Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010: The Year We Make Contact

Almost 2011 already?? Blimey!

It's been a strange year, 2010. Some really amazing stuff has happened, some not so amazing stuff. Feels like a year of preparation and planning, even though I've actually done some real, solid things too. One TV thing that has just gone to the powers that be, took 2 years to get to this point - 2 years of meetings, outlines, notes, scripts, all to get to a final episode draft. It's all exciting stuff, working with cool, smart people, but can feel like a really long, slow marathon at times. I've done a huge amount of work this year - 3 TV episode scripts, 3 film scripts, a computer game, short story, many outlines, among other stuff - but the only thing that you'll have actually seen is the Doctor Who game and Torchwood Magazine short story. Feels weird not having anything on TV for so long, but there's a lot of stuff going on in the background that you won't hear about until it's made.

It's also been a year of uncertainty, of wondering how the TV and movie worlds will cope in these difficult times, never knowing what the next job will be until it arrives - but again, that's always the case with this business. You never get to a place of total security and safety, you're in the wrong job if you want that. So you have to keep working, keep building new relationships, meeting new people, while doing things with people you already know and trust, always moving forward, always believing that this particular project at this particular time will get made. It's never easy. Sometimes it can feel like you're getting nowhere, taking a step backwards, even. But it's all necessary, you have to be patient, optimistic, and trust in the process and the people.

Having said all that, I still wouldn't trade it for *anything*. This is the best job in the world. I get to make up stories for a living, stories about immortals, swashbuckling adventurers, zombies, serial killers, aliens, time travellers, heroes, villains, spies, and brave, ordinary people thrown into extraordinary situations who somehow find the inner strength to overcome impossible odds. I get to take moments from real life and write my own version where everything works out. I get to show you the dark, horrible things that can happen. But sometimes I also get to show you the good guys winning, the bad guys getting punished, and cool stuff exploding.

Hopefully all this planning and work means that 2011 will be a frantically busy year of projects taking off and getting made. I've already got one movie set to shoot, with more planned, and the TV stuff dangerously close to happening too. It feels like I've been in training all year, getting fit for the big match, and I'm all ready to get out there and show what I can do.

Could all come to nothing, of course, but I believe it will all work out. I believe 2011 is going to kick ass and take names. I believe it because I'm going to damn well make it happen. And I hope you all make stuff happen too. Have a fantastic Christmas break and new year, and I'll see you on the other side!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Long term hopes and dreams

The lovely, manly, and powerful Paul Cornell is doing his Twelve Blogs of Christmas again, and I highly recommend that you go there and have a read. The first one here covers the writing-related things he hasn't done yet, but would really like to do. He also wonders if other writers have a similar list - I normally do my big end of year summary blog post thing, but I think his version is much more fun and interesting, and I feel like a change, so I'm shamelessly copying joining in. Here goes:

Run my own TV show: By "my own" I mean, created or co-created by me, where I'm the lead writer. I've had tons of fun playing with other people's toys, but I want to play with my own toys, run my own universe, set my own rules. As you'll have seen from several other posts, there are plans afoot to (hopefully) make this happen, and I have several potential things underway at various companies. But as with all development, you never know until you get the go ahead, and it can be rejected at any stage. I've talked about this before here, and how time consuming it can be. That's just how it works, it's a huge risk and financial commitment for the powers that be, and they need time to make sure it's all worth their while. Which is why there's never anything to announce until you are actually filming something, just in case. But fingers crossed.

Write a freelance episode for a US TV show: This one's fairly low on the likeliness scale, in fact, there's pretty much no chance right now. There are a lot of working US writers who would be in the queue before me, even if I was living in America, so it wouldn't make much sense to hire me for an episode. But I'd really love to do one, partly for the fun of writing the episode itself, partly for the chance to work in that intense environment with those amazingly talented people. Any preference? Sure, I'd love to do a Dexter, Castle, Human Target, Leverage, The Mentalist, or CSI Las Vegas. I'd also love to do a Glee, but I'm sure they'd look at my blood-splattered TV history and just stare at me in horror. Although I don't always do violent, death-filled stuff, I've written plenty of nice things with happy endings. Honestly, you kill *one* baby...

Direct a movie: This is another thing that is possible and in the works, but depends on a lot of things falling into place. Lots of things in development, lots of possibilities. So fingers crossed again.

Write comics: Another possible thing that I've been working towards, so more crossed fingers. It's a different set of tools, a very different discipline to TV and movie scripts, so I'm still learning how to do it. I have several pitches I'm working on, so once they're ready, I'll have to try and convince some artists to join forces with me. And if I ever got the chance to do a Batman or a Punisher comic, I think I'd probably explode.

Write a non-DW or TW short story: I've loved writing short stories for Doctor Who and Torchwood, but I'd really like to write one set in a completely different world, without characters I already know, just to see if I can. Preferably for a themed anthology, so it's not just on its own, but can hang around with friends in a book somewhere. What?? Stories get lonely without company. They're like pets.

