Friday, January 30, 2009

Shorts, Longs and In-Betweens

It's been a funny old week, as it has kind of imploded on itself.  Don't ask me to explain why - it just has.

I was glad to have made the screening of David Lemon's very funny and brilliantly crafted feature, "Faintheart", earlier in the week.  If anyone ever needs a filmic example of the Hero's Journey, then this is your DVD

Well, I'm totally thrilled at nailing my beat sheet at last, and was even more happy to send off my [latest and greatest?] re-write to my Script Editor and Producer.  Yes, you read that right - "Perfect" now has a Producer and he's that Dan Turner bloke. He begged me nicely, so I said he could join in. Only joking, Dan, I know you read my ramblings here and I'm very glad to have you on board... ;)  

All in all, the project feels like it's coming together now - it's starting to feel a bit more real, which is creeping over me like a strange, uneasy calm.  Although I have spent quite a bit of time sourcing possible music, design, locations etc, there's nothing I can do about any of it until I get the big thumbs up; but to me, all these areas are of huge importance and have really helped focus my mind on the end result of the script.  I also finally found the picture I have been searching for in the Tenacious East Wing loft - this is my creative reference point for half of the scenes in the film and from which I can create a solid foundation for the "look". Ooooh, lovely. Anyway, all I have to do now is make "Perfect" all so spiffingly - - that Screen East and UKFC have to select it to go into production. Oh crap. April seems so near yet so very far away.

So, here I am feeling like I'm twiddling my fingers to be honest.  I have read through my rewrite and changed a couple of words, but there's no point in going to town on it until I have notes back from Script Editor and Producer who are both reading it over the weekend. They have a copy each, by the way, just in case you thought I was making them share...

I am half tempted to start outlining my new feature idea but I need to finish off my final bit of research first - that should take precedence this weekend. However, before I tally-ho off, I have was memed by Miss Read earlier in the week.  She tasked me with: If you could go back to live in any one year from your lifetime, which one would you choose?

I am an eternal optimist, thus being a firm believer that the best is still to come, although this is not to say what has passed hasn't been good.  However, if I had to choose a year then it would be 1977. Jeez, most people probably weren't even born then, but I was - but only just as I was very, very young.

I have a strong memory of this particular year because it was so damn hot and I remember spending the whole summer in shorts and t-shirts, usually running around all day playing in the searing heat with the dogs, cats and chickens and then when it became too hot, I would beg, borrow or steal a home made lemonade and head for my den.  "The River Dell", as I named it, was very special. I had to climb up a little DIY ladder hidden behind the summer house to get over the fence at the end of our the garden, and then I was in a magical world of pixies, elves, fairies and witches, all hidden under the cooling canopy of the trees. There was a trickling brook which dried up in the height of summer (especially '77), but the ground was always damp enough to make mud pies - albeit dry-ish ones.

If I wasn't in the Dell then I was up the tree at the front of our house as it was perfect for watching into the distance for Mum or Dad coming home, visitors arriving after a long journey or just the local farmer, shotgun slung over his shoulder, whistling at his sheepdog whilst walking through the late afternoon haze across the drought ridden corn fields.  I also vividly recall the smell of my Dad's aftershave and my Mum's perfume when they were getting ready to go out to do a gig or go to a party.  More than anything, I guess there were no worries, no cares, lots of barbecues, parties and laughter, and both my Mum and Dad were just a cuddle away.

This was also the summer Elvis died - a day I remember so clearly. I took ages to get dressed that morning as I had been having a shorts & t-shirt dilemma - honest! I had been given an outfit as a present which had come from America - matching pale green shorts and t-shirt  - but they had butterflies all over, which was just too girly for me. I had decided to give the outfit it's premiere and remember walking into the lounge all ready for my Mum or Dad to make comments on how lovely the butterflies were, but they didn't - they just sat at the table in the kitchen, listening to the radio, stunned. 

Mum told me what had happened and in a typical child-like fashion I replied "Oh. That's sad. Did we know him then? Did he come to one of your parties or did you go to his?"  Mum and Dad laughed so much but I didn't understand why. I think I just stole some of Dad's toast with lemon and lime marmalade on and went out to check on my sweetcorn growing in the garden. Ah, special times. 1977 - I'd see you again.

I tag: you, dear reader.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Spiral Patterns of My Mind

I don't have much time at the moment for anything other than work, so here's a quickie...and quite possibly the shortest post I have ever written.

