Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I get knocked down, but I get up again, etc etc

Major deadline limbo at the moment, hence the slight lack of bloggy goodness. Got several things to finish for this week, so I will re-surface when I can. Had some bad news on the movie writing front, a project that has gone wrong, but it was swiftly followed by some good news, regarding a new movie writing gig, so I guess fate is karmically balancing everything out. Can't go into the details of the bad news yet, until I know more, and I don't really want to discuss it anyway, while it's fresh in my mind, it's too painful (don't ask me to elaborate, I'm not allowed to yet). But it's one of those things that happen to writers all the time, I knew it would happen to me at some stage, and it will happen again, probably several times. Still feels pretty shit though, and has really knocked my confidence down. I'd been feeling pretty good about myself and my writing ability, took a lot of work to get my mind in that space, and now I've been thrown back a good few steps. Suddenly I'm second guessing myself again, looking at everything I write and wondering if it's really good enough, or if it's just a pile of shit, if I'm just a talentless idiot. And it's my duty to inform you about these things when they happen to me - it doesn't matter if you've just come off a successful movie and are a "name", it happens to everyone. It will happen to you. You will be sidelined, or ignored, or replaced, or overruled, or stepped on, or rewritten, or ridiculed, or misled, or misinformed, or lied to, or forced to make changes you hate. Probably all of those things. At the same time, if you're really unlucky. And maybe beaten with a stick, too. A shitty stick.

It's an insecure business, and nearly every single thing seems designed to bring you down, make you feel powerless and small, you have to fight against that all the time. For some reason, even though we're the ones who make the stuff up in our head, from nothing, we are treated as if we're not important, constantly devalued. Yes, I knew it would be like this, of course I did, but it's still a shock when it happens, particularly the casual nature of it, given the importance of our job in the business.

But hey, that's the movies, folks. TV? Different story. I've been having the best time working on the 3 secret TV things. Partly because they're all really nice people, partly because on TV, the writer is important. TV needs story and character and lots of it. And it needs it NOW, because the show is starting on a certain date at a certain time, and there are X amount of episodes and it's been advertised and people are waiting to start working on it because they need to get everything done in time - and if you don't have good, solid writers who can get the job done in time, you're fucked. You can mess the writer around or replace them, but the time is always ticking away, and you can't afford to waste it. So it's great to work with people who treat me like a human being and keep me informed.

A simple example: I got an email from the Secret TV People the other day, can't say exactly what it was, but it was just to let me know a new particular thing about the series that they'd just decided. Something I might not even have used in my episode. But they emailed anyway, just to let me know, in case it was helpful (it was). Just a small, helpful thing, but it really made me feel like part of the team, like I mattered. And that all filters through into the work. The current script is so much fun to write, because they've all helped me to get into that zone, been really encouraging, and wanted me on board because of the way I write. I can't even begin to explain how good that feels.

I'll keep doing movies, because I love movies, despite the things that go wrong. But I'm so glad that all the TV stuff is happening - it's keeping me sane, and is helping me to produce some great work. Work that (hopefully) will get made, and beamed into the homes of unsuspecting victims everywhere. And then, the secret code embedded into the dialogue will kick off a chain reaction in their brains, and I will have a vast army of zombified drones, ready to do my bidding. But don't tell anyone.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

just thought i would point you here:

http://www.cinematical.com/2007/03/20/sxsw-review-severance/

soulmining said...

"Oh no, I left Gordon's foot on the coach..."
"Oh no, I left Gordon's foot on the coach..."
"Oh no, I left Gordon's foot on the coach..."

Must. Obey. Jimbo.

Dom Carver said...

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

I'm a fan of your work and look forward to seeing secret telly stuff, but you will have to tell us what it is sometime otherwise we'll miss it.

Blarneyman said...

To sum, you have lots of secrets but aren't telling.

Great post. ;?

Lucy said...

What you want to do is take up that ass knife you've got from your last BIG SUCCESS and plunge it, repeatedly, into the people responsible's buttocks (the ones that did you down that is, not Secret TV People - that may be a little self-limiting in terms of contact-making, etc).

Jim said...

Hi James - I enjoyed your Film Threat interview, particularly the part detailing your path from aspiring screenwriter to fully fledged screenwriter. One question: when I checked the PFD web site, their submissions page reads, "We do not accept unsolicited material." I'd be interested to know the approach you used to get your foot in the door, please. What did you do / say / send?
(P.S. - Looking forward to seeing "Severance" in the states. But I'll be renting it because nobody here can keep their f**king mouths or phones silent while watching a film. I gave up watching movies in theaters 2 years ago. I hate waiting for DVD release of new films, but that's the only drawback - I am a saner, happier man thanks to this practice, despite branding myself as a grumpy old man).
Jim

hotzappa11 said...

I queried PFD once and asked if i could send a script and they said yes. I explain my reasons because of that unsolicited bit.

Stephen Gallagher said...

"I have heard that talk about 'a fresh eye' many times; it is simply a euphemism designed to reconcile a filmmaker to the theft of his work."

-Jean Renoir

James Moran said...

Cheers Anon.

Dom: Don't worry, as soon as I can tell anyone, I'll be pimping the shite out of it on here - see the relentless flogging of Severance since last year...

Jim: It was back when they accepted submissions. I did a nice covering letter, mentioning my tiny achievements, and asking for help or representation. Included one feature script, and one 30 minute TV pilot episode - they called me up, and I was off and running. Also see Hotzappa's answer - some places will accept one if you ask nicely, and are not crazy (I slipped through...) Oh, and Severance is best seen with a lot of other noisy people, the jokes and the splatter go down much better. Just bring a knife for the mobile phone users.

Mr Gallagher: You can blimmin well say that again. I'm looking at it as good material for my eventual "Evening With Jimbo" concerts, for which I will charge very reasonable prices.

hotzappa11 said...

From your old posts I thought it was 6 episodes of The School not 1. I could be wrong?

By the way, James. What was the actual feature you sent to PFD and what was it about?

Dan said...

You realise, incidently, that a crucial portion of the dialogue will be cut thus zombifying the audience without placing them under your control...