Click the Pic N' Mix - past blog posts from Bang2write (click & scroll down for articles)

2leep.com

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Having It All

Blogging about screenwriting craft sometimes is like lighting the blue touchpaper and needing to stand WELL BACK... And predictably, my last post started a comments bomb off.

One thing that always amazes me about screenwriting craft is how far people *seem* to be at either end of extremes - writers either go for white OR black on the page it appears, the usual worry being story may not be what a writer intended if there's not enough detail or that "texture" or "colour" in a scene may be missed out somehow.

Yet why can't you have both? Enough black to be interesting, but enough white so as to not bamboozle your reader with extraneous detail?

The marvellous Billy Mernit posted this great article on Monday about this very same subject (I posted Sunday though, so he obviously copied ME, I'm the trendsetter, right?? ; ). If you're yet to read it, Billy starts with a quote from Tony Gilroy who says that reading a script should be as identical to "seeing" the movie by whatever means possible, including the use of COVERT camera angles; Billy then goes on to look at a variety of this year's Oscar-nominated movies, including a look at some description from Juno:

Juno's bedroom is decorated with punk posters: The Damned, the Germs, the Stooges, Television, Richard Hell, etc. She picks up a hamburger-shaped phone to call her best friend, LEAH.*

Billy says this is not directorial, even though it specifies props - and believe it or not, this is exactly what I was talking about yesterday in the comments section with SK when I said I'm looking for description I'm reading to push the story forward and/or reveal character. Why? Because description like this reveals character; we are left in no doubt as to what "kind" of girl Juno is. She's the kind of girl who likes punk, ergo she's anti authoritarian, wants to think for herself, sticking one finger up at the establishment... Yet even punkass girls like Juno have a softer, more sentimental side, hence the inclusion of the hamburger-shaped phone: who thinks these are cool, except twelve year old girls or girls who've had them SINCE they were twelve?

It's this line of scene description that reveals character that I think is really fab:

Leah's room is cluttered with the sentimental junk that certain girls love to hoard.**

In 14 short words, whammo! We're introduced to Leah's character - I was one of those "certain girls" so know exactly what *could* be in her room, but even if I hadn't been when I was growing up, haven't we all known one of these girls and been in their rooms at some point? I'm reminded here of Callie Khouri's Thelma and Louise script and her intro for Daryl: "Polyester was made for this man"! Six words and suddenly you are well acquainted with a boor who thinks he's more sophisticated than he really is. Magic.

Seriously, if you find the notion of "overwriting" or "directing from the page" hard to understand as I've said that I did when I started writing, then please do read this article as it's a revelation.

On the surface, it would seem Billy and I disagree - and on one element we do: I have never been a big fan of referencing the actual camera or specific shots (can't say I'm too bothered about the infamous "we see..." however). I think it takes the reader out the story and in my view, that can never be a good thing. I also think, as stated in the previous article, that being too obsessive about how a shot unfolds - regardless of whether you've mentioned the actual mechanics or not - does not pay dividends; as the reader, I just wonder why it's important when there are so many other more characterful and/or story-rich ways you can make a specific scene play out. We all know those darn directors will stamp all over our babies anyway ; ) [Edit: Billy doesn't actually like overt camera angles either...Instead he is advocating the "sense" of the shot here, I misunderstood this point. See the comments section of this article or in Billy's for further clarification].

But otherwise, I agree completely with Billy: reading a movie absolutely should be how you would "see" the movie. We want a mind movie in effect, with a clear plot that pushes the story forward, revealing character on the way (and of course a soupcon of my beloved arena to back it all up, that all important "texture" or "colour").

Yet 9/10 this is precisely what readers at initiatives, agents and indies don't get. Now there are many reasons for this, from poorly thought-out premises and plots through to transparent characterisation and ill-advised stereotyping. We also don't write perfect drafts first time - but presumably, if you've got as far as sending your work "out there" I would hope you are way past the first draft mark.

So if a writer has already done a lot of work on their story, characters, plotting etc, ONE thing a write *may* want to consider is their use of scene description: if scene description is scene action, then is it doing its job? Is it "overwritten"? But to know if it's doing its job, then I think it makes sense to figure out what it *should* be doing. From the scripts I've read, both professional, new, produced and unproduced, I would venture that a writer should ensure the following from their scene description:

It SHOULD be dependant on specific actions that push the story forward.

It SHOULDN'T specify random actions - it obfuscates the story since the reader will expect them to pay off and will get confused when they don't.

It SHOULD offer "titbits" [like the Juno excerpts] that reveal character which in turn will feed into the plot [like the fact Juno is rebellious, hence her actions that propel her into the story *no spoilers here*]

It SHOULDN'T overdo these character elements, since it will make scenes quite static as the reader reads lots of "asides" without the characters being "on the move" or conversely, if too many character elements like this are added to action as well, it will make for acres of black.

It SHOULD add just enough arena to give a real "feel" to the piece.

It SHOULDN'T have so much arena that it's more about the "feel" and less about the actual plot and/or character's place in it (this can happen).

It SHOULD insist that everything in a scene adds to the scene [including props](story/character/arena) and thus to the plot.

It SHOULDN'T have lots of random props, artefacts, clothes etc, since that adds more to the word count than story or revelation of character.

It SHOULD make every single word count.

So, those are just my thoughts, it obviously varies reader to reader. But I reckon you can have the best of both worlds; you can be "lean" and have "colour". You can have enough black to be interesting and enough white to keep the readers happy. Like all things however, it's a case of "all things in moderation". Or instead we could kidnap all the readers of the world (except me, natch) and subject them to Clockwork Orange style torture where we make them read one of the densest scripts ever in terms of scene description until they are moulded to our new way of thinking, then we can write whatever we like. (Any suggestions for that mega-dense script btw?).

Whatcha reckon... Pick you up around 8?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
* & ** Kudos to Billy for finding these gems.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Directing From The Page

"Directing From The Page" is a contentious issue and something levvied at new writers particularly when they send their specs out to initiatives, but also agents I've noticed. Sometimes it's not called "directing from the page"; you might get some feedback that says you have "overwritten" your scene description, perhaps even the whole thing. "WTF? How can you OVERWRITE?" was my initial reaction when I got feedback like this... I *couldn't* have overwritten anything, I'd stuck to the four line rule, I hadn't referenced anything like the camera, I'd laid it all out properly!

Directing From The Page is not just about "proper" format or referencing the camera. For one thing, you can reference a camera without mentioning one: describing shots, pulling back to reveal stuff etc, what's that but describing camera work really? Writers might say, "Aaaah, but we need to pull back because of this story point..." Cool. Surprises are always good. But can you make that reveal WITHOUT talking about the LOOK of the scene? Bet you can.

Because that is what "overwriting" or "directing from the page" really means - a writer has paid more attention to the LOOK of the scene rather than the story. In other words, the writer will talk about every minute detail in a room, clothes, expressions or it tells how an actor how to deliver a line. Story should never pay second fiddle to anything (except those rare moments where character takes over for a second - like Miles' Pinot speech in Sideways: yes, you could cut that and the story would make sense. But the character layer would be diminished).

Whilst parentheticals are *technically* allowed of course, do you need 99% of the ones you put in? I bet you don't. I know going over my old scripts I would cut out most of them (and actually burn the scripts and send the ashes to Mars, but that's another story).

I've said before that I like the notion of scene description being scene action: Bill Martell makes an excellent case in this article for ONLY adding elements that promote action or reveal character in your script's scene description and I agree because it makes a script easier to read and thus more interesting, since story does not go off-track while it has competes with lots of extraneous detail.

Yet what is "extraneous detail"? Well obviously like most things in this scriptwriting lark this is widely open to interpretation and I can only give you my thoughts based on having read the screenplays I have. Before I do though in the next post, I thought I would open up the floor: what counts as extraneous detail in your view? If you've read Bill's article too, then let us know your thoughts on it too. Read it here.

Over to you...

Friday, January 25, 2008

I Took Another Bubble Bath. With My Pants On.

Is that the weirdest song lyric you've ever heard? Prince, The Ballad of Dorothy Parker on Sign O' The Times. I've had that album for years and years and years and it's only today I think, "Eh?"

Also, is it really his pants he's taking a bath in or his trousers? 'Cos the latter would be somewhat weirder than the former, don't you think? Maybe it's just me.

Well anyway, even if The Purple One is a little strange and has a penchant for bathing semi-clothed, he's a pretty good storyteller. Listen to the song here {sign up required for full version, otherwise it's a clip].

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Let's Hear It For The Boys

Our fellow Scribes have been busy-busy lately!

Christopher Stack, the half-brother of our own Danny Stack* (only he was spirited away at birth to LA, yet still leads a curiously parallell life involving movies to the Irish brother he never knew he had until the advent of The Scribosphere) has put his marvellous short An Exercise In Vigilance up online for all to see. He's even inviting comments. I watched all seven minutes this morning and was impressed: the production values are great! The website too has some interesting info on how it was shot etc, so those of you into filmmaking in particular should take a look. Watch it here.

Also, congratulations to Denis McGrath: his episode of The Border, "Bodies On The Ground" aired this Monday just past in Canada. Unortunately we can't get this show in the UK as far as I'm aware (on Freeview anyway), but I'm sure it's my type of thing - its Imdb search tags are "security", "smuggling", "spying" and "action hero"! Check out the official Border Blog, incl trailers & clips here.

Oh - and did I mention that James Moran wrote tonight's episode of Torchwood, "Sleeper"? Well that's the allegation... Really I wrote it, but to protect my identity as a script reader/editor to all you guys out in www.land I magnaminously signed all the rights and the enormous fee over to him. Oh and the actual writing of it. So you could say *technically* it's all his own work. But then you'd just be splitting hairs. Can't wait until 9pm tonight? Watch a preview here.


