Two Shoes In The Lake

The new draft of The Salesman’s Gamble went across to Holland a few nights ago. It’s reading much better, more rounded, better reasoned which means the ending is a genuine confrontation and not just a chance conversation. By making Ian a complete bastard who is willing to steal anything for money it’s given him more reason to go through with the coin toss at the end. Ian thinks in his arrogance that it’s easy picking, that he’s dealing with the ramblings of a old eccentric whom he’ll rob anyway. It ends up being nothing quite like that. We’ll see what they think of it especially as I have received no word back from Option 1 after the last email saying they had ideas for the story but wanted to know if anybody else was reading it before they continued. Despite sending one back saying ‘Okay, let’s go’ there’s been not a word uttered for a month.

Whilst this is being considered my mind goes to other projects, including one which might still only be in the very early planning stages but is gaining pace. You might remember me blogging a short while ago about the Dumfries Ghost Walk with Mostly Ghostly. The conclusion of the tour takes place by the banks of the River Nith, detailing the 1659 Witch Trials of Dumfries in which nine women were killed due to being accused of practising witchcraft. Although the evidence for this was fairly non-existent the people were encouraged by the Church to bring these people to their attention regardless. There were actually people trained to use instruments of torture to extract confessions from those the Church suspected, it was taken that seriously. I thought to myself, whilst I listen to the team describe this event in all the gory detail, that it would make a good film if it was done right.

Witch trial

A couple of years pass and the group put out a tweet a couple of months ago to commemorate the anniversary. I reply by reiterating that it would indeed make a good film if somebody was to write it. It would be a hard sell however as historical movies  I thought more about it at the time and came to the conclusion that perhaps that somebody should be me.  Historical movies are a hard sell to begin with, even more so with a historical event which very few people know about and I was on the verge of thinking it wasn’t going to be a great idea. Then I started thinking it could be a good story and does represent something of a challenge in that I’ve never tackled real life events at all, only ever making stories from scratch. I’m also scratching my head about how to tackle the dialogue itself. It’s painfully problematic to fall into the ‘lo’ and ‘art thou?’ samples of speech so it’s something that I’ll need to research a heck of a lot to get right.

These are all good problems to have though and it’s the solving of these that makes me enjoy writing scripts so much (as much as I might sometimes be chewing walls trying to find an answer sometimes). The first thing I require however is an ‘in point’ and somewhere to start the story from. Having nine main characters would be a slight case of storyline suicide so it may well be a case or narrowing it down slightly. In order to find this entrance to the story I shall enlist the help of my good friends at Mostly Ghostly, another coffee order at Barbours of Dumfries is very probably on the way.

witchfinder-general
It might also involve a viewing of this as a key text.

The Twilight Museum

Still no word from Option 1, it’s now been around two weeks. It’s reaching the cut off stage now especially since I have a new draft ready to go. I’m unsure about sending it off if there will be no progress. Maybe another couple of days and then we’ll cut to the chase.

As I type, Robotics will be screening somewhere in Cannes which is something that makes me really proud. I’m trying not to be a horrendous idiot by shouting from the rooftops about it, instead just being content to smile to myself and look like a loon in the queue for the local bakery. The whole thing seems to have passed quietly. I live in the sort of place where people starting Facebook groups gets column inches in the local press, I’m thankful that I’ve avoided that as I can only imagine the horrible photo of me gripping a clapperboard in a grim fashion.

Because that’s the only photo anybody related to film gets isn’t it?

I don’t even own a clapperboard.

A Long Distance

I’m finding it really hard to write.

Not shocking news, of that I am aware and if it were an easy process then we’d all be doing it. To put a further point on it though I’m finding it hard to write in the vacuum. Whilst I’m finding rewrites easy with feedback from the producers and directors I’ve spoken with thus far it’s the other ideas that are failing to gain a foothold. The rapid evolution of The Salesman’s Gamble from simple writing exercise to full blown developing script being read by those outside is testament to the former, the glacial pace of The Last Alive is the latter.

