Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Sparticle Mystery, season 3

Announcement! TV announcement! I’ve written two episodes for the upcoming 3rd season of The Sparticle Mystery, created by the brilliant Alison Hume.

The series starts on Monday, January 5th, 2015 at 5pm on CBBC and CBBCHD. I wrote episodes 4 and 9, so mine should be on 26th January and 2nd March - I’ll update that in case the schedules change, so keep an eye out.

Update! Episode 1 of the new series is on the iPlayer right now, watch it here!

I worked on the show early in 2014, joining their writers’ room led by Alison. It was a really fun, inspiring time, and I loved being part of the process. When the boss of the team is the head writer, it makes things SO much easier and smoother, because they’re right there with you, and all their notes come from a good, creative place. And it's lovely to have something of mine airing on TV again, after a long time off doing movies and development stuff (which takes ages) - I haven't gone anywhere, just been doing other things, that you'll hopefully get to see soon. Like this!

If you haven’t seen the show, you can catch up on season 2 on iPlayer now. If you’re just going to dive in - spoilers in this paragraph! Spoilers for seasons 1 and 2! - the concept is that one day, a Large Hadron Collider-style experiment goes wrong and everyone aged 15 and over gets sent to a parallel dimension - leaving the world full of children. Some of them want to bring the adults back and, obviously, some don’t. Right now, at the start of the third season, an attempt to bring the adults back has gone wrong, and the teenage versions of the adults have been brought back instead. Who’s in charge now? Ever wondered what your mum and dad were like when they were 14?? You might not want to know... End of spoilers!

I've never written purely for children's drama before, and if you're familiar with my work you're probably wondering why they let me... But I've done family stuff, and pre-watershed-friendly episodes, so I'm not a blood-soaked gore fiend ALL the time. And there's plenty of emotion and drama on kids' shows, this is no exception. Obviously I can’t say what happens in the episodes or the series, so you’ll have to watch and find out.

But! Here’s a trailer for season 3!

Food fight! There are several clips from my episodes in the trailer, but I didn’t do the food fight, I’m very envious of that...

Official website!

Facebook page!

Behind the scenes website with photos!

Catch up on season two!

And you can follow the show on Twitter here and get updates like this:
By the way, another show starting straight afterwards at 5.30pm, is EVE, created by Emma Reeves, about a robot girl trying to live a normal life with a human family. Emma’s brilliant too, and the show looks really fun, I saw some early prep work on it and it sounds great. So check that out as well! There’s a trailer for it here, and episode 1 is now online here.

UPDATE: I've just realised that, if the schedule doesn't change, my latest episode of TV will air on January 26th, almost exactly 8 years after my first ever episode of TV - "Sleeper", in season 2 of Torchwood, on January 23rd. And I'm still incredibly excited to have my work aired on TV, that feeling never goes away, in fact it gets stronger. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 things, with free stuff

Blimey, where did 2014 go? Seriously, where did it go? I suspect nefarious shenanigans. VERY nefarious. The nefariest!

I got into the habit of doing an end of year blog round up post a while ago, but then I... got out of that habit. It tended to be a bit maudlin or self congratulatory, depending on the sort of year I’d had, and went on longer than those end of year shows where people who aren't old enough to have been alive back then “remember” things from the 70s.

So instead, here’s a few things you might have missed from the blog this year, in handy link format for you to click on:

--A new blog article about breaking in and sustaining a writing career, and how every time you write something new, it feels like breaking in all over again.

--The Cockneys Vs Zombies script was added to the permanent collection of The Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

--I directed a new short film, which is online here for free.

--I also directed my first music video, which is very closely linked to the above short film.

--The Doctor Who Adventure Games were made available on Steam, including the one I wrote, called TARDIS.

--The Borderlands, a horror movie I did a rewrite on, was released in the UK. Update: It’s released in the US in February 2015, under the new title Final Prayer, so watch out for it.

--Maggie from Severance made it onto the Total Film list of the 50 Most Badass Female Horror Leads.

--Mark Kermode very kindly asked me to be a guest on his Kermode Uncut film blog, talking about whether critics pay enough attention to writers, and if they are undervalued.

--I was a guest on Emma Newman’s brilliantly mad podcast Tea and Jeopardy, which was even more fun than I thought it would be.

--VS Comics came to a close, and you can read why here.

--My YouTube channel quietly sprang to life, and I made lots of videos, to try out some new things. One is the first in a series where writers talk about their process, and features guest writer Amber Benson.

--My other YouTube videos included a guide to playing the ukulele in 15 minutes, my convention experience at LeakyCon (now GeekyCon), a trip to see inside Battersea Power Station, how to get an agent, a spoof Halloween sequel trailer, and the trailer for Crazy For You, the short film I wrote & directed starring Arthur Darvill and Hannah Tointon.

--I did two more anti-phone cinema idents for FrightFest this year, and you can watch them online here.

--Cockneys Vs Zombies aired on UK TV for free, and will be on again during the Christmas break, on Friday 26th December at 10pm. Uncut, no TV edits, so you can safely watch with the family knowing all the swearing will be there. It is actually a family friendly feelgood comedy horror, that's not a joke - it's sweary and violent, but lots of people have told me they've watched with grandparents who enjoyed it, so I think it'd be fun to watch at Christmas time.

--I wrote an article about writing horror movies, for the Script Angel website (I'll be re-posting it here next month).

--I appeared on Tea and Jeopardy again, as part of their podcast advent calendar.

--The second Den of Geek “Den of Eek!” ebook of scary short stories became available here (the first is still available here), both containing a story each from me - they’re in aid of Geeks Vs Cancer, and you get a lot of story for a little cash.

--And I made another guest appearance on Paul Cornell's always excellent 12 Blogs of Christmas. This post features me and 19 other writers sharing the worst thing that happened in our writing careers, to exorcise some demons, and to hopefully make newer writers feel a bit better when bad things happen - they happen to us all. And reading the other writers' tales of woe, *I* immediately felt better, because there were several things worse than anything I had experienced (yet).

--These are from last year, but they’re still available, still free to read - my two Doctor Who short stories from the Short Trips collections: Companion, and Breadcrumbs. Companion is Christmassy, and possibly my friendliest piece of work.