* Not really. But wouldn't it be marvellous if it was true? Siblings reunited by mutual love of blogs and films. Aaah.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

10 On TV Drama: 3 of The Best - Science Fiction

DISCLAIMER: I've no idea if "Science Fiction" is still allowed as a term around here or even if it's applied to the shows I've listed below. If not, shake your heads in incredulous wonder at my lack of skillz man. I thank you. Oh: ans the usual SPOILER ALERT applies, natch.

This will come as a shock to you.

Are you sitting down?

I like Science Fiction. Okay, SF. Futuristic stuff. Whatever it's called these days. I don't know loads about it, I haven't even watched ALL of the series around and I've never laid eyes on Battlestar Galactica because I don't have Sky. But this sort of thing has been a guilty pleasure of mine for some time. Alright, over a decade. Bar a couple I only dipped in and out though. And I was thinking of crime drama the whole time... ; )

X FILES (1993 - 2002, 9 seasons)

I was at school when X Files began and was one of "those": if it was popular, then I didn't like it. I think there's still a little bit of that left over, hence my never listening to chart music and being uncool in general. I'm still listening to the same music I was at 14 though: NIN, Tool, Korn etc. My mother's still telling people I'll grow out of it. Thrown out the black though, it made me look like all washed out. Cripes, did I actually say that??

But even in the midst of my moody Goth rebellion against anything anyone else actually liked, even I could not resist The X Files. There was something about the dynamic between Mulder and Scully that really worked; not just in terms of the characters' role functions of believer/cynic - It's an alien! No there's a logical explanation! - either. Peripheral characters were every bit as vibrant, such as the legendary Smoking Man or the "antagonist of the week". There was just enough conspiracy theory to keep suspicious teens like me happy without bamboozling them with politics, kind of akin to L'oreal's "Here comes the science..."

Like all good things however, X Files had to come to an end sometime... and actually I kind of ran out of steam and bailed around the 1999 mark, though friends tell me the episodes without Mulder were good. Episodes that really stick in my mind include Scully's seemingly sudden conversion to Catholicism so she could understand the problem of the Nephilim after it attempted mating with a human host (a social worker as the devil! Who'd have thought it?) and the alien guy who'd tear out your liver and eat it in order to regenerate AND had the nerve to try and frame Mulder for the murder of one of his own victims. Talk about antisocial.


FARSCAPE (1999 - 2003, 4 Seasons)

I know Good Dog doesn't like this because of the high muppet content, but it was kind of inevitable I would, having grown up on a diet of Jim Henson mania during the 1980s like most my age. And if you like muppets, what wasn't there to like about this? There was men and women in leather, flashing lights, much bulging cleavage and fluffy creatures everywhere. Sounds like my house this New Year's Eve just past.

What attracted me most to Farscape was unlike many other series of its genre at the time, it leant more towards the "lone protagonist" model in John Kryton as opposed to the more ensemble casts of things like Star Trek: Voyager. As regular readers of this blog know, I happen to like this former notion more as a personal preference; also as a "fish out of water" story, it hit the target dead-on for me. You get shot down a worm hole, into the depths of space. Anything can happen. And suddenly, as a human, John was considerably weirder than blue people, insectoids and other...stuff. Fancy imagining you're on your own in the universe! There was a dry humour to Farscape that I found irresistable, yet at the same time it mirrored such conflicts as Kosovo with their own "Peacekeeprs" and tackled such philosophical concepts like Plato's Forms with aplomb and without alienating the portion of the audience who would not recognise such references. Then there of course was the whole "Will they--Won't they--Oh they did and who is the father of the baby" saga between Aeryn and John. Nice. Too bad humans can't pause pregnancies like Aeryn; could come in well handy.


TORCHWOOD (2006 - present)

I don't like Doctor Who. I know that makes me like, a social pariah and insane and probably the best thing for me to do is bury myself in a big hole so I can never see the light of day again like the dog I am, I get it. Even as a kid I would turn over and watch The Bill. Yes The Bill. I'm not saying this to inflame anyone by the way, just point out that the last thing I expected to like was Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin off.

And to start with, I didn't. I was positively underwhelmed. I only watched it because -- well, I'm not sure why. I didn't have digital at the time? Because my son is a Dr Who fanatic and I didn't realise Torchwood would have sex and swearing and bloody acts of violence in? Because I quite fancied Captain Jack?

That was it! It didn't matter that he was clearly gay, everyone in Torchwood seems to be and this fluidity of sexuality is really refreshing, for aren't these the boundaries that we set ourselves anyway? And why shouldn't we be both and neither? I think it's really interesteding and don't recall another programme of this genre doing this, or if it has I didn't watch or perhaps notice.

I've never quite bought the notion Captain Jack *might* feel the same way for Gwen as she clearly does for him, but there is something sexual about him: I've never felt that way about any of The Doctors, they're not mysterious enough for me to want to - I never bought the chemistry between The Doctor and Rose, even one way. The fact too that even Jack is not sure *what* he is draws me to him in a way The Doctor doesn't, probably because he seems so sure of what's he's doing and where he's going, hence his catchphrase on the ads, "Do you want to come with me?" Jack seems more appealing to me as the tortured hero, doing what he does on good faith yet not always sure he isn't leading blindly.

It changed for me with the episode where Captain Jack meets the real Captain Jack whose name he stole in that dancehall. There was something quite poignant about that episode, especially with the knowledge that not only did the real Jack never admit his true sexuality, but the fact that he would die in battle the next day. I think that was the pivotal moment for etsablishing this present series, which I think really has its own voice. I thought the addition of Captain John - not to mention that great snog and the fight that came after - was fantastic and really set the seal for what is to come next...

...And what is to come next? The Scribosphere's very own James Moran has scripted an episode. I can't wait to see it. I put in an order for some boobs to level up the score after all that man-on-man action last week, but apparently he's gone for "violent pandemonium" instead according to the Radio Times. Violent Pandemonium, plus boobs? We live in hope.

Wednesday January 23rd, BBC 2, 9pm people. Watch it.


OTHER SF TREATS:

BABYLON 5 (1994 - 1998, 5 seasons)In the year 2258, it is ten years after the Earth-Minbari War. Commander Sinclair takes command of a giant five-mile-long cylindrical space station, orbiting a planet in neutral space.
The notion of space diplomacy I thought was inspired; I was less enchanted with the series itself. I really liked various notions in it - like the Telekinetic Corp - but it failed to hold my attention long term. Having said that, it was always on in the background whilst I was having dinner of an evening, so there was something about it that made me come back for more. Certainly without it I don't think we'd have had Farscape.

STAR TREK: VOYAGER (1995 - 2001, 7 seasons) Pulled to the far side of the Galaxy, where the Federation is 75 years away at maximum warp speed, a Starfleet ship must cooperate with Maquis rebels to find a way home.
My son went through a phase when he was about three when he was an ardent Trekkie. Though I never cared for the original or the other one with Jean Luc, I actually did get into this one. I think it was the female characters; a female captain in Janeway was long overdue and even though Seven of Nine was supposed to non-emotional, there was something enigmatic about her. I always liked The Borg, but here they really came to life and the grudge match between the Borg Queen and Janeway with Janeway crossing time and space and her younger self to kill the Queen once and for all was fantastic I thought.

DARK SKIES, (1996, 1 season) 20th century history as we know it is a lie. Aliens have been among us since the 1940's, but a government cover-up has prevented the public from knowing this.
I go in for all those conspiracy theories re: Area 51 and off the back of X Files, this was a natural choice for a viewer like me at the time. There was a sense of foreboding about it that seemed quite infectious and those Majestic agents were scary. I was surprised it didn't get re-commissioned, but thinking about it now I think it's strength is intact because it stood alone - had it run on, the premise might have weakened maybe?

--------------------------------------------------

Any fave spacey alien type dramas? Don't be shy...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bad Hair Day

Yes, I know my Favourites Widget still isn't working properly... It was nice of it to come back after going AWOL for over a week, but I've waited patiently and it STILL hasn't got its act together. It clearly blew its mind in a mad orgy of drink, drugs and partying and no longer updates or even changes. I'm beginning to wish it hadn't bothered returning from the wild, frankly! I feel like the wife who has awaited eagerly for her husband to return from the forces, only to discover he is a belligerent, lazy boor. *Sigh* I think there is only one solution: divorce from Technorati. You served me well for... One year. Wait a minute: ONE YEAR? I have pairs of knickers older than that which still work. Why didn't I just have a list of links like on my old blog??? Gotta be clever, but *oh no* - and look what happens. I rest my case.

But I digress. I don't know what it's like in other parts of the UK or elsewhere, but in Bournemouth we've had bucketloads of rain for about two weeks now, breaking only long enough for someone to think they *might* be able to make a mad dash across town... Only for the heavens to open and soak you head to toe. Niiiiice.

If you have a buggy like me with a kid in it, this is even worse, with said small child complaining all the way: "Mummy, raining. Raining! MUMMY! STOP! STOP RIGHT NOW!" No darling, we must go in search of the elixir of life, ie. gin, for I have not stopped working literally day and night since January 1st on a variety of script reports, treatments and other secret stuff and without it I may die. (For those of you who wonder why my buggy has not got a rain cover, ask the delectable Crampon-Fred, who peed on it. Thanks cat.)

I have taken to getting the bus: it only occurred to nme yesterday that, unlike Devon where you get one bus packed with old people every three days, buses actually run every fifteen minutes and even have those delightful low floors you can get a buggy on. Except of course when weirdos block the gangway up front by standing next to the driver, even when there are perfectly good seats FURTHER BACK SITTING EMPTY DAMN YOU TO HELL.

But anyway: me and Kid were standing under the shelter of the bus stop as rain poured over each side. Two fourteen year old girls were sharing a crafty fag and in loud voices (their backs slightly turned away from me, as if it was someone else they were talking about), they started talking about me and Lil.

SCHOOLGIRL 1: Aaaah, that little girl looks so sweet.

SCHOOLGIRL 2 (Has a quick glance at Lil): Yeah, she does.

