Monday, May 29, 2006

Paul Gleason

Moment of blogosphere silence please, for the late, great Paul Gleason, a superb character actor.

Deputy Chief Dwayne T. Robinson: "They're gonna need some more FBI guys, I guess."

Richard Vernon: "Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns."

And my favourite of his roles, Clarence Beeks: "I'll rip out your eyes and piss on your brain." And: "Don't try anything funny, or the whore loses a kidney." And of course, the simple, but beautifully delivered line, when a woman is hassling him to get off a payphone: "(to phone) Hold on - (to woman outside) Fuck off." That creases me up every time, he plays it so deadpan.

Why not watch one of those movies this week. You won't regret it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Live update from our own correspondent

34 pages. Go me.

The first 15 pages I did slowly, carefully, and went back over them a few times. After that, I decided to just blast through it and get it all down, no going back, intense bursts of writing, because Acts 2 and 3 have lots and lots of fast action. Act 1 finished in 15 pages?? Yeah. That's right. I'm not messing around here. This thing moves like a shark. A greased shark, on wheels, in a ball bearing factory. I've just finished a huge action sequence that had my heart pounding the whole time I was writing it, I loved it. Got to a quiet part then, and that's where I've stopped for today, because I'm exhausted.

The incredibly detailed outline (or "treatment", if you like) means that at no point do I have to stop and wonder what happens next. It's all there, and also all in my head, so I hardly ever need to refer to the outline. I've moved a couple of things around, because they seemed to go with the flow better that way, but it's all coming out more or less as I hoped, with a few interesting surprises. One character is much, much chattier than I expected, and great fun.

In other, non Curfew news, we both went to the gym for the first time, bright and early, with all our sports gear, ready for action - only to be told that we couldn't use the machines till we'd had our induction. First available date is next week. So we filled out the forms, paid, then went next door to the cinema and sat in a dark room for 2 hours eating sweets. Nice.

X-Men 3 is a big mess. Lots of little cool moments, a hugely muddled story - it's about this! no, it's about that! no, it's about that guy! who? doesn't matter, he's gone! here's some other guy! - too many silly jokes, too many characters, and too many inconsistencies. Very good effects though, surprisingly, considered how rushed the whole thing was. To slag it off in detail would involve spoilers, and I can't be arsed anyway. Watch the 2nd movie again immediately after seeing 3, to wash the taste away - nothing in X3 even comes close to the first scenes in X2 with Nightcrawler in the White House. In fact, the trailer for Superman Returns was several million times more exciting and entertaining than the full movie of X-Men 3. Redeeming moments from X3: the opening sequence; the effects; a few of the fight bits; Famke Janssen in her underwear. Most stupid thing, although not the movie's fault: they played that same stupid "some people won't watch X-Men 3 at the cinema, they'll watch a crappy pirated copy etc etc" advert before it started. This is when we are actually in the cinema about to watch the very same movie, you don't need to show the ad this time, unless some people are fighting the urge right now, literally seconds from the start of the movie that they have already paid for, to run outside and watch it on their mobile phone instead. Oh, and for the love of God and little baby Jesus, please stop showing those fucking Orange Wednesday adverts before I go insane, I know the Sean Astin one backwards now, I could recite it for you word. for. word.

Some stills have surfaced from Severance, found by some crafty online types, like this suspicious character. They're great photos, some will be going on my desktop immediately. Can't wait to see the rest of them.

Google Calendar is very, very cool. I'm using it at the moment for my current batch of meetings, and it's handy because I can put in addresses and map links so I don't forget where I'm going. I may have mentioned it here before, my memory only goes back a few hours, I'm like Rain Man or Dana Carvey in that movie where his memory is wiped clean every time he wakes up in the morning. So, not like Rain Man at all, really, although I sometimes do an impression of Dustin Hoffman arranging salt and pepper on the table, and screeching about the burning baby. Definitely bad, definitely very bad. Er, yeah, Google Calendar, or gCal as I'm calling it - create a new entry by typing in something like "meet billy spipp at 4 on thurs" and it puts the meeting in at the right place and time. It knows. Somehow it knows. This is very scary, but very cool. I don't care that Google seem to be taking over the world, because their stuff works. The only problem I have with Microsoft's monopoly on everything is that their software sucks ass. If it was brilliant, I wouldn't give two shites. Although I still would have laughed when Bill Gates got pied.

Friday, May 19, 2006

How to organise a wedding in a month

So we were going to just hit a registry office, do the deed, sign the paper, then let everyone know. We picked a date a month down the line, booked it, and phoned our families to let them know. Naturally, they all wanted to come and be there with us, so we thought we'd better organise something for them. But keeping to the date we'd already booked. So we had 4 weeks to plan it all.

  • Week 1: Do nothing. It's ages from now, all a bit scary, so just ignore it and see if it all goes away.

