several bits back over and over, like Tim Dalton shouting "Freeze! Ya bloody bastids!" And during the bit where the flying hairy men invade a rocket ship, I was convinced that Brian Blessed roars "WAHEY!" as he lands - so we wound it back, and yes, he really does. We checked out 5 minutes of his commentary, and already it is the greatest commentary track ever recorded. We learned that he suggested that Max Von Sydow use his hands a lot as Ming, that everything is marvellous, and that Sam J. Jones is heroic from *any* angle. I can't wait to hear the rest of it, it's just brilliant. Brian, if you're listening, you are a legend, and your thighs are truly mighty, as is your beard.

Blimey, this Limoncello is strong. I'd better pack this post in for now, it's starting to go off the rails already...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Gawblessus, everyone

Fantastic. Patrick Stewart is amazing. I've never seen a one man show before, and it was even better than I expected. He came on, dressed casually, with 4 props - chair, stool, table, desk - and immediately began narrating A Christmas Carol, doing all the voices and actions of the characters. Absolutely stunning. I wish I had half of his energy, the man is as fit as a butcher's dog. I must have seen (without exaggeration here) millions and billions of adaptations of this story, and yet it still manages to raise a sniffle here and there. The audience went bananas at the end, instant standing ovation. If you can manage to get along before it finishes, I highly recommend it. It's on at the Albery Theatre until 31st December.

The other thing that impresses me about the original book itself is how perfectly constructed it is, from a movie point of view - which is probably why there are so many adaptations (that, and it's a great story, obviously). Act 1 has all the set up, and ends when Marley warns Scrooge that he's in for some disturbing visits. Act 2 has the three ghosts, showing the past, present, and future, and ends with Scrooge at his lowest point. Act 3 has Scrooge changing the future by becoming a new man, and a satisfying ending for everyone. Nearly everything I read now, I find myself unconsciously trying to work out how to adapt it to a movie script - what are the main events, characters, whose point of view to come at it from, have to get that scene in, that ending's got to go, and so on. I'm not in a position to adapt anything at the moment, unless I get commissioned to do one, but it's good practice as a purely mental exercise - even when it doesn't work, it helps to figure out why.

There! Are! Four! GHOSTS!

I've been slacking off the updates recently - I'm working on a huge blog post, the look back at my 2005 that I mentioned before. It's getting a bit long and self indulgent, so I'm trying to trim it down.

Still haven't finished any of the other things I'm working on, they're taking longer than expected. I'm hoping to get them done by next week, so I can have a break.

Tonight though, we're going to see Patrick Stewart doing his one-man version of A Christmas Carol. The movie version he did was great fun, and I can't wait to see him tear the stage up tonight. Although it will take a while to get past the "I've seen everything" speech from Extras, which is lodged in my mind forever. How much do you dare me to shout out "Make it so!" during a quiet moment?

No extra points to any TNG nerds for guessing the reference in the post title, because it's too easy.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I'm alive!

Friday, the Space Virus raged on. It laughed at my pills, my tissues, my orange juice. I tried to stay slightly active while it fought me, so that I wasn't constantly glued to the sofa, mewling pitifully - although there was plenty of that, don't get me wrong. I don't know if that was the right thing to do, but it felt like a small victory when I did get up and do something. I even did a few pressups, just to spite it. I can't be sure, but I think that somewhere in its filthy, black heart, a tiny piece of it felt... fear. But it may have just been me having palpitations. Yesterday, I felt it dying slowly, growing weaker. I started getting my appetite back, and didn't have to blow my nose every 5 minutes. Today, my nose is okay, my throat is okay, I've still got a deep, chesty cough - though it's on the way out. Tomorrow - I'm going to go outside.

Got a meeting tomorrow afternoon, which I should be okay for, and two Christmas "do"s this week, one Wednesday, one Thursday, both fancy schmancy film company things, which should be cool. I have three things I need to finish soon, three separate outline pitches. One isn't going anywhere at all, so I have to start again from scratch. One is coming together, but I'm still figuring out the details. One I haven't started yet, because I've just heard about it. And they all need to be done as soon as possible, of course. And it's fucking December already, what the hell happened to 2005? I guess it's time for all the "best of" and "year in review" and "coh, 2005 eh" TV shows, every single one of them hosted by Jimmy Carr. Hmm, that's my next post, I think - a little summary of the highs and lows of my writing year, so we can all see what I've learned, and grow as people or something. Hosted by Jimmy Carr.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The space virus strikes back

The mutated space virus, as mentioned here, is back. The usual thing: shakes, aches, tingly skin, followed by days of sore throat, and then a full on snot/cough/sinus attack. I was in work yesterday, feeling a bit rubbish in the morning, and it went from "a bit poo" to "full on space virus attack" in just a few hours. And, just like last year, I was having a shit day at work where everything was going wrong, nothing could be fixed. So now, once again, I'm on the sofa, surrounded by pills, tissues, and all of the phones and remote controls.

Luckily, I finished the outline for Secret Project A the other night, just as the nanorobots were infecting me, so I have some time off. I've had to postpone a meeting tomorrow until next week, which is annoying, but I'm just totally fucked, I'd be no use to anyone. I feel like John Hurt's character in Contact, sealed up in my little space station, contacting people remotely when I need to. But without the weightlessness, or the shaved head. I'm starting to sound a bit like him, though.

I've spent much of the morning listening to archives of the Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant show on XFM, which is hilarious. I don't listen to much radio, but I should. In a while I might watch some DVD extras. Jo will watch one commentary and one "making of" for any particular movie, but quite reasonably thinks that is enough. I, on the other hand, will obsessively watch every single second of all the extras, the breakdowns of shots, test versions of special effects, interviews, diaries, the "we took four cardboard toobs" ones with pale, blinking CG artists, everything (except the photo galleries, where you have to keep pressing Next on the remote, very boring). If a DVD has more than one commentary, I go weak with excitement. Now I'm in the business of making them, it's really helpful to hear what decisions were made and why. But I've always enjoyed looking behind the curtain, I have to know how it was done - it never ruins the magic of a movie for me. I love DVD extras, and feel totally robbed if there aren't enough. Oh, and if anyone in the DVD creation business is reading: "interactive menus" and "scene selection" are NOT extras. They're things every DVD should have, a bloody menu and the ability to go to any scene, it's a fairly standard thing. An "interactive menu" is a menu where you can choose which option to press, so basically it just means "menu". Featuring loads of exciting extras, like: A box! A plastic thing to keep the disc from moving! A label on the disc so you know what movie it is! The ENTIRE movie on the disc! Including credits! The ability to put the disc in your player, and watch the movie! With your own eyes! (eyes not included)

One of the best DVD extras I've ever seen was the little editing feature on the Die Hard special edition - it gives you two scenes, with several angles of each shot, and you get to pick which shot to use, editing the scene yourself. It then shows you your edit, and you can compare it to the actual edit. It's quite basic and clunky, but really good fun.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Firefox 1.5 - and security tools

The latest version of Firefox is out now - go and get it here. I know many of you are still using Internet Explorer, so now is the perfect time to give it a go. Firefox is safer, prettier, more customisable, more standards compliant, prevents popups, stops viruses and spyware getting at your machine, has tabs so you can have lots of sites open in the one window, and has all kinds of cool extra bits you can add in if you want. It will import all your bookmarks from IE really easily, you barely have to do anything. If you're using IE to read this, go and try Firefox now, for me. You won't be sorry.

And before the Opera fans start complaining: Firefox is what I use, I like it. But as long as people stop using IE, I don't care if they use Firefox, Opera, Safari, or anything else. Anything but IE.

While we're at it - if you've been using IE, then you've probably got some spyware and stuff littered about your PC. Here are three things that *all* Windows users should have installed - they're all free, and easy to use:

Spybot Search & Destroy: A spyware cleaner. Finds, removes and blocks loads of nasty, hidden programs.

Ad-Aware: Another spyware remover. Ad-Aware and Spybot can sometimes each find things the other one missed, so it's best to run them both regularly.

AVG: Anti-virus software. It's fast, free, and sits in the background keeping an eye on everything. If you don't have an anti-virus package installed, please get this immediately. I had Norton Anti-Virus for a year, a commercial package, but it didn't do the job for me. Once I'd installed AVG, it found several viruses that had been lurking there the whole time. Do regular scans, but once it's installed, it'll quickly scan every file you try to open. It updates itself, so that you're always protected against any new viruses that come out.

And two things you can install if you like:

Thunderbird: An email client. Outlook and Outlook Express are bloated and unsafe, and up until very recently, merrily ran scripts by default that could do all sorts of damaging things. You don't have to use Thunderbird if you've got all your safety updates installed, but it's faster and nicer.

Firewall: If you're on the internet, people can see you. Firewalls make you invisible, and slap anyone who comes too near (sort of). If you have a router, it has a built in firewall that is perfectly fine. If not, then use the one that comes with Windows Service Pack 2. If you want a separate one, go for Sygate Personal Firewall - I use a router at home, so the PC (or "the 'Half Life 2' machine " as it's now called) doesn't have a firewall installed.

