Thursday, September 27, 2007

New things, old things

Sorry for the slowdown, I was doing well with the blogging there for a while. Been a bit busy the past week or so, had to go off to a secret thing to do secret things, all will be revealed soon. Need to finish some stuff this weekend, as it’s due to be handed in. Also had several meetings, and got a new gig doing an episode of another existing TV show. And it’s not TW or DW, it’s a different one, on a different channel – I know! Traitor! When I go to the BBC for meetings now, I hear people hissing curses at me from down corridors, and there’s a big poster of my face in reception with “SCAB” printed on it. That’s not true of course, that would be silly and mad. When the contracts have all been sorted out, then I’ll say what the show is, but it’s probably the one you’re already thinking of.

Haven’t heard back about the movie I pitched for yet, but the movie rewrite I did seems about to hire a director, so that might start rolling forwards soon. Didn’t get the other TV episode I pitched for, just got the same standard, curt rejection everyone else got – “not quite what we’re looking for”. On reflection, maybe a kid’s animation show aimed at 5-7 year olds wasn’t ready to tackle the subject of serial killers who flay their victims alive and wear their skin. I’ll know for next time.

Obsessive Amazon watch latest: Severance is at 2,260 (down from 1,708). Cindy Crawford’s Shape Your Body Workout is at 3,174. The numbers speak for themselves. Remember, Christmas is less than 3 months away – show someone you love (or hate) them, with a shiny new DVD of Severance. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Although for legal reasons, I must point out that it doesn’t actually keep on giving. Once you give it, that’s it. They can watch it over and over though, if they want. But it’ll still be the same movie. Thank you for your co-operation in this matter.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Doing it for money

Another question and answer today, regarding filthy lucre. Obviously the dream for most of us is to sell that spec, but what happens then?

Anonymous writes: I recently made my first script sale (for a feature), but now I'm faced with the prospect of writing a draft, I'm a bit frozen. Because they're paying money for this script, suddenly I feel like a fraud, and am not sure if I can do it. Is this normal?

No, it's not normal, it's completely unheard of and you are a monstrous freak.

Of *course* it's normal, absolutely. Happens to everyone. It's hard enough second guessing your work when you're just doing it on spec. But as soon as money enters the equation, it's a whole different kettle of fish: OMG, they're paying me, that means I have to deliver the best thing I've ever written, until now people have just been polite about my writing because it didn't make a difference to them, but now they're paying me there's no way anything I write will pass muster, they're going to hate me, it's all shit, I can't write, I'm a complete fraud, they'll find me out, what the hell am I thinking, nothing I write is worth *anything*, surely they won't pay me cash just for writing silly stories down on paper... And as soon as I hand in the script they'll say "Oh. Oh dear. And we *paid* for this? I thought we'd hired a proper writer? Jesus. Can we get the money back? You know what, forget it - we'll just cut our losses, that's the price we pay for being idiots. We'll just never work with this joker again. Get me that list of Proper Writers."

ALL these thoughts and many more went through my head when I sold Severance and had to sit down to write a draft that they were paying me for. And then again when I handed it in, as you can read in this post from 2004. And then again for every other draft. And again for every other draft of everything else. Once they're paying for it, you immediately assign a cash value to every line, it can't be helped. The only thing you can do is breathe, and remember that stuff you wrote yesterday for free is JUST as valuable as stuff you write today for money. If you're writing honestly and doing the best work you can - which you bloody well should be, for everything - then it'll be fine. Don't second guess yourself, just write it exactly how you normally would.

There is literally nothing else I can say that will help with this feeling, other than: yes, it's normal, happens to everyone. If it's any consolation, it happens every single time you hand in something that's paid for. Never goes away. Just one of the many writer insecurities to add to the list. On the bright side, it means you're now a proper writer - you have the two main qualities, which are (a) getting paid for words, and (b) massive insecurity.

They're paying you because they can't write. If they could write, do you think they'd fork over large sums of cash? No way. Most producers and execs are tight-fisted bastards, so you're obviously worth the money. If you weren't a proper writer, you wouldn't be getting paid. Therefore, you are a proper writer. Congratulations! Now, savour the feeling, and look forward to that heady moment when the money goes into your account. And then blow it all on hookers and crack.

Update: Just to prove it happens to all of us, here's an early interview with JK Rowling, who mentions the panic she faced when she sold the US rights to her book (that part starts around 5:29, but it's worth watching the whole thing to see how happy she was to have sold 30,000 copies, and her hopes about the upcoming movie deal - wonder how that turned out...)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Severance R1 DVD released, makes top 5000...

