Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hyde Who

For the record I loved season two's ending of Doctor Who, it was high quality, tear inducing drama. I didn't like the ending of season three.

I didn't hate it, I just wasn't over excited about it. John Simm was good, David Tennent super, John Barrowman fantastic and the others OK, but for an end of season episode it felt a bit flat. And then there was the reference to Flash Gordon at the end, with presumably Harold Saxon's wife picking up the Master's ring. A cheap gimmick? A homage to the 1980 camp film? Who knows?

Jekyll on the other hand was a roller coaster ride that offered you a hint of its end, but kept you guessing until the last scene. And what character development. The delicious Hyde put in his place by Mrs. Jackman, telling him he was her husband and that Jackman's family was his, and his shock at realising she was right. "Are you threatening my family?" Fantastic writing.

I will leave you with this thought; when David Tennent does finally hang up his sonic screwdriver how about James Nesbitt for the eleventh Doctor?

Email Check

It's offical, my email works. WOO HOO!
Dear MrCarver

Thanks again for your application for the BBC Drama Series Writing Academy (Ref 41248), and for your patience in awaiting a response.

Your details have now been carefully considered and, having concluded this process, we regret to inform you that we will not be pursuing your application further in this case.

We received a huge response for this campaign, and were impressed with the quality of the scripts submitted. Please do not let the outcome on this occasion deter you from applying for future schemes or job vacancies where you feel you are suitably qualified.

In the meantime, we would like to thank you for the time you took in preparing your application, and wish you every success with your writing career.

Yours sincerely
The BBC Recruitment Team
Bugger :-(

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Agent Pack

I'm putting the finishing touches to my agents pack, as outlined by Adrian Mead.

However, I can't decide if the 30 min script is the one I want to send. It has been through the Power Of Three and is as polished as can be, but I'm not sure that it's good enough to be added to the pack. It's an old script I wrote at university eight years ago and is, what I would call, 'a little studenty'. I have another 30 min script which I think is better. Problem is it's only a first draft. I'm getting the wife to read both and I'm going to go with her decision.

Then there's my one pagers. Are they good enough? I think they are. Could they be better? Possibly.

Is it possible for a writer to over analyse their work?

It's the same when I send a script out and get a rejection, I immediately start work on another draft. The script maybe extremely polished, but as it's been rejected I feel the need to rewrite it. After all it doesn't mean that just because it was rejected it's no good, it just means that particular production company didn't like it. Another might like the same version.

How much polishing is too much?

I have a script I've been writing on and off now for six years and the current draft is worse than the first. I'm having to take it back a couple of drafts just to sort out the issues.

How do you decide when a script is ready?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Email Watch

Fever Pitch

Everyone else I know has heard, but I haven't.

Have I fluked a place in the final ten?

The winners find out Wednesday so the webpage says.

I shall be checking my emails every five minutes for the next 24 hours. As soon as I know, so will you.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Sound Of Drums





John Simm is a god, it's official. What an episode. It's the first time watching Doctor Who I am genuinely concerned that the Doctor isn't going to make it, even though I know he will. Where does he go from here and how does he get out of it? It's cruel to make us wait another week.

Oh, and sorry James, but you were beaten to the jelly babies. Bugger!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

PG 13

Die Hard 4.0 a PG 13 film; what the hell is going on?

One of the things drummed into me at university was the saying, "know your audience." So why have 20th Centry Fox decided to give Die Hard 4.0 a PG 13 rating when all the other films were at least a 15 certificate?

I can understand Fox wanting to open the franchise up to a wider audience, but by doing so aren't they alienating its loyal fans? Take Die Hard: Die Harder for instance. Originally released as an 18 certificate when it came out on video some of the swearing was dubbed so it could be released as a 15. It wasn't long though before the full uncensored 18 version followed.

As a fan I don't want my action cut, swearing dubbed and violence watered down just so Fox can make a few extra bucks. It didn't work with the third Robocop and I can't see it working for the fourth Die Hard.

How can a Die Hard film really be a PG 13?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

First Contact

Contacts in the industry are important so you should always keep them up to date.