--And because it’s the season of giving, if you're looking for a local charity that would appreciate even tiny amounts, Kirkwood Hospice looked after my sister Julia at the end of her life. They provide free care for patients, even supporting their families. They're amazing people, and rely on public financial support, so if you want to donate (thank you in advance), click the link here.

--Similarly, you can still grab Behind the Sofa, a Doctor Who book I contributed to, in aid of Alzheimer's Research UK - it features a short essay from me about my memories of the show, and also from people like Neil Gaiman, Sophia Myles, Stephen Merchant, and many more. It's just over a fiver, and is well worth getting.

Well, that went on a bit longer than expected, I’d forgotten how much stuff there had been. There are two TV things that I’ll be able to announce next year, they’re still secret for now, so look out for those. Look out!

Whatever you’re doing at the end of this year, I hope you enjoy it, get some time to relax, and eat chocolate for breakfast if you want to, no judging here, not that I’ve ever done that, no way, not at all.

Writers: I hope all your dream projects come true, that you get excellent notes from smart people, and that you learn something new every day.

Everybody: whatever you aim to do in 2015, please try to make something. Anything. Put a bit of extra art into the world, something unique to you. And let’s make the world a tiny bit nicer for everyone else. OR ELSE.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Den of Eek new spooky ebook

Last year, I took part in Den of Geek's second live storytelling night, "Den of Eek!", with several other writers - reading out spooky short stories to an audience. The theme this time was urban legends, and it was great fun, as was the first night, which I wrote about here.

But what if you weren't there?? Well, you missed out. Sorry. Should have got tickets before it sold out... Never mind though, because just like the first one, all the stories have been published in an ebook, so you can read them all at your leisure! My story is called Pass It On - and I apologise in advance. You'll see why when you read it. If you dare...

The ebook is available here - and the first year's ebook is still available here - (that's for the UK, if you're in the US you can get them here and here) - with all profits going to cancer charities, a cause very close to me, especially at this time of year. They're both a mere £3 each, so for six quid you get 26 scary stories, just in time for Halloween, AND you get to help some great charities do their work.

Please have a look and consider picking up a copy of one or both, and I hope you enjoy the stories. Or at least, enjoy them as much as you can, until... well. You'll find out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cockneys Vs Zombies on TV in the UK

Yes! Cockneys Vs Zombies will air, for free, on TV in the UK, on the Pick channel, on Tuesday October 28th at 9pm!

If you couldn't make it to the cinema, didn't want to pay for the DVD or the Blu-ray or a rental or an iTunes copy/rental, and couldn't be bothered to press play on Netflix or Amazon Prime, then this is the news for you! You can't afford NOT to watch!

Pick TV is a free channel, if you're watching on Freeview it's Channel 11, on Sky it's 152 (or 153 for the +1 version), on Virgin it's 123, and on Freesat it's 144. Even if you have no cable or satellite, you just need a TV with some sort of aerial and you can watch on Freeview.

You now have literally no excuse not to see it. Unless you're away. Or busy. Or dead. Or you don't want to see it because it sounds gory and sweary violent and silly (it is all of those things). But really, UK viewers, it's been incredibly cheap on DVD and now it's free, I can't conceivably do any more for you at this point. It's free. It's on TV. Just watch it.

If you're busy on Tuesday, and/or you'd rather watch another day, it's repeated on Halloween night, Friday 31st October, at 10.45pm, right after Sharknado. Make it a double bill!

The listings page is here, and the movie page is here, although after that date those links will probably expire - but it won't matter anyway, you'll have missed it. The good people at Pick TV assure me it won't be edited for content, and will air in all its sweary, gory glory. There will probably be commercial breaks, but fucking hell, people, it's free, what do you want, blood? BLOOD? MY BLOOD??

Anyway, I think the message of this blog post can be summarised thusly: Cockneys Vs Zombies is on TV in the UK, for free. Watch it or else.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Game City live event in Nottingham

I'm heading back to Nottingham for my third visit to Game City, a really fun gaming event all about games and booze - well, mainly about games, but they do like to throw booze down your neck, and I'm obviously far too polite to refuse.

Last time, I wrote a playable, Fighting Fantasy-style mini adventure with Ian Livingstone (yes, THAT Ian Livingstone), called The Tentacled Horror - it was printed in a newsletter, so you could play it like one of the Fighting Fantasy books. Obviously it was much, much shorter, but I had a lot of fun writing it (and a lot of brain-ache, I have no idea how anyone writes the full length ones without losing their mind).

The newsletter was only available in selected places in Nottingham during the event, but now it's being launched as a digital, interactive version, and launching at this year's event. You'll be able to pick it up online, and play it, trying to avoid the many grisly deaths that await you.

Even more excitingly, I'm going to play an all new text adventure, live at the event, along with Ian himself, Kieron Gillen, Zoe Quinn, and Chris Avellone. I have no idea how it will work, but it will be very silly, I'm pretty sure of that. So come along and watch us flail around. I'll link to The Tentacled Horror when it goes online.

The live play is on Thursday 30th October, but the event runs all week, and most of it is free. Details are all at their website here, so come and join in the fun!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Crazy For You at Knoxville Horror Film Festival

Americans etc! My short film Crazy For You just added another date to its festival tour, and will play at the Knoxville Horror Film Festival, in Knoxville, Tennessee, which runs from October 25th-27th (full schedule to follow).

The website with info is here - and you can preorder passes and/or posters, t-shirts, etc, at this link here. It's the next American date after Fantastic Fest, so hopefully will be nearer any of you who couldn't make one of the other screenings.

I'm not sure if there'll be any other American screenings after this, I'm still waiting to hear back from a couple - so if you're nearby, and want to see it on a big screen, this may be your last chance!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crazy For You at Fantastic Fest - schedule

The schedule for Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas is now live, where my short film Crazy For You is screening. If you're going, you will have two - count 'em, two! - chances to see it as part of the Short Fuse 2014 group:

Click here for the info page on the group of shorts. Even if you don't want to see mine, they're showing several others in the same block, including Goat Witch, and the romantically titled He Took His Skin Off For Me - how could you not want to see those??

I'm really sad to miss out on attending, but producer extraordinaire Jen Handorf will be there, representing the short, so if you have ANY problems at all, go and tell her she's a horrible, horrible human being. Just tell her that anyway.* Hope you enjoy the short, and Fantastic Fest!

