Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quick stopgap

Will post about the filming soon, got most of it typed up, just trying to second guess it all and make sure I don't give anything away to you eagle-eyed rascals. Short version: all going incredibly well, everyone is lovely, I got touched by Actors again.

So this is a quick post to say hello, I'm still alive, just exhausted. Slept most of the day on Sunday, got completely run down and trashed. Been having meetings, writing, travelling around, writing, writing, and more writing. Trouble with loving what you do is, it doesn't feel like work, so you don't feel the need for breaks or rest, until you fall apart. I know, I know, poor old me, what a tragedy, please help if you can, just two pounds a month, James is a quiet writer, he knows that nobody comes whether he cries or not, etc etc.

New issue of Doctor Who Magazine (issue 384, with either Derek Jacobi or John Simm on the front, depending on your preference) mentions my name again, in the Torchwood update on page 4. I think I was on page 5 last month, hopefully one day I will be promoted to either the front, or a bigger feature further in. No more of this page 4 or 5 nonsense for me, oh no, I have PLANS, baby.

I have read this Guardian article twice now, and still can't get my head round it. It's clearly supposed to be saying "ooh, isn't science fiction on telly brilliant", but both times left me feeling annoyed. The whole thing just has that familiar, snobby, faintly amused tone that makes me want to insert forks into people's eyes. Once again, they try to figure out why there's been a resurgence of TV sci-fi, mentioning post 9/11 this, political that, when the answer is simple: Lost was good and became a hit, the new series of Doctor Who was also good and became a hit, and every TV channel in the world caught the whiff of money and immediately decided to try and tap into the market. Fairly easy to understand, I thought. The most annoying part, however, was this: "For a long time, science fiction and fantasy have been seen as something for teenage boys, genres you grow out of." It's only ever patronising, idiotic article writers who ever think this. Something to grow out of? Hold on a sec, there's a phone call for you - it's Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, and the zombie corpses of Jules Verne, Douglas Adams and Philip K. Dick. Yeah, something about wanting to kick your fucking head in. By the way, Warren Ellis is actually outside your door, and you do NOT want to know what 3 items he is holding. One of them is lube.

This was supposed to be a quick, short post. Let's all just pretend that it was, and we'll say no more about it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Half post, with telly bits and bobs

Blimey, this blog seems to be having blackouts. One day it'll have a post filled with wit and anecdotes, then it blips out, waking up the following week with a hangover, blood on its hands, and a dead yuppie hanging upside down next to it, gutted like a fish. Sorry about the sporadic posting, I seem to be writing every single day for various things, so I'll jump in whenever I can, even just for short posts if nothing else. Here's the half post I meant to put here last Sunday:

Off to Cardiff tomorrow, to watch some of the filming for my Torchwood episode. It'll be a rare day where I'm not actually writing anything, because I'll be standing in awe watching lots of clever people create moving images of words that I have typed. Could I have come up with a poncier way of saying that?? Probably, but I'm tired. Going there tonight, so I can be up bright and early for filming.

Speaking of telly: OMG the Utopia episode of DW. Seriously. OMG. If you haven't seen it yet, skip the rest of this paragraph, for there be spoilers, yarr: The moment when The Master appears, purely by changing his body language, was almost too cool to handle. He had been so lovely, silly, and barmy, and then all of a sudden he was utterly chilling. When I watched the show as a kid, I was always scared but excited when The Master turned up - out of all the villains, he was the only one that seriously worried me, that made me think he might actually win. I'd been hoping for his return ever since the new series started, can't wait to see what nefarious scheme he's got planned. The evil swine.

Also on telly was the first ep of superscribe Steven "The Moff" Moffat's Jekyll, which was really, really cool. Modern updates can sometimes go horribly off the rails, but with The Moff in charge, it was effortless. And from a script point of view, very interesting to keep the evil side off screen for nearly half an hour - I wouldn't have thought of that, probably would have opened with him on a rampage. But this way was more effective, seeing the careful preparation, the restraining chair, the dread, the fallout, people's shaken reactions to what they'd seen - really built up the tension for his eventual reveal. Top class. And Mr Nesbitt acts his socks off, too. All hail The Moff.

