Thursday, 26 July 2007

Bring the pain!

Seven Spires, which will form my entry to the Red Planet screenplay competition, is up on Zoetrope.

The version up there is the first part of the miniseries version, and I'm workshopping it before I send it back to the lady-who-is-an-agent-but-not-my-agent-but-who-is-kind-enough-to-talk-to-me.

For Red Planet, I shall be sending in a shorter version (if requested), closer to the length of the original TV pilot version. For the Zoetropers out there, it essentially runs till the end of Act Two, with a couple of scenes that are missing from the online version.

If you're not a member, I'm looking for Power of Three victims, so line up line up.

Monday, 23 July 2007

... and I didn't even get an eyepatch.

UPDATE: Occasionally, people will find this site whilst looking for medical advice, having got nail varnish or nail varnish remover in their eye. So here it is: go to the hospital. Now. Then come back and read my whimsical blog post.

Getting nail varnish remover in your eye isn't nearly as much fun as it sounds. I say this in the full knowledge that it doesn't sound like fun at all. Well, it's not fun, minus one or two. Negative fun.

There's little you can take from this blog post, other than the knowledge that rubbing your eyes after helping your girlfriend take off nail varnish will lead you to look like one of the Infected from 28 Days / Weeks Later.

Not a pretty sight.

What's perhaps worse than that, and worse than the little blob that I developed on my eyeball thereafter, was A&E.

Accident and Emergency. Sounds thrilling, doesn't it? I've been watching a lot of ER recently, and frankly, the real thing's a let down. Not only is it duller than ER, hell, it's duller than The Royal. That's very, very, dull.

Four hours I had to wait to see someone. Four. Hours. Admittedly, Saturday night's probably not the best time to get a ridiculous injury, as there's plenty of drunk, lairy people shouting at doctors and bleeding on the floor who get seen before you.

After waiting five minutes for the receptionist to acknowledge me (she was chatting and typing), despite the cold compress I was holding to my eye and my general hound dog expression, the first question she asked was my date of birth. Followed by my address. Then my name. Then she confirmed my address.

At what point should 'What's wrong with you?' come up? I'm saying it should probably be the FIRST FUCKING THING ASKED.

Does it matter who I am? Where I live? How old I am? I am not applying for a credit card. My eye is falling out.

And relax. The doctor I eventually saw was nice. My eye didn't fall out. And I didn't even get an eyepatch.

Oh, and Seven Spires rewriting's going well.


I'd look great with an eyepatch.

The Hoff as Nick Fury.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Pride, Prejudice, Plagiarism

Read this article on Yahoo the gist of which is a bunch of thinly disguised Jane Austen novels were sent to publishers. A slew of rejection letters (many of which sound familiar) were received, and only one of the basis that the writer was pulling a dirty scam.

What does this stunt tell us? That there wasn't enough news for The Guardian to print today? Perhaps. That publishers don't know talent when they see it, so blinded are they by the deluge of crap that reaches their door every morn'? Again, perhaps... and perhaps a little heartening.

What no one's brought up in their coverage of the article so far is... maybe Austen's just had her day? Her day, was after all, a good while ago now. Perhaps the publishers aren't in the wrong. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

The Effects of Coffee on a Decaffeinated Brain...

I'm not a big proponent of caffeine. I largely gave it up a couple of years ago, cutting out tea and coffee, getting a little bit here and there from chocolate and red wine. Which apparently means that I am a 35 year old woman.

Yesterday evening was my writing night, and yet chores and a late train had threatened to take the night from me. It was 9.30 before I sat down to write. This is usually my burnout time.

So I thought 'Okay, caffeine, let's see what you can do,' and had a massive mug of the strongest black coffee I could legally make.

Oh. My. God.

On a brain set adrift without stimulants for a couple of years, it was like snorting and inadvisable amount of cocaine. Or so I imagine from watching Scarface. Didn't get to sleep until almost two in the morning. Not something I'd recommend.

But, but, but, but. I got my writing done. Seven Spires: The Miniseries, part one, done.

Kitchen sink draft done, anyway. It's 94 pages long, so 4 pages already need to come out, which isn't the end of the world, and a few other pages need to go in earlier to foreshadow events that I invented last night. So more pages out there. Snip snip snip.

Main concern is that because the 54 page pilot was written roughly this time last year, and then had another 40 pages hammered on to the end roughly this time this year, the tone's a little divided. What's essentially the new third act is a little more 'kooky', more jokes and weirdness, less seriosity (it's a word) and fear. But that, my friends, is what re-writing's for. Which shall shortly begin in earnest. Then... on to the outline for part 2, then into the ether towards the lady-who-is-an-agent-but-not-my-agent-but-who-is-nice-enough-to-talk-to-me.


Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Writer's suck...

No, I don't think that writers suck, I'm actually quite fond of them, and no, I'm not getting punctuation tips from a baker. I'm talking about writer's suck. It's a new term I think I've just invented. A term for those times when you're not blocked, in fact you may even be prolific, but you're only capable of writing crap.

