So it came to pass that the local paper landed in the newsagents up the road featuring the article about my Dad. They seemed to give him the nickname ‘Mr Hospitality’ somewhere along the line. I was squeezed in for the last paragraph.
‘His son Cameron works for a national chain of opticians and is a successful screenwriter’.
Looks like he got that ‘film maker’ tag changed at the last minute then. It still makes me sound like an arrogant berk.
By now Robotics will have been shown in London and will also be screening in Holland as I type this (it’s got 3 screenings at the Dutch Film Festival). I haven’t heard much about London, I don’t think anybody involved in the making was in attendance. I haven’t had any death threats yet so it can’t have been that bad.
I was thinking more and more about relisting Seven Lucky Stars today. The synopsis needs a complete rework as the last one was a bit limp and then we can relist it for consideration.
The other thing that needs to change is the title being as the current one is bloody awful. It doesn’t grab the attention, it just sounds like some kind of radio drama from the 1970’s. It’s a film about a family friendly game show host not being family friendly, it needs something a little punchier than this. Whilst hoovering today I found a suitable alternative. From now on I’m ditching ‘Seven Lucky Stars’ and instead having ‘The King Of Teatime TV’. It certainly has a little more life to it for a start.
My Dad has recently retired. Having reached the age of 65 he’s decided that it’s time to leave the hotel management game to others, he’s been involved in the trade for as long as I’ve been around and more. Our local newspaper, The Annandale Observer, are running an article on his career due for publication tomorrow. With this in mind, my Dad calls me last night.
“They’ve written about the family too” he says.
“Oh really?” I reply.
“Yes, I’ve put you down as ‘son Cameron who works for a chain of opticians and is a successful film maker'”.
My eyes widen slightly.
“A what now?”
“I asked them to put you down as working in a chain of opticians…”
“…and as a successful film maker”
“Hold it Dad”
“I’m not a film maker”.
“But you’ve got a film”
“I know, I didn’t make the film though I just wrote it. Somebody else has made it”
“Does that matter?”
“I’m not the one on set shouting directions”
“Well what are you then?”
“A screen writer if anything”
“I can get them to change it”
“Please do, the use of the word ‘successful’ is debatable as well”
“Well they’ve asked me what to put so I’m putting successful screenwriter”
Everybody seems to be raving about Breaking Bad lately from a scriptwriting point of view. Whilst I can’t argue with the logic I have to admit to having not seen the show at all (my previously point about my lack of TV watching applies here). I downloaded the first episode through a promotion on Xbox Live but then, wonderfully, I didn’t work when I tried to stream it through my Xbox so I skipped. A discussion on Shooting People this week focussed on the main character Walter as a basis of writing good central characters. ‘Make your main character great at something’ he said, arguing that people want to see people being good at stuff. Walter is a brilliant chemist and this is apparently what drives the story. Even characters which are complete deadbeats are, it would seem, still included. Renton from Trainspotting might be a drug addict but he’s brilliant at scoring heroin for example.
I can certainly see the point he’s making and it has made me go back to think on previous characters I’ve written in the past. John in Robotics in a bit of a loser but he is very good at making robots, to the point he can make an exact copy of himself which passes off for him at his workplace. It’s either his skill that allows him to do this or his workmates just ignore him as he goes about his business. I’d like to think it’s a bit of both if I’m honest.
Edward in Seven Lucky Stars was a brilliant host of a game show, it’s just that his boss didn’t seem to think so and wanted to get someone better.
Tony in The Unlocked Project was pretty much only good at sudoku, which is possibly why that didn’t turn out so good.
So writers, what do we think of this ‘expert’ theory?
Now some news I’ve had to sit on for a while, mainly due to the fact they wanted to save all the surprises for their press launch. Then I had the whole issue of them having the feature films up on their site but not the shorts so I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to mention anything or not. Having asked it seems I’m good to go.
‘Robotics’ makes its UK debut at The Raindance Film Festival in London on September 26th this year (two weeks tomorrow). The place you’re looking for is Screen 4 in the Vue Cinema in Piccadilly and it’s part of a strand called ‘Twilight Tales’ which starts at 1pm. If you’re in the area at the time then do pop by, it’ll be glorious fun and games.