The Region 1 DVD of Severance goes on sale tomorrow, so all you Region 1 people can pick up a copy. You should, you know. It’s very good.

If you’re not convinced, how about this – it’s cracked the top 5000 in the US Amazon chart. That’s right, after languishing in the doldrums it has leaped to 2,534th place. Glasses of Tizer for everyone! Although the Cindy Crawford Shape Your Body Workout has jumped up to 1,836th place. It used to be number 2,540. I would have overtaken her, but no, she has suddenly jumped ahead. I suspect conspiracy.

Also, the movie is in a new category: 43rd place in “Action & Adventure > Comic Action”. Interestingly, it’s now 2nd place in the "Horror > Independently Distributed" category – I’m a bit sad that it’s moved though, because last week at one point it was right between Spider Baby (Special Edition), and Women’s Prison Massacre (Uncut Edition). Still, 2nd place can’t be argued with. Although I just did.

Anyway, go buy it now, you know it makes sense.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The DW/TW effect

One of the unexpected things for me this year has been a steady rise in my profile - partly in "the business", but also partly in the real world. It's something you can never really prepare for, even when you know what's coming. With Severance, there was a gradual increase, some interviews, the odd photo, all building up to the big FrightFest premiere, where I was on stage talking and everything, and the gobsmacking moment where I was asked for my first autograph. After that, I did two more festivals, on my own this time, and gradually got more comfortable. Each time things go a little bit further. You adjust, get the hang of it, then they go further still. So it's been manageable. Much as I love it, it can be a bit unnerving - not because there have been any weirdoes, far from it, it's just because one day you're an anonymous audience member, then suddenly strangers know who you are. It's cool. Just strange.

And now things are about to jump up several levels at once. I knew going in that doing Torchwood would instantly throw me into the spotlight somewhat. And then again with Doctor Who, but even more so. It's just starting to sink in now. DW is big. Huge. It gets roughly 7 or 8 million viewers every episode. There's a making-of show on straight after, there'll be interviews, articles, all sorts. I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for it. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about it, can't bloody WAIT, as the insecure, vain, needy part of me (all writers have it, don't lie, come on) desperately wants it, craves it, like some sort of delicious crack/heroin/Marmite cocktail. Mmm, Marmite. But at the same time, it's going to be something I can't control past a certain point.

When I first got the gig, I got loads of requests for info, interviews, all sorts of things. The first interview I said yes to, but then a few weeks later had to tell them I wanted to postpone for a while (sorry about that again, if you're reading). I put off any others, too, because I was a bit taken aback by the massive response to the announcement. The online and offline response was mostly positive - but there was so much of it, I panicked a bit. My name was everywhere, along with links and discussions about Severance. A couple of casual mentions on the blog got taken out of context and misinterpreted (not in a bad way, luckily), which made me worry about saying the wrong thing and accidentally spilling the beans or something. So I decided to pull back, avoid interviews for at least a few months, and not talk too much about it on the blog. I've never had so much interest in something that I hadn't even started writing yet, and I didn't want to do a cheery interview before I knew if I was even capable of doing an episode yet. What if I did all the interviews, then messed up the script and got kicked off? Extreme example, probably wouldn't happen, but that's what my brain started worrying about. I didn't want to jinx it. And that's why I've been a bit quiet about TW and DW for a while. And probably will be for a month or two. I've now done my drafts of the script, I'm incredibly happy with it, and hopefully it will be filming sometime soonish, so I can step back for the moment and take stock of myself. I'm getting used to the idea now that yes, I'm actually writing for DW and TW, I got there thanks to hard slog, and there's going to be lots of fun ahead. Fun, and probably more free scale-model diecast replica figures that are in NO WAY toys.

Just to clarify: I am *not* saying that all the lovely fans are scary. I am saying that thousands of people suddenly looking in your direction can make a person *feel* scared. Even if those thousands of people are supercool and friendly. You just feel paranoid that your flies are undone or something (which they are, regularly, lately I seem to be forgetting to zip up in the morning). Even now, I'm picking over every word carefully, because it's so easy to imply the wrong thing. Anyway, I'm a fan of the show too, so I would never say anything bad about other fans just being fans. This post isn't a moan or anything, just trying to explain how strange it all is, to go from some anonymous bloke to being "a Doctor Who writer". For the record: everyone and everything is brilliant and nice. Except Hitler, and murderers, and stuff. And Chris DeBurgh. Although early Chris DeBurgh stuff is great ("Spanish Train" etc, come on, admit it, he did really good stuff back then). I'm talking about the "Lady In Red"-era Chris DeBurgh.