Will report back about the TW filming - obviously no spoilers or actual information of any kind, or I'll have to travel around the world with a printout of my blog stats, tracking each and every one of you down, and murdering you. Is that what you want?? Cause that's what'll happen. Yes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

House of pain

Writing is going well. Nothing to report, still typing away. Also had lots of meetings last week, one for a new TV series I'm helping a company to develop, one for an episode of another potential new series. Lots of cool new stuff maybe happening soon. Got to keep those jobs coming in. In one meeting, they asked what my Who episode was about, but I refused to tell them, have refused to tell *anyone*. It was a BBC meeting too, different department, but I still wouldn't tell them, in case the whole thing was a trap. Just in case, I stabbed them in the head with forks, and leaped out the window to cover my tracks. And then I went and paid a nice lady to hurt me.

Okay, okay, I just wanted to make it sound rude. I actually went for my first ever deep tissue massage, which bloody hurt. I usually write on the sofa, with my laptop, either hunched forward at the table, or leaning back with it on my lap. Neither are much good for my back, and the muscles have been getting knotted up and gnarly for some time now. Combined with the ridiculous amount of work I've been doing, it got to the point where it really hurt if I sat back in a certain way, felt as if a bone had come off or something. So I went to get myself looked at, and pummeled a bit. I knew it would probably hurt. But how bad could it be? It's just someone using their hands to poke and prod my back...

Oh. Jesus. It. Hurt. Partly cause I'm a big wuss, mainly cause my back was trashed. She said the muscles were incredibly knotted and tensed up, which was why she had to be so rough on me. Started with the muscle warmup, rubbing my back, which was perfectly pleasant, lulling me into a false sense of security. Then suddenly her hands transformed into STEEL PIPES, which she pounded into my back. I was yelping in pain, swearing, flinching, at times it felt she was jabbing me with the corner of a wardrobe. It ached for the next day, but felt a lot looser. Feels pretty good today, not sore at all. But she said I'd need to go back regularly, at least once a month, just to keep things loose. And I have to sit properly while typing in future, or... or I don't know, she'll probably smash my face in or something.

The whole time, there was gentle muzak playing in the corner. Now, whenever I hear any of that plnky-plonky stuff, I react like Alex from A Clockwork Orange after he's been through the Ludovico Technique, quivering on the floor. Still, my back feels good, so, you know, swings and roundabouts.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Please keep all personal belongings with you at all times

Twice in the past two months, complete strangers have asked me to keep an eye on their bag while they went to the toilet or bar. The first was in a taxi queue, and the guy turned to me and said "can I leave my bag in the queue for a minute?" and then walked off to the toilet. My turn for a taxi came before he got back, so I had to leave, and ask the guy behind me to watch the bag - he wasn't keen, but luckily the bag guy came back at that point. I would NEVER leave my bag alone with a stranger. Strangers are untrustworthy, evil, and possibly insane. Just like my mum told me all those years ago.

Apart from anything else, if you leave a bag unattended the bomb squad might turn up and destroy it. People blowing stuff up has become a bit of an issue in the past few years, you may have noticed things on the news. You leave a bag alone, people panic. But let's pretend they don't. Let's pretend that we can see into your bag, and there is nothing explosive inside. That just means it's a more tempting target for thieves.

The other week, it happened to me on a train. "Excuse me," said the guy opposite me. "I just need to get some food, is it all right if I leave my laptop bag here?" Yeah, sure, of course it's all right. Is it all right if I steal it? You've even *told* me it's a laptop! Don't say "laptop", just say "bag". Maybe I had no intention of stealing his bag, until I found out there was a laptop inside - he didn't know me, or what I was capable of. Again, I wondered if it was a bomb, and if I was being incredibly naive. But he came back shortly after, with some food. So it was definitely a laptop. That he left alone with a stranger. My laptop is never out of my sight if I take it outside, not for a second. Because it's a laptop, and they're expensive, and I don't want someone to pinch it.