I am often overwhelmed with the thought that this is a waste of time and that I’m ploughing the effort in for very little return which, even then, will be years away yet. Opposite to this is that I often get a nagging voice in my head when I’m trying to sit and read or play video games saying that I haven’t done enough to get a script writing gig yet. Whilst I’m glad I’ve got a few different things at various stages of development I’m still concerned that this is a scattergun approach with absolutely no structure to it at all. As a result of this is often hard to concentrate on writing anything because it involves shutting real life out for a while.

There are ideas there, it’s just finding them between the static.

I am 33 years old and quite often I feel I’m spending my life waiting for other people to say ‘Yes’.

The Society Of Utter Scumbags

Word comes back from Option 3 for The Salesman’s Gamble. The idea is sound but the tension is ruined because the audience will be well aware that Ian will lose out in the end. In effect, the build is rendered pointless because the only way the story can go is with Ian losing the coin toss and swapping places with the Old Man. In the current version Ian is down on his luck and just trying to get by in order to get some money together for his family. I’ve shown him completely messing up a first house call and then going to the house of an Old Man who offers him a coin toss in a winner take all situation. Whilst we never see Ian lose directly, the Old Man does manage to walk unaided down the path towards Ian’s car and drive away. Having thought about it it’s amazingly downbeat. Ian seems like an honest guy trying to make a living and I’m locking him in a house forever.

Rather than attempt to stack the odds evenly and make it seem like Ian could win and thought gripped me. What if Ian was a complete bastard? What if he was a man who saw nothing wrong with ripping people off by conning them out of every penny they had? What if we saw him not fail with the first house he goes to, instead taking them for everything almost without them knowing? Rather than an act of desperation the coin toss at the end would represent an incident of extreme overconfidence for him. It’s basically him getting what’s been a long time coming.

They say always write characters that the audience can relate to and they sympathise with. In this project though I might just have to down the darker route for a while.

BlackadderS21

The Ship Of Death Has A New Captain

I’m spending a fair bit of time converting the first section of ‘The Last Alive’ into my new scriptwriting software (a thing which I’m beginning to wonder why I didn’t start to use before). I’ve just about reached the part where I was the last time therefore finally catching up. I have had a small spot of rewriting on the way though as this was a chance to second draft the first twenty pages or so.

Maybe it was the fact I was watching a programme on BBC4 about European horror movies presented by Mark Gattis but I found myself trying to write the scene in which Morag, the young girl who went missing ten years before, is revealed as alive and well. When I originally wrote it she just appeared in the room, having originally been in the centre of the large rock that has shot down from space. Darren, my police officer character, opened the door and was confronted with the sight of the girl who he couldn’t find a decade earlier. They then proceeded to have a conversation about where she’s come from and if she is indeed the same girl.

In the new version she starts out as a corpse. Darren returns to a now flooded room (the rock has pretty much melted like an ice cube) and finds the body of the girl he couldn’t find a decade beforehand. As a scene I found it far more effective. Whilst Morag went missing they never found the body but here it is, in the place Darren though safest of all, his own office. I seem to have accidentally ended up writing horror.

The question is, when do we wake her up? 

A Synopsis To The Synapses

I’ve spent lunchtime today ditching the original title and synopsis for ‘Seven Lucky Stars’ and instead turning it into ‘The King Of Teatime TV’. This includes sharpening up the original synopsis into something a little more exciting.

So, just for contrast, here’s the original.

Until now Edward Banks has had the TV world at his feet. Being the presenter of the 1980’s best loved game show ‘Seven Lucky Stars’ has brought him from performing stand up comedy in dingy clubs to the bright lights of prime time. He has all the houses, cars and video cassette recorders money can buy. During the filming of one particular episode however, the dream ends.

