Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Writing demon

Okay, the second half of the P45 revisions are now officially underway. Met the film people yesterday, including the director and producer, talked about what we wanted from the revisions, working in their notes, the workshop notes, and an addition to the ending that we came up with. All went well, we all want the same thing, so now all I have to do is write it. They'd really like it by 4th January, so it looks like I'm going to be writing pretty much nonstop over the Christmas break. I'll take a lunch hour on Christmas Day, obviously. Well, 45 minutes. No, obviously I won't do anything on the day, but I'll have to write pretty hard most other days. No rush, no pressure, but deliver a killer version of the script by 4th Jan. Sure, okay, I can do that. No problem.

Oh, and from January, I'll be down to 2 days a week at work, which will give me shitloads more writing time, so that's good. Now if you'll excuse me...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Workshop

P45 workshop on Thursday went very well - I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it was really, really helpful. The actors did the opening scene first, where all the characters are on a bus, and at first, when they just did the scene as is, it sounded utterly, utterly shite. We were all looking at each other, thinking the same thing - this movie is going to suck. After a couple of tries though, we got them to improvise, add bits here and there, just do what felt right - then it came to life. Instead of a scripted scene, it was a real thing, and we all burst out laughing, partly at the jokes, partly out of relief.

Halfway through the day, during the first proper, intense horror scene we did, the director came over to me, all excited, and whispered "this movie's going to be fucking great". We all felt it, it just worked, it really worked. I got loads of ideas, dialogue and thoughts from it, and we all got a bit more energised over the whole thing.

Tomorrow me, the director and producer, and the film company bods are meeting up to talk about the final 2 week's worth of revisions I'll be doing - they'll also have DVD copies of the workshop (they filmed the whole thing on digital video), so I'm looking forward to watching it again. I'm really excited, it really feels like it's actually happening now, instead of just an idea we're all talking about.

2007 Update: The intense horror scene was the beartrap scene (you know the one if you've seen the movie), intercut with Harris and Jill finding the coach. Chris got them into 2 groups so he could do a live intercut thing to see how it played, and it *really* fucking played well, we were all dead excited. I still have the DVDs of the workshops, I must dig them out and see how they compare to the finished product.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Meetings

Tomorrow I'm meeting John the producer about the book adaptation thing we've been trying to get going. He's got a German financier coming over, willing to put up the money for the draft, but he'd like to meet me first, to make sure I'm not a chancer. So I'll be meeting him, and the author of the book will be there too, and John's script editor. I'm glad this is moving forward, I really love the story and think it will make a great movie.

Thursday should be the workshop/read-through of P45. P45 is also no longer called P45. We don't know what it's called yet, but P45 doesn't really fit anymore, so we're trying to come up with something else. I've found lots of wanky business jargon, so we will probably cobble something together using that. I'm glad, because I'm not keen on P45 as a title anyway, partly because they'd have to call it something else in America (they don't have P45 forms over there), partly because it's a bit shit.

Monday, December 06, 2004

This Is The Week That Is

This week has started well. The film company likes the new draft, will send notes tomorrow, and the read-through/workshop thing should be next week. I've just done a half page synopsis so the producer can approach sales agents - generally, before filming starts, they try and sell the rights to distribute the film in other countries. If you're canny, you can cover the whole cost of the budget with presales, so you're guaranteed a profit. Distribution means getting prints made, sending it out to cinemas, posters, advertising, and all that business. There's likely to be more updates on P45 from now on, as more things seem to be happening, with one cast member soon to be approached. I can't believe they're going to ask her to be in it, in such a thankless, poorly written cardboard character role - but then I think all my characters are rubbish, as soon as there's a chance anyone might read the script. Fuck, I'd love to spill the beans on who they're approaching, but they'd fucking kill me, they would. Literally, the movie business has people who will disappear you if you breach the non-disclosure terms of your contract. Remember the writer Bucky O'Flange? No? Exactly! He blabbed!

Also, the Very Big Film Studio have agreed to the first part of the proposed deal for the action sci-fi thing me and Pat did. So we won't get paid huge amounts, but it'll be more than we were expecting. So it looks like they're at least cautiously optimistic that we can come up with the goods.

Oh, and last week I finally bought Final Draft, the script formatting software. Up till now I've been doing scripts in Word with a free BBC template. I always resisted getting FD, as it sounded like something wannabe writers get so they'll feel more important - but it's actually the industry standard, and is pretty good. If you're working on a real film, it's got all sorts of cool stuff like marking revisions, adding A and B pages (page 78A, 78B etc, so if you add stuff after filming starts, the other page numbers don't change), automatic scene numbering, and it just does the formatting really invisibly and easily. You can just start writing without having to fart around with macros or menus. And it remembers scene headings, which is really handy, especially in P45 where you end up typing EXT. FOREST - NIGHT about a thousand times. And it means the script is exactly the same wherever it is - in Word, for some bizarre reason, the page count varied from 100 to 120 pages on various different machines. It was the exact same file, so I don't know what that was all about. I also got a new Apple iBook to write on. We got a Powerbook for me to write on, but it's so gorgeous, we both use it to write and surf on. So the iBook means we can both get our ApplePorn fix, and I can write on the move - it's a 12 inch one, really light, and I got a cool messenger bag that it fits into perfectly. There's even a pocket for an iPod. I fucking love Apple shit.

Not much else happened today. Did no writing at all, but spent a couple of hours in a coffee shop with Jo, chatting and drinking coffee, which rocked. Best part of the week, already, no question.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Knackered

It's been a long, shit week. Several weeks, in fact. As soon as I got back from New York, I had to immediately start the most important rewrite of P45 - that was fine. But it was also the moment that my dayjob got incredibly busy, a project I was supposed to be in charge of needed to be finished by Thursday 2nd, and I had to be in work every single day. That project is finally over, thankfully. Friday, however, all went a bit pear shaped.

I've been trying to go down to 2 days a week at work, using the money for P45. It should keep me going until about March, when hopefully they'll have started filming, I'll get my full payment, and can leave work full time. But right now, I need time to write, so going to 2 days a week would be really helpful. So they need to hire someone to do some of the work that I can't do. This takes a long time, and now it looks like I can't go to 2 days until January. That's okay, not perfect, but doable. Anyway, Friday, they say that there's another big project just come in, and they need all hands on deck, so hey, why don't I go to 3 days in January, then 2 in February? The thing is, I'd come to think that I'd never have to do a particular part of my job - writing courses - ever again. I'm sick to fuck of writing them, I've done them all a thousand times, and have been trying to get away from it for a year or so now. Finally, when I go to 2 days, I won't have to do them, because it would take me too long to write one as a part timer. And that's what kept me going through this last project, thinking hey, at least it's the last one, ever. But now it looks like it isn't. And the 2 days thing isn't happening till February either. Don't get me wrong, they've been brilliant about the film stuff, really flexible and helpful. But I really, really, really need time to write. So I sent some tense emails, stressed out, and started getting phonecalls from worried people, who thought I'd lost my temper with them. I hadn't, I was just sick of talking about it, sick of constantly asking for something that was seemingly no trouble for anyone else, but caused major hassle for me. And I know they needed to hire another person, I knew it would take a while, and knew that it would leave them short. But I have to look out for myself. They're not doing me a favour by employing me - it's a job, I do work for them in return for money, we're not a big happy bunch of best friends.

At the same time as all this, I discovered that a draft of the rewrite (which I've been working on with the director) had been submitted to the film company - without me checking it first. Stuff I'd done was left out, things were changed without discussion, it was full of mistakes - fucking nightmare. I sent a huge email to my agent with a copy of the script, going ballistic, then left my phone switched off all morning, not wanting to talk to anyone. Eventually my agent got me at home (I was working at home, thankfully), and said did I want to fix the script up before the end of the day? If so, they'd hold off reading it until then. I said yes, and started work. Then my phone (which was now on) started ringing, everyone was trying to get hold of me, my work, the film people, and I went a little bit insane.

Thankfully, Jo was at home too, and kept me calm, sorted me out, and helped me keep work at bay for a while. I spoke to the film company, who realised a mistake had been made, then I spoke to the director, and we sorted it all out. As I suspected, it was just a misunderstanding, something had got lost in the translation, and what with everyone communicating through voicemail and emails, the script got sent in without my knowledge. Let me just make it clear, I never suspected that any of the film people did any of this deliberately, they're all really cool, nice people who wouldn't try anything on, I knew something had just gone wrong somewhere. But it was still stressful, as they would have read that version of the script, which would have my name on it, and I didn't want them thinking that it was something I was happy with. And of course, I should have spoken to the film makers and film company before running crying to my agent, but I didn't know if I should be even saying anything about it, if I was in the right or not. I had a bad experience way back when I first got involved in this crazy business, with some people who left me with a lack of confidence and a belief that if I say anything to anyone, I'm making a nuisance of myself. So my first instinct was to just think "oh, don't make a fuss, or they'll kick you out and you won't get to be involved".

