Tuesday, 23 March 2010

So what happened to common sense... being driven... and well.. getting things done.

I have ! I have I tell you.

Despite a lack of comment at the progress, much was achieved during my self imposed exile, my holiday to the next room as it were. I was rather pleased with one script, and then got started on the other, the one that I am meant to be writing with Chris. We had done lots of fat chewing, ideas throwing and pretty got the scene by scene sorted. The scene by scene. Ah that wonderful thing that gives scripts their start, middle, end and how to get from one to the other, in easy baby steps.

I've done some 'thought showering' today. Funny really, as like a lot of other people, I sometimes come up with things in the shower/bath, on the loo or whatever. Usually in a place where you have no means by which to capture the idea.

But I've thrashed out a little to do with 'Retro Rocket' this idea that I had about purposefully recreating the look and feel of 70s & 80s scifi shows, with wobbly sets, the big shoulderpads, the even bigger hair. The eye-liner (and that was just the men). The really naff and unbelievably shallow female characters.. the special effects shots, where you could so easily see the wire pulling the model spaceship along. Did we care ? No. Did it spoil our enjoyment ? Not one bit. It was only when those nasty Hollywood types threw all their money at things that we started to feel ashamed about home grown scifi. Scifi like the original Dr Who, Blakes 7, Saphire & Steel, Space 1999. You only have to look at the collective works of Gerry Anderson to know that the odd string here and there doesn't dent the entertainment value of the show.

Somehow, back then, the sets were unstable, the performances had more ham than Waitrose at Christmas, but somehow, we were glued to the screen, we were absorbing the nature of science fiction. The 'believability' having absolutely nothing to do with how many carefully drawn CGI characters or spaceships there were. The baddies all looked like people in awkward poses with coloured cling film on them.. but it didn't seem to matter to us.

The imagination was the thing that was fired. That was allowed to grow and run amok. Today, everything is done for us. The scene is set, and given to us, we don't have to do any work at all. We're not involved in the ways we were in the 70s & 80s.

Have we, in making scifi mainstream, dumbed it down to the point that it fits into 'Hello' but has lost both the sci & the fi that gave the genre its name ?

Anyhoo... just to completely ruin my idea.. I've attached a scan of my scribblings.

Hopefully that works.

There's not a massive amount of data there to work on, but it's hard work, creating things when Homes Under The Hammer is on.

The ideas that Helen and I are forming into something we can work on for Scriptfrenzy exist at the moment as a load of pieces of paper, which I have allowed, in my infinite (lack of) wisdom, Helen to take away with her. I did cunningly, photograph them before she went. They are on my blackberry, and I haven't been bothered to get them off and put them onto a computer. Just yet.

I have suggested, on that front, that we do blog, and Vlog our progress, and efforts. This will hopefully, draw people to our youtube stuff, but also mean we are still uploading some films, even though the month of April is going to be so gloriously, and completely given over to ScriptFrenzy.

I do.. also have a back up, backup plan, just in case this one doesn't work. But for now, the idea of that script is... well, it's called 'Network' and is pretty much a social commentary on what would happen if people were no longer allowed to work, that workplaces, and all places of congregation are banned (for health and safety reasons, or for anti terror reasons, we're not sure). The idea being that people work from home, or from the park, on their laptops, all communicating by skype. Everyone with a headset. What would happen to the economy, without anyone buying petrol, cars, using public transport. All that lost tax revenue. No schools allowed to open, no supermarkets (homeshopping allowed with severe precautions).

We want to explore this in the comical way that we have explored all the other ideas we have had. For example, imagine a couple, in their kitchen, with their headsets on, awaiting calls from colleagues / customers, and they launch into a full blown argument, but have to pause it, when one of them gets a call. About to let fly again, when the other does too. Similar comedy may be found in when couples are trying to have sex.

The whole idea about home working, pushed to the limit. You may well go to work in your slippers and nightie, (again, that was just the men), but would people want to see you do that ? Video calls, leading to people dressing their upper bodies in office-wear, while remaining in just boxers and slippers etc below the belt.

There's comedy in them there hills. I'll have to get those ideas transferred, and uploaded. In the meantime, there's someone on their way down to do some writing, so I best go get ready.... and make sure I haven't forgotten to get completely dressed after all.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

2nd day and going well

2nd day of my holiday away, but not very far (about 10 feet as it happens), and I'm feeling good.