Spybot, Ad-Aware and AVG are essential (as is Firefox, I'd say), to keep things clean and safe. If your system is riddled with spyware and other stuff, you will need to go deeper - some really nasty spyware needs its own removal tools. If you're using a Mac, of course, you can happily ignore all of the above - although I still use Firefox on mine, because it does everything I need.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Third time's a charm

Another Severance screening today, very short notice, but managed to drag some "real people" along for feedback. It's very close to the final edit, so they want to know if there are still any problems or things that need sorting. Now I've seen it 3 times in a row, I'm more able to look at it critically and pick out things that are broken, but there's nothing that would take a lot of work. Although there's not much time left, there should be more than enough to sort everything out. Before the screening started, I got really nervous, because people I knew would be seeing it. It's not just this *thing* anymore, it's becoming public property, and very soon it will be out there for anyone to see and take potshots at if they want. But whether people love or hate the movie, it doesn't mean they love or hate *me*. I need to remember that.

I've learned a hell of a lot this past year, and have become a stronger, wiser person. I've always felt like the kid who was allowed to stay up late with the grownups, that I lucked into all this and that everybody else knew so much more than I did. But it's not the case, we're all just making it up as we go along, and doing the best we can. Today was the first time that I felt like an equal member of the big movie gang world.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Killing Time

Should have mentioned this before, but better slightly late than never: Killing Time is a cool new quarterly horror fanzine written by horror aficionados. They know their shit, love the entire genre, and it really shows. The mag is a highly entertaining read, filled with interviews with up and coming directors, news, thoughtful articles, and, my favourite, a spoof advert inside the back page - which I hope is a regular feature, because it's hilarious, and always seems real, until you look closer... This issue has interviews with Ti West (director of The Roost) and Craig Strachan (director of Wild Country, a great little surprise of a movie), an ode to Pinhead, a Jack the Ripper-a-thon, and much much more - there's even a Shaun (of the Dead, not the sheep) stencil to carve into your pumpkin. And it's only two of your English pounds, plus fifty pence for postage. So get over to www.killingtimemag.com and PayPal yourself some horror goodness. Or they'll come round your house and brutally murder you, then dance naked in the moonlight wearing your skin.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ideas, projects, snakes, and planes

Showreel arrived from the animation company - a DVD in a really cool, slimline, custom case, as opposed to the usual crappy videotape in a thin cardboard box. I now have to come up with something worthy of their animation skills. I have something that might work, but I need to go over it again, it's not quite ready yet.

The other secret project thing is going well, and is just about at the outline stage. More details soon. I know I keep saying that, but I have to wait for something to happen that will let me reveal all. I'm relying on other people to sort things out before I can say anything.

And another movie script idea has finally started coming to life. It's been very vague so far, but now the characters, situations and background are coming together, and a story is forming from them. It'll have to be a spec script, as it's not a high concept thing - this one is all about the character interplay, dialogue and actions, and you can't really get that across in an outline, you have to actually read the thing in full. Obviously though, I'll do an outline for myself, just to make sure the story hangs together. My other things take priority at the moment, so this will be something to work on when I'm stuck on other stuff, or when I have a spare hour or two. I'm having lots of fun with it already, and am really looking forward to getting started properly.

More importantly than any of that: my snakes flying a plane t-shirt arrived. It's nothing to do with that movie, just a happy coincidence - but it's a good way of showing your appreciation for what is surely to be the defining cinematic moment of 2006. Also, as the site says, "if there's better way to pretend to be an airplane with snakes flying it then I'd like to hear it." I wanted one for both of those reasons. And because the snakes just look so cheerful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Shane Shane Black Black

Just another quickie, matron. Whoever is reading this at the moment: get your arse off the internet right now, and go and see Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Shane Black, my hero, is back with a bang. Two of them, actually. And two kisses. See what I did there? It's the most fun you can have in the cinema at the moment with your clothes on, Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr are better than they have been for *ages*, and it's just hilarious. Seriously, go and see it now. What with the impatience of multiplexes, it'll probably only be out for a week or two, before being yanked to make room for the latest horrendous chick flick or miserable, plodding drama.

While I'm on the subject, I have two things to say. (1) No woman I know would be seen dead watching any of the current crop of "chick flicks", they're an insult to intelligent womanhood / womanness / womandom / womanosity. "One's ditzy and adorable, one's stern and serious!" Gee, d'ya think by the end, the ditzy one will learn about responsibility, and the serious one will learn to relax and have fun??? Who knows! Hey Hollywood, women aren't actually fucking stupid and airheaded, they can handle movies of substance, so please, less of the bullshit, and more of the good shit, okay? Thanks. (2) Dramas shouldn't be called dramas if nothing dramatic or interesting happens. Don't try and teach me something important, that's what school is for - I hated school and I hate boring dramas. If it's a drama, show me some drama! Honestly, with the snobbery against genre movies in the industry today, it amazes me that insultingly dim chick flicks and horrendously dull "drama" isn't called out for the lazy bollocks that it is. So this is me, calling it out. It is called. Out. Now go and see Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, it's fantastic.

Okay, it wasn't a quickie, I lied. I LIED! ON PURPOSE! HAHAHAHAAAAA!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Severed once again

Okay, lots of work on various things going on, so I've been a bit quiet here. But I had to post a quick one because I went to another screening of Severance yesterday, and felt compelled to rave about it. Even though I think there's only 2 or 3 minutes trimmed out of it along with a few other changes since the last screening, it made a *massive* difference. It moved along really nicely, I laughed at the funny stuff even more than last time, still jumped at the bits that I knew were coming, and just had a great time. I was in the back row, and could feel the audience vibe better - I think they were mostly financiers and distribution people, and I expected them to observe a grim silence, so as not to betray any emotions, but they were really going for it. They laughed, they jumped, they chuckled in delight at a certain ultra-satisfying moment near the end, and seemed to enjoy themselves a lot. It's much, much better, and looks ready to rock, as far as I can tell. Everything works, the pace is perfect, I couldn't be happier. It's a strange movie, it's primarily a horror *and* a comedy (but not a comedy-horror, there's a difference), but there's action, suspense, and moments that are utterly surreal. It's just a fucking great night out at the movies, which is the best anyone could hope for.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

My arse is on fire

My arse hurts. My legs hurt. My arms hurt. My back hurts. My shoulders hurt. My neck hurts. Those bits that join my shoulders to my neck hurt. My entire pelvis hurts. My wrists hurt. My *palms* hurt. I can barely walk. When I sit down, I scream like a kicked baby.

What has happened to me? Have I been run over by a bus? Dragged under a tube train? Beaten up by gangsters? No. I went for a cycle last night. Cycled from Greenwich Park to Elephant and Castle, barely 4 or 5 miles. Slowly. On flat ground. Stopping and starting. And. It. Just. Fucking. KILLED me. I thought I was getting fitter. We're both walking a lot more, getting regular exercise, can sprint for a train without getting out of breath, lost some weight, look thinner - I thought, pfft, bike ride? Piece of piss. The bike does most of the work, surely? No. It doesn't.

Yes, it was the late night London research tour that I've been meaning to get around to for ages. It was great fun, apart from the agony, and the sheer terror of being in the middle of London traffic in the rush hour while sitting on a small piece of metal with wheels. Took lots of pictures (will post a couple soon), found lots of interesting places, and it was really helpful. But holy shit, I'm in so much pain today. I'm so unfit - not as bad as I used to be, thankfully, but still unfit. And I haven't ridden a bike for years. I'm proud of myself though, I didn't wimp out, even near the end when I got a fucker of a cramp in my right thigh - I waited, walked for a bit, then cycled the rest of the way. The best bit was freewheeling down the hill from the top of Greenwich Park, on the pedestrian bit, not braking at all, taking a huge sweeping corner, and feeling like I was going about a thousand miles an hour. It was really cool. I just wish my arse didn't hurt so much today, it's really hard to sit down. Why do they make bike saddles so hard? It feels like I've been sitting on a brick, while someone smacked the brick with a sledgehammer.

And I only *nearly* fell off once. I got my foot caught on the pedal, slipped, and nearly went over the handlebars. It was on the pavement. After I'd stopped. I'll give the Tour de France a miss, I think.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Flash! Ah-aaaaaah!

The animation meeting was great, I'm really happy. They've got a stable of directors - honestly, in barns, they feed them hay and everything - and want to do an animated feature with these two particular guys who've done some incredibly cool motion-capture 3D stuff. The way they make it, it's quite quick and cheap, so they're trying to figure out exactly what to do with it. They showed me some demo reels, which I loved, and we chatted about all sorts of things. I've got a bizarre alternate reality film idea that I've never been able to do anything with, partly because it'd be way too expensive, partly because I can't get a handle on the plot. And I think doing it in this kind of stylised animation might be the answer. We're going to send each other things and take it from there, so it's all very promising. Finally, a meet and greet with positive results. Oh, and they had read Severance and the first episode of The School (all collected together in a big file with my name written on it - I've *always* wanted someone to have a file on me like that), but also had a printout of the eatmybrains.com interview, too, and were very impressed by it. Cheers guys!

