Thursday, December 02, 2004

What's comes after the post, but should come before

Just had a look at the entry requirements for the Internet Movie Database. Looks like the best way we're going to get Nothing Travels Faster Than Bad News on there is to be accepted by a selective film festival (ie. one that doesn't blindly accept all submissions). Well, I'm aiming high by targetting the Edinburgh International Film Festival for the premiere, so if we get in there (which, to be honest, I doubt), we're a shoe-in for IMDB recognition.

I'm also in the process of wading through copies of legal release forms for the film. Screen Yorkshire have been very helpful in that regard and I'm now confident that the contract that my contributers are signing away their souls with is legally sound. I still need a reliable contract for locations, which also raises the spectre of going back to those in charge of all the more awkward locations and asking for them to sign retrospectively, but at least in those cases I can say, look, if you want to approve the film here it is and seeing as we're already done you know we didn't break anything.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Coming Soon

Well, it's been a while since I posted here, though I have been putting sporadic updates about the film up at my other blog. The current state of play is this:

The first trailer is out. You can go see it via this link. Any comments appreciated.

Of course, just because a trailer's been done, it doesn't mean the film's ready yet. It's currently 90% edited together, with the main feature just about there minus one shot of a microphone I still need to get and generally fiddling around with specific edits and scene pacing. Most of that outstanding 10% comes from the title sequence and the end credits sequence, neither of which I've started yet. I've got some more filming to do for the credits (yes, it'll be a little more interesting than a simple list of names scrolling up the screen) and while I've got some ideas for the opening, I'm not sure quite how I go about translating those into physical visuals.

Some of the footage still isn't regraded. Every shot has been tweaked in some way to try and add some depth to the typically flat, desaturated pictures my camera turned out.

An even bigger job is to finish off the sound, which is only about 25% done. Alice is back to re-record Cassandra's dialogue this evening and once that's done I'll have a full dialogue track to work with, albeit one that's rife with poor quality sound and an actor's occasional poor quality delivery. Adobe Premiere Pro fortunately has a very good 'denoiser' audio effect that rescues some of the worst recordings. Unfortunately, dialogue is only one aspect of the soundtrack. There are dozens of sound effects that I need to find or create (and I'm pretty sure even my best efforts will only produce mediocre results for this job).

Then there's the music. Films often live or die based on the music and even while trying to put together a temp track with copyright music (it'll have to have original compositions before it goes out to festivals) and the vast array of choices that provides I'm struggling to find music that fits the film.

Finally, it's likely 'Nothing Travels Faster Than Bad News' will ship with its own drinking game; you take a shot of whisky every time you spot a minor continuity error and down a triple vodka every time you spot a major one. This will probably mean most of our audience will be dead of alcohol poisoning shortly before the ninth minute of the film, so it's likely to ship with a health warning too.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Hit and Miss

Okay, a quick update on the state of play with 'Nothing Travels Faster Than Bad News':

First up, we've decided to re-shoot everything we shot down in London - Francine's scenes. The footage wasn't bad, but lacking developed storyboards on set meant that in the editing room I found myself looking at every shot thinking it was the wrong shot. This should have been a close-up, that should have been a P.O.V. shot. The sound was pretty appalling too, so if nothing else that was a good reason to go back and do it again.

Fortunately, only minor re-shoots were required for Cassandra's scenes. We shot those on Monday 30th August (which seems like a really long time ago already) and I roped in Dave from work to help out on sound (I finally got round to divorcing microphone from camera, which got rid of the persistent tape whir that has afflicted every film I've ever done. Unfortunately, the mic wasn't close enough to the action on a few occasions resulting in quiet dialogue that will need to be re-dubbed). Suw was more confident with the camera too, which meant most of the shots looked right in the edit. Those that didn't are close-ups on me - I've now learned when to use an extreme close-up and when to stick to a stand head and shoulders shot.