  • Week 2: It's not going away. Start looking on the internet for hotels, dinner things, and stuff - all you want to do is have a set meal in the fancy hotel, with some booze laid on. Simple. Look on the net for a few hours, then leave it for a while.

  • Week 3: The registry office needs you to sort out your forms 15 days before the wedding day. So do this now, 17 days before the day. Plenty of time. Get some nice clothes to wear on the day. Check internet again, look at the same hotels and dinner things. Start thinking about phoning one of them.

  • Week 4: Phone hotel, sort out food, book hotel room. 2 days before the wedding, finalise the menu, pick up the forms for the registry office, pay for the ceremony. The day before the wedding, pack your bags, arrange the car to transport people (one of my only 4 jobs, 3 of which I forgot to do), and check into the hotel. The day of the wedding, run out to the shops for a few last minute items. Get married, eat lots, get drunk.
It's easy when you don't really know what you're doing. I have no funny stories of the day itself, because it all went perfectly smoothly, so pretend that someone's trousers fell down, the rings got lost, and a bull rampaged through the ceremony with an elderly man sprawled on top of it.

So, er, I'm now married, as of two days ago, and a bit bewildered, tired, spaced out, and deliriously happy all at the same time. Married to Jo, obviously, not some random stranger.

Friday, May 12, 2006

It has begun.

Oh yes. It has begun indeed.

The past few evenings, I've been glued to my iBook, headphones on, various carefully selected music playlists blasting into my ears, fingers gliding across the keyboard, completely immersed in the world of Curfew. The script. The proper, actual script. I'm 15 pages in.

We had the big Curfew meeting on Tuesday. It was all very easygoing, we chatted about the outstanding issues, the solutions for them, and that was that. Go ahead and start the script, they said. I've been dying to get started for ages, it's all in my head, fully formed, just bursting to get out, like an evil, half-formed twin inside my skull, bonded to my brain and controlling my actions - but in a good way. I'll try and post updates of how it's going, but I might be a bit wrapped up with it, so who knows. Because of the nature of the storyline (a fast-paced, intense horror thriller), I'm trying to write as fast as I can, to keep the energy flowing. So far, so good. I'm having a fucking brilliant time with it.

Severance is still on course for the 25th August, if I hear any different, I'll let you know. They're working on the trailer and poster at the moment, can't wait to see what the results are. Got a shitload of meetings coming up, thanks to the impending buzz, people want to get in on the act. Doesn't mean anything will come of it, but at least they're reaching out and saying hey, we're interested, show us what you've got. So I need to get my shit together and get at least three things ready to pitch. I've done the meet and greets with most of them already, this is stage 2. It's all very exciting, and a bit scary at the same time - I mean, just because I've got my foot in a few doors (multi-footed, me), it doesn't mean they'll buy any old shite from me. One day, I hope to rise to the level where everyone *will* buy any old shite from me - you've got to have goals, right?

Strange: it's exactly a year since I had all the Curfew meetings, many of which were with the same people. It's the "Don't Look Now" effect, all over again.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Crass commercial entertainment

Some movie items that make me, and probably lots of other movie geeks out there, very happy:

The original Star Wars trilogy to be released on DVD - untouched, un-special-editioned, un-fucked with. No extra CGI shite, no Gungans dancing and singing "weesa free!", and yes - Han shoots first, just like he always did, which is the way it should be. Only available for 3 months, from September, so that everyone will desperately buy it immediately and fill the already-overflowing coffers of Lucasfilm. I already have DVD versions of the laserdisc originals, I refused to buy the "special" editions, but I'll probably get this version. Well done George, and yes, you really should have done this ages ago, like before the "special" editions came out on DVD.

The new Superman Returns trailer. When I watched it, I got goosebumps, and was instantly transformed into a little kid again. Proper movie magic. I really really really hope it's as good as it looks.

Casino Royale teaser trailer (direct link to Quicktime file, right click and save as). Very excited to see this, it's time they stopped the silliness in the Bond series and brought it back to basics. I think Craig is a fantastic choice, and will bring some much needed gravitas to the whole thing. While also blowing shit up, punching people, and having sex with lots of foreign women. He's the Captain Kirk of the spy world, really.

I realise these are three franchises that normally rely on special effects and explosions rather than scripts, and that as a screenwriting blogger I should shy away from such crassness, but hey, the best examples of all three were great because they were well written, and anyway I don't care, I love Superman and Bond and Han Solo so you can just go and get your own blog, matey.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Severance cast and crew screening

It was great. It was in the Prince Charles Cinema, pretty much a full house, and went over really well. I was quite shocked to hear how loud the laughter and gasping was, it was my first time seeing it with such a huge audience - but it won't be my last. I'm hooked on it now, can't get enough of that sweet, sweet audience reaction crack. Nearly everyone was there, including Tim, Claudie and Andy. Derren Brown turned up, but I kept well away from him, in case he put me to sleep to make me do terrible things. Ed Harcourt was there, who I'd never met before - he does the cover of "We'll meet again" over the end credits, has a fantastic voice, and is a really cool guy. I was chatting to him for ages in the bar, the man really knows his movies.