Later, I met up with Jo, and we went to a recital by Renee Fleming, an opera singer. It was all very nice, and pretty much as I expected, until all of a sudden, she launched into a modern piece by George Crumb. The pianist had his hands actually *inside* the grand piano, banging the strings, strumming them, plucking them, then quickly playing the keys, before going back inside again. The voice part was all over the shop (in a good way), and at one point she even stuck her head inside the piano and whispered parts of it. It was dark, melodramatic, and sounded like the score to a horror movie. I've never seen anything like it. It was fucking fantastic. The audience clearly weren't expecting this mad diversion, and seemed unsure whether to stay or bolt for the exits. I just sat there, a big stupid grin on my face, having my mind blown. When it finished, the audience went bananas with applause and cheering - it could have gone either way though, they could have turned on her. Good on her for not just doing the usual stuff, and taking a risk. What made it even better was, halfway through the Crumb pieces, I had a revelation about the alternate reality film idea - how to do it, the structure it needed, how it would work, and the big finale. It just all popped straight into my head. Very occasionally it happens like that, and it's fucking magic when it does.

To top it all off, the Flash Gordon DVD arrived today. I defy anyone not to love that movie. It's a big slice of cheese, topped with cheese, covered in melted cheese, served with pan-fried cheese and a cheese side-salad. It's got a big, flying Brian Blessed, The Exorcist as Ming the Merciless, Peter Duncan getting his hand eaten by some beastie in a tree, a kickass Queen soundtrack, and Timothy Dalton shouting "bloody bastards". I love it, it's far too silly and over the top, which is why it's so endearing. I'm most excited about the fact that the DVD has a Brian Blessed commentary, which is bound to be the greatest thing in the world, ever. Gordon's alive!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Projectile vomit, and meetings (never a good combination)

I must have seen The Exorcist at least 10 times now, probably closer to 15. Maybe even more. I've seen it *a lot* of times. And while there are plenty of moments that I can now just laugh at and enjoy for their extreme nature (the doctor getting backhanded across the face, the punch in the balls, the puking, the hospital injection where Regan spits at the doctor and shouts "you fuckin' bastard!"), there are a lot of scenes that still really knock me sideways. It still feels like I've been through all kinds of hell when the movie is over. Overall, the effect is undiluted, even today it is still one of the most powerful, gobsmacking movies ever made. I haven't got the director's cut with the spiderwalk, extended ending and so on, but I think I prefer it the way it is. Even with the "hello, I'm William Friedkin" introduction, where "Billy" wears, most horrifyingly of all, a peach-coloured cardigan over a peach-coloured shirt. And they say there's no such thing as true evil.

Tomorrow is the animation company meeting, the usual meet and greet: they say what they're all about, I tell them what I'm up to, we chit chat, it all ends really promisingly, and then I never hear a word from them ever again. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but only slightly - most of these general meet and greets seem to have no effect at all, even ones where they hint that they might have a job offer for me. The only people I've met up with again subsequently are a company who I got together with through something else entirely, and that cool director who I co-wrote the short movie with (hopefully filming at the end of this month). I'm sure I come across well, they always phone my agent and say they really liked me, liked my work, I really like all of them, so what's the deal? Do they just not have anything for me, or are they all waiting for new pitches or specs from me? My agent seems surprised too though, so it can't just be my imagination. It's great to meet them, don't get me wrong, it gets my face about town, I know who's who and all that - but I always get my hopes up, and then nothing happens. If I do have a new pitch or outline, it gets sent to any of them who might be looking for that style of thing anyway, so it's not like I need to come up with one particular thing for each of them. Anyway, enough moaning. The best thing to do is just get on with my stuff, and hopefully soon they'll be actively seeking me out. And remembering my name... I'm actually quite optimistic about tomorrow's one, as I already have an animation film outline all ready to go from last year, so if they ask me if I have anything they might be interested in, I can casually mention it. Plus, it doesn't sound like the usual general chit chat meeting, I think they're actively looking for people and/or projects. But you never know.

Friday is the meeting that was postponed from last Friday. Still can't say what it is yet, sorry...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween weekend

We're halfway through our Halloween weekend. On Friday night we watched Candyman (Jo had never seen it, and was suitably impressed - and I *still* can't bring myself to say 'Candyman' five times into a mirror). Last night we watched two movies neither of us had seen before: The Entity (a really disturbing, creepy shocker) and The Ghost (blah blah vengeful Asian ghost blah blah long hair over face blah blah twist ending blah blah dark secret from the past makes you reap what you sow blah blah blah). Don't get me wrong, Ring was what got us into Asian horror movies, and we still love them, but we're *really* getting bored with the whole "vengeful ghost girl who won't comb her hair" thing. Not yet sure what we'll watch tonight (probably The Exorcist and something else), but tomorrow we'll be watching Sleepy Hollow, The Company of Wolves (just out on R2 DVD, buy it now from all good shops) and An American Werewolf in London.

Oh, and tonight is also Teh Carving of Teh Pumpkin. Every Halloween we get the biggest pumpkin we can find, and it sits on the table glaring at us through its creepy carved face. This year we got a massive one, and two tiny ones for good measure. I'll probably get started on those in a little while - we'll do the two small ones tonight, then the huge one tomorrow morning. We've also got a mix of spooky music we play every year, just to get us in the mood. We love Halloween...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Birds is coming!

Now *this* is modern art: "...a birdcage containing 150 pigeons and 45 children made from moose mixed with compacted bird grain. In what seems to be a recreation courtyard, girls and boys play with marbles or squabble while the pigeons are slowly devouring them."

Too cool. Fake kids made of mushed up bird food, dressed in clothes and posed, upon which the pigeons are unleashed. So it looks like hordes of pigeons are EATING CHILDREN ALIVE, as you watch. That's my kind of entertainment.

By the way, the title of this post is the tagline for The Birds, dreamed up by Hitchcock, partly because he knew it would drive grammar freaks absolutely mad.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Death to pink links

Okay, so the redesign is slightly tweaked, because the pink links weren't my bag. The new colour didn't work, so I made them like they are now. Then I had to change the header image, because it looked weird. Then I stopped fiddling, because it looked okay and I'd had enough. It was only then that I realised that I'd chosen the same template as Danny Stack's blog, without even realising. Just as well I changed all the colours and things. I just can't believe I didn't notice until yesterday. No, actually I can: one time I was in a queue in a shop, and it took me three glances to realise that there was a guy on the floor next to me, having an epileptic fit, his foot banging a CD rack, knocking CDs over, making a big clanging sound, surrounded by several paramedics. I literally looked around the shop, my gaze passing over the guy three times, before I noticed him. This is why I will never learn to drive. "Hmm-hmm, wonder what I'll have for lunch-" thumpthumpthump - "oh, sorry, I've just run over all your children. In what looks like a school classroom. How do I get back onto the road? Through that massive hole in the wall I made? Cool."

More meetings soon. One on Friday, with a cool bloke I'm working on something with, not going into details *yet* in case I jinx it, and one possibly next week, with a groovy 3D animation company looking for writers. Still got two pitch outlines (1 page each) to finish for other potential things.

And the accountancy place phoned - they've finished going through my jumbled mess of documents and receipts, and are ready to let me know how much the tax pigs want from me. Got to pay that tax, to keep paying for shitty PFI deals, Prescott's many homes, and the Queen's gold-leaf toilet paper. Hopefully there'll be some left over for schools, hospitals, and other silly things like that.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Publishing is in progress...

...this may take several hours if you decide to change templates, and piss about in Photoshop for ages because you're determined to give yourself a fancy, personalised image header.

Please to be admiring my spanking new redesign. And when I say "redesign", I mean that I chose a different Blogger template. I did edit the header image, though, which was quite tricky. The stripey lines are from the Severance clapperboard, the photo is of the crew setting up a movie spotlight, the bars in the bottom left are supposed to look like a volume equaliser display (I don't know why, I just felt like doing it), and the little grey shapes scattered about are various warning symbols. And of course the pen and spork you've already met. I kept the same layout as the original image, which I'm quite proud of. As for the text shadow - the white text is in the image, and the black text is displayed by Blogger, giving it a shadow effect. Yeah. Photoshop is my bitch.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The screening

What a strange, strange experience... Something I've lived with on paper, for over 2 years, is now a living, breathing movie, on a screen. It's like seeing a movie adaptation of a book you love, and have read about 500 times - but they get the adaptation *just* right, everything you wanted to see is in there, even better than you expected. So good, in fact, you feel no further need to read that book ever again, now that you have the movie to watch instead. Seeing something you've written up on screen as a movie is (a) surreal, like they've sneaked a look inside your brain, (b) surprising, as you know *what* is coming next, but don't always know *how* it'll be done, and (c) possibly the biggest fucking buzz yet created by humans. Sitting there, hearing people (mostly crew, execs, film company staff, etc) laugh at the jokes and gasp at the scares, makes it all worth it - the hair-tearing late nights trying to figure out how to resolve a plot problem are a distant memory.

