Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mayhem mayhap

Things are rocketing ahead on the filming for the scenes of Monsters. I'm being a good little writer and modifying the script to make it shoot-able on a micro-budget. I reduced the 11 pages of the scenes we'd chosen to 9 pages at the behest of the Producer, was then asked to put back several lines by the Director, and then re-edited to keep the length down to 9 pages. The Director claimed he couldn't see the join - which was nice.

We have auditions scheduled for August 15th, despite the shortness of the section we have a relatively large cast to - um - cast. At least 10 speaking parts and lots of extras. No wonder the readers labelled Monsters "expensive".

Did I mention I may have a new illustrator for the Monsters OGN? Well, I may have. It's a friend of the Director, he introduced us, so we'll see how that goes.

We're just setting up a second meeting between myself and the Clones Producer - he's been busy doing a shoot over the last couple of weeks so we haven't made much progress as yet.

In other news

The Teacher is going to the Edinburgh Festival with the Daughter and the Boy - I can't leave my job so I'm staying behind (again, just like when they went to France a couple of years ago). The Teacher has been desperate to go for years, but this year we could spare some cash and so we sat down and booked everything online. (Except the train which was done at the station to ensure they got the cheapest option.)

It was my 50th birthday last September, the Teacher got me a "Red Letter Day" present which we will be enjoying this coming weekend - we'll be hawking. No, not coughing up phlegm and spitting it out, but flying birds of prey, it's an exciting prospect. Hope the weather's nice.

The Boy got an excited email from CBBC yesterday as they need his team's zook for the Bamzooki show he's going in for. I suspect they'll be organising a seeding system for the new knockout format by pre-testing the competitor zooks, in order to make it nice and exciting. (Please note, I am no privy to any internal information about the new show, this is all supposition.)

What's on the turntable? "Truck on, Tyke" by T.Rex

Friday, July 24, 2009

Definition of Tragedy

Our dog noticed a spider running across the floor, under the coffee table.

He dived half under the coffee table, watching it. It stopped. He stopped. He waited and watched it.

Then it ran - from dog's viewpoint it wanted to play! He chased it across the floor, and sniffed it. It tried to escape. He squished it with his nose as he tried to sniff it.

It stopped moving. He tried to eat it. Spat it out.

It didn't move.

Then he prodded it with his paw, to get it moving again.

But it didn't move. It was dead.

He chewed it a little more. Spat it out.

It still didn't move.

He rolled over beside it, giving it the opportunity to attack him.

But it didn't move, it was dead.

So he stood up. Went over and dived half under the coffee table again. Perhaps hoping the spider would play with him if he went back to his previous position.

But the spider was dead.


What's on the turntable? Denzel Washington is on the TV...

Waylaid by Pirates

I did none of the things I intended to do last night because I'd received a DVD in the post and it was absolutely essential I watch it right then.

It goes like this: When I was very young my parents were very good to us, they took us to the D'oyly Carte to see various Gilbert and Sullivan light operas (the one that always stuck in my mind was Iolanthe). In the mid-80s the Teacher and I experienced the new production of G&S's Pirates of Penzance at the newly re-opened Opera House in Manchester.

It starred Paul Nicholas and Bonnie Langford - it was completely outrageous and brilliant. We went to see it four times including the last night of the extended tour when all hell broke loose on stage. A few years later we caught a film adaptation of the US staging which featured Kevin Klein as the Pirate King.

So last week I bought it.

Except I didn't. What I got was a recording of the stage version performed in Central Park but still with Kevin Klein as the Pirate King. It's a bit ropey being a transcription from fairly poor quality video. But it's exactly the same staging as we saw at the Opera House and the American accents aren't too obtrusive. (Oh and it's got Patricia Routledge in it as Ruth - bet you didn't know she could sing.)

So we watched it - me, the Daughter and the Boy. Both loved it, the Daughter appreciated the slightly more ironic humour of the lyrics, the Boy enjoyed the knock-about humour of the staging (but being musical he really appreciated the songs).

(The Teacher was at her school's end-of-term dinner.)

From a story viewpoint - as a writer don't you find you cannot help analysing? - it's brilliant, the core dilemma is introduced immediately after the first song. From there complications ensue.

What's on the turntable? I'm humming "With Cat-like Tread" to myself

Thursday, July 23, 2009

There's exciting

The Daughter hasn't heard back on the Welsh-accent acting job, this is probably something to do with the fact that it suddenly dawned on me that the ad said "Welsh-speaking". Which she isn't, not even nearly.