SCHOOLGIRL 1: You reckon it's her baby?

SCHOOLGIRL 2 (gives me the eyeball): Nah. She don't look maternal. She'll be the babysitter or aunt or sumfink.

SCHOOLGIRL 1: What's "maternal" look like you freak? She's the Mum, innit.

SCHOOLGIEL 2: I'm telling yous, she in't the Mum. She's too thin. Mums are like, fat, innit?

This is when Schoolgirl 1 looks over and says:

SCHOOLGIRL 1: 'Scuse me, you the Mum of that kid or the babysitter?

ME: I'm the Mum.

SCHOOLGIRL 1: See? Told you she was the Mum. Maternal... (mutters to friend) You can tell, she looks knackered, no make-up! Every day's a bad hair day!

SCHOOLGIRL 2: Oh yeah...

Thanks Girls.

Hoping you're not having a bad hair day... Unless of course you are one of my bald readers. In which case, congratulations for becoming exempt to this problem.

What are you up to?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Comedy and Team Writing

Many thanks to the enigmatic JB who had this to say in the comments thread of my last 10 on TV Drama post about Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach:

"It has got me thinking about the benefits of the US system of writing teams, especially for comedy, where many minds are likely to be better than one in ramping up the laughter count...What do you think?"

I am undecided about the benefit of team writing, though other bloggers have written about their own experiences of it (thanks James Henry) and others have been vocal in their support or dislike of them. The usual arguments for and against apply: The US does it and does it well. But it means less creative control for the individual writer. It doesn't make sense to have such a fragmented system, sending commissions out to various writers on their own. The writer is always the underdog, it's nice for part of the production to depend on them, without having producers etc LITERALLY breathing down their neck. Two heads are better than one... Stop me if you've heard these. Oh you have? Right, let's move on.

So this is not a post about whether team writing is good or bad, full stop: this is a post about comedy and team writing, as in:

Is a comedy bound to be funnier if produced by a team?

I don't read a lot of comedy, but I do read a lot of romantic comedies. I think it's just the way it's worked out more than comedy being a "dying art" - I have reading colleagues who report they read nothing but comedy. However we all seem to have a similar problem: there's not much that's funny about. Sure, some people might write funny situations, others write funny jokes and/or dialogue. Others have one particular character that's really funny. Occasionally I even laugh when I'm reading and I always thank the writer for that in my reports, since it's a rare occurrence.

But rarely do I read a script where it is simply FUNNY in the same way I might read a thriller that is simply THRILLING or a horror that is simply HORRIFYING. Comedy is such a hard genre to pull off, it seems easier for writers to go off at tangents - sad ones usually, inspired no doubt by Four weddings, though sometimes comedies get exceptionally gross and/or offensive. Other times they seem to forget what they're about and change story or even characters completely. It's like Comedy is the top of the genre mountain and lots of scribes fall short of that final peak. I know I do.

Of course it helps to define what a team actually is. I think of a team as people who have been brought together by an outsider - in other words, writers are hired and put in a room together by a producer and write the producer's concept. I do not count the two/three people who have come up with their own idea on spec, worked on it together, then sold it to a network and had it developed further for example. That's just gthe same as being a specmonkey like the rest of us, except there's two of you.

No, for me team writing is almost a contrivance: a job like any other, bringing people together who may or may not have met before and telling them to write something in particular which is not their own idea. I'm not arguing that team writing is a *bad* idea by the way (some of my fave shows are team-written), but since I think of it as a contrivance, then I don't think I can say comedy *has* to be funnier, even if two heads ARE better than one. Why? Well comedy for me is about heart: truth (and its many interpretations) is funny. Therefore, I don't believe a person being TOLD to write comedy can be as funny as the person who NEEDS to write comedy as their "default" setting, who will write it regardless of whether anyone will make it.

However, the flipside of this argument is the notion that if you don't care about the characters so much because they are not your babies, then you are more likely to put them through hell - which can be the essence of good comedy. Often my Bangwriters love their characters too much to object them to the really funny (horrible) stuff or cut them when they need cutting. Sometimes too they will want to keep flawed scenes simply because of one funny line. In short, they let their heart rule their head, when the opposite would presumably be the case in the team: if it's just a job, then stuff can get chucked out and rewritten at will, there should be no agonising.

What do you think?

While you decide, here's some clips from two of my fave UK comedy shows, one team-written, the other not. Can you tell? Which is best? Is this another "commerce vs. creativity" argument? Whatever you think, let us know.

Click here for MY FAMILY, excerpt of The Christmas Special

BOTTOM

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Contest Opportunities

Here's a couple of interesting looking contests to get you into gear in the new year... Not entered them myself and doubt I will have time for the first one (I'm not eligible for the second), but they seem pretty good opportunities. As ever, keep us posted if you enter and tell us how you get on!
---------------------------------------------------
PATRICIA CORNWELL "BOOK OF THE DEAD" COMPETITION

How to Enter:

Always thought you could do better than those highly-paid advertising executives?Now's your chance to create a TV advert for number one crime writer Patricia Cornwell's Book of the Dead.

One of the bestselling fiction titles of 2007, the paperback of Book of the Dead will be published in April 2008 and promises to be one of the biggest launches of the year.

What you have to do:

EITHER

Submit a 20 second short film advert promoting Patricia Cornwell's 'Book of the Dead'. Please read everything in the pack before you start filming.

OR

Submit a script or storyboard for a 20 second TV ad promoting Patricia Cornwell's 'Book of the Dead'. Please read everything in the pack before you start.


ALL ENTRANTS: once you have completed your entry, go to 'Enter' to register your details and upload your work to the site.

Prizes

EITHER

If a short film is selected the winner will receive £2,500.
If a script or storyboard is selected the winning entry will be filmed and produced.

Subject to our discretion, the winning entry may also be broadcast on national television in association with Channel FIVE.

Judging: A panel of judges from Little, Brown Book Group, Channel FIVE and HYPtv will shortlist three short film entries, and three script/storyboard entries. Patricia Cornwell will select a final winner from the shortlist.

The shortlist will be announced on Monday 10th March.

The final winner will be announced Monday 16th March.

Mandatory:

Your submission must be relevant to Book of the Dead.
Your submission must include a product shot (this is included in your competition kit) for a minimum of 5 seconds .
Your submission must be suitable to be shown on national television at a time to suit young family members.

Click here for full details, example submissions and to download application packs.

---------------------------------------------------------

B3 FEATURELAB


B3 seeks to redefine the notion of 'British Cinema' and is looking for the next distinctive British feature film.

So we've created a partnership between B3 Media, Film4, the Binger Filmlab and Skillset. We aim to fast forward the filmmaking process for people who are ready to make the leap to a full-length feature film for commercial release. Not everyone will get that far but we'll help you give it your best shot.

We're looking for writers, directors or writer/director teams, from black and minority ethnic backgrounds currently under-represented in film and TV. We're also looking for talent from radio, TV, theatre and visual arts. If you understand the building blocks of drama and narrative and have something different to say, then we want to hear from you.

If you submit your idea, we'll choose the ones to get hands-on support from some of the best film professionals around. Whether it's script development, production, marketing or distribution, we'll be covering all aspects of getting a feature film from idea to TV or the big screen.

But you'll need to be quick. The deadline for applications is Monday 4 February 2008.

Find out more about our FeatureLab here.

-------------------------------------------

GOOD LUCK!

Skillset Funding - Screen Bursaries

Did I mention Adrian Mead and Clare Kerr are running a course on adaptation in Edinburgh in March? Oh that's right, I did. (Click on the links here, here and here if you want more info on the course and why it's a good idea to learn more about adaptation).

I also mentioned then that I would only be going if I could secure funding from Skillset. Well good news! I've got some. So I will definitely be there. I know some of you out there are going too: I called no less than three B&B's in Edinburgh yesterday who told me, "Soz luv, no room that weekend, some screenwriting thing going on"! But if you're going to be there - drop us a line in the comments or send me an email: Bang2write"at"aol"dot"com. If you live in Edinburgh already, let me know that too! Let's get a little Scribomeet going one of the evenings!

So... Too broke to go? So was I. That's why I applied for one of these. It's a grant from Skillset to allow people like you and me to advance their careers in the media industry. You have to fill out quite a lengthy form and find lots of examples of costs etc, but it's well worth it. They ask you stuff like: "How will this course help you in your career?" Unsurprising stuff really. My answer: "I intend to have a rabid affair with both of Mead Kerr since I am sleeping my way up the media industry and need your help to get to Edinburgh to do it." How could Skillset resist? You might want to write things like "networking opportunity", "new knowledge on adaptation since I've only ever written original specs" etc however.

So...What are you waiting for? Apply! I'll see you there, no excuses.

LINKS

Skillset website

Mead Kerr website

Travel and Accommodation in Edinburgh

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Stephen Moffatt In Moviescope!

I know lots of you out in www.land loved Stephen Moffatt's episode of Dr. Who, "Blink" recently, so you may be interested to know that Moviescope Magazine have an interview with Moffatt in the new issue. You can read excerpts on their website until the issue wings its way to our sweaty little hands next week. Other articles of note include Sweeney Todd's John Logan on writing and Sanctuary, an internet-only SF wedisode series, a sure must for all those interested in our Digital Future as writers. Talking of Dr. Who, Torchwood starts tonight on BBC2 at 9pm. I don't like Torchwood* obviously because I'm not mentally unstable like the rest of you reprobates (I'm looking at you James Moran!), but I DO like to see good looking men snog the face off each other, walk around with no shirts on, have fights and generally just be well, good looking, so I will definitely be watching. What?

* When I say "don't like", I mean I actually do like it but would never admit it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Heroes & Monsters: Creature Features

Okay, part of having a problem is admitting it. And I admit it. I LOVE creature features. I just can't help it, it's a compulsion. I know they're predictable and I know they're not the cleverest or academic of movies and apparently I'm supposed to be "above that sort of thing" as one of my friends pointed out the other day ("And you're like, a WRITER and you like this crap?" he says with much exaggerated eyebrow movement), but there you go. But then you knew that anyway, right? I've gone on about it enough here.

