Friday, April 28, 2006

Developments, and block-blockage

The Curfew response is good. Very good. They still have a couple of issues, so we'll have to go in for a meeting, just to reassure them that there are solutions that will all be addressed in the script itself. But it's looking good. Severance is still undecided on a release date, there are tentative ideas, but nothing definite. Saw some more poster ideas, which were very cool, and also took home a couple of props from the filming. I am now the proud owner of a fucking HUGE machete, and a small, sharp hatchet. If the police had stopped me on the way home, I'd have had a lot of explaining to do.

Other projects: One mystery project with some people I've worked with before, is now coming together - we're all working on the outline, and hope to have something to show soon. No news on the informal pitch thing I had the other week, but I've sent in my proposal now so I'll just have to wait and see. I have two other things that are just at the semi-outline stage, just rough one-pagers, but nobody has seen those yet, I'm still fine tuning.

I started writing a post about getting past some common writer's block situations, but I'm... heh... stuck on it. Mainly because I'm trying desperately not to give writing advice on here, as I feel like I'm still learning. I mean, we're all still learning, from each other, but I just think that if I'm going to give out advice, it had better be pretty fucking good. I originally started this blog to let people know what my experiences are in the writing business. So I'm not going to give any advice, unless I know for definite it's correct, like the address of the IMDB or something. But as things occur to me, I'll be talking about my own writing, some of the tricks and techniques I use to solve any problems I come across. I'll say how I do it, but I'm definitely not saying "this is how it's done". It's different for everyone, and I'm certainly no expert. So if any of it gives you an idea or helps you out, that's cool. If you think it's a totally ridiculous way of working, that's cool too - it works for me, that's all I'm saying. I wouldn't post this sort of stuff at all, but I think we all have a responsibility to share our experiences, and if any of it helps someone even in a tiny way, then it'll be worth it. Of course, I may not even do any of it, I'm still uncomfortable with the whole idea, as I'm a great big insecure ponce. Anyway, if you're looking for solid writing advice and expert info, then you should definitely check out the blogs of the inscrutable Master Stack and Master Rogers, young Grasshopper. When you can snatch the pebble from either of their hands, then it will be time for you to leave.

Just remember - there is no right or wrong way. There's just the way that works for you, and the way that doesn't. Oh, and the way that gets you arrested, but I won't be covering that sort of thing here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Meetings in the Twilight Zone

Two meetings yesterday. The first was an informal pitch thing, for a potential movie franchise, which I'm very excited about. I can't say anything though, or they will kill me dead, seriously. As I walked into their offices, wild dogs were hauling out the battered corpse of the last blabbermouth writer. So I'm keeping my trap shut.

Second meeting was with some cool people I've met before. I arrived at the building I've been to loads of times, and the front door was wide open. I strolled in, without buzzing, thinking I'd just burst in and surprise them. I went up the stairs, threw open the door-- and the words died in my throat.

The office was completely empty.

Bare floorboards, dust, no light fittings, and a solitary stepladder in the middle of the floor. Shit, I thought. Maybe they're in the room upstairs. I ran up to the next floor, and walked into the room - same deal. Totally empty. I ran up to every floor, each one abandoned and cleaned out, there weren't even any builders. It was incredibly creepy. I went back to the original office, and stood there, confused. Was I the victim of a really complex scam? A complex, ultimately pointless scam, given that they didn't owe me any money or anything?

So I phoned the office number - *and they answered*. It was the same guy I'd spoken to before, answering the phone as if nothing was out of the ordinary. On the line, I could hear the others chatting, and busy office noises in the background. But they weren't here! I was standing right where his desk should be! Was I out of phase with the real world? Were they actually here, but in a different time zone, in a parallel dimension, at right angles to reality?

No. They'd just moved, and forgotten to tell me. Luckily, they were just around the corner, so no harm was done. But for a few minutes there, it felt like I was in my own personal Twilight Zone episode. Which was kind of cool, really.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tagged by coincidence

I've been tagged by my mate Phil. It's odd that he tagged me with this particular questionnaire in this week, because... well, see for yourself.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

10 years ago this very week (at time of writing, 5th April), I moved to London from Dublin. I'd just been sacked from a shitty job, been living on about a fiver a week (pasta and powdered packet sauces), got horribly ill for 2 weeks (didn't eat for a week, threw up every day), and weighed about an ounce. My sister got me a job over here, so I moved over, as there was nothing doing in Dublin at the time. It's weird, I was thinking about this recently, but didn't realise the significance of the date. At the time, I was really upset to leave Dublin, but if I hadn't, I would never have seen the Sci-Fi Channel competition, and might never have got my writing career off the ground. So although I didn't realise at the time, it was pretty important to come over here. Funny how things work out, the random chances that make you who you are today. Also, the week before I moved, I saw Don't Look Now for the first time, and it scared the shit out of me. Coincidentally, this week in the present, it turned up in our Lovefilm rental queue, and I watched it with Jo. Even more coincidentally, two days later it was given away free with the Observer. Weird, eh?

