Friday, April 27, 2007

Things that are brilliant:

1. The 'Piano Theme' from Spike Milligan's 'Q'.

2. The third series of Arrested Development

3. Fudge

Sorry Patroclus, I have eaten all the Fudge


4. Er, Patroclus

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Done. Ish.

I've finished the second draft of my superhero movie, which means I felt about one second of elation, followed by the traditional hour-long period of mourning for all the versions of the script that it isn't.

The ideal running time for this sort of action comedy is about an hour and a half: almost the exact running time for Men in Black, which is never going to win a Nobel award, but is as lean, economical and funny a script as you could wish for. Two hours is okay, but that usually means the director has stuck in one action scene too many (Speed, Con Air, and I think deliberately, Hot Fuzz). A regular problem with road movies is that they regularly run out of steam when the protagonists get to their destination, so I've been very careful to keep the third act as tight* as possible. Currently, the page length is about 106 minutes, which is still easy to read as one hour six minutes, but is of course one hour forty six (I know it sounds obvious, but wait until you've been writing on five coffees and it's three in the morning, and your brain won't work any more**).

I'm aware all this stuff about acts sounds terribly formulaic, but to honest I wanted to write a formulaic movie, or rather ram together two formulaic genres: the superhero and road movie, and see if you could remain true to both. Whether it's worked or not... I have no idea.

Not sure why I'm writing this post really - I suppose it's nice to mark the point at which a project feels like it's finished, even though realistically, the cutting and polishing will go on for some time yet.

And now a cup of tea.

* like a tiger.
** not that I've done this since 1993, but still, the point holds.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sean Penn versus Colbert: The Meta-Free-Phor-All

"I'm gonna knock you down like a patient, etherized upon a table...."

The link was a bit stuttery at first, might want to start it, pause and go and make a cup of coffee, then come back.

Friday, April 20, 2007

At one point, I may also have said "Boo Yah!", I can't remember.

I've asterisked out the name of the computer game I was wittering about in the previous post, as after about ten hours of violently minding my own business, I've just realised that the advertising hoardings up around the city are actual adverts for actual products that supposedly I'm going to buy now.

Was the game cheaper because it had adverts? Not as far as I know. Do I play computer games to create a space where I don't have adverts shoved in my face all day? Yes. It's also spoilt the aesthetics of the setting - I'm fairly sure a city which has genetically-engineered super-agents shouldn't have ads for last years cars.

It's spoilt the game for me, which is a shame, as the beast itself is perfectly enjoyable. Yesterday, as I leapt two storeys firing a grenade launcher at a sniper nest, I distinctly heard myself shouting "That's what you get for messing with the J-Man!". Which I'm fairly sure I've never said before in my life.

When I'm not chasing round an imaginary city dispatching various ethnic based gangs (I've done the Mexicans and am half-way through the Eastern Europeans, but the Asians are out of my reach at the moment - I don't know why people think these things are a bad influence), I'm on the second draft of my superhero movie.

The plan is for the second act to kick off no later than twenty minutes in - it's the point where the two main guys have met, and are ready to start their journey. In the first draft this is exactly what happened. The second draft has a lot more going on, so I decided not to worry, I can just cut the scenes down to length later on. Bearing in mind one page = roughly one minute of screen time, they need to be in the car, facing west with the engine running, by page twenty.

Current page at which the main characters are in the car, facing west with the engine running: sixty four.


UPDATE: got it down to thirty five minutes now, woo hoo! Anyway, never mind all that, here's an excellent video from Feist (via Popjustice).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Skills mean kills.

I am playing *********, a computer game which involves cleaning up a modern city by jumping a lot, and kicking criminals to death.

ME: Look at this bit, this is great!

PATROCLUS: Are you killing civilians in the racing game?

ME: No, look!

My character in the game has kicked sufficient criminals to death in the game that he is now possessed of enormous physical strength. To demonstrate this, I pick up the front digger of a JCB that has unaccountably been left on a rooftop, and drop it onto a motorway fifteen storeys below. A hugely detailed pileup results, including a police car ramming into a gang car, ensuing in a massive fight which I watch until I get bored and lob a grenade, killing everybody involved.

PATROCLUS: Right, well, I'm going to bed.

I continue playing the game, and manage to kick another gang boss to death. Half an hour later, I take his machine gun and head off to the kill the uberboss, only for my hijacked sports car to run off the road and burst into flames, SOME IDIOT having left the front digger of a JCB in the middle of the road.

I think this game might be cleverer than I thought. Or I'm stupider than I thought. Both are possible.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

(Professional) Writers who blog

Miss-Cellany is doing some research for her (Professional Writing) MA, so if you're a (Professional) writer who blogs, pop over and leave a comment.

A useful one, not a rude one.

UPDATE: yes, of course all bloggers are writers. The 'Professional' in this case isn't attempting to divide the blogworld into cackhanded amateurs versus noble and dignified purveyors of the art like myself (the way a lot of journalists seem to think it ought to), I think MC is just looking into how blogging affects anyone who already has a primary income from writing.

I'm sure non-writers are more than welcome to comment, but you might want to put (non-professional writer) at the start or something just so the statistics don't get skewed.

Friday, April 13, 2007

For No Particular Reason - one of the 'Green Wing: the George Clooney Ending' endings

I was looking for something else and I found this. The nice thing about the internet is nothing is ever wasted.


We see the last few seconds of GW2 on a television up in the corner of an american operating theatre. Two DOCTORS are operating.

Can we turn that off? It’s a bit distracting.

NURSE uses a remote control to zap the TV. Quiet for a second. DOCTOR TWO pokes about in the patient for a bit.

This looks like a tricky one all right. Yes sireee. Hoooooo boy.


