Sunday, December 30, 2007

End of year ponce-fest

Ah, Two-Bond, we hardly knew ye... It's that time again, to look back over the year and see what were my career high points, low points, and all the other bits in between. Let the poncing commence!

Things I Achieved in 2007:

--Wrote TV episodes for Torchwood, Doctor Who, a Secret TV Show That Isn't TW/DW, a 60 page TV pilot, and a new TV series outline for a production company

--Did a massive interview for Doctor Who Magazine, with photos

--Did a rewrite on a horror comedy, a new draft of Curfew, and a first draft of a secret movie collaboration

--Wrote and sold a short story for publication in an actual book

--Severance hit number 1 in the UK DVD chart, and then released in cinemas and then DVD in USA, and won best screenplay award at Fantasporto Film Festival

In my 2005 end of year goals for the upcoming year, I had an entry which said "Write an episode of Doctor Who (fuck it, aim high)". I took it off last years end of year thingy, cause I didn't seriously expect it to ever happen, and felt there was no point in tormenting myself. Just after that, I got my first Torchwood meeting, which got me in the door with the Beeb Wales gang, and the rest is blogging history. Personally and professionally, it's been the best year yet, and it's all thanks to them giving me a chance. As soon as I got the TW gig, suddenly I became telly-employable, it was like magic. I've learned so much, worked my arse off, and had an absolute blast doing it. It's a cliche to say, but it really is a dream come true. Fantastic.

I'm also very proud of the amount of stuff I've written too, 4 episodes of TV, a full movie draft, the other movie first draft, the movie rewrite, the short story, and the many outlines and things to get projects moving. It feels like I haven't stopped for breath since January, and it's still full speed ahead. I love writing. And I've been able to do bucketloads this year.

Things I Messed Up:

--Coped badly with getting kicked off a movie

--Fucked up a meeting for an important project by not preparing

--Took on too much work, and didn't manage my time properly, resulting in a slight attack of Space Madness

--Didn't get any of my specs written

Getting kicked off a movie really hurts, and damages your confidence. I thought my career was over, that word would spread, that I'd finally been found out as a fraud. But it happens to everyone, to better writers too, and I should have realised that there was nothing I could do. Besides, the draft I did has got me loads of meetings and work, and everyone loves it, so at least I know I did my best work. It's still painful to think or talk about, though. There's been no news on it recently, so let's see what happens. Best case scenario: it gets made, and is cool. That's all I want. So yeah. I don't deal with that too well. Probably never will.

As for the meeting fuckup - I learned a valuable lesson there. Always over-prepare, and I'll never end up going "er, er, ummm" in a meeting, I have nobody to blame but myself. It pays to do your homework. And I keep taking on too much work, but lately I've had to turn a few things down - it kills me to do it, but there's just no way I'd have enough time for them. I need to take more time off now and again, to rest up, otherwise I go a bit crazy. Which leads into the final one - I simply haven't had time to get my own spec stuff done, so it's just been left to one side. I intend to address that over the break, and early 2008. Feel free to mock me in December 2008 if I'm saying this all over again.

Things I Have Learned:

--I don't *need* to sell a movie right now - I can wait until the time is right, and choose who to sell it to, with no pressure

--I can write even faster than I thought possible

--When moving house, allowing yourself one day to pack is not particularly clever

TV has pretty much saved my year, my career, and my self respect. Movies take forever to set up, and half the time they treat you like shite. TV, on the other hand, moves like a rocket, and the people are nice to you. It's bloody hard work, but massively good fun. I've had a couple of movie pitches on the go during the year, but didn't have that panicky feeling I normally get - if I don't get a decent offer for the pitch, they can all wait while I write the script. It's nice to be able to take some of that power back.

Speed: I've always been a fast writer, but TV has got me into Olympic shape, increasing my speed enormously without sacrificing quality. A very handy muscle to develop.