She's thinking of having lessons in Mandarin, but I don't really think that will help.

Yester-eve I had a meeting with the Producer and Director (hi, Chris - he reads this so I have to be careful what I say) of the extract of Monsters we're planning to film. Good meeting and I think we all got on. Got a schedule of sorts sorted out - the only stumbling block currently is that we need a school to film in, and this is the wrong time to be trying to talk to a school. 'Cos they're not there.

Still there's plenty of other stuff to be working on. I have to supply a couple of even-more-cut-down scenes, as well as pitch doc and character bios/descriptions. We'll be putting the casting call out soon and having fun at auditions.

The Daughter is already cast as lead character (the benefits of nepotism), and as we were going home she commented that it was easy to see how writers can get sidelined once the whole movie-making machine gets underway - not that Kate and Chris are doing that to me, she hastened to add.

Perceptive girl.

What's on the turntable? At work ... so no music. Perhaps I should get a little machine that plays music.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Movie meme

Seen on various blogs, stolen from the delicious David Turner.

1.Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times.

Ghostbusters, The Princess Bride, Shrek, Singing in the Rain, Independence Day

I love re-watching fun films.

2.Name a movie that you’ve seen multiple times in the theater.

Mary Poppins - when I was young. And Star Wars IV, when I was less young.

3.Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.

Dustin Hoffman

4.Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.

Will Ferrell.

5.Name a movie that you can and do quote from.

The Princess Bride ("Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya...") or Rocky Horror ("I didn't make him for you!") or Serenity ("God, god, we're all going to die") or "This is Spinal Tap" ("It goes up to 11") or any Marx Brothers movie.

6.Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.

Singing in the Rain

7.Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with.

Singing in the Rain, Mama Mia - I have no shame.

8.Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see.

Um um um ... no idea. Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"

9.Name a movie that you own.

Really? Any one? I mean, there are so many ... "Hero"

10.Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.

All the best ones have been done - Sinatra was amazing - but how about Mike Reid? Originally a stand-up and stuntman (well, for two films).

11.Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in?


12. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven’t yet gotten around to it.

Lots of them. Shawshank Redemption.

13.Ever walked out of a movie?


14.Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.

I'll blub at anything. Wall-E.

15.What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Ice Age 3 before that.

16.What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?

Action adventure.

17.What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?

2001: A Space Odyssey

18.What movie do you wish you had never seen?

None really, if I get bored I turn them off.

19.What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

I Heart Huckabees - loved it. Philosophical conflict.

20.What is the scariest movie you’ve seen?

Tricky, I've blanked them all out. "Aliens" the first time I saw it I suppose.

21.What is the funniest movie you’ve seen?

That's hard. I'll have to go with "Duck Soup".

What's on the turntable? Silence due to doing this ina clandestine fashion at work

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sex, violence and swearing

Something I've been meaning to blog about for a while.

Personally I'm not a fan of any of them in scripts, though I've written characters that swear, characters that commit horrendous acts of violence and sex scenes (the latter two in unpublished novels rather than scripts). I mention that I have written such things because I don't want you to think that I am, perhaps, a prude.

I have a mantra that I'm apt to vocalise whenever the subject comes up in conversation:

"Sex (or violence, or swearing) is completely unnecessary - except when it's essential."

Just because the majority of people swear does not mean there's any value in having characters swear because if they do it all the time then it has no value. But if they don't do it normally it becomes a significant character point when they do. (Having said that there is a character Tec who uses the F word casually on two occasions but then he's not a nice person and it adds emphasis because no one else does.)

I think most people agree that gratuitous violence is - well - gratuitous. I don't tend to watch particularly violent TV or movies (I'll never watch a slasher horror). But let's take Wallander that was on the TV last night **SPOILER COMING** a character kills himself by throwing himself under the tracks of a tank. I did not need to be shown the result but I was - the only thing I didn't like about the show.

People's imagination's are far better than reality (or any illusory version thereof) at scaring them. On the other hand the violence done to the victims in the same programme were relevant to the plot and were far more horrifying even though only the result was shown (because the crime had to be imagined, very un-nice). **SPOILER GONE**

Sex is the worst, in my opinion, unless it is absolutely essential it just kills any narrative drive for the sole purpose of audience titillation and an attempt to boost viewing figures. (Screen sex seldom bears any relation to what it's really like and when it does it's usually a comedy scene.)

