Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Last year's Halloween pumpkin:

Booga booga booga!

After several weeks of struggling to find the energy and motivation to get writing done, I've suddenly had a burst of activity. Got the outline done over the weekend for my Telly Episode That Isn't DW Or TW, just in time for the deadline. Yesterday I chained myself to the laptop and ploughed through three more things that needed doing (all part of one thing), so that's another job completed. And I'll have to do one more outline before Friday, but I'm halfway into that so it's all good.

Before then, there's Halloween to enjoy. I love Halloween, because it's a good excuse to watch lots of horror, and mess about. We have plenty of horror movies lined up, some booze, some sweets, nice food, scary music, a pumpkin, and a strobe light. Yeah, that's right, a strobe light. There may well be drunken robotic dancing. I have no shame. Actually, I do, I have lots of shame, but I squeeze it down into a tiny ball just underneath my heart, where it can fester along with all the other repressed filth.

I hope you've all got some good horror to watch. Stick on a few movies, something truly scary - like this, or this, or this, or maybe this. Or, if you're feeling *really* brave, this.

So, have yourselves a merry little Halloween, watch something scary or disgusting, and have fun. Now get off my blog's lawn! Punkass kids!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Up Pompeii

Ooh, it's all kicking off. If you pick up the current issue of Doctor Who Magazine, issue 388 (the one with Sarah Jane on the cover) you will find:

Page 54: A feature on the brilliant Colin Teague, which includes some info on the filming of my episode - he's directing it, and also directed my Torchwood ep. There's a big photo of the location filming in Rome (on the sets of "Rome"! Wooooo!), but you can see the same pic here if you want to see it right now, and get the instant gratification that only the internet gods can provide.

Page 5: A brief article on the location filming of my ep.

Page 4: A sidebar with details of the guest cast, including Peter Capaldi (blimey!) and Phil Davis (double blimey!). Coincidentally enough, Francesca Fowler was in an episode of Rome, *and* I already know her too (she helped us with a workshop for Severance - I had no idea she was in my ep though until she arrived at the readthrough, and we were both all like "ooh, hey, blimey, that's mad, eh?" as you do).

This means that yes, my episode is the Pompeii one that was announced here. I know! Pompeii! Vesuvius! No, missus! And yes, I've been to the readthrough and visited the studio filming - I didn't say anything at the time, because it hadn't been announced which episode I was doing. It probably wouldn't have mattered, but I didn't want to disrupt any sort of announcement schedule that may have been planned, so I kept quiet. And I saw what happened to the last writer who leaked information - honestly, his own mum wouldn't have recognised him. His remains are preserved in a glass case, and kept in the script meeting room at BBC Wales, as a warning to others. Tragically, he still wants to write. It's *so* upsetting to see him trying to reach our keyboards through the glass. But we can't help laughing and pointing.

Obviously, right now, I still can't answer any specific plotty-type questions, so don't be offended if I fob you off in a firm yet hilarious way. I'll post the readthrough and filming reports once the episode has been on, as they'll be *very* dull if I leave out all the details - it's impossible to talk about them without going into specifics, and we all love those juicy specifics. Right now, I'm only confirming stuff that is already announced, for a while, so I'll let you know when other information starts to appear. Besides, I want it to be a surprise when the giant bananas attack. Oh, bugger...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In which I mostly ramble on about movies, and not much else

Saw Eastern Promises last week, which isn't about Turkish Delight as you might expect, but is instead a gritty drama involving Russian gangsters. If you're expecting the feature length version of that advert with the sword and the pan pipes, then you will be disappointed. Luckily, it's a great movie, not quite up there with A History of Violence in my mind (which was my movie of the year when it came out), but still fantastic stuff. And *that* scene that everyone will be talking about is gobsmacking, for two very different reasons (we’ll talk when you’ve seen it). It’s probably got more in common with Dirty Pretty Things, another fantastic movie, which is by the same writer, Steve Knight. Both movies are worth watching from a writing point of view, particularly how much information they choose to reveal in their endings – when does your story end, at what point should the script end, as opposed to the off-screen story, how much information does the audience really need? I think they both get the balance pretty much right, although one of them could have *maybe* done with an extra moment or two just to fill in a couple of details that I wanted to see on screen. But it’s nothing you can’t fill in for yourself, in your own head, and it’s nice to be treated like an adult with a brain sometimes. And hey, it’s always better to leave people wanting more, rather than glancing at their watches wondering if it’s ever going to end.

Also saw Stardust, which is a lovely, mad, silly fairy tale, and thoroughly entertaining. Gorgeous to look at, very funny, heartfelt, with plenty of thrills and excitement. Don’t be put off by some of the misleading trailers, it’s not a boring "walking across hills" quest movie, although there is a quest in it, but it’s a fun quest, and anyway it's not really about that either. If you have to compare it to something, The Princess Bride will do, although Stardust does its own thing quite happily. Is there a genre called "sarcastic-but-nice fairy tale"? There is now, probably. The only slight problem was the song over the end credits which starts blaring out the *second* the movie ends, a hideous, 80s power ballad-style monstrosity, which completely kills the mood. I mean, *completely*, it almost felt deliberate. Just had a look, and apparently it's "Rule the World", by Take That. Blimey. It's fucking shite, and had everyone scrambling to get out of the cinema, which is not the reaction you want, really. It's a real shame, because it's such a lovely ending, before the credits start. Anyway, you have been warned. See the movie, but get ready to run.