What were you doing 5 years ago?

April 2001, I'd been in my dayjob for just over a year, and wasn't really doing anything much. Still in the same flat, still in the same dayjob - but had almost given up on writing altogether, thinking that nothing would come of it. At the end of that year, I had entered the Sci-Fi Channel competition, but assumed I wouldn't win. Little did I know...

What were you doing 1 year ago?

April last year, let's check my irregularly updated blog: I finished the first Curfew outline, and it was sent out to various people. At the end of April, many of the responses were in, but the deal hadn't happened yet. Now, exactly a year later, the final version of the outline has been sent into the suits... Severance got the official greenlight, and ramped into full production - I saw a test poster, animatics, storyboards, location photos, and so on. I started working on some DVD extras, the casting was in full swing, the Severance office got a dedicated phone number, and Claudie Blakley was cast as Jill. Somebody else was cast, apparently "a 4th character", but I can't remember who it was, as I had to be secretive at the time, and didn't make a note of it.

5 snacks you enjoy:

--Crisps - they will be my downfall, and Taytos are the best
--Bacon sarnies - white bread, brown sauce, bacon not too well done
--Kit Kats - the ones in the foil, so you can run your finger down to tear it
--Cereal bars - at least they're healthy, even if they do look like a freeze-dried poo
--Toast and marmite

5 songs (you think) you know by heart:

--Give It Away, Red Hot Chili Peppers - convinced I know every word, but I don't at all
--Rawhide, Blues Brothers version - I do actually know all the words to this
--Everybody Needs Somebody, Blues Brothers version - this one too
--Never Let Me Down Again, Depeche Mode - because there aren't that many words in it
--Back In Black, AC DC - again, convinced I know it, but struggle through the first three words sometimes

5 things you would do with a LOT of money:

--Sort my family and friends out so they'd never want for anything
--Buy a massive house with an indoor pool, a games room, your basic rap star crib
--Travel around the world with Jo, hand luggage only, buying things as we need them
--Buy my local multiplex, have it moved brick by brick to be next door to my house, keep it staffed and run exactly the same, but only let me and my mates in, nobody else, and install a Faraday cage that (a) blocks mobile phone signals, and (b) electrocutes anyone trying to use a mobile phone
--Have several people killed and put on display as a warning to others

5 things you would never wear:

--Shorts. It's just not going to happen.
--Sandals. It's just not going to happen.
--Those weird thongy underpant things.
--Anything itchy.
--Suits, shirts and ties - had to wear a suit for years at a previous job, I hated it. I have thrown away all my ties, and will never wear one again.

5 things you should never have worn:

--Long hair. When it was long, it was far too thin, frizzy, wavy, and skanky. I looked like an explosion in a yeti factory.
--White socks with grey canvas trousers, the style at the time when I was in boarding school.
--Overly baggy black clothing. I thought it would make me look bigger, as I was too skinny, but it just made me look even skinnier. And weird.
--The horrible plasticky glasses I wore during boarding school, picked by my mother "so they won't break". Finally ditched them when I was 17, got myself a decent new pair and smashed the shit out of the plasticky ones.
--Great big pointy boots with cuban heels and loads of metal studs and skulls, when going through the metal detector in a US airport, or at any time, really.

5 things you enjoy doing:

--Sitting in Starbucks, perpetuating the corporate blahblah, getting jittery on their hypercaffeinated coffees, scoffing a muffin, and chatting with Jo
--Wandering around a city I've never been to, just discovering interesting places
--Playing Resident Evil, Driver, Burnout, Silent Hill, GTA, Half Life 2, and Worms World Party until my hands cramp up and my eyes bleed

5 bad habits you have:

--Procrastination. I waste more energy actively avoiding things, than I would waste just doing the things themselves.
--Swearing very loudly in the street if someone barges past me, or if the trains are delayed, instantly making myself that mad shouty bloke who everyone ignores.
--Holding grudges. There's a fucker from my class at primary school, back when I was about 5, who is STILL on my shitlist.
--Going too far, with bad taste. I'll be messing around with my mates, our jokes getting sicker and sicker, then I'll just push it over the edge, the smiles vanish, and everyone looks at me like I'm a nunrapist or something. See? I could have said pork chop at a bar mitzvah, but no, I went straight for the nunrapist thing. Can't help myself.
--Vanity surfing. I'm always on the lookout for Severance news, I have no shame whatsoever because I know you all look yourselves up too.

