Friday, February 26, 2010

Profwriting site launch

Here are some types being interviewed for the launch of University College Falmouth's new Professional Writing site. Two of them play Dungeons and Dragons on a Tuesday night - OMG one of them is me!

Prof Writing Launch from Learning Space on Vimeo.

(the other one is Gareth)

Also, thanks to everyone who came to the guest lecture on Thursday and let me burble on, it was good fun, and, er, I hope I didn't actively put anyone off screenwriting. Especially the chap I was gleefully telling about the dumpster truck that takes thousands of rejected scripts from various studios every day and DESTROYS THE LOT. He did look a bit crushed afterwards. Still, if you want to be a scriptwriter, you're going to get crushed at some point, so you may as well get it out of the way early on. It's when you know just how difficult it is to get a film produced, let alone made, then write it anyway, that really sorts out the fish from the chips (insert better anology later).

Monday, February 22, 2010

80's game animations on IT CROWD DVD menu

I never quite clicked with the IT CROWD's sense of humour, to be honest (I must give it another go at some point) but the love and attention to detail that's gone into these animations for the DVD menu is just staggering.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I have found my new dance.

Particularly around the 1.24 mark.

Sourced by Mr. Richard Preddy.

An explanation (of sorts) from Wikipedia:

"Jožin z bažin (originally 1978) is a song by Czech musician and comedian Ivan Mládek, and is one of his best known songs. He even called it the "National Anthem" of his TV show "Countryshow". In January 2008, the song became popular in Poland, winning several radio hitlists.[citation needed] It is also popular in Hungary, Austria and Russia, sporting a cult following in blogs and several versions of translations. The song is a surreal tale of a mysterious man-eating monster living in the swamps (Jožin z bažin, Joey from the swamps). In the song, the monster is eventually defeated with the use of a cropduster. The nearest equivalent musical style in English is that of the Wurzels."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Yours Truly - 'Mouthwings'

(The band's called 'Yours Truly', I don't mean it's me singing in three high-pitched voices, although I can do that)

EDIT: as Valerie points out, it's actually a cover - the original is by a band called 'Mountain Men'.

Mountain Man "Mouthwings" [part 1 of 3] from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

*slow handclaps*

Right, well then, what seems to have happened is that Ben Bradshaw, curses be upon his name, has announced that product placement will now be allowed to appear on British television (in case you're new to the blog, here's a list of reasons why I think product placement is a really bad thing, for program creators and viewers alike).

Full government statement here

When this process is finally rubber-stamped, the average commercial watcher will not only be shilled to in between the shows, the shows themselves will be, essentially, adverts, in which appearing brands will make appearances every bit as carefully stage-managed as those of the actors. And possibly more prominently lit . Which means, if viewers are watching Sky, they've already paid money to watch adverts between the shows, and adverts in the shows. Oh, and if they're watching on 4oD, their viewing habits are also being collected, packaged up, and sold to data companies. But I digress.

The announcement contains what initially appears to be a little bit of good news:

"Our legislation will specifically prohibit the placement of products and services in the following categories: alcoholic drinks; foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar; gambling; smoking accessories; over-the-counter medicines; and infant formula and follow-on formula."

Which is laudable, and great, and so on, but now leaves me wondering if carrying on with PP now makes any sense at all. Assuming that PP can contribute up to 3% of programming budgets (the commonly accepted ratio in the US), cutting junk food and alcohol out of the equation is probably going to reduce that by at least a half, perhaps even two thirds.

So the trust between program-maker and viewer has now been broken for less money than traditionally ends up going on the catering. Is that suddenly going to improve British televisions' "competitiveness... against the rest of the EU"? No of course not. In my laughably naive way, I assumed the best way to make British television competitive against the rest of the world, let alone the EU, was by making it better, but instead we appear to be throwing away something that made us special, and and trying to be more like everyone else instead.

