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Thursday, November 29, 2007

South West Screen Conference: Film, The Digital Future

Like a lot of you out in www.land, I believe that being "up to date" with the changing face of film production will ensure my writing has more opportunities to "get out there": in addition, the idea of making a film myself is really growing on me and is certainly on my "To Do" list in the future and digital production is becoming a much more accessible way of making films.

That's why I'll be at this conference held by SW Screen at Watershed, Bristol, in just under two weeks. They have an impressive array of guest speakers including the UK Film Council and Hammer Films and a comprehensive look at how us writers can really turn this technological change to our advantage. I know very little about digital production, let alone digital distribution, the territories involved or the impact of piracy, so I will be all-ears.

I'll be writing a detailed account of the conference for this blog for those of you who can't make it, but if you can, I'll see you there! Email me...

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FILM: THE DIGITAL FUTURE

Tuesday 11 December 2007, Watershed, Bristol, UK

A one-day film conference presented by South West Screen. Full details including an itinery of the conference here.

BOOK YOUR TICKET NOW TO ENSURE YOUR PLACE AT THIS EVENT

Booking: +44 (0)117 927 5100 or click here.

'Film: The Digital Future' will bring a pool of experts to the region to explain how best to embrace and exploit the ongoing digital developments within the production, distribution, exhibition and marketing sectors.

Following on from 'Funding your Feature', the informative South West Screen film finance conference of March 2007, 'Film: The Digital Future' promises to be both compelling and entertaining, and of course immensely informative.

Speakers confirmed from companies / organisations including the UK Film Council, Arts Alliance, Content Republic, City Screen and Hammer Films. Quite simply, there is no better way to get the lowdown on the changing landscape of digital film. For a full itinery of the day, click here.

Booking:
Places are £50 including lunch
To book contact Watershed box office on +44 (0)117 927 5100 or click here.

NOTE: You do not have to live in the South West to access this conference - it's (and I quote, courtesy of the lovely Becky at SW Screen) the "more the merrier"!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Virtual Solidarity: Good Luck WGA

Well, the Bournemouth rally came to nothing sadly but thanks to all the writers who took the time to email me and express their solidarity and best wishes for the WGA.

I did have a picture of me and the wee girl demonstrating our solidarity but sadly the bloody lead thingy that will send it from my hubby's phone to the PC has gone bloody AWOL! I blame the boy since he was seen with the lead last. I tortured him by tying him to a chair last night and putting his favourite jelly hamburger sweets just out of reach but he's tougher than me and wouldn't give up the lead's location. They train 'em well these days. I will break his spirit later with multiple bowls of ice cream on the top shelf in the kitchen, but until then, here's that WGA strike logo again:


So anyway: thanks WGA for standing up for us writers... I know a pic on a blog can't make loads of difference, but multiple pictures CAN show the AMPTP how seriously we're taking this worldwide... If your blog or website hasn't got one of these logos yet, right click on mine and then scroll down to "save picture as": if I can do it as the biggest techno-hoper ever, anyone can! Show your support!!

I hope the WGA knows we're all thinking of it - and not just me, but Piers and James who will be demonstrating in London today; Jill who will be demonstrating in Canada ... LATER: here's a pic of Jill!

Thanks also to Arnie who will be out at Sydney as well as other virtual peeps up for the strike like moi: the marvellous DD, English Dave, Darren aka Eat My Shorts and twin bro Mike, Danny, Paul, Eleanor, the curiously named Riboflavin and the Chipmeister as well as everyone on the Facebook Virtual Picket Line (more details here)... If you have a pic of yourself or a WGA Strike sign on your blog, website, profile, feel free to link to it in the comments section or even just send me an email I'll namecheck you here. Let's show the WGA we're thinking of them.

UPDATES: More solidarity from Jason, Martin, Robin, Jon, Lianne, Elinor, Helen, Oli, Far Away, Potdoll, Sheikspear and Tom. Nice one. Let's have some more and stretch it across the whole Scribosphere! Be sure to send me your link by the end of today.

FURTHER UPDATE: Here is the WGGB's coverage of their demo in London today. Here's Elinor's. Here's James Moran's experience of the London demo as well.

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LINKS

WGA Strike Blog

Pencil Protest

"Bring TV Back" Letter Writing Campaign

Fans 4 Writers

DON'T FORGET: if you're on Facebook, you can demonstrate your virtual solidarity there too.

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You CAN make a difference... So lend your support.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Coming To A Town Near You

The lovely Jill Golick has information about six rallies planned as part of the International Day of Solidarity in support of the WGA strike. All of these events will take place on Wednesday November 28th, 2007.

In London:

12 noon outside the Trades Union Congress HQ in Great Russell Street in Central London. Piers will be there.
UPDATE: So will James!

In Toronto:

From 10am to 12pm, The Sony Centre (formerly the Hummingbird Centre)
@ the corner of Yonge and Front Street.

In Montreal:

10:30am to noon, meet at the SARTEC offices (1229, rue Panet in Montreal - between René-Lévesque and Ste-Catherine).

In Dublin:

3:00 pm, Guild Office, Art House, Curved Street, Temple Bar (According to the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Blog)

In Paris:

à 16 heures précises sur l’esplanade du Trocadéro(According to the UGS website )

In Sydney:

4.30pm, Sydney Square, Sydney Town Hall, George Street (meet from 4.15pm)

In Brisbane:

5.00-5.30pm, Queen’s Gardens, cnr. Elizabeth and George Sts, Brisbane

In Perth:

5.15pm to 6.00pm Entry Forecourt, Perth Railway Station, Wellington St, opposite Forrest Place.

Australian meets from AWG site. RSVP: Please email wa@awg.com.au with “Solidarity” in the subject header

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Don't forget I'm wanting to get some writers together in Bournemouth and have NOT HEARD FROM ANYONE YET! This is very disappointing. Don't make me demonstrate in my bedroom with just the PC, Lilirose and Crampon-Fred for company. Come on SW Writers!

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Ninja Has The Answers!

The esteemed Ninja gives us our American writer cousins a few tips on how to negotiate in the strike. Thanks to Piers for the link.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Nov 28th: Day of Solidarity


As some of you may know, next Wednesday is the official day of solidarity for striking writers and the day we can demonstrate our support for the WGA.

I'm hearing quite a lot from the Writers Guild of Canada courtesy of the marvellous Jill Golick over their plans to demonstrate in Montreal and Toronto, but ironically I have heard absolutely zilch about The WGGB's plans to mark this day. Anyone heard anything? What are they doing?

Presumably the day will be marked in London but sadly I will be unable to attend (if it is indeed going on) since I have no childcare on a Wednesday. However, this did get me thinking: there are plenty of scribes and wannabe scribes in the South West, why not stage our own mini-demo here in lovely Bournemouth*? We could stand out in The Square in the freezing cold for a bit, wave some placards about and take photos for this blog I thought to show our friends in the WGA that we do actually give a S***. People like moi who have kids, bring them along too. We should also give out some leaflets about why we're doing it. And bail money in case of the pi--police.

Interested parties leave comments please or email me on the usual address so we can arrange times etc. Novelists, journos, short story writers, students etc welcome as well as screenwriters.

