Sunday, December 30, 2007
Things I Achieved in 2007:
--Wrote TV episodes for Torchwood, Doctor Who, a Secret TV Show That Isn't TW/DW, a 60 page TV pilot, and a new TV series outline for a production company
--Did a massive interview for Doctor Who Magazine, with photos
--Did a rewrite on a horror comedy, a new draft of Curfew, and a first draft of a secret movie collaboration
--Wrote and sold a short story for publication in an actual book
--Severance hit number 1 in the UK DVD chart, and then released in cinemas and then DVD in USA, and won best screenplay award at Fantasporto Film Festival
In my 2005 end of year goals for the upcoming year, I had an entry which said "Write an episode of Doctor Who (fuck it, aim high)". I took it off last years end of year thingy, cause I didn't seriously expect it to ever happen, and felt there was no point in tormenting myself. Just after that, I got my first Torchwood meeting, which got me in the door with the Beeb Wales gang, and the rest is blogging history. Personally and professionally, it's been the best year yet, and it's all thanks to them giving me a chance. As soon as I got the TW gig, suddenly I became telly-employable, it was like magic. I've learned so much, worked my arse off, and had an absolute blast doing it. It's a cliche to say, but it really is a dream come true. Fantastic.
I'm also very proud of the amount of stuff I've written too, 4 episodes of TV, a full movie draft, the other movie first draft, the movie rewrite, the short story, and the many outlines and things to get projects moving. It feels like I haven't stopped for breath since January, and it's still full speed ahead. I love writing. And I've been able to do bucketloads this year.
Things I Messed Up:
--Coped badly with getting kicked off a movie
--Fucked up a meeting for an important project by not preparing
--Took on too much work, and didn't manage my time properly, resulting in a slight attack of Space Madness
--Didn't get any of my specs written
Getting kicked off a movie really hurts, and damages your confidence. I thought my career was over, that word would spread, that I'd finally been found out as a fraud. But it happens to everyone, to better writers too, and I should have realised that there was nothing I could do. Besides, the draft I did has got me loads of meetings and work, and everyone loves it, so at least I know I did my best work. It's still painful to think or talk about, though. There's been no news on it recently, so let's see what happens. Best case scenario: it gets made, and is cool. That's all I want. So yeah. I don't deal with that too well. Probably never will.
As for the meeting fuckup - I learned a valuable lesson there. Always over-prepare, and I'll never end up going "er, er, ummm" in a meeting, I have nobody to blame but myself. It pays to do your homework. And I keep taking on too much work, but lately I've had to turn a few things down - it kills me to do it, but there's just no way I'd have enough time for them. I need to take more time off now and again, to rest up, otherwise I go a bit crazy. Which leads into the final one - I simply haven't had time to get my own spec stuff done, so it's just been left to one side. I intend to address that over the break, and early 2008. Feel free to mock me in December 2008 if I'm saying this all over again.
Things I Have Learned:
--I don't *need* to sell a movie right now - I can wait until the time is right, and choose who to sell it to, with no pressure
--I can write even faster than I thought possible
--When moving house, allowing yourself one day to pack is not particularly clever
TV has pretty much saved my year, my career, and my self respect. Movies take forever to set up, and half the time they treat you like shite. TV, on the other hand, moves like a rocket, and the people are nice to you. It's bloody hard work, but massively good fun. I've had a couple of movie pitches on the go during the year, but didn't have that panicky feeling I normally get - if I don't get a decent offer for the pitch, they can all wait while I write the script. It's nice to be able to take some of that power back.
Speed: I've always been a fast writer, but TV has got me into Olympic shape, increasing my speed enormously without sacrificing quality. A very handy muscle to develop.
Things I Want To Do In 2008:
--Become a better writer
--Write at least one spec of my own, either a pilot episode or a movie
--Write more TV, get my own series commissioned
--Maybe break into another medium
--Update the sidebar, like I promised back in April
--Get regular deep tissue massage torture treatments, to look after my back
--Take more breaks, have a proper holiday
I've learned ridiculous amounts from my TV apprenticeship this year, it's been fantastic. I've been incredibly lucky to work with lots of disgustingly talented people, and some of their shine has rubbed off on me. Just seeing how they write, think, talk, and generally conduct themselves has been an education. And I still have so much more to learn, so hopefully that will continue in 2008. As for breaking into another medium - comics would be nice, and I have one or two lines of enquiry there, so who knows.
I really need to sort out the sidebar here, put up links to old posts of mine, and overhaul the main links section, so that's on my to do list. In fact, the blog could do with more attention, as I've neglected the informative side lately. I also need to sort my health out - now I've got a desk and chair, there's no excuse, I have to look after my back and other bits and pieces. I love writing, but I don't ever want it to feel like it's becoming a job, so that means plenty of rest, and regularly taking time out to appreciate the good stuff. So I plan on enjoying myself hugely when my TW and DW are on telly, and getting drunk with some friends.
Thank you to everyone who's popped by, said hello, been lovely, or just lurked and read - I really appreciate it, and will do my best to keep things entertaining. Unlike much of this post, which is quite possibly the most boring, self-indulgent entry so far... But like I keep saying, it's my bloody blog, and if I decide to fill it with photos of my arse with faces crudely drawn on, then dammit, that's my preroggyblog. I probably won't do that though, so don't worry. But if I wanted to, I could. Who's gonna stop me?? You?? Ha! Hahaha! HAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!
Sorry. Too much chocolate. Crashing now. Enjoy what's left of Two-Bond, and here's to... whatever name I give to 2008, haven't thought of one yet. Cheers!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
We're about half unpacked right now, it's proving to be a lot easier than packing - the more we unpack, the more space there is (thanks to shelves, bookcases, cabinets etc). And we're slowly sorting the living room. The new sofa arrived yesterday, and is fantastic. Spent a long evening watching movies and getting drunk on it. Nice. Soon we'll be done downstairs, and can put the Christmas trees up. Yes, I said trees, plural. We had a big one, then had to buy a smaller one because the flat got too small for it. So now both of them are going up, because we can. And we're keeping em up all through January, I don't care what anyone says. We've missed out on the run up to Christmas, so we'll make up for it. That's right, I said the biggest turkey in the shop, boy! The one as big as you are! And here's a shilling for your trouble!
News! Torchwood news! Get your fresh TW news here! Well, not fresh, it's already been reported in several other places, but I may as well round them up and pretend I knew about them all along. There's a press release for my episode, "Sleeper", here, which has lots of juicy details - who *is* Beth? Can she be as innocent as she seems? Booga-booga-booga! I'll be interviewed in the Torchwood Declassified show which is on just after the episode, so you'll get to see me babbling incoherently about how I love everyone and everything, sitting in the Hub, in my fancy red shirt (got to make an effort when you're on the telly, try not to look like a pale, shrieking, filth-encrusted writer who hasn't left the house for three months). Still not sure what date the series starts, but it's "week 3" of January when the first ep airs, so shouldn't be too hard to watch our for. In the meantime, you can see a lovely trailer promo for the whole of season 2 here, courtesy of BBC America. Lots of clips of mine in there, but I won't say which ones, you'll have to guess and see if you were right on the day. Naturally I'll be pimping my ep mightily when the time comes.
I've only got one paid gig outline to do over the break, so I'm going to take some time out to work on my own projects, do some research, and write up pitches for several things. I've got several books and DVDs for research, so I'll be spending plenty of time on the big sofa. I might not get a chance to blog again before everything kicks off, so I'll sign off for now - although I might shove the end of year thing up if I finish it before January. Have a lovely Christmas or (insert holiday festival here), and I'll see you in 2008...