So, I finished my fixes, chatted to the director, and we made some more changes over the phone, once we'd discussed them, and then sent it off. My work says it's fine to go down to 2 days a week from January (though I'll probably still be involved in the course writing thing, but you can't have everything). Friday night, we watched some telly, had some wine, dinner, and ice cream, and chilled out. Saturday, I played Half Life 2 all fucking day, to take a break from it all. Today I've done some writing (other stuff, nothing concrete, just something I'm cooking up), this blog, and will probably play more Half Life 2 later, after dinner. Jo's been doing her assignment for her Open University course and playing the piano. And we're both feeling good about the week to come.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Happenings

All kinds of things have been happening. And I haven't updated at all. Because all kinds of things have been happening.

First things first: New York city is my new favourite place (until the next one). It's cool as fuck, huge, massive, doesn't look real, and just makes you stare at it, gobsmacked. The people are great, really friendly and helpful - I knew they wouldn't be the stereotypical nasty New Yoikers we see in movies, but I was surprised at how incredibly nice they all were. The buildings look like CGI after the first few floors, even the cars seem slightly oversized, maybe 115%, just enough to make you stare. And the food - sweet jesus, the food. Enormous portions, anything you want, in any combination. And if you want, you can have anything at all delivered to you, 24 hours a day - rack of lamb, lake sturgeon omelette (I'm not making that up), or roast turkey. I achieved my childhood dream of going to the top of the Empire State Building, saw Central Park, went on the Staten Island Ferry, saw the big library, and we just walked and walked and walked, drinking the whole place in. I can't wait to go back.

P45: Had a meeting with the film people at 2.30pm on Sunday 14th - and I'd just landed that morning at 7am. It's my fault, I thought we got back Saturday night, and didn't realise until it was too late to rearrange. I stayed awake, and started the rewrite immediately. Well, almost immediately. The next day. After a lot of sleep. I've got two weeks to do this first revision, then we have the readthrough next week, then I polish dialogue for another two weeks, then hopefully they'll swing into action with the pre-production, and I can stop being the Man Who Writes P45 Over and Over. The actors they're talking about for the various parts are a bit of a surprise, I hadn't really thought that my silly, made up characters would be played by proper actors. I'm excited and amazed that they consider the parts worthy of offering to these people.

Harvest: the pitch thing went great, and they're going to commission a first draft from me, subject to contract. I wasn't going to put this here, as I'm paranoid that by saying it, I'll scupper the whole thing by tempting fate. But fuck it, let's live dangerously. When the contract is signed, I'll say who the film company are, though you can probably guess. Anyway, they want a draft out of me, and revisions, but they understandably want to pay bugger all, seeing as I'm nobody right now, in case I hand them over a pile of badly written arse. "Bugger all" in the film business meaning "fuckloads" to mere mortals like me, of course. So the relevant people are fighting over the contract now, I just have to wait and see what happens. But it's Very Good News.

John the Producer with the Book Adaptation Thing: He's found a financier in Germany, so he and my agent (ponce, I'm such a ponce for saying that, even now I feel like a ponce) are batting contracts back and forth. The financier wants to meet me to make sure I'm not some nutter, then hopefully he'll pay for a first draft and a set of revisions. Once that's done, they'll either kick me off and hire a proper writer, or pay for another rewrite, then try and get it fully financed to make it. It's happening outside the whole studio system, so it's less money (also because I'm adapting the book, and it's not my original idea), but that means more creative control for us.

Now that I write this all out, I've just realised how ridiculously exciting it all is. And you know what else? I've got a fucking pizza coming to the house in a few minutes. Mushroom and pineapple - beat that.

Cheap at half the price

Just a quick thing - I've just found that Cheap Rate Gravity is available to view here. You'll need media player or real player, unfortunately, but you've got to take the rough with the smooth. It's tiny, and wobbly webby quality for streaming, but if you haven't seen it, you can now. So there.

Friday, November 05, 2004

New York, New York

It is nearly midnight on Friday night. Tomorrow, at 9.30am, me and Jo will be sitting on a plane, taking off, on our way to New York for a Proper Holiday. Hotel, spending money, the whole thing. We are quite literally soiling our pants with excitement. I can't wait. I've just more or less finished packing (took about 10 to 15 minutes). We're travelling light - packing as if it's a long weekend in Dublin, so we can buy clothes and toys when we get there.

P45 news: they're gagging to get things moving along. For the revisions (half of a draft), they want me to do it in two stages - the first will be to address their notes, the second will be to attend a read through with Ac-torrrs and then polish the dialogue once we've heard it out loud. Apparently some writers get a bit funny about the read through, but I can't wait. The best way of finding out what dialogue works is to hear it out loud. I try and say it out loud when I'm writing it, but it's difficult in a small flat with thin walls and quiet neighbours, especially when a character is screaming "I'll cut you! I'll fuckin' cut you!" and so on. That's an actual line from the script, I've probably broken the non-disclosure terms of my contract there, but I'm sure they won't mind, it's hardly something anyone could possibly want to steal... Anyway, we get back from NYC on the 13th November (Saturday), and they want to meet up with me the next day - the Sunday. Hopefully I'll be more or less sane and not jetlagged. It's going to be cool.

Sci-fi action thing news: We don't have to pitch it to the bosswoman at Big Studio anymore. They've decided that me and Pat are better at creating the project than pitching it (i.e. we suck at pitching), so the guy we were working with pitched it to the bosswoman himself. She's sold on it, and now the two of them are going to pitch it, next Tuesday, to Co-Owner1 and Co-Owner2 of Big Studio. Which is cool, because they'll do it better than us, and won't be shitting their pants with fear, like we would probably be. It doesn't mean they'll go for it, but we would have had to do all this ourselves - it just means we've skipped a scary stage that we might have cocked up, and skipped straight to the end. They might go for it, or they might just say no and that would be the end of it. It's 50/50 at this stage. Hopefully I'll hear on Tuesday, if my phone works in America, or by email.

And now I have to do the ticket/passport/money/wallet checks 500 times before the morning. Next stop, New York...

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A Ra Day

Relief. The cold is nearly gone. Still got some snot and phlegm left, but I'm much stronger and able to face the outside world.

The film company phoned, they really like the new draft of P45. I think they're going to start things going now, as I haven't fucked it up. There will be another mini-draft, but this is the one they're going to work from for now. They're going to work out the budget this week, hire a casting director, and start casting next week. I'm so relieved, every time I send them something I'm convinced they're going to sack me, having realised that I'm a great big faker. But so far, I'm on a winner. Thank Ra, the sun-god, for that - hey, if you're going thank a god, pick any one you like, they're all equally as valid, or not. Today just felt like a Ra day.

The director phoned yesterday, from his bath - he was halfway through, and just wanted to let me know that a certain scene had made him burst out laughing for ages, which was really nice of him. Nobody's ever phoned me from their bath before. I'm relieved that he and the producer like it, as it was mainly their feedback I was putting into it. It's important that they feel I've incorporated their ideas properly, which I think they have.

Also, P45 has been mentioned... in Variety, the industry paper! There was a big article about the film company, and it briefly mentioned some titles, which included mine. Didn't have my name in though, but I don't care. I've been mentioned, indirectly, in Variety. I'm unspeakably excited about that.

And now I'm going to have breakfast. Cereal and tea (separately, I mean, not mixed in the same bowl).

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween

I have handed in the draft. Today is Halloween. This must be a good omen.

When I say "I have handed in the draft", I mean "I have attached the Word document to an email and addressed it to one person at the film company, the producer, my agent, and myself just so I have a backup copy". I write scripts in Word, using a free BBC script template that is on their site somewhere. It's all very ordinary and simple.

Of course, now the waiting begins. Now the pant soiling begins. What if they don't like it? What if it needs a lot more work? I'll have held everything up, fucked up the whole schedule. Everything depends on me now. Oh dear.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Space virus, movies, P45, poker, and bananas

How long is this fucking space virus going to last? I had to skip a Friday night drink with some mates to celebrate the life of the late great Sir John of Peel. Then tonight (Saturday night) I was supposed to be heading to a Halloween party with some other mates. About 3pm, I finally admitted to myself that I just wasn't well enough. Had a really shit night last night, coughing and snotting, and today I just felt weak and wobbly again, and my nose was doing that hosepipe thing, and my throat feels like I've been swallowing rusty swords. It's been over a week now. Please, space virus, if you can hear me: FUCK OFF. I've had enough.

Tomorrow is Halloween. Me and Jo will carve our huge pumpkin, put on some spooky music, eat some chocolate, and watch scary movies. I've got the collector's edition DVD of Halloween, which I haven't seen in ages, and Deathdream, which is supposed to be really cool.

Tonight we watched Amadeus, the Director's Cut - I've somehow managed to avoid seeing this film, purely by chance (also Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia, the list goes on). It's bloody gorgeous, a real movie-lover's movie, full of tricks and clever bits and bobs, but above all, just beautifully made by everyone involved. Great story too, which Jo informs me is mostly made up (the Salieri sabotage storyline, I mean), but it doesn't matter, because it's fantastic.