I got up Monday about 8:30, and was at the desk, tapping away at the keyboard by 9. With the odd break or two, working the majority of the day until about 4, when I peeled myself away from a 98% completed 'The Adventures Of Stephen Brown' script, and went and had a bath.

What a skank, I hear you say. Soddit.

Anyhow. Even the curve ball that was thrown my way, which was that two of the principle guest characters in this story can't make any filming days together had been catered for. I just needed to throw in some reference to what was going to be happening in the next story, and I was done. I just didn't want it to look like I had just 'thrown it in'.

Helen came round Monday evening, and after what seems to have become the customary takeaway (last week was Pizza, this week was curry) - both of us stuffed to the gills with Korma (despite ordering Passanda - but that's another story entirely) we got to being creative. We came up with loads of ideas. Some we could film, some we could not. We gave up waiting for anyone else to arrive... we are a filming group of two at the moment. Which is intimate, and rather nice, as Helen and I get on so well together, but the idea of a club is that there is, well, some people in it. Anyway.

We threw our artistic sensibilities out of the window, and filmed me eating a poppadom, and then edited it to show... well, oh just watch the film it'd be easier... www.youtube.com/m27online

We got that edited and uploaded, as well as making some progress in getting last week's effort edited. I've noticed that the last few things have seen me in front of the camera, which had actually been some time. It's nice, for me to 'act' (or is that 'act up' ?). Helen is really good on the camera, and is so much the better of the two of us at 'going handheld'.

Chris came down today to work on our script for 'The 9th Man'. We were a little disheartened at first that we had not got further than we had previously. We spent the time reminding ourselves what we had talked about before, and fleshing that out into a scene by scene, just breaking the synopsis down into Excel and putting some more detail in. Looks like there's going to be some really interesting drama in those episodes, if only we can get the time to sit down and write the damn thing. I'm sure in this age of technology (Celtx being the preferred script writing software of choice) progress can be made, even when we can't be in the same room together.

By far though, the thing that really put me in a very good mood, was utterly unexpected. The best things always are. When I went to bed (just after arriving at my holiday residence on Sunday night), I wrote a blog entry, and then after that I checked up on my twitter page. It was at that point that I discovered that my daughter had, at some point during the day craftily updated my status a couple of times. One of the things she wrote was 'my dad is awesome, in a utterly weird kind of way'. That did bring a tear to my eye (and not because of the grammatical errors). It was so nice of her, and so unexpected. It doesn't matter what else the world throws at me. My daughter thinks I'm awesome (in an utterly weird kind of way). It's I think the greatest compliment I've ever received.

Today, after 4 failed attempts, my merchandising purchases from 'Script Frenzy' arrived. Two travel coffee mugs, with Script Frenzy iconography and 'Stop watching. Start writing. Script Frenzy. April' on them. So appropriate I thought, as it is the TV that sucks me in and swallows all my time in a manner a kin to the appetite of a black hole. I also brought a book 'No plot ? No problem !' - by Chris Baty.

Write here. Write now !! Do it !!! Sounds like a motivational speech given by Peggy Butcher. (get out of my pub, you're - the - bard).

1 script submitted. 1 film shot, edited and uploaded. Other projects moving forward. I should be on holiday more often. I'd get more done.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Have typewriter WONT travel.