*You don't *have* to live in or around Bournemouth to come to the demo by the way, but might help if you have somewhere to stay if you don't live here since it's getting quite nippy.

UPDATE: Here's a thought for all those out in www.land who either don't live in the South West or can't get time off work etc - why not get a picture like the one I've just uploaded here and take a picture of yourself with it and send it to me... I will upload it on this site as a symbol of VIRTUAL solidarity. (I know some of you don't like showing your faces on the tinternet, so just take a pic of your hands or something with the sign). COME ON!

How Did My Cats Get On You Tube?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Note To Spammers


Dear Mr. Spam Man,

Thanks for letting me win the lottery three times a week average. I don't deal in Euros, Dollars or Yen though, so I'd appreciate it if you could actually just send me my winnings for the draw that I actually didn't enter in a suitcase or bag marked "SWAG" in Pounds Sterling. Ta.

Cheers also to the lovely fellows with unpronouncable names who say that because I am "obviously" a good Christian, they can trust me to look after their squillions of pounds whilst they run away from oppressive regimes and gain asylum in the UK. Whilst I would be more than happy normally to accomodate your money, unfortunately I have way too much of my own because of the lottery winnings that are coming, so my account is actually full up. What do you know!

And finally, to all the others, I don't want to look at your dubious You Tube link and nor do I have a "dragon" that needs to be harder. In fact my dragon Terry went to anger management classes only last year and is over all his behavioural issues now (what?). But ta anyway.

Much love and f@*! off,

Your spam recipient x

Monday, November 19, 2007

10 On TV Drama #4: Cops N' Docs, Pt 2 - Dashing Docs and Naughty Nurses

SPOILERS PRESENT AS ALWAYS

Carrying on with our "Cops N' Docs" theme, I am going to investigate a long-running medical drama that I have watched from the start: Holby City. What makes it work, what brings the audiences back, week on, week out? Let's take a look...



HOLBY CITY (1999 - PRESENT)

LOGLINE: The everyday lives, professional and personal, of the doctors, nurses and patients who find themselves, for various reasons, in the wards of the frenetic cardiac unit of Holby City General Hospital.

Casualty began back in the eighties and whilst I have also watched this from the start, unusually I consider its "spin-off" Holby City far superior. There are many reasons why, but the short version is I like its characters better. Casualty, whilst very dramatic with its accident re-enactments (some incredibly daring and others, plain weird - I'll never forget the woman playing squash with a wooden racket that splinters and gets stuck in her neck), just doesn't do it for me in the same way.

Perhaps it's because there are so many great characters, past and present, to choose from? As far as Doctors go there has been the megalomanic consultant Anton Meyer who wants his underlings to worship him like a God; the arrogant Nick Jordan who believes his own publicity to the detriment of his patients; the exhuberant and (frustrated) maternal Lola Griffin, ex-wife of consultant Ric Griffin, a doctor with a gambling problem and the weight of the world on his shoulders; the unstoppable Abra, weak to the core emotionally yet wanting to save the Third World through any means possible including illegal; Owen, an obstetrician who loves women but leaves them at the drop of a hat; the repressed Joseph Byrne who will always be in the shadow of his surgeon father; Jac, who will do anything if it means she will make it to the top; Elliot, a gifted surgeon yet impossibly scatty; Diane, a brilliant surgeon who consistently puts her emotional happiness in the hands of fickle and irresponsible men; Sam, a womaniser who just wants to be loved and my two absolute favourites of all time, the lovable rogue consultant Dan Clifford (just departed) and the irrascible and tenacious Connie Beauchamp who is not only fantastic at her job, she ensures anyone who crosses her pays. Forever. This includes Sam, who fathered her new daughter Grace after a one night stand. I'd almost say "poor guy", but he's such a muppet let's not. Go Connie!


Yet Holby City is not just about its doctors, but its nurses too and I think it's this that separates it from other medical dramas. Whilst others do obviously have nurse characters, most of the time they *seem* more secondary, "it's the doctors that are important really", yet in Holby City they have picked up on this conflict and exploited it to the full. Doctors look down on nurses; nurses resent doctors. Doctors might "save" the patient, yet without the nurses' help they would get nowhere and we are reminded of this over and over again, from MRSA storylines through to doctors dumping their babies for the day on already put-upon nursing staff.

And the nurses are every bit as colourful as the doctors in Holby City, with even an entire family amongst the nursing staff ranks: The Williams Family. Chrissie is the matron of Darwin Ward and it wasn't long before she was joined by her mother Tricia (who very unhelpfully went out with Chrissie's Ex Owen). About a year after that Tricia's estranged husband Mark turned up out of the blue wanting to reconcile with both women which went quite well until Chrissie's grandfather saught the same... It came out that Chrissie's father Mark was really her brother, for Chrissie's grandfather raped Tricia after her engagement party to Mark some thirty years beforehand.

Tricia was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer which she *almost* beat, but unfortunately she died in a car accident setting off on her honeymoon with Mark; he was later charged with drunk driving having been over the limit at the time. Mark is now a cocaine addict, something only Scatty Elliot knows about as he has a son, James, addicted to heroin who turns up from time to time looking to score at the hospital. Mark is desperate to keep his addiction from Chrissie a secret and has almost given himself away on several occasions. Other nurses of note include the irrepressible Donna who is the epitome of the OPPOSITE of the caring profession, Jess, Eric's daughter who is dogged by bad luck and even accused of harming her own baby and Kelly, a nurse about five years ago who was an obvious comment on the case of Beverley Allit.

Holby City was originally only about its cardio-thorassic ward but in recent years has opened up to include General Surgery it seems which I believe is called Keller Ward. This means sometimes cases are transferred up from "downstairs" (Casualty) so we get an opportunity to follow on storylines from the other show. At Christmas we are usually treated to a "Casualty @ Holby City" Special which basically means the characters from both shows are put together in some kind of life-altering event/accident. It also means there will some sort of annual cull of characters: in recent years we've said goodbye to Ellen, who was knocked over and killed outside the Casualty dept by a motorbike in front of ex-Partner Harry who then had to try and save her in vain; Paramedic Woody was killed by inhaling chlorine trying to save a baby from a car accident; paedrician Jim saved pregnant midwife Rosie by letting himself fall from unstable scaffolding after a juggernaut crashed right into the Holby City building and practically demolished it. All this in addition to characters getting stabbed, run over, poisoned and beaten up on the regular shows. Holby General is positively the most dangerous place to work ON EARTH.


DOCS SERIES OF NOTE, PAST AND PRESENT:

THE FLYING DOCTORS (1986 - 1991, 9 Seasons) The chronicles of the Royal Flying Doctors Service in the Australian Outback, that covers distances too far and remote by conventional roads.
I remember watching this as a child and loving it: the funniest thing is, the actor Peter O'Brien (who was also in Neighbours incidentally) has since turned up as a doctor not only in Cardiac Arrest (below), but Casualty, Holby City's predecessor. Just like Ken Stott plays world weary policeman, this Ozzie Actor will play doctors... Even if that means emigrating.

