Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gallivanting around

I'll be popping up in various places here and there over the next few months, so let's try and do them all in one big post:

Doctor Who Magazine

The new issue (410) of Doctor Who Magazine is out now, and features a huge, er, feature about Torchwood: Children of Earth, written by none other than friend of the blog, highwayman, and male escort Jason "Beastmaster" Arnopp. All of the Torchwood creative team were interviewed, including me, and so it's liberally peppered with things I've said. Go and read it now, it's lovely - but be warned, it's a little bit spoilery, so you might want to wait until after the show has been on. They've also got an interview with Karen Gillan, the new season 5 companion - whose first DW appearance was in The Fires of Pompeii - and loads more too. It's quite literally the best ever 410th issue of Doctor Who Magazine ever. There'll never be another 410th issue of DWM like it.

Telegraph TV Magazine

I was asked to write an article about the Children of Earth creative process for the Telegraph's Saturday magazine. It'll be in next week's edition, on Saturday 4th July, so keep an eye out for that, before my mum buys up all the copies to give to her friends.

Torchwood Magazine

The new issue of Torchwood Magazine is out now, with articles about Children of Earth - be careful though, because it is fairly spoilery for Episode 1, even more so than the DWM article, so again, you might want to skip those pages until after you've seen it.

Speaking of Torchwood, the BBC site has been updated, with a great new trailer, and some lovely photos. The trailer, for those of you outside the UK, is on YouTube already (I won't link to it, otherwise a BBC Weevil attack squad will go and take it down, but I'm sure you won't have any trouble finding it). The pics are great, especially this one - Eve Myles pulling off a textbook leaping, two-handed gun manoeuvre:

San Diego Comic Con

Yes, I'm very excited to be coming to this year's San Diego Comic-Con, as a "professional guest". That makes me sound like someone who makes a habit of just turning up for free booze or something. So I suppose that's pretty much accurate. But I'll be there, checking out panels, making contacts for possible future work, and getting drunk with various unsavoury individuals. I'm bringing my saucy minx of a wife Jo with me, and we're really looking forward to it.

I don't think I'm doing any panels or anything, but I will be there for the duration. So don't be scared to come and say hello, I'm very easy going and will probably be jetlagged or tipsy anyway.

Time and Again

Later this year, I'll be at the Doctor Who Appreciation Society's one day convention, Time and Again. It's on Saturday 10th October, from 12 noon, in London. Tickets are 39 quid, 35 if you're a DWAS member, 25 if you're under 16, 24 if you're under 16 and a DWAS member. I may have made that sound more complicated than it is. Check out the guests page, which has thankfully got a new photo of me on there, taken by Jo - I was getting fed up of the cheeky-grin-in-the-TARDIS one, it's all over the place.

Why should you be excited? Well, the chance to meet TV's James Moran, is OBVIOUSLY the biggest draw. If that's not enough? How about these: A screening of episode 3 of the newly re-colourised Planet of the Daleks. Dan Hall from 2Entertain. Philip Hinchcliffe - blimey. Christopher Ryan - a Sontaran, Mike "the cool person" from The Young Ones, and Spudgun from Bottom. Trevor Cooper, from Revelation of the Daleks. Colin Spaull, also from Revelation of the Daleks, and Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel. Peter Purves. That would be enough, surely. But that's not all. They've also got Sir Derek. Bloody. Jacobi. I am literally quaking with excitement about meeting the man, he's an absolute legend. Come along, if you dare. I'll be trying desperately not to beg him to recreate this hilarious performance from Frasier for me.

