Saturday, January 14, 2006

Tag it and bag it

This questionnaire thing is going round all the screenwriting blogs, and if I hadn't been tagged sooner or later, I'd have felt left out. Thank you Danny for not making me feel like a blog leper. And it's a good procrastination tool - okay, I'm not writing, but I'm *talking* about it, sort of. Here goes:

ONE (1) earliest film-related memory:

The earliest I can remember is being taken out as a treat to the cinema - it was one of those two screen extravaganzas (TWO screens! Luxury!) where you just bought a ticket, and did what you wanted after that. We were supposed to see Pinocchio (re-release number 447), but I didn't fancy it, so I went next door and watched Star Trek The Motion Picture instead. Didn't understand much of it, but enjoyed the pretty lights. Another early one was my sister taking me and my nephew to see Clash of the Titans. We arrived 10 minutes before the end, so we watched the finale, then waited a bit until it started again. In those days, you could just sit in there all day if you wanted and watch all the showings. Madness. Barbaric madness.

TWO (2) favourite lines from movies:

Bloody hell. So many favourites, how can I just pick two? Okay, first two I can think of:

Kyle Reese: "You still don't get it, do you? He'll find her. That's what he DOES. That's ALL he DOES! You can't stop him! He'll wade through you, reach down her throat, and pull her FUCKING HEART OUT!"

Hans Gruber, reading the note on the dead terrorist: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho... Ho... Ho..."

THREE (3) jobs you'd do if you could not work in the "biz":

To my eternal damnation, I'd probably never get away from technical support of some kind.
One of those bitter, bitter columnists, the ones that hate *everything*, and write about it constantly.
Photographer - it's a hobby at the moment, but I'll pretend that I could get into it full time somehow. Hey baby, are you a model? Come back to my place, I've got my own studio, yeah. Just, er, chuck your clothes on the chair there. Are you about a size 14? It rubs the lotion on its skin, it does this when it's told. It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again. Yes it will, Precious, won't it? It'll get the hose! Now it places the lotion in the basket... It places the lotion in the basket... Put the fucking lotion in the basket!

FOUR (4) jobs you actually have held outside the industry:

Technical support for a courier company. Our office had no windows, crappy air conditioning, a coffee machine that made your breath smell like dogshit, and the biggest fucking arselicker in the world who spent all day writing Excel macros and wanking over them.
Staffing the complaints phoneline for a council's refuse collection service. Because I couldn't say it at the time, if any of those callers are reading this: no, I don't care about your bins, no you can't leave wardrobes on the pavement until they're collected, and no you can't speak to the manager.
Cleaning crew at a YMCA ski-lodge in Colorado. Hotel guests: don't leave wet towels all over the floor, or food trodden into the carpet, and flush the fucking toilet after you, you dirty, dirty bastards.
General dogsbody in the circulation department of an Irish newspaper. Much of this consisted of having to phone delivery drivers and ask if they noticed any missing papers from particular batches, which they interpreted as "I accuse you of stealing newspapers". Sacked for swearing in frustration after one particularly stressful phonecall. Oh, the injustice of it all.

THREE (3) book authors I like:

Only three? Gah. Okay. Stephen King. Douglas Adams. Harlan Ellison. I shy away from anything that I "should" read, I prefer the naughty, exciting stuff. Genre's where the action is, so to speak. Ellison's probably the closest I come to literary respectability. Although it did always make me wonder why my mother kept insisting that I didn't read "proper" books, when she went through 25 Catherine bloody Cookson bodice rippers a week. Just because it's got aliens or possessed madmen in it, doesn't necessarily mean it's not well written.

TWO (2) movies you'd like to remake or properties you'd like to adapt:

I would love to adapt The War Magician, by David Fisher, the story of the magician Jasper Maskelyne - in WW2 he helped the Allies by creating elaborate illusions to fool the German army, like moving Alexandria Harbour at night so the bombers would hit the wrong place, hiding the Suez Canal in a massive lightshow, and disguising tanks as harmless trucks. Pick up the book if you can, it's amazing, top wartime adventure stuff. Sadly, the rights were snapped up years ago by Cruise/Wagner, the Cruiser's production company, and I am a nobody.

Preacher, the collected comics. It's exactly the sort of impossibly ridiculous task that I'd love to fail spectacularly at. Of course, I'm convinced that I'm the guy who could manage it, but the comic's just so gloriously offensive to everyone, it'll probably never happen.

ONE (1) screenwriter you think is underrated:

Larry Cohen - Q The Winged Serpent, Cellular, Phone Booth, among many, many others. His stuff is tight, fast, economical, and leaps off the page. Cellular is one of the best scripts I've ever read (along with Die Hard and Lethal Weapon) - he sets up characters in a couple of well chosen words, only tells you what you need to know, and gets the story going right from page 1. Respect is due.

Also, the direct to DVD guys out there, like Mr Bill Cunningham, who unfairly get looked down on by the snootier end of the biz. Note to "proper" Hollywood: these guys can't rely on $200 million budgets, huge effects, and big name actors to bail them out, their scripts have to be solid stories with satisfying payoffs and exciting finales. You would do very well to take a tip or two from them, like scripts having a beginning, middle and an end, silly stuff like that.

And of course all us UK peeps, slaving away in the hope that one day we can sell out and go to America to get paid millions to write comedies about people who fuck pies or drink spunk or get explosive diarrhoea. Let's live the dream!

I know it said "one" screenwriter, but I don't care, we don't get props that often, so let's big ourselves up. I don't think I know any other blogging writers that haven't already been tagged, so if you haven't, and you're a blogging writer reading this - you been tagged, beeyotch!


oneslackmartian said...

Haha, I love Hans Gruber quotes. If I ever get tagged again (this sounds so mature), you'll be the first blogger I tag. (And then maybe we can all get together and ride bikes!)

James Moran said...

OMG! ROFL! WTF! etc etc

So the tagger will become the taggee, eh? Fiendish!

Of course, as soon as I did this, I immediately thought of 20 much cooler movie quotes, and now I feel silly. And you could probably take any line from The Usual Suspects, Withnail & I, The Big Lebowski, and Casablanca and have a top 10 contender.

Jools said...

You forgot Carl Hiaasen!