Things I Want To Do In 2008:

--Become a better writer

--Write at least one spec of my own, either a pilot episode or a movie

--Write more TV, get my own series commissioned

--Maybe break into another medium

--Update the sidebar, like I promised back in April

--Get regular deep tissue massage torture treatments, to look after my back

--Take more breaks, have a proper holiday

I've learned ridiculous amounts from my TV apprenticeship this year, it's been fantastic. I've been incredibly lucky to work with lots of disgustingly talented people, and some of their shine has rubbed off on me. Just seeing how they write, think, talk, and generally conduct themselves has been an education. And I still have so much more to learn, so hopefully that will continue in 2008. As for breaking into another medium - comics would be nice, and I have one or two lines of enquiry there, so who knows.

I really need to sort out the sidebar here, put up links to old posts of mine, and overhaul the main links section, so that's on my to do list. In fact, the blog could do with more attention, as I've neglected the informative side lately. I also need to sort my health out - now I've got a desk and chair, there's no excuse, I have to look after my back and other bits and pieces. I love writing, but I don't ever want it to feel like it's becoming a job, so that means plenty of rest, and regularly taking time out to appreciate the good stuff. So I plan on enjoying myself hugely when my TW and DW are on telly, and getting drunk with some friends.

Thank you to everyone who's popped by, said hello, been lovely, or just lurked and read - I really appreciate it, and will do my best to keep things entertaining. Unlike much of this post, which is quite possibly the most boring, self-indulgent entry so far... But like I keep saying, it's my bloody blog, and if I decide to fill it with photos of my arse with faces crudely drawn on, then dammit, that's my preroggyblog. I probably won't do that though, so don't worry. But if I wanted to, I could. Who's gonna stop me?? You?? Ha! Hahaha! HAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!

Sorry. Too much chocolate. Crashing now. Enjoy what's left of Two-Bond, and here's to... whatever name I give to 2008, haven't thought of one yet. Cheers!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Settling in, with Torchwood news and trailer

Due to the moving madness and other work, my usual end of year career roundup introspection wankfest will be posted later this month, or first thing in January, as it's not quite finished yet. But it's been a superb (if hectic) year overall, I've had a fantastic time. The house move is more or less finished now. The bed frame, which the removal men were unable to dismantle, with all their tools, was dismantled by me, with a spanner and two pennies - an old trick I saw on TV years ago, and filed away in my brain: if the spanner's too big, put coins in to fill the gap, and it'll give you enough leverage. See, TV *is* useful. So we had to get another van to bring the bed frame over, along with the last few bits from the old flat. My new desk and chair arrived, and are upstairs in the spare room now, along with a massive framed poster of Severance, courtesy of my agent. There will be photos when everything is completely cleared up.

We're about half unpacked right now, it's proving to be a lot easier than packing - the more we unpack, the more space there is (thanks to shelves, bookcases, cabinets etc). And we're slowly sorting the living room. The new sofa arrived yesterday, and is fantastic. Spent a long evening watching movies and getting drunk on it. Nice. Soon we'll be done downstairs, and can put the Christmas trees up. Yes, I said trees, plural. We had a big one, then had to buy a smaller one because the flat got too small for it. So now both of them are going up, because we can. And we're keeping em up all through January, I don't care what anyone says. We've missed out on the run up to Christmas, so we'll make up for it. That's right, I said the biggest turkey in the shop, boy! The one as big as you are! And here's a shilling for your trouble!

News! Torchwood news! Get your fresh TW news here! Well, not fresh, it's already been reported in several other places, but I may as well round them up and pretend I knew about them all along. There's a press release for my episode, "Sleeper", here, which has lots of juicy details - who *is* Beth? Can she be as innocent as she seems? Booga-booga-booga! I'll be interviewed in the Torchwood Declassified show which is on just after the episode, so you'll get to see me babbling incoherently about how I love everyone and everything, sitting in the Hub, in my fancy red shirt (got to make an effort when you're on the telly, try not to look like a pale, shrieking, filth-encrusted writer who hasn't left the house for three months). Still not sure what date the series starts, but it's "week 3" of January when the first ep airs, so shouldn't be too hard to watch our for. In the meantime, you can see a lovely trailer promo for the whole of season 2 here, courtesy of BBC America. Lots of clips of mine in there, but I won't say which ones, you'll have to guess and see if you were right on the day. Naturally I'll be pimping my ep mightily when the time comes.