*Don't actually do this, she's lovely and brilliant and could probably beat you up.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Crazy For You at Raindance in London

Another quick festival update - my short film Crazy For You screens at this year's Raindance Film Festival in London, on Sunday October 5th, at 12pm. Info and tickets at this link here.

I'll be attending the screening, so if you're going, I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Crazy For You at Fantastic Fest

It can finally be revealed: Crazy For You, the short I wrote and directed, starring Arthur Darvill and Hannah Tointon, will screen at this year's Fantastic Fest, in Austin, Texas.

Go here for information! And here for a direct link to the FF website!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writers on Writing - Episode 1

This is a new, semi-regular video series where I interview other writers - I know! Other writers who aren't me! The very thought! - about their writing process. How do they start, how do they develop an idea into a full story, and so on.

Episode 1's victim guest writer is Amber Benson, who has been writing novels, comics and movies for years - her acting background means she has a very different process to me. Although there are many similarities. Oh, you'll see. Just watch the interview, it's really good fun - it's at this link here.

Amber's new book The Witches of Echo Park comes out on January 6th 2015, and you may get it from these places:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble US

Foyles UK

There are also some other US links available at the book's Tumblr here. Amber is on Twitter, so you should go follow her. Huge thanks to Amber for being so cool and willing to talk process - we met at LeakyCon, so it was lovely of her to find time to do this. And I didn't accidentally call her Tara even *once*!

I have a few other participants on my list, but if there are any writers you'd like me to talk to - that I might reasonably be able to get - I will gratefully steal your suggestions and pretend I thought of them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My FrightFest 2014 phone idents

I've just got back from FrightFest 2014, a 5 day celebration of horror movies and general mayhem, which is Horror Christmas for us horror fans. I didn't have any movies or shorts playing, but I did 2 "Turn Off Your Bloody Phone" idents again, as I have done for the past couple of years (you can see them here and here).

The opening night one was a spoof cinema advert, and many in the audience were fooled into thinking FrightFest had sold out and gone with a really, *really* wanky sponsor... until the mayhem kicked in:

My second one "starred" me as usual, the third in a series of Angry James Moran idents:

They both got a really good reaction, I'm very happy with how they went down.

Some great movies played this year, including The Forgotten, produced by the brilliant Jen Handorf, who roped me into doing the intro for the screening - and then the Q&A afterwards! It was easy enough, as I've been on the receiving end plenty of times, so I know what questions to ask, how to make sure nobody gets left out, etc. Seemed to go really well, everyone was happy.

Also did my first proper interview as an interviewer, getting the chance to ask Jan Harlan some questions - he was Stanley Kubrick's producer for years, there to introduce the new UK Blu-ray of The Shining. As a massive Kubrick fan, I jumped at the chance to speak to Jan, who was really lovely and had lots of great stories.

A very strong FrightFest lineup this year, my highlights were The Guest, Life After Beth, Starry Eyes, Faults, and The Babadook. The venue change to the Vue Leicester Square was worrying, as we were going from one big, main screen to three main screens with staggered start times - but it worked brilliantly, nothing went wrong, and actually meant the bar and toilets never got too crowded, an unexpected bonus of the new system. Very well done, FrightFest folk, and Vue people.

Thank you to everyone who came up to say nice things, or just to chat about movies, or both, the FrightFest audience really is a great group of people. Here's to 2015!

Friday, July 11, 2014

LeakyCon 2014 schedule update

I'm attending this year's LeakyCon in July/August (details with links here), and the schedule has just been posted - you can see the whole thing here, and use it to make your own schedule of stuff to see, like a serial killer plotting crimes in tiny handwriting in a Notebook of Death (note to police: I totes don't do that).

If you want to see the bits I'm doing, all on one page, just click here! I'm on several panels, doing signings, and other things.

Don't forget, there will be a screening of Crazy For You, the short I wrote and directed, starring Arthur Darvill and Hannah Tointon, on Sunday August 3rd at 11am - I'll do a Q&A after it, so stick around. I'm also hosting a screening and Q&A for Cockneys Vs Zombies, Sunday August 3rd at 12pm. Crazy For You has some violence and gore (it's a romantic comedy about a serial killer), but CvsZ is full on blood, gore, swearing, and gratuitous violence, so bring the kids! No, don't.

And on Saturday August 2nd at 4pm, I'm doing a workshop thing, called "So you wanna be a TV writer" (although it applies to film and TV). If you want to get an inside view of how my writing process works, from idea to finished script, come along and join in. I'll be taking random ideas from bad local newspapers, and we'll all work on them together to brainstorm, outline, and form a complete movie/TV story from start to finish (obviously we don't do the script stage, we'd be there for months).

Yes, I said "we". It's interactive. I've done it twice before, it almost went wrong both times, due to the live, unplanned nature, so hey, maybe it'll be third time unlucky! Come and watch me panic and possibly cry. And at the end, one random attendee (names in a hat) gets sacrificed to Satan and eaten by the others gets to keep the scribbled outline and notes! Unless it's a whiteboard, in which case you can take photos of it, or something. Actually, you can all take photos of the board. But the random winner gets, er, I dunno, a free pen or something. DON'T QUESTION ME

I'm so excited to be attending, and can't wait to meet you all. Say hello! I'm evil nice!

Further update: Gaming! I will be tabletop gaming with you a couple of times, in the Gaming Area (Marketplace) - Friday 2.30pm to play Resistance, and Saturday 10am to play Ticket to Ride. I've never played either, so come take advantage of my foolishness, and leave me a blubbering wreck!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Convention in Rome

Friends! Romans! Convention-goers! Lend me your beers!

Yes, I'm coming back to Italy again, for another event. It's in Rome this time, and I'll be available to meet on the 13th and 15th July - click here and here for details. So if you're in Rome, or near Rome, or passing through Rome, come along and say hello!

Friday, June 27, 2014

The end of VS Comics

It gives me no pleasure to say this, but we're closing down VS Comics, and shooting all the creators. Wait, we're *not* shooting all the creators? Okay, that's good, I was a bit worried about that part, because I'm one of them. But we're still closing VS, sadly.