After spending the first day of my holiday, not being on holiday (by
going into work) and having my daughter to stay overnight Saturday, I
guess I now start my holiday proper.
Everyone I speak to, that I tell that I'm going on holiday, will ask me,
'are you going anywhere'. No. I reply. I'm going to stay at home.
Sometimes I elaborate a little. Sometimes I don't. See the thing is, I
tell myself that the reason why I don't do as much writing as I would
like, is because I'm too stressed out from work to sit down and look at
a computer. Which we all know is rubbish, because anyone that knows me
will tell you that I spend my evenings with the computer, sometimes more
than one computer on. Just not doing anything useful with it.
Easy for me to blame work, but as I am now on holiday, I don't have that
excuse do I ? I've had some good days lately, where I've been due to be
at work late, so wouldn't normally get up until 10am. I've actually
gotten up much earlier and given myself a couple of hours first thing in
the morning to get some writing done. This indeed has worked, and I did
manage to get some pages done. Also the other week when I had a day off
midweek, likewise I got up stupidly early, for what was my day off, and
told myself I was going to be writing from 9am. And I was. The 'I've got
to be in the office by...' mentality seems to work for me. If I do the
writing at the other end of the day, then I find it very very easy to
come in from work, and a) put the TV on. That evil, evil thing in the
corner of the room that sucks away all my time. or, b) I sit down, and
think, 'I'll just give myself half an hour and then I'll start'. Well
that half an hour turns into an hour, turns into two, turns into three,
and then I tell myself 'oh, it's too late to start anything now, I'll
have a look tomorrow'. Tomorrow never comes. There's much
procrastination in my head. I find it very easy to talk myself out of
doing things, and that I can do them later on. It's funny, because I'd
never behave that way at work. At work, I'm always much more focussed
and driven by the power of the moment, and the yearn to 'just get things
I get too comfortable. I laze about.
When I have 'good writing days' I just get up, and get on with it. There
is no other common denominator than that. I love to read how other
people that write, have their methods, have their 'rituals'. I'm looking
for that 'eureka' moment, that revelation that when put into practice
will create this stream of fantastic and wonderful prose that emanates
from my brain, travels down my arms, into my fingers, where it is
skilfully and rapidly converted into text.
That's all rubbish of course. (or crubbish, as my daughter would say). I
forget who it was that said that the only way to write is to put in the
desk time. I paraphrase, badly. I'm so lazy, I can't be bothered to fire
up firefox, and go have a google to find out who the quote came from,
and actually quote it correctly. My only defence is, that if I fire up
firefox, I will be drawn inexorably into facebook, or twitter, or some
such other distraction. How many times a day can I hit refresh on the
BBC news website. Surely the world isn't going to end without me knowing
about it ?
So. To try and break the pattern. I am not staying at home. I am not
going away. I am going on a writing holiday, but not one of those ones
that cost you loads of money to go sit in some beautiful countryside
with a load of other people that also don't know how to write. (I have
no idea that's what those things are like, I've never been on one..
perhaps I should... but I'm too tight to do it. Too tight, and too
cynical. I digress). I mean I am going on holiday into the spare room.
I type this from my bed, and like the bed you sleep in on holiday, it's
unfamiliar to me. I've never slept in it before. I don't use this room a
lot, and infact, have never stayed in it. Even though, I am still in the
same flat, everything sounds different. The amount of darkness outside
the window is different. It's strange enough to me to not be
It's just that its cheaper than actually going away for the week. I have
my trusty netbook, my office chair (I wouldn't normally take that on
holiday somewhere with me, that would be wildly impractical). Wow, I'm
using up my whole years' quota of parenthesis in this entry. And I only
wanted to say a few short words. I don't know how many words this is,
because I'm on my netbook, and there is a limit to what it can be called
upon to do.
I am actually going to still get up in the mornings, just hopefully much
earlier than I have on previous 'stay at home' holidays. Sometimes I
haven't dragged myself out of bed much before midday.
This all does beg the question, how the hell do you continue to motivate
yourself to get up every day, if you, well, don't have a reason to get
up. If you're unemployed, or a kept woman, kept man for that matter. (I
live in hope). It must actually be hard to do that, and not descend into
an absolutely apathetically lazy, self serving ever decreasing spiral of
diminishing effort and returns.
After all, there's 'Jeremy Kyle' to get up for. I'd count that as a
reason to stay in bed until well after it's over. There's always 'Loose
Women'. I do love loose women, as much as the next man. You can take
that more than one way. A bit like the..... never mind.
Anyhoo. I will be, not hopefully, but am certain that I will be making a
difference this week.
Considering I want to write, I have a strange emotional attachment to
the idea of writing, and the elation that I get when I complete
something. The idea of starting something, when there's a blank page in
my pad, a blank screen on the computer and a blank head from whence the
ideas should flow to fill all the above is actually quite daunting. 'The
trick is, to stare at a blank piece of paper until your head bleeds' - I
believe is another badly remembered and uncredited quote. Uncredited
here. It is actually credited to someone. I just can't remember who.
When I'm actually in the throws of working out how to get a
character/story from plot/place/situation A to plot/place/situation B, I
don't think of the writing, I'm thinking of the problem at hand, which
is to get from A to B. Much in the same way you would think about
finding a route through a city you know, when you have the map memorised
in your head.
Like that, except, with this, you get to decide not just the route, but
also the layout of the city, the design of the buildings, the reason for
the journey and indeed the destination. Because there are so many
variables, and it's such an open field, its sometimes (I find) difficult
to know where to start.
Well, as Mary Poppins said, 'lets start at the very beginning, what a
very nice place to start'. Let's not confuse things by saying that when
writing you don't have to start at the beginning at all. That's just
going to get confusing, isn't it ? After all, even if you start at the
middle, it's still the start isn't it ?