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
We've moved house. Same street, nice and easy, right next to the station (instead of 10 minutes away, at the end of our incredibly long cul-de-sac), but a nice 2 bed house instead of a tiny 1 bed flat. More importantly, we'll be leaving behind our absolutely fucking horrendous scumbag neighbours. No more dog barking non stop from 8am every day. No more screeching from her while performing her embarrassingly fake orgasms. No more of their stupid, bellowing laughter at 1am, just when you're about to fall asleep. No more of them getting back late and partying with their retard friends until 5am. No more banging and crashing all the doors as they arrive home, when everybody else is capable of entering the building without it sounding like the world's ending. No more combined stench of dog and cigarettes forcing its way into our flat when our and their windows are open at the same time (making for an extremely unpleasant summer). No more loud, obnoxious twats stomping around every night so loudly it sounds like they're actually in the flat with us.
It all happened so fast, there was hardly any time to pack. Saw the place online on the 20th November, viewed it that day, decided that night. Phoned them the next day, said we wanted it, and moved in yesterday, 17th December. Yeah, the week before Christmas, which is obviously the best time to move, what with it being so quiet... But we've both been so unbelievably busy lately, we didn't really have time to start packing properly until last Friday. Yes, 3 days before. But not to worry, I said at the time to Jo, packing's easy. We've got all the boxes we need, all we have to do is put stuff into them. You'll be surprised how quick and easy it is. *Un*packing is the hard part. Those words, you will be completely unsurprised to hear, soon came back to haunt me. Oh, they haunted the shit out of me.
We had some small boxes packed, then got some stuff done Friday, but then we were both out all day Saturday, till quite late. So we only really got stuck in on Sunday at 1pm. Thankfully we'd ordered some proper, strong removal boxes from www.packnmove.co.uk - if we hadn't had those, it would have been even worse. Check out the size of the bubble wrap, with a copy of 300 on top to compare sizes:
THIS! IS! BUBBLE WRAAAAAAAAP!
We packed all day Sunday, and when we got to midnight, realised that we were going to have to just keep going, all night. We got some coffee going, had a biscuit or twelve, and got back into it.
1am. We're having lots of fun, packing away, and making lots of noise to keep the scumbag neighbours awake. The packing tape is great for that, because it's one of those ones that screeches like a dying harpie when you pull off a big length. Screeeeech! Take that, annoying neighbours! Oh, what fun we're having! We'll be finished in no time at all! No time at all! No time at all!
(insert wibbly wobbly timey wimey dissolve effect here)
5am. It is no longer fun. We both have that awful feeling where it's like someone has rubbed sand, acid, and ground-up dead babies into your eyes. Jo gets about 45 minutes sleep while I carry on for a bit, then when she wakes up, I get my 45 minutes while she packs.
7am. Realise I've had the song "I'll be seeing you" stuck in my head, for some reason, for about an hour. The Liberace version. Try to get rid of it, then stop, realising that it's probably the only thing keeping me going, keeping my brain working. I'll... be seeing youuuu... in all the old familiar places..." Couldn't find the Liberace version online, so the above link is as close as I can get. Consider it an early Christmas present.
9am. At midnight, when we decided to stay up all night, I felt good because it meant we had loads of time. Now, I realise that we still don't have enough time for everything. So. Much. Stuff.
10am. The black, black despair sets in. Will this ever end? Will we ever escape? We haven't put the kitchen knives away yet, should we just kill ourselves with them, and take the pain away? The only thing that saves us is being physically unable to perform any action that isn't putting stuff into boxes.
1pm. We've been packing for 24 hours straight, with occasional breaks for food and coffee. And it's still. Not. Finished.
4pm. The removal van turns up. 27 hours in, and we're almost finished. They start loading the stuff, Jo goes to the new place to let them in. I stay to supervise, and try to finish packing the kitchen stuff, because WE'VE ONLY JUST GOT TO IT. 27 HOURS LATER. JESUS CHRISTING CHRIST AL-CHRISTING-MIGHTY.
The removal blokes look at the Pile of Insanity:
It's bigger than it seems, spilling off the sides of the pic, and going right to the back of the room. Somewhere in there, the Ark of the Covenant is lost, forever. One of the removal men shrugs, and says something like "okay, so no sofa or fridge, it's mainly the bed, shelves, then a few boxes." I laugh the laugh of the damned. It takes them over two hours to get everything in the van, while I frantically stuff kitchen things into boxes, bags, pockets, anything. In the end, I have to leave most of the food, and some kitchen implements. We'll come back in a day or so. I don't care anymore. Let the pigeons eat it.
Another hour later, the men are gone, and everything is piled into our lovely new house. We stare at it. Dazed. Feeling myself finally losing the last shred of sanity, I think "well, now it's time to unpack..." But we don't. We unpack the bare minimum of stuff so that we can sleep on something soft. Before that, we need food. Order a Chinese takeaway, and get the Diet Coke out - but which box has the glasses? Can't find them. All we can find are the silly champagne glasses. So that's what we have:
That was Monday. Tuesday, the Sky man arrived to connect us to the wonderful world of Television, and BT's assurance that "yeah, we just switch off the broadband at your old place, and switch it on at the new one" turned out to be a pack of evil lies. We either have a line fault, or an account fault, or a stupid fucking telecommunications company fault. They fixed it this afternoon, after I threatened to destroy them all with my mind-force. Side note: delivery men, installation men, or repairmen always take one sugar with their tea or coffee, and always have milk ("white and one, cheers"). I do not know why.
Once everything's sorted, then I'll finally be able to have a desk and chair in the spare room. Which means I can write without doing my back in. Jo can have her piano and music stuff in the same place. And our new, L-shaped sofa arrives on Friday. So if blogging is even more sporadic than usual, or I fail to reply to an email or just go "buhhhhh, duhhhhh" when I answer the phone, that's why. Normal service will resume shortly. Thank you. And good night.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine is out, and features a big interview with an extremely handsome and talented writer called-- oh, how embarrassing! It's me! It was a mammoth phone interview, really good fun to do. I rambled on a bit, but hopefully I come across as reasonably sane. We talked about all sorts of stuff, including my DW Pompeii episode, my Torchwood episode (which contains the title, some info and a sneaky plot description), how I got the TW/DW gigs, and how I got into writing in the first place. There are pictures and everything, so go and have a look. It's the new issue out now, the one with Kylie draped across a Dalek on the cover:
I'm sure Katy Manning approves. I did offer to pose for the same pic, in the same dress, but my emails kept bouncing back, for some reason. Honestly, they *really* missed out there, I bet I'd look perfectly delightful in clothes designed for pop princesses (princessi?), and not at all terrifying. There's a big feature with Kylie, loads of other news about the Christmas special, series 4, and David Tennant too, but never mind all that - they've got an interview with Bernard Cribbins, who is a top class legend for far too many reasons to explain. You can't say fairer than that. Although I am STILL not on the cover, despite my very clear and perfectly reasonable demands. Then again, I'm on the spine, so if you bend it around slightly:
There we go, I'm *sort of* on the cover, if you squint a bit. Anyway, I don't care, because I'm sharing the spine with the mighty Bernard Cribbins! Wahey!
Hello to anyone who has popped over here recently, thanks to the recent DW/TW news snippets in various places - top 3 places people have come from so far are the Doctor Who Forum, James Marsters' site, and Torchwood.TV. They've put the blog link in the DWM article too, which is very nice of them, so hello to you lovely readers too. Look around, relax, and feel free to say hello or anything. Doesn't have to be "hello", obviously - far be it from me to restrict you in your choice of greetings and salutations. Say what you like, it's a free country. OR IS IT??? Well, yes, more or less. Hello from me to you, anyway.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Look at them. Look at the handsome, seductive people. They all want me. They can't help themselves, they're only human. How could they resist? One at a time, then, come on.