I think I've finished P45, by the way. I need to check over it tomorrow, but I think it's there. I'm phoning the producer before I send it in, because I'm paranoid that everybody will hate it and they'll sack me and get someone else to do it and it'll be all shit and they'll make it into Wrong Turn which, apart from Eliza Dushku's tits, had absolutely nothing going for it. But I'm sure it'll all be fine.

Celebrity Poker Showdown is my new favourite thing on the telly. Poker tv shows, for some reason, are really fun to watch. This one is even more fun, it's filmed in Vegas, with cool celebs, witty commentary ("that's right, there's no god in poker *either*"), free booze for the increasingly drunk participants, a rowdy audience, and, tonight, a big bucket of bananas for the audience. I don't know why there were bananas. But I like bananas. So it's all good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Space virus

Felt like shit all Friday and Saturday - the shakes, aching bones, wobblyness - then it all went away Sunday evening, and all day Monday. Cool, I thought. Dodged that bullet. Woke up this morning with a throat like sandpaper, and my nose had a suddenly turned into one of those guns that fires 5-litre balls of green goo, if such a thing exists. Got worse during the day, plus I was at work getting hounded by people who wanted this and that done. Left at half 4, couldn't take any more. Am now living on the sofa, face streaming, nose in pieces, unable to concentrate on anything for too long. It's not just a cold or flu, it's obviously some sort of evil space virus that has chosen me as the host to launch its attack on the human race. Jo's looking after me though, it's almost worth being ill for the way she looks after me. Scratch that, it *is* worth it...

Have less than a week left to hand in this P45 draft. Well, two weeks, but I said I'd have it done by the end of October - Sunday night/Monday morning. Plus we might have the scifi-action pitch thing this week. Starting to feel the pressure a bit.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Waiting for the man

Okay, the big pitch wasn't actually the Big Pitch, it was our final practice session and meeting with one of the guys at the studio. Don't know why we both thought it was the Big Pitch, but it doesn't matter really. He gave us our final feedback, really liked everything we'd come up with, and went off to get us booked in for the proper, Big Pitch with the Scary Boss, which should happen at the end of next week, or the beginning of the week after. I'm kind of relieved that we didn't have to do the scary big pitch, but I'm disappointed that it's not over and done with. Obviously the more time we have to refine it, the better, but waiting drives me mad...

P45 is going really well. I've said that about twenty times on this blog now, but it's the truth. Hopefully that won't be an unusual occurrence for me. All the ideas they wanted brought in are great, all the stuff we came up with together is working, and it all fits together properly. I have another few weeks, but I should be finished before then.

Up in Nottingham at the moment for the weekend at a friend's house. Nice and relaxing, apart from feeling really sick since Friday - sore throat, achy joints, tingly skin, all the signs of a nasty cold or flu attack, but without the runny nose. Bizarre. I feel really weak, and it's really annoying. Back home tomorrow, where I'll probably sleep for the rest of the day to try and shake it off.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Plate spinning

Everything is happening at once. Craziness. P45 film draft is going very well, and I get regular phonecalls from the film company and the new producer, "just seeing if you're okay", or "just making sure everything's all right", and so on. The thing is, everything and everyone is now waiting for me to finish - they can't do anything until I hand in the new draft. They're really nice about it, and I'm not late or anything, but I can tell they'll be much happier when I've finished.

The big pitch for the scifi action thing happens tomorrow. We had a practice one, but the main one got pushed back for various reasons, and we tweaked the story to make it cooler. The main event is tomorrow, with the big boss of development at the biggest UK film company in town, possibly the only people in the UK with the cash to make this movie. If they don't commission it, then we'll have to go outside the UK with it, which may be more difficult.

Also tomorrow me and Jo are heading to a mate's house in Nottingham for the weekend. I will be bringing the Powerbook to write on while I'm there, as he has wireless broadband.

Soon I will be changing the design of this blog, replacing a few images with my own, slowly and carefully. I've only just realised I'm allowed to do that, so if it all suddenly looks horrible, you can thank me.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Moving right along, chuk-a-jum, chuk-a-jum

P45 is going very well, very quickly, but I'm being careful with it. Everything is dependent on me now. Once I hand in this draft, they can start casting and budgeting - but only if the big boss decides it's good enough. It's going to have a 4 week revision (half a draft) to tweak it anyway, but if it's decent enough then they can kick things off. If all goes well, they're aiming to start shooting in February. If I deliver a good enough draft. If I fuck it up or it looks like it needs more work, it will delay things. So, no pressure. I'm not incredibly worried though, as it's going really smoothly. I'm going to make sure it's as good as can be before I show it to anybody.

Scifi action thing is still moving along. I've just completely rewritten the outline, characters and done lots of research which I've also written up. We're hoping to get into the pitch at the end of next week, at the earliest.

The animation thing has had two rejections so far, which is okay, as it's a difficult sell when I'm not that well known yet. If necessary, we can wait until I've got a higher profile, then try and flog it. Right now, I'm trying to come up with the next big thing. I have several things on the boil, so hopefully one of them will develop further.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Becoming

I've been slack with updates, but there's been lots of news, so let's get the party started:

The first, major company we pitched the action scifi to called back, and really like it. They want us to pitch it to their big boss. Holy shit. But we need to practice and refine it. We went in for a practice session with the same guy as last time, and ended up changing a key part of the story, so I've got to redo the outline and breakdown before the real pitch. We haven't got a date for that yet, but it'll probably be soon. I wish we hadn't changed so much stuff at the last minute, but it makes the overall story stronger and more exciting, so it's all good. We've got a real shot at getting this commissioned, as long as we don't fuck it up.

P45 news: We have a director. And a producer. I can't say who just yet, as they haven't officially announced it or finished sorting the contract stuff. But suffice to say it is the people I was most hoping would do it - they've already done a movie that I love, and are perfect. I've met them before, and the other week we had big meeting about the next draft, with all their input - all of which is superb. So I'm currently writing the new draft. They're scouting for filming locations at the moment - it's either going to be Hungary or the Czech-Republic, partly because it's cheaper, partly because they have excellent crews and directors of photography (the people who do the lighting, and sort out where to put the camera when the director says "I want a low angle and then make it go whoooosh over there, spin around, and end up on her left breast"). So it's all moving along quite quickly. They're hoping to start shooting by January or February - which is when I should be able to leave work for good, if all goes well.

Speaking of work, I'm going down to 2 days a week from November. With the new P45 draft, the scifi action thing, the BBC thing (which I haven't even started), and a few other things on the go, I just haven't got enough time to write in the evenings and weekends. So I'm taking the money I get for this new draft, and using it to go part time at my dayjob. That'll keep me going until about February, by which time, hopefully, I'll have sold something or get paid my main fee for P45 (I get it on the first day of filming, which is what normally happens).

It's all kicking off, and I'm shitting myself with excitement. More news as it comes in...

Friday, September 10, 2004

Pitch day part 3

Only joking. They liked it, liked us, but I don't think they'll go for it - partly because of several large plotholes that we didn't realise were there until they innocently asked questions, partly because it would require such a massive budget they wouldn't get any return on it. But it was good fun, and good practice, so that's cool.

Pitch day part 2

They laughed at us and told us never to come back again.

Pitch day

Went to a free Shaun of the Dead screening last night (they gave us tickets at the Creep preview at the FrightFest), where the director and cast did a live commentary, like a DVD commentary, but instead of it merely seeming like they're in the room with you, they actually are in the room with you. It was fucking hilarious. Pegg, Frost, Wright - you are The Man. Er, The Men. Or something.

Today is the scifi action pitch. Me and Pat are meeting up beforehand to practice and go over what we're going to say. It should be a laugh, because we know them, and they know us, so it's all cool. They're the same company that are doing P45, so we're in safe hands, even if they laugh at us and tell us never to come back again.

Friday, September 03, 2004

The plot thickens

Well well well, things are moving along nicely. Directors are pitching for P45, will hopefully find out soon if anyone is chosen. There is a crucial piece of information about all this that I'm dying to spill, but I'm not allowed to say. Nothing's decided yet, but I know about one of the directors who is up for it (not personally), and I know he wants to do it. I'd love him to do it. I can say no more. I will be shot. 2007 Update: I can say now - it was Chris Smith. Ha, you can't shoot me now, cause everyone knows...

John the producer is still trying to set up the book adaptation. Nothing for me to do at the moment, though we may meet next week to see how things are going.

We'll hear in another week whether our pitch was successful (for the big scifi action thingy). In the meantime, we're going to pitch it to another company, to see what happens. No harm in showing it to more than one, it's not exclusively tied to anyone at the moment. So we're going in next Friday to do that pitch.

Next Wednesday I'm meeting a nice BBC man about the spooky TV series thing. It looks like it might work better as a one or two parter instead of a series, so we're going to talk about that. I've also got another spooky series thing he might be interested in, so I'll throw that at him when we meet.

And finally, one of the outlines I've been working on, an animation comedy adventure thing, is now ready for public viewing. I finished it off today, and my agent sent it off to several animation bigwigs. He likes it very much, and so do I, I think it could be really funny.

