Friday, November 30, 2007

From a recent comedy forum thread entitled: "Re: Re-title books for our moron children"

My favourites:

John Wyndham's "Pot Plants Go Apeshit"

Tom Wolfe's "Oh, No! I've Run Over A Poor!"

Philip Roth's "Grandad's Sexy Adventure (several volumes)"

Herman Melville's "I'm a Gonna Git That Whale"


Charles Darwin's "Up Yours Bible"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Anonymous has asked (on the Will Producers Turn To UK Writers post:

I'm wondering why your assumedly British project 'Hero Trip' has had to be put on hold? What's the US strike connection?

Well Hero Trip is technically a British project, and more so after the UK Film Council got involved in the funding, but it's set in the States, is deliberately American in flavour (I decided that if a big cigar chewing US producer read it and even suspected it had been written by a British writer, I would have failed) and is sufficiently big budget that it would need US involvement were it ever to get off the ground.

The script has been passed along to all the big UK producers, and has got a positive response from most of them (offers of meetings, rewrite work and so on), which has been gratifying and lovely, but it's just too big a project for a British company to take on all on their own, which is as I suspected. It was worth taking the longer route though, partly because the Film Council are keen on getting as much British involvement as possible, because that's their remit, but also because if it were to be placed with a british producer I would have more involvement with the project. If Hero Trip goes to an American studio, I can probably wave goodbye to it at a fairly early stage

However, one of the British producers was kind enough to pass the script along to their big parent company in the States, jump-starting Phase Two of the operation. This company make films that cost quite large sums of money, and don't necessarily have the vapours when reading scripts that have descriptions like 'EXT. EDGE OF SPACE - EARLY MORNING', which is handy.

Unfortunately, the script was passed along on the Friday afternoon, the WGA strike starting on the Monday. As I stated in the original post, I'm not a member of the WGA, so technically there should be no barrier to the script going further. However, I am in complete agreement with the issues the WGA are striking over, so witholding my script is one way of giving them my support, paltry and limited though it may be. In fact they'll probably never know about it, but I will, and that's the important thing.

There's also the issue that eventually, were I to start working in the States, I'd need to join the WGA, something I couldn't do with a clear conscience had I tried to profit from the the strike by sneaking my own work in under the wire. Basically, I would Like To Work Again.

It's in my own interests in another way as well: if the WGA get a better deal, and Hero Trip were then to go through, I could then benefit from whatever online deal they've negotiated. Note that I'm talking with a couple of people about working on two specifically UK-based film projects at the moment though - that's not a problem, as US writers wouldn't be involved anyway.

Also, I know of at least one US writer who's chosen to postpone a British-based writing project for the duration of the strike, so it's working both ways.

Did that make sense? Either way, Marc Andreessen has written an extremely interesting article about the film and television industry shifting over to multiple companies specialising in creator-owned content along the lines of the computer industry, which is well worth a read.

Rebuilding Hollywood in Silicon Valley's image

Monday, November 26, 2007

Throwing Eggs: a Guide for Youths

There comes a time in the life of every Youth (in boy Youths usually around the ages of thirteen or fourteen), when they become seized by the desire to purchase a carton of eggs of an evening, hang around in groups of two at the entrance to Lambs Lane in Falmouth, and randomly hurl said yolky missiles at innocent passersby on the other side of the road.

Accompanying your ovum-based bombardment with random random shouts of 'Twat' are expected, although if your partner is possessed by a fit of extremely high-pitched and rather girlish giggles, this may lessen the impact of your attacks a little.

And if, when the targets of your double-yokers (a highly-regarded screenwriter, his GF and his Bezzie Mate) turn round to see what on earth is going on, having heard an egg hit the ground a few feet behind them, take care not to panic and attempt to leg it round the corner at a speed unsuitable to a sharp turn, leading to both of you falling over on the pavement onto your remaining eggs and badly skinning your hands.

