Thursday, 30 July 2009

Weekly Interview (6)

Yet again, this week's interview is from MakingOf. Here is an interview from writer/director Darren Aronofsky (PI, THE WRESTLER) talk about writing with directing in mind, as well as his own personal process. Here's a question for the comments section - how aware are you of production (director, actors, budget, FX etc) when writing?

Friday, 24 July 2009

Weekly Interview (5)

This week's interview comes from MakingOf, featuring Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, the comedy screenwriting duo behind NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM and BALLS OF FURY.

They talk about their great collaborative process, as well as 'being' a character and visualising actors in roles to ensure their voice matches. They also briefly discuss why some comedies fail - because the lead character is too funny.

Feel free to leave any opinions about collaborative writing in the comments section. Enjoy....

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

New York New York

So tomorrow, I'm off to New York City. I've been waiting a while for this holiday and while it'll be nice to get away for a week, see the wonderful New York-y things and laugh at Americans who don't realise where we're from, I'll also miss the writing. A whole week without any writing for seven days! I'm sure most of you can relate.

But naturally, I'm taking a camera (to snap at interesting buildings, people etc), a video camera (to record the exciting voyage) and a nice note pad (to jot down every slither of an idea that pops into my head). I wouldn't be surprised if I come home with about 20 ideas for New York-based films and TV shows.

No doubt there'll be a massive blog post within two weeks time, with pictures and thrilling tales of adventure, but for now, you'll just have to make do with this pic from google:

Aw, what a nice picture! I'll be there soon!!!

So while I'm away, write your hearts out and think of poor little me, stuck in boring old New York City with no laptop to write on.

OK, so now you hate me, thought I'd let you know that the weekly interview is already scheduled for Friday, so pay a visit to this here blog then, to hear a screenwriting duo talk about their collaborative process, 'being' a character and imagining actors in roles when writing - it's a great video.

Farewell brave scribes and blogger, I shall see thee in a week........unless, of course I catch Swine Flu (note the capital letters to add a certain degree menace) and consequently die a horrible, slow - and completely unrelated - death in the Land of Opportunity.

Happy writing :)

Monday, 20 July 2009

Problems with Potter

I went to see HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE recently and noticed a few problems. This isn't a review - more like a series of observations. Obviously, it contains major SPOILERS for the film.

First off, this is the best of the series by a mile. It's the only Potter film I'd actually like to see again. Opening with a direct attack on the 'Muggle' community was a smart move as it essentially invited us (muggles) into the story.

Another inviting element to the film was Professor Slughorn. He's a very grounded, British old man, who acts as the audience in the film. A very good move with his character.

One of the first scenes showed good old Harry attempting to chat up a nice attractive lady. And succeeding! Yes, I know - shocking isn't it! Personally, I thought it was way too easy and was expecting her to be some sort of assassin. Seems not.

Anyway, this was the start of probably the biggest theme of the movie - relationships. The film uses every opportunity to develop teen relationships, addressing the 'first love' mentality. We have Harry pursuing Ron's sister Ginny (and her going after him) and Hermione lusting after Ron (and being pretty damn confused about it all).

It was all done very well, making some fairly amusing moments. Such as Harry standing up when Ginny approached the table (like a true gentleman). However, when no-one else does so, he looks like a complete arse and it's all too clear how he feels.

Here's the problem with these relationships - they're not needed.

While they make for good moments and character development, you can remove almost every single relationship scene (between Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione) and the story is unaffected. They needed to be thrown into the plot more, not be secluded in their own personal scenes. Clearly, it was a way of developing character relationships in readiness for the final film/s. But it was too much, too late. This sort of thing should have been done in smaller doses earlier on in the series.

Don't get me wrong, they're great scenes, but their purpose is way too obvious and they don't tie in with the main plot.

Another problem is the finale. Here's where we stand (SECOND SPOILER WARNING!):

Harry hides away as Malfoy stares down Dumbledore. As Snape enters, we realise what's going to happen - Dumbledore will die. Alas he does, at the hands of Snape. Now, earlier on, Malfoy used some conveniently placed transportation device to get a bunch of Death Eaters into the castle. Why? In the book, it's so they can beat the hell out of everyone. The Death Eaters face off against tonnes of wizards in a huge, climactic battle. In the film however, this isn't the case. They're let in, watch Snape kill Dumbledore, run through the castle breaking a few windows, set Hagrid's house on fire and bugger off! So why were they needed?