Write comedy: A lot of my work has funny stuff in, and Severance is even called a horror-comedy (although I'd argue it's a horror with some funny bits), but I've never managed to do a pure comedy piece. I tried, ages ago, but was so focused on trying to bring the funny, the plot never materialised and so the jokes didn't work. I've realised that I need a strong, high-concept plot if I want to do a comedy - but is that really out-and-out comedy, or just a funny high-concept thing?? The ultimate test would be to come up with a sitcom. A lot of the things I've done lately, I chose them because I wasn't sure if I could actually do them, because the very idea scared me. You've got to challenge and scare yourself, sometimes. And the thought of doing a sitcom terrifies me, I have no idea how to even start. So it's definitely something I want to try.

Write a play: See above, about challenging yourself… There are many specific types of restrictions and things you just can't physically do in plays, but I want to try and do them anyway. I love being on set when my stuff is filmed, so I'd kill for the chance to see something of mine performed, live, every single night, for the entire run, it must be absolutely electric.

Write a James Bond movie: The only one from Paul's list that I'd also like to do, and I suspect it's on everyone's list. Which is why I'll probably never get to do it. But hey! I never thought I'd work for Doctor Who, have a movie made, or even get paid for writing anything. So why the hell not? Dear producers: I am available and cheap. And fast. And not crazy (well, mostly).

Write a Knight Rider movie: Yes, seriously. I'd jump at the chance. It's been in development for ages, not sure why it's taking so long - it's a talking car! Who solves crimes with his human friend! How is this difficult?? Call me, producers!

Be a rock star: Yeah. Who doesn't want that?? I'd love to be in a band, belting out rock songs on stage to huge crowds, doing guitar solos. How is it writing-related? Well, I'd write the songs. That counts. Sadly, my fantasy is hampered by two small obstacles: I can't sing, or play any instruments. But hey, that never stopped (insert your favourite rock star's name here)!

So there you go, that's my list of current hopes and dreams. There are probably more that I've forgotten, but these are the ones that I think about regularly. Hopefully I can make some of these happen soon. I'm not tagging anyone, but like Paul says, I'd love to see what other writers put on their own lists. Have at it!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Severance on BBC1 Friday 17th! And Blu Ray!

Severance news! And to answer your next 3 questions, yes I'm *still* going on about that movie, no it will *never* end, and no there's no escape.

It's getting another UK TV screening this Friday 17th December at 11.30pm, on BBC One and BBC One HD too. It'll be available for a while at the link once it has been shown on TV. I was surprised to see it appearing on the HD channel, as I'm not aware of any high definition copies ever being made.

So I had a quick search, and discovered some Blu Ray editions, which I had no idea existed, but hey, why would *I* of all people need to be told about anything like that…

If you live in Germany - or anywhere German- or English-speaking, for that matter, as there's an English audio track too - you can get a shiny Blu Ray copy from here. There's a German review of the disc here, or you can click here for Google's translated version.

And if you live in Australia - or anywhere else that speaks Australian, which is remarkably similar to English in many ways, I'm told - you can buy a double feature Blu Ray with Black Sheep and Severance on the same disc here - but it's missing all the special features of the DVD. There's a review of the disc here.

Both reviews above say the image quality is pretty good overall, so I'll be picking up a copy to check it out. But mainly because it'll go nicely on the shelf with my UK version, US version, German version, Spanish version ("Desmembrados"), my bootleg Hong Kong version (written and directed by Michael Mann, apparently) and soon the official Thai version. And to answer your *next* 3 questions, no I can't help myself, yes it's sad, and no I didn't have many friends as a child.

By the way, if you live in a Foreign Country (i.e. not the UK) and there's a local version of Severance on the DVD shelves, could you please take a photo of it for me? If the cover is different and interesting, then I'll probably want to grab a copy. Bonus points if it's got a cool, translated title like "Desmembrados". Thanks!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Final issue of Torchwood Magazine

The final issue of Torchwood Magazine is out this week, and it's a real shame to see it go. It may well rise again at some point, but in the meantime, if you want a copy, get down to your local newsagent, because they'll probably be snapped up quickly.

I've got a short story in the final issue, which is appropriate given that it's my farewell to a character that I love, but never got the chance to do more with. If you read the previous issue, you'll have seen James Goss' excellent Lost Stories article, which featured all the unused season 2 storylines from me, Phil Ford and Joe Lidster. One of mine has been stuck in my head ever since I originally pitched it, back in December 2006, and I've always wanted to come back to it. So now I have.

"Unplugged" is the result, and is a bit different to "Stakes on a Plane" and "Virus", it's more of a quiet, character-led piece, beautifully illustrated by Adrian Salmon. I'm really happy with how it came out, and honoured to be a part of the final issue of TWM. Toshiko Sato, this one's for you.