That title is going to do wonders for the hit rate on this blog...

What's on the turntable? "Cruel Sister" by Pentangle from "Light Flight"

Monday, July 20, 2009


Other people don't blog because they're busy.

I fail to blog when I'm not busy.

The first day of the new job was fine, suffering from information overload because the site is huge (I've been brought in to finish it by the deadline - just like the re-brand of Paramount Comedy), and I have to do meetings, oh well. Nice company though. Travel time is about 80 minutes but with some judicious route-choosing I can probably cut that down.

But when it comes to writing I can't get started on the re-write of Running because I can't print it out (no ink). Does that sound like an excuse? I suppose it might be, sort of, except I really want to be able to read it through properly, and you can't read things properly on screen. But I have been thinking about its structure and how it needs to change. I need to go back to basics - the Aristotle level of basics.

Still, I watched the Swedish Wallander this evening. I liked the Brannagh version very much, but this is in a different class. It's all so understated, the photography is superb, the acting is brilliant, the plot is tight and the dialogue - is sometimes comprehensible - it's excellent.

I think having the dialogue as subtitles helps in some ways, it allows the actor's expression to really come through, somehow.

What's on the turntable? Still quiet.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The Teacher and the Daughter read Tec yesterday, the Daughter never says anything critical (maybe I should give her one of my known-to-be-not-very-good scripts just to test her). The Teacher, on the other hand, has no problem saying what she thinks (she also spent many years as a magazine editor), but said she liked it anyway. (She particularly liked the fact she gets a cover page credit for the original idea.)

So what's next? Choosing the next project seems to be a common issue in the scribosphere at the moment - but I'm not asking for a vote.

I need to do another draft of Running before I hit the spec script. I think having a finished feature - especially one that a producer is slightly interested in - is most important plus I need the practice in feature writing, I'm much more uncomfortable with features than TV.

Assuming I can organise my time on my new schedule. We shall see.

(Just saw Half Blood Prince, it's rather good - it's all downhill from here.)

What's on the turntable? Nuffink

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Phew! Just finished the second draft of Tec.

I'd printed it out and had another hack at it. Added a short scene-setting scene at the start to get a little silence/noise contrast. Developed some other scenes, trimmed some dialogue and expanded other bits.

The big change was the long denouement at the end which was a big talkie scene under a bridge beside a canal with very little movement. I knew I had to split this scene up - and change a lot of the dialogue 'cos it was a bit rubbish - as I did in the opening of Air but when I reached it I didn't really want to.

That's where the discipline thing comes in. I could have just given up there and waited until I was a bit less tired or whatever. But since I promised, publicly in the blog, that Tec would be ready for external reading by Friday I had sufficient impetus to continue.

Having decided to make the changes, I remembered a brilliant location along a section of canal in Manchester and imagined it was happening there. It made all the difference. It allowed me to set up more action and provided a brilliant backdrop for my imagination. The new dialogue flowed nicely and the new length is a perfect 57 pages.

I think the most important thing here is something I've always known but it can be difficult to convince yourself: Making the decision to create is what actually makes the creativity flow. It's not the external thing that many people would like to think. It comes from you and your decision.

Canals feature quite a lot in this script. But nobody gets drowned - that's in a future episode.

This is my last evening in Milton Keynes, tomorrow it's back home and the Sheffield job starts Monday. Ending contract jobs is always weird.

What's on the turntable? "Aerial" by Kate Bush from "Aerial"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Land of My Fathers

The Daughter needs some help.

After being on kids.castingcallpro.com for many years she's been offered an audition. Only trouble is she needs a Welsh accent that doesn't head into the Far East.

There are excellent dialect samples on the IDEA website (people from all over the world speaking English) but do you have any suggestions that could help? (I have no idea whether it's supposed to be North or South Wales.)

What's on the turntable? "Hello" by Evanescence from "Fallen"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Getting personal

I haven't mentioned much of what I'm about on the personal front recently. My contract with the Open University comes to an end this week, but I am already set up with another contract in Sheffield starting from Monday.

I was particularly interested in the Sheffield job because it meant that I could live at home for a change. Something appreciated by all the family. It should be cheaper - unfortunately it isn't. From where I live to the job is less than 40 miles, a small journey by train - my favoured form of transport. But no. The Pennines are in the way and there's no easy way to do it. So I am forced to lease a car which eats up most of the money I would otherwise have had extra.