Yes, so anyone reading the book will have been awaiting the finale battle and anyone unknowing of said battle, will still have been expecting it because of the tension build up etc. But it never came! The whole ending was an anti-climax. While finishing on Dumbledore's death is a good move, it's not when you've built up 'battle tension' for an entire movie.

This brings me to my biggest peeve when it comes to Potter. JK Rowling has no idea how teenage boys act. Simple as that. It's the same in the books as it is in the films. Whenever Harry gets royally pissed off (and I mean really angry), he pulls out his wand and does battle. Here, we see him chase Snape through the grounds of Hogwarts, trying to stop him with spells.

No no no!!!!

Imagine yourself in Harry's shoes: you're 16/17 and have just gone through hell (practically) with Dumbledore - the guy who has been like a father to you f0r 6 years. Someone - a guy you may have hated, but trusted - has just killed him. In cold blood. You wouldn't use fancy spells to battle him, you'd let loose! Nevermind the fact that Snape is far more powerful than you, you would forget the wand and beat the shit out of the bastard! Anger would take over. No teenage boy in that position would still be thinking with his wand (the real wand, not the wand). Fists! That's what angry teenage boys think with.

Every Potter book and film falls victim to it and will continue to do so. Annoying as hell.

Anyway, they're just my opinions on what's wrong with the latest Potter film, which - on the whole - is a pretty good movie.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Weekly Interview (4)

This week's interview is from MakingOf again and features a name you'll all recognise - John August (GO, BIG FISH). Here, he talks about breaking story conventions, character development and re-writes. Enjoy.....

Friday, 10 July 2009

CBBC - Could Be Better.....Chuck?

So, looks like I didn't get through to the next stage of the CBBC competition. To be fair, I didn't really expect to. There was that slither of hope that it would happen, but in hindsight, the opening of the script wasn't explosive enough, the characters weren't unique (they were all kind of the same) and all people seemed to say was "What do we do now?!"

So yes, not my best work. However, I thought the final ten minutes were very good. I'd personally be terrified by my antagonist - Mrs Stewart (who may or may not be named after a teacher at my old school). She's a psychotic psychic and controls the body of every single person in the school. All apart from my heroic trio of psychics. It's up to them to save the day. Here's one segment of the script:

They storm past a classroom and glance inside. The teacher is on his feet, staring through the door as they go past; the children's heads turned towards them.


This ain't good!

Another classroom. The teacher is at the door. The children are standing by their desks, facing them.


She's got everyone! Where do we go?!

A classroom door opens ahead of them. Darrell extends his hand and it slams shut as they charge past. Every child in that room is at the door.

Personally, I thought that aspect was quite good and scary for a kids' drama.

Anyway, I'm not too depressed about not getting any further. It was a valuable learning experience - I never would have written anything for children if it weren't for the competition. And I'm considering beefing up my idea and making it more adult.

Congratulations to those who did get through to the next stage - well written. And to those who didn't - there are plenty more competitions to enter into. And on the bright side, you can go back to saying "fuck" in your scripts now!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

It's Thursday

Yes, it's Thursday 9th July, which means today I find out my results for year 2 (if they ever put them online!) and tomorrow, we all find out if we've made it into the second round of the CBBC comp. Little nugget of depressing info - CBBC had over 700 submissions and about 20 go through. That means less that 3% of us. So if you're part of that 3% tomorrow, give yourself a mighty pat on the back!

There's no particular reason for this post, other than to update on news etc. I'm spending this week writing part of a script called IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE. I'm co-writing with a writer/director. We have hardly any story at this point, but that's what we're working on. I'm also working out the opening scenes, because that always helps me with the script in general.

On Tuesday, I received a message from someone asking me if I'd like to write a script based on a true story. It would be about the Most Wanted Woman in Britain - at some point (around '99) she was Public Enemy No.1. Anyway, I did my research and decided against the idea, because it seemed above me - I didn't know the world and I thought it too difficult at this stage. Interestingly, the guy asking me was in fact the Woman's boyfriend; a convicted drug smuggler. I was fairly alarmed by this but at least my name's getting out there!