The office scenes are also all complete. That required gaining permission to shoot in my office at work and finding half a dozen colleagues to stand in as extras. While Seb struggled to remember his lines on the day and will need to redo his dialogue to give a bit more oomph to the performance, Tim, who'd never acted before, did a sterling job as Kevin. I shall have to rope him in to act in more films.

I hope to post up some captured frames from what we have shot soon.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Saturday's shoot

Well, Saturday was spent shooting in London at my friend Svetlana's flat. We had Jen playing Francine, Vince playing Tyler and me as Lindsay.

On the whole, my lasting memories of the day are just how much fun it was, and how much I enjoyed wielding a camera. I used to love stills photography, until I got too broke to get the film developed. Even just photographing bands gear at gigs was great, particularly the getting paid for it bit, so my love affair with film goes back a while. But actual moving pictures... oooh now this is something I could really fall in love with.

Took me a while to get used to Vince's camera. Way back when, we'd planned for me to spend some time with Vince just learning how the camera worked and all that, but as it turned out we just didn't get the opportunity, so I had to learn on the job, so to speak. Had a bit of an issue with sound to start with, but once I'd got that sorted I was away.

You can certainly see a progression in the footage (it's DV, so maybe that should be 'inchage'?) that I shot - the camera works improves as I relax and become more comfortable with the camera - so hopefully at the next shoot I should be even better.

We managed to get all of Francine's scenes done, a few of Tyler's, and all of Lindsay's (not hard, I only had three lines).

Hm, acting... now that's another kettle of fish. I was trying not to overdo it, and I think to start with that resulted in a rather too understated performance. I can spot when actors are overacting, and I was very aware of trying not to, but you have to be really, really overacting for it to seem like overacting on film. Weird. Maybe with a bit of practice I might become a competent actor, certainly I'd like the opportunity to find out.

What was also fun was watching the rushes. It's interesting to see how the lighting affected the quality of colour - Svet's bedroom has these lovely lilac walls that looked really nice on film, warmed as they were by the way that the sunlight filtered through the natural wood blinds. The scenes in the lounge, however, looked a little washed out - the sunlight was too harsh to have the curtains open but the beige fabric leeched all the colours out, and I ended up looking rather washed away, my black top becoming charcoal instead.

Still, we shot 18 minutes, added to the 10 minutes of film Vince shot last Thursday of the office scenes. So it's really all coming along.

Next shoot I'm at is in a fortnight's time, up in Leeds. Personally I can't wait, and not just so that I can enjoy the opportunity of mussing up Vince's perfect hair again, although that obviously will be a highlight.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Catching Up

I realised I haven't posted in a while having become enamoured with my own blog elsewhere. However, I can confirm that we have now cast all the principal parts in the short film. I'll post up details and biographies shortly.
I'm also currently in the process of securing the last of the major locations for the short film and with filming imminent, that's a really good thing.

Monday, June 21, 2004

The Cassandra casting conundrum continues

Well, it's not all that much of a conundrum, but you'll have to excuse me my choice of words - I currently find unnecessary use of alliteration an amusing novelty. If it was a conundrum it's rapidly becoming less of one. Last night I got an email from one of the actresses I'd approached saying a house move and her wedding precluded her taking part in the film, putting her alongside the two actresses who have apparently vanished off the face of the earth after expressing mild interest and another with whom we had creative differences (I didn't see that as a problem, but she clearly wasn't happy with the situation, which was fair enough - I made a mistake in the way I pitched the project and the character to her and that's something I have to learn from in future).

Right now we're down to one actress who still appears to be very enthusiastic about the project (despite reading the script and talking to me on the phone) and a few more who I'm awaiting feedback from. No leads as yet on actresses local to Leeds where we're likely to be shooting these scenes, but the natural habitat of the actress is London so finding one as good as those we've talked to further North is akin to spying a Golden Eagle nesting in Penge.