I've only got one paid gig outline to do over the break, so I'm going to take some time out to work on my own projects, do some research, and write up pitches for several things. I've got several books and DVDs for research, so I'll be spending plenty of time on the big sofa. I might not get a chance to blog again before everything kicks off, so I'll sign off for now - although I might shove the end of year thing up if I finish it before January. Have a lovely Christmas or (insert holiday festival here), and I'll see you in 2008...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How not to move house

Note: There will be more than the usual amount of swearing in this post. If you are an innocent little child, then look away, get off the net, get a haircut, and get yourself a job. If you're easily offended... then what the hell are you doing here??

We've moved house. Same street, nice and easy, right next to the station (instead of 10 minutes away, at the end of our incredibly long cul-de-sac), but a nice 2 bed house instead of a tiny 1 bed flat. More importantly, we'll be leaving behind our absolutely fucking horrendous scumbag neighbours. No more dog barking non stop from 8am every day. No more screeching from her while performing her embarrassingly fake orgasms. No more of their stupid, bellowing laughter at 1am, just when you're about to fall asleep. No more of them getting back late and partying with their retard friends until 5am. No more banging and crashing all the doors as they arrive home, when everybody else is capable of entering the building without it sounding like the world's ending. No more combined stench of dog and cigarettes forcing its way into our flat when our and their windows are open at the same time (making for an extremely unpleasant summer). No more loud, obnoxious twats stomping around every night so loudly it sounds like they're actually in the flat with us.

It all happened so fast, there was hardly any time to pack. Saw the place online on the 20th November, viewed it that day, decided that night. Phoned them the next day, said we wanted it, and moved in yesterday, 17th December. Yeah, the week before Christmas, which is obviously the best time to move, what with it being so quiet... But we've both been so unbelievably busy lately, we didn't really have time to start packing properly until last Friday. Yes, 3 days before. But not to worry, I said at the time to Jo, packing's easy. We've got all the boxes we need, all we have to do is put stuff into them. You'll be surprised how quick and easy it is. *Un*packing is the hard part. Those words, you will be completely unsurprised to hear, soon came back to haunt me. Oh, they haunted the shit out of me.

We had some small boxes packed, then got some stuff done Friday, but then we were both out all day Saturday, till quite late. So we only really got stuck in on Sunday at 1pm. Thankfully we'd ordered some proper, strong removal boxes from www.packnmove.co.uk - if we hadn't had those, it would have been even worse. Check out the size of the bubble wrap, with a copy of 300 on top to compare sizes:

THIS! IS! BUBBLE WRAAAAAAAAP!

We packed all day Sunday, and when we got to midnight, realised that we were going to have to just keep going, all night. We got some coffee going, had a biscuit or twelve, and got back into it.

1am. We're having lots of fun, packing away, and making lots of noise to keep the scumbag neighbours awake. The packing tape is great for that, because it's one of those ones that screeches like a dying harpie when you pull off a big length. Screeeeech! Take that, annoying neighbours! Oh, what fun we're having! We'll be finished in no time at all! No time at all! No time at all!

(insert wibbly wobbly timey wimey dissolve effect here)

5am. It is no longer fun. We both have that awful feeling where it's like someone has rubbed sand, acid, and ground-up dead babies into your eyes. Jo gets about 45 minutes sleep while I carry on for a bit, then when she wakes up, I get my 45 minutes while she packs.