CHICAGO HOPE (1994 - 2000, 6 Seasons) The lives and trials of the staff of a major hospital in Chicago.
I was surprised to see this had six seasons, since I was pretty sure I only watched one - I recall it being on quite late, perhaps they moved it even further back on the schedule. Certainly I recall the newspapers saying it was "too like ER" but I thought its focus was entirely different and actually extremely good.

CARDIAC ARREST (1994 - 1996, 3 Seasons) A visceral, wryly humorous look at the NHS in the 1990s.
I absolutely loved this and rued the day it went off-air, though thinking about it, that was probably what it needed else it might have "gone soft": hard-hitting, dark, funny, it spared no punches. Brilliant.

BODIES (2004 - 2006, 2 Seasons) A young English surgeon discovers his obstetrician Boss is not quite the living up to his Hippocratic oath.
From the writer of Cardiac Arrest, this was bound to be good, but perhaps was a little over-ambitious in its second series (ordering ten episodes instead of the usual six) which *might* have accounted for why people stopped watching.

ER (1994 - PRESENT)The work and lives of a group of emergency room doctors in Chicago.
I loved this when it first started and of course it's famous as a series for launching the career of George Clooney. I found him captivating as Dr. Doug Ross and there were some great storylines that really stuck in my mind, such as the death of Dr. Mark Greene from a brain tumour and arrogant consultant Romano's emasculation as a surgeon when he loses his arm in a freak accident with a helicopter. Magic.

HOUSE (2004 - PRESENT) An antisocial maverick doctor who specializes in diagnostic medicine does whatever it takes to solve puzzling cases that come his way using his crack team of doctors and his wits.
I love to hate this: its storylines are for the most part ridiculous (oh, you *could* have cancer? Let's irradiate you before we find out for sure!), yet there's something mesmerising about it, probably its wonderfully acerbic character observations courtesy of House himself.

SILENT WITNESS (1996 - PRESENT) The activities of a Home office pathology team.
I liked this better when Sam Ryan was at the helm, but nevertheless this is good solid drama, if a little unbelievable. But who's to let truth get in the way of a good yarn, hey?

What's your fave medical drama and why? Discuss...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

SPECIAL OFFER: 20% Off for Blog Readers on Script Reading

Need some feedback on your feature, TV Pilot or similar?

DEVELOPMENT NOTES - normally £45, to my lovely Blog Readers £36. For this you'll get a logline and about 6 pages of notes, tackling any issues your draft may have in-depth, like structure, character, exposition, with suggestions for development in further drafts. Useful for those drafts where the writer is still developing the story and/or certain elements, or those pieces where the writer is unsure what to do re: conflicting feedback or similar.

OVERVIEW REPORTS - normally £35, to my lovely Blog Readers £28. For this you get a logline plus sections on Story, Characters, Dialogue, Arena and "Miscellaneous" (ie. format). Useful for those more polished pieces where the writer wants a "trial run" before sending off to competitions, agents, prodcos, etc.

I believe the art of good feedback is offering ideas as a "platform": you're the writer, you're the one who knows your story best - I'm here to help, not get you to agree with me... I'm not one of those vitriolic readers you hear horror stories about. Equally, I'm not one of those that'll tell you everything's "great" and leave you wondering why you bothered when you could've got your Mum to read it for free. I'll treat your script with respect whilst still addressing any issues it may have and offer concise, straight-forward suggestions to tackle them.

Want a recommendation before you spend your hard-earned cash on coverage? Here you go.

This offer is valid between Friday 23rd and Friday 30th of November ONLY - but send your script now to reserve your place, my lists fill up fast!! No need to pay until I send you an invoice through Paypal and we're ready to proceed! It's as easy as that.

Look forward to reading your work!

PS. Don't want Development Notes or an Overview Report? Perhaps you have a short film that needs looking at, a competition entry, treatment, proposal or short story? Then email me... If it's scriptwriting-related, I'm sure I can help - and you can still have 20% off!

PPS. Not quite finished on your draft yet, but want to take advantage of this offer? Then email me and I'll reserve you a place and you can still have 20% off as long as you utilise my service within four weeks, no worries.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Colour Me Bad

This is a true story. I went to school with a girl I will call Mary. Mary was mixed heritage in a school almost entirely white (that's Devon for you): her absent father was black and her abusive mother and stepfather were white. At school other pupils called Mary "black" and at home she was the "nig-nog" stepdaughter. Growing up in such environment then it is not surprising Mary fell foul of a self-fulfilling prophecy; always the outsider, ostracised by her peers bar a select few and reminded daily what a nuisance she was at home, it was not long before Mary fell into a cycle of crime and drugs to gain (negative) attention and by the age of seventeen she was in a young offenders' institute serving a short stint for burglary.

I suppose I was friends with this girl because I too felt like an outsider growing up; we were both bullied, her for her skin colour and me because I had that stamp of someone who did not quite "fit in" and refused to see why she should try. It ended happily for both us by the way; as you know I left the trials of school behind and Mary had a similarly happy result. Sent away from Devon because of a lack of facilities for female juveniles, she ended up in a unit with other black and mixed heritage women and discovered, for the first time, that others felt as ostracised by our society as her: it wasn't just her. In the unit she studied, did a few exams and when she was let out, she became a cobbler of all things and set up her own business, which she does very well at.

But what is this story doing on the pages of a screenwriting blog? It seems to me that we are encouraged to see colour as something that is seen to "define" us - Asian Film, Black Film, Asian Women in Film, Japanese Horror are all tags we see on a daily basis online, at film festivals, on DVD boxes. Yet where is the definition if we are white? There is none. It is just, simply, "Film". It would appear that no definition is needed.

But what does this mean? Well first off, it would appear that defining people on the basis of colour *can* be a bad thing... Mary would testify to that: "she was a problem because she was an outsider and she was an outsider because of her colour" is a foul way to pigeon-hole someone, especially so young. But defining people because of their colour can also be a good thing: how can pride in your heritage and its achievements be a bad thing? Well, if you're celebrating the heritage of Nazi Germany (or similar - Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Serbia etc) and its "achievement" in oppressing and destroying entire races of course. There's a flipside to everything, it seems.

But this is why giving your characters a colour in your script *can* be a mine field. It's come up on here before: should we specify if someone is black, asian, white etc? Does it matter? And crucially, are you being racist if you do/do not do this??

Lots of writers say casting should be "colour blind" and I am one of them. Who knows whether this script will ever be made anyway and if it is, huge changes will be made according to what and who is available at the time. One of my Bang2writers made the assertion that we should write with a particular actor in mind and if that actor is then black, you should specify that character is also black but this doesn't work for me just on the basis of maths: specs spend such a long time in development that by the time it goes into production who's to say if that actor will even still have a career?

Of course, sometimes colour pays off in a story. If you're writing about say, Neo Nazism, then it helps to have some black characters for the sense of conflict. But often the casting choices we make as writers are obvious - names can give a huge sense of what colour a character is, as can ways of speaking and the actions they make.

Which leads us onto another rub. Black characters are so often negative role models. For every Will Smith in Pursuit of Happyness, there are legions of drug dealers, gun runners and ill-educated black characters, whether it's TV or film. And let's not forget the oooh-let's-do-the opposite and be 100% POSITIVE. Someone said to me once, "It's either/or : on telly we're on the street selling drugs or we're the bloody captains of the police force!"