Have you ever felt you were spiralling?  I don't mean spiralling out of control (I don't think),  I mean, on a spiral path? You know, you tootle along quite happily - round and round but always going somewhere - and then, depending on which way you were going, you get to the 'end' or 'centre' thinking, "Ah, yes, that's me getting there."   Then you notice the spiral path carries on and on and on; round and round and round.

Mmmmm. That was last night's dream. My head is still all swirly and foggy and it hurts lots. I want to lie down but I have so much stuff to do.

Back to beat sheeting again today.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Plugs and Points

Hello little ones.  Been a bit busy again, but all is fine in love and war.

Earlier in the week, I was delighted to bask in Potdoll's reflected glory when I went to see her stunning short film which was playing with three others at BAFTA.  Although I have seen many incarnations of the film over the past six months or so, it was fantastic to see it all 'done' and meet the team.  It was a truly superb piece.  Well done, Potters! The other three films were also very strong, and I was totally amazed at how different they all looked, felt, sounded etc. Having now embarked on the Digital Shorts scheme myself, seeing as many of last years' shorts has been an important task for me and I really enjoyed my evening at BAFTA.  In fact, it was such an extremely interesting night that I ended up *just* catching the last tube home - which is always a great relief, as cabs tend to charge me in the region of £70 to come back to Tenacious Towers, which is a total nonsense for living two whole miles out of 'London'. The cabbies obviously see the Turrets from a distance and add on a few tenners.  B*stards.

The following night saw me back at BAFTA again - this time to hear a talk by Panavision on their new Genesis camera which, taking into account it's capabilities, just totally blew me away.  I never thought I would ever, ever get excited about the difference in a true 4:4:4 RGB array to a standard Bayer pattern, but there I was gasping with glee at the end result.  Urgh.  I can hear my physics master snarling, "Told you so..." in the back of my head*ck.

I managed to come away from both evenings clutching a vast array of business cards from designers through to post production facilities, all showing varying amounts of interest in my short, which is always a nice thing.  

The latest version of the short screenplay (which may be undergoing a name change soon) was sent off to my Script Editor and should have greeted him upon his return from holiday, and so I am just finishing my novel edit before I start throwing that at people to read and he throws my screenplay back at me.  I managed to write a lot of notes for a new feature too, but I want to leave those to fester for a bit.

On a more "must mention that" note, I just watched the trailer to "Faintheart", penned by the tremendously talented, David Lemon. It will be showing at loads of cinemas country-wide on Tuesday 27th Jan, so get yourself over to David's blog where he lists all the locations and then go see his film.  You have been warned.

Also a shout out to those of you who are music lovers and like to be ahead of the game with regard to new bands etc. Tim Shaw on Absolute Radio has been running a "let an unsigned band play on radio" type comp, and I am thrilled to say my cousin's band, Cameron James and Tim Nash, is top of the leaderboard at the moment.  Damn right, too! Cameron is an extremely talented singer, writer and guitarist and they both have a beautiful folk-rock sound.  You can hear their radio stuff here and vote for them here.  And whilst I am in the plugging other cousin's band, Short Warning, are currently on tour if you fancy catching a bit of the harder rock stuff...

Make cheques payable to me. I thank you.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Attack of My Clone

My 'festive period' bank statement just dropped through the door with a thud, and when I opened it I was absolutely furious to find out that whilst I personally had been quite sensible over Christmas, some little a**wipe had weighed up the clever/dumb balance, and been on a spending spree with my card details.  Urgh.  I hate things like that.  

Luckily I am one of those people who checks their statements with a fine tooth comb and my bank have been very helpful so far.  It's a really horrible invasive feeling though, especially when doubt creeps in as you realise you are filing a fraud claim..."I really can't remember spending those amounts at that place on that date at that time, but I will of course check all my records...". Just in case. 

So peeps, I suggest you take a long hard look at all your post-Christmas statements upon their arrival.  With finances being the way they are at the moment, I am sure I'm not the only one with odd spurious purchase stuck on here and there.

On a brighter and more work-like note, over the weekend, me & Red Pen completed our editing of 'Taking the Fast Lane" and made a few more changes to "Practice", which is all good news.  I spent the best part of a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning taking lots of possible exterior location photos in addition to searching for a view that has become extremely elusive - but I think I have spotted it. I think. I am now happy I may have found my exterior location and although I'm a long way away from all that, at least I can visualise how the scene may, or may not, work.  Up until this point, the exterior scenes have always been a mixture of real and 'make-believe' places in my nonce, so it's nice to be able to look at the words on the page and apply them to the actual location.