There's a blog post on the VS site here explaining the reasons, but to summarise: too many costs, not enough sales, lengthy story development, and difficult third party sites. Please read the post, it goes into more detail.

To elaborate on the Graphicly situation (more info here and here): we took a major hit in our very first month when we went with them to get our first issue out there. They cost £150 up front, put the wrong price on (much lower than expected), and launched us on Christmas Eve for some reason. Due to their, er, interesting sales tracking, we couldn't even tell how many we'd sold through them, and they were quite rude any time we emailed, so we stopped using them from issue 2 onwards, moving to our storefront and PDF system, which worked very nicely. We still haven't had any payments from Graphicly, but hey, neither has anybody else! Some of the Graphicly team have moved to Blurb, so you might want to be cautious about using them too, given past experience. If they'd like to respond to any of this, or even pay us what we're owed, we'd love to hear from them.

Getting onto Comixology would have really helped a lot - but they'd have taken 50% of sales, after Apple's 30% cut if it sold through Newsstand. Oh, and there was a 16 week wait for approval. For *each* issue. So that wouldn't have really worked for a monthly.

If you want to read more about how we ran the monthly operation, I wrote a post over at Den of Geek explaining all the ins and outs of it, including our sales tools and how to set up an automatic storefront - if you're selling your own stuff, it might be useful.

But! We put out a year's worth of quality tales, I'm really proud of what we all achieved. We had fantastic reviews & feedback, and an open submissions policy that brought some amazing talents to us. It was some of the most creative, fun work I've done, getting to tell a story with no limitations, helping others tell their own stories, and working with clever, brilliant people. I wouldn't trade that for anything - you should only regret the things you don't try, and I learned a lot from the whole experience.

There'll be a collection of some of the stories later (see the VS website for details), so if you missed out, you'll be able to grab lots of them in one big book. Until then, I'm planning some shorter form comics, and intend to finish Day & Night with Patrick (the artist), Nathan (the colourist) and Mike (the letterer) - the full, 12 episode arc is all written, Patrick has done the art for episode 6, and is working on episode 7 now. That will be printed separately when it's all finished, but now we don't have to hit a monthly target, I can stop shooting bullets at Patrick's feet and he can stop screaming. Although that part was fun, I can't deny it.

If you want to follow the work of all the people involved in VS, go to the website to see all the artists, writers, and editorial team. It'll be like when a band splits up and they all go solo, but more fun. Thank you to everyone who read VS, and thank you to the creators for making it so cool.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

STICCON in Italy

Italian people! I'm attending this year's STICCON (Star Trek Italian Club Convention) from May 22nd to 25th, in Bellaria, Italy. Yes, that's next week. Yes, I should have mentioned it before. Yes, I've been working a lot.

It's partly a Star Trek event, but I'll be there in my general science fiction capacity, having written for other shows that have spacey and alieny stuff in. Other guests include Connor Trinneer, John Billingsley, and Bonita Friedericy, several special effects people from Star Wars, and more. If you're Italian, or live in Italy, or are an alien with the ability to beam down for the weekend, come and say hello!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kermode Uncut

I'm a guest on Mark Kermode's film blog this week, on the subject of whether critics pay enough attention to writers, and if, in the film industry in general, writers are undervalued. As you may imagine, I have *lots* to say on this particular subject...

It was great fun to do, and I'm very happy to have been invited on. The Good Doctor is one of the rare exceptions who will actually mention writers, and has been very nice about my work in the past. Of course, one day I'll write something he hates, and I'll have to fight him to the death on that spiked platform from Flash Gordon. It's our way.

Crazy For You at NYC Downtown Short Film Festival

New Yorkers! And New York-adjacent people! Crazy For You will screen at the NYC Downtown Short Film Festival, on Wednesday June 18th.

Tickets for the evening are available through this link here - they're $15, and you get to see 6 shorts including mine, and can attend a cocktail reception too. Go drink cocktails for me. Oh, and watch the film! Don't forget that part.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Eurovision online party

It's Eurovision time again! And that means Twitter is going to be awash in people live-tweeting the grand final tomorrow, including me. If you want to join in, I'll be online throughout the show, as will Jodie.

For everyone outside Europe, or those who have never heard of it: the Eurovision is an annual song contest in Europe, featuring wacky pop songs, insane outfits, and a massive arena filled with all the lights in the world. It's like a timewarp into the 1970s. It's fantastically awful, and fantastically brilliant. Some of the entries seem to be completely unaware of how far music has come in the past 40 years or so. The fun lies in seeing how terrible some of the songs are, how loud some of the outfits are, and what the latest gimmick will be (Russian grannies, ice skaters, etc). But then there are some genuinely great, fun pop songs and performances too - the sillier the better. Nobody wants to win, because it's massively expensive to produce (the winner gets to host the competition next year) and nobody can afford it. But everyone *desperately* tries to win anyway. The voting is blatantly, hilariously political. The UK always does badly, which always seems to come as a huge surprise to the UK team, as their waves to camera get sadder and sadder as the voting progresses. And soaring over it all like a beautiful bird, is Graham Norton, who provides the informative and gently sarcastic audio commentary throughout (taking over from the mighty Terry Wogan).

If you've never seen it, I can see why you might not be sold on it from my description. But there are few things more fun than watching the show with like-minded people, making jokes, being surprised at the good songs, and getting roaring drunk. You can't watch it sober. It would be dangerous.

If you're watching, and want to join in the Twitter madness, some details:

Eurovision grand final: Saturday May 10th, at 8pm. 

BBC One and BBC One HD.

For those without access to BBC One, the Eurovision website will have a live stream here: - it's at 8pm UK time, so be aware of the timezone difference.

I'm on Twitter as @jamesmoran, Jodie is @jodiekearns. I'll be using the hashtag #eurovision, but if you're following anyway that won't matter.

If you have no interest in seeing a bucketload of Eurovision nonsense in your feed, from me or anyone else, you'd be well advised to mute that hashtag during the show - most Twitter clients can mute hashtags or keywords. I will probably be tweeting about it a lot, so fair warning! There are always some bamboozled non-Europeans who don't know what's going on, and think I've gone mad.