Saturday, June 05, 2004


I made a resolution today to try and set some hours of the weekend aside for actual work. Seeing as I manage to get things done during the hours of 8am and 5pm during the week when the things to be done are things I struggle to find enthusiasm for, I figured adopting a similar ethic for my days off might throw off that idleness I've been cultivating recently.

I started drawing storyboards at about one o'clock and I've just finished putting up some pages for a new website and it's now twenty to eleven. Clearly I over-compensated.

Anyway, the very rough result can be found at Dragons Fandango.

Scene 16-iii - Tyler, with phone, running past a couple of harridans.


Okay, okay, I've finally got something done. Apart from tweaking the script again (and adding a complicated to realise coda that, provided I can figure out how to do it, will provide another excuse for internet reviewers to say 'great end credits, shame about the film') I have started sketching out some of the storyboards.

I don't have a scanner at the moment so I had to make do with using my digital camera to capture the pictures, but I have posted up some of the work here. You may be able to tell that my practical side lost out to my aesthetic side during the draughting. My practical side told me to keep each shot simple - a static camera, or something that could be achieved easily on a tripod. Instead every shot currently requires expert use of a steadicam, which we haven't got.

My one concession to practicality so far has been omitting mention of cunning focus pulls. Suffice to say I still want to do them, but somehow I doubt we're going to be blessed with a cameraman who can pull them off.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Something Wicked This Way Comes

It's far too light in the mornings at the moment. Roll over in bed to face the window and the inconsiderate brightness of another Summer day burns through closed eyelids to conduct a strenuous argument with the hind-brain in order to convince it that it is time to get up and get the serotonin pumping, despite all the physiological evidence to the contrary which is dismissed in favour of a counter-argument along the lines of: 'screw you, it's not seven o'clock yet, I ain't getting up'.

I might have to dig out the sleeping mask I kept from the goodie bag handed out by Qantas on my flight back from Australia.

In other news, I spent some of last night searching for actresses to play the part of Cassandra in Bad News. Only some of the night mind, I can only do professionalism outside of office hours for so long. The rest of the night was spent playing Transformers on my PS2 (Autobots, roll out!) and reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K.Rowling may not be the best writer around, but I've read few other books that provide such compulsive reading, despite the agony of identifying with a character who, for the majority of the book, experiences situations along the lines of: ... Harry realised with growing horror that he was responsible for casting the spell that, through a series of unfortunate coincidences, led to Gary Neville missing the final penalty against Portugal that dumped England out of the 2004 European Championships. The guilt tore at his insides - he was responsible for the dashing of a nation's hopes. The only consolation he could take from this was that it took his mind off the 57 essays he had to complete by the end of the week and off being flayed alive by Lord Voldemort's underlings as he hung from the ceiling of the abandoned Church. His lightning bolt scar was giving him gyp too. The mental and physical anguish was draining away the last of Harry's will - he found himself at the bottom of a black pit of despair from which he feared he would never escape. It was round about then that things suddenly got a whole lot worse...).

But I digress. I was searching for suitable actresses, like I said. A job made more difficult by the nagging suspicion that I was overlooking acting ability in favour of good looks. Well, I say difficult, it wasn't exactly taxing looking at polished professional pictures of pretty actresses. However, I am keeping in mind the thought that thespians, by and large, are mentally unbalanced and, seeing as this actress's scenes will probably be shot in my flat, beauty and acting talent will come a distant second to concerns about whether she's stable, co-operative and house trained.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Been around the world and I, I, I - I can't find my muffins ...

Right, after three weeks abroad in Australia I am now back in the UK and ... well, I'd like to say full of enthusiasm for writing and filmmaking, but I'm still in the grip of the lethargy that took hold of me around about November 2002. It's scary to think I actually started writing my latest book way back in July 2002 and after four months of pretty solid writing I've relegated it to dribs and drabs here and there ever since.