 Driven by pressure from the heads of the studio, producer John Woodward has been lumbered with the job of breaking the news of Edward’s imminent sacking to his long time friend. Recent surveys have revealed that Edward’s brand of humour, once seen as fun and outlandish, is now viewed as sexist and out dated. Making matters worse is the fact that his replacement is Edward’s old comedy club rival Ken Moon.

 During one episode featuring Brian, a man attempting to break a world record for most game show wins and Lisa who wants to win all the prizes for her Mum, the news breaks and a tense situation occurs between Ken and Edward over who is best to take the show forward whilst trying to avoid the numerous power cuts.

It’s a bit lame isn’t it? Just a continual list of stuff and no ending in sight. I’ve actually only just recently tried to break myself out of the habit of not putting endings in. I was always taken with the feeling that you should leave these things open to create drama and mystery but that idea now strikes me as a load of bollocks. It comes across as you having no idea how your own script ends and that you’ve pitched a half finished idea.

So here’s the new effort.

In the 1980’s Edward Banks has worked his way up to become the king of British game shows. Starting his career in the clubs, touring around the country with his stand up comedy act he was glad to be found by TV producer John Woodward who recruited him to present the new family game show ‘Seven Lucky Stars’. Taking charge of a show with the biggest prize fund on British TV made Edward a household name across the country. It also gains him everything he desires from his house to his car and his holiday home in the country. He also has a certain soft spot for the show’s mascot, a stuffed toy owl called Mr Bits.

A few years down the line and Edward is about to discover that the world of television can be a fickle beast. With his humour now seen as sexist and borderline racist by some in these more enlightened times the company set the wheels in motion to replace Edward at the helm. The trouble is, nobody has yet thought to tell Edward.

Filming is disrupted on the what will end up being Edward’s last episode and John is forced to introduce Edward to his replacement Ken Moon. Ken and Edward know each other from the club days and they detested each other back then. The rivalry quickly escalates as Edward works out his time on ‘his show’ is soon to draw to a close. As soon as Ken starts presenting the show, Edward is constantly over his shoulder pointing out where he’s going wrong. John finds he must balance his job of making the show and his long term friendship with Edward.

Complicating matters further are the two contestants for this particular episode. Lisa Sykes is a young woman who just wants to win a VCR for her Mother whilst Bob Smith is aiming for a Guinness Book Of Records entry as winning the most televised game shows. Whilst Lisa takes sympathy once she hears Edward is being fired, Bob cannot wait to see the back of him as he claims Edward is ‘an unprofessional waste of space’.

Tensions boil over and Edward is forcefully removed from the building . The final act sees Edward back exactly where he didn’t want to go, the smoke filled comedy clubs as he performs his stand up clutching a stuffed toy owl before screaming at the audience, throwing the microphone down and storming off stage. A faded shadow of a former TV favourite.

Whilst not perfect by any stretch it is more detailed, longer and does have some kind of ending (even though I am imagining fielding a load of questions about having a stand up performance as an ending to a movie). I’ve clicked send now so we’ll see where this goes.

 

Remain Tactical

My tactic of blasting through the first five pages of a script to see if it works has been done with this latest project, currently saved on my hard drive as ‘Sci Fi project’. It fairly ticks over well and I’m chucking in three characters without even really working out who the hell they are. The thing is, it kind of works and I’m interested in it enough to go further. This is far more progress than I was having with ‘The Last Alive’. It’s leading me to believe I should probably shorten down The Last Alive and run with it in a shorter form. Maybe all I had was a glorified X-Files episodes anyway.

If you want a photo that sums up the basis of the idea for ‘Sci Fi Project’ (the title will change obviously) then just examine this.

kellyLebrockWeirdScience

I know, it’s Weird Science. It makes sense to me honest.

A Normal Trevor

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.

A Rework Of Wording (Part 2)

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.

A Rework Of Wording

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…”

“Fine”

“…and as a successful film maker”

“Hold it Dad”

“Hold what?”

“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”

I have given in by this point.