Thursday, April 30, 2009

Doctor Who Magazine, Storybook 2010, and Severance

Some more news: The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine is out, which features two mentions of your humble blog host - there's a nice mention of my Primeval and Crusoe episodes, and the announcement of the upcoming 200 Golden Moments special issue, which features a small contribution from me.

Even more excitingly for me, they have officially announced the 2010 Doctor Who Storybook, in which I have a story called "The Haldenmor Fugue". It's one of the two stories I was working on recently, but I couldn't say what it was until now. Once again the storybook will be fully illustrated, featuring stories by several other talented folk, and should be in shops by August. I'm really pleased with how the story turned out - it was one I was wrestling with for ages before actually writing it, and was worried that it wouldn't work, but as soon as I started writing, it all somehow fell into place, and a new ending suggested itself as I went along. I'm extremely proud of it, and can't wait for people to read it.

Also, just so you know: yes, I am aware of this story. I don't want to comment on it until the trial is over, as there's a danger I might find myself in contempt of court (publication of material that might compromise a fair trial). So when the trial is over, and a verdict has been reached, I will then comment on it and explain how I feel about it. But for the newspapers and websites reporting it: it's a *woman* in the film, not a man, and it's not a *spoof* horror movie - it's an actual horror movie that has some funny bits in. Anyway, come back when the trial's over, and I'll be able to talk about it then.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Torchwood 10-second teaser

The title says it all - there's a new teaser for season 3 of Torchwood, it's only 10 seconds, but is worth a look if you're waiting for any snippets. It's on the BBC website here, and is probably UK only, I'm afraid (but these things usually pop up elsewhere soon after). Update: It's now on YouTube. I can't link to it for legal reasons, but it's easy enough to find...

Here's an embedded version, to save you a click:

Ooh, spooky do's! Booga-booga-booga!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Severance on BBC1 tonight, 11.50pm

Don't forget, Severance is on BBC1 tonight, at 11.50pm.

If you've been thinking of seeing it, but didn't want to spend the £3.99 to buy it from Play, or whatever it costs to rent it from your local DVD emporium, then you can watch it tonight, on telly, for FREE! Unless you live outside the UK, in which case, you can't. Sorry.

If you like horror movies, you'll like this one too! The synopsis on the Sky guide says "A team-building exercise goes wrong when the group is set upon by crazed killers. Contains very strong language and graphic violence." Very strong language! Graphic violence! YEEEES!

If you hate horror movies, check it out anyway! I know several people who liked it even though they don't usually like horror. You could be one of those people!

If you have already seen it, then good for you! Why not watch it again? It's not that long, and you might discover a whole new subtext the second time around (yeah, I said "might", didn't promise anything).

If you don't have a television, why not sit staring at the corner of the room for 90 minutes? You can imagine what it's like, and then compare notes tomorrow with your friends who do have televisions. Just think of the fun you could have!

If you are dead, then... sorry! I promise it wasn't me, I wasn't even there, what are you talking about, I have an alibi for that day.

Just watch the bloody movie, or I'll keep talking shite like this. And nobody wants that.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Various news items

Some news items and stuff, while I'm in the middle of writing other things:

Fans of Doctor Who/Torchwood/Sarah Jane Adventures might want to check out a one day convention on June 6th, called Utopia, in London (who knew Utopia was really to be found in London, coh, what a surprise, etc etc). Among the guests are Toby Whithouse (writer for Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Being Human), Carole Ann Ford (Susan, the Doctor's grand-daughter), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa, companion of the 4th and 5th Doctors), James Strong (director for Doctor Who and Torchwood), Tracey Childs (Metella in my Pompeii episode of Doctor Who), and a very handsome, talented writer for TV and film called-- oh, how embarrassing! It's me!

Yes, I'll be there, talking, answering questions, signing things, and so on. There are lots of other guests, and more to come, with panels, Q+A's, etc, so if you like the sound of that, come along to the Cockpit Theatre in London. As I post this, there are only 36 tickets left - 40 quid for adults, 20 quid for kids - so snap them up if you want to go. Update: Only 28 tickets left now!