A case in point: An assistant at a well know production company is a fan of my work. I hadn't contacted him for a while and wanted to send him a pitch idea for a TV drama serial.

I was going to just post it out but I thought it would be a good idea to check if he was still at the company first. I found out that this man was no longer working as a Drama Assistant , but was now working on one of their productions as a runner.

If I hadn't checked I would have sent a pitch to someone who was no longer a part of the decision making process. That would have been very unprofessional of me.

Remember keep in contact with the industry professionals you know on a regular basis; by phone, by email or by snail mail if you have to. Your life as a writer depends on it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

You Can't Hyde Good Drama


The BBC had a double bill featuring the return of the Master in Doctor Who, and Steven Moffat's reimagined Jekyll. ITV had a mad bloke performing gore magic and a six year old girl shakily singing 'Ben'. No contest! The BBC really kicked ITV's arse Saturday night.

Steven Moffat, the writer of arguably the best episode of Doctor Who this series with Blink, has done it again bringing us an updated frightening image of an old classic. I think the hardest thing any writer has to face is to make an evil character likable and Steven has done that with Hyde. He oozes charm, takes no shit, is a force to be reckoned with, and lives every moment like it's his last, someone most men would wish they were.

I love Steven Moffat's work, and for me he is the bee's balls of writers at the moment. I would be happy just being half as good as he is. I didn't want episode one to end, and it's so frustrating to have to wait until next week to get my fix.

What were your thoughts on Jekyll?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Career Vision Part 2

So you've done the course, read all the books, blah, blah, blah, blah. Now what?

The Next Step:

Now you have to decide where you want your career to go. TV or Film, or both? Ultimately this is up to you; there is no right way.

This was the bit I struggled with. I left my degree course with one completed feature script and thought it would simply be a matter of finding someone willing to make it and pay me shit loads of money. After all it was a genius of a script, low budget, character driven, familiar genre, it couldn't go wrong. I soon discovered that I was, to put it mildly, and absolute idiot who knew bugger all of the world I was about to enter.

This is why I stress the importance of reading industry papers and magazines. You need to keep up to date with who's making what, who's working for who and more importantly what is being made. You can never keep up with trends in writing so don't even try. Once you think you know what the market is looking for, by the time you've written it the trend will have moved on. This is why it's good to have a back catalogue of scripts. If you have a cracking gangster script and ten years down the line someone asks you if you have one you're going to be one step ahead of everyone else.

You have to be proactive in this game. Production companies won't come looking for you, you have to go looking for them. Send them one or two page outlines of your scripts - make sure these are as highly polished as your script and remember they must also reflect the genre of your script. If your script is a comedy feature and your one page outline isn't funny, you won't get any interest.

Try and target five production companies per month and send them your one/two page outline. If you don't hear anything with in a month follow it with a polite phone call. Only send out an outline for one script at a time and remember to keep writing new stuff.

If a particular script isn't catching any interest then put it to one side and move on to the next. There's nothing worse than trying to flog the same script, in a different version, over and over again.

Now get out there and write.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Finish Line

Faith is done and dusted. Time to put it in a drawer for a month and move on to other things.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Random Stupid Thought

This has nothing to do with scriptwriting, but I thought it was funny enough to share with you.

I was watching TV earlier and saw the new Evian advert. It said something along the lines that it takes six days for you to replace 80% of the water in your body. It then went on to promote the drinking of its brand of water.

So I'm thinking if you drink Evian for six days and replace 80% of the water in your body with it, do you become French?

It's worth thinking about.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Reject Rejection

When I wake up in the morning one of the first things I do is look at myself in the mirror and say, "You're shit, Carver, and you know it!" Then I spend the rest of the day trying to prove otherwise. It might not be the bee's balls of motivational techniques but it works for me.

Here are a few handy hints I've picked up, borrowed or just plain stolen along the way. I hope they help.

