Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week off - sorta

Here I am in Birmingham (the original, not Alabama) for the week. I like Birmingham and it's got some very nice people in it. Some of them are my friends :-)

The crime writer Roger Ellory (one of those friends) mentions, in his latest blog, working with his bass player - who it just so happens I was talking to this afternoon. One of said player's current jobs is working with a big Queen tribute band and he's getting to globe trot and play to big audiences.

There's nothing like being on stage. Brilliant.

Speaking of music - the Boy has been developing his instrumental skills and now, apart from tenor horn and saxophone, he's learning guitar. All he needs now is drums and he can be the entire band.

The Daughter had to give up on her plan to go to Borneo and look after Orang-utans. Instead she's off to New Zealand for a month doing voluntary work followed by a family trip to Australia.

Lucky for some.

What's on the turntable? Nuffink.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Excited much

Director Chris has just bunged over the latest version of the Monsters trailer (for The Trailer Festival) with some of the new footage in place - with the excellent prosthetic make-up by Donna Griffe.

I like it a lot. Goosebumps, in fact. Though it's still missing any of the fight scene, and the big "heroine getting dangled off the top of the skyscraper" CGI moment (filmed in our cellar).

He's working hard on the CGI (using the amazing Blender) and it looks like it's going to work.


What's on the turntable? "Life on the Road " by Man from "Back into the Future" - 'Man' were a Welsh Prog Rock band of the 70s of which I'd never even heard before Spotify suggested them. A curious mix of Rock, Blues, Progressive Folk Welshness.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


After my feedback from Blue Cat I've gone through the script of Running doing a general clean-up and trimming of dialogue and scenes. Doesn't really seem to have shortened it much.

Mind you I am now slightly embarrassed: As I mentioned this was a second draft and, as it turns out, it was packed with errors. Okay, in my universe a grammatical error every couple of pages = "packed" - but honestly there were so many adverbs plus continuous and passive tenses it was painful.

To think I sent them that ... and I've had it up on Inktip for the last few months as well. It even got downloaded a few times. Oh dear. Basically I just completely forgot that it had had no feedback at all, and no rewrites.

Anyway it's all shiny now. So I'll pop it back for the competition.

I originally wrote Running during a ScriptFrenzy a couple of years ago. And I've just decided I'm going to do it again (4th time). I find the deadline of 100 pages in 30 days to be very helpful in forcing page writing. I also have a script I've wanted to write for a few years, so I'll be doing that. We will give it the codename of Babel.

In fact this is a genuine secret project, it's an adaptation of a novel by a very famous author that made a huge impression on me, I know the option is available and I've been talking to the author's agent for several years. I spoke to Kate Leys about the project at the last Screenwriters Festival and she told me I should definitely write the script and not worry about the option for now - because I'm already in a good position.

So I will.

(There's another secret project which I'll call Beijing, another adaptation for which I have consent from the author but I won't be getting to that for a while.)

Next up is Winter in it's new guise as a period piece. Although the script isn't finished we now have a producer on board - and this project is very "serious". The producer is already asking very serious questions so we can nail down a budget because this one is going to involve money and everything.

As mentioned by Director Chris we need to find our niche in this world - play to our strengths. We both love SF and Fantasy - but those don't generally come cheap when it comes to production, so we shall be experimenting with the CG route. And if you want a clue to our plans I refer you to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

It's very interesting and very exciting.

What's on the turntable? "Lerandis" by Cluster from "Qua"

Saturday, March 06, 2010

One of those moments

I had that feedback from Blue Cat the other day and I was just thinking about it. There was a throwaway comment in it "In general, you have a nice writing style and a good ear for dialogue" which I already knew.

That's not arrogance (honest) I spent 17 years writing for a computer magazine targeted at the general public. This had two effects: I know how to express concepts, and do it concisely. Screenwriting requires extreme conciseness. (That last sentence, for example, started with three times the number of words.)

As for the dialogue ... well ... I hear my characters talking. It's not that I'm taking dictation, I'm the one telling them what to say, but I can hear them.

At which point, in my thought processes, I came to an abrupt halt (good thing I was wearing my seat belt). Monsters was 7th draft when I sent it out (but it was my second script ever), Air was 2nd draft, Running was 2nd draft ... they've all done well. But Tec, Une Nuit a Paris and Unit X were all a bit rubbish (Tec less so, but still...).

It dawned on me: I couldn't hear the characters in those last three or, at best, they were a bit generic.

It makes sense, of course: If a character isn't "real" that's going to come across on the page and ultimately Character is Plot, so if there characters aren't real, the plot won't be either.

This is a good positive step because it tells me what I need to do to fix those three scripts.

I'm currently reworking Running for Blue Cat, there was one particular suggestion which was very good - giving a much tighter plot - but I don't have time to implement it because it requires a complete restructuring of the script. However I'm doing a general brush-up bearing in mind the other suggestions.

That's when I'm not working on my web project.

(Got up early this morning to do all the procrastination tasks - writing this blog wasn't on my Procrastination List.)

What's on the turntable? "Emerald" by Thin Lizzy from "Live and Dangerous"

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Amazing - or at least, interesting.

I got my Blue Cat feedback today. So I thought I'd include a picture from "Dougal and the Blue Cat" - the first Magic Roundabout film - and when I typed "Dougal" into Google, it was the first item in the list.

This feedback is a bit of a marketing trick really, give early entrants the feedback early and let you resubmit, at additional cost. Thing is it doesn't cost that much to resubmit (and get more feedback) so there's no downside.

And the feedback was fairly decent, you could argue they're being nice to encourage me to spend more money, well, okay, but I'm sufficiently far from this script to see the advice makes good sense.

I wrote Running during ScriptFrenzy two years ago and this was the second draft, which I didn't even re-read before sending to Blue Cat (not that I'd necessarily recommend doing that, but at least I know I can spull and do gud gramma). I'd written it originally for a Director I'd met through the Screenwriters Festival - but it wasn't exactly what he was looking for.

So, time to get things moving again - in between working on my website project and Winter I'll re-work Running and their suggestions will probably knock a good few pages out which won't be a bad thing, it's currently 100 pages so losing 10 pages will be fine.

I'm quite looking forward to it.

What's on the turntable? "Rainy days and Mondays" by The Carpenters - Karen's voice is possibly the most beautiful in the entire universe, what a loss.