I've been having withdrawal symptoms for a good creature feature lately... And it would seem others are too. For a while, when it came to horror anyway, the majority of scripts I saw involved ghosts or ghost killers or the idea of "The Monstrous Other": the Michael Myers, Freddy Kreuger-style faceless killer. Yet just recently, literally in the last three months, I'm seeing a return in the scripts I read to the old school Beast. The creature with many teeth, razor-like claws, extra terrestiel or indigenous, that's intent on ripping your guts out. And there is. No. Escape. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

So I thought now was a good time to revisit three of my favourite creature features and take a look not only at the iconic monsters in them, but the heroes of the hour and what they have to put up with (not always just the creature). Enjoy...

------------------------------------------------------------
Ah, the one that started it all:

ALIEN (1979)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
WRITERS: Ronald Shusett & Dan O'Bannon (story); Dan O'Bannon (screenplay)
TAGLINE: In space no one can hear you scream.

It's pretty hard to believe this film is as old as I am. There were of course monster movies before Alien, but I find it difficult to grasp how they could possibly have been viewed as scary. Of course, that's because my understanding of media image is more "advanced" since the special effects too are more "advanced" - (in the same way children nowadays seem to think of animation as "needing" to be 3D to be "good". My son can't believe that cartoons were once drawn with a PEN AND INK! "What the hell?" he says looking in a book. Altogether: one, two, three....aaaah!)

Before Alien however, there might have been monster movies, but they were essentially B Movies: monster arrives on earth (usually in a UFO): "Monster takes over the world! Arrrrrrrrgh!!!!!!" was *generally* the order of the day and why not? If film charts society's concerns of the time (and I think it does), then it is easy to see how the 1950s in particular reflected society's concerns regarding Communism and the "domino effect", but also changing attitudes towards ethnic minorities in the US and Africa (and thus smaller nations like the UK).

Yet Alien put monster movies right in the mainstream. Even my Mum has seen Alien. (That might not seem that surprising, yet the last film SHE saw was when The Shawshank Redemption came out on video!) It was the "must see" of that year and of course spawned a multiple of other movies, ranging from poor to okay to ridiculously shite, placing the creature right in the middle of our consciousness. Kids even have toys of them: my son has a particularly impressive one from the 1986 sequel that blows up into small pieces when you press a button on its back.

Yet just what was it that made Alien so impressive? Well, the chest bursting scene, naturally. Yet that has been copied to great effect in all the subsequent movies and what they lack in shock value, they certainly make up for in gore so it all balances out as far as I'm concerned. It certainly wasn't the dialogue, which I thought was somewhat lacklustre even before all the actors decided to mumble their lines ALL THE WAY THROUGH. It wasn't even Sigourney in her pants, though that's always welcome:


It was character. Ripley is cited as "the" feminist character and I have a bit of an issue with this: after all, as second in command (now Kane is dead) it should have been HER who went into the vent, not Dallas, but his inflated sense of responsibility means he goes instead when really it's the captain's job to stay at the helm, surely? But even then the excellent characterisation of Alien bails out this *minor* point for me: it's BECAUSE Dallas has an over-inflated sense of responsibility and feels guilty about Brett that he goes into the vent - after all, had he not brought Kane on board with the facehugger attached, Brett would not have been killed anyway.

And it's these little gems that keep us going the whole way. Parker and Brett are our comic relief, but Parker's also so gung ho he gets himself killed - he could run from the creature, yet chooses to stand and fight AND not blast Lambert, our weakest link, as she stands in the way.

Then of course there's Ash: our antagonist in addition to the creature, something all good creature features need for the horror to really resonate: oh, you've got a big fuck-off monster on your tail? Well guess what: a traitor is helping it! Alien really set the standard for this in modern creature features.


PREDATOR (1987)

DIRECTOR: John McTiernan
WRITERS: Jim and John Thomas
TAGLINE: If it bleeds, we can kill it.

A humanoid creature that is very obviously designed from elements of human culture, Aztec, Egyptian, etc was a master stroke: why wouldn't there be a warrior creature out in space somewhere? After all, the first thing humans would do if they came across an alien race is kick its ass, right? So a lone hunter creature going after a bunch of marines, fresh off the success of ALIENS was going to get my vote every time. but of course our hunter never reckoned on this guy:
Oh Arnie. How I loved you before you (allegedly) turned into a Humvee-driving, war-mongering Republican. Was there anything the Arnie of the 80s couldn't do though? He was a natural choice for the role of Dutch, the hardcore, wise-cracking soldier guy who is nevertheless dwarfed by this enormous monster. If Alien was all about survival at all costs, with Ripley willing to destroy billions of dollars of star freighter in order to live, then Predator was "David and Goliath" of the highest measure, with Dutch forced to outsmart the creature in order to survive. Ironic really, since we associate Arnie with the kind of brute force that *seems* as if he could do anything. And it was this that makes Predator work: the story we've seen before, but it's in a different place man, what more can you want? Eh?


PITCH BLACK (1999)

DIRECTOR: David Twohy
WRITERS: Jim and Ken Wheat
TAGLINE: Fight evil with evil.



Pitch Black pretty much reads like a pastiche of Alien and Aliens: we have monster creature skeletons right through to a young girl being attacked as another woman waves a torch at the creature in question, but there was enough about Pitch Black to keep me interested and his name was Riddick.



Yes girls, Vin is lovely isn't he? But that wasn't the only reason he was mesmerising. The notion of a protagonist as an antagonist was not a new one by any stretch of the imagination, but I am hard pressed to recall a triangle like Fry, Johns and Riddick, with Riddick playing a dual protagonist to Fry and a dual antagonist to Johns. It's ambitious, largely because of its relentless structure that's lean to the point of obviousness, yet somehow this package still works (especially towards the resolution on that second plot point in that fabulous green scene: "Then the verdict's in: the light moves forward...").

--------------------------------------------------------

So: this is why I love creature features. It's not the story. We all *know* what will happen - the Beast(s) will be vanquished, everyone bar one (or a couple) will die and the baddie on the inside will get what is coming to him or her. Yay. But a GOOD creature feature plays on the theme of survival and makes it bring out traits both bad and good in the characters that drive that straight-forward plot. Writers sell us a simple story with complicated characters. The monsters are the simple bit. The heroes are the complicated bit.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Marketing YOU

I found this online... Whilst it is actually about working in business in an office (shudder), I think a lot of transfers nicely to a Scribe and how they market themselves and their work. Enjoy.
------------------------------------------------

Develop a marketable corporate person: Think of yourself as a publicist with the task of promoting you. Learn to capitalise on your skills, succinctly assert your achievements and project a corporate persona. Giulio Andreotti, seven times Prime Minister of Italy, used to say, "It is not important to be right; it is important that other people think you are right." [So make others think you are the best writer EVER! As hard as it sounds... Lucy]

Establish profitable relationships: Business networking is a valuable tool to gain information, increase your visibility in your field and make connections to help you move forward. Seek out new contacts and mentors you admire. Determine the priorities of your boss, find out what's required from you and brainstorm ways to surpass expectations. [Ask the people who are doing what YOU want to do then - want to be a TV writer? Ask one how they did it. Want to make a short film? Find a short film maker... L]

Master transferable skills like goal setting, effective communication and time management: You might not know exactly what you want to do with your life, but transferable skills will serve you well, whichever future path you take. Work with your boss [Writing Mentor? - Lucy] to set specific, reasonable and attainable goals for your present position to help you advance to the next level.

Impressions count: Tessa Hood, a leading brand consultant who works with students at Leeds Business School, says the whole package comes down to employability. The so-called "soft skills" which Leeds is instilling in their students last well beyond the interview. Impeccable presentation and a convincing manner work together to persuade employers you are also a proficient networker and team worker. [It's not just your scripts people look at!]

Stay motivated despite trying circumstances: Start each day with a positive outlook and focus on your goals. Caprice has moved from glamour model to serious businesswoman with the launch of her own lingerie range. She says, "I wanted to create opportunities for myself and I did. I got there because of my hard, hard work and my drive and ambition. Everyone has to have a vision or a dream. We all have to work for something." [And aren't we all? But waiting for it to happen won't work... You have to get out there and make it, L].

Get people to co-operate: Other people don't care what you want - they want to know what's in it for them. By approaching negotiations with an attitude that allows both parties to win, you'll be more effective at eliciting co-operation and getting what you want. [A particularly useful point re: getting an agent! - Lucy]

Be proactive about your career growth: Approach your performance review strategically by soliciting feedback on your progress, identifying new goals and hammering out a long-term promotion plan. When asking your boss for a rise, be prepared with a list of contributions that have positively impacted the bottom line. [Since so few of us actually earn money at this writing thing then, why not look at each others' work and rate each others' progress? You could help your peers motivate themselves and them you PROVIDED you're tactful - L].

When you're struggling to survive in a corporate job, it can be an achievement just to make it through the day. Do everything you can to create a rewarding job experience. Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou - founder of easyJet and a millionaire with an MSc - advises being prepared to take risks, making your own decisions, and hoping for good timing and good luck.[Definitely sounds like writing! - L]

I've said it before and I'll say it again: reflect on the words of the great philosopher Ice Cube my friends - You can do it if you put your ass into it. Amen.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Story 2Oh! Stories On the Next Level

As a fellow Facebooker and Blogger, I'd already heard of Story2Oh! that friend of this blog Jill Golick has been up to... When she contacted me yesterday asking me to put details up on Write Here, Write Now I was only too happy to oblige! I think this is a great idea and definitely be "checking in" with Simon and Ali. Make sure you do as well! Links at the bottom of this page.
-----------------------------------------------------------
THE FUTURE OF TELEVISION?