For being a script writer I don’t watch that much TV. I always make sure I catch Doctor Who simply because I grew up watching the series back in the 1980’s (and there’s a blog post of my Peter Capaldi related thoughts in the pipeline) but I’m not the sort of guy who can sit and watch five or six episodes of something in an afternoon. To give a short example, I’m only halfway through season one of The Walking Dead and this is really only because it’s appeared on my chosen TV streaming service. It actually takes a lot to make me want to sit down for an hour and watch something disregarding everything else. In basic terms, I feel awkward without a joypad in my hands for that length of time.
Last night however was a bit different and BBC4 starting showing The Young Montalbano, the prequel series to Inspector Montalbano. BBC4 have brought a lot of subtitled drama series from Europe onto screens in the UK recently. Shows such as The Killing and Borgen have gained modest audience numbers on what the BBC consider to be their channel where such programmes can thrive. For whatever reason Inspector Montalbano hasn’t quite gripped people in the same way but I consider it a treat anyway.
Salvo Montalbano investigates crimes in the fictional Italian town of Vigata. It’s the usual typical set up of a cop who will bend the rules to get results but, despite being surrounded by murder and corruption, the show never seems too desolate. It might be the Italian sunshine or the wonderful looking coastal location but there’s nothing about Montalbano that can be described as grim. Being Scottish I’m very used to the gritty drama of something like Taggart in a rain swept Glasgow, in Montalbano it’s not unusual to have him seen return home after a day at work to eat pasta on his balcony overlooking the sea as the sun sets. It also contains, despite the body count and mafia run ins, some brilliantly laugh out loud parts.
Don’t read this thinking that it’s some kind of light hearted comedy show, it’s just that I was always advised to mix your comedy and drama together as they compliment each other. The funny parts give the dramatic parts more impact as a matter of contrast. The show itself is excellent and well worth tracking down. I’m not sure if it’s just a BBC thing but they’re showing it in two hours long episodes here and, being subtitled, it does mean that you really have to be concentrating in order to keep up (don’t catch me wrong, the atmosphere would be horrible if it were to be dubbed) .
The performances are top grade also and a lesson in subtle character traits. Montalbano explains early on in last night’s opening episode of Young Montalbano that he likes to see people in their own homes rather than bringing them into the station for questioning because he sees them at ease in their own environment and gets the truth quicker that way. For us as the audience it also means seeing these characters for what they are and a fantastic device for the Inspector to move around the town as we take in the scenery.
The Young Montalbano series has started on BBC4 here in the UK at 9:00pm on Saturdays so if, like me, you hate the annual race for an Christmas record that is X Factor then you have this as a mighty good alternative. Make some pasta, have some pizza, pour some wine and enjoy one of the best detective shows on TV right now. Viewers overseas might struggle unless some scamp has decided to upload it to Youtube within the last 24 hours.
I gazed upon this today just after I woke up, the poster is ready and we’re ready for the festivals. The credit of ‘Story’ is something which I agreed with the director. He asked to be credited for the screenplay which I thought fair enough as he did work on a lot of it and rearranged a fair chunk of it to make it better. Basically, I’m ecstatic it’s got this far and we have something to show.
I’m really not sure what I’m expecting from the festivals though, part of me wants a career to sky rocket from this and to be asked what other scripts I have and to be put in front of people who have the money and the clout to get other projects on the road. A more realistic scenario might be a fleeting moment of semi fame and then back to what I do usually. I cannot make it to Utrecht for the showing but I’ll be back here in Scotland raising a glass towards them at the time.
I ended up starting the new script idea last night, just a few pages and nothing serious right now. It was a strange experience to go into this with absolutely no notes written down and only really having a clue how the first two minutes or so would work out.
I’ve been doing this blog for a year now and it becomes very apparent to me (and also, by extension you out there) that writing about the act of writing is mind numbingly dull. For this reason, rather than burden you with details of how I stare at screens every evening, I’ll give you by thinking behind it.
Robotics was really all about one man trying to rebuild a version of himself to do all the parts of his life he really didn’t like. His creation ends up being far better than him though and finishes up taking over his life. What if everybody could do this? What if we were all deeply unhappy with how we had all turned out and instead attempted to rebuild ourselves into what we saw as perfection. Perhaps not through robots but possibly something online, something more virtual. I’m looking at this as a starting point and working from there.
Here in Scotland it’s suddenly got a slight bit chilly in the early mornings and evenings. Summer is fading fast and the dark nights are coming. Perfect writing conditions.