After the screening, we all went to 6 Degrees on Frith Street, which I realised later was the restaurant in The Getaway that you have to smash up - I've been shot to death just by this door many times, but last night I was standing there drinking instead. It was so much fun, I chatted to loads of people, including Ed and his wife, their friends, my agent Jago and his wife Tiffany, Andy, Claudie, Tim, Chris and Jason, Kas and Matt (sorry for getting lured away and abandoning you, I was quite drunk by that stage), and many others whose names I never caught. I got very drunk on the free booze, but managed to not make a total arse of myself. However, I did fall madly in love with Ed, Andy, and Claudie, and I think I may have told them this. Hopefully they won't remember, otherwise I'll have to hunt them down and murder them. Normally I find these media party things a bit difficult, and don't know what to do with myself, but this one was great. I am extremely hungover now though, and have a 3 hour meeting this afternoon, so it's time for the coffee and pro-plus, I think.

It looks like the release date will be the 25th of August, which is a good place to be apparently. I'll update this if I hear anything more definite, but as far as I know, that's the day. I'm so excited about it, I kind of forget that all this is going on, because my job in it ended ages ago, and then when I go to these screenings I think "holy shit, is this really happening, is this really my film?" It's quite surreal, but a massive buzz at the same time. I'm incredibly proud of it, and of what we all achieved together.

But now I need some more painkillers, so go and read something else while I recover.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Pants on, pants off

As a hip and trendy writer about town, I like to keep up with the latest fashions. Okay, that's not entirely true. If I have clothes that I like, I'll wear the fuckers until they are just bare wisps of thread. One of the many perks of this job is that when you're writing at home, you can be a total slob. Jeans that are too big for you, that dirty t-shirt that should have gone in the wash a long time ago, no shoes or socks, unshaven - and you should see me when I'm at home. But occasionally we have to go out into the big, scary world, and meet people. Important people. People who want to pay you money to make shit up. So what do you wear? This is something I've had trouble with, and in all of the screenwriting guides and sites and books there is no definitive answer. It should be really simple, but there are all sorts of factors to consider.

When I first started meeting people - producers, film company folk, whatever - I would wear my best, smartest, newest clothes. I thought, they're thinking of paying me money to make shit up, so I should look like an intelligent, well off, professional person. After a few of them, I thought that maybe I shouldn't be acting like it was a job interview. That implies that I might not get the job, because I'm all dressed up and trying to impress them. Do I really expect them to believe that I dress like this all the time? I'm an absent minded writing type, for Christ's sake. So I started going more casual, closer to my usual daily getup.

When I read Mr Friedman's piece on this, I thought about it again. He says that sweatpants and the just-rolled-out-of-bed look are definitely the way to go. His reasoning is that it shows you are powerful - I'm such a great writer, I can turn up looking like shit, cause I'm creative and stuff, so pay me to make shit up. This is a valid argument. So I went even further in that direction, wearing the stuff I'd wear to pick up milk from Budgens if I thought nobody would see me - ultra casual, flirting with scruffy. Hey, I'm the creative one, they want me for my writing, not my clothes. I did that for a while, until Jo informed me that I may have gone *slightly* too far in that direction, and that I might need to pull it back just a tad. I haven't asked her yet, but I think that was her polite way of saying "you look like shite". Her reasoning was that sure, you need to express yourself and not dress up too much, but you probably need to not look like a tramp.

So my usual gear consists of: a pair of jeans or cargo/combat/whatever trousers, a t-shirt or casual shirt, and a reasonably respectable jacket or a zip-up jumper or fleece. Pretty much the same stuff I wear to pick up milk from Budgens, but that wouldn't embarrass me if I bumped into a friend. I'll usually shave up to 3 days beforehand, too - I don't need to be clean shaven, but after 3 days I tend to look like I've got dirt all over my chin, and not in a cool way. I mean, I'm not going to wear something I don't feel comfortable in, just to make an impression, but it's better if I don't look like my usual house slob self. So if you've landed your first meeting with a producer, someone in a film company or whatever, there's no need to dress up - but there's no harm in looking a bit presentable. But casual. Always casual. Now pay me to make shit up.

What do you folks out there wear to meetings and things? Obviously it depends on whether the meeting is in their office or a pub/coffee shop, but do you obsess over it as much as I do? I'm going to the Severance cast and crew screening tomorrow, and I have no idea what I should wear, don't even know if they're all dressing up or not. I'll probably turn up in a tutu and a binbag, to cover all the bases.