It was great fun, they showed episode 1 on the big screen at the fancy schmancy Rex Cinema, in front of cast, producers, writers, and some media bods, including our own Jason "The Arnopp" Arnopp. Can't say anything about the ep that isn't covered in the linked articles, but I will add this: it's bucketloads of fun. Still exciting and tense, yes, but it's really playful and funny, making fun of itself without undercutting the plot. There was much laughter and cheering from everyone, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. At the end was a trailer for the upcoming series, which included several clips from my episode - and one of my lines got a huge laugh, so I'm very happy about that. And the last shot and line in the trailer was also from my one, which gave me a thrill. My episode arrived on DVD last week, and I've watched it twice already. I still can't quite believe I got away with some of the stuff in it, I'm incredibly happy with the result. It's difficult for me to explain quite how excited I am about the show without sounding like either a wanker or a publicity shill, but I genuinely can't wait to see it, and for everyone else to see it. If you already like it, the new series is going to rock your world - everything you love about it is back, bigger and better. But if you're not a fan, check it out anyway, I think you'll be surprised.
And yes, the stopwatch is back. I will say no more.
After the screening, there was much banter, and I did my BBC website interviews - they'll be up on the relevant sites after my TW and DW eps have aired. Met the groovy blokes from SFX, and during the discussion of where TV technology was headed, I made a joke, but then did my usual thing of taking it *teensy* bit too far, and was met with slightly horrified looks. But they they laughed anyway, so they're the dirty ones, not me. Met the lovely Caitlin Moran (no relation, but then if she was I'd probably have met her before now), a journalist and massive Dr Who fan. The whole thing was good fun, got to see pretty much everyone in a relaxed atmosphere. I like things like this, because it makes me feel a bit important and special, and you can't get enough of that as a writer, let me tell you. There were drinks laid on, and biscuits, many of which I ate. I also snagged a couple of postcards, because I'm sad like that. Oh, and check out my badge, underneath one of my stolen postcards:
I'm a writer! Woohoo!
Things wound down a bit, and I went on to a TV meeting, about which more later. I'm hoping to have more TV/film news soon, so watch this space. Well, not this one right here, I mean future blog entries. If you just stay watching this one, nothing will happen. I'll try and get the next one up soon, about the Torchwood wrap party, while we're on the TW subject. It will include photos! Well, two slightly different photos of the same object. But still! An object! From two different angles! How many blogs can say that, eh??
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Ooh, the waving! The firmness!
There were several speeches using the quietest megaphone in the world, so while we couldn't hear what they were saying, we thoroughly agreed with them. Whatever they said. Lots of cheering and applause ensued, and quite right too. Press were in attendance, cameras, interviews, it was all very civilised, and it felt great to be actually doing something. It's a gesture, and we gestured with all our might.
I've never held a protest placard before, I felt strangely empowered. As soon as I held it up, I got the sudden urge to beat up "the Man" with it, but there were no greedy studio fatcats passing by at the time. There was a frisson of danger when a police car screeched towards us, sirens blaring - we all tensed up, gripping the placards tightly, ready to fight the fucking pigs for trying to come down on us - but the car just went straight past, on the way somewhere else. Cue lots of muttering about how they were "lucky" that they didn't try to start any shit with us. Okay, it was just me muttering.
There's a full report over on the WGGB site here - and if you look closely at the third photo, you can see the side of my head in the bottom left corner. But come on Uncle Jimbo, you're saying, I want to see a proper pic of you, holding a placard, wearing the t-shirt, looking a bit mental, and giving the heavy metal hand gesture. Where can I see a picture of *that*? Oh, okay then - don't say I never give you anything:
Monday, November 26, 2007
"British writers and trade unionists will hold a public demonstration on Wednesday 28 November 2007 in support of the American screenwriters’ strike.
The demo, which is part of an International Day of Solidarity, will take place at 12 noon outside the Trades Union Congress HQ in Great Russell Street, central London (link to StreetMap)."
If you would like to show your support, come along and take part - everyone is welcome. I'll be going, so hopefully I'll see some of you there. If you can't make it, why not put something on your blog - messages of support, photos, links, or even a photo of yourself holding a homemade sign (if you do post something, feel free to link to it in the comments). Send the WGGB link to your local press, tell them what's happening. Or just tell other people about it.
Let's get out there and show that we're all together on this one.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Good to hear that negotiations will start again next week in the big strike, let's hope things are resolved and everyone gets what they deserve. Apparently a "clutch of agents" were pivotal in getting the talks up and running - so *that's* the collective noun. I thought it was "an obfuscation of agents", or possibly "a percentage of agents". Anyway, check the article out, it's very interesting.
But we all need to keep the pressure on until then - just because the studios are talking, doesn't mean they're not trying to stick pens in your eye when you're not looking. So why not throw some pencils back them? Yes, you can send a box of pencils to the big, mean media moguls. The idea is that if everyone sends one box each, the studios get truckloads of pencils delivered to them, as a big, pencil-shaped symbol. They're just a dollar a box, and come with instructions on how to pass them on to schools, so the studios get the message, and then kids get some free pencils. Everybody wins. Except the pencils, who get YANKED out of their boxes, CUT WITH BLADES, and RUBBED on pieces of paper, repeatedly, until there's nothing left of them. Won't someone please think of the pencils??
No response to my email to Broadcast yet. I don't even know if it reached anyone, it took so long to find an email address that didn't bounce back. But there are plenty of other "opinion" ranters fighting the good fight and writing idiotic bullshit, like Toby Young of the Grauniad. I won't link to the article, it'll drive up his traffic and just make you angry, but here's my rough summary: "Duh, duhhhhh, they're all millionaires, I don't get paid for extra stuff, I do lots of work for free cause I'm a massive tool, duhhh, duhhhhhhh, I shit my pants again, duhhhhhhhhhhhh". Okay, I'm simplifying (and making stuff up) somewhat, but not much. He lists all the extra work he does for other people, including giving free ideas to TV production companies, and complains that he doesn't get any money for it. Don't fucking do it then, you muppet. I'm amazed to see that he also moans about not getting paid for doing email interviews - "a good 50% of the finished pieces are written by me". Yes, that's because it's a fucking INTERVIEW. I would hope that a bit more than 50% is by you, really.
Speaking of interviews, next month's Doctor Who Magazine will have one with me, with photos and everything. It's issue 390, and will be out around the 16th December, but I'll post again closer to the time. Hey, that means it'll be mostly "written by" me, because I spoke the words out loud - I bet those words make up well over 50% of the "inteview". Naturally, I'll be invoicing them at once...
I'll do the two bloggy things I've been tagged for, honest, haven't had a chance yet. Finished the first draft of my short story, and have to finish a script and an outline by this weekend. I haven't written a short story for a couple of years, and was a bit rusty at the start - I was shocked at how long it took to do 4000 words. An early draft of Severance contains just over 22,000 words, but somehow seems "lighter", because of the white space and the shorthand you use to describe things. Still, got there in the end, hopefully it's good enough to make it into the Secret Thing I did it for. Ooh! He teases! He excites!
Tomorrow I'm off to Cardiff for something else I'm not sure if I can talk about or not, so I'll hold off for now. I'll be there for most of the day, and will be staying the night. I'm hoping to have a look around the city, as all I've ever seen of it is the train station and the BBC buildings. I want to see the castle, but also want to see the bay, with the big shiny water tower thingy, so I can stride around and shout instructions into my earpiece. And then have sex with an alien. While shouting into my earpiece and saving the world at the same time.
If anyone would like to bail me out of jail once I've been arrested for indecent exposure and breaching the peace, I promise I'll pay you back.
Friday, November 16, 2007
The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine is out, and features the Peter Davison and David Tennant special episode for Children In Need. This is a teamup so incredibly exciting, it threatens to destabilise the very fabric of the space/time continuum, and plunge us all into an alternate dimension where poodles rule the world, and everyone looks like Bjorn from ABBA. I mean, come on. The 5th Doctor and the 10th Doctor. Together. Too much! Brain... fracturing...