Your thoughts?

Do Your Bit For The Strike: Letter Writing Campaign

Well done to Eleanor for spotting this blog promoting a letter writing campaign to help our American cousins in the current strike.

The blog has a list of addresses for all the CEOs from major studios and/or programmes, so this is a great way to do your bit and express your disdain for the current situation. And please don't tell me letters don't make any difference... Apathy makes even LESS difference my friends.

And don't tell me either you don't have time to write a letter... This blog has a handy template for you to use and even if you only manage to send one to your favourite show, then it's still one more for progress and one more in the eye for those who are trying to diddle the writers.

If the thought of American writers losing out doesn't bother you, then think on this as the eloquent DD points out on James Moran's blog: if the WGA loses, then us Brits have something to worry about - what's to stop all the networks and prodcos in the UK from going after OUR internet and DVD deals and insisting we write stuff for no royalties too? Scary thought, huh? Then do your bit now. I will be starting with CSI, obviously.

Check out the letter writing blog here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

10 on TV Drama #3: Cops N' Docs, Part 1: Cops, 3 of The Best

WARNING: Spoilers Ahoy

When TV Drama Bibles and pilot episodes come into Bang2write, I get a distinct lack of cops and docs, drama's all-time staples. In fact, I would venture I get anything but. Yet why is this? Time has shown, over and over again, that "cops and docs" are favourites - and for this very reason, a new angle on this would surely be welcome on any commissioner's table? If we look at the evidence CSI-style, we can see that cops and docs have any number of variations that people are willing (or have been willing) to watch. Here are three of the best that spring immediately to my mind when I think of recent UK cop drama:


CRACKER (1993 - 1996, 4 seasons)

LOGLINE: An abrasively eccentric forensic psychologist aids in the solving of difficult police cases.

Probably the "big daddy" of all "cool" cop drama, this series established Robbie Coltrane as an actor to be taken seriously after spending most of the eighties in comedy terrain with the likes of Rik Myall and Ade Edmondson (and a move both of these comedians too would emulate, with Mayall largely more successful than Edmondson IMHO). The crucial difference between Cracker and other police drama was this was far from being an ensemble: this was largely about Fitz first and foremost and he was the breath of fresh air we needed. This was not a good guy; he had questionable motivations at the best of times and an ego the size of the world. Even when his wife confesses that she has cheated on him, he humiliates her the best way he knows how - by psychoanalysing her and why she might have done it. For a cop drama, Fitz was not actually a cop, he worked with the cops and this made all the difference; not least because he disrespected police procedure and indeed the police force on a regular basis, but because it meant he was also a lecturer at the local university, bringing a number of other civilians into the fray. Cracker made its mark by tackling tough subject matter including The Hillsborough Disaster (probably its most famous storyline, launching both Robert Carlyle and Christopher Eccleston as other acting forces to be reckoned with), rape (in a non-annoying way I might add) and mental health (including Fitz's). Cracker ended when Fitz emigrated to Australia in order to reconcile with his estranged wife and the baby she had that may or may not have been his.

Cracker had a one-off episode that I awaited eagerly about two years ago only to be bitterly disappointed by it. Perhaps what had made it great in the early nineties was its devil-may-care style was new and impressive, or perhaps I had enjoyed the original far more because I was in my early teens? I don't think so... The new episode was just not as good I thought.


THE VICE (1999 - 2003, 5 seasons)

LOGLINE:
The veteran Inspector Chappel heads up the Metropolitan vice squad as he and his team investigate prostitution and pornography in the London sex trade.

Kenn Stott appears to have made a living out of acting world-weary policemen: we are currently watching him in Rebus on ITV1 and just a few years ago caught him as Red in the gloriously gruesome Messiah on BBC (one of its search labels on IMDB is "severed tongue"!). It was however his first incarnation as Inspector Chappell that I like the best.

The Vice was particularly good at representing the dark side of life but unlike Messiah, did not indulge in the downright gratuitious; it understood absolutely the principal of "what you don't see is far worse". Similarly, character motivation was explored to the full. Like Grissom in CSI, Chappell is a loner and obsessed with his work; like Horatio in CSI: Miami, Chappell was a knight in shining armour as he rescued hundreds of young girls, women and boys from the sex trade, week on week, but in comparsion to Horatio Chappell was much more rounded, with a far deeper, darker side that was not "caped crusader" in any way. Highlights of the series for me included an appearance by the legendary Tim Mcinnery (again an actor more famous at the time for comedy, most notably Blackadder) as a child pornographer and of course The Vice is responsible for launching the career of the fabulous Marc Warren as the infamous Dougie, the bent vice copper.

In short, The Vice was deadly serious and had little time for clever quips like Cracker. This did not mean it was a complete downer however, just good, solid crime drama with bucketloads of tension. What was new about it was it was not so much a "whodunnit" - there were *generally* no bodies, no forensic evidence etc, but a lot of the time it was a race against time. Jeopardy was fantastic. "Figure out where this girl is before she disappears into the sex trade forever" is a great hook and kept audiences returning, week on week out.


SPOOKS (2002 - present)

LOGLINE: The missions of MI5, the UK's intelligence organisation.

I think I'm right in saying Spooks was Kudos' first flagship drama and prepared the ground for what was to come in such other celebrated series as Life on Mars and Hustle. It originated with Helen Smith's favourite leading man Matthew MacFadyen in the protagonist's role now occupied by Rupert Penry-Jones as Adam Carter, the man who defected from MI6 to 5 - something 6 will never forgive him for.

Matthew Macfadyen was written out somewhere around the second or third series; this may have been the plan all along as various movie offers like Pride and Prejudice came in and whilst I am a fan of Macfadyen in general, I didn't like his character Tom as much as I like Adam. Tom was a loner (what else?) but wanted a family and so tried desperately to settle down whilst having one of the most dangerous and not to mention secret, jobs you could possibly have. This was a nice spin but ultimately was not that exciting - his girlfriends could never really take a starring role since they weren't in MI5, so when they were put in danger (the most prominent being one that was locked inside an MI5 safe house with her child and it's about to blow up), I could never really empathise and secretly wanted them to die. Of course they never did, since Tom would always rescue them and then said girlfriend would leave him. Similarly there were a number of questionable storylines that I thought were there for sensationalism's sake (most notably Lisa Faulker's head in the deep fat fryer) and without hardcore characterisation to back this sort of carry-on up, it all fell a little flat for me.

However it was enjoyable nonetheless and I carried on watching... I'm glad I did too, since it all changed when Adam Carter turned up. He played alongside Macfadyen's character for some time until Macfadyen became a security risk and went on the run (as you do). Adam was then the "main man" of the series and what a main man he is. Originally a family man, deeply in love with his wife, dedicated to his child, he was destroyed when not only was his wife shot in front of him by her ex-husband, a Syrian terrorist; he was then shot in the chest by none other than Lindsay Duncan, also a terrorist, when on another mission. His loyalties are horribly tied - he loves his job yet hates it 'cos of his wife's death; he loves his son, but worries he will be left an orphan if Adam also dies on the job. This led to him too becoming a secuirty risk to MI5 but I must have missed an episode somewhere 'cos they appear to have rehabilitated him for this current series.

