Friday, 8 May 2009

The 'Stuff To Do' pile

My extensive research for the Writers' Academy is underway. This will mean watching and analysing all the shows, and I also plan to follow up my successful spec script exercise writing a modern Doctor Who episode, with a similar exercise for the show Doctors. Plus the day job, and some other writing bits and bobs (see below). And, you know, eating and sleep. So, posts might become a bit sporadic around here for a bit; because of this, I am doing a catch-all update of what I've got on the go, which will hopefully serve until I can next give the blog some TLC.

'Santa Baby', the Christmas TV project I'm working on with Colin Stevens of Deep End Films, is at the treatment stage; Colin is preparing some notes right now, after which there will no doubt be a new draft.

'Life Support' has just been reworked (it was the example script I sent with my Academy application). There were still a couple of flashback sequences sticking to the previous draft like barnacles, but I've scraped them off, and now it's pretty much the straight narrative I set out to write initially (though it took me a very circular route to get there).

Following the lead of the mighty Stack, I am seriously considering a self-produced short film. I have a short screenplay called 'The Last Intake' that, once it's had a polish, needs to be made and seen. This will definitely be something for the Autumn, but I shall be considering the logistics and doing that polish sooner than that. I'll also be thoroughly digesting the recent filming diaries of both Danny and Dan Turner to get some tips.

Plus, as most of the stuff I've been working on lately has been straight drama, I'm doing the first draft of a genre feature script, working title 'The Late Shift': no fuss, no over-thinking, just adding to it whenever I get a spare moment on a commuter train: getting it written rather than getting it right. And having fun. I outlined it a long time ago, and have been looking for a chance to get it drafted ever since. I've so far done 5 pages, and reading them back is definitely making me laugh. Shame about that, really, as it's a horror script. (I'm pulling your leg, it's actually a comedy horror and is supposed to make you laugh. Tee hee.)

Finally, if I get a moment between all that lot, this competition that Laura has posted about is very tempting too.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Music is my music is my music is my life

I have been tagged by Piers to list seven songs that I'm into right now. Easy peasy: iTunes is my friend - I shall pluck a few of my top 25 recently played list. That way, I can't even cheat to make you think I've got better taste than I really have.

To link this with screenwriting in some way, as that is the main focus of this blog, a few words about music and screenwriting. On this subject, here's usually two main FAQ / FAQs (does the initialism stand for Frequently Asked Questions or Question singular? Answers on a postcard). The first is: should one listen to background music when one is writing? I say: Yes and No. I do like to have tunes on sometimes, particularly when I'm in full flow and typing away; but the moment I need to go into problem-solving mode, which is often, the iPod gets silenced.

Second, should one specify a particular song in a script if one wants its use as incidental music? Personally, I never do this, my reason being that it might put off the reader if they're not familiar with the song. And anyway, the director or producer will probably overrule my choice. But I know of many a successful and professional writer that does do this in scripts, so don't pay any attention to me.

OK, to the 7. Generally I like warm electronic sounds, jangling guitars, big beats, and combinations thereof. Seven songs in heavy rotation on the iPod of late are as follows:

  1. 'The Greatest Story Never Told' / Murray Gold and the BBC Wales Orchestra. This is Doctor Who incidental music, a cue from Steven Moffat's Library-based episodes. I was incessantly listening to the album, and this track particularly, when writing the recent Doctor Who spec script, to get me into the spirit of the thing.

  2. 'More than a Dream' / Pet Shop Boys. My favourite track on their latest album. And I'm very excited to be seeing them at the O2 Arena in June (I don't get out enough!). Anyone else going?

  3. 'Toe Jam'/ The BPA (feat. Dizzee Rascal & David Byrne). If you haven't heard of it, the Brighton Port Authority is the latest project from Norman 'Fatboy Slim' Cook. This comes with sleeve note pretence that these are recently recovered recordings of an old, forgotten band. But forget the fakery, it's essentially another Fatboy album, but more song-based and with a few celebrity vocal talents thrown into the mix. And it's better than anything he's put out since around about 'Praise You'. This song is bliss encapsulated.

  4. 'Neon Tiger' / The Killers. I love The Killers, they can do no wrong.

  5. 'Not Fair' / Lily Allen. The music and production on Ms. Allen's latest album 'It's Not Me, It's You', courtesy of the Bird and the Bee fellah, is impeccible. But she sets her stall as a lyricist, and judged as a lyricist she is infuriatingly variable. On songs, like 'Not Fair' where she's speaking for herself (or more probably a characterisation close to herself) it works. But when she strays from that and starts speaking about society, it all just makes my toes curl. Worst offender on the album is the song that includes the refrain "Society says that her life is already over" about a character who's 29. 29! FF, and if I might be so bold, S! Society doesn't say women's lives are over by 29, Lily: idiots in society say this, Don't be one of them.

  6. 'Mario's Cafe' / Saint Etienne. From their second album 'So Tough' and also on the 2-disc 'best of' currently living on my Shuffle. I parted company with them after 'So Tough', so mostly the compilation is new stuff to me , and very good too. But a few tracks, including this one, are a pure hit of Nineties nostalgia from back when I had a major crush on Sarah Cracknell. Actually, I still have a major crush on Sarah Cracknell.

  7. 'I Box Up All The Butterflies' / Boy Least Likely To. I don't ever get time to listen to the radio anymore, so I catch up with new music via The Word magazine, like quite a few discerning Dads out there I suppose. There is a CD sampler of new music given away with the mag every month, and this my most listened to track from the latest one.

That's me done. If anyone has any recommendations, I'd welcome them. I'd create a spotify list of the above songs, but I haven't got around to trying spotify yet, and by the time I do, it probably won't be fashionable any more. Ah well.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Academy Deadline

Hurry, hurry... if you're going to enter, the deadline for the BBC Writers' Academy is fast approaching. Ceri Meyrick was just on twitter confiming that there were 12 hours left; so, that looks like midnight tonight to me.

I finally decided to go for it, and completed and submitted my application yesterday. My research will ramp up from today. It's going to be a busy few weeks coming up.

If you've entered too: best of luck with it, and - obviously - I hope to see you at the interview stage!

Saturday, 2 May 2009


Oh, I missed my blog's second birthday.

It's now two years and a couple of weeks since I started this venture (it seems like longer - that's what you're thinking, isn't it? Isn't it, hmm?!). That also means it's just been the blogaversary of Jason Arnopp and Helen Smith (we are blog triplets, you know) and they didn't really celebrate either. We all must be busy.

I'm not going to review the goals I set myself back then, as I haven't really achieved any of them (but I've had a hell of a lot of fun not doing any of that stuff).

Here, though, if you're interested, is a link to how I marked the occasion last year: 'One Year On'

And here's the very first post I ever made, two years (and a bit) ago: 'The Church of the Latter-day Bloggers…' Ah, memories.

Memories, like the corners of my... um... thing... wispy water-coloured, erm, how's the rest of that song go?