Speaking of Time Crash - for that is its name - when I was on set for the filming of my episode (report will come when it's been shown, as it's spoiler-tastic), I found a copy of The Moff's script for it. On a chair. Right in front of me. I picked it up, with trembling hands. Knowing I shouldn't, knowing it was wrong. But I opened it. Almost immediately, I had read two of its glorious pages. And then I forced myself to close it, and read no further. There was nobody around. Nobody would have minded, I'm part of the DW gang now, they know I won't tell anyone what's inside, and I could have finished it really quickly. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it, couldn't spoil it for myself. I want to sit down and be as surprised as everyone else tonight. It's on around 8pm, and if you're really careful, you can avoid the Spice Girls
And it goes without saying, but let's say it anyway: give the kids some cash. Go on. Or Terry Wogan will come round your house and beat you up. He's not the kindly, avuncular figure he makes himself out to be, he's a brutal enforcer for the BBC. I have it on good authority that he was the one who smashed up the Blue Peter garden, apparently they were late with their protection money. So pay up.
Click here if you want to donate online, or you can send them a cheque, or at any bank, building society or post office, or pay by card over the phone, or HSBC customers can pay at HSBC cash machines, or by pressing your red button (on your TV remote, not the nuclear strike button), or by PayPal. Blimey. I think you can also pay by magic, osmosis, and with tiny movements of your eyes. If not, then you will be able to by next year, probably.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Dear Ms Bell
Your article in Broadcast on the 7th November, "Striking writers are wrong to think they should be paid more", is perpetuating several common misconceptions. Even the title itself displays a spectacular misunderstanding of how things work.
"Try telling that to the Writers' Guild of America, which went on strike for the first time in two decades, as it insists that screenwriters should be paid more money to cover reformatting rights across digital platforms other than broadcast TV. What a truly bizarre prospect this is - and perhaps only on the west coast of America where the relativity of wealth is so insanely out of kilter could it garner any kind of purchase as a basis for a strike."
First of all, it is not MORE money. Writers earn royalties - or, as they call them in the States, residuals - on a piece of work they authored. If a network makes money from the resulting TV show, then the writer is entitled to a share of that money. It's not extra. It's not a bonus, it's not a perk.
Say Doris Writer creates a TV show. The network puts that show on air, with adverts (or on a pay per view channel), thereby earning money. Doris gets a share of that money, as is right and proper, yes? Yes. All fair enough so far. The network then puts the show out on DVD, and Doris gets a share of the DVD earnings - much like an author gets a percentage of every book sold. Again, as is right and proper, yes? Yes. Fair enough again. Now stay with me, Emily, cause here's where it gets really complicated. If the network then puts that show on the internet, with adverts, it is earning money from that internet showing - the same way it earns money from a TV airing, or from a DVD box set. Doris then, surely, deserves to get a percentage of that too, because the network is earning money from an airing of her show. How, in the name of David Hasselhoff, is that NOT fair to you?
Many writers get most of their earnings from repeat showings - but what if that TV show only ever repeats on the net, or as an iTunes download? Under your rules, Doris wouldn't be entitled to any residuals at all. Still fair?
The writers aren't asking for "more money to cover reformatting rights". They want their hard earned residuals, in whatever medium that may be. It's not such a "bizarre prospect", and it's not only "on the west coast of America". Five minutes of research would have revealed the WGGB/PACT TV agreement, which entitles us UK writers to 5.6% minimum royalties on the "multi-media" exploitation of a standard TV episode we wrote. 5.6%. DVD, downloads, on-demand, yada yada yada. Know how much US writers get on DVDs? 0.3%. They were asking for 0.6%. They even abandoned this shockingly greedy request, in the hope of getting *something* for internet distribution. The studios refused to give them anything. Yeah, the WRITERS are the greedy ones...
"The basis of the claim for greater pay is surely a fairly obvious fallacy - that television is going to offset its declining audiences and therefore production budgets with internet exposure and that scripts acquire an additional value when extended across all platforms for which writers should be paid."
Again, it is not "additional" value. If the network makes money from a repeat - whether that repeat is on TV or the internet - then the writer is entitled to their percentage. It’s a royalty. Like it or not, people are watching less on their actual TV boxes, and either waiting for the DVD or watching online. If TV moves online altogether - sure, maybe it won't move in completely, but it's already leaving some clothes and a toothbrush behind, you know, just in case - then the US writers are going to need a solid residuals deal in place, or they'll suddenly find themselves with drastically reduced earnings.
"It is a formula which many of us might wish we had adopted - if I'm paid for a piece in print then how about a bit more for it popping up on an interweb site?"
Hey, my line of work isn't the same thing at all, but why don't I get exactly the same deal?? Doesn't work that way. You get paid for an article. They print it. That's the end of the story. It appears for one day, and never comes back. They can't "repeat" the newspaper, several weeks later, and get people to buy the same old articles all over again, earning themselves more money. They couldn't sell advertising in that repeat paper. So it's not the same thing. The website is an extension of that same paper. But if they were to collect all your articles and make a TV show about them that went on to sell millions of copies on DVD or online - you'd be entitled to royalties from that. And if they tried to do it without giving you any money, you'd be pretty angry.
"For the first time in five or six years the pendulum is even swinging back against the idea that the advertising-funded model of web content will work. At the nerdiest edge of the internet there is now an argument that advertisers will no longer have to stick their brands to content as there are so many better ways to reach the consumer. "
And here's where you lose me completely. You're saying online delivery of ad-funded content isn't going to work, is too expensive, and will eventually be abandoned by the advertisers altogether? So why are writers greedy for wanting their fair share of residuals for money that *is* earned on those online shows? If it's all going to fall apart anyway, what the hell, give them 20%, won't make a difference, eh?
It is extremely irresponsible to publish such a poorly researched, ill-informed article. In an ideal world, there'd be a retraction, and an apology to the striking writers who are trying to safeguard their livelihoods. Then again, in an ideal world, articles in a publication featuring “television and radio industry news” would demonstrate some basic understanding of, say, the television industry.
This isn't about the millionaires, this is about the people who haven't sold anything for a few years, the ones who live off residuals. Some of them have families. All of them would like to continue to be able to eat and pay their rent. If you genuinely think that's wrong, then that's the "truly bizarre prospect".
Monday, November 12, 2007
You've all heard about the strike by now, and probably know all about it, but it needs to be mentioned everywhere, for the sake of solidarity and exposure (I know, I'm behind on my blogging, last to the party, etc etc). It's important to keep talking about it, and showing our support.
On the off chance that you don't know all the details, check out Piers' excellent post here, and Danny's also excellent post here. If you want the Reader's Digest version, the AMPTP is basically saying: 'Fuck you writers, you must keep the shitty "it hasn't taken off yet" residual rate for DVD, even though it actually has taken off, in a big way. Oh, and no you can't have any new media residuals at all, because we don't know if the internet or downloads will ever take off, even though they have, and we're making shitloads of free cash from the internet and download versions of your stuff. We realise that nearly half of all WGA writers are unemployed at any given moment, which means residuals usually pay the rent, but we don't care cause we're fucking evil. Now bring me a kitten, so that I may crush its little head with my boot, it's the only way I can feel any sort of emotion these days. Is this thing still on?'