Things you need to remember:
  • Don't judge your career by other people's. The average time it takes a writer to get established is ten years. Just because another writer gets lucky with their first or second script doesn't mean it should have happened to you. Don't begrudge them their success, they've earned it.
  • Don't wait for someone to recognise your talent, you have to make them discover it. Putting yourself out there, or selling yourself, is as important as your writing. Cut corners and it'll cost you. Never, ever let up on this.
  • A rejection letter isn't rejecting you, it's rejecting your script. So it wasn't to their taste, maybe the next one will be?
I look at my career like this: I will always try and do my best, but if I fail then so be it. I won't dwell on a failure, or a rejection, because then I'll be wasting my time on something I can't change. Instead I plough all of my energies into learning from that mistake, or rejection, reducing the opportunity of it happening again.

An excellent example of this came by email this morning:
"We did take a look at "Cross The Rubicon"; I have to say, to me it reads as the same script and the same tone. I'm glad to have taken a look at it, but I do still think it will not be something we're going to commit to at this stage."
Is it a rejection? Only a rejection of that draft. They like the script but not in it's current form. I could just say 'Fuck it' and not bother, but then I would only have myself to blame when I don't get anywhere. So my response (and the correct one) is to find out why they didn't like this draft and change it so they do.

No one ever said being a writer was easy.

Have a fun weekend, people.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Day In My Life

Danny Stack's recent post about his daily routine as a paid writer has prompted me to do the same, so that you lovely people out there can see life from the view point of non earning writer.

12.00: Got up an hour later than normal and shoved a bowel of Bran Flakes down my throat, along with a pint of Dr. Pepper. I don't drink coffee because it sends me mental - just think of the effect on a small child who is force fed a 1kg packet of sugar and then is made to wash it down with five 2 litre bottles of Lucozade. Not pretty is it?

You will also notice I haven't showered. I won't be leaving the house until I have to go to work tonight so what's the point; it only distracts from writing. Besides it isn't Friday. Friday is wash day.

12.35: After a quick check of my emails, work starts on more pages of my new feature Faith.

13.25: One important scene down. A short toilet break and a quick check of the emails. I check my emails quite regularly while I'm writing. When the creative right side of my brain has to fight the rewrite hungry left side I quickly check my emails so the left side of my brain goes back to sleep. At this point I'm writing, not rewriting. The left side of my brain will be dominant later.

13.57: I'm having to fight the urge to go back and rewrite really hard now. I've reread some scenes I wrote last week and they are quite horrendous. I must resist.

14.09: Phone call from the wife telling me all about her lovely new haircut. I'm so excited - NOT!

14.14: Back to work. Boy that woman can natter when she wants to.

15.03: Written four pages so far. Now I need to pop up the post office. Will grab a sandwich to eat on the way. Back in a bit.

15.33: Nice walk in the sun to post the letter, listening to AC/DC on my MP3 and munching on a cheese and salad sandwich. So that's what daylight looks like. I might try some more tomorrow. Check the emails then back to work.

16.17: Seven pages done, time to move on to something else. Need to write a letter, but need to check the emails first.

16.41: Job done. Check the emails again and then on to my one pagers for my agent's pack.

17.17: Gave all three one pagers a quick read through and a polish. I'll send them out tomorrow to get people's opinions. That's the writing done for today. Time to cook my dinner as the wife is out tonight and I have to be at work by 18.30. Bye.

25 Words Or Less Part 2

Something to get your teeth into kiddies.

Ever get that feeling that the plot of the latest blockbuster or TV drama is pretty lame?

Can you do better? Now’s your chance to prove it!!!!

Fever Pitch
4 Talent

You may have a great idea for a film, but have you got what it takes to convince a panel of tough industry professionals that your idea is the best, in only 5 minutes.

The Screenwriters' Festival '07 in association with 4Talent want to give YOU the opportunity to pitch your amazing movie or TV idea to a stellar industry panel.

Several writers from last year’s pitching competition have already gone onto bigger and better things: some have had their ideas optioned or have been commissioned to write an original screenplay.