Also had a sort-of double bill of Walter Matthau movies last week - Charade (it's a Cary and Audrey film, I know, but he has a fun part), and the mighty Charley Varrick, which I've been dying to see for ages. I can't get enough of the Matthau, he was fantastic in everything, especially The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, which is probably my favourite of his. So many good movies, and that's before you even get to The Odd Couple.

Season 3 of Veronica Mars has just arrived, so I'll be diving into that immediately, to get my fix. And the new Kubrick collection that I pre-ordered ages ago has just been posted. It wasn’t officially released until yesterday, but they posted it last Friday. That means it should get here in time for Halloween - me and Jo always have a long Halloween weekend of horror movies, and The Shining is long overdue a showing. Can't wait.

And the entries have arrived for the 2 Days Later competition, so I'll be watching those with my big judgey eye. Which is the left one. The other eye is my little friendly eye, so I'll be keeping that one firmly closed. If anyone is still reading this blog post, thank you, bless your heart, and don't worry, it's over now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Being filmed, and exciting meetings

Last Friday I was whisked to Cardiff (literally, with an egg-whisk, it was incredibly painful yet quite arousing) to film my interview bit for Torchwood Declassified. That's the making-of show that is on just after Torchwood, where everyone sits in front of cool things and talks about how they made the episode. I got to sit on the steps by the big roundy door bit of the Hub, in dark atmospheric lighting, while occasionally standing up to hit my head on a microphone. I wasn't supposed to hit my head on it, and it was nowhere near me, but I managed it anyway. It's bizarre, cause there are two big lights pointing at you, making the camera invisible, and you can barely make out the guy asking questions, so it's almost like an interrogation. Within 20 minutes I had confessed to several crimes, including the assassination of JFK.

It was really good fun, and I didn't get nervous until about three questions in, when my brain realised "OMG i gunna be on telly" As soon as my stupid brain said that, I started shaking, and my voice went all wobbly. I stopped for a drink of water and tried to concentrate on the answers, rather than being nervous. It was good, after months of having to be *really* careful not to say *anything* to anyone, to be able to speak freely about the episode. The TWD people are there for the whole process, they filmed the readthrough way back when, and know everything about the episode. So there was no shutting me up. Finally free of the secrecy, I babbled away at top speed, answering all the questions they asked, and many they hadn't asked, I just talked and talked and talked like a nutcase. I have no idea if it came across okay, or if I looked like a mumbling, terrified idiot, but they seemed happy with the footage. It's scary, doing on-camera stuff, and always hugely embarrassing to look at your own silly head bobbing around. I'll probably have to leave the room when it's on, and watch it by myself later, cringing. You know when you hear your recorded voice played back, and it doesn't sound like you? Well, it's ten times the effect with visual stuff, you just stare in amazement at this bizarre impostor on the screen. Anyway, it'll be shown immediately after my episode, when the new series starts next year.

Yesterday was the first Big Meeting for my new Telly Episode That Isn't DW or TW. I'd already met with the folks twice before, the last time was a general sort of love-fest thing where I'd already been offered the chance to do the episode, and we all talked about how much we like each other (my 2nd favourite type of meeting, the favourite being the free lunch meeting). This time was a more detailed one, where we talked about the plot and serial elements, so I know where my episode fits into the overall scheme of things. They also showed me some footage of the series they've just filmed, to see what it all looks like. I now need to do an outline for my episode, and will probably start writing the script at the end of the month.

The Other Really Big SuperDuper Important Meeting last week got rescheduled, so I'm just waiting to find out when the new date is. It gives me more time to prepare, which is good, but I hope it happens soon, cause I really want the job. More excitingly vague updates as they happen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

*Fluffy white cat not included

Feel like becoming a supervillain? Want to dominate the world from a fortified underground lair? Not keen on neighbours?

Then pick up the decommissioned Titan 1 Missile Base, a snip at only $1.5million. For that, you get 57 acres of land, several buildings above ground, and 16 underground buildings linked by thousands of feet of connecting tunnels. It's got missile silos, which are handy for, well, missiles. Two above-ground homes, so your hired goons have somewhere to live when they're off shift. Two antenna silos, which can be used for antennae, or as a handy training space for your army of ninjas. There's even a Control Dome Building, for when you build your weather control machine, or other doomsday device. It doesn't say if there's a direct hotline to the United Nations, so that you can threaten the world, but I imagine it wouldn't be a problem to have one installed. So grab a bargain today, before some scarred megalomaniac beats you to it.