Thankfully, over here, thanks to the WGGB, we have decent rates for DVD and "new" media (that would include something called the "internet", which you may not have heard of, it's *very* new, and who knows if it'll catch on). So I hope the US writers get what they're asking for. I mean, it kind of goes without saying, but writers are crucial to TV and movies. Yes, it's a collaborative, team effort, and obviously a script doesn't become a movie without a lot of talented people working their arses off - but the writer has to work his or her arse off *first*. Without that writer, that script would not exist, that's where it all starts. To put it bluntly, we MAKE THE STORIES UP, OUT OF OUR HEADS, FROM NOTHING. As for the studios, who are now wallowing in the cash they've been withholding, and might feel they can wait things out, I have one question: If you put a wad of cash up your ass, when you pull it out has it turned into a script? No? Then you're fucked. Sort it out.
I hope things get resolved soon, so that our US brothers and sisters can get what they're owed, and get back to doing what they love. But in the meantime, here are some good blogs to visit for strike info and experiences from the ground:
Writers and strike captains tell it how it is, with plenty of links and news
If you would like to help: Whether you're in the US or UK, go to Fans4Writers - it started as a pizza run to the Universal Studios picket line by Joss Whedon fans, and has become a full on campaign by all fans supporting all writers. They're doing food runs, organising support and awareness, and generally being supercool. There's info on how to get the word out, who to contact, and you can even contribute to a food fund. I'm gobsmacked at how quickly this mobilised, it's fantastic. The plan is to do food runs at least once a week, to all the picketing locations, so if you want to help out, please stick a few quid in their PayPal pocket. With the UK to US exchange rate, a quid becomes two dollars, so you are quite literally doubling your money - can't say fairer than that. Any amount will help.
Before you mention it - yes, I'm aware there are many, many people dying of cancer and famine, blah blah Hollywood rich folk etc - but this isn't about raising lots of cash, it's about standing beside our US friends, it's a gesture of solidarity. Organised food runs show that people from all over the world are constantly thinking about and supporting the writers, and public support is very important on this one. A couple of quid here and there, and they'll know we're behind them here. Whether you donate or not, let the people running the site know you support them and the writers. It all makes a big difference. Please pass this site around, if you know people who would like to help out, and read the Participate page for information on what else you can do. The best thing everyone can do is get the info out there, correct the false impressions many people have, and present a united front. This isn't about getting extras, bonuses, or lots of cash. It's about getting a fair deal, basic protection, and safeguarding careers. Let's try and help them do that.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Nice! They were bloody feisty, too. And yes, that whole jug was just for two of us. And yes, that makes us filthy drunkards. Before we got to the main movie of the night, we warmed up with Thriller, just because. It was the full version, which neither of us had seen all the way through for years and years. It's still that good. Hope you all had a good Halloween, and that nobody got killed. Or if they did, that at least it was fun somehow.
Thursday I got my hair cut, and had two TV meetings. One was for my Telly Episode That Isn't DW Or TW, which went very well, and I can now "go to script", which is good news. Hopefully I can announce what this is soon, just waiting for contracts and things to be sorted.
Friday was the day of the FrightFest all-nighter, starting at 9pm with Diary of the Dead. But before that, during the day, I got a call to go and meet Paul, one of the FrightFest organisers, and Scott, an American film critic mate who I met in Austin last year at Meat/Beer Fest 2006. He told me that George A. Romero was in town, for interviews and the FrightFest intro. Did I want to come and meet him??
Er, yes. Very very much yes.
I mean, you know who Romero is. You probably know how I feel about his movies. He is horror movie royalty, for me and a hell of a lot of other people. So of course I wanted to meet him. He's really, really friendly, very good fun, and about nine feet tall:
I chatted with him for a while, told him how much I was dying to see Diary, and generally gushed like the screaming fanboy that I am. I'd brought a copy of Severance to give to him, but was too shy to do it - the others told him he should try and see it, so then I bit the bullet and whipped it out (the DVD, you filthy minded creatures). He was groovy about it, and said he'd check it out. If it even entertains him a teeny, tiny amount, then I'll be deliriously happy. He laughed and liked the sound of the storyline when Scott described it, so that's a good sign. Anyway, even if he never watches it, it'll be sitting on his DVD shelf, and that'd still be enough for me.
Also got to meet the rest of the Zombie Diaries gang, who are cool, and had a great day talking to lots of people. The FrightFest all-nighter was brilliant fun, kicking off with Diary of the Dead, which I loved - a great reinvention of the genre, with plenty of crowd pleasing moments. George gave a great intro and a hilarious Q+A afterwards, and got a hero's welcome. The rest of the night's movies were fun, apart from one which just went on too bloody long and got boring, and we all staggered out like zombies the next morning, bleary eyed, in search of
Yesterday I did a fun phone interview with Doctor Who Magazine, and finished another outline, so all is well. Today I had two meetings, one for TV, one for a possible movie, both went very well, and may result in Things happening. Oh yes. And now I'm just going to take it easy for the evening, because I'm still knackered. So keep the noise down, or I'll stick sporks in your eyes and tell you that nobody loves you.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Booga booga booga!
After several weeks of struggling to find the energy and motivation to get writing done, I've suddenly had a burst of activity. Got the outline done over the weekend for my Telly Episode That Isn't DW Or TW, just in time for the deadline. Yesterday I chained myself to the laptop and ploughed through three more things that needed doing (all part of one thing), so that's another job completed. And I'll have to do one more outline before Friday, but I'm halfway into that so it's all good.
Before then, there's Halloween to enjoy. I love Halloween, because it's a good excuse to watch lots of horror, and mess about. We have plenty of horror movies lined up, some booze, some sweets, nice food, scary music, a pumpkin, and a strobe light. Yeah, that's right, a strobe light. There may well be drunken robotic dancing. I have no shame. Actually, I do, I have lots of shame, but I squeeze it down into a tiny ball just underneath my heart, where it can fester along with all the other repressed filth.
I hope you've all got some good horror to watch. Stick on a few movies, something truly scary - like this, or this, or this, or maybe this. Or, if you're feeling *really* brave, this.
So, have yourselves a merry little Halloween, watch something scary or disgusting, and have fun. Now get off my blog's lawn! Punkass kids!
Friday, October 26, 2007
Page 54: A feature on the brilliant Colin Teague, which includes some info on the filming of my episode - he's directing it, and also directed my Torchwood ep. There's a big photo of the location filming in Rome (on the sets of "Rome"! Wooooo!), but you can see the same pic here if you want to see it right now, and get the instant gratification that only the internet gods can provide.
Page 5: A brief article on the location filming of my ep.
Page 4: A sidebar with details of the guest cast, including Peter Capaldi (blimey!) and Phil Davis (double blimey!). Coincidentally enough, Francesca Fowler was in an episode of Rome, *and* I already know her too (she helped us with a workshop for Severance - I had no idea she was in my ep though until she arrived at the readthrough, and we were both all like "ooh, hey, blimey, that's mad, eh?" as you do).
This means that yes, my episode is the Pompeii one that was announced here. I know! Pompeii! Vesuvius! No, missus! And yes, I've been to the readthrough and visited the studio filming - I didn't say anything at the time, because it hadn't been announced which episode I was doing. It probably wouldn't have mattered, but I didn't want to disrupt any sort of announcement schedule that may have been planned, so I kept quiet. And I saw what happened to the last writer who leaked information - honestly, his own mum wouldn't have recognised him. His remains are preserved in a glass case, and kept in the script meeting room at BBC Wales, as a warning to others. Tragically, he still wants to write. It's *so* upsetting to see him trying to reach our keyboards through the glass. But we can't help laughing and pointing.
Obviously, right now, I still can't answer any specific plotty-type questions, so don't be offended if I fob you off in a firm yet hilarious way. I'll post the readthrough and filming reports once the episode has been on, as they'll be *very* dull if I leave out all the details - it's impossible to talk about them without going into specifics, and we all love those juicy specifics. Right now, I'm only confirming stuff that is already announced, for a while, so I'll let you know when other information starts to appear. Besides, I want it to be a surprise when the giant bananas attack. Oh, bugger...