Anyway. If you're watching and joining in, I'll see you online. Bring booze! Seriously. Trust me on this. You'll need it.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Crazy For You at SIFF

Crazy For You, the short film I wrote and directed, starring Arthur Darvill and Hannah Tointon, will screen at the Seattle International Film Festival this month!

It's part of the Suburban Gothic program, on Friday May 23rd, at 9.30pm. Details for Crazy For You are here, and if you want to see it you'll need a ticket for the Suburban Gothic screening here.

I'm very happy about this news, and have been wanting to blab about it since I found out. So if you're in the area, and want to see it on the big screen, please go along!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

LeakyCon 2014

LeakyCon is a very cool convention being held this year in Orlando, Florida. They have a huge list of guests attending, including the amazing Amber Benson (needs no introduction), Holly Black (author of The Spiderwick Chronicles), John Green (author & YouTube wizard), Adam Glass and Robbie Thompson (writers for Supernatural), Bernie Su (of Emma Approved and the Lizzie Bennett Diaries), Nina Toussaint-White (Melody Pond), and a very handsome, talented writer called-- oh, how embarrassing! It's me!

Yes, I'll be attending LeakyCon for the first time, bringing my unique blend of paleness and overexcitement to the lucky attendees. If you want to see someone extremely ill-equipped to deal with heat and humidity, I'm your guy!

Here is the page announcing my arrival - complete with details of what I'll be doing, and a scary photo of me trying to kill people with my mind.

I'll be doing all the usual panels, signings and Q&A things you'd expect, along with some others, as well as a special workshop where I show you my writing process, and how I go from the initial, one-line idea to a finished script - it's interactive, so we'll be trawling through a newspaper for ideas (the easy bit) and building a rough outline through the power of brainstorming and chocolate. It will probably go wrong, and someone might die, but you can't make an omelette without killing a few innocent people. You just can't.

I'll also be hosting a special screening and Q&A session of Crazy For You, my short film starring Arthur Darvill and Hannah Tointon. I'm afraid I won't be able to bring either of them in my suitcase, because they don't like doing that anymore. "I can't breathe in there," they said. "Stop calling me," they said. "Break into my house again and I'll have you arrested," they said. Actors, eh?? So fussy!

Update! Full schedule details at a new blog post here!

LeakyCon takes place from July 30th to August 3rd, 2014, and you can find all the details about tickets, travel and hotels on their website here.

If you're attending, or nearby and thinking about it, then hopefully I'll see you there!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Total Film 50 Most Badass Female Horror Leads

Maggie from Severance is at number 19 in Total Film's list of the 50 Most Badass Female Horror Leads - you can see her position here, but BEWARE, there are major spoilers for Severance if you haven't seen it yet!

The rest of the list also has spoilers, plot details, and mentions if the lead makes it to the end of the movie, so obviously tread carefully.

I'm really glad she made it in, I work hard to have a good mix of characters, male and female, and as my first ever badass female lead in my first ever movie, I think she's a damn cool one. Much kudos to Laura Harris for her fantastic performance.

If you haven't seen it yet - how the hell have you avoided it? It's been on TV about a million times! If you somehow missed every broadcast, well, it's on Netflix, and Amazon Prime, and probably most of the other streaming/subscription based services.

Or you can grab the DVD in the UK for a few quid, and on DVD in the US, or on iTunes. Buy it used/second hand if you like, it's all good - I'd much rather you did that than downloaded it illegally, and it means an unwanted copy gets to go to a loving home. Slasher movies are for life, not just for Christmas.

Update: Severance also featured in Total Film in 2012 as one of the 50 Greatest Indie Horror Films, making it into number 36. You can see that entry by clicking right here.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Borderlands

Movie news! The Borderlands, a movie I did some work on, is available on iTunes in the UK right now, and also on DVD.

It's a new UK found-footage horror movie about a group of Vatican investigators checking out strange events from a newly reopened church. The trailer is here, but it doesn't give much away, the big scares are held back for the movie.

I did a script rewrite on it - uncredited as agreed, though they've told everyone so I'm allowed to mention it, which makes me happy, because I'm really proud to be a small part of it. It's pretty damn scary and came out really well. It'll arrive in the the US, Germany and other places later in the year, hang in there!

If you've seen it, please try to leave a review on the iTunes and/or Amazon page, everything helps - the smaller UK movies have to fight harder to be visible in today's crowded market, and word of mouth is crucial when we don't have bazillions to spend on adverts.

Please check it out if you like this sort of thing. Even the Guardian liked it - normally, anything I'm involved with gets a snooty review from the Guardian, so I'm not quite sure how to take it. Hopefully the Daily Mail will hate it, and restore balance to the universe.

Watch it at night. Turn the lights off, and the volume up. Enjoy!

Update: It's currently 1 in the iTunes Horror chart, and 14 in the overall movie chart!

Further update: We already knew Mark Kermode got a good scare from it (review here), but he's done an updated video going into more detail about how much it got to him here. He even kindly mentions me, as partly responsible. Plus it was his DVD of the week:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dead Roots available now

Hey, you! Yes, you! Do you like zombies? Do you like violence? Do you like blood, mayhem, dark humour, compelling characters, great art, and cake? Well, you're in luck, friend! Because this is a book that has all of those things!

Yes, this of course means that Dead Roots, the zombie comic anthology in which I have a story, is available now in glorious print form! You can get a fancy hardback, or a trade paperback, containing all the stories in one.

My story is in there, and there are stories by people like Gordon Rennie, James Henry, Jason Arnopp, Kimberley Newey, and many more. Mike Garley, my VS Comics partner-in-crime, not only wrote for it but edited the book too, and has done a superb job pulling such a massive project together.

It's a shared-world anthology, which covers the first few hours of a zombie outbreak, from a variety of viewpoints. I've got my copy, and it's a really cool book, with tons of great zombie action and beautiful art. Here's a preview of my story, with amazing art by Rebecca Morse:

Told you there was cake... If you want to read the full story, it's online for free at this link here. Yes, free! Because I am luring you into a trap love you!

The book itself is available to buy here, in both formats, so go and grab a copy right now!

If you'd rather have it electronically, the app is still available here.

I'd be recommending this even if I didn't have a small story in there, it's a lovely piece of work filled with work from incredibly talented people. I'm proud to be part of it, and hope you enjoy it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Borderlands screening on March 28th

The Borderlands is a new UK found-footage horror movie, about a group of Vatican investigators sent to a newly reopened church after strange, seemingly supernatural events are caught on video. Without giving too much away: things get weird. Proper weird.

