Monday, June 30, 2008

It was Rob.

Gah, I spent the morning cutting episode one of Teen Drama Thing down from 76 pages to 72 (episode two is only 69 pages, so the disparity was a bit jarring), and sent it off, only to discover this evening that John August, writer of Go! and Charlie's Angels, has an entire blog post up about How To Cut Pages. I wish I'd known about the Widow Control thing.

Episodes of Teen Drama Thing are actually supposed to be an hour long, so eagle-eyed readers will note that under the 'one page=one minute' rule, they're still running a bit long. This is okay for two reasons:

1) I am extremely pernickety about timing, so like to lay every beat and pause out as clearly as possible, just so the actors and director have no excuse at all for messing it up. This does tend to take up a bit of space, but the final product won't run quite as long.

2) Visual texture is incredibly important to Teen Drama Thing, which is a poncy way of saying there are things going on in the background that might not affect the plot, but will affect the emotional tone of the piece as a whole.

UPDATE: also, 3), they need to run a bit long anyway, as inevitably something has to be cut, and you don't want to have to pad it out to get it back up to length.

Here's an example from HERO TRIP, the superhero/road trip movie I wrote a while ago, the future of which depends almost entirely on whether Will Smith's HANCOCK film makes $50 million next weekend. If it does, 'post-modern superhero movies' are back in a big way, and my script will get moved onto a 'read' pile. If it doesn't, 'post-modern superhero movies' are really really out. Here's the introduction to the real identity of REX, the movie's hero (this is right at the start, so isn't giving too much away).


Hanging in Rex’s wardrobe are an array of costume parts with a slick athletic vibe to them, like neoprene surfwear crossed with American football armor, the same theme as the costume we saw in the credits sequence, but now bang up to date, and clearly working clothes as much as they are a superhero outfit.

REX pulls on the leggings, boots, jacket, utility belt, gloves and a face mask that covers right down to the top of his nose (the costume parts are all a little bashed about, with a couple of carefully-mended tears here and there). As in the comic panels, his outfit is mostly dark blue and white, with a little red in it. On his chest is a simplified logo of a burning torch. No cape.

From a glass display case, REX reverently takes his torch. He looks at it for a moment, then tucks it into his belt, and stands for a moment, gathering himself wearily before he can truly become... THE DEFENDER.

Rex stands for a moment in a proper superhero pose. Then he picks up a control and presses the button - a platform raises from beneath his feet, lifting him up through a hole in the ceiling. Halfway up, it stops. Rex presses the button a couple more times, and it starts working again.

So, you could probably get away with 'REX puts on a costume and a lift takes him up through the ceiling. It get comedically stuck on the way', especially as the whole sequence probably takes around ten seconds. But this is a really important scene - for setting tone and character at least, so I figure it's worth taking a little time to get it right.

You can overdo this of course. One thing to be aware of is that many execs skip all the descriptive stuff and only read the dialogue, so, you know, you makes your choice. Anyway, description is important, and if you care about getting the details right, your script is probably going to run slightly long. And the last reason this is get-away-with-able, is because:

3: When your episode (we're back to telly now KEEP UP) is finally filmed, it will almost certainly be very slightly shorter than the script length suggested. Better to run slightly over the slot length and have to make a few very short cuts, than run too short and have to pad.

Very good article on screenwriting in today's Guardian by Frank Cottrell Boyce, who unlike me has had actual films made (24 Hour Party People, A Cock And Bull Story and others) and thus knows what he's talking about. Go to it.

Oh, also, that thing about not trying to cheat and resize the font a couple of points smaller to make the script a couple of pages shorter without losing any content? Execs know about this, and will totally spot it, apparently in under three seconds. I've never tried it, although I know a man who has. Professional discretion however, means I cannot say his name.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Argh no telly.

Hmm, turns out I'm not the only person whose BT homehub router regularly cuts out (needing to be completely rebooted) after ten minutes or so of using the iplayer. I did wonder if BT are deliberately throttling bandwidth - particularly annoying as we've paid for the high-bandwidth option. And we don't have a telly set up in the new house yet, as we're waiting for one arm of BT to talk to the other arm to set up BT Vision, which I already have doubts about.

Anyway, turns out I'm far from the only one with this issue.

According to the 'community support coordinator' on that thread:

"Just a small update on this, we've been checking the small number of PC users who are reporting these problems and we've found that updating to the latest version of Adobe's Flash Player ( solves the problem for them. The Mac issue is a separate problem that we're still talking with the BBC about the best way to fix it, I'll post again when I have some more news."

Which sounds hopeful, although I suppose if they were deliberately restricting bandwidth, they'd be hardly likely to admit it.

Also a mention of it from BBC news here.

Anyone else had similar problems/a solution?