Like all cops (or their equivalents) Adam is obsessed with his work but is desperately lonely, seeking to replace his dead wife. He has gone from being entirely monogamous to extremely promiscuous and has even started to make dangerous decisions about the women he becomes involved with. We saw this only this week when the treacherous Ana tried to murder him, first by giving him a disabling drug then dumping him in a bathtub full of water. Nasty. A little convoluted though, why not shoot him in the head? But hey ho.

Any favourites of yours to add? What makes a good cop drama as far as you are concerned? Over to you...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

10 on TV Drama #2: CSI: MIAMI and CSI:NY

WARNING: SPOILERS

In any franchise, there's bound to be some dilution: if the subsequent Alien films lacked the shock value of that very first chestburst because we'd seen it before, then it's kind of inevitable that CSI: Miami and CSI: NY are thought of as "nowhere near as good" as Crime Scene Investigation.

I saw Anthony Zuicker on telly and he said he was literally whisked into an Exec's office after a successful run of Crime Scene Investigation and told, "Come up with a city." He said, "Erm.... Miami." Whammo, said faceless Exec puts the wheels in motion: we're gonna do CSI: THE COOL WAY. There will be no nerdy Grissoms, no seedy glamour Las Vegas backdrop, we're gonna have sex and sun and crime all the way and who much cares about character because did I mention there was SEX? There's a lot of spin involved in this writing lark of course, but I can believe this was how CSI: Miami was spawned for the very reason it lacks so little of what makes its predeccessor great, which namely is characterisation.

Like a lot of women, I love Horatio regardless of course, even if he is ginger andeven if he is the most cardboard, 2D and stereotypical leader possibly in TV history, hence this fantastic medley of his corny one-liners on You Tube. I mean, that name: Horatio Caine. Could they have been any more cheesy? But that's what CSI: Miami is - Cheesy Crime. Not gritty, makes-you-think, oh-that's-interesting, oh-my-God kind of crime. (Cheesy crime: I've copyrighted that by the way, hands-off bitches.)

But this cheesiness is backed up, so it's okay. It makes no apologies. It is what it purports to be - and why not? Character might be more shallow than Crime Scene Investigation, but it's the kind of characterisation that all of us understand, even if we don't like it - and that's Horatio, as the knight in shining armour. This is why we love him girls, am I wrong? We know that if Horatio's on our side, then everything's ok. Apart from poor wife Marisol of course, he was off vanquishing the baddies in one of his infernal grudge matches as she lay dying but hey - quit whining. And he went all the way to Rio to avenge her. Oh and got his own brother killed in the process. But hey, Ray was as bad as Horatio is good so let's forgive our hero there...Again. And not to forget of course that Horatio is bullet-proof boys, how cool is that? People can get shot all around him, yet he never even gets so much as a graze. Niiiiiice.

So if Crime Scene Investigation invests in character with its Las Vegas backdrop as well - a backdrop (and a very nice one it is too) - then CSI: Miami is principally about, well, Miami, with the characters playing second fiddle instead. This second part of the CSI franchise is the complete opposite in effect of the original and I wouldn't mind betting this was on purpose. Why? So it could achieve a fanbase all of its own as well as cash in on the CSI brand. People who watch CSI may not watch CSI: Miami on the basis the original is more a broadsheet to the sequel's tabloid version, but you can bet there are CSI: Miami fans who wouldn't watch CSI on the basis there aren't enough babes in it. It's this style over content that sets the two programmes apart, whilst still encouraging die-hard fans like me to watch both simply because they will anyway.


In comparison then, I started off liking CSI:NY a lot more than CSI:Miami but just recently this has swapped places in my mind (though neither will ever come close to the original). I think the reason for this switch is that CSI:NY tries emulate both its predecessors which I think is a shame. Whilst CSI does character and CSI: Miami does arena, CSI:NY feels like the little brother who can never live up to his successful siblings' legacy, in that the programme does both character and arena adequately but excels in neither in my view.

Let's take character for example. Whilst Horatio is the absolute anthesis of Grissom, Mac falls somewhere in-between. He's cold and calculating like Grissom but lacks Grissom's boyish charm; he has a dark side like Horatio, but even when that perp threw himself off a building whilst handcuffed in order to implicate Mac as a suspect-basher, I never really got enough sense of his dark side to really believe Mac *could* have thrown that guy for real... We all know it's a mistake and Mac'll be let off the hook. None of the other characters in CSI:NY really jump out at me (bar one, which I will go into in a sec) which is odd when you consider their much more 2D counterparts in CSI:Miami seem a lot more luminous (perhaos 'cos they wear less clothes? There's an essay for you: discuss).


For me, the one character I really like in CSI:NY is Danny Messer. Like Catherine in CSI he is not privileged and grew up the hard way and like Eric is Horatio's right hand man, so he is Mac's for the most part - when he's not arguing with him about how Mac's wrong.

It's this crucial difference that sets him apart in my mind as being one of the most interesting characters in CSI:NY, largely because what he does (the arguing with authority) is something that is new to the franchise. Mac respects Danny regardless, probably because of his lack of ass-kissing and whilst Danny sometimes believes that Mac is "out of touch" with the "street", he ultimately respects Mac too. Danny had it hard growing up and sometimes his past comes back to haunt him - just as Catherine's does in CSI. Of course, in CSI, Sara is often at loggerheads with Grissom, but this is nearly always because of personal reasons or something small to do with a case. Similarly, Catherine disagrees with Grissom nearly every episode, but crucially she is a senior investigator like him, of the same generation, when Danny is considerably younger and lower on the pecking order than Mac. Oh, and did I mention tasty? Hmmmmm....

Over to you...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

There's No Excuse For Being Talentless



"Right then. Let's review class activity, shall we? Well, well, well... What a sorry lot you are. I don't know why I waste my time, not one of you will amount to much, NOT ONE!

Sorry... What was that? You "tried your best" - well that's not good enough! And who was that squeaking at the back anyway? Stand up straight. Tuck your shirt in. If you dedicated more time to screenwriting and less time to chatting on the internet, perhaps one of you urchins will advance forward in some kind of contest...

...Oh you placed in the last one everyone in the Blogosphere entered? Well you didn't win, did you? Everyone knows that's the most important thing! Ridiculous girl. And who's muttering on now...

...You boy! What did you say? There were 2100 entries in the last contest? So? If you were truly fabulous, you still could have made it through and you didn't, did you? How many people made it through anyway? Everyone knows that's the most important thing... At least until the actual result is published and the rest of the people who place are exposed as the losers they *really* are.

Now open your dictation books: write as I say it. The only thing that matters is winning screenwriting contests. Everything else is secondary--"

--Er, excuse me.

Shut it Teacher.

If you don't get through on contests, that's cool - you're in good company, plenty of others don't either.

If you do get through on contests though, again you're in good company: lots of people do!

Sometimes a good script will end up bottom of the pile when shit floats to the top; that is true. Other times there are good reasons your script didn't make it. Sometimes a script can even place in one contest and not even make a dent in another.

