Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Channel X has something very similar in development"

Not an actual Channel X, of course, although there probably is one. But if you've handed a script in to a producer, and this is the beginning of their response, the rest of the conversation could go a number of different ways, depending on the way they say this first bit.

1. PRODUCER (sympathetically, head tilted on one side): Channel X has something very similar in development.

TRANSLATION: "Russell T. Davies has just pitched the exact same idea for a cornish werewolf biker epic to BBC2. Bad luck."

2. PRODUCER (eyes sparkling with mischief) : Hmmm, Channel X has something very similar in development....

TRANSLATION: "Our rival channel has been looking for a cornish werewolf biker epic for some time, and have just commissioned a hugely expensive pilot script by a big name british actor who has had to move back to the UK after a hushed-up sex scandal and is looking for a change of career. My nephew's girlfriend who worked for three days as a temp in the office stole a copy of the script for me, and it is the biggest shit sandwich yet to have been sighted upon these shores. If we crack on now, we could force Channel X into an arms race which would surely lead to the sacking of Channel X Station Head, who I have hated ever since we were at school together and he made me clean out the toilets with my favourite Beanie Baby (the seal one)."

There is, of course, a third alternative.

3. PRODUCER (kindly) : Channel X has something very similar in development.

TRANSLATION: "Your script is, frankly, mental. You have shown not the slightest understanding of character, structure or pace, but far far worse than that, it is a clear ripoff of the popular graphic novel 'Cornish Werewolf Biker Epic', which you, not giving me the slightest credit, assumed I would never have read, whereas in fact I have the entire series run catalogued in plastic bags under my bed. However, unlikely though it may seem, I didn't get into this job to actively destroy people's hopes and dreams, so although there is not something similar in development with Channel X, I am trying to spare your feelings, in the hope that one day in the long distant future, you will come up with a script that is actually filmable. Now let us never speak of this again."

Currently, I have three commissioned scripts at various stages of completion. Two of them are on Top Chief Commissioning Editors' desks right now, waiting to see if Top Chief Commissioning Editors commission a whole series, the last is about to undergo the final phase before it heads out into what we fey, starry-eyed writers call 'the marketplace'. One of them I am fairly sure bears no resemblance to anything else out there, one has had two 'similar projects' raise their fat ugly heads while I was writing, and the last one has seen a massive resurgence in its chosen genre between the first and second drafts that will either bear my pages aloft on golden wings, or burn out massively and lead to the firing of any executive who even considers paying good money for a film script with a superhero in it.

I have absolutely no idea what will happen next. On the other hand, HAHAHAHA YOU'VE PAID ME MONEY TO WRITE SCRIPTS YOU IDIOTS! IT'S TOO LATE TO ASK FOR YOUR MONEY BACK NOW etc.

22 comments:

Billy said...

If you miss something on Channel X can you catch up on Channel X+1?

Sounds like algebra almost.

James Moran said...

I always think it's number 3, for me. That's why I try to pitch by email or phone, so I won't see the look of pity in their eyes. Their DEAD EYES.

Lucy Diamond said...

Can you get Channel X on Freeview?

Sylvia said...

yes, there was something called channel x -was it some yoof programming on channel 4? all after my time, of course.
Good luck with it all! You're living the dream....

kaiki said...

i read with genuine excitement about'Cornish Werewolf Biker Epic'- he could go to the Furry Dance in Helston ! although, thinking about it, he probably wouldn't. being a werewolf. and a biker.

james henry said...

James - it's usually 3 for me as well, but if you turn up to the meeting, there's a chance they might make you a cup of hot sweet tea, and you might be able to steal some biscuits on the way out. RESULT!

Yes, channel x does sound a bit yoof, doesn't it. Mind you, they're all yoof nowadays bloody demographic-chasing etc etc whinge moan.

Anonymous said...

www.channelx.co.uk

james henry said...

Ew gross! Oh, wait, I quite liked Modern Toss.

Thanks, anonymous. Maybe I should change it to 'Channel (random), although there's probably one called that as well...

llewtrah said...

Channel X is up there along with Playboy Channel and RedHot. So the Cornish werewolf biker would have to be over-sexed and over-endowed. The Furry Dance would have to be lupercalia or something.

Donkey's years ago, a former neighbour submitted his book script for consideration. It was rejected because the publisher was raeding something very, very similar. Wyndham's "Chocky" was published, my neighbour's book wasn't. The resemblance, entirely coincidental, was uncanny.

Now if only the Beeb would like a cat-oriented parody of Life on Mars ...

Billy said...

That Wyndham story reminds me of my friend's band who accidentally wrote Wonderwall WITHOUT REFERENCE TO THE ORIGINAL.

Their song had better words as well. There is no justice.

flossie said...

There's every chance you've seen this, but for some reason as soon as I was sent this link, I thought of you.

It's the turkish Star Wars which ripped off whole chunks of Star Wars then stuck its own appalling scenes in. As others have pointed out, 48 mins in, a man kills a bear with its own arm and it is verily cinematic genius.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7069307816427160377&q=%22turkish+star+wars%22

Anna Lisa said...

:new reader waves:

As long as it's not another reality show.
{gag}

Terri Nixon said...

although, thinking about it, he probably wouldn't. being a werewolf. and a biker.

Well, at the risk of sounding too much like a film title: I was a Cornish Werewol ... erm, biker, and I did go to the Helston during Furry Dance. Not great for the street cred, but on the upside the number of pubs seemed to have multiplied overnight, oddly. Which is never a bad thing.

james henry said...

That Turkish Star Wars thing is very strange.

kaiki said...

turkish star wars battle for greatest line - 'I am tired like a dead'.

realdoc said...

How many actual scripts have you in development James?

cello said...

Isn't there a fourth version where they say, "We have something very similar in development" and then they pinch your idea and give it to a staff writer to work up?

Sylvia said...

yes - how do you protect yourself against that? threats of violence? bribery with curly-wurlies?

Spacemonkey said...

/delurks

Not set in a mysterious village on the Moors, is it?

*returns to Oddmoor*

/relurks

james henry said...

Hello Spacemonkey - I wasn't counting Oddmoor (a project in development with the BBC which I might be contributing to later this year), although all those concepts do tie into the 'paranoia about big companies nicking your work' post which I'll do later...

james henry said...

Realdoc, sorry, missed that comment - I'm not sure, and it depends what you count as 'in development'. In terms of actual paying things that have finished at least one draft though, it's three and bit.

Imo said...

At least you've been paid! Was the Jack Dee sitcom thingy something that could have been very similar to one of your scripts? Bummer!