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.