In truth though I have been away, mainly on a family holiday to Legoland Windsor. This trip mainly saw my six year old son suddenly develop a taste for roller coasters which goes directly against my desire to keep my lunch down. I always hated the idea of roller coasters back in my youth, as a parent I had to put that idea on the back burner whilst being tossed around by a replica of a pirate ship. It shouldn’t be natural to go from a vertical to horizontal basis that quickly. I very nearly saw the waffles with maple syrup I’d had about an hour beforehand again. The trip also featured a baptism for my youngest nephew, an event which saw my son suggest halfway though that this was really all just ‘Jesus blah blah and God blah blah’.
Two pieces of news filtered through in the meantime, one before I left and one which came in just after I got back. Firstly, contrary to previous reports I received a response back from Square Go. My review of DC Comics fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us is now live on the site and can be read here. It looks like I’ll be writing more for the site in the upcoming months, a fact which pleases me no end as it’s already been a much better experience than the last gaming website I wrote a few pieces for.
Secondly, I received a Facebook message from the Dutch producers of ‘Robotics’. The film is nearly reaching the stage of completion and has now been accepted into the Dutch Film Festival and will have its debut screening there in the last week of September. I’m currently entertaining the idea of going over for the event but it’s going to depend on money and getting the time off work. Either way, I’m happy the film will be shown. It’s a far cry from 2007 when I had a draft of the script and was sat having lunch meetings in Dumfries with the intent of making it in my hometown.
So, two rather brilliant pieces of news in one week, It’s onwards from here.
Years ago, in college (which wasn’t that long ago but just feels like an eternity), I made a film called ‘Le Telephono’. As most projects were during college time it was merely a short piece which featured dialogue we christened ‘Bullshit French’ in the edit suite. Basically, it was made to look like French New Wave cinema but nobody could actually speak French. Therefore it became a thing to ‘sound’ French instead. If it was done in English then everybody would be walking around saying ‘blah, blah, blah’ in toff accents.
It’s the story of a man who walks past a phonebox in the middle of nowhere and hears it ring. He answers the call to be told the greatest joke in the world by the guy on the other end. Our man then thinks it’ll be an ideal business opportunity to sell the joke as a cure for depression charging £2 per listen. He has two customers who get along with this idea fine but the third guy doesn’t react at all. Instead he wants his money back because he ‘didn’t get it’.
We filmed this around February 2003 in the Forest Of Ae outside Dumfries. I remember the day because it was -4c and everybody was freezing. It was finished in an art college sense, meaning it was watchable and was shown at a student film night. This did mean it was extremely rough around the edges. Because it was in a remote village in winter and I had a thing about not having any full scale lighting in my films (blame DOGME95 and me being a prick at the time). Therefore the film gets progressively darker and darker as it goes on. Also it received no sound mix at all so at one stage a car goes past and the sound stops suddenly during a cut. For a giggle with mates it was fun but for a film to be shown on any showreel it was garbage. I have long since lost my only copy, gone to the mists of time.
I do not have the time nor the financial resources to make my own movies anymore. Perhaps I should have made more during my college days, gone out with cameras at weekend and the like, but it’s too late for any of that now. Seeing the edit of Robotics recently has convinced me that it’s often best to let other people who know better make the film, to not hold onto it like ‘your baby’ and see what happens when somebody else casts an eye over it. This afternoon I’ve spent an hour (re)writing a script and synopsis for The Telephone Call which retains the story but removes the Bullshit French as I thought it could be considered a little bit racist for major public consumption.
For the most part I’m looking forward to see if anybody takes this on with a more professional job than I did a decade ago. There is a small voice saying that it’s dredging up an old idea for my own benefit, of revisiting something that didn’t really work the first time and expecting the same results. I’m reminded of Sam Raimi, who found success with Evil Dead and then went straight into making Evil Dead 2 which was pretty much the same thing but with far more money towards it.
The one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, in relation to trying to get into writing as a career, is to always make sure your email is worth checking and that means having scripts being read and looked over whilst you’re busy writing something else. It means not writing in a bubble, disconnected from everything. For this reason I’ll also be rewriting the synopsis for Seven Lucky Stars this week and relisting that as well because I still have faith in that script and believe it to be a good project.
It’s a strange phenomenon but some of the best script ideas, the ones I feel I can make a proper go of, are the ones that are constructed from two separate thoughts. Often it’s two ideas that I’ve looked at and thought that they won’t fly on their own but mixed together by some script based alchemy they might have a fighting chance at something cool. The ‘let’s batter some things down on a page’ exercise has produced a couple of those.
This gives good ground work for the future but it hardly resolves the problems of the present. I’m still thinking about rewriting the synopsis for Seven Lucky Stars and pitching it again. Reading it back again reveals the original to be weak. It’ll probably be a future blog post, comparing the older one to the improved newer one. This will probably be followed by nobody picking it up at the second time of asking either.
No response from Square Go around three weeks after sending my test review and article so that appears to be a dead end. It only means that I’ll be putting more video game related nonsense up here.
I’m sat here on my couch in the evening heat (Scotland actually having something called ‘summer’ this year) writing out single line ideas for scripts, stories and whatever. I’m starting to both look and feel like I should be dancing naked in the moonlight due to madness.
Most of this is utter crap but I’m trying desperately not to apply the filter that makes me discount ideas straight off. This is proving very hard.