I should have been writing last night. I could even have been drawing storyboards for Bad News. Instead I messed around on the internet for hours. I did make contact with another filmmaker up here in the North-East whose work is rather more accomplished than anything we've done and that might help Bad News, but achievements are always undermined when you admit they were accomplished in the name of procrastination.

Suw has also revealed that with her current workload she'll have to cut back on much she can do on the film in a producing capacity. Of course, Suw having work is unequivocally a good thing, but equally me having to do any more producing than I absolutely have to is unequivocally a bad thing. Which reminds me, I should contact Carl about whether his friend will let us use his office and visit my local flower shop to ask if we can shoot there ... y'know, life will be a lot easier when we have mobile phones plugged into our foreheads sending out thought-texts to save us the hassle of actually going out and talking to people.

Speaking of which, I actually got around to sending off an enquiry about upgrading my mobile last night (something I'd been meaning to do for ages, but as it had fallen below 'finishing my book' on my list of things to do it meant it qualified as an acceptable form of procrastination). I'm quite taken with one of the Motorola's, a swish little clam-shell with all the requisite gadgetry like cameras, MP3 ringtones and buttons. None of which I'll actually use (except maybe the buttons), but having a cool phone will concordantly make me cooler, quid pro quo I will have girls throwing themselves at my feet just like if I was a London Underground train driver.

After all that you might be mistaken for thinking that there is actually no news on Bad News and this post has merely been procrastinating away something else I've planned to do. And you're partly right - I'll get around to resolving world hunger tomorrow - but you're wrong in the sense that there is some news. Shooting on Bad News has officially begun. While in Australia I filmed two scenes with my brother and his step-daughter. I also decided while out there that most of the material I agreed to cut out during the London meeting I'm going to put back in again. I haven't told Suw yet and I get the funny feeling she won't readily agree with me, so best keep this between you and me for the time being.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Woo Hoo

Draft number 9 has arrived!

Oops, breathed on it. That probably turns it into draft number 10.

No mail

After sending off a 19-page document of design suggestions for Lionhead's upcoming 'The Movies' computer game (which, admittedly, was exactly the same document I sent to Edward Grabowski with suggestions for a sequel to his Movie Studio Boss game), I churned out draft number nine of Nothing Travels Faster Than Bad News.

I shall now make an aside where I explain the numbering methodology I use for the various drafts of a script:

Fixing a spelling mistake does not warrant an increment in the draft number, fixing two spelling mistakes does. If I were to use stricter criteria I probably couldn't claim more than three drafts, but you've got to admit nine drafts makes it sound like I've done a heck of a lot more work. The other alternative is to use Captain Bucky O'Hare's drafting system (okay, that's not her real name, but her real name just has too many syllables for me to bother typing it here) - this system makes full use of alphanumerics. I think her latest script is on draft 436D which is now undergoing the 'thematic cohesion rewrite'. Additional colour coding is applied to hardcopy versions, with the last being 436C-Yellow.

As you can probably tell, I'm not nearly that professional in my writing.

Anyway, the mail system at work seems to be labouring this morning so I haven't yet received the copy of draft 9 I sent myself last night. It does, in case you're wondering, include a change to ... the line (I know, italics are a poor substitute for the dramatic chords that should accompany mention of ... the line). However, the change only involved the removal of a word that I'd forgotten was in there and prevented the line scanning as cleanly as it should have done. Whether that will be enough to appease the Argonath Alliance, who currently have their battlecruisers positioning on the dark side of the moon, awaiting the order to smite our planet from material existence remains to be seen.

Finally, I'm hoping that Peter Collett's Book of Tells, which I mentioned in an earlier post, will help with my direction. I've got a theory that 'bad' acting is at least partly due to the actor failing to match their body language to the part they're playing. Whether they consciously realise it or not, the audience will spot the conflicting signals and deem the performance unconvincing. Of course, body language mirrors thought, so if the actor is thinking the thoughts of their character, the appropriate body language should follow. Unfortunately, I fear getting some of my actors to think might prove beyond even my superhuman skills ...