Take your mask off.

(petulantly) No.

NURSE reaches over and pulls down the mask, revealing GEORGE CLOONEY’s face.

You finished ER years ago.

I’m doing research. For a film. About.... doctors.

(to NURSE) Call security.

Come on, there’s absolutely no need for- (points behind them) oh my god, it’s Mister Freeze!

NURSE and DOCTOR look round. GEORGE CLOONEY plucks something from the patient’s innards and sprints off. He immediately runs into the trolley and goes flying, sending surgical instruments everywhere and hitting the ground like a sack of boiled shit.

NURSE and DOCTOR stare at him, then at the patient.

He just stole that man’s gall bladder.

Julia Roberts made me do it. (whispers) She put a bomb in my head...

You poor sick bastard.

Can someone help me up?



At least the gall bladder bit got used. Although that might have been a coincidence.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sign in greengrocers:

"An aubergine, or 'eggplant' actually has nothing to do with an egg! It is called that simply because it is egg-shaped."

Who THE BLINKING FLIP thinks eggplants are literally a kind of egg?

*worries for the future*

UPDATE: yes it was that greengrocers. I did go back with my camera, but didn't take a photo in the end, I felt bad.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So the end of Life On Mars then (includes spoilers)

NOTE FOR HUNDREDS OF AMERICANS WHO FOUND THIS VIA GOOGLE: I'm talking about the British version of the show.

If the ending was that Sam never really awoke in 2007 at all (or did so only very briefly), and all that stuff in the 'present' was just a deeper stage of his coma (the clue being Nelson telling him 'if you feel, it's real' before Sam cuts his hand on a pen in the boardroom meeting, but doesn't notice), then Sam jumping off the building was just a way of getting from one bit of his coma to another. Not him in the real world trying to put himself in another coma to get back to the police in 1973 and keep his promise, which seemed a bit rubbish, and was what I thought had happened at first.

Apparently you can hear the flatlining on the radio, which means the end bit where the girl from the screen card turns off the telly signifies that Sam really is dead, The End.

The short version: Sam never left his hospital bed, and emerged from his coma only briefly, only to die when the operation to save him failed.

In conclusion: that was a Proper Ending, but the internet had to explain it to me. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, I read Turn of the Screw at university and never realised that the children died at the end, so I can be a bit of a durbrain.

I'm looking forward to the American version though, as I suspect they'll fold in the background story a bit better, rather than it just being an Seventies cop show with an occasional Spooky Phone Call. Someone suggested Noah Wyle bombing around Seventies Chicago in a Mustang with James Belushi, which sounds good to me.

UPDATE: according to the link to one of the series creators in the comments below, this is completely wrong. I don't care, my/the internet's ending is better.

IN OTHER NEWS: I'm restoring the old bits of the blog (that I deleted in a fit of pique, but saved first, because I didn't want to deny future generations MY GENIUS) which means that I can use the labels properly, but that anyone who uses a reader to keep up with this blog will think I had upped my productivity rate and gone back in time (LIKE SAM TYLERS!!!!!). But I have not.

IN OTHER OTHER NEWS: I hadn't seen Salvadore's song lyrics/diagrams before. They are great.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Apparently, if I rewrite the script sufficiently that it can work as a standalone, there's a strong possibility of option 2: a pilot being shot (not like that), to happen this summer.

How enormously exciting.

UPDATE: this idea was dropped almost immediately, when someone at the Beeb suddenly realised that if you shoot a teen pilot over a summer, you can't shoot the rest until the next year, which looks a bit odd, because then by episode two, all the actors have grown a foot/facial hair/breasts/whatever.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

My pilot script for TEEN DRAMA PROJECT has gone off to the Big Chief Head Lady

...who has to look at the script and decide whether to:

1. Chuck it in the bin.
2. Shoot a pilot.

(UPDATE: Just to clarify, I don't mean pick up a Sig Sauer SP2022 and gun down a qualified aeronautical operator. This is almost certainly frowned upon at the higher echelons of the BBC).

3. Commission me to write a number of further episodes ranging from one to, dunno, realistically, four?
4. Keep the characters and setting and give them to some other writers to lark about with (I will still get some money and a 'created by' credit though).
5. Get me to rewrite it, but this time set in space (I wouldn't mind this actually).

Although before it got sent off, I had to come up with a one-page document that would sum up the tone of the beast. I turned to Patroclus for aid in this matter, as she is a professional writer who has to use punctuation and spelling or she gets told off, making her very much the Player to my Gentleman* (as t'were).

Patroclus suggested an emoticon. Presumably right in the middle of the page.

I liked this idea. It was bold, visual, and crucially, would be hard to misquote. It's tricky though, as although PROJECT TEEN DRAMA is ostensibly a drama, which would suggest:


... the pilot script has been heavily influenced by American series such as 'My So-Called Life', 'Freaks and Geeks' and, greatest of all, 'The OC', all of which have a healthy amount of humour to lighten the seriousness. Which is more:


Of course there's always:

: /

... but that looks a bit non-commital. In fact the whole thing was starting to make me feel:


In the end though, I found one which perfectly suggested 'a drama with comedy leanings, but nonethless underlying tones of seriousness that complement the humour rather than distracting from it - taking a holistic approach to the genre, if you'll allow me to be so. Which was:

; |

Which I wrote on the centre of a bit of A4 with magic marker, popped in an envelope and posted off to BBC TV Centre (Big Chief Head Commissioning Lady) with a first class stamp.

No of course I didn't. I emailed a tone document backwards and forwards between the producer and her glamorous assistant a few times until we'd got it right, and then it was sent off.

Part of me really wishes I'd done the other thing though.

* Tim F spotted that I got my arcane cricketing references the wrong way round there.