‘You can sell you memories’ is scribbled along one side of the page.
‘A miracle cure with side effects’ says another.
‘Balls, balls and buggery’ says yet another.
I scratch a line through that last one. It’s obviously how 50 Shades Of Grey started.
You’re probably wondering what’s going on with ‘The Last Alive’. Maybe you’re not, maybe you truly couldn’t care less about the on off nature of the feature script that is currently in the works on my laptop. It’s still struggling on and not really going anywhere in the process. I’m now thinking I’ve came to this far too early and it needs further planning in order to proceed. The characters just seem a bit samey, the location is far too much of backwater Scotland and the intro sees nothing happen for ages and then everything happens in a few pages. Going forward now would be utterly stupid, it’ll have to wait.
In the meantime I’m thinking about writing another couple of shorts and also rewrite the synopsis for Seven Lucky Stars in a effort to get that relisted and possibly picked up. I’m going to fling some idea into the notebook for the shorts, maybe just a sentence for each and then take it from there. It’s probably going to be a way of breaking up the task of writing the feature and enables something to be going on in the background at the same time.
I am a fairly useless hitman, I can only come to this conclusion after playing the first level of Hitman: Blood Money last night. I have always enjoyed the Hitman series despite being probably one of the worst players the game has ever seen but I think I hit new lows of gun related incompetence.
The first level of Blood Money sees the main character, Agent 47, being hired to kill an owner of a amusement park. Five years previous the ferris wheel in the theme park broke which resulted in many people losing their lives as the whole structure collapsed. Many court battles followed and the theme park owner was acquitted after many year’s worth of legal battles. The father of one victims wants the owner dead so he can grieve properly. It would seem like a slightly severe reaction to the loss of a loved one. Sadly, over time, this now abandoned park has also become home of possibly the most stereotypical gang of black drug dealers gaming has ever seen. It looks as though somebody just tried to make a whole group of people in the image of 50 Cent (Is 50 Cent still ‘a thing’? Is this reference horribly outdated? Am I like, so 2006?). So the theme park owner wants to open up again but has to find the money to get rid of the drug dealers off the merry go rounds. It’s tragic then that he’s not supposed to live much longer.
The first thing to admit is that this is a training level, it features pretty much every possible action Agent 47 can perform just to get you used to it. It took me a good half hour or so so realise that you have to press the back button to be shown what controls you need to perform the task at hand. In this time I have missed the opportunity to thrown a coin across a yard to distract two guards. Instead I blundered into the yard, was asked what my ‘white ass’ was doing in ‘their yard’ and threatened at gunpoint. The only action I could take was to shoot them before they had a chance. I then had to stuff two bodies under the ticket office by the gates, it was a tight squeeze but they got there eventually.
I also completely fail to take one guard for use as a human shield whilst he’s taking a piss. I’m far too polite for something like that and a man should be given a chance to not have his penis hanging out of his trousers as he’s used in a gunfight. Instead, I manage to shoot the guy through the back of the head. The gunshot alerts the next room full of guards and they come bundling into the loo en masse. I had to shoot each one in the kneecaps and they all fell and bled to death. At least they had pants on.
Later, when the occasion arises to use the sniper rifle, I mistakenly depress the trigger when trying to find the scope. This results in me somehow shooting down a seagull which lands at the feet of a member of the tower patrol. He promptly opens fire in my general direction.
After I manage to poison the Diet Coke his secretary was drinking I find myself in the office of the theme park owner. He’s cowering on the floor in fear of his life. In my pocket I carry a photo of my employer’s son. He wants it to be the last thing the owner ever sees. I show him the photo but then I start to think the situation through a little more.
Fine, the owner didn’t maintain the park before the accident but, in the eyes of the law, he’s been let off and is now trying to rebuild his life. My employer would surely be wiser spending all the thousands of dollars he’s paying me on some therapy instead. I could throw this guy some money, tell him that Honduras is nice this time of year and tell him to never set foot in the USA again. I would then go back and tell my employer that the guy drowned in a pool of his own piss and tears and yes of course I showed him the bloody photograph.
The game doesn’t want that though, that’s overthinking it and not quite getting into the spirit. With a sigh I put a bullet into the owner’s forehead before escaping through the window. Some people just have problems, I’d personally love to modify Blood Money so you travel the world to simply sit down and talk to people rather than killing them. My pitch for Therapist: Session Money would probably fall on deaf ears though.
I visited my sister the other night. We spent a lot of time talking about her recent trip to give blood (apparently her veins kept collapsing, the thought of which made me feel ill) but we also spoke about my decision to reduce the hours at my work. It’s not a huge amount but as of August I’ll be doing four days a week rather than five. It will allow me to spend an extra day with my son but it might also give me a little bit more time to write.
Then she suggested that I offer to run a creative writing class at the local primary school. ‘Inspire a generation’ she said. It’s an idea I feel really uncomfortable about being as I’d feel a bit of a fraud. I haven’t achieved anything as far as a writing career goes currently. I imagine a room full of ten year olds looking at this 32 year old idiot who has done nothing as far as what he is teaching and laughing at his attempts to show them how to use their imaginations.
Then came the obvious question. What has to happen for me to feel like I’ve achieved something? I couldn’t provide a concrete answer but it would have to be a couple of things that had reached a decent audience and had been vaguely well received before I considered standing beside a chalkboard for an afternoon.