NEW MULTI-PLATFORM SERIES LAUNCHES ONLINE

TORONTO – Story2Oh! is a sexy peak into the lives of the internet generation.

Simon Beals has a blog and a video podcast about his adventures in dating. Ali Barrett blogs about knitting, relationships and sex. Their lives are about to collide.

Is it the beginning of a great romance or a disaster in the making? Follow their story through Facebook and Youtube videos. Or read their blog posts and check out their Flickr accounts.

We have to find new ways to tell stories for this new medium,” says Story2Oh! creator Jill Golick. “We're going to try to tell the kinds of ongoing stories we tell in series television. But we're not going to ignore the fact that the screen you're at has a mouse and keyboard. And that you may only have attention for the story in smaller bursts."

Story2Oh! heralds a big change from online series such as Lonelygirl or Quarterlife.com, which post episodes. Story2Oh! takes storytelling to the next level.

There are no online episodes, mobisodes or webisodes. You follow the story by following the characters online activity: reading their blogs, watching their vlogs, checking out their social bookmarks.

Viewer participants can leapfrog through the Internet with Simon, Ali and their friends by following a trail of links, RSS feeds and Twitters. Story2Oh! viewers can enter the story at many different points and experience as much or as little of it as they choose.

It’d be a real page-turner, if it were a paperback. On the Internet, we aim for “twitchiness.” Like 24, Lost, Heroes and daytime soaps, the Story2Oh! story will have twists and turns, so the audience keeps checking in for the latest updates.

What’s really cool about this is characters can communicate with the audience in a variety of ways,” says Golick. “You can challenge them to a game of Scrabulous. Write on their Facebook walls and see if they write back. Follow their break-ups and makeups by reading their blogs, but be sure to leave a comment and a link to your own blog, because they may come check you out.”

Story2Oh!'s first chapter, boymeetsgrrl, plays out from Monday January 14, 2008 until Friday January 18, 2008 with new material appearing daily. Golick hopes to have chapter two up in February.

LINKS

Enter their world here or if you're logged into Facebook, check out the Facebook fan page here.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks Jill!

Friday, January 11, 2008

10 on TV Drama: ITV's New Drama

UPDATE: Friend of the blog Marc Pye wrote tonight's episode I've just this minute found out, so watch it my friends!!!!!!!


English Dave makes the very good point that ITV *might* just be the new BBC: the likes of Echo Beach etc marks a new era for the channel under the leadership of "Micky Grade" as ED likes to call him and I for one am well up for it. Man.

Whilst many writers and would-be writers might say they "wouldn't lower themselves" to write for the likes of Echo Beach, Moving Wallpaper, The Royal Today et al, the fact of the matter is these shows are there, are watched and more pressingly, are offering potential employment to people who have very shaky prospects otherwise. Is there anyone as mad as the writer with no work on the horizon saying, "Thanks for the offer Kudos, but you know what? I don't like the show, so I'm not going to write for you, even though I have no fecking idea where my next bit of feature work is coming from and I have a mortgage to pay." Yeah right! Then there's also the fact that soap writers go on to do other things: it's like their apprenticeship, the place they not only hone their craft but make contacts and go on to make their own stuff or have it made for them, they're no longer an "unsafe bet". Look at the evidence: Jimmy McGovern (from Brookside to Cracker to the Lakes etc). Danny Brocklehurst (Clocking Off to Talk To Me). John Fay (Brookside and Coronation Street to Mobile). Paul Abbott (Children's Ward to Shameless etc). Lizzie Mickery (The Bill to The State Within). Oh yeah - and Tony Jordan anyone?!? SEE THEIR CAREERS GROW. You have to be a nutter to imagine being a writer in TV does not lead anywhere, but even if it doesn't and you don't get your own show out of it, you do get money for writing. That's quite a novelty to millions of other scribes out there doing it simply for the love of it.

So my verdict on last night's openers for Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach? Pleasantly surprised.

I thought the concept for having a show behind a show in MV first and then the soap was a horribly cynical advertsing ploy designed to attract teenagers who would in turn either watch the soap or grow up to watch the soap and maybe it is, but it didn't come across as badly as my suspicions and even made some funny points about this notion. I was expecting a docudrama, having ignored most of the press stuff. I caught in the end only because I was catching up with the ironing (which is an unbelievably uncool thing to say, when did I get old?) and I actually thought it was mildly amusing and pretty watchable. I don't know if I will bother to watch it every single time because it seems more of a sitcom than anything which aren't really my bag, but if it's on it won't make me want to pluck out my eyes.

Echo Beach in comparison was a little Hollyoaks in Cornwall - but why not. Scenery was fabulous and I'm pretty sure I've been where it's filmed, so that was nice. An impressive cast: Tiffany from Eastenders. Mrs. MacCluskey from Grange Hill. Mike Baldwin from Corrie. Scott from Neighbours. Whatsisname from Hollyoaks. A bunch of kids I recognise from various bit parts in other stuff. Oh and Hugo Speer. That was quite weird, I'll always remember him in one of my fave Brit Films Deathwatch and of course as The Lunchbox in one of my least fave films Full Monty, so therefore not a "soap actor" in the classic regard in my view but hey, who cares. Conflict was set up adequately: the widower Danny (Jason Donovan) returns to the village after 20 years' absence after leaving under a cloud, bringing his kids with him. Of course people are not pleased to see him, least of all Hugo Speer and Tiffany who are married (but their marriage seems on the rocks of course). There seems to be a Montague/Capulet thing brewing between Jase's kids and the Speer kids too.

Oh - and there was BAD LANGUAGE in both. That made a refreshing change. We had a "bastards" and a "prick" and a barely audible "blow job" in MV, though I was surprised to hear one lad describe girls on the beach in the actual soap as "potential pussy". I'm betting Ofcom had a few complaints about that one. But hell, people swear in real life a helluva a lot, it should be reflected - even just a bit - by soap. I'm not wanting lots of effing and blinding, but just a tad more would be good. We're writers anyway, we swear all the bloody time and you know it.

So: to recap, I wasn't blown away but I will be watching again tonight. What was your verdict on Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Help Make An Indie Film

I'm always up for helping my Bang2writers, so when one of my clients Pete Spencer got in touch yesterday I was only too happy to reproduce his email on the blog for everyone in www.land's consideration. Pete and colleague Iain wrote a feature script I've read several times now called THE LAST BRITISH EXECUTION and are now trying to make it - hopefully with your help. Read on!
-----------------------------------------------------
Hi All,

How would you like a small part in making a dream a reality? Are you up for a small pledge?

Iain Cash and I are trying to raise funds for our feature film - no, don't tune out just yet - and we have found a way we might be able to do it, through a site called Indie Maverick.

What happens is that people pledge small amounts (minimum of $50 USD, which is roughly £25 - £30) and the pledges - not the cash - are stored. If we reach our target of $500,000 everyone chips in with their pledge, and if we don't make our target, no one pays anything.

So you only have to make good on your pledge if we raise all the $500,000 or £250,000good old English pounds.

The project is THE LAST BRITISH EXECUTION, a comedy/satire, inspired by the tone of THE THICK OF IT, the BAFTA winning BBC3 show.

It's a good script, got an 'Honorable Mention' in Writemovies.com international screenwriting contest 2007, and has also been entered into others.

We hope that Iain will direct. View his IMDB link here.

And visit Indie Maverick if you would like to make a pledge.

Script is available to be read if you wish and if we get it made everyone gets a cut of the profits and a special edition DVD of the film.

Otherwise, all is well out here, and I hope all is well with you.

Best wishes to you all,

Peter

Monday, January 07, 2008

Hollywood Science

Everyone knows that films are make believe. Everyone knows whole chunks of movies would never stand up, let alone be achieved in so-called "real life". Right?

Apparently not. I have lost count of the number of times someone has watched a film with me and argued that something "could never happen" and thus suck the fun out of it, particularly action movies. (Note I'm saying nothing about narrative logic here: I'm talking about those moments in film that are incredible, but not so incredible within the world of the story we are watching).

For me it works like this: as long as your character does something that makes sense within the story, it doesn't have to actually be real or "work" in reality. If it did, we might as well stop making sci-fi films or any film where something out of the ordinary happens altogether. We'd only be able to make Ken Loach-style dramas. Now don't get me wrong, I actually love Ken Loach, Mike Leigh et al. But not all the time. Sometimes I want big explosions. And aliens. And werewolves. And tidal waves. And meteors. And people coming back from the dead with chainsaws. And everything else that opens Pandora's Box of Crazy Writing.

So if a hero jumps off a building then attached to a fire hose as Bruce Willis does in one of my all-time faves Die Hard, does it really matter if the science works?

No.

Because it works in the story. John McClane is the type of guy who would do this. You or I would get barbequed, we'd be freaking so royally we'd never think of it - or if we did we'd make a mess of it and either still get barbequed or fall squillions of floors to our squishy deaths. That's assuming of course we'd be on top of the building at that exact moment anyhow: chances are I would be sitting downstairs with the rest of the hostages.

This isn't reality. Do what works for your story.

That said, the Open University does a rather impressive set of calculations for Bruce's jump here and whether he would survive. Pity Physics was never my thing and I haven't got a bloody clue what they're talking about. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Help Me Avoid Finanacial Ruin (okay, an exaggeration)

I bought a house on December 14th. YAY!

It's like, well-wicked man. Has a garden and and upstairs and everything. It's not big enough of course and my son's going to have to live downstairs in what was the living room, but according to my calculations we can't extend until 2010. (Unless I sell a screenplay for megabucks of course but I have to admit that is remote and not gamble my family's entire security on what *might* happen - damn it!).

The downside? Well, we bought it just before Christmas. NEVER DO THIS. The buying of houses always involves more expenditure than you think and then if you have as many bloody relatives as we do needing presents (why did I marry a sodding triplet??), then extreme brokeness is not far away. Add to that the fact the house looks like it is actually out of 1984 - literally: green walls and red carpets? You WHAT?! - and needs many "little" jobs that add up to a BIG PRICE and you can see my problem. *Sigh* Oh and it's tax season. It just GETS BETTER.

