Saturday, December 23, 2006

2006 is dead, long live 2007

Here we go again, it's time for the end of year wrap-up. What glories, what defeats, has my writing career faced this year? Let's take a look into the magic bucket of fish...

Things I achieved in 2006

--My first movie (Severance, out soon on DVD, etc etc) was released in cinemas, did very well, and had all the cool stuff like posters, trailer, bus ads, and so on (not technically an achievement, as I'd already written it ages ago, but I say it counts)

--Did my first Q+A sessions - one for FrightFest, one for the New Producers' Alliance thing, and two for the Austin Fantastic Fest - and handled them very well, if I say so myself

--Got commissioned by the BBC for a one hour one-off thing *and* an episode of an existing series, and by C4 for a script for a new series

--Two separate places approached me to be a part of their project in development

--Recorded my first DVD commentary (one of last year's targets)

--Represented Severance at two film festivals (see above, another target met)

--Wrote a whole spec feature script (half the target met)

--Wrote first draft of Curfew

--Collaborated with Mr Stack and Mr Wilkinson on a TV show bible

--Wrote a bucketload of outlines, pitches, bits and bobs, including a rewrite/collaboration on first half a spec script (doing other half soon)

--Got hired to do outlines for 3 projects

--Did my 300th blog post

--Met loads and loads of cool new people

--Hustled like a hooker when the Navy's in town, got lots of stuff going, didn't let anyone walk all over me, and kept my shit together.

I've posted at length about the Severance release and FrightFest premiere, so you already know what an amazing time that was. It felt like a real validation of me and everything I believe in, and really gave me a massive confidence boost. Seeing buses go by with my movie poster on was fantastic. Doing the Q+As, being a guest at Fantastic Fest, and hearing the laughs, gasps, cheers and applause of the various audiences was the best feeling ever. I'm also pleased with how much stuff I wrote this year, more than I realised - and all of a sudden, at the end of the year, the commissions and gigs start coming thick and fast, people actually seeking me out rather than the other way around. The existing series commission means I get to play with someone else's toys - it's a gig I worked really hard to get, and I'm incredibly excited about it. I can now do the meetings without feeling self-conscious or embarrassed, I'm on the same level as everyone else. I really feel like I'm part of the industry, rather than a lucky tourist. As for hustling like a hooker - don't judge me, it was a slow month, I needed the cash, and the docks were lovely that time of year.

Things I messed up

--Let things get on top of me, worried so much about selling something, that I got creatively blocked for a while

--Last year's target was two new spec scripts this year, but I only did one - could easily have done another one, but didn't

--Didn't sell a movie (another of last year's targets).

Not bad I guess, considering. I'm annoyed at myself for not getting both specs done, but at least I have lots of other stuff to show for it, including a full draft of Curfew, lots of other projects that were a lot of work but that are now on the move, and several gigs for hire. If I'd been a bit quicker on the ball, I might have been able to sell a movie. I moved a lot faster this year and did a lot more work, but I need to do even more. I had a few months where things were really quiet, and I got worried that I'd never be able to come up with another original idea, or sell anything ever again. I tried desperately to come up with something, but that just made it worse, and my mind went totally blank. It was like trying to sleep when you're worried about not being able to sleep. Any smartarses out there want to come and tell me there's no such thing as writer's block? You can tell it to my Pimp Hand, which will Pimp Slap you. Of last year's targets, the spec and movie sale are the two that I could have done something about purely on my own, so they're the ones that there's no excuse for missing. But that's fine - accept what you did wrong, don't blame anyone else for it, face it, learn from it, then leave it and move on. Uncle Jimbo says so. Actually, that's something Kurt Russell said once in an interview, and I thought it was such a good attitude to mistakes that I adopted it as my own. Yes, I live by the Kurt Russell code. You got a problem with that? Kurt is the fucking MAN, man, and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise.

Things I have learned

--I need a better way of keeping track what I'm working on, for who, and when they're due

--There are many, many, many more tricks to learn, and every day that goes by you figure something new out, or learn it from someone wiser

--Reviews ultimately don't make a difference

--Philips products are shite, will break after barely a year, then their customer service people will fuck you around mercilessly, lie to you, and just be exceptionally incompetent until you give up.