I'm off to a screening of shorts tonight, which I am really looking forward to.  I'm a total mixture of excitement, interest and nerves due to my general interest in other people's work and the fact that one of the shorts was directed by the beautifully brilliant Potdoll.  I was lucky to see lots of early footage of this fab film, and so I can't wait to see the full finished product - but I feel so nervous on her behalf!  Eeeeek - as she herself would say!

Right - lots to do , places to go, people to see.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Week End

What a week it's been - I have totally neglected my little blog-baby this week, haven't I?  I really haven't stopped though - hell, I couldn't even make it to the SWF launch thingy (notes as written up by Sir Arnopp of Pokery) on Tuesday night, as, even that early in the week I didn't know my toosh from my whatsit.  But all this busy, busy, busy hasn't had a good effect on my well-being though, as I've been fighting a nasty case of popping-ears-sniffy-nose-gritty-eyed-golf-ball-in-throat-iritis. Yuk.

Well, I am now at re-draft number 4 of the first draft of my digital short, "Practice" and have managed to squidge in a light, first pass edit of my novel, "Taking the Fast Lane". Red Pen and I have been having a ball all week, so we have. I love the moments we share. Just so - inky.

I am going to make up a mood board for "Practice" tomorrow as I want to start conveying my vision graphically as well as literally - I am also likely to stick it up on the wall above my desk so every time I walk into/out of the room, I will see it and know whether it is 'right' or not. I also have an ever-evolving plot for a new feature rattling around my head - which is actually annoying me a bit at the moment as it keeps getting in the way, and therefore notes of which will more than likely be jotted down over the weekend to clear some brain space.

I have hardly even visited the Tenacious Towers' Entertainment Suite this week - all I managed to squeeze in was "Unforgiven" (ITV, Monday, 21:00) the new three parter written by Sally Wainwright (and I'm totally hooked), last night's ep of "Hustle" (BBC1, 21:00) (I am just loving the new team dynamic), and the "Doctors" episode on Wednesday afternoon (BBC1, 13:45), penned by the very talented Mr Campbell - and IMHO, an excellent job he made of it, too.  

And so, on to next week. It's going to be very, very busy from the outset with quite a few meetings, screenings and talks to attend, in addition to the many more rewrites (probably) and gazillions of emails and telephone calls in relation to the many more rewrites (likely). In fact, between now and April is pretty busy.

It's a strange thing, but even though I feel as though I have been squeezed through a mangle backwards these last seven days, I am still very happy/excited about the way it's all going. Probably just as well.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Beats, Outlines & Dreams

Oooh, it's been a strange few days.

Over the weekend, I located my Very Important Pile of research and character notes and was thrilled to find the info I yearned for, but then that old devil, "thinking", kept gnawing away at me and I wondered if the script really needed a re-injection of some of this stuff anyway.  After reading everything from beginning to end, I stuck the files in a drawer, picked up my screenplay and whilst cross referencing, began my new readjusted beat sheet and rough outline. Nine pages of notes later, I felt I knew these characters more than I knew myself.

Having written a lot of stuff yesterday - and obviously with it all playing heavily on my mind - I slept really badly last night. I had a heavy battle of imaginary wills in my dreams and it left me feeling like a tightly wound up coil this morning. I woke up in a very bad mood (yes, I's hard to believe, huh?!?) ready to burn every copy and trace of the story, as I felt as though I didn't even know what it was all about anymore.  A real-life case of losing the plot.

By early mid-morning, I had relegated myself from my desk to the sofa. With my notes from yesterday, a hot drink and some scene-creating music I set about going back to basics.  I reckoned, if I couldn't sum up the flow in six statements then I had some serious sh*t to cover. But I did, and so I didn't. Phew. I have also been taught a rather valuable lesson in finding the median course and not being too hell-bent on ticking every single box. Although all advice and points of view have to be taken into account, the piece still has to have my intrinsic voice and style - otherwise it's not the piece that was commissioned: someone else should be doing it, surely?

All that aside, tonight I managed to print off my new draft from which I had lost, gained, reassessed and redressed. I'll have one last read of it before I go to bed tonight and although I know I'll wake up knackered again tomorrow, I can be sure my subconscious has sorted out a lot sh*t for me during the night. I only hope I haven't lost my voice in it as I'm sure I'll have a zillion re-drafts to go.

I trust your week is shaping up nicely.


Friday, January 09, 2009

And The Beat Goes On...

Well hello there, m'dears.