Monday, April 26, 2004

By the power of Greyskull! I have the power-er-er-er!

The UN resolution has been deferred yet again, but the Alpha Centauran Confederacy are now locked in a bloody and bitter war with the Zeta Reticuli Housing Association over the line with the formerly peaceful race of the Quons looking likely to enter the fray any day now (their religious beliefs such that they are actually claiming the line does not in fact exist at all and all this conflict over it is sacrilege and therefore punishable by a good talking to. The fact that the Quons' speech matches the harmonic resonance of most biological matter makes that a dreadful prospect indeed).

But the good news is that we may yet have a posh office available for the shoot, provided I can nag a friend enough to nag his friend enough to get us permission. That would make organising Seb's participation in the shoot easier. He's currently down to play the character of Joe - a part specifically written for him. Or rather, a part specifically written for the owner of a flash red sports car. Seb's acted in my short films before and has such a sports car, so it was written and so it shall be done. Anyway, with Seb based in Derby and these offices near Nottingham, it would prove much easier to organise that shoot than to get Seb up to Leeds to shoot in my office here.

Provisionally that could bring the shoot down to three weekends:

1) London / Colchester shoot:
- opening scene with Francine and Tyler
- taxi scene with Emily
- scene of women in park
- scene of girls on street corner
- scene with businessman in car

2) Derby / Nottingham shoot:
- office scenes
- Lyndsey's scenes
- Joe in and around his car
- Joe running down Tyler in the street

3) Leeds shoot:
- Cassandra's flat and associated scenes
- Thief snatching Tyler's mobile phone
- Flower shop scenes

With a friend of Suw's hopefully shooting the mountain scene (woo, that means we get to claim a second unit in the credits), that means we could indeed wrap and get into post-production by the end of July.

Of course, for those who haven't read the script all of the above will make no sense whatsoever.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Line of Contention

As the world is now aware, it all started inconspicuously enough. A conversation in a pub on Saturday 17th April does not usually lead to events that have global repercussions. Apart from when Dame Vera Lynn bet Adolf Hitler he couldn't invade Poland of course. And when Michelangelo dissed Leonardo Da Vinci's taste in snack food setting off a chain events that would culminate in both the Rennaisance and the invention of pork scratchings. Both of those incidents, however, we can comfortably write off as exceptions to the rule.

The subject of a line was raised at the meeting. There was some amicable disagreement that divided those present into the Suw camp and the Vince faction, but it was certainly nothing to write home about. In fact, had fate so contrived it, that might be the last anyone heard of the line.

But, for reason or reasons unknown, word of this contentious line spread. It spread and it divided. By the end of the weekend, local news stations were reporting that a definite schism in the beliefs of the inhabitants of Brentford. As one interviewee put it:

"You're either for the line or against it, there ain't no inbetween. Because it's a line. And very thin. And you wouldn't fit."

As is the way of such things, when a bandwagon rolls merrily into town, the weak-minded and the gullible cannot help but jump on the back like a metaphorical Pied Piper made of wood and spoked wheels. Creak go the wheels, jump go the bandwagon jumpers. The curse of memetics was illustrated clearly on Midlands Today on Tuesday the 20th April, where barricades were shown surrounding the Bullring Shopping Centre.

"These shops are only for moral folk. Folk who hate the line and all it stands for," claimed Birmingham's Mayor sporting a brand new belly tattoo of a line in a circle with a line through it. He then tried to explain the significance of the tattoo to irate pro-line protestors who demanded the barricades be demolished and the anti-liners be burnt at the stake.

At Prime Minister's Question Time on Wednesday, Mr Blair was openly mocked by the opposition for failing to come down either for or against the line.

Mr Blair was heard to say to an aide: "If I say I'm for the line they'll crucify me, if I say I'm against, they'll decapitate me..."