In other news, Michelle and I have decided to launch a full-scale attack on CHAOS LOST - the idea we came up with last year. With the intention of sending it into competitions and using it as a calling card, we're starting ASAP.

We have various ideas to throw around and see what sticks. It won't be easy though and will probably give us massive headaches! The subject matter alone is confusing - it deals with determinism, fate and free will. The trick is to tell the story, revealing just the right amount of info at exactly the right time. Looking forward to the challenge. Step one is to work out what ideas will stick and to work out a decent synopsis/breakdown of the story.

UPDATE: Got a 2:1 for year two. Hoping for the same next year....

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Weekly Interview (3)

I've posted this interview before, but it's definitely worth a look. It's with David S Goyer, writer of BLADE and BATMAN BEGINS and details story development, film school and being approached for work, as well as his taste in dark pictures. Enjoy....

Friday, 3 July 2009

More migraines?

I developed a migraine on Wednesday night - don't get them too often but when I do, they put me out of action for a while. Anyway, when I have a migraine, I generally drift in and out of sleep a lot. There's that moment just before sleep when you don't really know what's going on - you tend to think about completely random things that make no sense whatsoever; just jumbled thoughts.

I had a lot of those Wednesday night and yesterday. They included various bizarre things such as:
  • Playing in a band with Steven Spielberg fronting, singing strangely like Kirk Cobain.
  • An episode of ANGEL where I was the monster of the week and our friendly vampire wasn't too friendly. On the plus side, I held my own against him for a good few minutes (longer than most villains last). But it was all over when Angel vamped out and snapped my neck like kindling.
  • Driving along the road listening to the Spice Girls (scary as hell!)
  • Being at work and getting shouted at by a customer. For some reason, I didn't shout back. Very annoyed about that one.
  • Being told I'd made it into the final 20 for the CBBC competition but also finding out that I'd failed year 2 at uni. As a result, CBBC said I couldn't work for them - everyone needs to pass at least two years of an English degree to write for kids apparently.
Yes, so it was all very strange. There was one other dream/thought/freaky joyride that I had yesterday:

Me in a bar, sitting next to an assortment of fellows - metalheads, punks, moshers, goths - a good place. Also a few demons. Yep, full on 'good makeup' demons right out of BUFFY. Spike was also there, just to add to the cool factor of the bar - didn't say anything, just downed a pint.

Anyway, I left the bar and started to walk home. Then I got that 'someone's watching me' feeling. OK, I didn't, but I knew something was up when I heard a low growling. I was grabbed from behind and hurled through the air. I crashed into a wall and fell to the ground. Ouch. Heading towards me was a Groxlar Beast - about 6'7", 300lbs - they eat babies you know! If you didn't, watch ANGEL.

Anyway, said Groxlar continued to beat the living shit out of me for the next couple of minutes until we came face to face. Strangely, all I said was:

"You can't kill me. He won't allow it!"

Don't ask me what that was all about - not a clue. Anyway, brain-dead Groxlar then said in a Jimmy Carr/Hugo Weaving voice (which was very odd, since I don't think they speak):

"You're right. But let's see how we get on with beating you to a bloody pulp!"

WHAM! Groxlar fist + my face = pain.

Personally, I'm very intrigued as to who "He" is and just why He won't let me die. And why people want to kill me in the first place!

Anyway, by this time was fully awake and thinking of what could happen next. After about half an hour, I'd come up with a few variations and removed any trace of ripping off Joss Whedon.

I'm really into webshows lately (see the earlier post below), and I think this particular action/thriller idea could work quite well in 5-10 minute installments. Anyway, that's another thing added to my writing list.

So I'm recovering from the migraine now - still feeling shitty, but surviving. Today's jobs include a bit of script reading and scene writing for someone. Happy writing fellow scribes.


I just wanted to make sure that everyone knew about this webshow that started three weeks back. It's called FISSURE and follows a police detective on his latest case. Here's a trailer:

I can tell you right now that's it's amazing! You can watch all three webisodes that are online, starting with the first one here. I think it goes out on a Tuesday, so check back every week to see the new ep.