Monday, August 04, 2008

Outline 2: The Reckoning

Couple of things from the previous post about writing outlines.

M'colleague in wordsmithery (kill me now) Spacemonkey, said:

"It took me years - YEARS - of endless genius 40-page pitches for things, covering every single aspect of the show, to realise that a deft one-or-two pager does the business far better.

Because Producers and Executives are Not Like Us.


B) they like to feel involved, so you give them something they can imagine themselves into, rather than something fixed and perfect and done.

C) actually, an idea that's really working and has earned its simplicity can probably be boiled down to that magic one-page anyway.

...which were very good points.

Mike said:

"Don't suppose you fancy posting an example of what a good treatment should look like (obviously for a fake project you have no intention of really doing)? All the examples I can find online are American and therefore a bit breathless and excited, which as an Englishman I find off-putting."

So I thought I'd put my money where my mouth is, and make available not only an outline that did get a option (from Hartswood Films), and then a script commission (from Channel 4), but also the final draft of the resulting script, which so impressed Channel 4 they never got back to me again.

Whether the outline's 'good' or not, I'm probably not best placed to tell, but it did at least lead to actual money going into my bank account, which frankly is good enough.

So, here's the pdf of the outline, and here's the final script, which bears not a great deal of resemblance to the original outline other than it's got blogs in it. And I'd probably lose the Sigur Ros opening now, they've become a bit overused.

UPDATE: Patroclus would like it pointed out that the outline was written before we started going out, which would have given me free access to her excellent proofreading abilities. Hence it has almost as mistakes as words, although I reckon she fails to recognise as the hallmark of a true creative who isn't afraid to stick it to The Man and shizz.

Peace out.


patroclus said...

Fascinating fact: long before we were going out, James sent me an early version of this script to solicit my feedback, what with me being a fellow blogger and all.

At that time it opened with the two blogger characters TREEFROG and INTRACTABLE in bed together. My immediate first thought was OMG! HE IS COMING ON TO ME VIA THE INCREDIBLY ROUNDABOUT METHOD OF SITCOM SCRIPTWRITING!

Sadly this turned out not to be the case, and it was many months later before I finally clubbed him over the head and dragged him back to my Shepherd's Bush sauce lair. And the rest, of course, is history.

Boz said...

Patroclus: I am currently trying to woo someone with a marketing strategy. Your words give me great hope!

Am reading the outline and script now (v good). How about Producer's month here on J&TBC? Is there anyone who can give the Produccer's side of things?

patroclus said...

Boz: Ooh, that sounds very Mad Men. Good luck with it!

Tim Footman said...

Does she sneer at pre-Patroclus photos of you, saying "I don't let him wear trousers like that now"?

James Henry said...

Boz: ... and I've just nicked that as a sketch idea, ta. (will buy you pint if it works)

I think most producers are still on holiday until... ooh... November? WOuld be good to get one to do a Q&A though, will ask.

Tim: I like my new comfy slacks, and can't conceive of a time when I would have worn anything else.

Boz said...

I need no reward - I can put 'Muse' on my CV.

And that script is making me laugh a LOT. (Sycophancy ahoy)

"Gay coffee?"

cello said...

Clearly a work of genius, what with early appearance of a cello and references to both Calexico and Chicken Kiev. How dumb are these commsissioning people exactly?

Now, isn't it the theory that we can somehow disintermediate these fuckwits, combine forces to get it cast and filmed and distribute it via the internet, making you a bit rich? I'm a dab hand at costumes...

James Henry said...

Ooh, disinterediating fuckwits, that sounds great.

I think if I do a Joss Whedon style extravaganza on the web, I want to go straight in there with the Viking Heist Movie.

cello said...

OK. Will start collecting horns forthwith.

Do word verifications come in different languages, because I swear this one is Polish?

Anonymous said...

Clearly far too witty and intelligent for sitcom land which is inhabited only by married couples who hate each other or ...Nope, sorry, can't think of any sitcoms other than "My Family". Apart from that thing about the guys who work in a lab. Which is truly terrible. Why would they commission rubbish like that? Even my 10 year old thinks that it's stupid. (By the way, did Olivia marry David? I'm dying to know!)

James Henry said...

I think she does marry him, although I'm not entirely sure. In fact, when the producer asked me what I had in mind for the rest of the series, I sort of shuffled my feet and went 'Erm....', because it had changed so much from the outline, all my original plans had had to be chucked out of the window.

Aww, it's nice to have people read it though, thank you for nice comments.

Mike Booth said...

Thanks very much,James. That outline is very clear and straightforward and nothing like the cheerleadery American ones I've been finding.

Plus, it's brilliant for me because I can just change "Blog!!!" to "Vlog!!!" and submit it for the project I'm about to pitch, which is about YouTubers interacting via their video diar - oh, bugger.

James Henry said...

Heh - I wouldn't claim to hold copyright on a sitcom about bloggers. Go for it.

Actually 'Vlog!!!' sounds better than 'Blog!!!' which somehow already sounds dated. Dammit.

Anonymous said...

Just sat at my desk and read that script instead of doing office accounts. Infintely preferable. Very funny, i like it! Though now I am just left wondering what happens next... Aargh it's like Firefly all over again...
Don't suppose you fancy writing a bit more, just for our entertainment? For free and all, must be tempting?!

yeah, thought not. darn.