But what of the movie itself? I think it's fucking great. It's not finished yet - mostly temp music, no sound mix, colour grading, or visual effects, etc - but I got completely caught up in it. It hits all the right horror notes, is funny in the right places, and plays with genre conventions in unexpected ways. It also has a really nice pace, moved fast all the way through - it needs tightening up, obviously, every movie does before the final edit - but I reckon that after tweaks and all the fixes (music, effects, etc), they could easily just go ahead and release it. I think it's that close. Just my opinion of course, and I've only seen it the once, so I'm probably looking at it more favourably than I would if I'd been examining it repeatedly - but hey, the future audience will be seeing it for the first time, and I think they'll have the same impressions as I did. I'm part of the target audience, a guy who knows and loves horror movies - and as far as I'm concerned, they don't need to change a thing. There may be some improvements I haven't thought of (apart from the obvious improvement that would make any film better - a slow motion love scene with Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek in the shower, come on Hollywood, the people have spoken, give us what we want), but right now it feels like it works as it is.

For the first half, I was trying to watch it analytically, but once the gore and insanity kicked in, I was just a horror fan along for the ride. I can't wait to see this in a full cinema with a paying audience. Today's screening was in a fancy preview cinema on Dean Street, they have editing rooms and all sorts of stuff, but we were in their screening room, which has about 30 seats. I sat in the front row - on the aisle, of course, as my fellow FrightFesters would expect - and had a blast. I kept forgetting myself and laughing really loud at the jokes, but I don't think anyone knew it was me, the lights were all off. And it's not as if I'd give the game away on some blog, or anything.

And now, I'm back home. Jo will be here in 20 minutes, we have chocolate puddings all ready to stick in the oven, wine in the fridge, and many DVDs available to watch. This... is the good shit.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Severance, and mrjbbskxvjiji

I just found out that tomorrow, at 2pm, I'll be seeing a cut of Severance. They've been refining the rough cut, and it's now at a fairly advanced stage, so they want feedback from various people, including me. I can't fucking wait to see it, it's going to be so surreal seeing the whole thing flowing as a proper movie. It won't have music, visual effects, or any of that fancy stuff - I think, anyway, they might have some of it done - but it should look really cool. Rest assured that I will be on the internet within minutes, registering my excitement.

Brief rant: When I'm just reading comments on blogspot, and don't need to post one, the word verification thing usually only asks for a 3 or 4 letter word. Ursj, or pntb, or mgdb. But when I want to actually post a comment - and usually on my own blog - the word I have to copy out is something like mggdkszijijijijijjjjiiifnrble. And it's all bendy and faded, and the letters melt into one another, making it incredibly hard to tell i's from j's, or anything from anything. And I always get it wrong. Clearly, the massive global conspiracy against me is finding newer ways to destroy my life. Sort it out, Blogger. Make the gibberish words easier to type.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Greetings and salutations

Hello to the many visitors who've come here via Danny Stack's blog - I was surprised to see my stats jump up from their normal pitiful levels, then saw that Mr S had written all sorts of nice things about me and linked me up. So hello to you all. Feel free to have a wander through the archives, you'll find lots of swearing, ranting, babbling, and occasionally a brief mention of my writing exploits. I also curse Greg Rusedski's name quite a lot - but that's a long story.

Rusedski

You lose, Rusedski. You lose. Checkmate!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bond, reading, and UK writer blogs

Let me be officially the very last person on Earth to weigh in with an opinion on Daniel Craig as the new Bond: I think he'll be great. I'm really looking forward to the new movie, to a grittier, cooler approach, and think it's going to be very good indeed. Two things I will say though - one, those tightfisted bastards really should have paid Pierce whatever he wanted and done one more with him, seeing as he helped them save the franchise with Goldeneye, and two, Timothy Dalton was a fucking great Bond too, and I will not hear a word said against him.

I've started reading scripts again - I haven't read any recently, just got out of the habit. Reading good ones really helps, it gets you excited, enthusiastic, and makes you desperately want to carry on writing your own. Reading bad ones also helps, because you can analyse where they go wrong, and make sure you avoid the cliches. I've read the Die Hard script about 5 times since I first found it, and will read it again, every year, until the end of time. Best action movie ever made, and probably the best, tightest script I've ever come across. That, and anything by Shane Black, who is my hero. Dying to see his new one, too. And then read it.

When I first started this blog, I thought it would be the only online thing out there that would give an insight into the movie writing process, what it was like to have a film made, and so on. Over the past year, I've discovered shitloads of them, and some of them are on my daily to-read list, like Kung Fu Monkey (John Rogers), John August, Complications Ensue, and now Josh Friedman (hey, you're not in the cool writing blog gang if you haven't mentioned the Friedmeister). Oh well, I thought, at least I'm the only UK screenwriting blog. And I was, until yesterday, when I discovered a shitload of other UK screenwriting blogs that have been around for ages. Which is cool, it just means I'm incredibly unobservant... Maybe I can salvage some shred of web-fu though - I started mine in June 2003, to chronicle my fabulous adventures in Writing Land, so as far as I know, I was the first or at least one of the first UK writers to do it. If I'm not, and loads of other people beat me to it, then they're obviously lying through their teeth, because they are in league with My Enemies. Either way, hello to all the other blogging, jobbing writers out there in UK Land. There are too many to mention here, and I can't be arsed doing linkage, because whenever I do it in Blogger, some weird bug makes me end up with the link in the wrong place, and an image tag in the middle of some other word. Okay, I'll do one, because it's a really interesting one: meet Danny Stack, an Irish, London-based monkey like myself (we're all monkeys, spec monkeys or infinite monkeys depending on your level of recognition - and okay, I'm not actually Irish, but I lived there since I was a kid and have a quarter of my accent remaining, which is legally binding in ANY court of law). There are lots of UK writer blog links on his page, and if you follow some of them, you'll find others, and then even more, and more, and then they will engulf you and eat your brain. Click carefully now, don't get lost on teh Internets, it's a big place. And if any passing UK writer bloggers see this, stop and say hello.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Eat me, tax pig!

Trip to Saaarf London is postponed for a week - which is cool, because it meant I could go and see Serenity instead. I'm a fan, so I'll spare you the proselytising, but I loved it, of course. Apart from the usual patented Joss Whedon "hey, let's do something shocking and nasty that changes the continuity to keep them on their toes and make them genuinely worry if everything will turn out okay" trick, that is. Joss. Dude. I'm really, really fucking gullible, and am always thinking things like (a) *this* time, Bond really is in for it, (b) shit, looks like the A-Team are going to get killed this week, and (c) oh my god, the good guy won! What a shocker! In other words, we can get caught up in the movie, and concerned for the characters' wellbeing, without you feeling that you have to fuck with us like this. It's getting annoying. I'm not saying you should make stuff where nothing bad happens and everything is okay in the end, but just... leave things alone sometimes. If you steadily remove things that are the reason we love a show or movie, then we'll no longer love that show or movie. So, to summarise: waahhhh, don't kill off fictional characters in stories you create, waaahhhh, we made you and we can break you, waaahhhh, etc etc. Cheers.

I handed over all my stuff to the accountancy place a few weeks ago. They wanted all my receipts, bank statements, payslips, payments received, invoices for things I bought that could be conceivably written off as business expenses (DVDs, cinema tickets, TV, etc - it's all research, dahhling) - so that they could fill out the terrifying tax return form for me, and work out how much of my blood I'll need to siphon off for the bloodsucking leeches at the Inland Revenue, god bless 'em. They got it all okay, but there's been an ominous silence ever since. I'm sure if they needed to ask me something, or I'd left out any paperwork, they'd have phoned. Maybe they've just run away. Who cares? They touched all the stuff last, so it's not my problem anymore. If the tax fuckers come looking for me, they'll never take me alive.

Got the contract for the short film last week, signed it, and sent it off. I feel like such an important person, getting contracts and signing them, it rocks. Speaking of short films, check this one out - it was done by some Irish guys in 3 months, with a budget of 80,000 Euros:

http://www.jonny3d.com/html/frames/_dn_prey_alone_frame.htm

Download the hi-res version, it's well worth the wait.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Poncing, researching, and Violencing

I have seen the Film 2005 clip. Check out how poncey this sounds: I asked my agent's assistant to get me a copy from the BBC... I am now officially Teh Ponce. Anyway, it was cool, less than a minute long, but still a headfuck to see all the clips on the telly. Crazy. Editing still continues on the flick itself, and it's apparently going extremely well.

Tomorrow night, late, I'll be heading to the wilds of Saaaarf London, to walk and cycle from Greenwich to Tower Bridge. It's research for something Big and Important, which I cannot possibly divulge, on pain of death and maiming and monkeys. Soon, my pretties, soon all will be revealed. Until then, tell nobody that I was here.