Don't leave your valuables alone with strangers. They'll nick them. This isn't some technicolour 1950s world where people leave their doors unlocked, and put freshly baked apple pies on window sills to cool, and stay a virgin until they get married. People nick stuff. Don't give them the chance.

So anyway, if anyone wants to buy a second hand laptop, one careless owner, only 50 quid, contact me at the usual address.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Torchwood readthrough

Blimey. It's been a long, but massively fun few days. Torchwood readthrough was amazing, such good fun. Went up the Thursday night, and they put me up in a fancy schmancy hotel. A few of us went for drinks that night - me, another writer, two actors, and script editors. Many drinks were had, many stories were told, none of which I could repeat here, especially not the alien cock joke.

Anyway. Readthrough started at half 10 Friday morning, everyone sat around a big square set of tables (you've probably seen it on the TW Declassified and DW Confidential shows), and basically read through the script. Captain RTD did the stage directions, half reading them, half summarising if there was a big block of them, and very funny he was too. The actors were fantastic, got loads of laughs, and for a brief glorious moment I was sitting next to Eve Myles. But then they needed all the actors sitting together, and my section got shunted down. Just as well really, as my animal magnetism would have rendered her speechless and unable to continue. We did the readthrough, much laughter was, er, laughed, there were several creepy silences as scary moments played out really well, and it all went swimmingly. I got applause, compliments, and two actors touched me. On purpose. In a friendly, "hi how are you" way, too, not the usual "security, please get him away from me" way.

A while later, I sat in a room with the big cheeses as they gave me my final notes from the readthrough (I'd also made a few notes, lines that just didn't sound right out loud). Lots of little tweaks, here and there, some of which I needed to do on the spot at someone's computer, because they needed to print the pages there and then for filming on Sunday.

There were sandwiches. There was lots of cake. Seriously, tons of it, they were forcing it on people by the end, and we were all rolling around, crying, icing and crumbs smeared all over our faces. It was hell.

And after that, my first big Doctor Who script meeting. We discussed my new outline, and hammered out a change to the ending that made us all go "ooooooh" with excitement. And then they said I could start the script. Which is fabulous, because I'm dying to get started. And also scary, because blimey, who the hell do I think I am taking on this massive cultural institution, how will I handle the huge responsibility to the TV bosses, the fans, and both my adult and ten-year-old self? I am alternately giggling with glee, and cringing with panic. But, like all writing, when it comes down to it you've just got to forget about all that stuff, sit down and get on with it, really. Speaking of Who, I am in awe of Mr Paul Cornell's staggeringly brilliant 2 parter "Human Nature", absolutely gobsmacking stuff. Although it did add heavily to my "oh blimey who the hell do I think I am" side of things, it being so good and all. Damn you Cornell! You give with one hand, and take away with the other!

Got the train back from Cardiff at 5.25pm, which meant I didn't get home until 9pm - but the rest of the script notes for TW had to be done that very night, as they were needed the next day for printing and distribution. I think I finally got it done around 1am, and sent it off. More final tweaks needed doing during the day on Saturday, last minute changes on the changes, just making sure everything worked perfectly. They should have been filming today (Sunday), the first day of shooting on mine and another episode, so actual STUFF is probably in the can as we speak.

And then the rest of the weekend was spent finishing the movie rewrite. Just finished now, around 9pm on Sunday night as I type this. I'm exhausted, but feel great. Next item on the agenda: a stiff drink, and some telly. Thank you again to everyone who has been in touch or commented, you're all supercool and amazing. I will try my best to look after both DW and TW while they are in my hands for 45 and 50 minutes respectively. Tomorrow, I'll be getting started on the Who script itself. All together now: oh blimey...