This will lead to hysterics on the part of the screenwriter, who is then allowed to make the observation: 'Hahahahhaha you Twats'. You are then both allowed to get to your feet, attempt to ignore the fact you have the rest of your eggs dripping down your front and run home. Calling 'Twat' over your shoulder again as you run, however, is bad form, and will be rebounded onto you instantly, pinch punch no returns.

You Twats.

Broadband due next Wednesday, apparently.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Amazing Song Gets Equally Amazing Video

'Revival' by Soulsavers

In other news: I hate British Telecom.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Moving House

Currently between homes and broadbands. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A blog that's not about Lego, or the writers' strike, or indie music or anything like that at all.

I know. I'm as shocked as you are.

Baghdad Burning

Bell drops a clanger

Hmm, the usually-quite-good Emily Bell appears to have gone slightly awry with this article on 'Why Striking Writers Are Wrong To Think They Should Get Paid More.' M'colleague James Moran explains why in detail here.

However, one of the regular problems with the coverage of this strike seems to be some journalists thinking 'well I don't get paid again for an article when it appears online, why should they?', or as Bell puts it:

"...if I'm paid for a piece in print then how about a bit more for it popping up on an interweb site?"

Well yes. Maybe journalists should get paid again for their work reappearing on the 'interweb'. But just because journalists don't, that doesn't mean that creative writers shouldn't.

But more worrying is this statement:

"...the Writers' Guild of America... insists that screenwriters should be paid more money to cover reformatting rights across digital platforms other than broadcast TV."

Er, no they don't. It's nothing to do with 'reformatting', it's about networks trying to wriggle out of agreements to pay writers residuals (royalties) by claiming that online originals or repeats aren't eligible because they're 'promotional', then charging advertisers considerable sums to hawk their wares on the front of these 'promotional' episodes.

Arguably, the strike isn't even about 'more money', it's about writers simply trying not to let the networks get away with not paying what they already owe, using the excuse that 'it's too early to say how well the internet is going to pan out' whilst simultaneously pushing the internet as a billion-dollar revenue stream to investors (see video in previous post). If, for argument's sake, twenty per cent of the ratings of any one show are going to migrate to the internet, then writers need to fight to make sure that proportion of their residuals aren't going to be taken away from networks on the basis of a lie. And that lie, again, just to make it clear, is the network's claims that internet-available episodes of televison don't have to pay residuals due to their counting as 'promotional', and then turning round and selling advertising space on these already-'promotional' episodes to advertisers.

To quote from Josh Friedman's blog:

AMPTP: Wow, Ms. Prostitute. That was some great sex we just had.
PROSTITUTE: Thanks, AMPTP John. That'll be three hundred dollars.
AMPTP: You're kidding. I'm not paying you.
AMPTP: I paid you three hundred dollars for sex last week. I consider this promotional.

... which I think explains the situation rather well.

Journalists aren't obliged to agree with the writers' arguments on the basis of some quill-based solidarity. But it would be nice if they checked the facts a bit more thoroughly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More strike stuff

For anyone who's trying to work out what the US writers' strike is all about, John August (writer of Go, Charlie's Angels, Big Fish and currently the Shazam movie), has detailed the points in the post: why writers get residuals.

Other useful (or just funny) strike-related blogs:

Nikki Finke
United Hollywood
Josh Friedman

One interesting thing about this strike as opposed to 1988's is that lines of communication are now directly open between the writers and the public via the very medium that's sparked the whole thing off in the first place: the internet.