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Also saw Stardust, which is a lovely, mad, silly fairy tale, and thoroughly entertaining. Gorgeous to look at, very funny, heartfelt, with plenty of thrills and excitement. Don’t be put off by some of the misleading trailers, it’s not a boring "walking across hills" quest movie, although there is a quest in it, but it’s a fun quest, and anyway it's not really about that either. If you have to compare it to something, The Princess Bride will do, although Stardust does its own thing quite happily. Is there a genre called "sarcastic-but-nice fairy tale"? There is now, probably. The only slight problem was the song over the end credits which starts blaring out the *second* the movie ends, a hideous, 80s power ballad-style monstrosity, which completely kills the mood. I mean, *completely*, it almost felt deliberate. Just had a look, and apparently it's "Rule the World", by Take That. Blimey. It's fucking shite, and had everyone scrambling to get out of the cinema, which is not the reaction you want, really. It's a real shame, because it's such a lovely ending, before the credits start. Anyway, you have been warned. See the movie, but get ready to run.
Also had a sort-of double bill of Walter Matthau movies last week - Charade (it's a Cary and Audrey film, I know, but he has a fun part), and the mighty Charley Varrick, which I've been dying to see for ages. I can't get enough of the Matthau, he was fantastic in everything, especially The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, which is probably my favourite of his. So many good movies, and that's before you even get to The Odd Couple.
Season 3 of Veronica Mars has just arrived, so I'll be diving into that immediately, to get my fix. And the new Kubrick collection that I pre-ordered ages ago has just been posted. It wasn’t officially released until yesterday, but they posted it last Friday. That means it should get here in time for Halloween - me and Jo always have a long Halloween weekend of horror movies, and The Shining is long overdue a showing. Can't wait.
And the entries have arrived for the 2 Days Later competition, so I'll be watching those with my big judgey eye. Which is the left one. The other eye is my little friendly eye, so I'll be keeping that one firmly closed. If anyone is still reading this blog post, thank you, bless your heart, and don't worry, it's over now.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
It was really good fun, and I didn't get nervous until about three questions in, when my brain realised "OMG i gunna be on telly" As soon as my stupid brain said that, I started shaking, and my voice went all wobbly. I stopped for a drink of water and tried to concentrate on the answers, rather than being nervous. It was good, after months of having to be *really* careful not to say *anything* to anyone, to be able to speak freely about the episode. The TWD people are there for the whole process, they filmed the readthrough way back when, and know everything about the episode. So there was no shutting me up. Finally free of the secrecy, I babbled away at top speed, answering all the questions they asked, and many they hadn't asked, I just talked and talked and talked like a nutcase. I have no idea if it came across okay, or if I looked like a mumbling, terrified idiot, but they seemed happy with the footage. It's scary, doing on-camera stuff, and always hugely embarrassing to look at your own silly head bobbing around. I'll probably have to leave the room when it's on, and watch it by myself later, cringing. You know when you hear your recorded voice played back, and it doesn't sound like you? Well, it's ten times the effect with visual stuff, you just stare in amazement at this bizarre impostor on the screen. Anyway, it'll be shown immediately after my episode, when the new series starts next year.
Yesterday was the first Big Meeting for my new Telly Episode That Isn't DW or TW. I'd already met with the folks twice before, the last time was a general sort of love-fest thing where I'd already been offered the chance to do the episode, and we all talked about how much we like each other (my 2nd favourite type of meeting, the favourite being the free lunch meeting). This time was a more detailed one, where we talked about the plot and serial elements, so I know where my episode fits into the overall scheme of things. They also showed me some footage of the series they've just filmed, to see what it all looks like. I now need to do an outline for my episode, and will probably start writing the script at the end of the month.
The Other Really Big SuperDuper Important Meeting last week got rescheduled, so I'm just waiting to find out when the new date is. It gives me more time to prepare, which is good, but I hope it happens soon, cause I really want the job. More excitingly vague updates as they happen.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Then pick up the decommissioned Titan 1 Missile Base, a snip at only $1.5million. For that, you get 57 acres of land, several buildings above ground, and 16 underground buildings linked by thousands of feet of connecting tunnels. It's got missile silos, which are handy for, well, missiles. Two above-ground homes, so your hired goons have somewhere to live when they're off shift. Two antenna silos, which can be used for antennae, or as a handy training space for your army of ninjas. There's even a Control Dome Building, for when you build your weather control machine, or other doomsday device. It doesn't say if there's a direct hotline to the United Nations, so that you can threaten the world, but I imagine it wouldn't be a problem to have one installed. So grab a bargain today, before some scarred megalomaniac beats you to it.
Via the always magnificent Penny Arcade.
Monday, October 08, 2007
And I’ve got a big meeting tomorrow, for a TV something that would be really big and very important. I really, really want the gig, so I need to prepare for it as much as possible. Got to watch a DVD of their previous thing tonight, and see if I can re-read a whole book in one night too (read it before, but it was a few years ago, so I want to refresh my Swiss-cheese memory). I don’t *really* have to do either of them, but I want to be able to answer anything they throw at me. I had a meeting a few weeks ago that I completely fucked up, because I hadn’t done my homework properly. I had misunderstood slightly, thought they would be telling me more details of their idea, but instead they were asking me things like "how do you see this working?" I ended up mumbling, going “errr” a lot, and looked like a complete idiot, it was really embarrassing. No excuses though, I should have been prepared for it no matter what – no time, not well, misunderstood? Tough shit, you should know your stuff anyway, and have several ideas ready just in case. So I’ll be very busy tonight, reading, watching, and making lots of notes.
Speaking of DVDs, I had to buy the one above today in HMV, because the meeting is tomorrow. It reminded me why I only ever buy DVDs or music online, because when I walked in the door, the staff held a gun to my head, and mugged me: 20 fucking quid for a DVD. It's 12.99 on play.com, with free delivery. Yeah, sure, I'm a multi billionaire cause I've had a film made, blah blah blah, but that's not my point. 20 quid for a DVD in this day and age is outrageous. I went in a few months ago just to have a look, and a lot of their stuff was similarly expensive - even quite old movies that are just a few quid everywhere else. They had Project A for 20 quid, Project A Part 2 for 20 quid - and get this, a box set which included both films for... 20 quid. Which makes no sense at all. Needless to say, I stormed out of there, shrieking "I'll be blogging about THIS, I'll tell you that for nothing." Well, I thought it. But I thought it *really hard*.
This blog post is 20 quid in HMV.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
A couple of years ago I joined the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society. They search for any royalties, library fees, broadcast fees etc, that are owed to you, then collect it for you. If you're working in "the industry", it's well worth joining up, it's only 25 quid for lifetime membership. I finally got something this week, and it was for Cheap Rate Gravity, the short that started everything off - I have no idea where the money came from, but the reference on the payment sheet mentioned Canal Plus, so maybe they bought the rights to it or something. I don't know. What I *do* know is that after agent and ALCS commissions, I got about a hundred quid for free. Wahey! Free money! Although, seeing as I won the competition in 2002, you could argue that it was technically for 5 years of work, averaging it all out. I choose to argue that it's a hundred quid for free, which I can spend on booze. I will ignore any other arguments, by getting drunk.
And finally, Severance jumped up to 1,655th place on the US Amazon chart. I realise this is small potatoes in the greater scheme of things, but it's exciting for me, so get lost. Go on! Get out of here! Nobody likes you! They hate you! Oh, I can't stay angry at you, come back, I forgive you, everything's okay, you're my best mate. Now give us a cuddle.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Haven’t heard back about the movie I pitched for yet, but the movie rewrite I did seems about to hire a director, so that might start rolling forwards soon. Didn’t get the other TV episode I pitched for, just got the same standard, curt rejection everyone else got – “not quite what we’re looking for”. On reflection, maybe a kid’s animation show aimed at 5-7 year olds wasn’t ready to tackle the subject of serial killers who flay their victims alive and wear their skin. I’ll know for next time.