The new Torchwood magazine is out here in the UK, with lots of stuff and photos of the upcoming series. They've also announced a book of short stories, called Torchwood: Consequences, which explores how Torchwood's actions can sometimes have far reaching effects. It all sounds really good, especially considering they've got people like Joseph Lidster, David Llewellyn, Andrew Cartmel, and an incredibly handsome, talented writer called- oh, how even more embarrassing than the last time! It's me! Yep, I'm doing one of the stories, it's quite a long one (ooh, matron) and I got away with all sorts of mayhem. It'll be released in October.

Several people have asked about Law & Order UK, but I'm actually not working on that any more - things got way too busy last year, so I had to step aside, and I don't have any episodes in the show. I know, I should have mentioned this earlier, but you know what I'm like with blog punctuality... But I had a great time working on the show while I was there, learned a lot, and got to meet the whole cast, including Jamie Bamber, who actually flies a Viper in real life (probably). You have no idea how hard it was to *not* say things to him like: "so, how was your flight over? Any turbulence...? Cylons...?" Somehow I managed to stay professional and not behave like a giggly schoolkid. Much.

Another bit of Primeval fun: Just after the episode had aired, it had only been a few days since the character was introduced, but already there was slashfic out there featuring Danny Quinn. I was very impressed at the speed of this. By the way, I got to give Danny his last name, and decided to name him after one of my best mates, Emmet Quinn. I won't tell him about the slash, though. Well, not until I can do it in person so I can see his face. (Just a reminder: I'm not allowed to read anything like this, be it slash, fic, or unrelated stuff, for various boring legal reasons, so please don't send me any etc. But I can look at the titles, and see who is being paired with who, which fascinates me.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where were you when the page was blank?

Severance news! Yes! 3 years later, and I'm still getting mileage out of it! It will be shown on actual proper TV here in the UK, this Friday 24th, at 11.45pm, on BBC1. That's prime time... for horror movies. If you pick up the current issue of the Radio Times (18-24 April, with Ashes to Ashes on the cover), it's Film of the Day for Friday, with a lovely review, and a very nice article all about it and the resurgence of British horror.

Just a shame there wasn't any space to mention who wrote the movie.

Yes, yes, I know that's how it is in "the business", writers are always left out, you should get used to it, blah blah blah. But that doesn't mean I have to bend over and take it, every single time. I constantly have to put myself out there, and so should all writers, so that people know that it isn't cool. Hence this post.

And I'm not blaming the writer of the article - maybe he did actually mention me, but had it trimmed out after he submitted it (which is also why I'm not naming him, this isn't an attack on him). But this is the Radio Times. They always list the writers of TV shows. But not, apparently, movies. Even the Film of the Day, which gets a big article all about it. Plenty of room to mention the directors, they always get a listing at the bottom. But never the writers.

Sure, it's a collaborative medium. But as the saying goes, "where were you when the page was blank?" You'd think that the person who made up the story out of their head FROM NOTHING might warrant a brief name check. I spent over 3 years of my life working on the movie. A full year writing over 20 drafts, by myself, figuring it all out and sweating blood onto the page, while also working a dayjob in an office full time, 5 days a week. You can look back over the blog, and see how long I was writing it, back before I knew anybody would ever buy it. Then when it sold, I did 2 drafts for the film company, addressing their notes. Then 2 more drafts once the director and producer came on board. Then finally, me and the director worked on it together for several months (which is why there's a shared credit). I wrote alternate versions of some scenes, did a full draft of the corporate video all by itself so there would be plenty of audio to play in the background of the bus scene, even wrote several extras for the DVD. I pimp it mercilessly at the drop of a hat, I've been to festivals to promote it, was part of the DVD commentary, and in the other special features. But apparently, I don't exist, because I didn't direct it.