So, what has this got to do with you?

LET ME READ YOUR SCRIPTS AND GIVE YOU NOTES.

You could be my last line between the good life and financial ruin. Okay, that's exaggerating, Barclaycard will help us out for a while, but after that: my babies will be on the streets! And it will be your fault my friends! Okay, that's an exaggeration too. But if you need some coverage - like now, SOON - that would be great.

I know you're probably broke too what with it being January, so tell you what: make me an offer. Look at my price list and tell me what you want, we can work something out. Obviously there will be some things I can't go too low on, but others I can be flexible. So try me.

Looking forward to reading your work...

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Adaptation and "Success": The Golden Compass And Beyond

Regular readers of this blog know how interested I am in adaptation, so this course with Adrian Mead is definitely of interest: provided I can get some funding, I'll be there, hopefully see you there too.

The marvellous Steve too is interested in adaptation and over the Christmas break, he sent me the following email, which he gave me his kind permission to reporduce here to stimulate debate:

Hi Lucy

Let me run this by you, it's an idea I had about movies in general.

In film adaptations of books, you often get the situation that recently occurred with The Golden Compass: those who hadn't read the book liked it, those who had didn't. (Obviously not 100% but I noticed very much with this one.)

I saw my daughter's frustrated reaction at the end of GC, and read some other comment that said the movie missed out the last third of the book.

Yet, apart from the end going on too long after the climax, I found the film complete and satisfying. Yes, there's more story to go but the Central Question of this movie was answered: Would Lyra rescue her friend and the other kids? And she does.

So, why the problem with people who had read the book, since the rescuing of the kids is in the book? The answer came to me in a blinding flash: because the film and the book have different Central Questions.

Those people who'd read the book came to the story with one Central Question and that question is not answered; the rest of us found out what the Central Question was as we watched.

LOTR was hugely successful with all but a few die-hards because the Central Question was unchanged between the book and the film. Each Harry Potter movie has the same Central Question as the corresponding book so are popular with the readers.

Why are second movies in a trilogy often unsatisfying? Because the first movie is usually complete (the filmmakers don't know if they'll make more of them) but the second is almost always a set-up for the third -- the Central Question is posed but not answered. Which is also why The Empire Strikes Back is generally considered to be the best of the original three Star Wars movies: It does have its own Central Question which is answered effectively.

So it seems to me that an adaptation, to be popular with those who've read the book -- and that's important if it's a popular book -- must have the same Central Question.

Or, if that's impossible, must express the new Central Question sufficiently strongly to overcome the pre-conceived one -- which is where, you could argue, GC falls down because the central question isn't expressed strongly, it just creeps up on you, so fails to override anyone coming in with the pre-conceived one.

Have you ever come across this idea before? Have I been completely original?

---------------------------------------------------------

First off, I haven't seen The Golden Compass; I had no interest in it, for I wasn't keen on the book - not because Philip Pullman is not a good author in my opinion I might add, but because that sort of genre is just not my thing. Ditto Harry Potter, LOTR etc, though I did see those: I actually thought these made fantastically awful adaptations, since by sticking so rigidly to the source material we are detracting from what "makes" a film dramatic. We end Harry Potter at the end of school, Mallory Towers style? Ick. Great for a book, not for a film. Same goes for LOTR: lack of interesting female characters in either media peeved me greatly, but that aside there was just too much going on, even over the entire trilogy, for me to really *want* to invest in any character or what they're up against. I just didn't care enough. (BTW, please don't chastise me, I know I'M the freak, blah blah blah, I get it from my role-playing, LOTR-obsessed Other Half enough, thanks. Sometimes people don't like the same things. And thank God for that! Variety is the spice of life and all that).

But there have been plenty of adaptations that have really "floated" my boat, so to speak. The Shining. Obviously. The Shawshank Redemption. Stand By Me... Oh wait: these are ALL Stephen King books. What makes Stephen King so eminently "adaptable"? Is it just his ideas, they go from the page to the screen easily, effortlessly? Is this to do with Steve's idea of the Central Question? Or is it more to do with me liking horror, thus I'm going to like this sort of adaptation? Or a bit of both?

Comic books make great adaptations as far as I'm concerned. A History of Violence was one of my fave films of 2006, easily. I loved The Crow as a kid, though less so now. Video games *can* work, I enjoyed Resident Evil, but hated Doom. Having said that, I think comic books and video games often work *better* than books because the difference between a film and a book is SO huge. When people say "It's nothing like the book!" I always think, "How CAN it be?"

Other adaptations I've liked that aren't horror or by a horror author... Hmmm. Well, Adaptation. Natch. Funny and as far from its source material as you can probably get. In a similar fashion I adored Disney's Alice In Wonderland, that not only tells that story but includes elements of Looking Glass, Jabberwocky and others of Caroll's nonsense poems, making it more a visual compendium of ALL his work. American Psycho: pure genius. Hated this book, yet it remained "true" to its source whilst still totally f****** with it, you can see it either way. Philp K Dick is another Stephen King-style author, he cannot do any wrong as far as adaptation is concerned and Bladerunner, Impostor and Minority Report were all fab and worked as far as I was concerned. La Confidential, great. To Kill A Mockingbird, Remains of The Day and Of Mice and Men all worked for me too.

So what is that elusive ingredient that works for you in terms of an adaptation "succeeding"? Is it the notion of Steve's Central Question being the same? Or is it down to something else - for me, I like to see adaptations that are "true" to the seed of the story but can go any which way it pleases, including right off the beaten track into beyond. That might sound the same as Steve's Central Question, but I'm not sure it is: for example, American Psycho as a book for me was about an ACTUAL killer, whereas I felt in the movie this was in question as I outline in this post. The seed of both stories for me was homicidal tendencies, but the Central Questions were different: in the book, is Patrick Bateman going to get caught? Versus in the movie: is he really a killer?

So, what do you reckon? What makes adaptation work - or not - for you?

LINKS

Top 50 Adaptations

Top Grossing Comic Book Adaptations

Least Successful Comic Book Adaptations

Keys To A Successful Comic Book Movie Adaptation

21 Books That Should be Great Films

Friday, January 04, 2008

Who Stole My Favourites?

As if it wasn't enough that my site meter went missing, never to return.

Now one of you thieving gits has taken my favourites!

The box is there.

All my favourite blogs have gone.

This is how you repay me???

How do I get it back? I need some Geeks that fight cyber crime. STAT.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Logline Entries - Feedback

I was unable to vote in my own poll for some reason, perhaps I set it that way without realising or perhaps the poll was evil... I think the latter is more likely since it extended its reign by eight hours without even asking ME first. But anyway. Here is some feedback on your entries guys and now everybody's back at work etc, please do offer your thoughts too. Here we go...
-----------------------------------------------

A LONG JOURNEY

As a category, I think this had some of the strongest and most goal-led ideas so I was unsurprised that a logline within this category won. I often tell Bang2write clients to think of a script like a journey when they're having trouble focusing their story, so perhaps this is why; I see a lot of road movies and/or survival thriller/horrors where someone has to get somewhere by a certain time, so perhaps notions of goals, journeys, destinations and whatnot are "hardwired" into the craft of writing as the likes of Syd Field say? But that's a debate for another time...

A LONG JOURNEY. A neglectful father and resentful son attempt to reconnect as they go on a wild Christmas journey in search of the mythic Christmas Tree. Annelie Widholm, Feature, Family Comedy Conflict is obvious here, which is always a great start - whilst it might be very nice to have a father and son who like each other loads, if they're estranged then it gives them something to work at. I think I would have liked to know more about the Christmas Tree and why it was "mythic", since I was unsure what this constituted. Does this mean Christmas trees in general, or one specific "magic" Christmas tree? All in all, a good logline I thought, nice one Annelie.

A LONG JOURNEY. A malicious stowaway on Santa's sleigh must prove he's good or the elves will leave him behind in a lawless village built for naughty children. Joe Cawley, Family Feature What I really like about this one is its plundering of childhood myth that we're already familiar with: children's stories are rife with ideas of "stowing away", Santa and places where bad children are sent, so to knit them altogether I thought was fabulous. In addition, I get the impression this "malicious" stowaway will have to prove himself in some way much like that bad elf in the Dudley Moore Santa movie of the 80s. Very, very good.

TO THE GRAVE. In a feral future Britain an old man must travel back to his northern home town to take terrible vengeance for a long forgotten injustice. Rob Stickler, Sci Fi Action Feature I'm still waiting for the Apocalypse, so notions of a "feral" future always prick my interest, so nice one on that. One thing I did wonder here was why the old man would wait so long and if it was a "long forgotten injustice", why it should matter? Having said that, just a little more detail should combat this IMHO.

DEEP MID-WINTER. Deskbound Angus flees family Christmas enduring cancelled trains, freezing buses, hitching and hiking he reaches his now pensioner crofter schoolteacher. The hungry cows need feeding. Chip Tolson, Road Movie, Feature This reminds me of PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES and I really like that first sentence; it conjures up traditional problems we've all had with Christmas - travel can be a nightmare. The second sentence then confused me a little I'm afraid, it seemed quite random at first... On reflection I realised that actually, he's fleeing the city to go home to a farm, but at this stage it doesn't seem as if it is needed, I personally would have left it to that first one alone to encapsulate the story.

A LONG JOURNEY. A shooting star on Christmas Eve inspires an orphaned reindeer to escape from a petting zoo to seek Santa at the North Pole . Sheikspear, Feature, Fantasy Our winner of course and I can see why. It's classic family fare, its goal AND character is obvious, plus it's got the "cute" factor. No mean feat Sheiky! Very nice.