Phew, think that's everything. There may be more as the year goes on, or less depending on work commitments, etc, etc, nothing is a guarantee of anything, you might get hit by a bus tomorrow, your mileage may vary, there is nothing wrong with your television set, do not attempt to adjust the picture, do not operate heavy machinery while reading this blog or having your trousers removed by mechanical monkeysharks, this blog can only help slimming as part of a calorie controlled diet, do not make eye contact with this blog before I've had my morning coffee, and don't EVER do that thing again that your Auntie Mabel caught you doing, she hasn't been the same since and you KNOW she's had a dodgy ticker since the war.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Twitter competition

I recently reached over 2000 followers on Twitter, and decided to mark the occasion with a competition. This blog post is for those of you in different timezones who missed the live rule-tweeting. But please note: this is a Twitter competition. You can only enter on Twitter, following the rules below. If you enter by email or using the blog comments, you will be disqualified, and I'll point and laugh at you for being unable to follow simple instructions.

If you don't "do" Twitter, you have two options: (1) join Twitter and enter the competition, or (2) don't enter, and carry on with your life as normal. I won't judge you if you choose (2). Lots of perfectly normal people will never ever use Twitter. That's fine. But this is a competition specifically for Twitter people, so don't complain that you can't enter. You *can* enter - if you use Twitter. Nobody's forcing you to do anything, nobody's taking anything away from you, this is all just a bit of fun that you can take part in or not. Your life is still your own! Now, those Twitter rules as they were posted:

To celebrate 2000 followers, here's a Twitter exclusive competition. Details to come. Please read ALL conditions carefully, and follow them.

Caption this: - tweet a caption, or edit pic to add speech bubbles, if you like. Use #jmcap hashtag so I can see it.

Make sure you use that hashtag so I know it's an entry into the competition. You don't have to reply to me. Use the hashtag and I'll see it.

If you're not sure what the pic is: it is me, standing on the lift, in the Torchwood Hub. Looking up at the exit.

Just text. No adding images into the pic, that's cheating. Just text (and speech bubbles if required). As funny/weird/scary as you like.

I will ONLY accept entries on Twitter, with the #jmcap hashtag. Otherwise I can't/won't see them.

Deadline is up to and including 1st July. Any entries on 2nd July won't count. Me, @jodiekearns, and possibly a panel of experts will judge.

Judges decisions are final. Any "but mine was better" whining will result in public ridicule. This is meant to be fun, don't poke the bear.

Prize? Your name. As a character. In the next thing I get made or publish, whatever's first. Might not be DW/TW related, though.

Might be TV ep, movie, short story, no idea yet. You might be good, bad, or twisted babykiller. You take your chances. No idea when, either.

Can't promise you'll have lines. But your name will be prominent and clear. You can show it to people. I will blog it so you can prove it.

Will also sign and send you a copy of the DVD or book or magazine or whatever, when it comes out. Don't keep asking me when, I may not know.

You may nominate your mum/friend/husband/etc's name if you like. No fake names. No "Shithead McCockfiend". No messing about.

I'll Tweet and blog the winner, and runners up (who might get small things if I have any around). It's open to all followers, old and new.

I will repost these rules on my blog, so that people can find them more easily. But you must ONLY enter on Twitter. Not on blog or by email.

Enter as many times as you like. But quantity doesn't matter, only quality. No rush. You have a week. Calm down!

By the way, I use my friends/family names in things regularly, so they have no need to enter. This is for all you lovely followers.

Don't forget, you don't need to use reply, just the hashtag- this gives you more room for captioning.

These are the rules. Do not argue or I will destroy you. If your question isn't answered here, the answer's probably no. Go! Get captioning!

So there you have it. For new Twitterers, go here to find out what Twitter is, and here to find out what hashtags are. You can check out all the entries so far here, or by searching for #jmcap using any other Twitter search device. Now have at it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Torchwood: Children of Earth broadcast date

Thank fuck for that. Torchwood has a broadcast date.


Ahem. Yes, I knew. Someone bloody told me, (not naming any names, although it rhymes with Muscle Pea Gravies), and I instantly felt my heart sink because I'd have to keep the secret for ages, and not blurt it out. Damn you, Muscle! Damn you to hell!

So I had to lie, and keep quiet, to avoid any difficulty. But in future, when I say I don't know? I don't know. If I do know, I'll say that I know, and am not allowed to say. Nobody bloody believes me when I say I don't know anyway, they still think I knew who the new Doctor was going to be ahead of time (I didn't, I really didn't, I have no reason to lie about it now, I had no idea).