And all of you, run, don't walk, to your nearest cinema, to see A History of Violence. Cronenberg fans, you will love it. Non-fans, you will become fans. It fucking rocks the house down. Please don't read or watch anything about it though, as it's more fun the less you know about it. Can't wait to see it again. For many reasons. All of which will become clear when you see it. Now go! Go and see it! Or I will violence you!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"...and it's goodnight from him"

We've lost yet another comedy legend. I've just heard that Ronnie Barker has died, and I'm absolutely gutted. I loved The Two Ronnies, and Porridge is one of the greatest comedies ever made - watching the cuddly sketch shows, and Open All Hours, it's difficult to believe that the hard-bitten, tough, streetwise lag Fletcher is played by the same actor. Like Leonard Rossiter, Barker's greatest skill was in delivering impossible tongue-twisting scripts, usually doing them perfectly on the first take. There's a great Ronnies sketch where he's introduced to a man who he should have "a lot in common with" - the two Ronnies are introduced to each other, both dressed identically, and then they both launch into *exactly the same* speech, a huge, complex beast, saying it at exactly the same time, with the same tone, inflections, pauses, the lot. It's funny to watch, until about halfway through when you realise just how incredibly difficult it must have been to do. And I defy anyone to watch the "four candles" sketch, and not be reduced to a helpless, giggling fool, even if it's the hundredth time you've seen it. Barry Cryer says that Barker is on the same level as Alex Guinness and Peter Sellers, and I couldn't agree more. He's irreplaceable.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The feelgood movie of the year

Someone has done a new trailer for The Shining, very carefully selecting certain scenes and clips, giving it a new voiceover and music, to make it seem like a wanky, feelgood comedy-drama. It's absolutely fucking hilarious. Check it out here (right click and save).

I'd love to see more of these. I want to see Driving Miss Daisy trailerfied as a horror, and The Exorcist trailerfied as a gross-out comedy.

Update! Here are two more:

West Side Story as a zombie movie


Titanic as a horror

Update 2! Another one:

Psycho: A Love Story

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

"It's an *opera*..."

Okay, so Jo applies for the University of London's opera course. Her voice lessons have been going really well, and it's time to take it to the next level. So they send her a letter saying "hey, come for the audition". Which is cool and all, but then we realise that the audition is THE NEXT DAY. She has less than 24 hours to decide what songs to sing, prepare them, and practice. Holy fucking shit, right? And I'm no fucking help - I can *spell* "opera", and that's about the limit of my knowledge of it, apart from saying stuff like "yeah, I like that song where she's going 'ah-oh-ah-ah ah ah ah-oh ah ah ohhh ahhh', it's cool". I like the stuff she plays and sings, but that's the extent of my input, a basic "like" or "dislike", she'd be better off getting a monkey that claps when it hears something interesting, at least she'd be able to glean something from its oh-so-frighteningly-human face. So she goes to bed panicking, sleeps in late, gets up, has some brekkie, watches a bit of telly, then gets her shit together, prepares the songs, practices, and goes to the audition.

And fucking nails it.

Without even looking at the music (because she didn't have time to make copies, and had to give her music to the pianist). From fucking memory, dude.

They really liked her voice, and offered her a place on the course straight away. I'm so proud, I really am. Jo, you fucking rock. Or whatever the operatic equivalent is. You fucking OPERA, man. You opera the house down.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

All is not lost

I was fucking gutted yesterday afternoon, it was such a let down. Especially after I'd told *everyone* it was going to be on...

Anyway, it turns out that it was on BBC2 Scotland several hours later, as they have different schedules - and my sister Sara Sky-Plussed it. It is now safe, and locked, on their digiboxmagicthing. She played it over the phone for me, and I closed my eyes and it was almost as if I was there... She's going to try and transfer it onto a videotape or a computer, so hopefully I'll have a copy soon. Sara rocks the house down. And so does her husband Andrew, for spotting the TV schedule for BBC2 Scotland. And so do their kids, who will be doing the complex magicbox transferring for them.

Don't think this lets you off the hook, Rusedski. You're still on my list.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Greg Rusedski

Good. He lost.

I'm watching you, Rusedski. You are officially on my list. Years from now, as you contemplate the twisted, smoking ruin your life has become, you will look back on this moment, and rue the day you crossed me.

You and me, Rusedski. You and me.

Tennis sucks

Well, the Film 2005 repeat has been cancelled, because the tennis is overrunning. The *tennis*. The Davis Cup tennis. Doubles. That's hardly tennis at all.

Don't think they're going to be showing it - the announcer just said it won't be on, but the film after it will be on whenever the tennis finishes. I'll keep the telly on, just in case they change their minds. But they probably won't. So I won't get to see it, and neither will everyone I told about it. Thanks very fucking much, Greg Rusedski.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Film 2005

Last Monday's Film 2005 with Jonathan Ross had some clips of Severance during the "In the works" section. I missed it, because nobody knew it would be on... The show is repeated tomorrow, Saturday, at 2.25pm, on BBC2, so if you want to see some snippets, sit your arse down in front of the telly for half an hour. It's not a very long set of clips, apparently, probably only about 10 seconds, so don't get disappointed when they move past it quickly - it'll get a proper review when it's released. So go. Set your video. Cancel your plans for tomorrow. Don't do it for me. Do it for Jesus.

I'll be taping it, while watching it, while screaming like a little girl. This is officially a Big Deal for me. I never even thought about the movie being on Film 2005, obviously it was always going to be, but it never even crossed my mind. And now it's on. On the telly. Holy shit.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The magic key

On Monday, I went down to the British Library to get a reader's pass. They have a copy of everything published in this country, going back a couple of hundred years, which will help me a lot for research. Most of my stuff up till recently has only needed about 5 minutes' worth of half-arsed "research" on the internet, but for a couple of upcoming ideas, I'm going to need to know my shit. Getting a reader's pass helps with this, and also helps me to feel like a proper writer. The passes are temporary, and range from 3 months to 3 years - they gave me a 3 year one, without me even asking. I just showed them my ID, and a printout of my CV from my agent's website, and it magically unlocked the secret door for me. Rock. I have the magic key.

The short horror film shoots next month, and two out of the three parts have been cast. Proper, well-known actors, too. Everything's moving very quickly, they just need to find a location. Most locations were okay, but when the people in charge saw how graphic the script is, they had second thoughts... So instead of toning it down, we removed one tiny background detail that they all balked at, and now they're fine with it. I'm going to be an extra, along with Jo - we'll be dead bodies. It's so cool.

Other things on the go are a pitch outline for a TV horror thing I'm trying to get involved with, and a pitch proposal outline for an adaptation I'm dying to do. The TV horror thing is an existing project looking for writers with cool ideas, so I'm fine tuning one right now. The adaptation thing is me trying to convince a company that (a) this book is worth adapting, (b) it'd make a great movie, and (c) I'm the best guy for the job.

There is one other piece of interesting news coming soon, but I can't say what it is yet, I'm not allowed...

Monday, September 05, 2005

I am an extra

Today I did my on-camera interview for the Severance DVD. I was shitting myself all day, knowing that I'd fuck it up, and that they'd either leave me off the DVD completely, or worse, put me on there anyway, despite my crap performance. I really didn't want to be the DVD extra that you stick on for about 30 seconds, before going "meh" and skipping. Luckily, the backdrop of the Severance poster collapsed just before I started, so I was distracted for about 10 minutes while we both tried to fix it. By the time we got going, I had calmed down and did a reasonably coherent interview. If I'm not on the DVD, then you'll know that my memory has lied to me yet again.

Friday, September 02, 2005

FrightFest and movies

FrightFest was great fun, as expected. Best bits were: an Irish short called The Ten Steps, which was the best film, full stop, of the entire weekend; Land of the Dead; P (a Thai horror directed by Paul Spurrier, a Brit); Antibodies (German serial killer thriller); Dead Meat (Irish zombie comedy); Wild Country (Scottish drama featuring troubled teens and werewolves); Dominion (Paul Schraeder's original take on the prequel to The Exorcist, before they fired him for not making a shitty CGI teenfest, and hired Renny Harlin); Born to Fight (or "Let's Maim Every Thai Stuntman Over 90 Minutes" - no CGI or wirework, just lots of fucking incredible fights and stunts); and Wolf Creek (very cool and nasty Aussie horror, let down slightly by some silly horror movie logic). Dead Meat, Wolf Creek and Wild Country were extremely low budget, but highly entertaining. Some other low budget movies were absolute rubbish, though. I won't name names, but here's a quick shout out to any low budget writers or directors about to make their first feature: "everyone gets killed" is not a proper ending in itself. Please, please, please work out your story first, have an ending that makes some sort of sense (even if you don't reveal it on screen), and if your movie is primarily dialogue, it better be some seriously fucking good dialogue. Oh, and writers? Don't direct your first film. And directors? Don't write your first film. There are exceptions to all these rules, obviously, but you are probably not one of them. If you're going to spend all your savings, get everyone you know together for a week, and alienate your family by covering their house in fake blood - make sure the script is as good as it can be. The script is the one part you don't have to spend anything on but time. So get it right.

The night we got home, we watched the Renny Harlin version of The Exorcist prequel. As expected, it was muck. Absolute muck. But fascinating to see both movies, to compare which bits were used in both, what parts were different, and so on. Last night we saw Unleashed, which was surprisingly good - brutal, grim, but also sweet and touching. Kickass fight scenes, too.

Friday, August 26, 2005

FF and short film

Okay, just about to head off to the FrightFest. 4 solid days of horror movies, with hardly any time between them, and an hour break per evening for food. By Monday night, I'll be a paranoid, gibbering wreck, and loving it. Thankfully, Jo also loves horror, and will be coming with me. It's so cool that she likes the same sort of twisted, fucked up stuff as I do. If I ever get done for murder or anything, I plan to blame it all on her.