I'm supposed to tag 5 other people, but I can only think of 2 or 3, and I'm planning on creating my own special secret tagging thing soon, so I won't tag them with this one. When the time is right, I will strike, like a ninja.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Severance: had a small screening last week to see how it plays with the new volume setting. It had been too quiet before, suffice to say that that is no longer a problem. Cinemas will be supplying cotton wool to dab away the blood seeping out of your ears. A particular scene is ten times more painful with the volume whacked up, it's great.

Curfew: the finished version of the outline was handed in last Thursday 6th. The big important people backing the thing financially will now read it, and decide whether I should go to script or not. I've worked really, really hard on this thing, and I'm very proud of what I've achieved.

Apparently, I have a cousin, also called James, who is also trying to break into screenwriting - he's James Donohue, who recently won the BBC's Last Laugh competition, by completing a sitcom script. It'll be made into a pilot, and shown sometime this year. So well done OtherJames, wherever you are. Obviously though, now we might both be competing for the same jobs, so I must destroy you.

I've got one or two other things on the go, nothing definite yet, so I won't go into details - two new ideas, and one potential job that could be very interesting.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fetch me my Chicken Axe!

Sorry for the general shortage of updates in March, there has been much madness, a crisis or two, and I was feeling a bit down for various reasons. I was going to do a big, solemn post about it all, but luckily Jo pointed out that I was being a miserable fucker, and told me to stop - so you can thank her for saving you from that one. I'm fine now, things have calmed down, and I'm feeling positive again, after a bit of a dodgy patch. I know I've got a post about screen credit to finish, and a follow up post to the writer's block post, and something else I've forgotten too. I will pick one at random and do it soon. There's also some more news coming, but more on that later. Oh, and Phil has tagged me too, the heinous swine, so I'll probably do that first, because some of my answers are quite appropriate for this week in particular.

For a couple of years, I've had a silly website called monkeyshatner, where I would test my ninja web skills - which usually resulted in me begging Jo to fix the mess I made. It was also so I could upload silly homemade Photoshop jokes, and anything else I fancied. I haven't used it for a year, and what with Flickr and YouTube and Google Video and all that, it's pretty redundant. So I've archived the pages, and closed it down. Instead, I'm having a go with the new Google Page Creator thingy. It's very cool, you can edit the page from your browser, stick things on it, drag things around, and all sorts. Signups are limited, but I got an invite through my Gmail account, so if you have one of those, check it out. Have a look at Eyespot too, it's an online thing where you can upload video and edit it. Haven't had a go yet, but will soon.

I'll miss the old site, but will be transferring a few of my favourite pages over to the new one, so all is not lost. Besides, most of my hits came from people looking for weird insects and the Cheeky Girls, so it's not like I was providing a valuable service or anything. Here are the most popular search hits from March 2006:

67 - weird insects
8 - cheeky girls
8 - film certificate
3 - cheeky
3 - cheeky g-
3 - cheeky%20girls
2 - bbfc rate
2 - bbfc%20certificate
2 - biggest cat in the world
2 - cheeky-
2 - hedgehog porn
2 - monkey
2 - schindlers list
2 - the cheeky girls
1 - bbfc film certificate
1 - biggest cat in world
1 - ch-
1 - che-
1 - cheeky gir-
1 - cheeky girl-

I had a page about weird insects spotted from my window, which is why people found me with that first one. To explain the other hits: I edited a video clip of the Cheeky Girls and put comedy sound effects on it, because they hit their heads together in one of their videos, and *didn't even notice*. "BBFC certificate" and the like are because of my scanned BBFC cert for Cheap Rate Gravity. "Schindlers list" is a gag poster I made for a sequel to Schindler's List, starring Arnie, fighting a robot Terminator Hitler. In colour, with a happy ending, where Arnie kicks RoboHitler's arse. "Biggest cat in the world" is my tribute page to my sister's cat Buddy, who truly was the biggest cat ever. And "hedgehog porn" is a joke Flash animation I made - the scary thing is that I regularly seem to get people genuinely searching for actual hedgehog porn. Hmmm.

"Weird insects" is always top of the search hits, every time. A close second is "biggest cat in the world", "meanest cat in the world", or "biggest meanest cat". And then you get down to the occasional searches, which are always interesting. February brought 2 people looking for "arse fuck". January brought 2 people looking for "monkey fuck". And that same month, someone else came looking for a "chicken axe". I don't know what that is, but I want one.