Via the always magnificent Penny Arcade.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Meetings, and blimey aren't DVDs expensive in shops these days

Still not finished the pilot script yet, some of the small changes turned out to unravel a major part of the second half, so I’ve had to repair and rebuild. Which is always annoying, but these things happen. My arm has stopped hurting now, but I’m still being careful. Lots of meetings coming up, I've gone from someone who never *ever* had a diary to a media ponce with a full diary. A couple of years ago, if someone arranged a meeting with me, they'd go through their diary and pick a free day - I'd just shrug, and go "yeah, I'm free that day, more than likely". But now I have to check my own diary. Google Calendar is a lifesaver, it sends reminder text messages to my mobile, so I usually put the address in the subject line in case I forget where I'm going or who I'm meeting (which has happened more than once, one time I turned up to a meeting a week early). I'm so disorganised.

And I’ve got a big meeting tomorrow, for a TV something that would be really big and very important. I really, really want the gig, so I need to prepare for it as much as possible. Got to watch a DVD of their previous thing tonight, and see if I can re-read a whole book in one night too (read it before, but it was a few years ago, so I want to refresh my Swiss-cheese memory). I don’t *really* have to do either of them, but I want to be able to answer anything they throw at me. I had a meeting a few weeks ago that I completely fucked up, because I hadn’t done my homework properly. I had misunderstood slightly, thought they would be telling me more details of their idea, but instead they were asking me things like "how do you see this working?" I ended up mumbling, going “errr” a lot, and looked like a complete idiot, it was really embarrassing. No excuses though, I should have been prepared for it no matter what – no time, not well, misunderstood? Tough shit, you should know your stuff anyway, and have several ideas ready just in case. So I’ll be very busy tonight, reading, watching, and making lots of notes.

Speaking of DVDs, I had to buy the one above today in HMV, because the meeting is tomorrow. It reminded me why I only ever buy DVDs or music online, because when I walked in the door, the staff held a gun to my head, and mugged me: 20 fucking quid for a DVD. It's 12.99 on, with free delivery. Yeah, sure, I'm a multi billionaire cause I've had a film made, blah blah blah, but that's not my point. 20 quid for a DVD in this day and age is outrageous. I went in a few months ago just to have a look, and a lot of their stuff was similarly expensive - even quite old movies that are just a few quid everywhere else. They had Project A for 20 quid, Project A Part 2 for 20 quid - and get this, a box set which included both films for... 20 quid. Which makes no sense at all. Needless to say, I stormed out of there, shrieking "I'll be blogging about THIS, I'll tell you that for nothing." Well, I thought it. But I thought it *really hard*.

This blog post is 20 quid in HMV.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Getting busier again, and free money

Nearly finished the re-draft of the pilot script, which is going well. Got some brainstorming to do for three things, which is the fun, do-whatever-I-want stage, before I have to nail down any sort of storyline. Started getting pains in my right arm again, along with that tingly feeling, which is not a good sign. I've been neglecting my anti-RSI routine, so I had to try and lay off using my right arm as much as possible (insert wanking joke here). The ache and tingling have now gone, but my wrist is still a bit sore. Time to be careful. I've got a busy month coming up, and I need to be ready. The 21st Century is when it all changes, and- wait, that's Torchwood. For a minute there, I thought I was a sexy, bed-hopping member of a secret organisation dedicated to protecting the human race from alien threats. I get confused like that all the time, it can be troublesome. Because when people find out that you've broken into their house and climbed into their bed to await them, they will *not* listen to any explanation involving aliens, I've found. Or any explanation at all, really. My Other Channel Episode Gig starts in a few weeks, just the outlining stage first, then I'll have to start writing the script at the end of October. I'm hoping to clear the decks before then, so I might have to go off the radar for a couple of weeks to finish everything off (insert another wanking joke here). So there may be sporadic blogging during that time. Or lots of procrastinatey-blogging, depending how I feel.

A couple of years ago I joined the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society. They search for any royalties, library fees, broadcast fees etc, that are owed to you, then collect it for you. If you're working in "the industry", it's well worth joining up, it's only 25 quid for lifetime membership. I finally got something this week, and it was for Cheap Rate Gravity, the short that started everything off - I have no idea where the money came from, but the reference on the payment sheet mentioned Canal Plus, so maybe they bought the rights to it or something. I don't know. What I *do* know is that after agent and ALCS commissions, I got about a hundred quid for free. Wahey! Free money! Although, seeing as I won the competition in 2002, you could argue that it was technically for 5 years of work, averaging it all out. I choose to argue that it's a hundred quid for free, which I can spend on booze. I will ignore any other arguments, by getting drunk.

And finally, Severance jumped up to 1,655th place on the US Amazon chart. I realise this is small potatoes in the greater scheme of things, but it's exciting for me, so get lost. Go on! Get out of here! Nobody likes you! They hate you! Oh, I can't stay angry at you, come back, I forgive you, everything's okay, you're my best mate. Now give us a cuddle.