One of Danny's recent posts mentioned some sort of database tracking thing, which might be a good idea. I'm going to check out the Mac software available, and see if anything helps - my brain is made of chicken wire and broken biscuits, I have real trouble keeping track of everything, and need it to be all in one place where I can see it. As for learning new tricks, I did the other day - watching a movie gave me a great idea into how to get across some vital exposition without making it obvious. The movie did it very cleverly, so I'm shamelessly borrowing (stealing) some of the techniques. Reviews, well, if good reviews equalled box office, Severance would have made 500 million billion quid - and yet, how come the only ones I remember are the few bad ones? I can quote them verbatim, and can't help but take them personally. Especially ones that miss the point of the film entirely, I feel like tracking down the reviewers and slapping them around a bit. I need to just remember that it's all subjective, all just one person's opinion - even the good ones. And as for Philips - I now have a large paperweight that cost a thousand quid. Well done, Philips, you win, you fucking useless, incompetent bastards. But I'll never buy anything of yours ever again. So I guess *I* win, after all. HAHAHAHAAA! Up yours, Philips!

Things I want to do in 2007

--Become a better writer (this always stays on the list)

--Sell another movie

--Write two more spec scripts (or scripts for hire, let's count those too)

--Get hired to do an adaptation (book or graphic novel)

--Get something shown on TV

--Do more insightful, informative blog posts.

I feel so lucky, it's been a crazy ride this year. I've learned so much, I look back on stuff I wrote a year ago and wonder what I was thinking, why didn't I do this instead of that. And I know I'll do the same thing a year from now. You're always learning, always evolving, always picking up new tricks. So it would be great to sell some more stuff, just to keep working, keep myself in the game, but mainly to see my work on screen again. It's addictive. 2006 has been fucking great, and I can't even imagine what 2007 might bring. Hopefully a naked romp with some celebs, and a mattress stuffed with cash. And yes, I need to do more of the Q+A type blog posts. I've got some lined up, proper ones, including a possible guest appearance which will be great if I can swing it. Watch this space.

Probably won't blog again now until January, as I've got a rewrite of Curfew, half a spec feature, and an outline for the TV episode to do in the next couple of weeks, in between orgies of food and drink. Good luck to everyone out there for next year, and I hope that during this festive time, you all get even half as drunk as I'm going to. Wahey! Have a good one, and keep on trucking, or writing, or whatever tickles your fancy.


Jodie said...

Oh thanks, I guess "getting married" just isn't as exciting as writing a stupid story out of your head. If you do add our blessed union to your silly "blog" make sure it goes on the "Things I Messed Up" list.

Merry Christmas! x x x

James Moran said...

Mental note: add "secretly murder naive new bride" to the "Things I want to do in 2007" list

Danny Stack said...

Ah, nothing like a bit of domestic blitz at Christmas.

Lee said...

You busy little blighter; no wonder you never come out.

For project tracking, you could do worse than the combo of OmniOutliner with kGTD.

james henry said...

Happy Christmas m'colleague, and have a gory and suspenseful new year.

Dan said...

Truckin' is what tickles my fancy. I'm hauling my rig up and down the M1 for the Christmas period. That's a big ten-four.

Happy days to you and yours.

potdoll said...

Hope you have a merry christmas despite being in the dog house.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for keeping up the blog though you have been so busy this year.

I pointed my husband to it after September, as he has been trying to write things the last two years getting frustrated at times that things don't move faster, blah, blah, blah then coming back to small triumphs along the way.

This post was great and your 300th one has been printed and stuck to the big bulletin board in the office with all the little outline note cards pinned up for the next script.

Thanks again. Hope to see you in Austin in 2007. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Sarah Dobbs said...

Merry Christmas! Here's to an even more successful 2007, and congrats on everything achieved in 2006!

Anonymous said...

hahaha. I can't BELIEVE you forgot the missus. Get her a signed SEVERANCE DVD or something!

Good luck in 2007!


James Moran said...

Cheers everyone!

Sonny: She was just kidding. The post was about my writing career highs and lows, not personal ones...

rawshark said...

Little late on the old 'Merry Xmas' thing, but congratulations on a great year for you this year. Loved reading the blog - great stuff - keep it up.

So, Christmas over, have a Happy New Year mate - and here's to an even better 2007 for all...

"Hang the DJ!"

booyaa said...

Definitely seconding using Getting Things Done as a way to keep organised..

I know GTD-fu. Drop me an email if you want to get some training on the basics.

Pillock said...

You rock. And groan. And bang your head repeatedly against the wall. Just kidding. You just rock. Keep it up. You're an inspiration.

SharQ (E2) said...

Dude, I'm proud as you! Here's to an even more interesting 2007

Harry said...

If anyone asks have you paid your dues... just tell them the cheque is in the mail.

Snake Plisskin

Harry said...

I thought you where dead Snake...

Jack Burton