Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm seeing where the coconut shells came from now.

Well, my first draft of episode one of BBC4 18TH CENTURY LITERARY ADAPTATION has gone off to the Beeb to see what they make of it. The ideal result would be a tiny amount of rewrites, minor spelling checks etc, followed by hugs all round and a commission for an entire series, but let's see what happens. In the meantime, I'm having to adapt to the idea of writing a period-set drama, pretty much the most expensive kind of television you can make, with a BBC4 budget, which is to say: nuppence.

In theory this means scenes beginning with 'INT' ('interior') = good. Scenes beginning with 'EXT' ('exterior') = very very bad. I can probably justify a couple of central locations, as long as they're used every week, with perhaps one extra 'precinct' each week, as the story demands.

'Desperate Romantics', which I've been watching with interest, counting INTs and EXTs, probably used up the entire budget of BBC4 18TH CENTURY LITERARY ADAPTATION in about the first ten minutes. Not mention people just sort of wandering around in the background all of which have to be retrieved from the right period via the BBC time machine, told to muck about a bit and ignore the cameras, then given intensive therapy sessions before being returned to their own timestreams, all this being cheaper and more practical than using extras. Personally, I reckon they could shave a few extra quid by turning the orchestral score down a notch, but there we are.

Anyway, 'Desperate Romantics' is an hour long (a quarter of which are Tom Hollander's pained silences, which are AWESOME, best in the biz etc), whereas mine will be 6x30mins, so to be fair, the comparison doesn't quite stand.

So that's half hour episodes, limited locations, oh, and a small cast, because apparently actors need paying these days as well. So you really have to work hard to justify any lines in the script not spoken by any of the central characters, something I am attempting to do by having many of them be 'OS' (off-screen) and in a variety of accents, so I can do them myself to save cash. This is not entirely a joke.

More to follow. Hopefully.


PK said...

Actors? Payment? Pah! Beat them and give them nothing. That's what my producer and I did when we did my last play. We beat them. You can save oodles and oodles of money simply by beating them. When they audition, beat them. When they finish each take, beat them. They'll actually be grateful, and the classically trained ones genuinely enjoy the beatings!

If they complain (and they shouldn't, because remember, you're beating them at regular intervals) then you scream and tear your hair out, and stomp up and down shouting: "You should feel priviliged to say my lines! Privileged!"

Then you go into a corner and gibber for a few minutes, meanwhile casting occasional feral glances at them to remind them whose boss.

Worked for me.

Jayne said...

Budget restrictions not all bad news though. Look at the first series of Blackadder v. all the rest after they slashed the budget. And if it's a success you might end up directing Hugh Grant in something...

Boz said...

The important thing, I have previously been led to understand, is that you've spent the time creating a suitable logo for this project.

(Fingers crossed here!)

james henry said...


Ooh, and maybe some new stationary....