Obsessive Amazon watch latest: Severance is at 2,260 (down from 1,708). Cindy Crawford’s Shape Your Body Workout is at 3,174. The numbers speak for themselves. Remember, Christmas is less than 3 months away – show someone you love (or hate) them, with a shiny new DVD of Severance. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Although for legal reasons, I must point out that it doesn’t actually keep on giving. Once you give it, that’s it. They can watch it over and over though, if they want. But it’ll still be the same movie. Thank you for your co-operation in this matter.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Anonymous writes: I recently made my first script sale (for a feature), but now I'm faced with the prospect of writing a draft, I'm a bit frozen. Because they're paying money for this script, suddenly I feel like a fraud, and am not sure if I can do it. Is this normal?
No, it's not normal, it's completely unheard of and you are a monstrous freak.
Of *course* it's normal, absolutely. Happens to everyone. It's hard enough second guessing your work when you're just doing it on spec. But as soon as money enters the equation, it's a whole different kettle of fish: OMG, they're paying me, that means I have to deliver the best thing I've ever written, until now people have just been polite about my writing because it didn't make a difference to them, but now they're paying me there's no way anything I write will pass muster, they're going to hate me, it's all shit, I can't write, I'm a complete fraud, they'll find me out, what the hell am I thinking, nothing I write is worth *anything*, surely they won't pay me cash just for writing silly stories down on paper... And as soon as I hand in the script they'll say "Oh. Oh dear. And we *paid* for this? I thought we'd hired a proper writer? Jesus. Can we get the money back? You know what, forget it - we'll just cut our losses, that's the price we pay for being idiots. We'll just never work with this joker again. Get me that list of Proper Writers."
ALL these thoughts and many more went through my head when I sold Severance and had to sit down to write a draft that they were paying me for. And then again when I handed it in, as you can read in this post from 2004. And then again for every other draft. And again for every other draft of everything else. Once they're paying for it, you immediately assign a cash value to every line, it can't be helped. The only thing you can do is breathe, and remember that stuff you wrote yesterday for free is JUST as valuable as stuff you write today for money. If you're writing honestly and doing the best work you can - which you bloody well should be, for everything - then it'll be fine. Don't second guess yourself, just write it exactly how you normally would.
There is literally nothing else I can say that will help with this feeling, other than: yes, it's normal, happens to everyone. If it's any consolation, it happens every single time you hand in something that's paid for. Never goes away. Just one of the many writer insecurities to add to the list. On the bright side, it means you're now a proper writer - you have the two main qualities, which are (a) getting paid for words, and (b) massive insecurity.
They're paying you because they can't write. If they could write, do you think they'd fork over large sums of cash? No way. Most producers and execs are tight-fisted bastards, so you're obviously worth the money. If you weren't a proper writer, you wouldn't be getting paid. Therefore, you are a proper writer. Congratulations! Now, savour the feeling, and look forward to that heady moment when the money goes into your account. And then blow it all on hookers and crack.
Update: Just to prove it happens to all of us, here's an early interview with JK Rowling, who mentions the panic she faced when she sold the US rights to her book (that part starts around 5:29, but it's worth watching the whole thing to see how happy she was to have sold 30,000 copies, and her hopes about the upcoming movie deal - wonder how that turned out...)
Monday, September 17, 2007
If you’re not convinced, how about this – it’s cracked the top 5000 in the US Amazon chart. That’s right, after languishing in the doldrums it has leaped to 2,534th place. Glasses of Tizer for everyone! Although the Cindy Crawford Shape Your Body Workout has jumped up to 1,836th place. It used to be number 2,540. I would have overtaken her, but no, she has suddenly jumped ahead. I suspect conspiracy.
Also, the movie is in a new category: 43rd place in “Action & Adventure > Comic Action”. Interestingly, it’s now 2nd place in the "Horror > Independently Distributed" category – I’m a bit sad that it’s moved though, because last week at one point it was right between Spider Baby (Special Edition), and Women’s Prison Massacre (Uncut Edition). Still, 2nd place can’t be argued with. Although I just did.
Anyway, go buy it now, you know it makes sense.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
And now things are about to jump up several levels at once. I knew going in that doing Torchwood would instantly throw me into the spotlight somewhat. And then again with Doctor Who, but even more so. It's just starting to sink in now. DW is big. Huge. It gets roughly 7 or 8 million viewers every episode. There's a making-of show on straight after, there'll be interviews, articles, all sorts. I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for it. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about it, can't bloody WAIT, as the insecure, vain, needy part of me (all writers have it, don't lie, come on) desperately wants it, craves it, like some sort of delicious crack/heroin/Marmite cocktail. Mmm, Marmite. But at the same time, it's going to be something I can't control past a certain point.
When I first got the gig, I got loads of requests for info, interviews, all sorts of things. The first interview I said yes to, but then a few weeks later had to tell them I wanted to postpone for a while (sorry about that again, if you're reading). I put off any others, too, because I was a bit taken aback by the massive response to the announcement. The online and offline response was mostly positive - but there was so much of it, I panicked a bit. My name was everywhere, along with links and discussions about Severance. A couple of casual mentions on the blog got taken out of context and misinterpreted (not in a bad way, luckily), which made me worry about saying the wrong thing and accidentally spilling the beans or something. So I decided to pull back, avoid interviews for at least a few months, and not talk too much about it on the blog. I've never had so much interest in something that I hadn't even started writing yet, and I didn't want to do a cheery interview before I knew if I was even capable of doing an episode yet. What if I did all the interviews, then messed up the script and got kicked off? Extreme example, probably wouldn't happen, but that's what my brain started worrying about. I didn't want to jinx it. And that's why I've been a bit quiet about TW and DW for a while. And probably will be for a month or two. I've now done my drafts of the script, I'm incredibly happy with it, and hopefully it will be filming sometime soonish, so I can step back for the moment and take stock of myself. I'm getting used to the idea now that yes, I'm actually writing for DW and TW, I got there thanks to hard slog, and there's going to be lots of fun ahead. Fun, and probably more free scale-model diecast replica figures that are in NO WAY toys.
Just to clarify: I am *not* saying that all the lovely fans are scary. I am saying that thousands of people suddenly looking in your direction can make a person *feel* scared. Even if those thousands of people are supercool and friendly. You just feel paranoid that your flies are undone or something (which they are, regularly, lately I seem to be forgetting to zip up in the morning). Even now, I'm picking over every word carefully, because it's so easy to imply the wrong thing. Anyway, I'm a fan of the show too, so I would never say anything bad about other fans just being fans. This post isn't a moan or anything, just trying to explain how strange it all is, to go from some anonymous bloke to being "a Doctor Who writer". For the record: everyone and everything is brilliant and nice. Except Hitler, and murderers, and stuff. And Chris DeBurgh. Although early Chris DeBurgh stuff is great ("Spanish Train" etc, come on, admit it, he did really good stuff back then). I'm talking about the "Lady In Red"-era Chris DeBurgh.
So I'm approaching the point of no return. Soon, information about my episode will be out there, and lots of people will want to talk to me about it. It'll be a relief, because it's killing me keeping this all secret, I'm dying for people to know everything. But I'll have to wait a bit longer. Don't know if/when there will be announcements or press releases, but these things seem to pop up regularly. And as soon as it's out there, I'll be in a different place, so to speak. It's a bit scary. But I'm really looking forward to it.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Got two meetings this week, possible TV things (one to do an episode for an existing show, one for a potential new one), so I'm continuing my evil plan to write every single thing you watch on telly in 2008, whether you like it or not. Also there are rumblings in the movie world. I'm slowly dipping a tentative toe back into it, after the mauling I received earlier this year. It's nice though, because at the moment I don't *need* to be involved in movies, which means I can be a bit more choosy and aloof with the bloodsucki- er, the nice movie execs out there. I've got stuff on the go, and if they want to buy it, cool, but there will be conditions attached. If they don't like it, then they can suck my balls, frankly. Yeah. I said "balls". That's how I roll.