A LONG JOURNEY. Are we there yet, mam? The unborn child can’t wait to be born to begin its proclamations, to the growing annoyance of the parents-to-be … Fi Benson, Dark Comedy, Short I really like the addition of the classic child's phrase, I've heard it a zillion times myself, but I was unsure what Fi meant by "begin its proclmations" - was this a Messiah-type child, a re-telling of the nativity perhaps? I was also wanted to know more about the parents' "annoyance" since this seemed unusual; most parents-to-be can't wait for their baby to turn up. Perhaps they are indisposed in some way, presumably because they are travelling somewhere?

A LONG JOURNEY. December 23rd 1943, James orders: Photograph rocket sites. To return and marry Kathy means taking risks. James’s dies, his 1943 letter arrives Christmas Eve 1993. Ghost Story; nice one tho, despite James's ditching in the channel and Kathy dying in an air raid. They - and others all return as ghosts. And on their wedding day, the stranger dressed in a Luftwaffe uniform holding the wedding car door open for Kathy and James, salutes them. Ron Shears, TV script Ron is one of my long term Bang2writers and top bloke, so I know he won't mind me saying I wasn't too sure about this actually as a logline...It seems to lean more towards a synopsis. If I recall correctly a anonymous poster in the comments section of the voting post said they liked the images but thought the story seemed "fragmented" and this pretty much sums up how I feel about it too. I love the notion of a ghost wedding set in WW2 though.

A LONG JOURNEY. When Oil is discovered at the North Pole, a team of evil Prospectors are hunted by a vengeful Polar Bear. Eco-Jaws with fur! An enviro”mental” horror with claws. Mike G. Zealey This is a fun logline and has what I call the "Ronseal" approach - it does exactly what it says on the tin, always a good approach. We're left in no doubt as to what is going on, though I would venture that if everyone is evil, including the beast as a "monster", then maybe Mike might have a problem actually in the draft creating empathy for his characters. Maybe we should have some good locals vs the evil prospectors as well?


CRACKERS

I actually included this category as an afterthought and was surprised to have so many, I felt sure this would be the least popular. Shows what I know!

THE LAST DAY OF CHRISTMAS. A discredited scientist struggles to expose a Christian fundamentalist biological terror plot before the contaminated Christmas crackers are pulled. Caroline Henry, Feature, Thriller Caroline has made sure the odds are against her protagonist - if you're discredited, who's going to take you seriously? Then s/he has a mountain to climb on top of that in sorting out a big conspiracy. Very nice! Good use of what Yves Lavandier calls "walls" here - Die Hard does a similar thing, as do other good action thrillers.

CRACKERS. After finding a severed finger in his cracker, Geoffrey endeavours to return it to it's owner on Christmas day, stumbling into adventure along the way. Leon Bell, Comedy-Drama, Feature The "gross factor" here is high and that's always a good thing as far as I'm concerned - what I had trouble with then is why there might be a severed finger in a cracker? Presumably that would be answered within the adventures Geoffrey has, but I felt I wanted more detail here. All in all though, a well-crafted logline.

CRACKERS. A lost delivery of crack-loaded crackers? Blackmailed Santa Claus has 48 hours to find them before elfish Mr Big adds him to the naughty list. Tom Mitchell, Feature, Comedy As with Leon's logline, I wanted to know why there was drugs in the crackers, but more why it was Santa's problem? I've never had him down as a drugs lord, so I felt more detail again was needed to make me "buy into" the concept. Like the notion though that Santa has to do something or get put on the naughty list himself, that WOULD be bad for business! Nice one.

SANTA'S SIDEKICK. When Morgan, the dyslexic crow, gets his dream job helping poor, forgetful Santa, the world wakes up to an unusually brilliant Christmas. Anna Perera, Animation I can really see this as an animation; there have been lots of cartoons over the years in which animals help Santa in some way, but I cannot think of one with a cow in, something children would relate to very well having played with plastic ones and hopefully seen them in real life. I did feel I wanted to know why a cow would be dyslexic and what was "unsusually brilliant" about Morgan's efforts - I saw him painting in the sky for some reason, though I'm sure I'm quite wrong Anna! : )

CRACKERS. This Christmas, be careful what you pull… Two psychopathic sisters deliberately infect HIV with Christmas party one night stands. Sheikspear, Thriller, Feature What mean protgonists Sheiky! This is a good logline with obvious antagonists, but I was left wondering whom the protagonist was and what he (she?) might do about these psychopaths.

CRACKERS. One disgruntled cracker packer. One cracker with extra bang. Holly Mistletoe's going to kiss them both goodbye before the Queen's speech. Rach, Thriller, Feature I'm beginning to see why this was such a popular category, you're all a bunch of nutters who want to blow stuff up! I like the notion of a cracker as a bomb, very festive and psychopathic in one go Rach! You also introduce us to our heroine well too though I think you need a Mills and Boon check on that name... ; )

CRACKERS. After decades of watching the ice melt around his home, Santa Claus finally snaps and travels down to New York on a killing spree. A comedy “slay” ride. Mike G. Zealey A killer Santa?!? Noooooooooooooooooo! It's a nice turnaround though I am reminded of Futurama's own Killer Santa. A nice reason why he's gone mental though, very topical - if I remember correctly Futurama had Santa as a robot which like, would *never* happen.

CRACKERS. When legendary Ten-pin bowler Sean le Penn’s arm is irreparably damaged in a freak cracker-pulling accident he must face the biggest challenge of his life and score a strike against the greatest foe he has ever faced, adversity. Alan Salisbury, Comedy, Feature Another well-crafted logline that could do with a little more in the way of detail IMHO; I would have said that the "adversity" was obvious by introducing a one armed man who wants to score a strike, but WHY is he wanting to score that strike? Is there an antagonist in addition to that lack of arm?A freak cracker-pulling accident that makes you lose your arm though, like it. Mind boggles - did it have dynamite in??


A CHILD IS BORN

This was my husband's suggested category which makes me a little dubious, think I need to stay off the gin in case I end up with another bun in the oven...

A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER. A workaholic TV weatherman gets more than expected when both his estranged, pregnant daughter, and the biggest storm in 50 years, show up for Christmas. Laura, Comedy Feature This was in my Top 3 along with Sheikspear's and Joe's versions of Long Journey. I was reminded of GROUNDHOG DAY and that's certainly no bad thing. The conflict is obvious and it's classic family fare but more than that, I think it has the potential to be really visual, always good as far as comedyb is concerned. I would pay to see this.

WHO’S CHILD IS IT? After one hellacious Christmas eve Santa returns to the north pole where elves’ court determines who’s the father of the newborn found in his sleigh. Dennis Goldberg, Feature, Comedy Elf Court has real potential and I was reminded of the court scene in Disney's Alice In Wonderland and the "Twinkle, Twinkle..." bit. Very nice. I was confused though whether it was Santa's paternity that was in question here and what was to be done about it if he was. Why shouldn't Santa have a baby?

A CHILD IS BORN. A defrocked Priest regains his faith whilst trying to save the newborn Daughter of God from a Devil worshipping sect. Sheikspear, Feature, Thriller A well-written logline, this nevertheless reminds me of END OF DAYS and just about every other Devil-worshipping film involving a baby, sorry Sheiky. I felt I wanted more that differentiated it from its predeccessors and since there were quite a few in the run-up to the millenium especially, you'd need to pull something out the bag really quite unusual to be able to do this. However I should mention that I could be prejudiced unfairly against this idea since I get a lot of scripts about inhuman babies and/or babies that are the son or daughter of God or The Devil, so don't just take my word for it if you wanted to pursue this idea.

A CHILD IS BORN. As Jose and Maria celebrate the arrival of their new baby, Saviour, a series of angels appear claiming paternity rights, including the brightest angel, Lucifer. Fi Benson, Short, Dark Comedy A good logline and as a re-telling of the Nativity, I think this could really work - after all, God's paternity of Jesus is never held in question... But what if it was? A very strong premise here, I would like to see this.

GENE DELETED. Kidnapping the geneticist was the easy part. Now all she has to to do is create the ultimate weapon and free her imprisoned son. Elinor, Thriller, Feature Elinor's another of my long term Bang2writers and a Metlab student, so I know she's hardcore: my basic issue with this logline is it reads more like a tagline in my view, I would expect to see something like this on the film poster. I wanted to know what the "ultimate weapon" was and why her son was "imprisoned". With more detail however, notions of a mother trying to save her child by any means necessary - including illegal - will always engage my interest, so if you are actually working on this Elinor then definitely send it my way some time.

WORMWOOD. A suspicious young doctor takes matters into his own hands when he starts to believe that a child he helped to deliver is not human. Tom, Supernatural Thriller, Short Again Tom I have the issue I mentioned in Sheiky's feedback for his idea in this category, so you may not believe any feedback I can offer is viable since I don't tend to like scripts that have this basic idea since I've seen so many. However, that aside I like the conflict you hint at here: vigilante action by someone in a position of authority is always a good start for action and/or thrillers. Also, I've never seen the idea as a short, always features, so perhaps it would work better within the context of a much smaller script?


CONFRONTATIONS AND REVELATIONS

I expected this to be the biggest category and I wasn't disappointed... This category had some really visual ideas and gave the category of "Long Journey" a real run for its money story-wise.

THE STOCKING KILLER. Christopher Mass hates Christmas. Against advice from his psychiatrist, he descends into his own tinselly hell to discover who is bumping off department store Santas. Chip Smith, Comedy Thriller, Feature Chip is another Bang2write long termer and provides us with a great title and premise here: why WOULD someone kill dept store Santas? What I had a problem with then is why Mass would investigate. Is he a cop maybe, has no choice, it's the job he's given? I felt a little more detail was needed, otherwise a good logline.

DEAD BEAT IN DAKOTA. "Christmas Eve, New York: John Lennon, desperate to recover his Muse, feverishly conjures her up - and three ghosts he must face, to win her back." Norman Revill, Feature This reminds me of the basic concept of CHRISTMAS CAROL and God knows producers are always looking at ways of reinventing it, I counted six different adaptations playing this Christmas. To combine it then with an icon of history and love is a great idea and this nearly made it into my top 3 but unfortunately my inner sucker fell for the pregnant daughter in Laura's, sorry Norm. Good premise and logline though.

