Thursday, December 29, 2005

That was the year that was

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jodie x said...

Yay! I'm so proud of you, you've accomplished so much this year. And I'm sorry you had such bad experiences and disappointments in pretty much your first year and your first film. But you really dealt with them so well, and so graciously - where I would have thrown some serious tantrums and probably committed some crimes...

But so much cool stuff has happened too, all of which you deserve, and 2006 is gonna rock even more!

soulmining said...

Reading that list it sounds like you've accomplished such a lot this year that you can be proud of, so congratulations!

There's always going to be negatives and a few bad decisions, but you soon learn from these and they'll just make you a stronger person...

If there's one thing I've learnt this year it's that a bit of confidence and self-belief in what you're doing goes a long way.

2006 is yours for the taking... go for it!

Konrad West said...

Congrats man. You've done well, despite the crap. Keep it up and looking forward to hearing you conquer all in 06.

booyaa said...

dude i'm very happy for you! though i think you should start thinking of script title that are longer than one word.

*ducks* ;) j/k

happy new year and stuff!

Anonymous said...

Happy Nude Year my fellow scribe...

Chris (UK Scriptwriter) said...

Hey James,

Happy new year!

I've fallen off the blogging and writing path since the move, but with the new year, things may be back on track. You know, resolutions and all ;)

Anyway, good to hear you still have fingers in a few pies.

James Moran said...

Cheers everyone - here's to a slappy new rear for all of us. Matron!

Cindy said...

Wow. Loads of achievements indeed.

Been away for a bit, so I never got to wish you and Jodie a happy new year. So here - Here's to a great new year!

Also, if ever you need some more feedback, lemme know - I greatly enjoy feedbacking your stuff.