There are loads of contests, basically. Some will get you places. Others won't.

If nothing else, a contest can give you a deadline and an opportunity to practice. Your time honing your craft is never wasted.

So: stop obsessing about how many people enter.

Stop telling yourself you're a bad writer when you're rejected.

And get on with it: writing, that is.

Here endeth today's lesson.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Strike Food Runs

For anyone who might have missed it over at James Moran's site, check out this website which gives loads of info including how to donate money for the picketers' food runs if you can't make it. FYI, 1 GBP = 2.03150 USD today, meaning $10.00 is £4.93 to us Brits (not even two pints of beer where I live!) and could make their day. You know you want to.

10 On TV Drama #1: CSI [Las Vegas]


WARNING: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS

When Bang2write first started, I got nearly without exception only features. These days I get a lot of shorts and competition entries (I read a lot of Red Planet ten-pagers for example) as well as proposals, treatments and even short stories that scribes write for themselves so they can "know their story and characters inside out" which I think is a particularly good idea.

In the last year, TV Drama has become a big thing amongst my Bang2writers. With every week that passes I get at least one TV Drama Pilot, sometimes with a Bible attached, sometimes without. Because of this then, I thought it might be an idea to explore what I think makes "good" TV drama and why. [Before I begin though, a note to the purists and soap snobs: I will be looking at both US and UK, continuing drama, as well as series, from two and four episode runs through to twenty two.]

I only started watching Crime Scene Investigation this January; as a tech-no-hoper I only got a digibox for Christmas and whilst I noticed the buzz when this series started around the beginning of the noughties, I didn't concern myself with it - I couldn't get Channel 5 after all. Besides, as an avid crime drama fan growing up watching Cracker, Silent Witness, The Vice, Messiah etc how good could some US rip-off be? I thought I had seen it all. So imagine my surprise when not only was CSI watchable, I actively liked it. A lot. Not because the cases were in themselves were inexplicable and intriguing (though many were), but because of its characterisation.

It's this that I think separates television from its feature sibling: it invests far more in the people whom we watch, as opposed to plot, which of course is important but plays second fiddle. It has to; a TV Drama has to keep us interested over literally hundreds of hours sometimes, bringing us back for more and more. In the case of CSI, we've had pretty much the same characters (I don't think any have left, though it's difficult to tell when you watch them out of sync like I do on C5's CSI:Sunday), enacting the same formula for seven years now (two storylines, one team of two taking one, another taking the other, the one at the beginning before the credits usually being the major with the lesser storyline *usually* resolving around the third break, though sometimes the two meld as the plot thickens). A lesser programme would have to rely on sensationalistic tactics to keep viewers engaged and whilst I was disappointed in a slightly dodgy fantasy sequence in the last episode of this current series just past, generally this is not the case (for those of you who missed it and don't mind the spoiler, the creepy Doll Killer who abducted Sara and put her under the car stabbed Grissom in the throat in the interrogation room, only for it to be revealed seconds later it was in her mind's eye. Bad CSI!).

So what works for me then is not CSI's structure or even the fact that I can guess whodunnit and act superior to my husband when I am right and he never is.

It's the fact the investigators of CSI are a family.

Think about it:

First we have Grissom. He's got serious emotional issues and he's as close to a Dad the team are ever going to have. He's the kind of father that always says "ask your mother" because he's always tied up with something - bugs mostly or sometimes, proving someone else wrong. He's not a team player, he's a leader and he's a good one if people could ever notice that and not the fact he has so many bizarre quirks that are at best gross - like storing blood in the team's lunch refrigerator because the lab one is full. For Grissom, science is paramount as is The Truth. One episode he discovered a girl had not been murdered, but had been killed in a freak accident - which her parents were unable to accept. He was unable to understand why they could not face the truth, preferring instead to believe an unnamed assailant had killed their child, not realising that a real parent would find the truth unpalatable - you raise your kid just so they can die in a completely pointless way? From here then--

--We have Catherine. A mom in the literal sense - Lindsay her daughter is her life and she references her constantly, sometimes letting her love for her own child skew the science in front of her: there have been numerous times Catherine has had to apologise to suspects on the basis she has jumped to conclusions. An ex-exotic dancer, Catherine is not privileged and is the poster girl for "Sisters Doin' It For Themselves." Despite this however, Catherine is wary of Sara; she finds her as strange and bizarre as she finds Grissom, whom she believes is woefully out of touch with reality and real people. In a similar way then, Catherine asks Sara once "Since when did you care about your appearance?" when Sara asks for a pocket mirror. Catherine's right however - Sara doesn't want the pocket mirror to look at her own reflection, but for a case. Which is why--

--Sara is the female Grissom. Like "father" like "daughter", Sara is a little strange, often in a world of her own. She's a vegetarian, very opinionated and like Grissom, lives for her work - on more than one occasion she has asked for extensions so she can carry on cases or go out into the field more. She's not one to ask why, but join in: when Grissom asks her if she's brought her lunch in and has a pickle, she immediately gives it to him so he can barbeque it with barely a murmur: if it's for science, then it must okay. Unlike Grissom however, Sara is much more emotional and prone to outbursts, particularly those directed against Grissom himself. What is especially clever here however is that it's Sara, not Catherine (like an audience might expect), who loves Grissom and he too loves her and it's this "will they-won't they" mentality that fuels their relationship, in opposition to--

Warwick, Grissom's blue-eyed boy. Towards the beginning of CSI, much was made of Grissom's favouritism of Warwick; whilst Warwick is a good CSI, he is deeply flawed and as a "big brother" to Sara, makes more mistakes than her yet infurtiatingly, seems to get away with it. It was him who was placing a bet when there-just-to-get-killed-character Holly was murdered at a crime scene; similarly he has compromised evidence on several occasions. Both Catherine and Sara have an uneasy relationship with Warwick at times; Sara was the one who investigated Warwick's betting on the job and of course Catherine believes another should be held in higher regard, since he is

Nick, the middle "forgotten" child. Nick is an excellent CSI but like Catherine is prone to prejudice. In one episode he and Grissom attend a convention of little people where one has been murdered and another reminds Nick that it is him who should be altering his perspective. Unlike some of the more hot-headed members of the team however, Nick takes criticism on board well and later in the episode does just what the little person recommended - viewing the crime scene from his knees, the height of that murderer. Predictably, Nick relates best to Catherine, not Grissom and even confesses to her in another episode that the reason he was being off with one suspect is that because he too was abused as a child, something he has never told anyone before. Bringing us on to--

Captain Brass, ol' Grandpa. More of a secondary character to the "main" team, Captain Brass was around before science, he's old school. DNA? Pah! He'll trust gut feeling every time. He will use science to his own advantage of course, it's there after all, but there has been more than one occasion where he has been at loggerheads with the rest of the team, based solely on a hunch. He's damn good at his job but has secrets of his own - such as his own daughter Elly's true parentage and the reasons why they are estranged. At the end of the day, he and the rest of the team are a generation apart, especially when we're talking about--

Greg, the cousin/best friend everyone has a go at. Like Captain Brass, Greg is more of a secondary character in that he rarely has a starring role in the proceedings of CSI, but his contribution is always important - if he didn't stop joking around. Grissom often tells him to stop playing his music in the lab and Greg is chastised most episodes for playing games when revealing the results of various tests, like in one episode when he insists on showing the matches for DNA samples in an abuse case in the style of blackjack cards which particularly disgusts Warren (methinks he doth protest too much?!). Despite this, Sara in particular can be found hanging around Greg waiting for results and sparring with him in a love-to-hate way.