So everything seems to be kicking off. My masterplan is slowly moving into position, ready for action. If I can pull it off, then I will have made my lifelong dream come true. I might not know for a few months, but it's everything I've been working towards this whole time - not one particular project, but a combination of things that will let me do something I've always wanted to do. I'm not saying it here, cause if it all goes tits up, I'll be embarrassed. Oh fuck it, live dangerously: if I can sell one or two more things soon, or if they start filming P45 soon, the money should be enough to be able to give up my dayjob and write full time. For about a year. If I sell more stuff in that year, then I can keep writing full time. I'll have more time to write, so it will be more likely that I sell more stuff. If it all goes horribly wrong after that, even if I have to go back to work, I'll still have had a year off. If I don't do it, then I definitely won't have a year off, and I definitely will have to stay at work. So it's worth a try. This is all I've ever wanted, so I have to try for it. I'm terrified, but the figures all add up, thanks to Jo who came up with the plan in the first place - I thought it would take years to get to that stage, but she's more daring and sensible than I am, and pointed out a way of doing it. The other cool thing is, if it worked, then we would both be able to leave our dayjobs (for at least a year, possibly longer), which would rock. I'd be able to write full time, she'd be able to concentrate on her music (piano and singing), and neither of us would have to be bothered with work taking valuable time away. Life's too short not to give it a go. I really, really, really want this to work. Wish me luck... 2007 Update: This didn't happen. Severance didn't start filming until the following year, although we were both able to reduce our work days.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Movies, movies, movies

Long, long, long weekend of movies at the FrightFest - saw some amazing movies, had a great time. Best movie for me was Switchblade Romance, an incredibly intense, fucked up French horror/slasher, which should do well. The Machinist was superb, as were Old Boy, The Ordeal, and Creep, the new British horror film set in the tube tunnels. Got to meet the producer again (met him before for one of those general meet and greet things), and didn't get a word in edgeways with the director, who talks at about 200mph (2007 Update: This was my first time meeting Chris Smith, I was all set to tell him how much I liked Creep, but didn't manage to get a word in - he immediately started saying how much he loved my script, and talking about what he wanted to do, making it even bigger, etc, and that he really wanted to direct it. He left, and I finally managed to mumble "cheers" to his retreating figure...).

Sadly, didn't get to kidnap Franka Potente and put her in my dungeon (built specially for her), but got to see her and the director at the Q&A after the movie. Oh, and there was a Mexican zombie comedy short film called Another Brick in the Wall, which brought the house down, and I met the director of that, too - well, when I say "met", I mean I saw him and went up and geeky fanboyed at him.

Stayed up late, got up early, had lots of fryups, too many/not enough expensive cocktails, stayed in a fancy schmancy hotel, and saw 16 out of 21 movies over 4 days. It now feels weird not to be in a dark cinema. I think I've lost a part of my mind. Brilliant weekend though, can't wait for next year.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Player

Pitch went well, I think. We both talked at great length about the set up, the story, the characters, and the major scenes and sequences. He asked questions, we answered. We chatted, it was all very amiable. I wasn't nervous at all once we got in and met him. He's going to read the full document we left with him (we didn't outline the story in absolute fine detail, or mention the other research we'd done), and hopefully will let us know either way next week.

Even if they decide it's not for them, we'll get some good feedback, and be able to come up with a draft of the script. If they decide it is, we'll get development help and possibly money, which is all good. So I'm very optimistic.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Movement

The book adaptation thing is going well - the producer is going to show the new outline to some people, and he seems really happy with it, so that's promising.

P45 has gone out to two directors. I can't say who, but it would be very cool if one of them did it - and apparently he quite likes it. Fingers crossed. 2007 Update: One of the directors was, yes, Chris Smith, who was eventually signed up to direct. He was the one who I said it would be cool if he did it. I can't remember who the other one was, honestly, I'll have to see if the film people remember. And now I go back to 2007, returning you to August 2004...

Me and Pat are doing our practice pitch tomorrow for our agent - I'm more worried about that than the real thing. At least at the real one the producer will say "great, thanks very much" whatever happens - our agent (he's Pat's agent too) is brutally honest, and will have no hesitation in telling us if it is shit. Which is good, because otherwise P45 would never have got as good as it did. If there were more agents like him, there would be less shite movies like Matrix Revolutions.

Met the producer of the new horror film "Creep", about a girl terrorised on the tube at night, starring the gorgeous Franka Potente (the new target of my obsessive fan love). He liked the version of P45 he read, and would like to do some sort of different horror thing with me - I'm up for that, if I do another horror it'll have to be something completely out there, not the usual type of horror. It's so hard to do even a normal, formulaic horror, because it's ALL been done before. So I'm trying to come up with something for that. It's bubbling along in the back of my mind, so hopefully something will come of it. 2007 Update Again: As you may know, Chris Smith directed Creep, but I was meeting his producer purely by chance about something else. We both knew that Chris was in the running to direct Severance, and we couldn't really talk about it... But I casually asked if he'd read it. He smiled, and nodded - and said that he really liked it. So I got my first inkling that it was actually going to happen, at this point.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Bits and pieces

Had a chance at doing an outline for some comedy thing, spent a few days working on it last week, but they went for someone else in the end. Oh well, I wasn't that bothered about it. But I'm always happy to get money and exposure, I'm a total whore.

There's a producer I've been meeting on and off who wants to develop a script with me, I've mentioned him before. I didn't know if anything would come of it, but he mentioned a book he wanted to make into a film, and I really liked the sound of it. I've now read it, and am convinced it would make a great film - there's a lot of stuff that would have to be taken out, it's a long, complex book and there just isn't time for all of it, but there's still plenty of stuff in there. Anyway, I did a draft outline for it, the producer quite likes it, the author seems to like it, so it's looking good. I'm fleshing out the outline a bit now, and hopefully we can get things moving soon.

Don't know if I said this before, but me and Pat the director are going to pitch our big scifi action thingy to a film company in a couple of weeks. My agent was telling them about the idea, so they invited us in to pitch it - he told them about one of my other things, too, which they also liked, so they'd like me to pitch that as well, on a different day. I've never done a proper pitch before, and I'm shitting myself. We've got a bullet-point outline done, and character notes, and pictures and things, so I'm quite looking forward to it really. While shitting myself.

Monday, July 19, 2004

It begins...

I sent in the tweaked version of P45 this afternoon. The film people like it very much. They are now going to start looking for a director, this week. I think that means, sending copies of the script to directors they like, talking to them about it, and then deciding which director they want. They'll keep me updated when there's any news to report.

I am officially Very, Very Excited.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Groovy

The film company called today. They love the new, revised draft of P45. They'd like a couple of tiny edits here and there over the weekend, if I don't mind - of course I don't - and then next week they start approaching directors. Holy fucking shit. This is really happening. I'm totally spaced out, I can't quite get my head round it all.

I was convinced they'd phone and say that the new draft didn't quite get there, or it was lacking something - or, worse, that it was "really, really good, but..." I was also convinced that they were going to then politely wave me off, and go and hire a proper writer to fix it. I must be a proper writer. Or maybe it's those blackmail photographs I have of them all.

Still spaced out. More news as it happens.

P45

Handed in the revised first draft of P45 on Tuesday morning. When I say "handed it in", I mean I emailed it to them. It's the 20th Century, after all. No, it's the 21st. So I've done a first movie draft, then we met again, and I did a revised draft, which is a bit like half a draft, lots of changes, but nothing huge and drastic. So they're reading it now, or putting off reading it, or they've read it and are trying to figure out how to politely tell me to fuck off. I think now is the time where they have to make it, get me to do a new draft, or kick me off and get someone else. I'm not sure though, I'll have to read the contract, they might have to get another draft out of me before they do anything else. But we'll see what happens. I've done everything they asked, I think it's much, much better, more exciting, more tense, scarier, and cooler. I really enjoyed both drafts, too, which still feels strange to say.

Now I'm fiddling with 4 outlines, still reading one of two books for the historical adventure thingy, and came up with a cool new idea last night. So I'm not all washed up just yet, there's still stuff popping into my head, which is good.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Meetings and ting

Met Pat, had a great chat about the scifi thing, and we came up with some really cool stuff to sort out the script with. It'll involve more than my usual 5 minutes of internet research, too, which is all good.

The producer liked one of my outlines a lot, and I liked one of his a lot, a book he has the rights to. We'll see if we can work out proper outlines for both of them, although I'd much rather do his one, it sounds much more interesting than mine.

P45 redraft is going very well, very quickly, and very smoothly. I'm spending a lot of time on it, and really enjoying it. I used to hate every word of the script, now I agonise over taking anything out, which is always good.

Oh, and other news - I am officially a businessman. I had to open a separate account to put the tax money into. When you get paid, they don't take the tax off it, you have to work out what it is, and put it to one side. Then at the end of the financial year you pay the tax vampires everything you owe them in one big lump, handing over all your details to prove that you're not fiddling it. I knew that if I kept it all in one account, I'd just spend it, so I now have a proper business account for tax, with a chequebook and everything. They also did me a savings account, so that I can start putting money aside every now and again. It's all very exciting.