Here's a trailer (mildly spoilery if you want to stay totally fresh, but it saves the big scares for the film).

There's a proper reason for it being found-footage, based in the storyline, and it manages to feel handheld without shaking the bloody camera all over the place, so you can - shockingly - actually see what's going on. I know! A found-footage movie where they actually point the camera at things!

Why am I going on about it? Partly because I think it's really cool, partly because I did a not-so-secret script rewrite on it (uncredited as agreed, but then they announced it anyway, I'm not giving anything away and I'm proud to be involved as it came out really well). It's a creepy, scary slice of ghost-cake, but then I would say that, as I helped to slice that cake.

I don't know why I got onto the cake thing.

Now I want some cake.

Anyway, it's getting a lot of great buzz from people who've seen it and had their pants *literally* scared right off them. Jamie Graham from Total Film called it "genuinely terrifying", and he's seen me drunk so he knows true terror (that last part may not have been true). If you want to see it and support British horror flicks, please do go and check it out. But how can you see it?! That's a great question, Person Who I Invented Just For The Purposes Of The Following Paragraph!

In today's crowded market, many smaller, indie movies don't get a cinema release - but this will be having a limited screening on March 28th in London, Brighton, Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Norwich. So if you want to catch it on the big screen - and trust me, big screen and big sound add to the experience with this one - you need to reserve a ticket at one of the screenings - it's a special thingy to ensure screenings for happen where there's a demand, so go and grab a ticket now at this website here.

If you can't make it to a cinema screening, it'll be landing on UK DVD on April 7th, or iTunes if you want it electronically, and will haunt the US, Germany and other countries later in the year. Booga-booga-booga!

Note: there will be no cake. Unless you bring your own.



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Doctor Who Adventure Games now on Steam

Back in 2010, I wrote one of the Doctor Who Adventure Games, the third one, called TARDIS. It was released in the UK, and then later outside the UK through Direct2Drive. But! It's now available (Pc-only, sorry) - well, all of them are - through Steam, anywhere in the world.

The games are considered part of season 5, Matt Smith's first season, and count as episodes of the show. My one stars Matt, Karen Gillan, and Sarah Douglas as the Entity. I had a great time working on it, and writing in fun action stuff and silly moments ("don't trip over the sun lounger"). Possibly my favourite part was coming up with names for the TARDIS controls, and deciding how they work.

We had to work on the games (the amazing Phil Ford wrote the other episodes, I came in towards the end to do episode 3, which was going to be episode 4, but timey wimey happened) before season 5 started, before we'd seen Matt and Karen do their thing, so I had to guess at the vocal delivery from Phil's game scripts, which he had based on TV scripts he'd seen. Because most of season 5 was still under wraps while I was trying to figure out a storyline, my first attempt had too much similarity to the "crack in time" season arc, and had to be dropped when it went to the Beeb for approval. Damn! But at least it meant I was on the right track.

Just before the voice recording for my game, the first two episodes of season 5 aired, so I re-watched them about 10 times each to get the dialogue delivery into my head, and rewrote the lines. I even read my script aloud, doing terrible impressions of Matt and Karen's voices. There are things I'd like to change, but I'm happy with how close I got at the time.

NAME DROP MEDIA PONCE ALERT: Matt was lovely enough to pass on a message after the voice recording to tell me how much he enjoyed my script, which I got to thank him for a couple of years later at a Channel 4 party. MEDIA PONCE NAME DROP STORY ENDS.

Anyway, it's a fun game, and you get to fly the TARDIS. The other games have Daleks, Cybermen, and Vashta Nerada. Why are you still reading this?? Here's a trailer:

Go get it now! The worldwide Steam link for the game pack is here.

And the UK free download is still available here, for both PC and Mac, along with an intro video by Karen Gillan, trailers, and an interview with uber-villain Sarah Douglas. There's also a bit of blurb from me and some history at this page here. The other games are still available on the BBC site too.

Don't ask me why the Mac version is UK-only, I have no idea. I also can't help with technical support, there are help pages on Steam and on the BBC site. And I'm *useless* at the mini-games, especially the electric/maze thingy, so you're on your own with those too.

Enjoy! And remember to lock those doors...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Free writing talk with me in Kent

People of Kent! I'm doing a free writing talk/workshop/thingy for Viola Films on April 12th, at the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham. If you want to come along, info and the application form are on this website here. Not many places left, so hurry hurry hurry!

Friday, February 07, 2014

My first music video

Last year, I shot a new short film, which you can watch here for free. On the same day, we shot a music video, for the band Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux. Now it's online!

In the short film post, I mentioned that the short film had an unusual relationship with the music video. Well, if you've already watched the short, when you watch the video you'll see what I mean. I took snippets of the storyline from the short, mixed them with the band's performance, and made a music video out of it. Doesn't matter which one you watch first, but do watch them both to see the differences.

I'm very excited at directing my first ever music video, it's a great song, and you can find more details about it and the EP it comes from here. You can have a listen to the songs at this link here, while reading the excellent writeup they got in the Guardian.

This all came about quite randomly. One of their songs, Mother of Girl, was used in the red band trailer for Cockneys Vs Zombies, I Shazammed it to find out what it was, raved about them online, and their manager Peter got in touch. I'd been wanting to direct a music video for a while, and so here we are.

I'll do a followup post about the shooting of both short and music video, but for now, please direct your eyes and ears to the video itself, at this link here, or by playing the embedded video below. Enjoy! And pass it on.

Update: the EP is available to buy now, from this link here!

Music video credits:

Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux:
Shimon Joseph - vocals, guitar
Greg Gold - guitar
Constantin Groenert - bass
Alex Allen - drums

Starring Daniel Brocklebank

Directed by
James Moran

Camera & Sound
Stuart Dye

Jess Taylor

Production Assistant
Piers Beckley

Thanks to
Jodie Kearns
Jen Handorf

James Moran
Peter Cornish-Barlow

Shot on location at
Enterprise Studios

DCC Ash font:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cockneys Vs Libraries

This is a brag, but I'm proud of it, so I don't care: the Cockneys Vs Zombies script is now in the permanent collection of The Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

If you have access, then you can go to their reading room and, er, read it. Please don't shout out the rude lines, or act out the kills, or try to rally other readers into barricading the library against zombies. I think they'll probably suspend your access for that.

