Monday, April 24, 2006

Spin Off - Turn Off

New Earth didn't really get the new series of Dr. Who off to a good start, but Werewolf more than made up for it... until the end. What a blatant plug for the new spin off show Torchwood.

I'm not opposed to spin offs, in fact I'm rather looking forward to the much darker Torchwood, but when I read today on the Broadcast website that yet another spin off was being planned I couldn't help but think that maybe they're milking it all a little too much. With CBBC planning a cartoon of Dr. Who aimed at younger children and Jetix Europe confirming that they are going to make a CGI version of K-9, could my favorite programme be about to suffer from overkill?

Yes, I understand that programme makers want to exploit the audience's thirst for all things Dr. Who but doesn't flooding the market with the product shorten it's life? We all know what happened to Star Trek when the producers created new shows to satisfy public demand; the show failed. It failed because to satisfy that demand quality had to give way to quantity and because of this old stories were remarketed with new crews. The show had nothing new to say and the audience soon became tired and moved on.

It's obvious that more money has been spent on the new Dr. Who series but the scripts have still been a little raw in places, especially the first episode New Earth. I'm worried that in their desire to satisfy demand quality might be lost and in a season or two we might well see the demise of Dr. Who from our screens once more.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

You Can Not Be Serious

One of my fellow course mates (who shall from now forth be known as CM) has left the sandy beaches of Bournemouth and made the move to the bright lights (and dingy streets) of London.

After graduating five years ago, despite a short lived attempt dabbling in computer game writing, he has never tried to follow a writing career. In fact he's actively avoided it. CM felt very strongly his degree was worthless and was very skeptical regarding his fellow graduates' chances of making it in the film and television industry. It came as a shock to me therefore, that he has quit his job and moved to London with the intent of starting a writing career.

Always one to offer encouragement and support I text him to let him know that if he needed any advice he should give me a call. No reply. Thinking he might have changed his number I emailed him a couple of weeks later telling him about my fellow bloggers and how forthcoming they are with advice, as well as offering advice on which books to read to help him on his chosen career path. I even offered him an old version of the writing software I use to help him with his writing. Still no reply.

I know we never saw eye to eye on everything and he may on the odd occasion have had good reason to think me an idiot, but to turn away free help, help that he obviously needs, seems to me to be very silly. He's in London, not earning any money, living off his girlfriend's wages, with no contacts in the industry and with no portfolio of work. I can't help thinking he's making a mistake and that maybe he's not really that serious about a writing career after all. But then it's his mistake to make I suppose.

All I can do is offer my help and let him decide if he wants to take it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Near Death Experience

I had a near death experience over the weekend. It was one of those life changing brown trouser moments that provide clarity and the need to change your underpants. Let me explain.

Picture it; Dom Carver on a camping trip with the outlaws, in Porlock, north Somerset. "Lets go for a drive," Steve, my future brother-in-law, suggested. I wanted to go and watch the football but I got dragged along against my will. "Let's visit the Valley Of The Rocks," said Steve with glee. I hate glee, glee means trouble. Glee is the Devil laughing in your face and stamping on your bollocks for good measure.

Once we had gone past the Rocks (very exciting they were too - big granite shaped rock type.... well, rocks) Steve decided to drive us along a single track coast road overlooking a huge cliff, one lacking a barrier between us and the 200ft drop to the rocks below. Now Steve likes large vehicles. I'm rubbish with anything like this so as far as I'm concerned Steve was driving a tank (think something along the lines of the A-Team van... but bigger). We were fine until we were headed back down and met another tank coming the other way. There was physically no room for us both to pass.

Perhaps I should have mentioned before that I suffer from vertigo, so it is safe to say I wasn't enjoying the trip anyway. Steve pulled over to his side (the one without the barrier and the very long drop) to let the other tank past. I was screaming at this point and, I'm not ashamed to admit, touching cloth. There was literally one inch of mud separating us from a tumble to our deaths. As I looked down out of the window in horror the one inch of mud decided to do exactly what I expected us to do a second later. The tank started to slide over the edge.....