Yes, in addition to getting an online ticking off over at Lucy's blog for giving away the ends of three movies (yeah, I know...) last night I also produced four of the worst pages I've ever written. Incredibly verbose bad guy who's as scary as chalk? Check. The most generic and pointless 'police arriving to search for missing person' scene ever written? Check. Despair? That's a big check.

Still, have tonight and tomorrow to write as well. Who knows. Maybe I'll stop sucking.

Monday, 16 July 2007

In your face, Idiocy!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

You see what happens when you threaten to blow people up? Dumb-asses.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Almost there...

I set up this blog to keep a record of my screenwriting activities, which it's failed to do so far. It has kept a track of the CNLA (assholes), Buffy (still great), exploding beer bottles (funny but messy), food poisoning (painful) and Tarantino (going downhill).

So how about a screenwriting update? The rewrite to turn Seven Spires into a mini series is progressing nicely. I'm at page 84 of what should be a 90 page first episode. There's more than 6 pages of plot left to go in, so it'll probably end up at 100 pages or so, then out come the scissors. More literally, my girlfriend will read it and tell me which scenes need to go. I get too attached to cut stuff out, it's easier that way.

Once that's all done, it's on the detailed outline of episode 2, also at 90 minutes. The mini series version is epsiodes 1 and 2 of the series' plot hammered together, filleted, and with a bigger ending. Should be easy. Won't be.

Oh, and good luck to all who'll be entering 25 Words or Less today. Not me though. I chose not to. Ahem.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Structure is your friend...

... or why I'm a bit like Quentin Tarantino. No, really.

The bit that kills me about writing is all that damn planning. Structure, plot, blah. Hate it. Want to get straight in and start writing properly, dammit. Dialogue and scene descriptions, right?

Problem is, if I did this, all my scripts would be ten pages long. And really, really bad.

Not going to start one of those unproduced-writer-gives-other-unproduced-writers-advice posts. Plenty has been written advising you to work on structure, like this. Ah, Jane Espenson, eases the pain. Ultimately, structure's like exercise: a pain in the ass, you'd rather be doing something, anything, else, but it keeps you alive. Behold my mighty metaphor.

What this post is here to prove is that just because you're a supremely talented writer, doesn't mean you're any different. You still need to plan, damn it. Or... I watched Grindhouse last night.

Planet Terror's fine. My girlfriend came in, asked "How was it? Was it terrific?" Me and my brother stalled, "Was it shit?" she tried again... "Both." we answered in unison. So, Planet Terror, willfully stupid, hideously gory, funny, and lots of fun.

Death Proof. Oh. My. God. Death Proof is appalling. Not only did I regret watching it, but Tarantino will regret making it. He will never admit it, so full of hubris is he, but I suspect he already does. Entering into Cannes? Overcompensating.

The movie has NO structure. Not a bit. It plays just like he sat down, started writing, making it up as he went, then filmed his first draft. The dialogue's fine, not his best. Some of the characters are cool. Kurt Russel is enjoyably ridiculous. But by Set's bones, it is DULL.

Tarantino kept talking about how this was his slasher film, and that slasher films appealed to him because there was a certain rhythm to them, an order, things that had to happen. In the film, none of them happen. It's not a horror film, which is fine, but miss-sold. But it's not any sort of film. It's people sitting around and talking for hours. There's a twenty minute scene that leads up to a Zoe Bell (who's very cool, by the way, but can't save the movie) borrowing a car. Twenty minutes leading up to a frickin' car. No development, character or plot wise, just her talking about how much she wants to drive this car, then eventually getting to drive it. Twenty minutes. Could she of, perhaps, rented it? In one scene? A minute long? We could of had less than that. She's just in the car. Boom! This happens a lot. Talk talk talk going nowhere going nowhere. If any action doesn't help you progress character or plot, what is it? Useless is what it is.

Structural problem number 2. Death Proof itself is split into two. The first half, Stuntman Mike stalks and kills five women, but with a minimum of tension, no narrative point and lots and lots of talking. Then, somehow getting away with this, he goes off to do it again. He tries to ram Zoe and her buddies off the road, fails, they go after him and beat the crap out of him. Problem is, they don't know he's a serial killer. We do, but as far as they're concerned, he's just some asshole who tried to ram them off the road. Going to the police at this juncture, might have been more appropriate? Now, if he'd been stalking them and killing their friends all night, all week, whatever, then yeah, fine, go after the bastard at the end. As it is, he shows up once, and they try and kill him - which makes them seem really really mean spirited...

Eventually, it ends. Really suddenly.

So what could of solved this? Structure. Planning. A frickin' outline. We all need it, pain though it is. Even Quentin.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The internet is stealing MY BRAIN!

Or… I just have really commercial taste.

Walking to work this morning, thought, 'You know what would be cool? A series about some twentysomethings who are also monsters sharing a flat. A vampire, a werewolf, a ghost, maybe later in the series a mummy.'

Started writing dialogue for the intro in my head on the way back to the office after lunch. Good dialogue, made me chuckle. Then read this on the Broadcast website:
"BBC3 has lined up six new drama pilots to transmit later this year… Being Human is about three young flatmates – one a vampire, one a ghost, and the other a werewolf. Produced by Touchpaper TV, it is being penned by Doctor Who and Torchwood writer Toby Whithouse and will be filmed in September in and around Bristol."