The short film was going to shoot in September, but they've moved it to October instead. It was an insanely short time to prepare, and the things we've put in mean that it needs a lot of planning and crafty technical knowhow. There's some really ambitious, complex shit in there, so they're just taking a bit of extra time to make sure it all goes right on the day. Oh yeah, did I mention that they want to shoot the entire thing in a day? Well, they do. Crazy bastards. Anyway, it's going out to actors at the moment, there are some really cool people they want to get, so hopefully they'll agree to play with us for a day.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Braaaaaaains!

I've just done my first proper interview for the deranged villains at eatmybrains.com, a really cool horror website. The interview is here, along with my pretty face (I'm the one on the right). When you've finished reading it, stick around and check out their articles and reviews. The Zombie Club is a particular highlight - two or more films of a similar theme, several blokes, lots of booze, and much insanity. It's great fun. Go bookmark them now.

And a big welcome to those of you who came here from the link at the bottom of the eatmybrains interview. This is my writing blog, following my progress as I try to make a career as a screenwriter. I wander off topic quite a lot, though. Make yourself at home, have a drink, and don't touch the corpse in the corner, it's not mine - I'm, er, just looking after it for a friend, or something.

Slightly hungover

Well, we went along to see more dailies (the rough, unedited shots), and as predicted, I rewound certain scenes several times, shouting "did you see that???" Jo hadn't seen any proper footage until then, and was very impressed. I saw the two things I was dying to see, and they are pretty fucking spectacular. Can't wait to see a rough cut. I think the editing goes on for another 5 or 6 weeks, if I remember rightly, and then there will be a test screening, and maybe some more slight tweaks. Apparently it's all going very well, which of course it would, because it rocks.

And I went to a party last night, hosted by the film company's Big Cheese, to celebrate the end of filming on Severance. I don't think I embarrassed myself too much. I may have pissed in the salad, though. While screeching with laughter. With my pants on my head. But apart from that, I had a fairly quiet night. It was cool to see everyone again, and quite bizarre to be sitting with them instead of watching them trying to make a movie in a forest.

The short film is progressing nicely - I'm very close to a final draft of the script, and the director and his producers are working really hard to get everything ready. They're hoping to shoot in September, and they're not hanging about. The director's done some cool storyboards/concept drawings, which really help me to visualise it. I'm very impressed at how fast it's all going.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

"...for Victory"

Severance officially finished filming last Friday. Now, the editing begins, along with, presumably, the effects, the sound, the music, the colour correction, and all that magical madness that happens. On Friday I'm going to see some more of the footage. There are two scenes in particular I'm dying to see. I'll drag Jo along with me, so I can keep pausing, rewinding, and shouting "look, look!" during exciting bits, even when she's already looking at the screen.

Just watched the first episode of the old "V" series. I've had the DVD for ages, was terrified that it wouldn't be as amazingly cool as I remember from when I saw it as a kid. But holy shit, it stands up pretty well. Great build up, nice tension, clever script, good effects, and a really powerful, emotional impact. If you haven't seen it, check it out. If you saw it years ago, check it out anyway, you might be surprised at how good it is. Apart from the crafty plotting and clever scripts, the effects still look cool. Models and matte paintings date much better than CGI. And it's interesting to see how much Independence Day was inspired by the early scenes in it.

Things keep moving along. More ideas appear, older ones are refined and updated, rubbish ones are thrown out. I'm also about to take a risk. Can't go into details here, but it's something that every part of me is screaming at me not to do - but something I absolutely must do, if I have any sense. I'm scared. I was almost sick with worry today. But I'm fairly sure I'm doing the right thing.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

He always seemed like such a nice, quiet man

It's time police rounded up and arrested all the nice, quiet people. Whenever a serial killer is caught, neighbours always describe them as nice, quiet, and normal. They say that they never imagined he could have done anything like this. The bombers involved in the 7th July attack on London were all described as "quiet", and "ordinary". People said things like "He was a good man, quiet... when I told my daughter she said 'no, he can't do something like that'". And "They were just normal, everyday people. It's just so shocking that he could be involved in something like this." Anytime you see a news story about a murderer getting arrested, look for the reactions from the people who live in the street. It's never the mad, shouty neighbour with the three pitbulls who gets drunk every night. It's always the nice, quiet man over the road, who always had a kind word, who didn't seem the sort of person who would get involved in anything illegal. If police had done a random crime sweep, they should have seen the warning signs, ignored the loud guy, and taken away the nice, quiet man. 9 times out of 10, his cellar will be filled with bodies, his fridge stuffed with heads, his food processor clogged with bone and hair.

Our next door neighbour is really nice, quiet, never causes any trouble, and seems like a perfectly innocent, upstanding citizen. Clearly, he's a serial killer. He must be. We just know he's got a dungeon in there. We're terrified of him.

Seriously. Arrest all the nice, quiet, decent people. They're all evil.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tax, short film, and FrightFest

Two meetings today. The first was with a man from an accountancy/tax firm. As I'm now earning money outside of my dayjob, I'm classed as self employed, and have to declare it to the Evil Tax People, and pay tax on it. I knew this when I started, so I've been putting aside 40% of everything just in case (although it should be less than that, taking into account stuff I can claim back). The thing is, the Evil Tax People send you a fuckoff big tax return form, and I haven't got a clue where to start. So my agent sent me a list of places that deal with us poncey media types, and I went in for my preliminary chat today. It's cool, I can just give them all my details and receipts and stuff, and they'll do it all for me, pretty much. I can claim all sorts of things as business expenses, which means the amount I pay tax on is reduced, and I should have a smaller tax bill. I think so, anyway, I'm not quite sure how it all works, which is why I'm getting professionals to do it for me. It's all very weird and grown up.

The other meeting was with a really cool director I've met before. We wanted to do something together, and now he's got funding to do a horror short film. We've been bouncing ideas backwards and forwards, and it looks like we've got the story pretty much sorted. I'm going to work on it over the next couple of days, and hopefully have something to show him next week. They want to move fast on it, and are already scouting locations and thinking of casting people. It'll be great fun, and hopefully I can be an extra in the background - I'll be a dead body.

Looking forward to the FrightFest next month - the full programme lineup has been announced, and it's going to be fantastic. The main things I'm dying to see are Land of the Dead, Wolf Creek, Night Watch, and Born to Fight. But the whole weekend will be great, the shorts, the guests, the surprises, the trailers, the madness - can't wait.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Back in the saddle

Been a bit restless for the past few weeks, didn't get much writing done. I was starting to feel a bit empty, like I'd completely run out of ideas. But it was probably just the heat. Over the past few days, the ideas have been coming back, I've got a couple of new things I'm outlining, and another thing that I'm actually writing in full, which is starting to kick ass. I got loads done today, and am feeling very pleased with myself. So tomorrow I'll probably be very lazy. It's too hot, anyway.

Have to give this a quick mention, if you haven't heard of it. Global Frequency, the fantastic comic by Warren Ellis, was made into a TV pilot. The TV network decided, in their infinite wisdom, that it Wasn't Our Sort of Thing, and shelved it. Somehow, it got out on Bittorrent. Everyone loved it, kicked up a huge fuss, and now it's taken on a sort of life of its own. So now they just might release a DVD version of the pilot that was never shown on TV, thanks to people downloading it and watching it illegally - the same people who are desperate to buy the thing. Cool or what? Check out the full bizarre tale here. And yes, I've seen it, and yes, it's damn good stuff. Sign me up for the DVD version if it comes out.

Update: if you like what you see, please do go to FrequencySite, and do as they command. Spread the word, let people know that there's an audience for it, and we have money to spend. If you want more stories, buy the two graphic novel collections here (book 1) and here (book 2), they're well worth it...

Monday, July 11, 2005

An Open Letter to the Terrorists Involved in the London Bombings

Dear Terrorists,

Fuck off.

Yours sincerely,

James Moran, Londoner



PS: Seriously, go try that shit somewhere else. We're not impressed. You want to make us sit up and take notice? You're having a fucking laugh, aren't you? Better cunts than you have tried and failed. All you are to us, is just another fucking delay on our way to work. You are signal problems. You are leaves on the line. You are the wrong type of snow. You want to give us some shit? Join the fucking queue, pal. And you'd better fucking queue properly, or we'll fucking have you.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Oh. My. God.

Well. I'm back, as of Monday night. Still trying to come down from the massive buzz. It is, quite simply, fucking amazing.

I arrived in the evening, and went straight to the set, where loads of people were in the middle of filming. I sat at the monitor, and saw two faces I didn't recognise - then when I heard them speaking, realised they were Jill and Gordon from the script. It was such a headfuck, a feeling I experienced a lot over the five days.

