Friday, December 31, 2010

11111011010 vs 11111011011

Now that's just silly, I spent 5 minutes converting 2010 into binary, (by hand, none of this electronic gizmo help) and then checking the result to ensure I got it right.

So here we are at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 most bloggers have already done the customary look back and look forward, so I'm a bit late to the party - but I brought a bottle.

One of the most significant aspects of this year has been the huge reduction in my blogs - I wrote 257 in 2009 and only 61 in 2010. It's not personal, I still love you very much, but the first six months involved living at home where I find I have a lot less to say, perhaps because my evenings are not spent alone in a room. And the second half of the year I spent living back at my parents house - which has been a strange experience - and the day job was so tough I spent most evenings working as well.

This also had a dire effect on my writing output.

This year I only wrote one feature, one short, one web series (page 1 rewrite) and one TV pilot (also a page 1 rewrite).


So let's look at the goals I set last year:

Get a commission Well as I did virtually no promotion through the year it's hardy surprising that was a complete failure, not even a nibble. And the one show I actually had a genuine chance on - Survivors - was cancelled. I have some new ideas in this area so shall be moving ahead with that.

Finish works in progress These were Tec, the TV series, which I did complete but script consultant feedback was not great. So I have been rewriting this for a third time. And then there was Winter which I had hoped we would have shot by now but things changed...

10 new TV series ideas Nope. Just the one and that was in the last couple of weeks because I decided I might try my hand at writing a sitcom (since there are two sitcom opportunities coming up and the Daughter suggested a "situation" that I don't believe has ever been used).

Enter 4 screenwriting competitions - well I did seven (woo-hoo): Blue Cat, Red Planet, Shine's Big Idea, 4Talent and three related to the London Screenwriting Festival 2010 - and my short was on the short list for one of those (what one might generously call a "finalist").

A bit poo overall.

So, let's see other writing highlights of the year: the previously mentioned London Screenwriters Festival was brill. Thoroughly enjoyed meeting old friends, and made lots of new ones. There was also Adrian Mead's thing in Edinburgh, where I met up with David "The Bishop" Bishop and made a good contact for my feature Running which I am currently rewriting.

So, what happened to Winter? It was initially set as contemporary SF short. Then modified into a contemporary 5 part web series. Then Chris the Director suggested something which required a complete rewrite into an Steampunk piece set in an alternative 1911. Another rewrite is required to iron out the illogical bits - but the new improved "logical" version has more emotion (I love writing action, but action plus emotion is just the best).

The alternative Steampunk timeline thing is a major cross-platform or transmedia (as the buzzword goes) project and has lots of opportunities for creativity in different media.

So, targets for the coming year:
  • Promotion: I'm afraid I don't want to give you the details on this. I know, I'm mean. But if everybody did what I'm about to do it would rather spoil things. Anyway this is to increase my chances of getting a commission, and amounts to getting my name out there more.
  • Complete current projects: Running rewrite (and delivered to contact); sitcom scripts (codename Charity) and entered into competitions; Winter rewritten and ready to go; Tec rewrite;
  • Enter 12 screenwriting competitions;
  • Go to London Screenwriters Festival 2011;
  • Build a website for me;
So there we have it.

From tomorrow I'm having a two-week break from work (and even family, though I do miss them terribly when I'm away) during which time I expect to be thoroughly revived and refreshed, becoming all shiny and new. And during this time I'll be able to get down to some solid writing - I shall hopefully finish the Running rewrite, and get Charity planned out.

I wish you the very best for the coming year (whether it began today for you, or at some time later).

Oooh, Primeval is back from extinction, I'm looking forward to that!

What's on the turntable? "Time Square" by Tangerine Dream from "Tan-go"

Monday, December 20, 2010

And I'm back in the room

and I have so much to say that I just don't know where to start - the end result is that this is probably going to be quite disjointed.

Currently I'm having fan-girl squees all over TV writer Howard Overman - which sounds as disgusting as something he might write for Nathan in Misfits; now in its second season and as brilliant as ever (he created and writes the series - it's not for the easily offended). Plus he wrote the new Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency adaptation - on BBC4 no less, not known for its fictional drama.