At least I only had the idea today, so I didn't write anything properly, or have time to go into a spiral of denial.

Bet they introduce a mummy later in the series. Grumble. Grumble. Stupid amazingly commercial taste.

I will soon stop posting about Buffy...

Because clearly, I've been doing it too much. If you search for 'Buffy Deleted Scenes' or 'Buffy Cut Out Scenes', I'm second and first respectivley. That's even before the deleted scenes that promise nude cast members. Rockin'.

p.s. I'm promised that my Buffy DVD set will arrive today. Okay. That show will not be mentioned anymore.

UPDATE: Still have the same rankings, but now it's picking up on this post. If I was a time traveller, I'm pretty sure I'd of destroyed the universe by now.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Royally screwed...

Didn't win The Royal Tapes.

C'est la vie blah blah blah plenty more writing competitions in the sea blah blah blah high quality of all entrants blah blah blah every cloud blah.

Buffy DVD's also didn't turn up. Rubbish.

Friday, 6 July 2007

In defense of Martians...

Whilst there’s been a lot of cheering about the Red Planet screenplay competition, there’s also been a bit of a backlash, mostly from people whose shtick seems to be that they are jaded and cynical (and not just from Jaded & Cynical, mind).

Fucking ridiculous. It’s a great opportunity. £5,000 is less than you might get paid regularly? It’s a hell of a lot more than I’ve got paid to write anything to date - as in, I’ve never been paid. I’m one of the aspiring mob, so £5k? Very tasty, thanks. Near guaranteed representation? A job on a show? Proper fucking prizes, my friends, the sort of thing that money literally cannot buy. Well probably enough money, but you get my point.

Besides which, what do you care? If you’re a writer, and I can’t imagine anyone who isn’t caring all that much, you’ll have a script prepared to send in anyway. You’ll have several. Pick the best one, send off the ten pages, stop moaning. If you don’t have anything worth sending right now, then I doubt you’re a writer at all.

Remember, when you’re slagging people as PR hungry dogs - and merciful Zeus forbid that the guy stumping £5k and a lot of support should get anything out of this - they don’t have to do it. They don’t have to help us. But they’re offering. I suggest we take them up on it.

Drowning in dust and dialogue...

Closing date for The Royal Tapes. Was confident when I entered it, less so now. Still like the script, but time is tick, ticking away. Will know one way or the other by the end of the day. Watching e-mails feverishing, cursing spam as it arrives, getting my hopes up. Really would like to win this one.

In news of less anxiety, my Buffy Seasons 1-7 Boxset has made it across the seas as far as Plymouth, so should be waiting for me when I get home. It's either going to be a celebratory marathon (is that a victory lap?) or a drowning of sorrows in vampire dust and witty dialogue.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

The case for and against putting beer in your freezer....

For: It makes it all nice and cold and tasty, handy if you don't have time to chill them in the fridge. Yum.

Against: You may, may, forget that's it in there. Then it explodes.

Boom! Exploded beer bottle.

More explosions: Die Hard 4.0... is alright. My girlfriend and brother loved it, and I've dragged them both along to stuff they've hated, so I owed them. Lots of explosions, a few jokes, Bruce wrestling with a jet (really) and other 80s style silliness.

In non-exploding news, finally fixed the custom template for this blog, so it now looks shiny whichever way you look at it. Ah, the min-height element in css. A thing of beauty.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Things I shan't be doing this year include...

Entering the 25 Words or Less competition. Many thanks again to Jason, Lianne and Good Dog for reviewing and providing feedback on the opening act of Found Objects. Unfortunately, it won't be finding its way to the 25 WOL judges this year, because I'm still without agent.

The lady-who-is-an-agent-but-not-my-agent-but-who-is-kind-enough-to-talk-to-me read it, liked it, got the existential comedy vibe of it, couldn't help me. They're mostly a TV agency (they'd previously spoken to me about my TV Pilot Seven Spires) and only really do screenplays for existing clients, which until I deliver a draft of Seven Spires that they think they can sell, I'm not.

C'est la vie. It does give me the opportunity to write Found Objects on my own terms, without having to worry about the competition, so that's my very dim bright side.

TV stuff... rewrites to transform Seven Spires: The Series into Seven Spires: The Miniseries are trundling along in a satisying kind of way. Even if I ditch the additional scenes I'm writing at the minute, it's a pleasure to be back with those characters for a while.

Also looked back over my other TV outline, Nightshift, which got sidetracked by a combination of Seven Spires and Found Objects rewrites. It's pretty damn good. I've got a document that I scribble (figurativley) stuff down in - if it was a real piece of paper, it'd probably be a fag packet. Anyway, there's little snatches of dialogue in there that I want to fit in. Some of it, I'd forgotten I'd written, and it made me laugh, which is always a pleasure, if an egotistical one. Definitley the next thing to work on once work has concluded on Seven Spires...

Other things I won't be doing this year: going to an NHS dentist anymore - we just got dental at work. Oh yes, I am bourgeoisie.