By the evening he no longer had a choice: President George W Bush proclaimed the United States to be Anti-Line, immediately drawing support from Mr Blair and derision from France, Germany and Japan, who claimed the merits of the line were undeniable.

This Thursday we see the Suw camp submitting a UN resolution, sponsored by Britain and America, demanding that the line be withdrawn or the perpetrators will face 'severe consequences'. However, commentators are suggested that unilateral action may be inevitable, even if France use their veto as promised.


Jogger's nipple, the joy of.

I think I need a sports bra.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Let's Croak Us Some Toads!

You know the thing I found most surprising thing about Saturday's meeting? It was the 'head of the table' effect. I had positioned myself at the head of the table in the beer garden in which we were holding our meeting, but I didn't really notice the effect until I had occasion to point at something.

And I used my thumb.

I never use my thumb to point at things. It lacks the pointing precision of an index finger for a start. However, while thumbs do not have the pointerly potential of any of the other fingers (including the pinky) they represent something else - they represent dominance.

Thumbs gestures are associated with a dominant personality. Just as sitting straight-legged and relaxed is also a sign of dominance (because you're making yourself bigger and claiming a larger personal space, while showing you are unconcerned about potential danger) and I found myself doing that later on too.

I knew about the thumb thing beforehand, but I didn't read about the 'head of the table' effect until last night. Anyone, regardless of their personality, when positioned at the head of a table, is likely to assume the dominant position in any conversation; talking more, talking fluently (without um's and err's) and talking longer without interruption.

I'd quote the research, but I haven't got around to reading the bibliography yet. The book, however, is Peter Collett's Book of Tells.

Anyway, while I was assuming all these dominant traits, I was also getting nagged into writing a to-do list of outstanding tasks for the film. Which just goes to show this dominance thing can only achieve so much in the face of a persistent woman.

Things To Do:
- Write final draft of Nothing Travels Faster Than Bad News based on feedback from meeting
- Produce storyboards (rough versions of which we were going to do in the meeting, but didn't)
- Determine availability of my office for use as a location
- Determine use of local flower shop for use as a location
- Once locations are in place, agree on production design
- Revisit casting list once locations are confirmed
- Once cast is in place, agree on costumes
- Obtain quality microphone
- Produce production schedule
Post-production issues will be considered once the film is in the can (by which I don't mean in the bin or the toilet).

Other things I learned from the meeting:
- Trying to maintain everyone's involvement and interest proved a little beyond me this time round.
- There is only one funky, green rabbit who can take care of it.
- That I do actually want to act in the film, rather than just be an actor by default due to practical time/budget considerations.
- The Italian restaurant we had dinner at does an excellent steak, but puts its roast potatoes under a shrinking ray so they come out the size of marbles.
- When playing hangman on the train with some Geordies returning from a Newcastle Falcons match, it was entirely proper to avoid being a spelling fascist. Instead, trying to guess misspelt words adds to the challenge.
- And finally, that Victoria (another writer I asked to come along) is not a short, fat, peg-legged pirate like I had imagined.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Production meeting, additional

The times people will be arriving is currently as follows:

Dominic will be arriving at London Waterloo at 11am. Being mobile-phone-less, he will locate the rest of us using a divining rod.

I shall attempt to catch the train that will bring me into Kings Cross at 11:30am. I do have a mobile and so will not be forced to resort to superstitious nonsense. Though it's never been proved to my satisfaction that these cellular phone contraptions aren't the work of evil magicks.

Suw being already undercover in the Capital, will attempt to meet us at the aforementioned stations. We, in turn, will be doing our best to slip by unnoticed in the crowds.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Production meeting, Saturday 17 April, London

I'm going up to London tomorrow (Tuesday), so although I'll have some access to my email, the blog will be easier for making arrangements. Which is lucky, because that's what it's for.