It's my shooting script from April 2011, and it's pretty much exactly what ended up on screen, except for a few trims in the edit, and some random ad-libs. I'm very pleased they requested a copy, and presume that means I'm now completely respectable, or something.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Three Minutes - a short film

In December 2012, I shot a short film called Crazy For You. It took us a while to finish, as it was a big, complex affair, and we premiered at FrightFest in August 2013. It's currently touring festivals.

In December 2013, I shot another short film, called Three Minutes. Determined to do something I could pull off in one day, I wrote a short script about a man trapped in a room. One actor. One room. One prop. Minimal budget and crew. Edited and graded on my laptop at home. And now it's ready to watch.

Oh, we also shot a music video on the same day, in the same room. Thanks to the good people at Enterprise Studios, a hard working cast & crew, and a level of obsessively detailed over-planning that made me feel like a serial killer, we got both shoots done, and finished early. Music video in the morning, location redress, then short film in the afternoon, with time for lunch. The music video will be released soon, for the band Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux (website, Facebook) - I'll update this when that happens, as the short film has an unusual... relationship with the music video. I'll explain later!

Update: the music video is here! Watch the short first, then go watch the music video. That post explains how the two projects are linked.

If people want, I'll do a more detailed post about the whole process, talking through what I've learned, equipment used, etc. For now, enjoy the short, pass it around, embed, etc. Try to watch it in HD, full screen if you can:

Vimeo link is here, YouTube link is here.

Full credits for the short:

Three Minutes

Starring Daniel Brocklebank

Written & Directed by
James Moran

Camera & Sound
Stuart Dye

Jess Taylor

Kevin MacLeod -
"Ghostpocalypse - 1 Departure"
"Movement Proposition"
"Steel and Seething"

Production Assistant
Piers Beckley

Thanks to
Jodie Kearns
Jen Handorf

James Moran
Peter Cornish-Barlow

Shot on location at
Enterprise Studios

DCC Ash font:

Sounds from




Fluorescent lights:

Static buzz/hum:

Door buzzer:



Saturday, January 11, 2014

Breaking in all over again

"It's a weird business, writing. You have to keep reinventing yourself. You never "break in", you just keep moving." --me, on Twitter, a while ago.

This is probably going to serve as an end of year slash start of new year post, given the amount of self reflection, as I don't particularly want to spout on about myself for two long posts in a row. None of you deserve that, not even Hitler. Okay, maybe Hitler. That'd teach him a lesson, eh? Eh?

It's been a very strange few years, lots of ups and downs. Most of it you'll have no idea about, because I don't mention every single career thing. There's been lots of good (Cockneys Vs Zombies, Tower Block, VS Comics, Crazy For You, Girl Number 9, a Highlander audio play, Doctor Who computer game, etc), but also lots of bad (the many, many projects that don't go anywhere, or die after a draft, or fall apart when the financing doesn't materialise).

I've been doing lots of stuff in the background, "in development", a sneaky phrase which means "this might all be brilliant, or it might all just vanish tomorrow". And the bad stuff really chips away at your confidence and overall mood. So much so, I've had two movies come out within months of each other, I'm really happy with them and they did really well, but I *still* feel like I've got a lot to prove.

It's probably because of all the development. Just in the last year, I've been hired to write a brand new TV series (outlines, pitches, 3 drafts of pilot script),  an action movie (several full outlines), and a new animated series (several outlines). You'll never see any of that, because... the projects all died. Happens a lot. You get better at handling it, but it always stings, having to close the door on whole worlds you've fallen in love with. The year before that, another TV thing died that I'd spent two years working on. In a puff of smoke, that was it, just gone, and nobody ever knew it was there.

Development is tricky. You're working, busy writing, getting good feedback, but 99 out of 100 projects just don't get made. Making a new show is a huge risk, and they can't always justify it. Meanwhile, you're doing lots of *stuff*, but none of it appears on screen. People outside the industry think you've gone away, or died, or have just been writing one thing reeeeeally slowly. But you have to do it, if you want to progress your career, if you want to get your own TV show off the ground.

Also in the last year, I wrote two spec scripts, came up with two new TV show ideas (all for sale! call me!), did a rewrite for new UK horror movie The Borderlands, finished my short film Crazy For You, shot two idents for FrightFest, shot a new short film and a music video on the same day, kept working on VS Comics, got signed up for two episodes of an existing series, been co-creating a brand new show, and commissioned to write another new TV show. The last two things (and the specs) might never happen, but then again, they might.

Sustaining a writing career is hard work. You think that once you "break in", then you're in, for better or worse. But you're not. It's a constant struggle to stay employed, to stay relevant, to stay fresh. You have to keep working on new speculative material so that you're not using a 7 year old script as a writing sample. You have to show that you have the staying power, focus and drive to be worth hiring.

Basically, you have to break in all over again, every single time you write something new.

Whether that's a script, an outline, or a pitch for a job, it's a never-ending battle to prove yourself. Even then, if you hit on something you're good at, do you just keep doing that over and over again? After Severance, all people wanted from me was more horror comedy. After Torchwood and Doctor Who, all they wanted was science fiction. You have to mix it up a bit. In theory, you'll keep getting work because you're good at a particular thing. But in the real world, once you've done the same sort of thing three of four times, people start wondering if you can do anything else. We've seen that from him, they'll say. What else has he got? Can he do anything else? Is he just going to keep churning out the same thing?

You feel it yourself, too. You start a new script, and realise it's just the same structure and type of story as the last one, so you try to change it, or just abandon it. Or, worse, you finish it and hope you can make it work. You start getting irritated by your own voice, the tricks and habits you've started to see repeating themselves in your work. You decide to do something different, then you worry that maybe you *can't* do anything different, maybe you've reached the limit of your abilities. The loss of confidence makes you mess it up, and that just proves you can't do it, so you rush back to the safety of your comfort zone.

Second guessing an audience is hard enough. Second guessing *yourself* can drive you crazy.