This is not to say that I'll be worse off or anything. It's just irritating. Plus the fact I will be wasting 3 hours of my day, every weekday, when I could be writing. Irritating.

Writing-related news

The work on Tec continues on target - dumped another two scenes I didn't much like and incorporated their plot-relevant content elsewhere in a much tighter format. As a general policy I cut back dialogue and action whenever I see something that could be expressed in less words - a by-product of my magazine editor experience where I was forever chopping out the deadwood from other people's prose - often turning complete paragraphs into a single short sentence.

Despite all this cutting back the script is the same length as it was before I started this process - which hopefully means it's getting packed with the good stuff.

The trailer for Monsters will hopefully be getting back on track after a short hiatus - with the producer being on holiday (and getting engaged) - and the director being so busy at work he couldn't do anything. Though he did watch Children of Earth and promises that he saw some neat tricks he's going to steal.

My search for a new illustrator for the Monsters OGN is not going very well at the moment, had a nibble but it didn't go anywhere. Trouble is my requirements are limiting - I'd really prefer an illustrator who knows Manchester.

In other news

The Daughter got her first "trial job" last weekend, at a country house hotel, serving at table like all good actresses. I would have said that they just did it to get some free staff, except they called her today for another event they're hosting on Friday. They'll pay her for that one. Still got a long way to go before she can afford to get to Borneo though. The other positive thing is that she can now put an actual job on her CV.

The Boy is gearing up for the CBBC Bamzooki TV show, they sent him the new software (as yet unreleased, and no you can't have it) the new format looks very exciting. He's been designing his new zooks and will be working with his team next week when they finish school. It also turns out that he's a rather good drummer (as well as playing sax and tenor horn) - I feign annoyance at how talented my kids are.

The Teacher is fine, and very pleased that she's steadily losing weight without dieting. Hope she doesn't go too far, I like my wenches cuddlesome.

What's on the turntable? "I wasn't gonna fall in love" by Carole King from "Love makes the World"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Problems and solutions

An exact statement of the problem reveals the solution.

Having determined that I had not explained the protagonist's working methods sufficiently - or indeed, at all. I sat down and analysed each occasion in the script where she needs to use her "knack" - it's not a knack really, just an application of code debugging techniques to crimes and behaviour (that's her shtick).

An important step really, because it means I have had to move some things around. Chopped out an early scene I didn't like anyway (it pretended to move the plot but didn't really) and had to adjust the movements and behaviours of the characters in order to ensure the audience sees what the protagonist sees - though they won't interpret it the same way. Important for the genre because if the detective has information the audience doesn't have they get irritated - it's cheating.

Hopefully I shall have the script ready for external reading by the end of the week.

What's on the turntable? "The Court of Love" from the "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff

Sunday, July 12, 2009

James Moran is...

...an excellent writer and a good bloke.

Nobody deserves the stupid crap the morons have been firing at him.

It's a story. And it is a bloody good story. The fact that it generated such a fantastic level of emotion is a tribute to its quality. The fact that James has been forced to write this


is a tribute too. Perversely.

I look at it this way: Torchwood Children of Earth was a very upsetting piece, it was real. The people in it behaved as people would. And it's not pretty.

In my opinion we all have bad things lurking inside, some of us can deal with it, we can acknowledge that under certain circumstances we might behave in bad ways, while hoping we won't. However those people who attacked James are those who cannot face the truth. They attempt to deny it by attacking the person who stood up and said "look, this could be you". (I know it wasn't just him but James has been the public face over the last week.)

Regardless of the type of attack, regardless of any so-called justifications for their attacks, it comes down to one thing: This TV show - this entertainment - threatened to show them what they were really like, and they couldn't take it, they had to lash out.

This is why there is no sense in trying to reason with them. For a start the thing they claim to be the problem isn't actually the real problem, and second, the damage has already been done and cannot be undone. They don't know what the problem really is, because if they did ... then it wouldn't be a problem.

RTD has done it before with Second Coming, though the reaction was less intense.

For what it's worth, James, I think you and the others created one of the best TV experiences I have ever had. It was utterly brilliant.

What's on the turntable? "When Tomorrow Comes" by the Eurythmics from "Revenge"

It's not SF if it's good.

Regular readers will know that I get annoyed by ignorant snobs who think SF and Fantasy are intrinsically bad.