I'll scope out possible locations for our meeting, which currently include the Sherlock Holmes Hotel on Baker Street, Smiths of Smithfields in Farringdon, or if the weather's nice, we can just find a pub with a beer garden and I can get happily sloshed whilst everyone else does all the work. Either which way, will try to post here and/or text Vince.

I may also have another location, a flat in Tooting, which I'll get to suss out beforehand, and also possibly a few more willing and able actors. (Although frankly, willing is far more important than able at this juncture.)

Monday, April 05, 2004

Leading Ladies

At this point we have most of our cast filled. There will be some switching and swapping of parts depending on which locations we ultimately use, but we have enough volunteers to see us through. However, we were struggling to cast the key part of Tyler's girlfriend.

Now, it seems, we are not. Seb (who is playing the part of evil, moustache-twirling villain Joe (now there's an evil name if ever there was one) due to him owning the flash sports car I wrote into the script (do you ever get fed up of nested parentheses? (I don't, personally))) emailed me the other day saying there were two ladies up for the part (one of which I am acquainted, the other is her cousin).

This came after I managed to find someone else willing to play the girlfriend Cassandra (she's currently in hospital and hating every minute of it, but this does mean she should get the chance to actually read the script this evening. I'm fully expecting this to adversely affect her enthusiasm). So it really is true that you wait for ages and then three actresses come along at once.

P.S. I should point out that this whole project is being exclusively undertaken using friends to fill the roles of cast and crew. This isn't because I think they'll do a better job than any of the millions of desperate thespians out there, but mainly because I'm still relatively inexperienced as a director and I'd rather work with people whose foibles I'm aware of and can work around, rather than strangers who might spring unexpected foibles on me when I'm not prepared for them.

Air of Respectability (or lack thereof)

On Friday I wrote to Screen Yorkshire asking if they could provide some info on local suppliers of microphones and video equipment. They replied quite promptly, but suggested they needed some more information on the project and our company before they could deliver.

Company? What company?

I wrote to Suw asking if this might be a good time to looking at starting one up, at which point she wisely replied: 'trust ye not the soul who asks ye a question when ye asks them a question. Suspicious a practice this is. If contact details they want, spamming ye to high heaven and back again is no doubt their wont' (or words to that effect).

Heeding this somewhat cryptic advice, I deigned not to reply to Screen Yorkshire's email.

Then today I get another mail from them pointing me in the direction of Provision, Yorkshire Television's equipment arm. Clearly the moral of this story is that if you ignore someone long enough, eventually they'll give you what you want. I'm thinking if I keep ignoring them now we might well have a few thousand pounds worth of development grant foisted upon us by the end of the week.

Saturday, April 03, 2004


I'm beginning to dislike Saturdays. A curious comment considering Saturday's prime position in the week. It's not like Sunday where you know it's back to work the next day, it should be the most relaxing day of the week. In fact, it usually is and that's the problem. I don't get anything done on a Saturday.

I went shopping this morning. I watched some of the FA Cup Semi-Final (Man Utd, unfortunately, won). I, err ... read some of the latest issue of Empire, while listening to qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Throw in some sleep and that all that accounts for over 17 hours of my Saturday. Yeah, feeling like I'm wasting time is probably the only thing I have that approaches a proper neurosis nowadays. Part of that stems from the time after my A-levels where I was desperate to finish my first novel so I could go into undergraduate education safe in the knowledge I had a bestseller under my belt and wouldn't actually have to work after the unctuous ceremony with the silly hats and gowns that precedes entry into what is popularly termed 'the real world'.

Turns out work hasn't been too bad to me, which is probably the main reason why I'm still unpublished, unproduced and undulating (okay, I needed a third un- word and that was the first that sprung to mind. I can in no way vouch for its veracity). Necessity may be the mother of invention, but contentment is the death of ambition (an interesting aside at this point would be to relate the story of whathisface of War and Peace fame, who, on completion of each successful novel, would promptly gamble away his earnings in the belief that without the motivation of poverty he would never 'write squat' (his words (albeit originally in Russian (which probably means he said 'writski squatski' or suchlike, with a backwards R thrown in there somewhere for good measure)))).

