Monthly Archives: June 2013

Breaking Radio Silence

I’ve been reworking the battleplan for my third draft of Scars lately- really breaking its back in the past couple of days and having minor epiphanies every other minute – and attempting to stay in a consistently productive zone is a difficult task for me under most circumstances so if I start writing a blog, chances are my brain’ll switch gears in the middle of it and I won’t know what I’m doing once I get back in screenplay mode.

Not that I ever did in the first place, mind.

I’m going to start the actual rewriting process in the next couple of days – my prep involves a complicated process of general and specific notes that have to be transferred and diluted into several different formats and media like some complex, award-winning cappuccino before they’re of any use to me when Courier’s onscreen – so I’ll get posting more then.

You’d think if I don’t post when I’m only planning on writing that it’d be impossible when I am, but my preparation occurs in so many different places and largely off-computer that I’m rarely looking at a screen for more than ten minutes at a time. With working on the actual script I’m at my desk for the long haul, and it’s easier to stay in that committed headspace of writing something longer than a tweet.

It’s nice to be back in work mode. I’ve been somewhat listless lately, and part of that was probably to do with reluctance to dive back into Scars, but now I’m here and the water’s just above tepid I wonder what I was so worried about in the first place.

Oh? Fucking it up? Yeah, that’s right. Thanks a lot.

Anyway, I’ll put up some more stuff as the week goes on. There are interesting things happening right now, both on the micro and the macro scale, so I figure I might have something to say for once. I also saw World War Z the other day and thought I might like to start putting non-Nerdly reviews up on here again, if for no other reason than to flex my critical muscles (and maybe snag a few extra views from the Brad Pitt tags).

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A Coupl’a Cool Videos

So last week Redshirt Films launched our new webseries Nights At The Round Table, which I contributed material to, recorded sound on a couple of episodes and occasionally made attempts to stop things falling apart (mostly by heading to the shops to buy flapjacks).

It’s picked up a fair few fawning reviews and a ton of steam (at the time of writing the view count’s pushing 1100, which is excellent news for a video posted five days ago), and I hope everyone who worked – and is still working – on it is as proud as I am that it’s finding an audience, especially the show’s creator Jamie, who regularly comes close to killing himself at every stage of production so that not only can an episode be finished but to such a high quality that it astounds people to learn that the only budget we had was for tea.

Anyway, if you’ve somehow missed my laser-guided social media bombardments of the first episode until now, here’s your chance to catch the premiere episode:

And if that didn’t whet your appetite for the next episode, perhaps the tantalising promise of a cameo from your humble blogger will suffice? Yeah, I thought so.

In other York-related movie news, local production company Parashoots just posted this trailer for a Blade Runner-inspired advert that looks (predictably) pretty incredible. I thought you might like it:

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Wolverbeam

I’m writing some copy for the Jorvik Group’s blog and during my research came across this sentence:

“…learn about Vikings through the exciting archaeology of volcanos and weapon x-rays, in partnership with…”

I had to read that about four times before I realised they weren’t talking about Wolverine firing laser beams from his claws.

Perhaps I should have eaten something this morning.

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Pre-emptive PC

I just proofed a Nerdly review of a movie that’ll probably going up tomorrow, and I noticed that I hadn’t mentioned the only black character in the film except in the “Stars” header, and for a moment I second-guessed myself – “You massive racist, you didn’t think they were worth mentioning?” – but then I got over it, because her character really didn’t contribute anything of substance for the film and she wasn’t terrible either, so I really didn’t have anything to say. In fairness, I also didn’t talk about the son of the main character – who had arguably a more pivotal role – so I probably don’t think much of children either.

[I don’t.]

I doubt anyone’ll point it out, but I just thought it strange and wondered if other reviewers – hell, writers and creatives in general – feel that internal political correctness creeping up on them just in case they might be perceived as offending any one of a million subsets of people. I probably think about that because of the permanence and pervasiveness of people’s opinions (tongue-twister much?) online and the backlash I’ve seen in the comments section – I know, I know, I shouldn’t be reading them – of sites with higher traffic than this one.

Sure, it’s good to have an internal editor, one who’ll tell you when you’re stereotyping, using inappropriate language or just generally being an irritating boob, but I think it’s equally important to not let that voice hold the reins all the time and assume people will be outraged by something you haven’t done. That said, that little voice is likely the reason I’m writing this…I don’t know, confession? Pre-emptive apology? So I guess I haven’t really learned how to turn it off just yet.

In the end, your primary audience is always going to be you, and you should be attempting to make yourself like what you’ve done rather than worry about changing it so that another unnameable audience that may or may not exist. Self-censorship is the worst.

On an unrelated note, Italians are pretty filthy, aren’t they?

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Pun Approval

So I got some more notes on my medieval educational film from someone else, i.e. an actual expert, and it turns out that I’ve still got a lot to work on, which is all right by me. I find it much more comforting when the finished product barely resembles the initial outline or draft, as it tends to illustrate progress in most cases (excluding Hollywood blockbusters, in which case most of them might be a hell of a lot better off if they were simply faithful to a shitty first draft) and, I don’t know, growth in me?