What's worse are those who try to redefine something as "not SF" if it is somehow good. My tally is currently as follows:
  • "Battlestar Galactica" is not SF because it is a socio-religious-political drama about people.
  • Ursula Le Guin's "Left-hand of Darkness" is not SF because it's a superb commentary on life and prejudice.
  • The literary author of the novel about a future Earth where pollution has destroyed the environment - but it's not SF because she doesn't write SF. (And how dare you suggest such a thing.)
  • There is move to redefine the late great J. G. Ballard as "not an SF writer" because he was great; now that he is also "late" they think they can get away with it because he's not around to argue.
Wouldn't surprise me if there was a move to claim that Torchwood: Children of Earth is not SF, purely because it was phenomenal.

Of course there are great writers like Iain Banks who enjoy telling their literary audience how much they also enjoy writing SF. I hope it makes them squirm.

(Another annoyance are people who, due to their ignorance, cannot tell the difference between SF and Fantasy. Referring to SF as Fantasy is not too bad, obviously it is "fantastical", but I mean the ones who call Fantasy, SF. Like a rather silly woman in Broadcast magazine this week.)

I've not been feeling well this weekend. Hence the rant.

What's on the turntable? Nuffink

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Well. That was - phenomenal.

The Daughter missed the last episode last night - she's watching it on iPlayer right now with headphones. I saw the expression on her face during the earlier bit with the civil servant and the gun. Now she's crying, just like I did last night. Just as the Teacher did when she watched it this afternoon (she missed last night as well).

I hope I can write like that one day.

(Oh and welcome to Lisa.)

What's on the turntable? The excellent Poirot theme tune, I'm doing research.

Friday, July 10, 2009


How about "I have been a finalist in 50% of the screenwriting competitions I've entered?"

I didn't get into the CBBC masterclass, otherwise it would have been 75%.

Of course I'd love to know why ... but we don't get that privilege (understandably).

Anyone got a positive yet?

What's on the turntable? It's all quiet in the quiet coach - makes a change.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Dry white wine

I finished the first phase of editing Tec yester-eve. As I ate breakfast this morning I realised there were a couple of points that needed clarification in the story - major oops.

This is a British Private Investigator-type series with a main character who's as outlandish, in her own way, as Sherlock Holmes, House or Patrick Jane (the Mentalist). She has her specialisations and there are certain things that are, to her, completely obvious.

In that "doh!" moment I realised that there is no story explanation of those things that are obvious to her. She just says "it's obvious" - now I know why it's obvious to her but I have to indicate, in some easy non-expositional way, why. Without explanation there are major plot points in the solution of the crimes that are glossed over, as far as the audience is concerned.

I also realised that her side-kick, who is actually her boss, (similarities to the Mentalist are striking but I started this before the Mentalist appeared. Damn, Torchwood clashes with the Mentalist tonight - no competition, Torchwood wins.) Where was I, oh yes, there's a bit where she's dealing with money - that's her boss's job.

The next full stage of editing, for me, is to go through and see what can be done about the long talkie scenes. This is a liability with cop and doc drama - loads of talking, little action, limited locations. But I'm not taking it for granted.

This process worked very well for Air, if you read the first ten pages (see the link on this page) the scenes at the top of the tower, first in the room and then on the roof were originally all in the room and it was just talk. I added the action that moved them from the room to the roof which cut the long scene in half and added momentum.

After the night of a thousand red pens, cutting huge swathes of dialogue from Tec, and then the addition of the important extra scene (as mentioned yesterday) I have about 6 minutes of screen time to play with, should be plenty.

This evening I wrote my first creative input into the Clones collaboration, the backstory was a bunch of incoherent ideas (in the sense that they did not stick together, rather than illiterate), curiously enough they became coherent by turning the backstory upside down. I realised I was reading it the wrong way up*.

Tomorrow we should hear about the CBBC/Writersroom. Tense? Moi?

*Yes, that was a joke - so dry that if it were a wine it would be dust in the bottom of the glass.

What's on the turntable? "It's a Hard Life" by Queen from "Greatest Hits II"

My kind of blog

Bill Martell's Script Secrets, he's got hundreds and every one is a gem. This one is about being organised. He's not wrong.

What's on the turntable? Nowt, I'm at work.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I love the smell of yoghurt in the morning

It works like this: when I return to the B+B in the evening I am presented with a small jug of fresh milk with which to make whatever teas and coffees I might desire. Of course the weather has been warm which means that, by morning, the milk has gone off. Not that I'm bothered, if it was only slightly off I'd use it anyway, if too far gone I'll take my coffee without.