Obsessive Amazon Watch Latest: Severance jumped up to around 7,700 or something, but is now back down to 14,003. I have no idea how that works. Anyway, soon it will actually be released, apparently starring "David Dyer", Eddie Marsan (who isn't in it at all), and John Frankish (the production designer, who has a cameo). It will then probably storm up the charts, hopefully at least into the top 5000. But I'm already happy, because tiptop bloggychap John Rogers likes it, and that's good enough for me.
More news and proper posts soon, once I remember which one needs to come first. Including extra special exciting news. Oh yes.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
It's so random, it's hilarious. No idea what the hell it has to do with the product being advertised, but who cares?
Monday, September 03, 2007
Behold! In 2 weeks, Severance will be available on Region 1 DVD, which means that all you Region 1 types that missed it at the cinema can pick up a native copy. Extras are exactly the same as the UK version, but it has a new cover, and is a "Special Edition" - which means that *you* are special if you buy it. That's right.
Which of course means that we all get to play our favourite game, the exciting: "Let's All Watch In Silent Horror As Jimbo Obsessively Stalks The Amazon Sales Charts And Glares At Innocent Workout DVD Ladies". So let's get started right away: Severance is currently languishing at number 9,796 in the US Amazon chart, although it's the 9th most popular DVD in the "Horror > Independently Distributed" category, which surely must count for something, somewhere, maybe a prize or a cake or something. It's also the 28th most popular DVD in the "Comedy > Military & War" category, and the 99th best DVD in the "Art House & International > European Cinema > Germany > General" section, which is about as misleading as possible and completely inaccurate, but I'll take what I can get.
Now, I could be happy with being in 9,796th place. And yet I am mocked, MOCKED, by the Cindy Crawford Shape Your Body Workout, which is miles above me in 2,540th place. It was made in 1992, for God's sake. I ask you, does it have witty dialogue? Does it have tension? More importantly, does it have a Cockney geezer shoving a knife up someone's arse? No, it doesn't. So I think it's clear which one you should be buying. At least Severance is higher than the 30-Day Guitar Workout, which is rightly down in 44,784th place. To be honest, I don't see us cracking the top 100, what with all the stuff like Heroes, Lost, 24, Dexter, 300, and The Bourne Supremacy, so I'll be happy if we can at least overtake Cindy Crawford's 1992 workout video. You've got to have achievable goals, haven't you?
Anyway, you American and Canadian people, go and buy yourself a copy. Even if you haven't seen it yet. You can always flog it on eBay if you don't like it, or it would make an excellent Whatever December Thing You Celebrate/Thanksgiving/Halloween present for your friends. Unless they don't like horror movies. In which case, they're not your friends. And must be punished. You know what to do. Kill them. Kill them ALL.
By the way, those pitch deadline things I had for last Friday? Did them all. Yeah. I am the Deadline Ninja, and you must fear me. Will do the tagging thing in a few days, as I'm away tomorrow and Wednesday for omgwtf superduper tiptop megasecret reasons, none of which involve me murdering any of my enemies, in case the police are reading this.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Movie highlights: Black Water (excellent, tense croc attack thriller), The Signal (electronic pulse drives people crazy), 1408 (haunted hotel room, I can relate to that), All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (arty 60s-style slasher), Shrooms (trippy Irish ghost rampage madness), Cold Prey (likeable characters stalked by madman in snowy Norwegian mountains), Wrong Turn 2 (ignores the overly serious approach of the bad first movie, and goes for hilarious splatter, brilliant fun), Disturbia (sure, it's a Rear Window ripoff, but very stylish and fun), Botched (possibly the most random movie ever, couldn't begin to describe it), Waz (excellent twisty serial killer thriller with a moving message), The Zombie Diaries (top notch low budget Brit zombie flick), Spiral (heartrending surreal thriller), and The Orphanage (beautiful supernatural drama). Yay for movies!
Overall, it was a superb time, and I can't wait for next August. Yay for next August!
New blogger, new danger - yes, Sir Stephen of Gallaghershire has sneakily got himself a blog, so get over there immediately and admire the way he sticks words together to make sentences. Welcome to the scribobloggythingy, sir. Your fellow procrastiscribes are at your service. Yay for the G-man!
In other news, I've been tagged by Jason, so expect a blog post addressing that fact very soon. I have some pitch documents and outlines to do by Friday, so this is the perfect way to avoid working on them. Yay for laziness!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Right, I'm off the internet until Monday night/Tuesday morning, don't do a dirty protest in my absence, and no running in the corridors (of the internet). Try and come along to FrightFest if you can, it's brilliant. None of us bite, except for Mad Biting Dave, but he's had all his injections and everything, so you should get your sight back after merely a few hours. Come and see some movies! Special guests! And hollow-eyed, shambling people who have been staring at a screen for far, far too long! Oh, and even if you're not going, come to the Zombie Walk on Monday, see if we can break that record. You know it makes sense.
From the site: "All competition entries are shown to a public audience, and judged by a panel of film industry professionals, competing for film industry donated prizes at a special Halloween Screening Event in Margate. Winning submissions will also receive global website exposure and international promotion to other film festivals and film industry organisations."
There are awards for best film, script, lighting, sound, and special effects - so grab some mates, some props, and get busy. Visit the site to get the competition brief, watch past winners, and get more details. Winners get a modelling contract, a cover shoot for Company magazine, and-- no, wait, that's Britain's Next Top Model. Winners actually get some really cool prizes - last year they included a private screening of the winning short, and a Raindance Film Festival filmmaking workshop.
This year, the judging panel includes important people like Kim Newman (reviewer and author extraordinaire), but also less important people like - yes - me. That's right, I've conned them into thinking I'm a "film industry professional", and I will sit in judgement over the shorts, like a big, sitting, judgey thing. I'll be watching them online or on DVD, as I'm not yet sure if I can make it to the event itself. So, cash bribes to the usual address please, no cheques, no coins, all untraceable notes with non-consecutive serial numbers. I can't wait to see the entries, I love short films. This is a really cool competition, because it makes people get off their arse and create a mini movie, guerilla style, and because all the shorts get shown to an audience. Closing date for entries is 5pm, Sunday 21st October. So go get some!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Well. They have. Look at this. 2-disc editions. Special features. Documentaries. Commentaries - Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood on 2001, Malcolm McDowell on A Clockwork Orange, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio and frickin' R. Lee Ermey on Full Metal Jacket, and Garrett Brown on The Shining - yes, the same Garrett Brown who invented the Steadicam, and operated it on the movie itself (and who also trained Tamas Nyerges, the Steadicam operator on Severance, coincidentally). The set also includes Eyes Wide Shut (with lots of extras), and the Kubrick documentary A Life In Pictures. It's a Kubrick geekfest. Sadly there's no special edition treatment for the other movies yet, although Dr Strangelove already has an okayish release (and of course Spartacus has a superb 2-disc set, if you count that as a "proper" Kubrick, some do, some don't, you'd be surprised at the in-depth levels of bitter arguments amongst us obsessives - I do count it, by the way). Many of the others have bog-standard DVDs, so hopefully they'll give them all the same treatment. In the meantime, I'll be counting the minutes until this set is available in October (Region 1 at the moment, I imagine it'll be out on Region 2 soon after that). And as soon as it arrives, I shall be rubbing it all over myself in a disturbing display of lust. Now there's a lovely image for you.