So I'm approaching the point of no return. Soon, information about my episode will be out there, and lots of people will want to talk to me about it. It'll be a relief, because it's killing me keeping this all secret, I'm dying for people to know everything. But I'll have to wait a bit longer. Don't know if/when there will be announcements or press releases, but these things seem to pop up regularly. And as soon as it's out there, I'll be in a different place, so to speak. It's a bit scary. But I'm really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Blah blah Luca Brasi blah blah fishes etc

Had a lovely weekend away at a wedding (Jo's brother Ian), which was great fun. Jo sang during the service, songs chosen by Ian, including "Speak Softly Love" by Nino Rota - the main theme from The Godfather. It's Ian's favourite movie, and there was much merriment as the song played. And when you consider what happens to Michael's marriage (and, indeed, his life) in the movies, it's even funnier. Or not, really.

Got two meetings this week, possible TV things (one to do an episode for an existing show, one for a potential new one), so I'm continuing my evil plan to write every single thing you watch on telly in 2008, whether you like it or not. Also there are rumblings in the movie world. I'm slowly dipping a tentative toe back into it, after the mauling I received earlier this year. It's nice though, because at the moment I don't *need* to be involved in movies, which means I can be a bit more choosy and aloof with the bloodsucki- er, the nice movie execs out there. I've got stuff on the go, and if they want to buy it, cool, but there will be conditions attached. If they don't like it, then they can suck my balls, frankly. Yeah. I said "balls". That's how I roll.

Obsessive Amazon Watch Latest: Severance jumped up to around 7,700 or something, but is now back down to 14,003. I have no idea how that works. Anyway, soon it will actually be released, apparently starring "David Dyer", Eddie Marsan (who isn't in it at all), and John Frankish (the production designer, who has a cameo). It will then probably storm up the charts, hopefully at least into the top 5000. But I'm already happy, because tiptop bloggychap John Rogers likes it, and that's good enough for me.

More news and proper posts soon, once I remember which one needs to come first. Including extra special exciting news. Oh yes.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Most random thing ever

Saw this on a TV in a bar last night, so you may already have seen it. But if not, you NEED this in your life. Don't read the comments, don't read anything, just watch it.

It's so random, it's hilarious. No idea what the hell it has to do with the product being advertised, but who cares?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Severance coming to Region 1 DVD

Severance US DVD

Behold! In 2 weeks, Severance will be available on Region 1 DVD, which means that all you Region 1 types that missed it at the cinema can pick up a native copy. Extras are exactly the same as the UK version, but it has a new cover, and is a "Special Edition" - which means that *you* are special if you buy it. That's right.

Which of course means that we all get to play our favourite game, the exciting: "Let's All Watch In Silent Horror As Jimbo Obsessively Stalks The Amazon Sales Charts And Glares At Innocent Workout DVD Ladies". So let's get started right away: Severance is currently languishing at number 9,796 in the US Amazon chart, although it's the 9th most popular DVD in the "Horror > Independently Distributed" category, which surely must count for something, somewhere, maybe a prize or a cake or something. It's also the 28th most popular DVD in the "Comedy > Military & War" category, and the 99th best DVD in the "Art House & International > European Cinema > Germany > General" section, which is about as misleading as possible and completely inaccurate, but I'll take what I can get.

Now, I could be happy with being in 9,796th place. And yet I am mocked, MOCKED, by the Cindy Crawford Shape Your Body Workout, which is miles above me in 2,540th place. It was made in 1992, for God's sake. I ask you, does it have witty dialogue? Does it have tension? More importantly, does it have a Cockney geezer shoving a knife up someone's arse? No, it doesn't. So I think it's clear which one you should be buying. At least Severance is higher than the 30-Day Guitar Workout, which is rightly down in 44,784th place. To be honest, I don't see us cracking the top 100, what with all the stuff like Heroes, Lost, 24, Dexter, 300, and The Bourne Supremacy, so I'll be happy if we can at least overtake Cindy Crawford's 1992 workout video. You've got to have achievable goals, haven't you?

Anyway, you American and Canadian people, go and buy yourself a copy. Even if you haven't seen it yet. You can always flog it on eBay if you don't like it, or it would make an excellent Whatever December Thing You Celebrate/Thanksgiving/Halloween present for your friends. Unless they don't like horror movies. In which case, they're not your friends. And must be punished. You know what to do. Kill them. Kill them ALL.

By the way, those pitch deadline things I had for last Friday? Did them all. Yeah. I am the Deadline Ninja, and you must fear me. Will do the tagging thing in a few days, as I'm away tomorrow and Wednesday for omgwtf superduper tiptop megasecret reasons, none of which involve me murdering any of my enemies, in case the police are reading this.