It had not been especially hot in the night and I was expecting something drinkable - but it wouldn't even pour. Solid. Yoghurt. The temperature must have been perfect.


I had a good old hack at Tec last night, and this occurred to me:

A recent blog by Jez commented on a discussion between him and another writer; gentle reader, I was that other writer. I am known for asking awkward questions. Anyway one of the areas we went over, in relation to "confident" writing, was scene transitions - not the scenes themselves but the pattern they form moving from one to the next.

For me this is critically important, if the scenes don't flow right it feels wrong and I can actually stop right there, unable to move forward until I fix the problem. (Usually something wrong with the previous scene, or my choice of next scene is wrong.)

As I trundled through the script of Tec only 6 pages in I realised there was a scene missing. In retrospect I recalled that I hadn't been entirely happy with the sequence, and when I read it through it stood out like a sore thumb.

The issue was one of passing time. The events of one day being followed by the events of the following day but there was absolutely no way the audience could know that it actually was the following day.

The scene that I had known was needed was one that firmly established that a night had passed. Not necessarily a very long scene (one minute max), just enough to establish a location used in the future, a character connected with it, the protagonist's relationship to it and the passage of time.

I'll write that tonight. And continue implementing the red-pen massacre.

What's on the turntable? "Hejira" by Joni Mitchell from "Hejira"

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Editor's Pen

I finished Tec last night after that burst of inspiration courtesy of Torchwood. It really was excellent, I love having my expectations exploded. (Have you ever had yours exploded?)

So I've printed up Tec and I'm hitting it with the red pen - there are two, possibly three (even four), reasons for not waiting a couple of weeks: I've been writing so slowly I've become disconnected from the beginning anyway. I'm still inspired. I feel I need to practice editing stuff more quickly after writing: 17 years as a magazine editor does give me some help in that area. I need to clear the decks for the new stuff and the existing things are beginning to pile up. Red Planet will get announced soon and, assuming the format is the same, this is my entry.

Five reasons.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

By the way, commiserations to those who missed on the Writers Academy.

Only three days to the CBBC/Writersroom announcement.

What's on the turntable? "Free Man in Paris" by Joni Mitchell from "Hits" compilation

Monday, July 06, 2009


Torchwood: Children of Earth - why I want to write for TV?

To do something like that.

'Nuff said.

What's on the turntable? "Blue" by Joni Mitchell from "Blue"

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The story so far...

Back here I outlined what I felt my goals were for this year.

1. Get a writing commission.
2. Complete my current works in progress

The WIPs then were: Air, Unit X, Une Nuit a Paris, and Winter.

So how's it gone?

No commissions, I have the collaboration offered to me specifically because the Producer liked my style. I have the other potential commission still waiting.

Air was completed to a good result.

Unit X was completed to a poor result, but I know what's wrong with it.

However some time later I re-evaluated my projects on the basis of how they could forward my career, though I can't find the post. This threw Une Nuit a Paris out of the running, as was Unit X, both need too much work. But I did finish the first draft of Unit X.

was a potential commission from the BBC but wasn't accepted. It got canned by me because it's far too complicated to write as a spec, it could never even work as a spec for reasons I won't go into.

Okay, I will go into it: Imagine you had to write a script but at every major decision point you had to branch off and write the rest of the script. But you've taken one branch, now you have another decision point, the story can go two further ways, you have write both. And so on.

That's a lot of writing for a spec.

Instead I've nearly completed Tec, I wrote Which? my fun Torchwood/Being Human crossover, and experiment in writing in other people's character's voices. Tec exists to show I can write non-SF/non-Fantasy. Oh and I wrote the feature script Running as well from scratch in April.

So what's next?
  1. Work on the collaboration thing which we'll call Clones.
  2. Work on a spec for an existing TV show, which is Noise.
  3. Work on a second spec script for an existing TV show ... hm, that'll be called Wildlife.
  4. And work on new drafts of Running
  5. and of Tec - which will be my entry for the next Red Planet.
Might not hear much about Noise and Wildlife for a while, but you never know.

Good enough.

What's on the turntable? It's quiet here on the train. I'm not in the Quiet Carriage, because people there always make loads of noise. Seriously.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Resumption of Normal Service

Aha! Google appear to have fixed the Blogger bug so now I can post blogs without all the Word shenanigans. Huzzah!