THE WHISPERING DARK. A man travels to an isolated village where he struggles to discover the truth about the mysterious encounter that drove his folklore-obsessed grandfather insane. Tom, Supernatural Thriller, Feature Ooooo, spooky! Another "ronseal" logline, very good. We've got the protagonist trying to find something out that has already messed with minds, so stakes are high - and we also understand why the protagonist might have gone there in the first place, why wouldn't you want to find out WHAT made ol' gramps go ga-ga? Like the title too.

NEMESISTER. A boy is convinced his younger sister has acquired evil superpowers so he desperately tries to stop her before she destroys the family, and herself.
Danny Stack and Sam Morrison, Family/Comedy Feature
Love the title of this one and the notion that a younger sister has evil superpowers: really gives an added edge to the notion of "sibling rivalry". As Anya says in the voting post, you can tell Danny and Sam are professionals with this one, it nails everything down for us: who the protagonist is, who the antagonist is, what the protagonist must do. Nice one fellas. I hope I get to read this sometime.

DICKENS ON WOMEN. The story Charles Dickens never dared tell. His own. David Anderson, Historical Romance Feature. I know David loves history, so his choice did not surprise me, though the romance did! I was reminded here of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE here, no bad thing, it was an Oscar winner. The one thing I might offer is that like Elinor's it does seem more like a tagline, though I accept the title does nail down the protagonist's "angle". I'd possibly have gone for a little more "meaty" detail overall however.

CONFRONTATIONS AND REVELATIONS. After getting married over Thanksgiving weekend, a rich CEO learns that his new wife is a single mother of three. Robert Hogan, Comedy, Feature I've worked with Robert on our own treatment and draft before, so know his strength is in creating almost hysterical scenes where things just get worse and worse (and ruder and ruder): on this basis then, I think he could have introduced a little more of this hysterical nature to his logline to really differentiate it from other "problem-based" Rom-coms, making it more in the vein of something like JUST FRIENDS, which is what he's really good at. However, this probably isn't fair since I know him as a writer and I also wouldn't want to detract from the fact this is actually a very good logline: just like Danny and Sam's it's all nailed down for us - we just *know* those kids are going to be up to no good...

NAILED. An adulterous trophy wife believes she's in the clear when she meets her blackmailer's demands, only to discover there's a far higher price to pay. Alexandra Denye, Short, Thriller Alexandra got into the finals of the PAGE awards with this and this logline reflects why I think: it's simple and executed simply - with more hinted at beyond that controlling idea. Also, again we're left in no doubt as to what is going on or who is who. Very nice!

CONFRONTATIONS AND REVELATIONS. A young Priest descended from Christ’s bloodline confronts Satan via a coded passage in the book of Revelations. Sheikspear, Feature, Horror Again, we're back to the Satanic thing though there are no babies this time... Secret codes are another "thing" of mine though, sorry Sheiky!!! I better shut up. Hey this has to be proof though that entering A LOT, like Sheikspear did, pays dividends...

SECRET CHRISTMAS. Christmas is dead. The renegade celebrants imprisoned. But Grace Goodyear stubbornly ‘believes’; soon she’s ‘Most Wanted’ and accidental rebel leader. The fight for Christmas begins... Andrew Bernhardt, Family Feature I love the notion that Christmas has been banned and people who celebrate it go to prison; like Caroline's we have a great "wall" here for our protagonist Grace. The one thing I woulod offer here is that I think this logline needs more conjunctions, it seems a little fragmented sentence-wise and I needed to read it twice to understand what was going on though quite possibly that's just me.

LAST TANGO IN RUSHOLME. A group of amateur ballroom dancers fight to save their practice hall from the clutches of an unscrupulous developer at Christmas. Pete Spencer, Comedy-Drama, Feature Very nice Pete and another contender for my coveted top 3. You've nailed it all down for us as well, we're left in no doubt as to who is who, what is going on or what is at stake. You attracted some favourable feedback too in the voting post and for good reason since this is a well-done little logline, sorry about the "nunscrupulous" though in the original posting, that was my fault!

HOPES AND FEARS. When an escaped psychiatric prisoner takes refuge in a dentist’s office on Christmas Eve, his hostages are forced to confront their own hopes and fears. David Bishop, TV Drama I've read loads of David's stuff, he's a great writer and I believe I've read this too as an actual script or at least a treatment (though I can't look it up since my lists are trapped in my dead PC from the other week). The psychiatric prisoner as antagonist is obvious and I like the fact he's introduced the other characters as more of an ensemble, since I believe this is what they are; the one thing I would offer however is that since "Hopes and Fears" is the title, its repetition in the logline is not the *most* dramatic use of words, though there's technically nothing wrong with it.


STARLIGHT

I thought this category would get lots of cartoons... And I got three entries! Weird or what, shows how perception and different interpretations really figure in this game.

STARLIGHT. A stranded, self-obsessed movie actress rediscovers her lost values when she reluctantly agrees to star in small town’s Christmas pageant. Sheikspear, Rom-Com, Feature. A good logline. The self-obsessed movie star as protagonist is a character that again I see A LOT though I do actually like the notion that a character like this can recover "lost values". The fact that she does this within a small town environment hints that this story actually can deliver this realisation; too often I see scripts with these characters on the verge of *almost* losing everything then the writer at last minute gives them a big contract or whatever, so they're rewarded for being awful. Would be interesting to see if Sheiky can pull this off as I think it's one of the most difficult characters to "draw".

STARLIGHT. It’s Christmas Eve. Goldie, Frank and Myrtle, insurance agents specialising in victim compensation, see a bright light shining to the East. They follow it … Fi Benson, Dark Comedy, Short I like the puns on the names here, but wondered why they worked in insurance: how does it figure in the plot? Again though, a re-telling of Nativity (or The Three Wise Men), is always a good focus for a short and I would like to see what Fi does with it too.

STARLIGHT. Night time burns on Twinkle and the fuzzybeams have eaten all the starblock. So Bunny Carrot-top's gonna make the Candyfloss Run to save their skin. Rach, Sci Fi Animation Short I was unsure who was who here; Twinkle is presumably a character, as are The Fuzzybeams and Bunnyh Carrot-top, but who was the protagonist is not so clear. I was unsure why night time is a problem and why Bunny has to make candy floss either. Having said that, the names and things referenced are all child-like fare and I see absolutely no reason why Rach couldn't get someone interested in a sweet tail (arf) like this once she offers more detail.


MISC

SANTA'S SACK. When a depressed Santa and Mrs Claus face sexual dysfunction difficulties they turn to renowned LA plastic surgeon, Dr Biggar Knobs, to help out Santa and save Xmas. Will Santa get his hole in time to pop down some chimneys? The marvellous Dublin Dave aka DD, Short Film Knowing DD, I'm sure this was just-for-fun and it's certainly that...I love all the naughty double entendres in this so thanks for that! This logline certainly put a smile on my face. As a short it could be a laugh and I'm sure there's an "Ooooooh Matron!" festival somewhere in the world for you to show it at!

UNTITLED. Santa has traveled a million miles to deliver your gifts this Christmas. He just wishes he'd remembered his trousers. Dom A neat logline and another that reads more like a tagline, though it certainly sounds as if it could be fun, especially if the goal is that Santa actually needs to find his trousers - has he left them in a particular child's house? Maybe a kid's woken up and is now selling them on eBay! Just a little more detail would be all that's needed to "nail this down" so we're left in no doubt as to what is "needed" in this story.

Chris Younger's:

SANTA'S SWEATSHOP. Elves make all the toys, right? WRONG! Every year Santa stops time, kidnaps all the naughty children and forces them to work in his sweatshop making all the toys for Christmas, and some Nike trainers to give Santa some drinking money. Not a comedy. Santa could be Chris Walken or Anthony Hopkins. Chris, you are clearly insane: Christopher Walken as Santa? I love it! The notion that Santa is a really an evil corporate is fun too, though this is probably less of a logline and more of a proposal - and that proposal is being said at a party, with lots of wine, rather than a boardroom. But why not?? ; )

SAINT NICKED. While on a secret drinking spree, Santa is arrested for drunk and disorderly and assaulting a police officer. When he can't prove who he is, he's sent to Guantanamo bay as a terror suspect. Hilarity does not ensue! Think Midnight Express meets Miracle on 34th street. As always, love the pun, though struggling to think why Santa would get sent to Guantanomo bay for being drunk etc rather than your local nick. Also wondering how he might get out and/or who it is that will rescue him. Like your referencing of other movies to "sell" this concept though I have to admit I haven't seen either of them, sorry!

NORTH POLE DANCER (An educational drama). A stripper stows away aboard Santa's sleigh and taken back to the pole. There she teaches the elves how to pole dance and makes them realize that Christmas doesn't have to be wholesome, it can be sleazy too!
Alternatively, change stripper to prostitute and call it "Ho! Ho! Ho!". ;-)

I'm beginning to think Chris you are a very naughty boy. It's, ahem, visual!

NORTH POLE NIGHTS. David Hasslehoff is Santa! While the elves make presents, Santa solves crime with the aid of his ex-alcoholic sidekick Rudolph. Is someone stealing all the ice or is global warming for real? A buddy comedy.
Ok, ok. The Hoff???? I do actually like the idea of someone stealing all the ice though, but why is Rudolph an ex-alcoholic? Surely that's Santa isn't it, since milk is put out for him now on Xmas Eve instead of sherry?

THE NIGHT THE REINDEER DIED. Terrorists invade the north pole, massacre the reindeer, behead the elves and hold Santa as a hostage. Who can save Christmas? Van Damme? Seagal? Chuck? Britney? Rooney?
Okay, stay right there punk, I'm coming round... With my mate Van Damme!

--------------------------------------------------------------

PHEW! What did you think?