So I’ve got stuff to change in it and a lot of new material came up in yesterday’s meeting, including permission to be a heck of a lot sillier. I’d been holding back somewhat as certain, more out there aspects of my sense of humour aren’t always well received and I didn’t want to freak out these people who don’t know me yet quite so quickly. I’m sure I already have in a dozen other ways, but at least it’s not like that.

And it paid off, because I now have pun approval. That’s the good news.

The bad news is they expect me to film the damn thing. This week, too.

Cue me cursing my ambitions for heavily-laden feasting tables and period extras every which way and striving to come up with a name for a believable-sounding supervirus that I can ‘come down with’ as soon as I hand off the final draft.

That’s what I was thinking earlier today. It was immediately followed by this question: why am I reluctant to make a film?

There are many reasons and rationalisations, from the fact that I’m not getting paid to my usual unease with the idea of casting for a no-budget film, but chief among them is that I don’t want to be responsible for making a mess of what I think might be a fun video.

Of course, this is the price you pay when you go around telling folks you’re “a filmmaker”. You really can’t be shocked when they expect you to be able to, y’know, make a film.

I’m working on the bedsheet rope as you read this. I’ll let you know how the escape plan works out.

In other not-quite-news, here’s my Nerdly review of Dexter Season 7. It’s funny, it’s sexy, it’s coldly violent and regularly disturbing – fun for the whole (incestuous, sociopathic) family!

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That’s Infotainment

Today I think I just had my first experience of those pangs work-for-hire writers get when editors or producers start crossing out pages and THE BEST WORDS YOU’VE EVER WRITTEN DAMMIT.

Except they didn’t cross out that much. And they were far from the best words I’ve ever written. And they’re not paying me.

So I’m still doing some work for the York Archaeological Trust (I mentioned that before, right?) and I’ve been asked to write a short educational video that’ll play at one of their tourist attractions, an old medieval house (as opposed to a new one yada yada) on a TV in the corner. So that’s what I’ve been doing this week, researching the place to find out what the hell was interesting about the place.

"emoroids"

This charming slice of 15th-century life was but one of many examples.

Turns out there’s quite a bit, and with enough weird and entertaining tidbits for me to get a bunch of jokes in there and turn the video into that oft-misunderstood medium infotainment! For example, did you know that the expression ‘red letter days’ comes from people using red ink instead of black in important letters or announcements? I didn’t until the other day, but that might well be because I’m an ignorant yutz.

So I finished my first draft for the video today, printed off a copy and handed it to my supervisor, deciding that was the perfect time to go for lunch so I didn’t have to sit there like a lemon while he tutted, clicked at and  – worst of all – crossed out all signs of my hack work. I’d come back and there’d be a not unhealthy page (well, half-page at most, surely) of notes waiting for me with a smiley face and a cookie to soften the blow, and I could process all the cuts and apparent failures at once – better to take the shotgun blast full in the chest rather than have a new stab wound every ten seconds, no?

I came back an hour later and the guy hadn’t read a damn word. He sat next to me with six sheets of paper and a pen while I wondered how I was going to hold back the tears when he emptied his third pen on my closing ‘FIN’ (yes, I finish scripts with FIN, because it’s funny and quirky and who am I kidding I just hope they smile and it’ll make me forgive them for wasting their time).

Okay, it wasn’t that bad. He made a few suggestions for different topics, cut a couple of lines and rephrased a couple more but didn’t even touch the first half of page one, which was a tiny triumph. I wonder if I could get a job writing the first half-page of movies?

Still, I can’t say it didn’t sting when a line got rewritten in front of me (does anyone take that well? Okay, yes, apart from those with humility), often arbitrarily rephrased, which I realised at the time was pretty odd, because it wasn’t like I had any real personal or emotional attachment to the subject matter (though I am somewhat fond of the illiterate peasant girl I made up for the script).

I guess that’s the thing: as soon as you put your stamp on something, even if it’s just taking down notes or doing maths sums out of a textbook, you feel a kind of ownership of it. Think about when you got homework back and there were x’s instead of ticks next to your equations; it wasn’t that the sums were inherently wrong and you were seeing that objectively, it was that you had gotten them wrong. Y’know?

But I got over it, made the changes and finished for the day. I’ll come back to a set of new notes tomorrow and make the thing better. As long as it’s all making the thing better, then I’m cool with it. I’d like to think I can spot a bad note pretty easily.

But yeah, that’s me this week so far. Jack and I wrote a new Panel Discussion for Nerdly that went up the other day and both weighed in on the new all-girl X-Men series from all-guy Brian Wood & Olivier Coipel, which is a great read and a fresh change from the stagnant mess that are Bendis’ All New and Uncanny books. 

I also watched Season 7 of Dexter at the weekend, so my review of that should be up shortly.

That’s it for now. I had fun doing this with you. Hoping to be back soon (and briefer).

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