And I upgraded my phone, too, which was free. Went from a Nokia 8310 to an Ericsson Something Or Other. It has colour pictures and a camera and things. I'm always about 2 years behind the latest cool phone trend, but now I'm only about 1 year behind, so I feel pretty damn trendy. It's a lovely phone, though.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Updates

Lots of news updates. Okay, start at the beginning.

Met a really nice producer who wants to develop an outline with me - I'm meeting him again on Friday, he reckons that with a good outline and using my other stuff as a sample, it should be relatively easy to get development money. This is money you are paid to finish working out the story, and to write the script, which is much better than just writing a script in the hope that someone wants to buy it, like with P45. But I had to do that with P45, because I hadn't proved myself yet. So I've summarised all my outlines and half ideas into one document, we'll see if he likes the sound of any.

Meeting Pat tomorrow to talk about the next draft of the scifi action thingy. It's coming along nicely, so we'll just kick it into shape a bit more.

Met the P45 people on Monday to talk about the revisions. They liked the first draft very much, and just want to ramp up the horror a bit more. We had a really long talk about it, and came up with some cool stuff, which I am starting on right now.

Still trying to work out the details of the possible tv thing with the man from the Beeb. Nothing concrete yet, we're just trying to get an outline/rules list for the thing, then his bosses can look at it, and say my god, it's a work of genius, or my god, it's a pile of shit.

So lots of writing to do. Oh, and yes, Evil Dead trilogy won. I still haven't read those two books yet...

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Firefox

Must mention this - the new version of Mozilla Firefox launched yesterday or the day before. If you're not using it, go and get it here. In my not so humble opinion, it's the bestest web browser ever. I've been using it before it was called Firefox, even before it was called Firebird, back in the Phoenix days, and would never, ever go back to IE, which is a bloated, buggy, standards-ignoring pile of shit.

I love Safari on my Powerbook, but I've just downloaded Firefox to use instead, because it just does more things, and I'm used to it. I'll miss Safari, but I miss Firefox too much, with all its little extensions that make life so much easier. Go and download it, you don't know what you're missing.

Another meeting

Thought I'd met everybody in the film industry, but must have missed one - a very nice producer/director, who I met on Thursday. He would like to develop something with me, and I'd like that too, because he's really nice, has similar tastes to me, and I just get on with him. No idea what we'll end up doing together, but we're chatting again in a couple of weeks, as he wants to make sure we keep things going. So it's back to the outlines for me, I'm still tweaking things here and there, and trying to get stuff solid.

iLap

The gorgeous iLap arrived last week, and is everything I had hoped for. Fantastic, worth every penny. Even though yesterday I got a letter hitting me up for 24 quid customs charges, which I thought I'd got away with, seeing as it was couriered over and didn't have the price on it. Even with that, it's still worth it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

iTunes

Bought my first ever iTune today - the European version of iTunes launched today, and it rocks. Few first day errors here and there - some albums were "unavailable", apparently (what, they were sold out of their DIGITAL copies?) - but on the whole, a very pleasant experience. And my first iTune was the new Beastie Boys single. It won't be my last.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

First Draft

First draft - first film draft - of P45 is now finished, and has been sent off to the film company. They printed it out yesterday, and are probably reading it now. I'm shitting myself. I will never, ever get over this, it's always going to be terrifying. There is always the chance of getting kicked off if they think I'm not "getting it" or something, as there will be every time, unless I get super powerful or something, which doesn't really happen to writers. So it's nerve wracking. But at least I've been paid, and they can't have the money back because I spent it all on sweets.

Still working on two outlines, and the idea for the third (the historical adventure thingy), for which the two books arrived today. Trouble is, they arrived at the same time as the Evil Dead Trilogy on DVD, and I *know* I'd rather watch that than read the books...

Monday, June 07, 2004

Frenzy

Long weekend writing - had Friday off, got today off, and got a lot done. I think I'm finished the P45 draft, and I tidied up and finished the outlines for 4 other things. Also got an idea for a brand new thing, a historical adventure thingy with all sorts of coolness, and it's all Based On A True Story...

Got bucketloads done, so I'm feeling pretty cool. Also bought a funky new stand for the Powerbook - had to order it from America, as they're brand new. I just couldn't find anything decent over here, they all seem a bit rubbish and flimsy, and far too small. This one works on a desk or your lap/sofa/bed/etc, and looks gorgeous. In 3 to 5 days, it will be mine...

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Apple pr0n

Apple computers are fucking sexy. The new Powerbook is a thing of beauty, seamlessly connected to the wireless router, and a joy to use. Things are where you expect. Things work the way you expect. Things do what you tell them. And it's just so... fucking sexy. The Windows machine, on the other hand - and it's barely a year old - is a pain in the arse. The Shared Documents folder vanished the other day, replaced by a Documents folder that we couldn't access. It's full of all our digital camera photos, hundreds and hundreds of them. Irreplaceable. Some weird registry/sharing thing had gone wrong, which involved much fiddling with the registry, and scouring of newsgroups. It's mostly fixed now, but there are still some files and folders we can't get to. Our pictures are safe though. Why the FUCK does Windows just suddenly decide to do this sort of shit? On its own? It is nothing we did. Oh, sorry, you can't see or access that folder ever again, because, er, no fucking reason whatsoever, so just deal with it. Bollocks.

The Powerbook has been a breath of fresh air. In a year or so, I hope to be entirely free of Windows machines, forever. Once we replace the Dell with an iMac or a sexy new G5, I just won't ever have a PC in the house again. And I'm not blaming Dell, they make lovely black beasts of PCs. It's that fucking Windows shit. It's not good enough. And Internet Explorer sucks donkey dicks. I've been using Firefox for ages now, would never touch IE again, with its shoddy standards and poor support for pretty much everything. Bill Gates - you are holding back the internet. GET - THE FUCK - OUT! And take your shitty, bloated, fuckstupid "software" with you. I've had it with your shit, this random fucking weird behaviour that makes NO FUCKING SENSE, your Windows fucking sucks, so shove it right up your fucking ass. And get some decent fucking glasses man, for christ's sake, you're a multi billionaire, stop looking like some fucking accountant who's never had sex.

Sorry. This has been a rant. Please go about your business.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Is it safe?

Had a root canal 2 years ago, which wasn't the most fun in the world. A huge filling had fallen out of the tooth, but because I waited a year to get it fixed, they had to drill away loads of decay, which didn't leave much actual tooth behind. It's now filled with root canal cement or whatever it is. Anyway, last week, quarter of the tooth just came off while I ate a Galaxy Swirl. It was worth it. I was dreading the dentist visit today, I thought they'd take it out, which always sucks, you can't eat properly for weeks afterwards, and it's just unpleasant all round. But no, I went in, they drilled a bit (no anaesthetic, cause it had been root canalled, which deadens the tooth, so I didn't feel a thing), filled the new gaping chasm, scaled and polished all the others (not sure, but it's cold and pepperminty), and I was done, in less than half an hour. Fantastic. No injection, and a pleasant minty taste in my mouth after - the best dentist visit ever. All for 26 quid. Bargain. I have to be careful with it today, and reasonably careful with the tooth in future - apparently it is now "80% filling". But if it breaks again, they'll just crown it, rather than pulling it out. I'm so relieved. My butcher dentist back when I lived in a small town in Cork was always taking teeth out, and he was shit at it, having to get his foot up on the chair to yank the back ones out. One time I was left with bruises all over the side of my face, purely from the muscle damage at trying to stop my jaw getting ripped off. I'll stop talking about this now, because it's horrific...

Rewrite going smoothly and quickly, still, and trying to find time to work on some other outlines, but failing. Also trying not to poke the new filling with my tongue, and failing that too.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Working Stiff

Not much to report - still doing the P45 rewrite, still meeting people. I think I've now met everyone with anything to do with film and telly in the whole country. So when I actually have something to send out again, they'll know who I am. I make sure of that by pissing on their desk before I leave every meeting, just so they remember me. I'm sure they find it charming.

Rewrite's going great. Also started compressed hours at my dayjob - 5 days work over 4 days, leaving Mondays free to write or do other stuff. It's a bit mental, but the 3 day weekends can't be argued with.

Also, yesterday, received my first proper, real payment for P45. I am officially a professional writer. And it feels fucking great.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The Big News

Okay. I've known about this since late February, and it's been KILLING me keeping it quiet. I didn't want to say anything until the contract was actually signed, because when I tell people about possible stuff, it always jinxes it. Well, 50% of the time. Okay, I'm just paranoid. Anyway. The Big News is:

P45, the script formerly known as The Craw Lodge, has been sold.

Yes, actually sold. To a proper film development company. To be made into a real, live, proper movie.