Whereas the traditional media, especially in LA, is owned by the same people trying to stiff the writers, the internet has opened all sorts of channels for the writers to get their arguments across, from blogs like August's, to YouTube videos like this 'un:

A lot of US writers are wondering why they should waste time trying to explain to the public why the strike is happening, when the public don't have a direct say in the result. Which is true, but if there's one thing big companies don't like, it's a sense that the public are turning against them. And shows that have worked hard to communicate with fans via forums and blogs (shows like Battlestar Galactica, The American Office, and Lost) are reaping rewards in unswerving fan support, something that could come in incredibly useful further down the line.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sorry again

(the previous post was getting a bit unwieldy, so I thought I'd split it into two)

Hello and thanks to everyone who turned to my 'TV to Screen' talk today and for asking interesting questions and not minding me wibbling on all over the shop. And swearing a bit. And pulling what can only be described as a 'mong face' at one point, I apologise again for that. And for just using the phrase 'mong face'. And those bands I recommended at the very end bit, for the benefit of everyone else, were 'The National', 'Vampire Weekend' and I think 'Annuals'. Put their names into Hype Machine (linky down to the right), you will not be disappointed.

And hello to Faye and Joe, who used me as interviewing practice, you were both very gentle, I barely felt a thing. Will, I shall doubtless catch up with you the week after next.

"Will producers turn to U.K. writers?"

Variety seems to be suggesting that UK writers are being considered to fill the gaps caused by the WGA writers' strike.

One British agent has been quoted as saying "Maybe English writers haven't quite got hold of how important this is in Los Angeles. I don't know if anyone here has quite woken up to what it all means."

Really? Because I've got two projects that have been put on hold (Hero Trip is one of them) because of the strike despite me not being a member of the WGA (or indeed any union), and I'm more than happy for this to be the case, as indeed are all the writers I know.

Mostly out of solidarity to our colonial cousins, one of whom is picketing Fox as I write (hi Adam), and because the whole internet thing does need sorting out, but also because one day, when it's all blown over, we'd quite like to, you know, set foot in LA without being murderised and dumped in the Tar Pits. It's one of those rare occasions as a writer where principle and self-interest meet. And then smoosh their faces together and do saucy things with their tongues.

And if Joss Whedon did the murderizin', I would of course consider it a great and marvellous honour.

UPDATE: "It could be an extraordinary opportunity for British writers to get a shot at big studio projects that they otherwise would never get a shot at," confided one U.K.-based studio exec."

Who the fuck talks like that? Sorry, who 'confides' like that? I tried to comment on the article, to make it clear I don't know a single writer who'd even consider writing for the US while the strike is on, but it's not letting me. Even Variety's web technology IS IN THE PAY OF THE EVIL PRODUCER OVERLORDS it would appear. Unlike me for a while.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ooh, they're showing the 'Helvetica' movie.

I'll be talking at the Cornwall Film Festival on Friday if anyone's around.

My bit's on the Friday, 'From TV to Film', 1.30 to 3.00 at Tremough Cinema (the Penryn campus), where apparently I will be talking about "recent developments in team writing, and how he made the transition from TV to Screen. His first screenplay, Hero Trip, has been developed with funding from the UK Film Council. James talks about how he made it happen".

How did I make it happen? Hopefully I'll remember before Friday.

Lots of other fun and useful stuff, including some animation workshops. Falmouth School of Art now has a three year digital animation course, which is quite exciting. The idea of a Cornwall-based animation studio (something I've fantasized about for years, particularly if it could be built over the ashes of the electronics factory that took two years of my life) is becoming a not-entirely-unworkeable idea.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Some blog links

I thought I'd put a link up to the brilliant Lucy Pepper's blog ages, but I hadn't apparently. So I have amended that.

Some gaming blogs:


and the excellently-titled:

Rock, Paper, Shotgun

A couple of good film industry gossip type blogs that are well worth keeping an eye on if your idea of an 'OMG celebrity' is Arrested Development producer Brian Grazer (and mine is), and you want to catch up on all the WAG WGA* strike stuff on an hour by hour basis (and I do, it's like Battlestar Galactica, and the producers are Cylons, which means they're all dressed like seventies porn stars and are very hard to kill, I'm meeting one later today so I can check this for myself).

deadline hollywood

And a reminder that Comfort Music is still throwing up some lovely little musical gems every now and then. Particularly recommend the Viva Voce if you've never tried it before sir or madam.

* D'oh