By the way, I love the dry description in the TV listing: "Science-fiction and crime drama created by Russell T Davies dealing with the machinations and activities of the fictional Torchwood Institute in Cardiff." Wow, that sounds... thrilling. "What ho, Captain! What machinations and activities will we find ourselves up to this week, I wonder? I venture a pinch of snuff will be required to gird our loins!" Honestly, it's actually very exciting and action packed and scary and funny and mad.

Anyway. It starts on Monday the 6th July, 9pm on BBC1. I did episode 3, which will be on Wednesday 8th July. But you have to watch the whole thing, or it won't make sense. It starts in America on BBCA on the 20th July. Hopefully this will be the last thing I ever have to say about the broadcast date. Watch the show. It is epic. I mean, proper epic. Textbook epic. Yes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What's next?

Warning: long, rambly, self reflective, self indulgent blogwank ahead.

I've been in a funny mood lately, feeling a bit down, a bit directionless. This year, I've mostly been working on in-development stuff. It's all commissioned (i.e. paid) work for brand new TV shows, some at outline stage, some at script stage, but as with all in-development stuff, execs could say no at any point if they don't like it, or it's too expensive, or difficult, or not the right time, or some other channel has something similar, etc etc. I'm loving all of the work, but there's the constant nagging worry that none of it will end up on a TV screen. I really want these things to get made, because I'm really proud of them, and think they'll be great. One is solely created by me, some I'm co-creating, and two are single episodes of someone else's show. But everywhere is cutting back these days, and new shows face even more of a struggle to get made.

Whereas last year, and the year before, everything I worked on was actually in production. Getting hired to do an episode for a show that's already filming, means that the thing you're typing right now will be filmed in just a few months. There's more pressure, less time, but it WILL be filmed and broadcast. Usually you'll even have a rough idea of when it'll be on TV. Nothing focuses the mind quite like a transmission date...

So for the first time in my TV adventure, everything I'm working on might only ever be seen by me, the production companies, the execs, and nobody else. It's worrying, and makes me feel really uncertain about what lies ahead. I might spend the whole year writing these things, only to have it all fall apart. Yeah yeah, how terrible your life is, woe is you, pity the poor TV writer whose dreams have come true, welcome to the real world, that's what many writers face all the time, you could be unemployed or dead, etc etc. Look, I know how fortunate I've been - but I made that luck happen by working my arse off, and I continue to work my arse off to sustain it. And just because "it could be worse", it doesn't mean I'm not allowed to be frustrated by it. My point is, what can any of us do in these uncertain times? What if all of these projects never see the light of day? What happens next?

Well, I need to take stock, and plan out the next move in my career, decide what I want to do. Whether these projects take off or not, I need to have the next thing all ready to go. Never stop moving, plotting, always have a backup plan, always think three moves ahead. I'm already trying to get my own shows off the ground, which are 4 of the above projects. That's currently the stage I want to get to, much as I love doing episodes for other people's shows, I still have to play by their rules, put the toys back in one piece when I'm finished. I want to be heading up my own show, making the overall decisions on characters, story arcs, making my own rules, deciding who lives, who dies, smashing the toys and making all new ones. I have big stories I want to tell, which will only be possible during the run of a whole series that I oversee. It will happen, hopefully sooner rather than later. And I'm always trying to come up with new stuff, just in case the current stuff doesn't happen.

I'm also dipping a toe back into the movie world. After getting utterly shafted on a script back in 2007, I've kept far away from the evil, soulless vampires that seem to circle around many movie projects. But now that I don't actually *need* to sell a movie script, I'll be in a stronger position to negotiate. I want to collaborate with smart, cool people, and I want to be treated like a human being, given that I made the story up out of my head from nothing. With that in mind, I have two new specs, one of which is almost ready to go out. And I've recently been hired to write two movies for other people. One is a new horror comedy for some lovely, smart, cool people I've worked with before - the pitch outline is currently out there, seeking funding. If all goes well, then I'll be writing it this year, hopefully shooting in winter. The other is a rewrite job, for another horror comedy - again, it's with smart, cool people who I've wanted to work with for a while. That's the most important thing to me - choose who you work with, very carefully, and you'll have a much better time of it.