As Channel 4 and 4Talent are always on the lookout for new and emerging talent, this pitching competition is the perfect opportunity to get noticed. The three winners of FEVERpitch will get the chance to talk to Film4 Executives about their ideas as well as receiving a ticket and free accommodation* to the rest of the Screenwriters’ Festival, Thursday 5th and Friday 6th July 2007.

So, if you have a drop-dead gorgeous idea for a feature film or TV drama in any genre, we wanna hear it. Write down your pitch in 25 words, then on a separate page, expand the synopsis to 150 words and email it to us. Out of all the entries we will shortlist ten who will attend the festival on Tuesday 3rd, and have a special coaching session on the Wednesday 4th July before the live pitching session.

  • Send us in your prized pitch.
  • Out of all the entries, ten will be chosen to go forward to the live pitching session on the Rising Talent day, Wednesday 4th July.
  • Prior to the pitching session, Agent Julian Friedmann will hold a private pitching lesson for the ten finalists.
  • The finalists will then pitch to a panel of industry professionals who will give feedback in front of the live festival audience.
  • And here's the twist, the panel won’t be choosing the 3 winners, the audience will…

All shortlisted entrants will be entered into the 4Talent Directory which is the profile section of the website that allows creatives to promote themselves.

Closing Date for entries is Friday 22nd June 2007 at midnight

Competition Rules, Terms and Conditions

  • Pitch MUST be less than 25 words and synopsis up to 150 words.
  • The competition is open to EVERYONE.
  • If you are chosen you must be available to attend the Screenwriters' Festival on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th July 2007.
  • If you are one of the 10 winners you will be invited to stay for the rest of the Professional Festival and will have accommodation provided for the nights of the 4th and 5th July; so plan and book travel to cover that possibility.
  • If you are one of the three winners and have already purchased a two or a four day ticket, they will be reimbursed accordingly minus any paypal fees.
  • If you are one of the three winners and have already booked accommodation they will get reimbursed for the 4th and the 5th July only up to the Travelodge rate of £50 per night as this is where any winner who HAS NOT booked will be accommodated for the nights of the 4th and the 5th July.
  • Closing date for the competition is Friday 22nd June 2007.
  • The 10 winning pitches will be chosen on Monday 25th June and the winners will be informed by Wednesday 27th June.
  • Pitching the idea, and/or winning, does not mean that your idea will get picked up.
  • The Audiences decisions are final and we will not enter into correspondence about their decisions.
  • The Winners meeting with the Film4 Executives does not guarantee any contract or development deal.
  • Food and drink at the Festival is your responsibility.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Mild panic today.

I'd done five pages of my new feature and I had to pop out for half an hour, so I left the file open. When I got home I found the computer had crashed...ARSE!!!!! Luckily I had done my last back up to CD-RW on Monday, but even better I'd set Final Draft to auto save.

I rebooted my computer and thank god it had auto saved, because I hadn't lost a thing. Fantastic!!!!

I know James Moran is religious about backing up his work, and I'm glad I do too.

The lesson? Save often, and don't forget to back up on to CD-RW every day. If you don't you'll regret it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Sore Fingers And Back

The second day of writing wasn't as good as the first, but it was still a valiant effort none the less. Wednesday I managed seventeen pages and yesterday ten. That's twenty seven pages in two days, an achievement in any one's book.

I now have twenty pages to go and I'm in no rush to tell you the truth. Some of the pages on Wednesday were crap and I don't really want to repeat that, so I will be taking my time on the last twenty pages (say five pages a day next week) to ensure decent quality.

What have I learnt from the last couple of days? My rush to get the script finished has been a reminder that to survive as a writer you have to write. Sounds such a simple thing to say doesn't it, but it's so true and sometimes we can be distracted from this. I know last year I was. I was too occupied with rewrites to write anything new and this was a mistake. I dried up and didn't move forward.

I was also reminded that on the first draft it is important to get the pages down, to get it written. Then you need at least a month away from it before you look at it again. Then is the time to start sifting the good from the bad.

My problem is I like to write quality all the time, and I often find myself going back over what I've written several times even before the script is half written. It's a habit I'm going to have to kick if I want to write more new work this year.

Thanks for taking that journey with me.