I have managed to scribble some notes down on a revision for my latest short story, The Storyteller, but it's still a tragic fact I am seriously considering spending the rest of the evening not working on my book, on Bad News or the romantic comedy project that popped into existence last weekend, but playing Pro Evolution Soccer 3 for the umpzillionth time and then possibly watching either American Beauty on BBC2 or Cinema Paradiso on DVD (probably the latter because I feel an irrational antipathy towards American Beauty because it's a critically popular film which, in a holdover from my naive teenage worldview, means I'm sure it'll really be crap).

This is why I'm thankful for having Suw along on Bad News to provide the kind of impetus I'm often sadly lacking.

I'd be more thankful of a cleaner to purge my flat of its perennial mess before the letting agents come to inspect it on Monday morning, but that's by the by.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Upcoming Production Meeting

On April 17th., Suw, myself and, thus far, Dominic will be meeting up in London at a secret location for top-level discussions on taking the Nothing Travels Faster Than Bad News project (codenamed: The Flying Nun Versus Nazi Shellfish Zombies From Beneath the Earth's Core) forward.

The primary goal of the meeting is to develop the visuals for the script. We'll be producing rough storyboards for the key sequences which we'll then develop into detailed boards for use on the shoot (I'll make sure to post up some samples here). Other considerations will be the production design and costumes. Rather like sound effects, they're the kind of background details that no one pays any attention to when they go right (and nor should they, they should be paying attention to the story), but when they're crap, it drags down the quality of the whole production.

Case in point: my last short film was called Trespass of the Magi and it featured invisible ninjas. My idea was that when we finally revealed these invisible ninjas, they'd be shown in garish, colour-clashing costumes so we could make the serious social point that it's hard to have any kind of fashion sense when you're see-through. But, alas, things didn't work out like that. When I got down to my friend Dave's house in Colchester where we were shooting the film, I found a distinct lack of garish costumes awaiting me (a baggy jogging suit was waiting for me, but that's Dave's attire of choice and I am completely non-judgemental about that).

This inevitably begs the questions: what costumes did those invisible ninjas end up with?

Well ... they looked pretty normal. Jeans, t-shirts, jumpers. The only concession made to any kind of cinematic costumery were some cheap Hallowe'en masks we bought from Sainsbury's the night before we were due to shoot. The effect was somewhat disappointing.

So, this time around, we're going to do things properly. Our biggest step made in that direction was to avoid putting any invisible ninjas in the script (though we may include some in the crowd scenes). The second biggest step was keeping Dave away from any responsibility for prop and costume acquisition (a decision since born out by his efforts to make his next short film: Red's Adventure. I won't spoil the film by describing it here, but suffice to say it involves jelly babies and several attempts at shooting test footage have been scuppered by the cast being eaten before making it infront of camera).

Anyway, back to the meeting. We're also planning to try acting out various scenes to get an idea for how they'll actually play out on screen. Hopefully, this will be just the first in a series of rehearsals, rather than our tried and tested method of learning the lines during the take.


To kick things off (again) I thought I'd give an overview of what the film is all about. The best way of doing that would be to give a kickass one-line sales pitch, but if you've ever tried writing a kickass one-line sales pitch, you'll know why I'm just going to write two-line description of the plot, with negligible sales appeal and certified 'ass-safe' by the British Standards Institute.


Tyler wakes up one morning in a strange bed, next to a strange girl, who has just texted her best friend news of last night's sexual conquest. Tyler is then forced into a desperate race against time to reach his girlfriend before word of his infidelity does.

Okay, I'll admit as pitches go it does kick some ass and I did get 'a desperate race against time' in there, which I feel is grossly underused as a cliché nowadays, but any suggestions for a better pitch are welcomed.