I'm also hoping to venture into another arena at some point this year - comics. As a long-time comic reader, I've always wanted to write for them, but have been worried that I might not have the right toolkit. I know that it's nothing like normal scriptwriting, and I'll need to learn a new set of skills. But I really want to go for it. So I'm currently doing my research and preparation, figuring out the format, coming up with pitches for my own stuff and for established characters, making contacts and working out who to approach. It's scary, different, and out of my comfort zone, which is why I really want to try it. If you're not trying new things, scaring yourself, and making mistakes, then you're not learning anything.

There are a few other side projects too, one of which will mean trying something completely different and terrifying. All of which means lots of planning, researching, brainstorming, contacting people, and working out ideas and pitches for all kinds of things. It sometimes feels like I haven't achieved anything solid by the end of the day, because none of it involves scripting or outlining. But it's all crucial, and needs to be done if I want to move forward.

So it's been a strange year. A great year, really creative and exciting - but unsettling, because it feels like I'm on uncertain ground, and am not sure where things are going. But whatever happens next, I need to *make* it happen. And I will. Because ultimately, we're all in control of our own lives, and nobody else can get you where you want to be.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and conquer the world. WITH THE TERRIBLE POWER OF MY MIND. FEAR ME.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Torchwood screening, spoiler avoidance, and nut butter knickers

Had a great time at the Torchwood screening on Friday night at the BFI. They showed Episode 1 to a sellout crowd, and it went really, really well. They laughed in the right places, and some unexpected places, cheered, gasped, oohed and aahed, and when it ended, they tore the fucking roof off the place, cheering and whooping and applauding, it was brilliant. Two people either side of me looked stunned at the reaction, they weren't expecting it to be so huge. Another was surprised at the high female to male ratio in the audience - but when it comes to Torchwood I've found that the female fans usually outnumber the male ones, at least in my experience.

But that's the thing about science fiction, and other genres - people still don't seem to realise that both men *and* women have been watching it for a long time now. Even some people who make genre stuff (not the TW or DW people, of course, they know what they're doing, thankfully). When working on something genre-ish recently, I was asked what we could put in to get "the girls" to watch. I explained that "the girls" already watch this sort of thing, so all we have to do is make it good. It really annoys me when people trot out the old "teenage boy living with his parents" cliche, but it still seems to be a widely held belief. Which may explain some of the dodgier science fiction which continues to get made - clearly, some folk just aren't aware that the audience has moved on since the 1950s.

Anyway. The screening was great fun, and I'm sure everyone would have happily sat and watched the whole 5 hours if we'd screened them all. The music is superb too, and I can't wait for the soundtrack release. Ben Foster has done an amazing job, it's an epic, movie-style score that will go straight into several of my writing playlists. You can have a preview listen here, check out tracks 2, 4, and 5, in particular. Warning! There are some medium to heavy spoilers in the tracklistings though, so be warned.

Before we went into the screening room, Russell pronounced my sparkly shirt "a bit gay" (it is a bit, okay, a lot, but it's fabulous), then sat behind a desk of sandwiches in the green room and started charging money for them (bless him, he's out of work now, needs to earn a few quid between jobs). We then learned from Caitlin Moran (no relation, well, not to me, she's a relation, obviously, just not mine) that there's a new type of toilet paper which is brown, and infused with some sort of nut butter. Apparently you can get knickers with the same stuff in.

Knickers full of nut butter. Too. Many. Jokes.

I thought she was making it up, but I looked it up, and I shit you not. Shea butter bog roll and knickers. Welcome to the future, folks. See you in hell.