On a tangent, I've noticed a number of mournful comments over on various sites like that they can't watch shows like Doctor Who on the iplayer due to coming from the States. Obviously this only slows your proper geek types down for about 0.3 seconds, as they then get on the torrents. How long is it though, until the BBC start offering a subscription service for the iplayer? Or would this cause major problems with BBC America? Because it does seem like it could be a major earner.

In the meantime, alternative means are being sought to catch up on Doctor Who episode 'The Stolen Earth'. No spoilers plz.

UPDATE: The Girl has pointed me at Troubled Diva's post on BBC Vision. It don't sound good.

On the plus side, I have Obtained a copy of The Stolen Earth.

Blimey. There do seem to be some whacking great spoilers around, so I may have to avoid the internet entirely until next Saturday, but still. That was aces.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Friday Music Video: Vampire Weekend, Sufjan Stevens

Vampire Weekend - "Oxford Comma"

I'm a sucker for the one-take music video, but interesting to see this one was directed by Richard Ayoade ('The IT Crowd'), and rather a good job he seems to have made of it too.


Sufjan Stevens - "John Wayne Gacy, Jr."

PP sent me this link with the comment "This is just weird, listen out for the noises in the background- very very very creepy."

I can't hear anything spooky - someone at the end does murmer 'ohhhh god', but presumably he's just transported by being in the presence of a clearly very talented type person, and who wouldn't be?

It did remind me how much I love the song though.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Yes, I said 'Gah', how are people already getting copies of Neal Stephenson's new book Anathem? (some with free music CDs).

Well, actually I know how, as when I worked at Waterstone's I used to regularly get preview copies of all sorts of amazing stuff, mainly by phoning the relevant rep and moaning at him until the package arrived a few days later. Best Job In The World.

Oh, this is the picture from TV Centre's foyer - I'll admit it was a bit more dramatic in my imagination. There are now three Daleks hanging around the foyer, when previously there was only the one. I was going to come up with a hilarious thing about them all going up for the same interview or summat like that, but I'm quite busy at the moment, so you'll have to write your own bit

Excellent, I see I have a new reader of the blog from the London Development Agency who came via a Google search for "Boris Johnson Young People".

I hope you enjoyed the result, especially the comments thread. I believe Jayne is still cross.

While still on a Boris tip, I am very much enjoying the good work of Tory Troll

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Seven Songs You Like at The Moment

I'm not officially part of this meme, because I more or less demanded it off Patroclus, so I haven't 'tagged' anyone with it, as I don't believe I have the legal right to do so. Also, no-one will have any song choices as good as this one, so as far as I'm concerned, The Meme Stops Here.

All either a bit sort of glitchy, electronicy, or Scandinaviany, blended into one seamless 31MB mp3 for your listening pleasure.


1: 'Vipco' - AiM

Pointlessly jubilant.

2: 'Mirando' - Ratatat

The sort of music toy robots listen to whilst cruising about in a stolen Barbie convertible, tin heads bobbing slowly as they mime drive-bys at lego spacemen.

3: 'Verbal' - Amon Tobin

Off some car-racing computer game I think. I always try and sing along with this one, which makey no sense, as you will realise if you listen to it.

4: 'Until We Bleed' - Kleerup, feat. Lykke Li

I Lykke it and I hope you Lykke it too (sorry).

5: 'We Share Our Mother's Health (Trentmoller Remix)' - The Knife

There's a sort of menacing Scandinavian thing carrying on into this one.

6: '12 Long Ago, A Rodent As Big As A Bull Lurked In South America' - Rafter

Might be swearing in this, not sure as I can't quite make out the words. Maybe it's 'No no no funnin' around'.

7: 'Fake Plastic Trees' (Radiohead cover) - Mr Hopkinson's Computer

I know nothing about Mr Hopkinson's Computer, but I suspect it's one of those old Spectrums with the rubber keys.

In the unLykkely (stop it) event anyone cares, my previous, even harder to listen to podcast post thing is here:


COMING SOON: a disturbing update of the state of affairs at the BBC TV Centre Foyer. Only my phone's run out of battery and I can't find the charger. But it will be worth the wait, oh yes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Until BT get round to putting it into the new house, which is supposed to take a week, but I trust not their honeyed words."

Yes, well, that was remarkable prescient of me. Broadband was supposed to go on today. Instead, I get a message on my phone telling me it will be going on in another week's time.