The contract was being finalised over the past month or so (these things always take time, apparently this was quite quick), but last Wednesday I signed three copies of the final version. They snapped it up in Feb, and I've met them twice now to talk about it. The second meeting was a detailed discussion for the first rewrite - they gave me pages of excellent notes, which will make the script even better. I was worried they'd want to change everything, but they just want to make the scary bits scarier, and flesh other stuff out some more. Bit like a paintjob, putting stuff on top, giving it more layers, sorting out inconsistencies and tweaking stuff to increase tension. I have started the rewrite, and it's going really, really well. As soon as I saw the notes, I was dying to get started on it, and I never ever thought I'd feel that way about it...

So, what happens is, I do this new rewrite, then give it to them. They have a look at it, and give me some more notes for revisions (not enough changes to be a new draft, but enough to tweak and polish and edit). I then go off and do the revisions, and hand the final thing over. Then we take things from there. I'll keep this updated if and when anything else happens, and when I start and finish things. And I've probably left stuff out of this, so I might fill in other stuff as it occurs to me.

In the meantime, lots of meetings still to happen. Met a really nice person from a friendly film company last week, meeting two more this week, (tomorrow and Friday), then one more next week. And then I think that's it, I will have officially met everyone remotely involved in film in this country, and their mums.

Although I sound fairly calm, because I've had a while to get used to the idea, I am really, really, REALLY fucking excited. This is a dream come true for me, and I'm grateful every day for this. Obviously I can't quit the dayjob just yet, but it's one big step closer to being able to do this full time.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Shiny

This is the second time I've logged in to discover that Blogger has given me lots of new toys to play with. I'm very pleasantly surprised, once again. You'll notice the new template, which is exactly the sort of thing I was trying to do by fiddling with the last template, but now I can just use this new blue one without any messing around. Also, Blogger has comments for the first time. It means I can have comments without the extra pageloading time that comes with using an outside, third party comment tool, which rocks. I'm going to try the comments now, see if they work.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Google ate my hamster

They didn't, of course. But as I logged into Blogger, they offered me a free trial of the new Google email service, Gmail. Of course I signed up, and will be lording it over all my geeky mates immediately. I, along with everyone else, thought it was a lazy April Fool joke when they announced it, but the joke's on us - it's real, and it's pretty cool, going by my quick, early impressions. Some people are concerned about privacy - a computer scans your emails for keywords and sticks in (very unobtrusive) ads at the side, just like a computer scans your searches to give you Google ads. But if you're that worried, you don't have to sign up for it. I like the look of it so far. More later when I've had a play with it.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

We like short shorts

No news for ages on Cheap Rate Gravity, then two big items come along at once. After the Dresden successes (no wins! or even special mentions!), there's going to be a showing at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television's Fantastic Films Weekend, on Sunday 23rd May at 5pm. They're showing my little short, along with lots of other ones that sound much, much cooler. There are 8 shorts in the programme, they're all being shown in the one section, and you can see them all for a fiver, which is pretty good. If you know the NMPFT, the screenings are on at the Pictureville Cinema part, and you can get tickets and more details here. The whole weekend features all 3 Lord of the Rings movies, a Douglas Adams documentary (and episode 1 of the tv Hitch Hiker's show), some classic Hammer Horror, some Asian Extreme movies, some IMAX stuff, and the shorts. Films and the shorts collection are a fiver, double bills are £7.90, IMAX is £5.95, a Lord of the Rings triple bill is £13.50 (bargain!), or you can do the whole weekend for £45. Students, pensioners, unemployed, disabled and kids get in cheaper, too. There's bound to be something there for everyone, and I hope to go to the shorts thing myself.

I love these weekend events, there's always a good atmosphere. I remember going to a science fiction one in Oxford, saw a preview of 28 Days Later, then Mad Max 2, Time Bandits, The Thing, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Kaufman version), over the whole night. Staggered out in the morning, got a train home. Fantastic. The NMPFT thing is a day thing, so you won't lose any sleep...

Monday, April 19, 2004

Fix

Oh well. Didn't win anything at the Dresden short film festival. All the categories had two or three special mentions for those who didn't win, and my short didn't even get one of those. Some of them had three special mentions, and one winner - there were five entries in some categories, so pretty much everyone got mentioned except mine. So of course, it's a total fix. I mean, it's an honour to be even nominated, blah blah blah. I'm glad I couldn't go now, I'd have been terribly depressed sitting there hearing everybody else win at the awards ceremony...

Harvest rewrite is done. I'm not making any more changes for a while, as I've got lots of outlines to finish, a new draft of something else to do, and other stuff to get sorted quickly. Two meetings last week, two more this week - I need lots of outlines to send to these people, and fast...

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Writing stuff

Oh, yeah, forgot to mention, started kicking the shit out of the new Harvest draft today. Nearly finished the opening sequence, I'm taking no prisoners. I've just removed two characters, because there are way too many, and will be folding two into one for clarity. I'm also waging war on dialogue that neither advances the plot nor does anything cool. Begone, boring lines, or say something exciting. Nice.

my god... he's full of booze...

Dublin is bad for my health. Flying visit for a mate's 30th birthday, turned up Thursday last week, left Saturday. 2 days. Can't do much damage in 2 days, surely?

Thursday night, turned up in the middle of Emmet's gig at a local pub, put him off in the middle of a song (hehe) as planned, had a great night, stayed up boozing and smoking till 5am. Next day, him and some friends had put together a Rage Against the Machine tribute band, and demo'd their first gig to 30 invited friends, and it rocked the house down. Scarily accurate, fucking genius. I've always been sad that I'll never see Rage live - but now I feel like I have. And it was better, cause the lead singer was my best mate. Anyway, back to the flat for a major party, stayed up drinking all night. Someone at one point said "fuck, it's 12 o'clock" - and it had gone way past 4am, so I knew it wasn't midnight. It was the morning. I had my last drink, said my goodbyes, and decided that if I went to sleep now, I'd miss my 5pm flight, so I went for some breakfast in Dublin. Strolled around, then realised that I was absolutely shitfaced, staggering all over the place. Had a long walk around town, looking at everything that had changed, realising that it's not the same town I left in 1996. Got maudlin. Cheered myself up taking photos of skateboarders skating by a "skateboarding prohibited" sign (it was my idea, I egged them on - fuck The Man, man!). Had breakfast, staggered to airport, starting to get hungover, and flew home, to meet Jo at Heathrow, who was unpleasantly surprised to meet a smelly drunk who could barely speak. She got me home, at arm's length, like a shitty-nappied baby, and looked after me beautifully, god bless her. Thanks, honey.

Swore off alcohol (yet again). That lasted until today. I swore off it last weekend, after my sister's birthday party. One of these days, I might even mean it...

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Poncing around

Bollocks. Remember my short film, Cheap Rate Gravity? It's just been selected for the Dresden International Festival for Animation and Short Films. The director can't go, because he's busy, so he asked them if I could go instead. They said yes. But it starts next Tuesday. And I've just heard about it (Wednesday evening). The flights are around 400 quid normally, or 200 if I stop off at Frankfurt and spend 5000 years there (including a Saturday). So I probably can't go. Which sucks. There's a cash prize if it wins, but I don't know who gets that - I'll see if the director will give me half, if it even wins, which it probably won't... But that's still cool, I didn't realise anything was still happening with it. Oh, and it's been sold to Canal+, so will be/is being shown on French telly. Nice! Update: just looked up the schedules, it was shown twice on 30th March 2004. Don't know if it will be on again, but you never know. The UK Sci Fi Channel will presumably show it at some stage, too, unless they already have.

Booked in three meetings today over the next few weeks. Things may be happening. And I've got shitloads of stuff to write, none of which I have time to do before going to Dublin tomorrow for a couple of days. On the bright side, I'm going to Dublin tomorrow for a couple of days...

Friday, April 02, 2004

No April Fool

I really meant to do a horribly clever April Fool joke on everyone I know, but I couldn't think of anything. Does that count? No? Oh. Okay, then...

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Bits and pieces

Met a nice man from the Beeb today, he's looking for a spooky scary ongoing series. I threw something at him that Jodie and myself came up with, and he seemed to like it, so I've got to work it up into a couple of pages of details to see what he thinks. Once I've done that, we'll send it back and forth a bit, then if he thinks it could work, he'll pass it up the chain. The good thing is that it'll be a very short decision process, so whether it's a yes or a no, it should be fairly soon. Which is cool, because I absolutely hate waiting for things. I also learned the difference between a series and a serial - a "series" is something that can go on forever, like the X-Files, Casualty, Buffy/Angel, Star Trek, etc etc. A "serial" is a one off, a 6 parter, 3 parter, or 1 parter, like Edge of Darkness, State of Play, or those two part period dramas that the Beeb do so well. So now we all know.