You have a couple of bad experiences, in a row, and you have no idea if it was your fault, or if the people involved didn't know what they wanted, or if the project was flawed and nobody realised, or if it was just bad luck, bad timing, bad karma. Obviously, because you're a writer, you're convinced it's entirely your fault. We all live in fear of being exposed as frauds - maybe this time it's happened, maybe you've finally been found out. Later, you find out it wasn't your fault on one thing, but was on the other. What do you learn from that? What *can* you learn from that? Does it mean you're no good and got lucky, or were having an off day, or that sometimes things just go wrong?

You pitch for a writing job, a huge job, one that would jump you up to the next level of the industry. You don't get the job. Was it because you weren't good enough, or because they heard about one of the things that went wrong, or because they think you can't do that sort of thing? Or, more likely, because they just preferred someone else's "take" on it? You can't help but think that it's the end of your career, any time anything like this happens - it's finally happened, and you're finished. Until the next thing, of course. And there are a LOT of things that you don't get. Every time you hear about someone else getting a job, you think everyone else is doing better than you, you're being left behind.

One day, you start writing something, and forget how to write in your own style, your voice. You're trying to break away from the things you've been relying on, suddenly hyper-aware that everything sounds the same, sounds too *you*. You agonise over anything that might be too similar to that old style. But then you need a line in that style, so you put it in, and worry that you're falling back into old habits. Is that bad? Good? You have no idea. You've lost your voice, and can't figure out how to get it back. You write something totally out of your comfort zone, just to force yourself to do it. Gradually, you figure out how to do that one project, then the next one, then each one in turn. You still think every job is a fluke, that they're just waiting to discover you can't write, you never could.

You keep trying to figure out where your career should go next. Every six months or so, you analyse your life and decide what the next set of goals are, and how to go about achieving them. Then you'll have to go and work on that, too. It's like a non stop job interview, a constant tightrope of worry, anxiety. You'll wake up with your stomach churning, worried about where the next job is coming from, if you'll be able to pay the bills next year if nothing comes in this year, if you can still write, if you have any good ideas left, if people think you're yesterday's news. Every time there's a chance something might go well, your writer brain immediately thinks of a hundred ways it could go wrong. You worry constantly. Writers are insecure, so you can't help it. And because any project genuinely *can* fall apart at any moment, you can never relax. All the while, you're pitching for jobs, having meetings, networking, staying outwardly positive, trying to get your face out there and stay on people's minds.

When you don't get several jobs in a row, it affects your mood, makes you grumpy, irritable, doom-laden, difficult to be around sometimes. You blame yourself for every single, tiny little thing, you get *furious* at yourself for being such an idiot. You are always your own harshest critic. You work 7 days a week, because you worry that you're not writing enough material. The stress makes you lie awake at night thinking about even more ways that things could go wrong. You get fatalistic about everything, bitter. It's easy to be bitter, much easier to believe that everyone else is corrupt or stupid, rather than just accept that you had some bad luck and made some mistakes. If you've very, VERY lucky, you have an amazing partner who keeps you on track and stops you getting too maudlin, who sits you down and talks you through the difficult stuff and how to face it together, rather than bottling it up silently where it can fester.

You do another career evaluation, finish everything you're working on, and for once, decide to write something because you want to do it, not because other people want that from you, or because "it's a good time for this sort of thing", or because it might sell more easily. It goes well, and you feel like you've started again from scratch. And in a way, you have, because you're relaunching yourself with a brand new project. It's exciting and scary at the same time.

You have a couple of good experiences in a row, people seem to like your work, but your writer brain won't let you relax, it just thinks it's the calm before the storm - surely something is bound to go wrong sooner or later. You get a new, very cool job, but still you're worried that they'll kick you off, hate your work, and end the project just as you've fallen in love with it. You have another good experience, and things look positive for the future.

But even then, you can't help but worry. You never allow yourself to relax and think everything's going to be okay. Because you never really "break in". If only it were that easy. You always, *always* feel like you're still on the outside, looking in, as if everyone except you has got it figured out.

Thankfully, at the moment I'm in one of the good stages. I've had several great experiences in a row, working with some really lovely, clever people, and am proud of the work I'm doing. I'm being careful not to take on too much work so that I can focus on what I'm doing now. The short is touring festivals, the new short is almost ready, my spec scripts are done and will soon be unleashed. And I'm hugely grateful to be doing what I love. Don't get me wrong, this isn't me complaining - I'm incredibly happy and lucky to be in the industry! I'm well aware of that. There are always ups and downs, in everything. But I think it's important to share the bad as well as the good, to keep it all in perspective.

I'm also in that career evaluation stage at the moment, working on the next phase, figuring out where I need to be. I have some solid plans and goals, and have been working very hard to achieve them.  So that I can "break in", all over again, just like with every new piece of work. The worry is still there, it always will be. Writers are just wired that way. But hopefully the positives can temporarily drown them out.

So that was 2013 (and 2012, 2011...) Normally I do an end of year blog post, but every time, the lessons are the same: enjoy the good stuff, learn from the bad stuff, work hard, and be nice. And always have a spare printer cartridge.

Here's to 2014, trying not to worry so much, and making things happen.

I'm serious about the spare printer cartridge.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Crazy For You poster and LSFF screening

Just in time for the upcoming screening of my short film Crazy For You at the London Short Film Festival, the brand, spanking new poster has arrived, at this link here! All the festival laurels so far are on there, and I think it looks very snazzy.

If you didn't know about the screening, it's on January 10th, at 9pm, in the ICA in London, as part of the "Funny Shit" strand - I can guarantee it will be at least one of those things. Come along and watch it, and loads of other shorts too. I'll be there, pacing nervously and hoping people like it. If you want to see it, here are all the details you need:

9pm, January 10th, 2014.

At the ICA in London, which is here.

Tickets are available here, and cost £10 (or £8 concessions).

If you're UK-based, and missed the FrightFest and Grimmfest screenings, this is currently your best opportunity to see the short on the big screen. The Funny Shit strand is a 97 minute collection of shorts, which *starts* at 9pm, and I don't know what time mine will be on, so if you book, you'll need to attend the full event. But why wouldn't you? There'll be loads of great shorts there, mine will just be a surprise in there somewhere. Hopefully I'll see you there. Enjoy!