Friday, 24 July 2009

Still writing...

Still incredibly busy, now rewriting the script I finished last week, so here's a post about that and other random things that have happened along the way.

1) As I was on my way to work this morning I saw Nick Cave sitting outside a cafe in Hove, looking very cool as he does. It's kind of weird spotting someone you're a huge fan of while on your way to work. In a nice reminding me that there are cool things outside the day job kind of way.

2) Some rambling about writing: I think there's a moment with every script (okay, I'm not speaking from a vast reservoir of experience here, but it happened on Ten Dead Men and it's happened on various short films I've worked on too) where you realise the film you want to write isn't the film that's going to be made. And that's fine - film is a collaborative medium and what comes out at the end will always be a result of several peoples' input. But it's still difficult to accept sometimes, because the writing of a film is the only time that film is in the hands of one person. And you invest everything into it and for that moment its yours and no one else's. Then you share it with the people who are actually going to make the film and together you make it into something that everyone is happy with. But that transition from it being yours to everyone's is a tough one, especially when it comes immediately after finishing a script.

I don't often give advice - I don't really know any more than anyone else, plus the further into the industry I get (and I'm not even through the door really) the more I realise that a lot of things I'd been told just don't apply to me - that you have to make your own way. But here's some general advise that I think every writer should think about and most probably already know.

Take a break when you've finished something.

Sometimes that's hard, especially when there are deadlines and talk of getting the script to actors etc. On this script I was getting notes back the day after I finished it, having a meeting about it two days after that and all the time trying to fit this in with the day job (sorry, been doing a lot of complaining about the day job recently!). Wednesday night, after the meeting, I was suddenly exhausted. Then the whole of yesterday I had a tension headache that I couldn't shift, and got worse every time I talked to someone about the script! So I took last night off and am planning on moving onto the second draft this weekend. Which is fine, I just would've been a lot better off had I taken a few nights off after finishing the script rather then doing it this way around.

I feel like I'm actually just giving myself advice here and everyone else is thinking 'well, obviously'.

3) Seeing as that last point was a 'don't', here's something more positive. I have a mini-network of friends I send scripts to when they are finished. I usually rotate who I ask as it's often a lot of work. But they never let me down and always provide invaluable feedback. It's a good way of finding out what's working and what isn't working from an audience point of view and a way to get an impartial opinion from people who aren't so invested in the project. Hopefully, none of them are thinking 'I hope he never sends me any scripts again because it's a pain' as they've kind of been absorbed into my process now. So find people who you trust and who'll read your scripts (without you having to pay them) as it will really help with that next draft.

4) I never blog about TV. Because I never watch TV. This is my problem, not a problem with TV itself. I hate committing myself to a time slot at the same time every week, plus I have so many films I want to watch at any one time TV series box sets tend to sit on the shelves unopened (I'll get around to them eventually). I like the concise nature of film - I like having a story told to me from beginning to end in one sitting. What I don't like about TV, especially contemporary TV where everything is about season-spanning story arcs, is how long everything goes on for. Most of the time you could tell the same story in an hour and a half, and I'd be happy. A very wise friend of mine once said that while films are about redemption TV is about rehabilitation. I don't have time for rehabilitation these days.

The point of this is I watched the final episode of the fourth season of Supernatural last night. I like Supernatural because you can miss a few episodes and catch up fairly easily. They went back to the old monster of the week formula which suits me just fine. But in the end I even couldn't find the time for this. I'd either be busy when it was on, or Brother Pete would tape it and whenever I came to watch it I'd stick a film on instead. So I finally watched it and the season finale was really good. and it actually made sense of things they'd been building up to for a couple of seasons. But to be honest, it was still too long a road to get there. For me the problem with TV is that it's bound to a fixed length. Films go on for as long as it takes to tell the story. TV fits the story into however long they have for a season - with American TV it's too long.

I think Firefly was unintentionally the perfect length. The half-season they had before it was cancelled gave enough background for you to care that little bit more when the film told you the full story. I suspect a lot of people disagree. Anyway, the TV thing really comes down to my personal time management issues so don't tell me I should watch The Wire or Battlestar Gallactica or whatever because they will change my life. I'm sure they will, I just don't have the time for my life to be changed at the moment.

5) I was going to blog about the James Moran incident when it happened, even drafted a huge ranting post about it. Then everyone else blogged about before I'd even written mine up and I decided I'd be repeating the same things. To summarise, James Moran wrote the best scriptwriting blog on the net describing his transition from amateur to professional in extensive detail. He now writes for all the top UK TV genre shows including Doctor Who and Torchwood. And he was telling us all about it, until a group of idiot fanatics barraged his blog with abuse because they didn't agree with an episode of Torchwood that he hadn't even written. So he wrote this in response.

I don't want to repeat what other bloggers have said, but like a lot of them it was Moran's blog that initially inspired me to start this one. It also made me realise why at a certain point in their careers people shield themselves a bit more from the public. We were lucky to have his blog for as long as we did. It made me think about audience reactions, and about the internet - I got angry about a couple of mean-spirited reviews of Ten Dead Men but can't really imagine those opinions being directed at me personally and on such a huge scale.

It's a weird thing to have happened, and proof that there is a large proportion of people out there who are slightly crazy when it comes to these things.

6) My friend Justin is running his genre film festival Phantasma-goria again this year. I keep meaning to blog about it properly but never have time so I want to at least mention it now. I went last year and it was awesome, as described here. It's a chance to see films you don't often get to see on a big screen, meet the directors of those films and chat to like-minded genre film fans. And it's cheaper than a lot of similar festivals so there's no excuse really. I'm planning on being there for the whole weekend and I can't recommend it enough. Check out the website here.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Some fans are just complete nuts. I wrote a blog about a problem George R.R. Martin was having with fans being rude about him not finishing his book. It's a shame that it forced him away from his blog for a while.

Taking a break after writing something is a good idea. It is also something I have not been doing, ugh.