Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Quick links and the crushing weight of friends' expectations

The Working Title website has a Hot Fuzz video blog in which Simon Peg talks about stunt training for his new movie. I'm steering clear because of potential spoilers, but I thought people might want to know. Also, Bill Bailey chats to SP at 6.30 on tomorrow night's Chain Reaction on Radio 4. I'm hoping they start to podcast these eventually, but in the meantime, the 'listen again' function's very good.

And Green Wing now has its own forum on the channel 4 website, so people who partake in sober and considered discussions of their favourite guest presenter of the Friday Night Project can now do so uninterrupted by debate about whether Mac or Guy have better hair. Actually I don't think that's ever been a topic for discussion, but you know what I mean. They do call it 'The Green Wing' though, which is bad and wrong.

UPDATE: Smoo2 asked "How nervous are you, James, on a scale of 1-10, about the new GW series? Or do you try to forget what is past and move on?!"

I'm not particularly nervous, but not out of any great smug complacency; more because I've only seen the first episode of the new series and a few scenes in the editing room, so I'm almost watching it in the same context as the fans or regular viewers. I kind of don't really know what to expect.

It tends to be the actors/producers who get really het up - usually writers are off working on something else by the time the beast is unleashed, triply distanced from the material by time, the change from page to screen, and the speedy-up editing. There's also the weird balance of how much is improvised versus how much is written (in fact at least ninety per cent is written*, but you wouldn't necessarily know from the features about the show). Normally we're fighting over the credit like this:

ACTORS: We love improvising - it's rare that actors get to create a character and see them through to the end of the process. More champagne? Lovely.
WRITERS: The characters were created long before the actors showed up, and they basically arse about at the end of the written scenes and some of that gets put in. I hate everyone. Where's my raven?

If it doesn't go down very well, you'll start to read interviews like this:

ACTORS: Of course, the writers are really in control of the story, we just tag along and fill in the gaps as best we can. Anyway, can we talk about my new film? I'm playing a unicorn.
WRITERS: Of course, the influence of improvisation really can't be understated - the dedication and responsibility they put in, carrying the weight of the whole show and so forth. I'm not paying for this coffee, by the way.

I started complaining about all this to some friends Sunday night. But then I remembered a) they hadn't even heard of Green Wing, let alone seen it, and b) one is pregnant, the other is a qualified head nurse running a cardiology ward, so any worries I have are pointless and trivial in comparison. And there's no pressure of expectation amongst friends who actually have seen Green Wing, as most of them thought it was okay, but are more excited about the second DVD set of Arrested Development. And who can honestly say they're wrong?

* But gallingly, that ten percent can get a much bigger laugh than your own carefully crafted lines. There's a scene I've got in the first ep of series two where Guy and Martin are arguing about a particularly poor Hollywood movie, and Karl (Martin) chucks in an fantastic adlib at the end I really really wish I'd thought of. But I hadn't. Afterwards I hugged him close to me and whispered in his ear 'You did well my friend. I both congratulate you and wish you dead'. Which left him confused, but I think ably sums up the tricky relationship between writers and actors.

What else, um... JPG, talented and gorgeous production designer on GW has his series 2 blog up with lots of bits of info on the making of the series, Drawn! is a great illustrating blog, with lots of pointers for fab new artists, and I finally found 'Microfilmed' a stirring bit of glitchy samply ambient stuff which fell off my iPod last year (although I've just noticed one doesn't seem to be able to download from that link, which is a shame). And it turned out to be by Her Space Holiday, who I already liked.


smoo2 said...

Yes, the discussion on the new GW forum has already been sober, serious and in-depth...hmm.

How nervous are you, James, on a scale of 1-10, about the new GW series? Or do you try to forget what is past and move on?!

Of course, you should never go back, never go back.

Maud said...

"Where's my raven?" is a brilliant thing to say.

felinity said...

I'm enjoying the fact that none of the writers or actors is claiming to have seen more than episode one and a few scenes from the second series. It's like a mass collective disclaimer -- did you all make a pact at the end of series one? (everyone's saying that they're sure it'll be terribly good, but nobody's committing to anything)

Very much looking forward to it, nonetheless.

surly girl said...

or are you all suffering from some sinister memory loss?

i told you not to go out without your tinfoil hat.

*continues watching static in order to receive further instructions*

The Book Fiend said...

I'm so excited! I can't wait for the new series to start!

James Henry said...

We really haven't seen it - only Vic (producer) and the two editors Billy and Lucian have seen it all. Also, actors only ever read their own lines in a script, so have even less idea what's going on than anyone else. Sad but true.

surly girl said...

why aren't i in bed yet?

surly girl said...

and what on earth is the correct grammar for that sentence?

felinity said...

Hey, Chain Reaction is blinding -- thanks for the link. Found out more about Bill Bailey in the first five minutes then I've known about him for the past five years. Plus it made me laugh very very much. And Simon Pegg tomorrow! Genius.

surly girl said...

i had a slight panic there that series 2 started this week and i would have no telly owing to moving. thank goodness it's not til next friday. crisis averted. carry on.

smoo2 said...

Thank you for the reply and extensive update. I feel honoured.

Word ver: ktnhug. Perhaps that is what you need today. A hug from a vowel-less kitten. Not sure where they live though.

SitcomEditor said...

Chain Reaction - jolly good, shame it's over. In the week between the two Alexei Sayle ones, I saw the man himself doing a reading in Waterstones Manchester. Despite his carefully contrived "I'm-a-proper-writer-now" pesona (he was wearing a pollo-neck pully and beige cords) he couldn't resist throwing in half an hour of stand-up type material for old time's sake. He's still one of the country's best comic performers, for my money.

Anonymous said...

Re GW editors: even Billy and Lucien haven't seen it all. Billy does 1,3,5 and 7 while Lucien does 2,4,6 and 8.
I'm up-to-date with 1,2,3,6 and 8, but only VP currently has the full set.

James Henry said...

Also, Billy's all over the DVD commentaries like a rash! Lucian clearly had the good sense and common decency to keep schtumm. Unlike, say, me.