And now this line has been crossed, look out for production companies going back to the government in a few years or so and complaining about 'unfair limitations'/''restrictions of choice' and so on, until they have their way and either the restrictions are lifted, or certain products suddenly start to be re-categorised as not-quite-as-unhealthy-as-previously-assumed.

Either way, none of Ben Bradshaw's statement answers the following questions, which I've raised before, but may as well bang into the ground again:

1. Where is this extra money going to come from, bearing in mind television's current biggest problem is advertisers moving away from television?

2. What are the guarantees that production companies won't simply nab any PP money that does come their way long before it gets to program budgets and shovel it over to their shareholders instead?

And most importantly:

3. In what way does this make a better experience for the average television viewer?

Answers on a postcard, because I don't have any.

Friday, February 05, 2010


For about six years now, my parents' television has been linked up to a BARB ratings box (I'd link you to the site, but they ask you to fill in an annoying questionaire before you even start SO FLIP THAT). It's basically a magic viewer counting machine, which plugs into the telly, and comes with a little remote control thingy that you use to tell it how many people are watching, what age group they are and so on.

When my mum was asked if she was interested in getting the BARB box installed, we had the following conversation:

MUM: ooh, some chap asked if we wanted to take in a sort of survey thing, for television ratings. Do you think we should?
ME: does it have a provision for saying about thirty people are watching at any particular time, say off the top of my head for example, when something I've contributed to is on?
MUM: Hmm, let's have a look.

Sound of mother flicking through paperwork.

MUM: Yes.

A bloke arrived and plugged the box in.

MUM: (interested) So if only a small number of people have these boxes, does that mean they sort of extrapolate the numbers from those who do? (my mum really would use the word extrapolate, she went to library college, and still knows the Dewey Decimal system off by heart, oh yes).
BLOKE: Yes indeed. In fact, although each BARB box viewer officially counts for five thousand viewers, a number of these boxes are with students, or poor people who don't have the concentration required to input the information on the remote each time, so IN FACT, each viewer probably counts for about fifty thousand instead.
MUM: That's weird, I thought I could hear my son laughing hysterically hundreds of miles away (this is when I lived in Kent).

ANYWAY, it was a brilliant system, the two dogs counted as viewers in their early thirties (dog years) and mum made sure they had nice wildlife programs on when she went out to work.


MUM: RIght, so I've put down you'll be watching it, and your brother, and your cousins as well, and the dogs.
ME: I know for a FACT Falmouth Rugby Club are, to a man. huge fans of both shows and watch them dedicatedly.
MUM: Right, on they go then.

INTERESTING FACT: a senior Channel 4 person told me that Green Wing got its second series recommission 'by fifty thousand viewers'. Now I'm not saying that we got the second series purely by my mum having a BARB box, but- actually that is what I'm saying.

Anyway, this morning my mother informed me that BARB have lost the contract for viewer ratings, and the box is being taken away this very day.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

There's always room for more stuff about zombies

Particularly in this style of CGI animation, although I should say it is a teensy bit goreish:

Project is called A.D. More info

Monday, February 01, 2010


Cor, that was a lot of meetings. Some of whom were with people who, it turns out, read this blog, hellooooo! Anyway, they all went very well, although it's too early to say owt about them.

There was also a Campus meeting - did we all know Campus is going to be 6x45 minute episodes now? The pilot was half an hour (ish), but I think the general feeling was it needed to stretch out a bit to give the characters room to breathe. I must admit, part of me is a little disappointed, as there's something about the sheer pace of an ensemble-led half hour sitcom that I've always wanted to write for (just think how many narrative balls in the air the average episode of Arrested Development had at any one time). But on the other hand, 45mins does take it more into comedy/drama territory, which is a fun place to be.

Anyway, I started watching Burn Notice, but some bint on it has a terrible Oirish accent, so am thinking of abandoning it, despite the good reviews I've seen elsewhere. Should I persevere? YOU DECIDE.