So there you have it - the major characters of Crime Scene Investigation and why they work for me. I think the key to good characterisation is giving them "multi layers", rather than single, obvious role functions alone. End of the day, it all boils down to this: we all have stories - so should your characters. By studying those successful dramas that keep people interested, we can unlock some of those stories and characters already out there.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Join The WGA's Picket Line

Not in America so can't picket? Don't let a teensy thing like geography and a whacking great ocean stop you... If you're a member of Facebook, you can show your solidarity with our American cousins by joining the virtual picket line here.

It's running between Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 10:55pm and ends on Sunday, December 9, 2007 at 12:00am on "computers everywhere". Nice one, guys.

See you there.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Red-Eyed

Well, I'm out of Red Planet, but then I have some very good company since no one has popped up on the blogs yet to say they're through (that I've seen, anyway). Check out Paul's hilarious response here.

Moving onwards anyway... If you feel like you need something to get your teeth into next and perhaps a change of medium, why not go from Red Planets to Red Bull? Red Bull have launched their own short story contest "Red Bull Tall Stories" - the winner with the best story gets it made into an advert. You can even read and vote for your favourites. Sounds fun*, no entry fee either. Closing date December 31st. Check out full details plus terms and conditions here.

Talking of tall stories, last night I was propositioned by Jeremy Clarkson - well in my dream I was, though that part was probably more of a nightmare. What was interesting about the dream though was that we were in the Top Gear studio and toffee poppets kept raining out of the ventillation grills and interrupting the filming (anyone remember them?? Check out this amazing website where you can get sweets from your childhood!). Anyways, Jeremy was extremely irate and blamed co-host Richard Hammond. I wonder sometimes how I function with a brain like mine, the weird connections I make in my subconscious. Hey ho.

In other news, I thought I trod on some kind of furry snake/worm thing on the landing on my way to the bathroom last night and screamed, waking up both children and Him Indoors. It turned out to be a lime green pipe cleaner. Well, it was dark.

*I've never entered this by the way, but I may do. Anyone else? Let us know what you think as always

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Free Music

In keeping with this week's music theme courtesy of Maryan, the lovely Katie sent me a link to a band, Slashed Seat Affair, who are offering a free download from their site. For anyone who enjoys rock music, I can thoroughly recommend it - even though *shock horror* there's no swearing or blatant references to sex in it, but hey you can't have everything.

Download the track here from the band's official website.

Slashed Seat Affair on Myspace.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More On The Strike: Why Should UK Writers Care?

Many thanks to Dublin Dave who sends in a link to a video today explaining why the WGA are fighting for writers' rights. If you want further clarification of what is going on or why, please watch it so it can help inform your decision and stance on this important issue. Click here to watch.

I've heard that there have been UK writers - though not Bang2writers and mainly through word-of-mouth - delighting in the idea of a strike because it means being native English Speakers, they may have a chance with US prodcos and studios they may not have had before thanks to the dearth of American material. A friend of mine related with disgust that she had heard of one such UK writer boasting that since s/he was not a member of the WGGB or WGA, s/he couldn't care less whether they are banned from either for life; all s/he cares about is getting that elusive US option and/or commission.

Given my friend's inability to name said writer and indeed others failing to be specific too, I'm hoping the existence of these UK scab writers is just urban legend. As the WGGB have been at pains to point out, they negotated good deals on royalties for internet and corporate content and it's only right our American cousins should have the same privilege. Whilst competition is certainly part of this scriptwriting game, going against writers on strike is not competing, it's just low. And as Piers says, simply wrong.

But even if you don't care about those American writers, I urge you to think about your position more carefully if you're contemplating scabbing. Not caring whether you get thrown out of the WGGB or banned from entering the WGA is just crazy. Who knows what will happen next in your career? Do you really want a blemish of this kind on your record? Will others trust you? (And so much in scriptwriting depends on personal recommendation!)

As it goes I'm not a member of either at the moment, I had to let my WGGB membership lapse since I've had a very, very, expensive year for a number of reasons, but there is no way I will be putting my re-membership of the WGGB in the new year or possible membership of the WGA (I might move to America or work on American shows, why not?) in jeopardy. So even if the ethics of this situation don't trouble you at all, it still makes no sense to scab.

Not many of us make loads of money at this writing game. Even fewer of us gets respect and hardly any of us get the recognition we actually deserve for the amount of work we put in. Solidarity then is all we have left. That's why us UK writers should care.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Writing Drama

As most regular readers of this blog know, I have little time for screenwriting books generally. It's not that I hate them, it's just that I feel they often state the obvious or worse, are self-congratulatory on being "the" way to write. There are no "ways" to write, no one knows what they're doing, we're all in this together at the same time as being on our own too, end of as far as I'm concerned (yes I know that's a contradiction).

So when Collette at Clown Enfant emailed me and offered me a copy of Yves Lavandier's Writing Drama, there was a jaded part of me that wondered what this French guy might say that was different to all the others. I mean, not much probably. But hey, why not have a look.

So imagine my surprise when I bloody loved it.

This is not for newer writers still working their way through the basics. Rather it is for those writers who've been writing for a good while, have lots of ideas and opinions of what makes "good" drama and want a platform to explore and compare these notions. It's a whopping book but handily each chapter is divided into bitesize chunks you can dip in and out of, as I have been the last few months. It's also got a really well-referenced index which has served me well in finding Yves' view of certain aspects I've struggled with in my own writing and each chapter starts with some illuminating quotes from movies, plays and industry bigwigs. Nice.

The book explores all the usual - characterisation, obstacles, notions of creativity, contrast, symbolism and he even echoes my thoughts about dialogue. Crucially though, this is not a "how to" book: instead Yves explores the notion of drama and what makes it effective. It delves not only into the mechanics of writing like so many screenwriting books, but into the philosophies of writing, filmmaking and even audience response. Yves makes no apologies for his own response to certain pieces - good or bad - and whilst I don't always agree with what he says and/or sometimes I haven't seen the movie he's referencing to make the comparison, yet I can see his logic with absolute clarity.

Best of all, he loves Antigone as much as me and makes references to sex A LOT. It feels like a journey through his personal DVD collection and brain at the same time. Wicked.

What's so great about this book though is there are no assertions. You are not a terrible writer if you write a particular way, but equally you are not a great writer either if you don't. What a refreshing change.

LINKS

Buy Yves' book here. (this is the only place online you can buy it by the way).

Read sample chapters of the book here.

Read Scott The Reader's Review of the book here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Template Question

Like many of you out there I use Final Draft and whilst it's certainly not perfect, it's the one I find most serviceable and least annoying, even though I must only use about a tenth of the applications.