Also got lots of other meetings coming up - well, three. Three people from three film companies want to meet me, so everything seems to be moving along quite well. Usually these things are just getting to know you affairs, they tell me about themselves, say what they're looking for, and ask me to send them anything they might be interested in. So I've been working on stuff all this week, outlines and new ideas, new versions of old ideas, so I've got stuff to pimp to them. Forgot to mention, met another guy last week, on the 24th, who wants genre films - horror, scifi, action, thriller, etc - which is good. Nothing concrete yet, but it's all starting to happen, I think.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Aimless

Feeling a bit aimless and restless. I've done the Harvest rewrite, but don't want to hand it over yet, because it needs more work. So I have nothing definite to write. I've been working on some outlines, some of which are working, some of which aren't. Also wrote a 16 page short story which I started getting fed up with by page 10. I'm so impatient, I just want to get to the exciting ending. But it's finished, it's a sprawling mess, but I can't face doing anything else to it. So I'm still just trying to get the other outlines in shape. I need to write something, but don't have anything in particular to write.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Bits and pieces

I think I've finished the Harvest rewrite. It doesn't feel like it's there yet though, it's still too chunky, too much explanation, which I can't avoid seeing as there needs to be a lot of it. Hmmm. I think it's time to get some feedback from a couple of people, before I show it to Pat...

Did the School outline change, not heard anything back from the telly people, but it's a slow mover, so nothing to worry about. The other idea isn't there yet, I'm still working out the details - it's too messy, too jumbled up, too indecisive. I need to let that filter through for a while.

Watched The Eye again last night with some friends. Every time I see it, I realise more and more how expertly constructed it is - everything is paid off, the end is magnificent, and it ALL makes sense, even the bits where you're not sure what the hell is going on. I'm very jealous. I wonder how long it took them to write it, if it was easy, if it was horribly difficult, or what. Great movie, check it out if you haven't. (That's not a referral link, it's just a link to the Amazon page, I wouldn't mention a movie just so I could make 5p on your referral...)

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Rewrite this

Harvest rewrite is going slowly, but very well. I've got some extensive notes from Pat, my own notes in response, and a new outline to keep me on track. I've just spent several days going back over the scenes that I've already just done, because I wasn't happy with them. Now found a compromise, joined two other scenes that were taking too long, and explained things a bit better. I can now finally carry on and get past page 25, which I was on for a long time while I fixed those other bits.

Still percolating the other idea, it's coming together nicely. It's still in two separate bits, but I think I've figured out which bits to stick together, and which bits to put somewhere else. Oh, that reminds me, I need to write a half page outline for the first episode of The School, if I was to rewrite it (for the telly people that I was talking to a while back). So I'd better do that tomorrow, because I've forgotten when it's supposed to be done for - I met them on Feb 12th, and they were going to get back to me "in a month"... erm, so I've got about 9 days, then. Better do it tomorrow. Once you start thinking "oh, I've got ages left", then all of a sudden, you haven't anymore.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Back in the saddle

Switzerland was a blast, saw lots of snow, mountains, snow-covered mountains, ate lots of chocolate, stayed with the nicest family ever who had a cat called Tupfli that I've probably spelt wrong, went on many trains, saw lots of scenery, breathed some very thin air, gaped at the Matterhorn, and did the coolest thing in the whole world - lounged around in a thermal spring heated pool, outside, in the alps, while it was snowing. Rock and blimmin roll.

Anyway, back in smelly old London, things seem somehow smaller, darker, and greyer. Boo to London for a while. On the bright side, the rewrite of Harvest (the big scifi action thingy) is going very well, I'm really enjoying it. Oh, and I finally figured out how to make an old idea work as a film outline, and have been percolating it in my head for nearly a week now, trying to put it all together. I may merge it with another half idea, I may not. Such is the joy of figuring out what to do before writing it, a very hard, painful lesson I learned from the months of P45/Craw Lodge madness. I also have two meetings with film or telly people lined up, not for anything in particular, but just because they liked my stuff and want to chat. So all is moving along swimmingly. More news soon, hopefully.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Late late show

It's 1am in the morning. We need to get up at 4am to get the train to Heathrow to be in time for our flight. It's dark. And we bought special new sunglasses for the snow glare. Hit it.

The plan was to get horribly drunk so that we'd fall asleep earlier, so as to be able to get up at 4am. Clearly, this plan has gone terribly, terribly wrong. You won't be surprised to hear that the plan was my idea. We've set the alarm clock, Jo's phone, my phone, and hired a small child to scream at us. That's all true apart from the child, but damn, that sounds like an effective method. Signing off now, back next week. If we wake up in time for the flight.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Switzerland Ahoy

Off to Switzerland tomorrow, to hang around with our mate Cindy, walk through snow, eat chocolate, walk through snow, look at scenery. and eat chocolate. And whatever we do, wherever we are, we will know that the clocks are telling the *exact* time. Because it's Switzerland, and anything else would ruin their reputation.

The BBC thing has been postponed, but the bloke said to send him my stuff anyway, because he liked the sound of it, and you never know. Got a meeting with somebody from some production place, forget the name - they liked P45, and want to chat about other possible projects (they don't do movies, so they wouldn't want it anyway). So all is looking healthy as we swan off to Snowland. I'm not using the royal "we", I mean me and Jo.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Facelift

Oh, you may have noticed that the blog template is totally different. I got fed up of trying to customise the other one so that it looked presentable, so I just chose a better template from the Blogger template bucket. This one is much nicer. And it's easier to tell where the dates, headings and posts begin and end, which I'd kind of messed up before. The blog is dead, long live the blog.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Shenanigans

Oops, forgot to update. Working on Harvest, I have about 3 weeks to do a new draft, which should be fine. I've got everything pretty much worked out, I just need to go in and do it.

Spoke to a man from a Large Television Company - oh bollocks, from the BBC, there, I said it, enough of this coy "Somebody From A Certain Place" shite, this is supposed to be a blog about the nuts and bolts of writing and trying to sell the writing, sorry about that, I'll try and talk properly from now on. Right. Where was I? Man from the Beeb, wants a 90 minute one off thing for BBC3, something interesting, edgy, not the usual boring drama shite. Did I have anything? It turned into a bit of a pitch session over the phone, which was scary, but we picked out 4 ideas of mine (existing ones in various stages of readiness) that he liked the sound of. 2 of them have full outlines, which is cool. One has half an outline, and one is just a two line idea, so I'm currently working those last 2 up into one page outlines. I'll send them over to him, and see what he thinks. Could be a nice little thing, if it works out, unlike the last tv one off drama potential over at ITV - ooh, he's naming names now, the man has no fear - which kind of fizzled out. But then I don't really write ITV-style stuff, so that's not really surprising.

Friday, February 13, 2004

More Goodness

Nothing to do with writing, but... we finally sorted out our plane tickets, and will be visiting our mate in Switzerland soon. I've never been, and am very excited. Lots of snow, mountains, trees, and pretty scenery. And chocolate. Mucho choccie.

Also bought a selection of cables and connectors that, when slotted together, enabled me to take the SVideo output from my home PC and connect it to the Scart socket of my telly. This means that we can watch a couple of movies and tv things that only exist on the hard drive - and also means that we don't have to put up with Sky One's piss poor presentation of the new series of 24. Fuck them and their 500 ad breaks per minute, I'm just going to download it - already got episodes 1-6, will be watching them this weekend...

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Oddness and Goodness

Somebody found a copy of P45 on a bus. All copies have my agent's contact details on the front, so they phoned up and said "Here, I've found this script". Which is very bizarre. The only possible explanation is: one of the producers it got sent to was reading it on the bus, and (a) got distracted and left it there by accident, or (b) hated it so much they littered public transport. The test will be if they phone up to ask for another copy to replace the one they lost. Either way, it's an interesting story... Update: They never phoned up to ask for a replacement. We never found out who left it on the bus.

Got the first responses from a few people: one rejected it outright because they don't like any horror, which is fair enough. One wouldn't even read it, because they only read stuff by big name writers - you'd have thought they'd judge something by the writing, not by whose name is on it, but hey, fuck 'em. If I ever do get to be a "big name", then I shall specifically request that nothing of mine is ever sent to them again. I am the Duke of Grudge.

First proper response: somebody from A Big Company read it, loved it, thought it was well funny, well scary, and a top read. They're going to get the big boss to read it soon - they usually like the same things, which is promising. So it's all good news so far. Watch this space, more news as it arrives...

Meetings

Well, one meeting. A second meeting with Some TV People about The School. One of them is of the opinion that it might be possible to film it after all, and not have to spend millions on it. The other one thinks it might even be possible to be allowed to put it on the telly should it be filmed. We might need to make a few changes and compromises here and there, but I never ever thought I would ever even get anyone remotely interested in it, so everything is a bonus. Things are moving slowly, but they are moving. Whether or not anything else happens is in the hands of A Newish TV channel. Should hear in about a month or so. Interesting.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Waiting is for losers

I've decided to follow the excellent advice of Terry Rossio, of the excellent Wordplayer site (and, with his writing partner Ted Elliot, the writer of Pirates of the Caribbean, Aladdin, and many more superb movies) - never wait. I just realised that I've been sitting around waiting for the offers to come in, when I could be spending the time in a much more productive way - writing my arse off.