ME: Hello, my broadband was supposed to be going on today, but I've just got a message telling me it will be next week instead. I was specifically promised it would take only five working days. This is ten working days altogether. Patroclus and I are both self-employed types, who work from home, and thus it was quite important that the broadband went on reasonably close to the time I was told it would go on. Consequently I am cross.
BT MAN: Well, the thing is, we only got your order today.
ME: No, you got it three weeks ago. Here is the reference number, and a photo of me making the order, holding up that day's newspaper.
ME: Yes, fucking 'Oh'.
BT MAN: Well, the other way of looking at it is, we only put your order through today.
ME: I am now more cross.
BT MAN: The good news is, I can definitely promise the broadband will be going on in another week's time.
ME: One day I will build a mighty castle from the bones of BT support staff. The hallway will be carpeted in the skins of the fallen, and I will make a throne from all your skulls, in which I will sit, cursing your blackened souls until the end of time itself.
BT MAN: Heard it.
ME: I hate you. I hate you so much.
BT MAN: Yeah yeah, whatevs.

Click. Brrrrrrrrr.

UPDATE: yes well, it's working now. I can only assume British Telecom realised it stood no chance against THE AWESOME POWER OF THE BLOG!


*looks at next on list*

Right. South West Water....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Eek no broadband.

From tomorrow. Until BT get round to putting it into the new house, which is supposed to take a week, but I trust not their honeyed words.

Fortunately, the pub just down the road has wifi, so I can check stuff fairly regularly, but if anyone needs a rapid response on anything (doubtful), best use the mobile.

Peace out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Four Candles

I am in the new house in Penryn, well I say new, it's actually a Grade 2 Listed Eighteenth Century cottage, a fact which particularly enrages a specific London-based producer who believes such things should be out of my price bracket, so I like to mention it as often as possible.


It is, of course, in a right two and eight (state). Our plumber, a nice man called Steve, calls round to drain the system and plumb in the cooker and fiddle with the oomph-thing and go hmmm at some pipes.

'Interesting,' said Steve. 'Your taps seem to be argle bargle fnorrrr haflump.' Or something like that. 'Also the cooker should have come with a hose, but didn't'.

Steve phones the plumbers' merchants, and I agree to walk over and pick up the necessary cooker hose. Last time I lived in Penryn, I was still in my goth phase, and so had swishy hair, combat trousers, velvet shirts, lots of earrings and the occasional bit of eyeliner. Now I have jeans, a white t-shirt, trainers and short spiky hair, all of which are spattered with paint. This is my opportunity to pass as a member of the proletariat. Soon the word will go round that a man who once wrote a Shaun The Sheep episode has moved into town, and the unstoppable glamour will weave itself around me like a shroud of destiny, keeping me apart from the common herd and making it illegal to look me in the eye on the street, ideally. But for now, I can mingle.

After going completely the wrong way, I finally turn up at the plumbers' merchants and wander in through the big open door. Someone looks at me oddly, and I tell them loudly that Steve has called, and I'm picking up some 'parts' for him. 'Parts', you see, I know all the lingo, a more foppish type would have asked for 'thingummy's' or 'bits', but not me. 'Parts', that what I'm asking for. While I wait for the 'parts', I look around at the shelves, full of plastic tubes, and more plastic tubes, and some copper tubes. If I ever want some tubes, I think to myself, this is certainly the place to come. It is well tubey.

'Actually', says a plumbing man, 'Could you go round into the proper customer bit? Health and Safety sort of thing.'

I sit quietly in the proper customer bit, until a different plumbing man finally finds a cooker hose.

'Did Steve want one with a bayonet socket?' he asks. I scream.
'Well what did the hose on the cooker look like,' he asks patiently. I scream again.

When I finally get back to Steve, it's the wrong kind of tube anyway.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I think morally it's okay to link to an advert...

...if you don't actually understand what the advert is for. Anyway, the song is 'Fancy Footwork' by Chromeo, and the video's only about a minute long, but contains the following:

1. Zombies.
2. Puppets.
3. Choreography.

In other news, the house is scrubbing up nicely, and today I did a substantial amount of repotting. Normal service will be resumed reasonably shortly.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Music Video Friday: Gary Clail

Early Nineties West Country Agit-Hop Flashback Ahoy:

Monday, June 02, 2008

Blue Cat offline for a bit

Due to frantic decorating of new house, which has involved an astonishing and unprecedented amount of manly activity, viz: phoning plumbers and carpet-fitters, painting with extendable rollers, parallel parking, screwing down floorboards using a drill with a screwdriver bit, and using a girt big Stanley knife to hack about the carpet in the (prospective) nursery, this blog might go a bit intermittent for a week or so. OH NOES HOW WILL YOU COPE!!!

The astonishingness and manliness of the above activities is in no way undermined by the fact that Patroclus had to show me how to do pretty much all of the above. Or that it's her drill. Or that the first thing I did when I got back to the other house (the rented one, they're overlapping by a fortnight or so, I haven't got two houses, I'm not a BILLIONAIRE) was have a lovely deep bubble bath.

Grrr etc.