Of course, I don't sit around desperately hoping my name is mentioned in TV listings magazines. I realise that in the great scheme of things, it's not exactly genocide. And yes, I'm very fortunate to be doing what I do, and blimey wouldn't it be great if that was all we had to worry about, ooh I wasn't mentioned in the Radio Times, I wish I had your problems, etc etc. I'm very aware of all that. And I'm not fishing for sympathy or compliments. It's a very nice, positive, complimentary review, which is lovely.

But I worked my arse off on that script, for YEARS. Would it fucking KILL you, if you're mentioning people involved, to mention the person without whom it would never have existed in the first place?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Open letter to all film and TV directors

(contains much swearing)

To: Every Director In The World,

Hello. TV's James Moran here, with a small request...


Someone sweated blood on that script, and now a large crew is sweating more blood to bring it to life, actors are pouring their hearts out, people with gaffer tape and odd tools are staying up late and getting up early to build and maintain things, stunt people are risking life and limb to make it all look great. And I would REALLY LIKE TO SEE WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON. I cannot do that if you are SHAKING THE FUCKING CAMERA AROUND LIKE AN EPILEPTIC SITTING ON A BUCKING BRONCO WHILE STARING INTO A STROBE LIGHT.

Hey, don't get me wrong. I like a bit of dramatic shaky cam. I get the whole "documentary-style, let's just happen to catch the action" thing. Battlestar Galactica does it, but does it *properly* - most importantly, it catches the action, and then STAYS on the action. The camera's still moving, but it lets you see what is happening. But when you judder the camera in a frenzy, you are not doing that. You won't win any prizes for directing if I CANNOT SEE WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON. THAT IS NOT DIRECTING. THAT IS WANKING. You may as well stick a camera on a piece of string, spin it around your head, and film a big shaky blur for 90 minutes.

It's not much to ask for. Just make sure that the camera is pointing at the thing you're trying to film. That is my directing tip to you, trick of the trade, free of charge. Tell all your little director friends, too, pass it on. Thanks. Before I go cross-eyed from the fucking wobbly screen.

Oh, and by the way, if any editors are reading: There's no need to have 8000 cuts in under a second. You don't have to use tiny snippets from every single take and angle. Especially if it's a fight sequence, where it's more impressive if you don't interrupt the action so much. Also, stop dropping out lots of frames and speeding it up so that it ends up looking like a fucking Benny Hill chase sequence. I've paid for sound *and* visuals. So just let me see what's going on. Cheers.

Yours sincerely,

TV's James Moran, audience member

Monday, April 06, 2009

Primeval aftermath and interviews

Blimey, that was good fun - the live Twitter chat thingy went really well, everyone was really nice, and nobody shouted "OMG U SUCK LOLZ", which was a relief. If you missed it, or have only recently watched the episode, you can see the whole thing starting from here - I'm posting as "itvprimeval", just keep clicking the "Newer" link to go through all the posts. Thanks, ITV people, for letting me login to your account, and sorry for making fun of one of the adverts during a break, but it *was* bloody disturbing ("Mummy - I'm going to have a POO. Yes, a POO. I'm going for a POO now" - okay, okay, I get it, thanks for that image at teatime by the way)

There's a short interview about the episode over at the Den of Geek here, which I completely forgot to mention before the show, because I'm rubbish.

Speaking of interviews, I did a really fun one a while ago for Whotopia magazine, and the first half (I ramble a lot) is out now. Pop over to the website and check out the magazine. Tell em Uncle Jimbo sent you. As added incentive, I'm on the cover, and am the jam in a Matt Smith/Bonnie Langford sandwich. Yeah. Yeah, you like that.