It has been another very busy week here at Tenacious Towers. All go - I tell you, all go.

Earlier in the week I had my first DigiBytes meeting with my charming Script Editor. We had a really constructive first meet and discussed enough to get my ass totally in gear for development mania.

In a way, I was dreading the meeting, in case I had to go back to Absolute Square One with the entire script, but as it happens I felt all the notes given were - and are - completely do-able. On reflection, however, I suppose I will be going back to the beginning again as I need to reassess the beats in order to clarify a couple of things along the way, thus making the final reveal and plot twist pack even more punch than they do at present. 

Under any other circumstances (or perhaps another of my screenplays) I would possibly be feeling a little bereft in this situation but thanks to a lot of what my Script Editor and I spoke about (and more than likely his professional diplomacy), I was immediately alerted to the issues at hand: a long while back, during a mass page count purge I had managed to remove 50% of one character's arc without realising it. Well, ok - maybe not as much as 50%; let's say 20% for arguments' sake - but enough, all the same. I am still mulling over various angles in my mind before I set myself on to the task, but having slept on it now for two days, I still feel perfectly positive about it all - which must be a good thing, right?  

All I have to do now is locate my VIP (Very Important Pile) which contains the earliest drafts and character assassinations...I mean, outlines...of this screenplay. I know the VIP is somewhere in the Tenacious East Wing Attic but I have acres of square footage to cover amongst all the old taxidermy, cobwebs and dustsheets - and only one pair of hands. Perhaps I will take the hounds up with me for a search and retrieve mission? It would be so much fun - all that dust and their wagging tails; 'Mrs D', the domestic, would have hours of huffing, puffing and tutting with her feather dusters come Monday. 

Have a superb weekend, dears, and keep warm.


Sunday, January 04, 2009


I have been memed by both Adaddinsane and Lucy.  It's only the Fourth Day of the New Year and we're on Meme Number One already. It's gonna be a busy year, folks. Here goes:

When it comes to writing, what do you know you're good at, and what aspect of writing are you worst at? (Procrastination is not permitted as either part of the answer.)

In all reality, I find this quite hard to answer, and I have had to really think about it! But here goes...

Generally, I think I am pretty sound at sniffing out a decent premise, plot and creating a solid arena. Researching and creating the whole What, Where, Who, How and When is damn great fun, in my opinion, and therefore, I also love creating characters and their reasoning. Whether I pull that off is another thing - so this aspect lies in both the good and bad camps!  

Stuff I'm not too hot on?  Well, I'll probably be able to divulge far more after my initial script development meeting next week, but I used to have major structural issues with my features, although I *think* I have managed to get better at that with practice and better planning. I also hope I have got better at rounding the raggedy edges of my characters but there's still always going to be room for improvement - ad finitum. However, I still find myself shuffling into the dangers of expositional verbosity at times...especially my thriller stuff, for some reason. There is always SO much to reveal of the past in order to piece together the future. Yes, yes, yes. Show: don't tell...I know. I know.

Anyway, that's it from me. I duly tag Oli, Piers, Phillip and Steve - oh, and while you're here, lads, answer my previous post question if you have a couple of minutes! It has become quite interesting. Cheers! Enjoy.

Ta-ra & Onwards.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Five Minutes of Your Time?

Hello shiny, happy people.  I do hope the new year has started well for you already.

I have been doing loads of research and reading a lot of stuff over the festive period and I have a question for you all out there - yes, you! Whoever you are: a pro, semi-pro or a beginner, it doesn't matter where you are in the world, whether you have written one or ten thousand screenplays for film or TV, I would really appreciate as many answers as possible. Here goes:

Q: When you are writing screenplays, to what extent do you visualize the scenes before, during and after the writing process? 

As the specific camera angles, colour palettes, music, location/set info, lighting, sound etc would never be written into the body of the text unless, for instance, they were crucial aspects of the story (i.e. music), I would be interested to hear "what you see" when writing - if anything, of course!  

Perhaps you just 'feel' the characters, their environment, dialogue and drama and would never even consider what a particular scene would look like on screen?  Perhaps you visualize the opening sequence and that then sets the tone for the whole piece?  Or maybe you tick every box on an imaginary pre-production list as you write?

Answers in the comments section please - and just remember there is no right or wrong answer here, just your preference.

I look forward to hearing from you all, as this will be really interesting for me.  Thanks in advance!
The answers I have received so far are brilliant so I'll keep this post open until early next week to allow as many contributions as possible.  Thank you! x