Met lots of lovely blog and Twitter folk, including the lovely Rosby from the comments here. Hello to you all again, and thank you for being so nice and making me feel famous. Thank you also to Alexandra, Grace and Cat, for letting me grope Captain Jack's balls (photo by Cat):

Ended the evening in the fancy room upstairs, talking nonsense with Simon from Torchwood Magazine. Obviously, HE was the one talking nonsense, whereas I made perfect sense and never said anything silly. Oh, and I also discovered that he keeps getting mistaken for me at conventions. So I'll be sending him to any dangerous ones, as my stunt double. Cheers Simon!

And finally, a plea, from me to you, if you weren't at the Torchwood screening:




Seriously. Trust Uncle Jimbo, now. It will have SO much more impact if you don't know what's about to happen, you'll only spoil it for yourselves. There are several cool surprises in there. If you read a full, detailed synopsis of the episode on the internet first, you won't get to experience that feeling of surprise while watching. It won't be the same. I totally understand that you've all been waiting a long, long time for the new season. We've been dying to show it to you. And I know exactly what it's like, waiting, desperate for information, snippets, anything. I understand this. It happens to me too. But please, try to resist. Mind how you go on the internet, and avoid those pesky spoilers. You'll thank yourself later.

And if you have been spoiled already - you're still going to the Special Hell, but don't worry too much about being spoiled for the whole story. There's sooooo much more to come, you have no idea what you're in store for...

(Standard disclaimer: No, I have no idea when it's airing. Yes, they do know, but are keeping it secret so that other channels don't try to gazump them. No, I don't know if they're doing a simultaneous broadcast thing or whatever, yes I know about the BBCA HD date of the 20th, no I don't know if that has any bearing on anything else at all. Yes it's agonising to have to wait and OMG why can't it be on now. All other questions: Yes, no, no, yes, definitely no, only after 4pm, no, yes, yes as long as it's lubed up sufficiently, yes, no, no, yes, definitely yes, three guys in speedos, no, yes, down the right hand side, no, yes, yes, and Marg Helgenberger with Sigourney Weaver and a bucket of ice cream.)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Torchwood at the BFI, and magazines

A quick roundup of some things:

Thing 1: On Friday, June 12th, there's a special preview of Episode 1 of Torchwood: Children of Earth at the BFI. Afterwards there's a Q+A with John, Eve, Gareth, Kai, and director Euros Lyn. I'll be attending too, in the audience (won't be in the Q+A, it's not my episode), so hopefully I'll see you there. If you're going, let me know, and say hello if you see me. Don't be shy, I'm just some bloke, and not at all scary in real life...

Thing 2: The Doctor Who Magazine special issue is now out, featuring 200 Golden Moments from the entire series. I've contributed a small piece for it, on the closing speech in Survival. The whole magazine is a lovely piece of work, and is a big love letter to the show.

Thing 3: I'm also briefly quoted in issue 3 of Wired UK. It's been a fantastic read for 3 issues now, and I thoroughly recommend it. You can probably grab back issues of 1 and 2, so go and do that. Can't remember what page I'm on, but I'm there with some other media types talking about the future of entertainment. Full disclosure: Wired UK deputy editor Ben Hammersley is in my garden right now, with a knife between his teeth, "watering" the grass. If I don't plug the magazine, I fear for my safety.

Next post will be some rambling about my current projects, and what I'm doing next.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Utopia convention

Don't forget, I'll be at the Utopia convention tomorrow, Saturday, 6th June - link goes to the schedule. There aren't any more tickets left, but this is just to remind those of you already going that I'll be there. Come and say hello, don't be shy, I don't bite too hard, and usually have already murdered someone first thing in the morning, so my kill-urge will be sated for a few hours.

I'm doing a panel at 10am with Tracey Childs (Metella from my Pompeii episode), and will be signing anything you want to bring along from 11.20am until 1.30.

Let me know if you read the blog, or follow me on Twitter, I'm always curious to find out if any of you are real. Looking forward to seeing you there! If you exist, of course. And if *I* exist. Which I'm not sure of.