Wednesday, July 11, 2007

On set

This is a blog post from the 18th June, when I went to watch some of my Torchwood episode filming - sorry for the delay, but I'm a workshy fop as you should all know by now. I've had to be very non-specific, so it's not going to be a great report for news or anything, as I don't want to spoil any of the story, or give anything away at all. Now I'm a bit more in the public eye, I need to be extra careful. So there's no way I'm going to reveal things like-- ooh! I nearly gave away the bit about the evil prawns! That was close. Okay, on with the blog post:

Long, long, but fun couple of days. Took the train to Cardiff Sunday night (edit: that would be the 17th), and thanks to a passenger illness, signal problems, and getting stuck at Swindon for an hour, didn't get to the hotel until after 10pm (left the house before 5pm).

When I checked in, the following conversation happened:

Receptionist: Wow, you really remind me of Gary Numan.
Me: Haha, yeah, I get that a lot. But... a *young* Gary Numan, I hope?
(long, long pause)
Receptionist: Oh, yes, yes of course.

To add insult to injury, they'd put me in room 237. Luckily, there were no dead twin girls or naked, rotting old women inside, so I was able to get some sleep. I'm serious, I was actually in room 237, here's a photo of my door:

Redrum! Redrum!

Filming started the next morning at 8am, which meant I had to get up at a disgustingly early hour, so early I am unable to understand what time it was, let alone communicate it to you. Obviously I can't say what was being filmed that day, or where, cause I don't want to give any plot stuff away. But it's the scene where the evil prawns come to life and suck people's eyes out. Don't tell anyone, okay?

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again, many times: there's nothing quite as cool as being on set watching people film something you wrote. There's that weird disconnect you have, where you forget that it's your script, because this is a film crew, and surely nothing to do with you. Then the actors say the lines, and you jump, thinking "oh! I wrote that!" and it feels weird, because it's been in your head for so long, then suddenly it's a living, breathing thing. Then there's a while to wait while they change camera position or whatever, and you forget again. Then suddenly you hear another line, or see a script with your name on, or watch them doing things you specified on the page, and you jump all over again. Then you think, blimey, all this time and effort, and I caused it? Then you feel slightly guilty, because everything you write costs lots of money, for actors, cameras, props, sets, etc. Then you wait around again while things get checked. Then something else reminds you, and you jump again, holy shit, they're filming something I wrote. And round and round, over and over again. It's fantastic fun.

Watched the scenes being shot several times, from every angle, and very cool it was too. There was a location change after the first scene, and the rest of the day was spent in various parts of the same building, doing some talky bits, some running, and some action. Sorry this is a bit vague, I just can't say any details or I'll spoil it - when it's been on telly, I'll say which bits I saw filmed, and what they looked like. Suffice to say, that it's going to look very, very cool. Eve was especially lovely, and went out of her way to welcome me, chat about what was happening, and came up to me at the end of the day to see if I'd had a good time. In fact, everyone was really nice and welcoming, the actors were all great, the crew worked really hard, it was so cool. I had such a fun day. Sorry about the lack of scandal, but there wasn't any, it all went really smoothly, and they all really are that nice. There must be a catch, they must all be planning something evil. I did spot a folder with "Secret Evil Plans" written on the front, but it was whisked away by a flunky before I could get a look. And now men in suits follow me everywhere. But I'm sure there's a perfectly innocent explanation for all of it.

And nobody minded when I accidentally found myself sitting right in the middle of the next shot, eating a sandwich, they just politely moved me out of the way. Writers on set will *always* try and find somewhere out of everyone's way, and will *always* either stand blocking the only access route, or in the middle of a shot. It's just nature's way. I knew I'd end up doing it, thankfully it was only the once...


Quadratus said...

Am I allowed to beg you for more details? A title of the episode, perhaps?

James Moran said...

Of course you can! But my lips are tightly sealed... The title hasn't been decided yet, anyway, so I'm no help there. I have to wait until the Beeb officially announces things, then I can talk about them - or they'd have me killed. They have people for that. It would look like an accident, too.

Robin Kelly said...

James has emailed me a copy of the script (because he knows he can trust me) but to be honest, now I've read it, I wish I had been more patient and waited to see it properly. It's a long wait but it will be worth it.