Basically then this is a Q for those out there who know their way round this software better than I do (which is not difficult, admittedly, my cat probably knows more about FD than I do).

In the "file" bit on the far left handside, you can go to "new screenplay" and you have the basic spec template, even I know that. In addition, on the drop-down list you've got templates not just for specs, but BBC sitcoms, Eastenders, Coronation Street, Alias, etc etc.

But what if there's NOT a template for a show I want to put into my system? Is there any way I can "programme" it into Final Draft so that when I select it thereafter, it will do all the formatting for that particular show so I need put it in only once instead of painstakingly page by page?

Any thoughts appreciated.

Memed - again!

It's Meme Central in The Scribosphere of late and I haven't even got round to posting my own 20 Questions like everyone else, yet Maryan rocked in yesterday and tagged me for another... As I understand it, this one requires its participants to post the lyrics and/or videos of a song that has inspired them to write something. This is a difficult one, since music is probably the one thing that inspires me most so technically everything I write is connected in some way to something I've written; pinning it down is hard, so here are my top three.

Nine Inch Nails, Deep. I think this is a fantastic example of non-linear narrative structure and its simplicity is key to its success. Like everyone else in the known universe, I've attempted non-linearity in my scripts and think I was able to get a handle on it in one of them thanks to this video.

Korn, Here To Stay. This is another great narrative and shows the power of image over words brilliantly; the best use of archive footage I've seen in ages.

My all-time favourite then:

Tool, Schism. It helps that this is one of my favourite songs of course; what I love about Tool is their epic and dark sound, I find it really inspiring and certainly the lyrics (below) gave me plenty of ideas. The video for it is unquestionably weird and almost certainly twisted - if I knew what the flaming hell it was about. Whatever the case, the whole package inspired me to give arthouse a go myself and I came up with Thy Will Be Done, easily my most "successful" script in that it's got me the most meetings.

I know the pieces fit 'cos I watched them fall away:
Mildewed and smoldering, fundamental differing,
Pure intention juxtaposed will set two lovers souls in motion;
Disintegrating as it goes, testing our communication.
The light that fueled our fire then has burned a hole between us so
We cannot see to reach an end crippling our communication.

I know the pieces fit 'cos I watched them tumble down:
No fault, none to blame, it doesnt mean I don't desire to
Point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over.
To bring the pieces back together, rediscover communication.

The poetry that comes from the squaring off between,
And the circling is worth it.
Finding beauty in the dissonance.

There was a time that the pieces fit, but I watched them fall away.
Mildewed and smoldering, strangled by our coveting.
I've done the the math enough to know the dangers of a second guessing;
Doomed to crumble unless we grow, and strengthen our communication.

Cold silence has a tendency to atrophy any sense of compassion...

Between supposed lovers
Between supposed lovers.

And I know the pieces fit.


Right then, tagging -- how about Helen, David, Scott, James and Jason?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

5 Things, The Lame Version

As anyone knows who reads this blog, I am a sucker for memes so many thanks to Helen for dragging me away from my current secret work in order to answer this. This meme requires its participants to list five things about themselves that others may consider lame, but the writer is secretly proud of. Gulp. Here goes:

5. I cannot drive a car. Lots of people lambast me about this, including my mother-in-law who says I "owe it to myself" to drive (question: why??) and whilst I say I'm actually thinking of the environment, in truth I actually hate driving and cannot be trusted behind the wheel of a car, as at least two of my driving instructors will testify. So I'm the girl who cannot be taught to drive. Hah! In your face Jeremy Clarkson and all other petrolheads.

4. The C Word. When I was a girl you never heard the C word in conversation (at least in the circles I moved in), saw it written down or heard it on the telly, even after 9 o'clock. Now I had a reading age of 15 when I was 8 and worked out, for myself, that the C word must be "copulate". I recall telling my mother this with glee and her pretending to be annoyed that I had "found out". Aaaah. I still laugh when I see the word "copulate" however as well as the real one.

3. I know all the words to "U Got The Look" by Prince. Even the ones that don't appear to make much sense. But hey, your body's heck-to-slamming. Crucial. I think I want you.

2. I believe I have been rejected by all the major agents at least once. Some even more so. In fact, it's really because they rejected me five times in eighteen months that PFD's agents have all left, outraged that I am not taken on - and not this other thing they've obviously made up to cover their grievous error.

1. I resist all technological advances. Even though I know full well I will like the "latest" thing, I will never, ever sign up volunarily and wait for circumstances to push me into it. I have had the same mobile for four years and will only change it when it breaks. I only got digital TV this year because my mother got us a digibox for Xmas; I finally got broadband only because dial-up became impossibly slow and I only joined Facebook because I got about ten invites a week to do so. I will never, ever, ever own an iPod.

So there you have it. I tag my home girls Elinor, Lianne, Lara and those naughty boys Martin and Chip.

Friday, November 02, 2007

WGA Strike: Advice

I've had several emails from Bang2writers and blog readers in the past couple of days, worried that the impending strike by the WGA might mean they have to "shut up shop" for the time being and not show their work around. Even though the strike is affecting America and seemingly not the UK, Brit writers I've been talking to have been wondering what the WGGB's "official" stance is... A quick look on their website and blog this morning did not provide any specifics as far as I could see (though I left a comment on the blog, hopefully someone will get back to us). UPDATE #1: There has been a response and an official statement will be coming soon, though the WGGB will be supporting the WGA. Check out the blog and comments section under their article on the strike for more details.

However, Inktip offers the following advice in their weekly newsletter that popped into my inbox this morning:

Many of you are concerned about the pending WGA strike and what to do with your scripts during this time. Our suggestion: never stop marketing your work or yourself, ever. Remember, the writers who get hired and the scripts that get sold AFTER the strike are going to be the writers who were discovered and the scripts that were read DURING the strike.

So don't stop promoting yourself during the strike, because there are going to be a lot of Development Execs in Hollywood who'll have nothing to do with their time but read potential material. And let's not forget about all the independent, non-signatory producers and production companies who will not be affected by the strike.

So, keep marketing your screenplays, not only via InkTip, but through other resources as well. You can read more about getting exposure here.


*Seems* sound advice... Presumably as long as you don't actually sign anything/sell/option your screenplay or are actually commissioned & paid to write during the strike period in the US, you should still be okay to show your work to people over there.

But anyway: here's an interesting list of movies that are being put through the Hollywood machine right now in the hope they'll be all written and ready to shoot during the strike period so prodcos are not left twiddling their thumbs. Some introguing names attached to some projects and companies, see how many you recognise.

UPDATE #2: If you have been struggling with what's going on and don't want to rely on Wikipedia to find out what a "residual" is, Piers has this fabulous article about what the strike is all about and what it means for us Brits.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Red Planet Wager Result At Last!

Most of you will remember my Red Planet Wager, a foolish attempt to lighten the highly anticipated RPP by speculating on how many people entered, which turned into a monster all of its own. Whoops.

Never mind anyway, Sir Daniel has finally confirmed the number: 2100.

This means that the mighty yet mysterious William is the winner with his guess of 2142. Email me William!

So there you go. Keep us updated and let us know if Tony J et al ask for your scripts. No word here yet.