So I'm working on Harvest (working title, will change at least 7 times) again, the big sci-fi action thing. I've got another 5 or 6 weeks before I need to show a spanking new draft to Pat, so I'm going to refine the characters, round them out, and work on the changes that I need to make. But I won't start the new draft yet - it's all in the planning. Planning is good. Planning is right. Planning works. One of the characters has had a major change, which has opened up all sorts of cool things. As a result, he's now the most interesting character. Hopefully, I can do the same to all the others. The more texture I can add, the better. I'm also working on the new outline, just to get all the story changes straight in my head. When that is done, I'll show it to the trusted experts, and maybe brainstorm some more cool ideas. I hate that word, brainstorm. Makes me sound like some sort of wanker who does seminars and group sessions and marketing strategies. Still, I used the word, nobody had a gun to my head. I blame global warming.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Still not king

Again, the bidding war seems to be inexplicably delayed.

I'm sure it will start soon.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Friday, January 30, 2004

Meetings and things

Was supposed to be meeting some tv people today about The School, but one of them can't make it, so it's rescheduled for the 12th Feb. Which is cool, because I was able to meet a really groovy French director who loved P45, and would love to make it. We had a great chat about the script, and all sorts of things, so if anyone wants to buy it, there's already somebody who would like to direct it. This is all good. He also had a couple of cool suggestions, which gave me an idea of how to make the subplot even cooler, so I might have a fiddle with it soon.

He also wants me to read this book that he and his producer want to make. It's a gritty ganster thriller, with odd elements, and he thinks I'd be able to adapt it well. I'm going to read it and see what it's like, but it sounds good.

No reponses from producers or companies yet, I'm going to assume that they'll all read it over the weekend...

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Dammit, babies are not funny

Okay, this is for all you comedy writers out there: Babies. They're not funny. Not. Funny. AT ALL.

Friends was going great, then they threw a baby into the mix, not once, but twice. Sure, Phoebe's reactions were kind of amusing, but then it turned into the same old screaming-woman-demands-drugs-and-scares-the-doctor routine (although the doctor who loves Fonzie was a touch of genius). Then Rachel got up the duff, there was love, there was hugging, I was too busy vomiting to notice. I gave up on Friends when Joey and Rachel started the will-they-won't-they shite.

Frasier. Fantastic show. But now Daphne is pregnant. They've wrung some comedy milage out of it with Niles' testicle trouser fans (yes, really), but 2 episodes in and I'm already tired of it. Why? WHY? I watch these shows because they make me laugh. Babies do not make me laugh. Birth scenes do not make me laugh. Heartwarming scenes of emotion do not make me laugh. And that episode where Niles had a heart scare? Really, really not funny.

Birth scenes are so overused and abused. I must have seen a hundred of them over the years, in various shows and movies, and they're all the same. The woman suddenly becomes transformed into a hideous, screaming demon, red faced, grabs the doctor, screams "DRUGS!", makes some witty comment to any men present ("shut up, people like you made me like this!" or "it's your fault I'm here!" or something equally hilarious), the doctor cries "push!", the woman screams "I'M PUSHING!", maybe the baby will be coming out backwards or have the cord around its neck for tension, whatever, and suddenly there's a baby, it cries, the doctor hands it over, and the red-faced, screaming woman-demon is suddenly a soft-focus Venus, beaming radiantly, mother and child in harmony, nature's greatest gift and joy. It's boring. It's always the same, always. I'm sick of it.

It's a common pitfall in comedy, they think, hmm, let's shake things up a bit, throw in a serious element just to make it more realistic - bollocks. I don't watch comedy shows for realism. Some are realistic, that's great, but if you start off as an all-out comedy, don't suddenly throw serious things in. Remember Roseanne? Used to be the funniest thing on television. Then, for some crazy fucking reason, they decided that Dan and Roseanne should have marriage difficulties. Yes, it was realistic, it was well done, but Christ! I thought it was supposed to be a comedy! I tuned into that show every week for half an hour of laughter, to be taken away from the drudgery of my then-miserable little grey life, not for MORE bloody depressing realism.

So, in conclusion: if you start out as one thing, don't turn into something else. Us simple folk who watch television don't like it. We don't like change in general, to be honest, so just avoid it. You can mix genres, but not suddenly, after 3 seasons of something else. It's just not fair. So stop it. Thanks. And babies aren't funny. Ever.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Time to corrupt some innocent minds

So, after all the changes, drafts, tearing-out-of-hair, blood, sweat, tears, semen stains - semen stains? - the script is, as of today, on the desks of a shitload of movie people. Right now. Right now, it is on their desks. My fate, my testicles, my anus, all are in their hands. In a manner of speaking.

Before it got sent out, apparently Jago's assistant read it out to her flatmates, who all thought it was funny. And one of his clients, a director, started reading it, and said his wife thought he was having a heart attack, he was laughing so hard. He said he "nearly puked in the bath", and I can think of no higher recommendation than that. I just wish I'd managed to push him that extra mile...

So I'm nervously optimistic, yet, at the same time, utterly pessimistic. Meanwhile, I need to do another draft of the big scifi action thingy - I've got 6 weeks to work on a new outline, and construct an exciting new draft. I'm looking forward to that, partly because it isn't Craw Lodge/P45/whatever it's called today.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Title Change

Forgot to mention - as "The Craw Lodge" doesn't really fit the script now, what with the way it's been changed over the last few drafts, I've had to change the title. I'm shit at titles and character names, so we've compromised and called it "P45", which is a nice, meaningless yet ominous title. A P45 is what you get when you leave a job here in Engerland, and is sometimes used as an unsubtle method of telling someone they've been sacked.

The Columbo Effect

...just one more quick polish, rasped Peter Falk, one eye staring at me, the other staring off into space. Spent yesterday and today having several phonecalls with My Agent (now I'm starting to like the sound of that, it's not at all wanky to say it, it's actually very manly and clever), just fine tuning and polishing little bits and pieces. There are still a couple of typos cropping up, and a few lines of exposition that really sound like it ("Golly gee, so that means that the murderer was the butler the whole time, using us to fulfill his sick fantasy of having toys that come to life? Wow!"), and other such shite. So we fixed as much as possible yesterday, trying not to disrupt the page order, because they'd already printed 10 copies...

...but the page order was different on their copy of Word than mine, so we just said fuck it let's print it again when we're finished. This script is killing more trees than a logging company. Why the hell does a document have a different page count on two different machines? The font is the same, the margins, paper size, everything - so why is that? It doesn't make sense.

Anyway, we did that yesterday, then he phoned back today and we made some more changes, which I've just finished and sent off. If I haven't made any horrible mistakes, then it'll get sent out on Monday. I don't think I can bear to open it up again and change anything else - I really like it now, it's a good, solid script, but I don't ever want to see it again. For at least a month.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

God is in the details

Just some more details as to what happens, this is supposed to be an informative writing blog, I've just remembered:

Now that the draft is ready - written in Word, using a free script template available from somewhere on the excellent BBC website (somewhere on the writing section) - my agent will spring into action. Several copies will be printed out, and bound with two of those big metal clippy things, with a nice cover with the agency's name and address on. They will be posted out, and tomorrow morning (or Friday morning) a fat envelope will be landing on the desk of every film producer that might be interested. Obviously, people who only make romantic comedies will not be approached - part of the agent's job is to pick out people who are interested in the subject matter, and target them accordingly. I've already met some of the people, so some of them will be expecting to see this particular script, for others it will be a horrible surprise.

Then I wait here, terrified, hoping that someone will like it. If they do, they'll contact the agency, and I'll probably go to meet them. What happens then, I don't know. I'm just hoping it gets to that stage, where someone likes it. More news as it happens...

And now, the end is near...

I never, ever thought I would get to this stage. Never. It's been so, so long... Did a few more minor polishes on Craw Lodge, just tweaking lines and one or two scenes at the end, just trying to make it work. Did the final work last night. Then did the final final really I mean it this time final work on it this morning, some of it over the phone, deciding what worked best. Then I emailed it off.

It's finished. For now. I had some interest in a previous draft, the guy was trying to get some investment money together, which still might happen, but as of today, we're sending it out to everyone. When I say "we", I mean my agent is sending it out while I just sit at home. If someone wants to make it, they'll probably want changes and things, but I don't care. The bulk of the donkey work is over and done with. I can write something else, forget all about it for a while.

Of course, now the waiting begins. And the nagging, terrifying feeling that nobody will like it or want to make it, and I'll have wasted all that work, all that awful, soul-destroying work... I learned a lot from the experience, though, so it is kind of good, in a way. But I'm glad it's over. I'm just worried now that it'll all be for nothing. Of course, every new draft improved it, and if it had been sent out a couple of months ago, nobody would have been interested. I know it's good. But still...

In the meantime, I need to start work on something else. Haven't decided what, yet. I know it won't be a horror, that's for damn sure. Not for a while.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Yikes, no updates since December - but there's not been much to say. Chatted with Jago about the latest draft of Craw Lodge, we agreed that it's great right up till the very end, then the last ten pages or so just don't quite make it. So I spent several days trying to sort out the ending bit, and I think it's there, it feels like it's working. I took a break from writing for a week or so, and have been working away recently, getting things back in order. Also fleshed out an outline for something completely different while I was at it, and kept having ideas for this and that.

Hopefully more news soon, as I get it...