7am. Realise I've had the song "I'll be seeing you" stuck in my head, for some reason, for about an hour. The Liberace version. Try to get rid of it, then stop, realising that it's probably the only thing keeping me going, keeping my brain working. I'll... be seeing youuuu... in all the old familiar places..." Couldn't find the Liberace version online, so the above link is as close as I can get. Consider it an early Christmas present.

9am. At midnight, when we decided to stay up all night, I felt good because it meant we had loads of time. Now, I realise that we still don't have enough time for everything. So. Much. Stuff.

10am. The black, black despair sets in. Will this ever end? Will we ever escape? We haven't put the kitchen knives away yet, should we just kill ourselves with them, and take the pain away? The only thing that saves us is being physically unable to perform any action that isn't putting stuff into boxes.

1pm. We've been packing for 24 hours straight, with occasional breaks for food and coffee. And it's still. Not. Finished.

4pm. The removal van turns up. 27 hours in, and we're almost finished. They start loading the stuff, Jo goes to the new place to let them in. I stay to supervise, and try to finish packing the kitchen stuff, because WE'VE ONLY JUST GOT TO IT. 27 HOURS LATER. JESUS CHRISTING CHRIST AL-CHRISTING-MIGHTY.

The removal blokes look at the Pile of Insanity:

It's bigger than it seems, spilling off the sides of the pic, and going right to the back of the room. Somewhere in there, the Ark of the Covenant is lost, forever. One of the removal men shrugs, and says something like "okay, so no sofa or fridge, it's mainly the bed, shelves, then a few boxes." I laugh the laugh of the damned. It takes them over two hours to get everything in the van, while I frantically stuff kitchen things into boxes, bags, pockets, anything. In the end, I have to leave most of the food, and some kitchen implements. We'll come back in a day or so. I don't care anymore. Let the pigeons eat it.

Another hour later, the men are gone, and everything is piled into our lovely new house. We stare at it. Dazed. Feeling myself finally losing the last shred of sanity, I think "well, now it's time to unpack..." But we don't. We unpack the bare minimum of stuff so that we can sleep on something soft. Before that, we need food. Order a Chinese takeaway, and get the Diet Coke out - but which box has the glasses? Can't find them. All we can find are the silly champagne glasses. So that's what we have:

That was Monday. Tuesday, the Sky man arrived to connect us to the wonderful world of Television, and BT's assurance that "yeah, we just switch off the broadband at your old place, and switch it on at the new one" turned out to be a pack of evil lies. We either have a line fault, or an account fault, or a stupid fucking telecommunications company fault. They fixed it this afternoon, after I threatened to destroy them all with my mind-force. Side note: delivery men, installation men, or repairmen always take one sugar with their tea or coffee, and always have milk ("white and one, cheers"). I do not know why.

Once everything's sorted, then I'll finally be able to have a desk and chair in the spare room. Which means I can write without doing my back in. Jo can have her piano and music stuff in the same place. And our new, L-shaped sofa arrives on Friday. So if blogging is even more sporadic than usual, or I fail to reply to an email or just go "buhhhhh, duhhhhh" when I answer the phone, that's why. Normal service will resume shortly. Thank you. And good night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Me and Kylie and Bernard Cribbins in the new DWM

Now there's a sentence I don't get to say every day...

The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine is out, and features a big interview with an extremely handsome and talented writer called-- oh, how embarrassing! It's me! It was a mammoth phone interview, really good fun to do. I rambled on a bit, but hopefully I come across as reasonably sane. We talked about all sorts of stuff, including my DW Pompeii episode, my Torchwood episode (which contains the title, some info and a sneaky plot description), how I got the TW/DW gigs, and how I got into writing in the first place. There are pictures and everything, so go and have a look. It's the new issue out now, the one with Kylie draped across a Dalek on the cover:

I'm sure Katy Manning approves. I did offer to pose for the same pic, in the same dress, but my emails kept bouncing back, for some reason. Honestly, they *really* missed out there, I bet I'd look perfectly delightful in clothes designed for pop princesses (princessi?), and not at all terrifying. There's a big feature with Kylie, loads of other news about the Christmas special, series 4, and David Tennant too, but never mind all that - they've got an interview with Bernard Cribbins, who is a top class legend for far too many reasons to explain. You can't say fairer than that. Although I am STILL not on the cover, despite my very clear and perfectly reasonable demands. Then again, I'm on the spine, so if you bend it around slightly:

There we go, I'm *sort of* on the cover, if you squint a bit. Anyway, I don't care, because I'm sharing the spine with the mighty Bernard Cribbins! Wahey!

Hello to anyone who has popped over here recently, thanks to the recent DW/TW news snippets in various places - top 3 places people have come from so far are the Doctor Who Forum, James Marsters' site, and Torchwood.TV. They've put the blog link in the DWM article too, which is very nice of them, so hello to you lovely readers too. Look around, relax, and feel free to say hello or anything. Doesn't have to be "hello", obviously - far be it from me to restrict you in your choice of greetings and salutations. Say what you like, it's a free country. OR IS IT??? Well, yes, more or less. Hello from me to you, anyway.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Torchwood Series 2 Press Screening

Today was the Torchwood series 2 press screening, which you can read about here (The Stage) and here (thanks to the jolly nice chaps from SFX). The Beeb press release is here, which includes this glossy, saucy photo:

Look at them. Look at the handsome, seductive people. They all want me. They can't help themselves, they're only human. How could they resist? One at a time, then, come on.

It was great fun, they showed episode 1 on the big screen at the fancy schmancy Rex Cinema, in front of cast, producers, writers, and some media bods, including our own Jason "The Arnopp" Arnopp. Can't say anything about the ep that isn't covered in the linked articles, but I will add this: it's bucketloads of fun. Still exciting and tense, yes, but it's really playful and funny, making fun of itself without undercutting the plot. There was much laughter and cheering from everyone, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. At the end was a trailer for the upcoming series, which included several clips from my episode - and one of my lines got a huge laugh, so I'm very happy about that. And the last shot and line in the trailer was also from my one, which gave me a thrill. My episode arrived on DVD last week, and I've watched it twice already. I still can't quite believe I got away with some of the stuff in it, I'm incredibly happy with the result. It's difficult for me to explain quite how excited I am about the show without sounding like either a wanker or a publicity shill, but I genuinely can't wait to see it, and for everyone else to see it. If you already like it, the new series is going to rock your world - everything you love about it is back, bigger and better. But if you're not a fan, check it out anyway, I think you'll be surprised.

And yes, the stopwatch is back. I will say no more.

After the screening, there was much banter, and I did my BBC website interviews - they'll be up on the relevant sites after my TW and DW eps have aired. Met the groovy blokes from SFX, and during the discussion of where TV technology was headed, I made a joke, but then did my usual thing of taking it *teensy* bit too far, and was met with slightly horrified looks. But they they laughed anyway, so they're the dirty ones, not me. Met the lovely Caitlin Moran (no relation, but then if she was I'd probably have met her before now), a journalist and massive Dr Who fan. The whole thing was good fun, got to see pretty much everyone in a relaxed atmosphere. I like things like this, because it makes me feel a bit important and special, and you can't get enough of that as a writer, let me tell you. There were drinks laid on, and biscuits, many of which I ate. I also snagged a couple of postcards, because I'm sad like that. Oh, and check out my badge, underneath one of my stolen postcards:

I'm a writer! Woohoo!

Things wound down a bit, and I went on to a TV meeting, about which more later. I'm hoping to have more TV/film news soon, so watch this space. Well, not this one right here, I mean future blog entries. If you just stay watching this one, nothing will happen. I'll try and get the next one up soon, about the Torchwood wrap party, while we're on the TW subject. It will include photos! Well, two slightly different photos of the same object. But still! An object! From two different angles! How many blogs can say that, eh??