Had my meeting with the producer today. It seemed to go well though it wasn't quite what I thought it was - I imagined we were going for a web series, but no, it's a TV series, however it's all spec and no-pay collaboration. Turning his ideas into solid script - but I'm allowed to have my own ideas too. I shall have to think of a code word to describe this project.

However there was plenty of discussion of other projects both mine and his. I swapped my leave-behinds for his take-aways so we'll both be having a read.

Nice chap - very young* - but enthusiastic. His (and his business partner's) company have done a bunch of shorts that have done well and they even received money for one of them. (Wow.) So they're looking to take the next step.

As I've pretty much finished Tec I'll probably re-schedule things and see how it all comes out.

As my day job affects my writing I shall also mention that I have an interview for a job in Sheffield. Which means two things if I get it (the animal entrails bode well): (a) I'll be living at home; (b) commute time goes up again.

Both of these are damaging to my writing time as my wife pointed out - much as I would love to be at home more. On the other hand I'd be earning considerably more in the penny department, which we could really do with.

On balance Sheffield would be good. I'll need to buy a cute little eee pc to write on - my laptop is a heavy beast - and be much stricter with myself. But that can't be a bad thing.

Next blog will be a look back at how I'm doing on the year's writing goals and what the next six months may bring.

* In comparison to me.

What's on the turntable? "Awakening" by Gordon Giltrap from "Visionary" (I'm in Giltrap mode again - just can't stop listening to it.)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Pitch in

So whenever I try to create a blog in Blogger itself I get a bX-xovb7t error (this is happening to a large chunk of people and has been going on for at least 5 days so far). But it turns out that I can edit existing blogs. I sorted out Word so that I could post a blog from there but I hate it, it's just so awkward and ugly.

My solution is to create and post the initial blog then come back to Blogger to actually write the thing.

It's not perfect but it works.

I've had a bit of a problematic week, the Teacher was ill at the weekend - even though we still had to head down to my sister's 40th birthday bash, which went okay. But due to the illness my sleep can be better described as a lack of it.

So the heat coupled with lack of sleep has been the worst thing. The office has been reasonably cool (though there's no air-con) but as previously mentioned the room I have in the B+B is in the roof and south-facing. It bakes. So for three evenings I have done virtually nothing.

Though I have managed to scribble out a few more pages of Tec which is good.

This Saturday I have the meeting with the Producer in Manchester. So this evening I must sort out all my bits and pieces that I'll be taking along, all the pitches and scripts that he's asked for. Of course it's not a formal "stand there and pitch" for which I am grateful, but I still need to know my stuff so I can hit him with the throughlines with some confidence.

As we're six months through the year various bloggers have done a "how we are doing on the targets?" posting. I shall do this also in the next exciting instalment.

What's on the turntable? "Lucifer's Cage" by Gordon Giltrap from "Visionary" (This is the first time I've had my music on all week - feel like things are getting back to normal.)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Searchamafaction #4

One of the nice things about Google Analytics is that it keeps all your information and you can examine your sites stats over whatever period you choose. I thought I'd see how I've been doing over the last year, on a monthly basis, and I find that the visits to the site had been increasing steadily up to a little over 1000 per month in January then held steady for two further months and then went into a slight decline … but climbed again through May, with June being the highest ever.

I have to report that my visits are now 80% from other sites and a mere 7.5% from search engines. I find that a little upsetting but it's a (mainly) Google thing. Google tracks when you go to a site from one of its searches – and if you come back almost immediately. If you do then it assumes the site does not fill the search requirements as much as it thought it did and so you get downgraded for that type of search. I have a pathetic 83% bounce rate – people leaving without going to another page, although I suspect that has something to do with the way the blogs are organised.

So to business, what are the best search terms for the last two months? I didn't do a Searchamafaction last month.

1. Merlin (16)

2. Imagination cubed (15)

2. My body is my tool (15)

4. Progress bar (8)

5. Inktip (7)

6. CBBC competition (3)

6. Jeff Kitchen (3)

8. Audition Bristol Old Vic 2

9. Bamzooki 2

9. Celtx 2

With oddest search term being: casanova "fake death".

Until the next time.

Testing 1-2-3

I can't use Blogger to post currently, it just gives me an error and has been since Sunday. There is no estimate on how long that will take to fix – I get an error when I try to report the error.

However I am trying this alternative, posting via Word. Looks like it works.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.