The Writing FAQ got a lovely mention over at the blog of author Nicola Morgan, who quite correctly points out my failure to mention boots, chocolate, and sparkly wine as crucial elements of the creative process. Also, the importance of NOT putting sweets or other cutesy stuff in with a submission - it won't make you seem quirky and fun, it will instead have the same effect as smearing the words "I IS MAD" on a sheet of paper using your own faeces. Great, I've lowered the tone again, now she's going to regret sending people over here from her respectable blog... Sorry. Anyway, check out Nicola's blog, which is full of fantastic, detailed advice - it's aimed at authors, but many of it crosses over and applies to screenwriting too - agents, query letters, and so on.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Primeval, with live Twitterage

So, my Primeval episode is showing on Saturday, at 6.55pm on ITV1. Last week, for the premiere, there was a live Twitter chat during the show, for fans of the show to talk about it as it happened. So I thought it would be fun to do the same thing for my one, but with me joining in and answering questions and so on. I mentioned it to the ITV chaps and chapesses, and they suggested I be a "guest Tweeter" on the official ITV Primeval Twitter account. This is good because (a) it makes it official, (b) people who follow me won't be inundated with posts, and (c) ABSOLUTE POWAHHHH!

If you want to join in, here's what you need to do:

1: Sign up for Twitter, if you haven't already

2: Get ready to watch the show on ITV1, or on the ITV website (where you can also play their interactive game thingy, Primeval Evolved)

3: When the show starts, type your messages into the text box on your Twitter home page, making sure to put the word #primeval in there (don't forget the # symbol) - a hashtag is just a label which means that other people can easily find your comments

4: Go to the Twitter search site, or TwitterFall, or use a Twitter desktop client like TweetDeck (I use this, it's free and brilliant), and search for the hashtag #primeval - this will show you every Twitter entry that contains that term. If you're using Twitter software, then you can chat and see what others are saying at the same time - the Twitter chat won't be on the ITV website, so you'll need to use something to see all the #primeval posts

5: Keep chatting until the show ends, at which point I will say goodbye, and go back to my regular account, which is here

Any questions?

Q: I haven't seen episode one/the previous series/any of Primeval/any TV episodes of anything ever - can I still watch yours without confusion?

A: Yes. SPOILERS! Very mild spoilers in this paragraph! To sum up, the show is about a group of people investigate strange holes in time ("anomalies"), because dangerous creatures from Earth's past or future come through the anomalies and cause mayhem. Cutter (gruff Scottish team leader) is currently trying to figure out how to predict the anomalies, and his evil ex-wife Helen is usually up to something naughty. You'll be fine.

Q: I can't see it until it's on BBC America - why do you hate me?? WHY??

I don't hate you, you're very special. So when it shows on BBCA, I will *TRY*, timezones and work permitting, to do something similar while it airs. It may be tricky to co-ordinate, and I might have to do something else. But I'll try and do something specifically for you. See? I *told* you you were special.

Q: I'm still not clear about Twitter - can I get a friendly celeb to explain it all for me, simply and clearly?

A: Yes, you can. Click here for Phillip Schofield's guide to Twitter. Yes, seriously. But remember, he's not a Twitter Policeman.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Script Frenzy!

Script Frenzy has officially started. Well, it started yesterday, but I forgot to blog about it. 30 days for a first draft of that movie script you've been putting off - why not give it a go? Even at 3 pages a day, that's plenty of time. Make sure you have a rough outline first, just to make sure you don't run out of story. But get stuck in.

And I don't want to hear about anyone not having the time. I wrote Severance while working full time, 5 days a week, and I could still do drafts in a few weeks, just taking a few hours every night and at weekends. Sure, I spent a year fixing it, because I didn't have an outline (see above, I mean it about having an outline). But it can be done. And once you have a first draft, you can soon have a second draft. And then a third. Re-writing a first draft is much easier than staring at a blank page. I know it can be difficult to find time to write. But if you find time to watch TV, surf the net, check your mail, then you can find time to write. Maybe even an hour a day, surely you can squeeze that in somewhere. If you don't make time to write, then how do you expect to get better? "Oh but you're faster than me because you've been doing it for longer" - yes, but when I started out, I was in your position, and I still made the time, and made myself go faster. A month is plenty for a first draft. I don't want to hear excuses. I want to hear the sound of furious keyboard mashing.

You're still here? You could be writing! MOVE!