Grace said...

For James:

To verify: Russell T Davies is able to title his own episodes (gleaned from recent Doctor Who commentary podcast for the series finale), but you are not for your Torchwood episode? I would think the author of the episode should have authorization to name their own works. It doesn't seem quite fair. However, as Russell T Davies is an executive producer, I understand he will certainly have more power over his work than a general writer.

Also, be vague if you must: but is Ianto given any task, or featured, in the episode you wrote? Surely yes or no would not undermine your contract. *grin*

Dan said...

Nice one James! I hope you keep up the blog regarding TW/DW specific stuff -- it's always interesting to hear about behind-the-scenes goings-on with directors, writers and actors.

Can I just ask: what did you think of TW last year? You obviously liked it enough to write for it, but did you agree with the general assessment that it was tonally a bit of a mess?

Have changes been made to address the criticisms for s2? Or only in YOUR script? Hehe.

It'd be great if you could answer something a bit vaguer, but no worries if your lips remain sealed ;-)

Rae said...

You are just too cool!

I can't wait to see those prawns go after all the TW characters with a vengance.

hotzappa11 said...

Too cool for school. I had a big smile on my face after reading that. Congrats once again!

Oh, and will we be able to ever read the Severance script? And by "we" i actually mean, "me."

I only ask because i have a bunch of scripts to trade.

James Moran said...

Grace: Whoa, not the case at all, back up there - my episode never had an official title, because I couldn't think of a good one. I've got a couple of good ones now, but will worry about it later when a title needs to be chosen. Right now it just has a temporary title, to avoid confusion when printing stuff. I've never been good at choosing titles anyway, so I'm hoping someone comes up with a better one than mine! My titles usually sound like Steven Seagal movies. If it had been left to my wicked skills, Severance might have been called "Terminate with Extreme Prejudice" or something. As for who is featured etc, I would so love to say, cause I'm dead excited about the whole process, but I just can't bring myself to give even a hint away. I'm aware of some online threads speculating about certain rumoured massive plot developments, and if I confirm or deny anything, that might end a couple of them, and I don't want to do that. Oh, I hate being so vague, I'm so sorry...

Dan: Will try and post general stuff about it when I can, although it's a tip-toey minefield of spoilers, so some of it may have to wait until after broadcast - also there's the potential for misunderstandings, so I have to phrase things very carefully. As for s1, I was a fan of the show (also DW) before I ever thought I would write for it. Can't get into discussions about whether I agree with anyone or not though, because again, it's so easy to be misunderstood or misquoted (which happened with a post from a few months ago), so it's best if I just keep schtum.

It's a strange feeling, knowing that any tiny random thing I say here will be heard (well, read) by loads of people, and it's all a bit new and sudden, which is why I'm being extra-and probably over-cautious, so I hope everyone understands my panic. I'll probably calm down in a few months.

Rae: Ix-nay on the rawns-pay! Nobody's supposed to know about the mutated prawns, and their terrible, terrible hunger for testicle meat!

Hotzappa: Good question, I'll find out what the score is. I may not have the publishing rights, I meant to find out ages ago but, er, forgot.

soulmining said...

It was a prawn sandwich wasn't it?

That'll teach 'em to go for your plums.

Amanda said...

Thank you for indulging me and meeting my demand (ie an update). I mean, I know you were ready to post and all, but I'll kid myself you did it to appease me and everyone's a winner. OK, I'm a winner.

Wait... I'm kidding myself and I'm a winner?

Great, now the word winner is looking really freaky. And so am I.

Danny's not here Mrs. Torrence.

Dan said...

Title suggestion: Prawn Of The Dead? No need to thank me.

Peter Pan said...

Dude ... mail me the name of the hotel and I'll have that receptionist taken out .. most of the ones in cardiff are clients of mine .. not in a 'they give me good rates cuz I am a rent boy' kind of way .. I write radio ads (apologies if you had to endure any of my shoddy work while you were in the vicinity)

kaiki said...

i was so impressed you look like 'young' gary numan that i read that paragraph six times.
consequently, i strained my eyes and had to scan the rest of the post.
it was quite prawn heavy.