I knew it was going to look cool - Chris is a man on a mission, and determined to give it an epic look - but I didn't think it was going to look so fantastic. The footage is incredible, it looks like a slick, glossy film already, without any treatment, effects or sound fiddling. The actors are superb - Tim McInnerny cracked everyone up with a speech that I thought was quite amusing when I wrote it, but that turns into something hilarious when he delivers it. I kept having to stop and say to myself "holy shit, this is actually real, they're filming my script". It was crazy. One morning, when Laura Harris was doing a really intense scene, I got so taken aback by her screams, I actually got all emotional and had to have a sit down - okay, I cried, I actually cried tears of fucking joy, it's my dream come true so fuck off, all right - that's when it really hit me that all of these people were working to make a movie out of something I wrote. It was partly that, and partly because she was so convincing, I thought they were doing terrible things to her behind the hill. Maybe they were. I didn't ask. Danny Dyer is absolutely perfect as Steve, there is nobody alive who could play it as well as he does. He's a top bloke too. They're all great, all perfect for their parts, and all really nice. God, I sound like Tom fucking Hanks giving an Oscar speech. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels! I'm standing here on magic legs! My drama teacher was gay!

The whole crew were incredibly cool, and were all really working their arses off to make the film as good as possible. I was embarrassed at how many people told me how much they liked the script, and kept fobbing them off and making out like I had nothing to do with it. And fair enough, it's a good script, sure - but they are making a great fucking movie. It looks scarily good. And I can't wait to see more of it.

This is how good it was: one of the days was a long dialogue scene with all the actors. Just that one scene. From every conceivable camera angle, different close ups, and so on. Over and over and over again. And I watched every single one. And laughed every single time. I wrote the fucking thing, and I'm standing there, laughing like an idiot at my own jokes, because they're being delivered in such a funny way.

I'll stop going on about it now, I could wank on all day. But I couldn't be happier with the way it's going. If I had a hat, I'd take it off to Chris, Jason, the cast and crew. I may just buy a hat so I can take it off to them. There are a few photos in the posts below - nothing of the cast or actual scenes being shot, partly so I don't tread on anyone's toes, but mainly so I don't give any plot secrets away...

lights


lights
Originally uploaded by jamesmoran.
One of the 18,000 Watt lights shining through a diffuser - it's actually daytime, but they've partially blocked the sunlight so as to get even lighting that will stay the same all day.

crowds


crowds
Originally uploaded by jamesmoran.
Just some of the 80+ people working on Severance - outside the lodge location (black sheet to simulate night inside).

clapper


clapper
Originally uploaded by jamesmoran.
The clapperboard for slate 133, scene 152, take 2.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Packing and Best Boys

Okay, I have done all the normal, ordinary things everyone does while packing: running around, wobbling, panicking, swearing, deciding not to take this and that, swearing some more, and worrying myself stupid. I think I've got everything I need in my bag. Decided not to take the iBook, because I probably wouldn't have any time to get any writing done, and I'd only be getting it out to show off, anyway. So, the inventory is: camera, camcorder, clothes, passport, ticket, book, phone, power cables for phone/camera/camcorder, European plug adapters, headphones, tiny little gorgeous iPod Mini that Jo got me, 12-inch black strap on dildo - ah, just checking, of course that was a joke. It's really 25 inches. And orange.

Tomorrow I will be flying out to Budapest, to visit the set of Severance. I am quite literally soiling myself with excitement. My first proper movie, being filmed, with real live actors and a real live crew. I can't wait. Oh, and I'm going to find the Best Boy, and find out exactly what he does. I hope it's something rude.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Soon I will be one of Them

First things first - hopefully you will have noticed the new header image up the top there. I spent ages and ages putting together a really clever image that joined a pen with a spork, only to abandon it completely today at lunchtime and knock up a simpler, better looking version. It works for me, and is educational, too, for anyone who doesn't know what a pen or a spork is.

Severance continues filming - got a voicemail from the director this morning, all excited and happy at how things are going. The funny bits are apparently extremely funny, which is good news, and the cast are really working well together. I will be able to see for myself next week, because I'm flying out to Hungary next Thursday. I'll bring my camera, and will see if I can post some pictures here when I get back. My flight and hotel will be taken care of by the movie people, and a driver will pick me up when I land, which means, for the first time in my life, someone will be standing at the airport holding a piece of paper with my name on it. I will be one of Those People. I've always wondered who they are. I'm often tempted to go up to the people holding the paper and say "Why yes, I'm Mr Takagi", and see where they take me. But now I don't need to, because I will be one of them.

The first mention of Severance on a movie website is here, thanks to the good people at Fangoria. It's also popping up on lots of other horror sites, linking back to the story. I'm really jazzed about it, seeing it mentioned on sites that I already visit makes it even more real. And surreal.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Setups, decisions, and movie length

Apparently the first day of shooting on Severance went extremely well - twice as many setups as they were expecting. Setups are bits of a scene that are shot from one particular angle, or with one particular lens. Every time the lens or angle or distance are changed, then that's a new setup. They take ages to do, as the camera has to be moved, the tracks laid down if necessary, the lights have to be moved, the entire scene has to be lit to match, everyone needs to get in the right positions, and it just takes bloody ages. But they're moving very fast, and are very happy with it. I'm hoping to go out there next week if possible, to watch the fun for a couple of days. Can't wait.

I have made a decision. Over the past week or so, I've been in a certain position, which is pretty good. But it's not ideal. So I made a difficult decision. Short term, it'll be a bit dicey, but long term, I'll be better off. I really can't say what it is yet - it's nothing terribly exciting, just a sort of dilemma, really. Doing what I've decided will feel like I'm giving up something big, but it's not really, it just feels like it. It's a bit nerve wracking, but I think it's the right thing to do. I've discussed it with Bruce the Shark (my new name for my agent, a different one every week, it's all fun and games in media land), and he agrees that it's the right thing to do. So... I'm doing it. Sorry to be so annoyingly vague, but I don't want to get anyone in trouble for shooting my mouth off, so this is the way it has to be.

In other news, I've finally found a Michael Mann film that I like - Collateral. I'm one of the 4 people in the world who hates Heat, Manhunter, and Miami Vice (not a movie, but he made it, so it counts). I got conned into seeing Heat with the promise of an exciting movie, so I was wary of Collateral, with it's wicked cool trailer. But I needn't have worried, it is absolutely fantastic - tense, gripping, unpredictable, and more importantly, short, at just an hour and a half. Remember? Remember the length movies *used* to be? Before they started getting way, way too long? "Mr and Mrs Smith", I'm looking in your direction - don't get me wrong, it's good, solid summer action fun, Brad and Angelina are cool, very nicely done - but shit, did nobody even once think to themselves "hmm, big summer action movie, yet it doesn't seem to get going for an hour"? I'm just saying, you know, they don't all have to be over 2 hours long. As Hitchcock said, "scissors are always the best way"...

Monday, June 13, 2005

It begins

Jason, the producer of Severance, phoned me at 9.43am this morning from Hungary to let me know that the very first shot of the movie had just been done. Filming has officially started.

Now excuse me while I scream and jump up and down for a little while.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Lights, camera, action

Severance is now fully cast, prepped, and ready to rock. Shooting starts on Monday. Monday! Holy fucking shit! To think that something I made up at home and wrote on a shitty PC on our living room corner table is about to be actually made by an entire film crew - it just blows my mind, it really does. I'll be going to Hungary to visit the set, just as soon as I get the shooting schedule, so I can see when would be the best time to go. I can't wait.

There have been some interesting developments in the Curfew saga. I can't go into too much detail, but let's just say that there is movement. Interesting movement. Not quite what I was expecting, but still cool. Things might change over the next few days though, depending on what other people decide, and on what I decide, too. I'm still working on two other movie ideas which are now taking shape, so I should soon have other stuff to pimp.

Had more meetings recently, including two cool directors, who would really like to work with me. They both had really good projects in need of a writer, so hopefully we can sort something out. I feel like big things are about to happen - I know I feel like that a lot lately, but that's a good thing. I've been such a pessimist for so long, it's nice to have some optimism for a change.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Poncey Media Wank alert

Okay, I have reached level 8 on the Poncey Media Wankometer. Had another meeting for Curfew today, which was fine, little bit nerve wracking as always, but I somehow mumbled my way through it without saying "er" more than 500 times (it was closer to 398). After that I had a meeting a really cool director who does animation as well as live action stuff. We hit it off really well, and decided to carry on talking, so we went and had a quick lunch. So far, so un-poncey. Here comes the poncey bit: at the same time, probably in some swanky London restaurant, the cool director's agent was having lunch - with *my* agent. So quite literally, My People were doing lunch with His People. While I was having lunch with him.

All I need to do now is join a private member's club, call someone other than Jo "darling" without a trace of irony, and write a script where the main character is a TV producer or screenwriter. Then my Poncey Media Wank rating will be as high as I can possibly manage.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Mini FrightFest

Just spent all day - 11am till 1am - at the mini FrightFest at the Prince Charles Cinema. From Beyond the Grave (great fun), R-Point (started well, went a bit wrong), Shallow Ground (fucking awful), Sin City (holy fucking shit it rocked), The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse (very funny, sick, and twisted), and The Devil's Rejects (also good fun). I love the FrightFest, and we both had a great time. Barely had time to eat between movies (longest break was half an hour), so we had to grab bits and pieces here and there when we could. But just in case there's any doubt, let me say again: Sin City. Holy fucking shit it rocked. It rocked hard. It's out in cinemas this weekend, and we're both going straight in to see it again. Can't wait for the DVD. I can't describe it, you just have to go and see it. It's the most fun you'll have in the cinema this year, without taking your clothes off, without touching other people, and without being given oral pleasure by [insert sexy movie star's name of your choice here].