When I awoke I expected to be very squashed at the bottom of the cliff melded with the twisted wreckage of the tank. Instead I awoke to Steve laughing in my face and to find we had actually made it down the track and were now parked on a wide road with no cliff-drops in site.

I learnt three things that day:

  1. Never go camping with your other half's family.
  2. Always take plenty of clean y-fronts with you.
  3. If the football's on then go and bloody watch it.

A lesson well learnt.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cut, Slash & Hack

I'm rewriting Where Angels Fear To Tread episode one of a six part drama series. The page count started out as 90 but I want to cut it down to 60 to make it a tighter script. I was dreading it, as there are some truly great scenes.

However, knowing you've got to lose 30 pages really focuses the mind. While I was working on it today I realised I had tried to do too much with character in the first episode and that was watering down what could be a tense drama. I started to cut several scenes (which I shall probably use in later episodes) and one subplot that were only slowing down the story. Before I knew where I was I had lost over ten pages of script. I thought the process would hurt but instead I found it exhilarating. When I read the first 20 pages again there were no wasted lines.

I learnt a valuable lesson today; kill your babies. No mater how well a line of dialogue or a scene is written, no matter how much you love it, if it doesn't contribute to the story or character then it needs to be cut. I cut a lot of my favorite lines and scenes today and now the script is looking much sharper. I'm not saying it's done yet but it's a lot closer than it was.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Next Step

As some of you may be aware (if you have been reading the blog on my website) I was contacted on my birthday by Celtic Films who expressed an interest in my 90 minute one off drama From This Day Forth.

I've been after this for years and now I've sobered up after my birthday I've realised it's finally here, and to be honest I feel a little lost. Don't get me wrong I know where I go from here (a re-write from their notes), I just feel strange. For the last five years I've been so focused on getting interest in my scripts I never gave any thought to anything beyond that. Now I have to and it's a little more daunting than the first step.

I have faith in my ability and I'm looking forward to the next exciting challenge of my chosen career. There is some hard work ahead of me but I have the tools to cope with it. It just came out of the blue and caught me a little unawares I suppose.

I can't wait to get my hands on those notes.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

Today is my birthday and I am 37 years old.

I've more hair growing in strange places hair shouldn't grow.

No matter how much I diet and exercise I still have a thick layer of fat hiding my six pack.

My eyebrows are starting to go grey.

Every birthday message I have received so far has started, "Happy Birthday you old git."

No one bought me an X-Box 360.

I hear the pub calling and it's not even 11am.

Another year not commissioned.

Life sure knows how to kick you in the balls.

On the positive side Susie bought me a shiny new strappy-briefcase-bagtype-thingy so that I will look ever so professional when I'm eventually called into a meeting with a producer to discuss my work. I like my shiny present. Happy Birthday to me :-)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Do They Like Me?

At the end of November Celtic Films requested the script for my 90 minute TV drama From This Day forth. I sent it out at the beginning of December and now it's April, so as they haven't sent it back yet I'm thinking this is good news. Usually if I haven't heard from a production company after three months I send them a polite email enquiring if they received the script. I want to send one to Celtic Films but I worried that if I do I might jinx myself and find the script on my door mat the next day.

I'm not a superstitious person and I normally wouldn't give a toss, but just recently I've been having a more positive response to my work and this in turn has elevated my expectations and hopes. Now I'm starting to get paranoid too. I keep thinking, 'what if they didn't receive it and I'm waiting on nothing?'

This got me thinking what if production companies had on-line tracking systems like the major parcel couriers do? You could then log in and check on the status of your script every day.
  • Your script has arrived.
  • It's being read now.
  • We're laughing hysterically.
  • It's propping up my desk.
  • We've run out of toilet paper.
  • We read it with interest but decided you're a twat so we've sent it back - what's left of it.

It would make the writer's life a little less complicated.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Funny Bone Part 2

Following on from my other blog I decided to look into writing partnership contracts. I was disappointed to discover that I couldn't find any on the web. Does anyone know where I can get a basic one to download?

Also, has anyone else written a script with a partner and if so what are the good and bad points you experienced?