Since the London Screenwriters' Festival I have been waiting on the results of certain activities. I foolishly failed to take my own advice and had high hopes of the Channel 4 mentoring scheme. My usual advice to anyone is "enter and forget", I didn't do this and was seriously disappointed when I failed to get in. Very silly me.

On the other hand the Shine Pictures competition I did indeed enter and forget- just as well.

There is one more thing I entered which I was expecting the results of before Christmas but I suspect I won't hear anything until afterwards now. Which is fine.

(Note to self: reprogram computer keyboard driver so that when I type ';' with a 't' immediately after it it changes the ';' to an apostrophe - because that is the most common typo I make and it's really annoying.)

(Note about note to self: learn how to reprogram computer keyboard driver.)

The site I was working relaunched pretty successfully - and rather better than the US version of the site which had problems every time they did a relaunch of each of its eight sections (which they did by stages). We received a personal congratulatory email from the person at the top. Very nice.

As previously mentioned I do my "I am a rock" impression during these difficult periods (though not with the bad connotations of the Simon and Garfunkel song of the same name). And today one of the staff referred to me as a "saint" - I think she was going for a Saint Peter comparison but didn't quite make it. Being a rock is all very well but, you know, sometimes even rocks need to cry. (See what I did there? No? Check the lyrics, man!)

It's Christmas. And we have rail network problems. This does not bother me. I ignore them. And travel long distances by train and arrive as required. It's been said that if someone comes back with the instant quip, he's a comedian. But if he comes back half an hour later with the quip, he's a writer.

Well, I was standing on a busy station with 500 commuters who were waiting for a train that was going to be packed, and two people decided to take out their frustration on a network rail employee. I will not stand for that sort of thing so I told them to leave him alone, in my extreme writerly cleverness I said "Why don't you leave him alone?" so then they tried to take it out on me, I gave them my best condescending smile and just turned away as in "I am not listening to your nonsense."

Of course, half an hour later, after replaying the episode many many times I realised that a much better line - played loudly to the entire audience - would have been "Do you understand the meaning of the word bully?" which would have left them speechless. Then I could have turned away without the condescending smile to thunderous applause.

Might have got a punch in the mouth though. But it would have been in the cause of art, and there is no better cause than that.

Speaking of writing (brilliant segway) I am in the middle of a rewrite of the feature script Running. Thing is this: I had two chunks of feedback from the Blue Cat competition this year and both readers liked aspects of it but there were things to work on.

I began by completely re-working the opening - not the first few scenes because they are cool - but after that. And then I got stuck. Took me a whole 24 hours to realise that I was making a huge blunder: the readers liked the story, and here I was changing the story. Major ooops.

So I threw those changes away and put back what I had before.

However I do have a slight problem: the original version of the script was set in a generic US city, so cops with guns is perfectly normal. The new setting is Edinburgh (because I have someone who wants to read it and it needs to be set in Scotland - and Edinburgh is perfect for the premise). So guns suddenly cease to be common. Bit awkward, still, I'll manage.

And then I realised the first few scenes, though very exciting and jolly good action, don't actually make much sense if you examine the logic. Ooops again. Now this is the second time this has happened to me in the last three months (I had also realised the premise of Winter made no sense either - yes, Jez, you did say that. What can I say? I can be thick as a brick.)

So, as I crunched through snow this evening I figured out how to make it make sense, which then allowed me to have the original scenes and the new scenes. Script writing can be very satisfying.

Which brings me to my last point, for now.

Writers often say that they must write. It's a curious thing to me, as if it's some obsession, because I look at myself and I think "I'm not like that". I have no compulsion to write, I enjoy it but I don't mind stopping. Failing to write does not hurt.

But my recent failure in the Channel 4 mentoring scheme made me wonder whether I should bother writing at all. I fell to imagining not writing - thing is, I couldn't. I am incapable of imagining myself not writing. So while I have less compulsion - the creativity is there and it just isn't going away any time soon whether my work gets picked up by a film or TV company or not.

Funny that.

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