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Keep this frequency clear

Okay, today's Curfew meeting went fantastically well. As this is now the time where people will or won't make offers, I'd better not say anything about any further developments until it all blows over - not out of superstition, but just to avoid any trouble. It helps me if none of them know who is interested or not, just so they make their decision without trying to second guess other people. But today's meeting was great, so let's wait and see what happens.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

He waits... that's what he does

Another Curfew meeting today, and one more on Thursday. Today's one went very well, they're very interested, I just need to add some things to the first page so they can show the revised version to the rest of the company - the story has changed slightly. Fingers crossed. Still waiting to hear back from the other people. Lunch was good, no more news to report, but things seem to be moving along nicely.

The TV cartoon people came back finally, with a standard form email saying that all the entries were of a high standard, blah blah blah, cannot take your idea any further at this stage, etc etc. I wasn't expecting anything to come from it though, so I'm not bothered. But it was a good idea, so I'll try and use it for something else. Recycling makes the Earth happy.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

It's quiet... too quiet

Okay, this is the week where things should start happening - offers for Curfew, or people saying thanks but no thanks. My paranoid, pessimistic side is convinced it will be the latter. I have two more meetings, one on Tuesday and one on Thursday, so we'll see how it goes.

The Severance movie making juggernaut rolls on. Two more main characters have been cast (famous people! ooh!), and most of the secondary parts. Only one main part left, now. There are designs, concept sketches, and other cool things like that. I've done most of the DVD stuff I was hoping to do, and it went quite well. I spent this weekend going over the latest version of the script, tweaking any lines that stuck out, and writing down notes for discussion with the movie guys - not much though, because it's pretty much there, I'm really happy with it. I'm being taken to lunch on Tuesday by the film company, so I'll see if I can squeeze any more info out of them. I know, I know, "going to lunch", I'm such a ponce.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Shenanigans

Nothing to report since the last update - most of the British film industry is now in Cannes, whoring their arses off, and good luck to them, I say. I've got two more meetings lined up for the week of the 23rd, for Curfew, both with decent places that might make offers. The definite offer that I foolishly boasted about in the last post might have evaporated, as there are financial shenanigans going on, so I don't know about that one now. But firm offers won't start coming in for a week or two anyway, so we'll wait and see what happens. Still waiting to hear back from 5 other places, most of whom said they'd let us know what they're doing in a week or so. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I've been going over my other stuff, trying to keep things moving, keep coming out with ideas. There are 2 ideas that have been bubbling away on the backburner, that might get moved to the front of the queue, he said, mixing metaphors. And there's a possible new version of an older thing, which I'm not saying anything about yet, because I don't want to jinx it. Oh fuck it, why not: I'm trying to turn The School into a film script, because it has a better chance of getting made as a film than a TV series. The series had an overall arc to it anyway, so it translates into a film much better than I'd expected. I'm now trying to sort out the pacing and make it fit properly. It's slow going, but I think it's working.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Good news and more good news

I have walked, talked, walked, and talked. My feet hurt. My throat is drier than the Gobi desert on a particularly hot, dry, day, in which someone has left a hairdryer running and pointing at the ground. My eyes sting from lack of sleep and concentration. But damn, I feel good. Today went great, the meetings were fantastic, and, let's not beat around the bush here, there is at least one definite offer on the table. More than that I cannot say, but everyone loves this thing, and it's going to get sold. Oh yeah. I like all of the people I've met, and would be happy working with any of them. I'm so thrilled about all this - selling a spec script (one that isn't written to order, just on the off chance) is one thing, but convincing someone to pay you to write a script based on an outline is a whole different thing. That's the difference between me "having my script made into a film" and actually being a screenwriter. Things are about to get very, very different for me, and I can't wait.

Came home, feeling good, only to find even more excitement in my inbox - the current unit list for Severance, which is the regularly updated list of everyone working on the film, with names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, etc, all in one handy place. They have been busy. There is now a set designer, art department, director of photography, stunt co-ordinator, special makeup effects department, costume designer, catering service, assistant directors (a 1st and a 3rd, but oddly no 2nd), editor, sound designer, a whole Hungarian production crew, a gaffer, and, my favourite job title of all, a best boy. These people are all working on making the film of my script. Whole departments are devoting their time to realising one aspect of it. It's absolutely mind blowing. When I visit the set, I will of course make it my mission to find out what it is exactly the best boy does. In fact, I'm going to find out what all the job titles mean. I know what a lot of them mean, but what's a line producer? What does the 3rd assistant director do that the 1st assistant director can't, and vice versa? I will make it my mission to find out. When I'm not jumping up and down, screaming with excitement, of course. Speaking of which, it's time to do exactly that right now.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Halfway there

It's been a long, long day of meetings... First one was good, second was better, third was fantastic. After the first one I was feeling a bit low, like I wasn't doing very well in getting across how ready I am to write this, that I know what I'm doing, and that it's all taken care of. But the second one was good right from the start, and the third one was so good, I could have done another one straight after. They really liked me, liked my stuff, and really wanted to be involved in it. I did really well at all three meetings - I was starting to think I was fucking it all up. So I'm hyper-jazzed now. Tomorrow will be less stressful, because one is informal, one is a guy I've met before and get on well with, and the other isn't a huge big scary company, so that's okay. I'm feeling good about this now.

Oh, and it's now three meetings tomorrow, instead of two. Madness. Madness. The thing is, the entire film industry is pissing off to Cannes on Wednesday, so that's why all my meetings are jammed into today and tomorrow. So there's no chance I'll be meeting anyone for the rest of the week, which means I can have a rest. I've talked my arse off today, and will do it again tomorrow. Still, beats working for a living.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Mid-meeting madness and The Lodge

No meeting today - it got rescheduled at the last minute, luckily just before I'd left the house. It's been moved to Monday afternoon, so I now have three in a row on Monday, which will be a bit mad. Still, at least people want to meet me, so that's good. And it means I get a break before the madness starts again.

Severance: the lodge has been found. Most of the story takes place in and around a creepy lodge in the woods, and they've finally found the perfect location for it, in Hungary. I've seen pictures, and it looks perfect, even better than I'd imagined. I'll be spending the weekend writing the DVD things I mentioned before, because they need them as soon as possible. I've already done a rough draft of one of them, and it's both making me laugh and making me worry about what goes on inside my head. This is a good thing.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Round One

One meeting down, 4 to go. No, actually, 5 to go, because another one got added to my schedule while I was in today's meeting. So, two tomorrow, one Monday, two Tuesday. Today's meeting went well, pretty nerve wracking though. It was one of those places that is so expensive, they don't have the name on the building, and when you go inside, none of the doors have anything written on them - I had to just push doors at random until I found the reception. It was very fancy, very serious looking, and utterly terrifying. I had some time to gather my thoughts, so I sat in silence on the sofa, going over everything in my head. When I went in, I faced two very nice but very serious people. They were friendly and all, interested in who I was and what I was up to, but they wanted to know if I knew my shit, and I got a major grilling. I had answers and solutions for everything, I'd already considered some of the problems they had with the outline, so none of it was a surprise to me. For everything they brought up, I had an answer or a possible solution. I really worked it, I was a dude not to be trifled with. If they decide not to go for it, it won't be because of anything I did. But I'm exhausted now, and just want to sit and space out for a while...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Well hello Mr FancyPants

Okay, two more companies have responded positively to Curfew, and are hoping to convince their bosses that it's something they need to go for. Got a few more passes, most of which were expected, and none of which bother me. I now have 5 meetings over the next few days, all with people who are interested in it. One tomorrow (Thursday), two on Friday, and two on Tuesday - and one of those is with an extremely large film company. Whether or not any or all of them make an offer could depend on how I come across in the meetings (but hey, no pressure). I need to go in there, be my usual charming self, but also show that I know what I'm doing, and can be trusted to actually write a script for this - I know I can, but they don't. I need to make them realise that I'm The Man. And a big part of that is believing it myself. I have to believe that I can do it. And you know what? I do. I really fucking do. I know it's a kickass story, I know I can write a kickass script, and I know it could be a kickass movie. They all want to meet me, they liked the outline, and they want my stuff. I can do this.

Tomorrow is the first meeting, but before that is the small matter of voting in the General Election - bit of an odd name really, seeing as the results determine who gets into power, should be called the Specific Election, if anything. But I digress. I have no idea who will run the country after tomorrow, and at this stage, I don't even know if I care. I'm sick of hearing about it, I don't trust any of the fuckers, and frankly I think a bunch of drunken ferrets could do as good a job as anyone - no matter who gets in, PFI will still be ruining public services, the trains will still get worse, and we'll still be selling arms to fucking despots. Even so, I like voting, I can't understand why some people don't vote - I get a little power buzz from it, I feel like I've accomplished something. Every vote counts. Especially mine. In fact, mine most of all, because I'm special.