Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Tongue In Your Head

“You’ve got a tongue in your head, just ask” was the mantra my Mother always used to tell me. Usually this was in response to me telling her I fancied a girl in my class but was afraid of asking her out. I quickly came to the realisation that my Mother was not the best person to consult about my love life. But its her voice that still rings out in my mind when I start to wonder if the person who has asked for a script has read it or if they’ve actually looked over that treatment yet. Years ago I’d have politely sat aside and waited, often hearing nothing back. Now I’ll just directly ask if what they said was going to happen is actually happening.

For those new to the blog (I seem to have gained a fair few followers with the last couple of updates, I salute you all) Robotics is the short film I wrote which was made by a Dutch production company and screened in both Holland the the UK last year at festivals.

The thought crosses my mind yesterday about when exactly the one year lock out for Robotics, which prevents me from sharing the film online so that festivals can pick it up instead, actually expires? I had it in my mind as April as this was when the movie was finished last year but wasn’t exactly sure. I fired a quick Facebook message off to the director to enquire about events.

This evening I received my reply. The first part was a slight kick in the chops as it stated ‘no other festivals wanted to screen Robotics after its positive start’. Whilst it’s a come down from imagining your film blazing a trail across the film world astounding every person who lays eyes on it I suppose I should be glad it was made at all. It exists, it was made in the most brilliant fashion I could imagine and it escaped the confines of my notebook and computer to be its own thing. The next part held the most promise by saying ‘we’ll be opening Robotics up to public view in two weeks’.

In 14 days the dust sheets come off and I’ll finally be able to link to Robotics for online viewing. Everything I’ve babbled on about it shall at last have some kind of basis and you can pick it apart as much as you like.

14 days would make it March 11th, my 33rd birthday.

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Knocking The Rust Off

I took a break from ‘The Last Alive’ today, during a scene which has a little bit too much of the draft one wanders about it (ie, you carry on writing the scene in question despite being all too well aware that it’s rambling and you’ll have to cut it later). Whilst sitting at my computer and realising that my son was busy playing Minecraft on my Xbox therefore meaning it won’t be free for any Black Flag related pirate plundering for a few hours I started to writing some fiction again.

It’s like stretching a muscle you haven’t used in years, I’m writing thinking that it’s all a bit trash but still trying to pay attention to the details. It feels a bit basic right now, it’s more like a prologue to something much bigger which I still might go ahead and write but for an hour I was sent back years to the creative writing classes of college and the English department of Annan Academy thankfully minus the vast shedloads of teen angst.

I probably won’t be putting up the entire thing on here if I did write it, The Unlocked Project was all about that and it pretty much failed to get any attention, but I’ll put up this first section for you all to read. Please bear in mind I’m coming back to this after about ten years of doing scripts so it’s a little shaky.

THE PROLOGUE

“You don’t half talk some crap sometimes Nigel”.

“Is this like the time you saw that spaceship?”.

“Yeah we all remember that one, little green men and everything”.

Nigel sat in the break room, the victim of a mocking interrogation. He’d often told stories before after being out on jobs, sometimes overextending the details in the smallest fashion for effect but not this time. He had seen this one in broad daylight, happening before his eyes. The difficulty was that nobody else had.

The emergency call had come though, something about a bus crash near the city centre. Nigel had done what he always does, driven his ambulance through the traffic towards the scene in the quickest manner possible. This part had not been anywhere near as unusual as what would happen once they got there.

Arriving first, Nigel and his colleague had surveyed a landscape of carnage. The bus had come off the road, sliding as it did so, before tilting onto one side and coming down across the pavement. A cascade of broken bones, blood and glass had spilled across the road, soothed only by the drone of blue lights.

Amongst the screaming and the smoke Nigel looked up and saw a man limping towards him, his shirt stained red with the blood running from a wound in his head. As he came closer Nigel could make out that half the skin on his face was burnt, possibly still cooking as he walked. Their eyes had met and the man had suddenly changed direction, walking off down a side street.

“Seriously Nigel, you think this guy was walking around with his skin still sizzling like a steak or something?”.

Nigel had experienced a jolt within his consciousness. He become overrun by the thought of this guy slowly dieing in an alleyway and nobody being there to save him. Nigel gathered his bag and gave chase, hoping he would find this confused man further down the road.

As he turned the corner he saw his prospective patient double over on the pavement, coughing up the smoke in his lungs. “Are you alright there” Nigel had ventured, having to shout a little over the noise. There had been no answer, instead he had stood up and ran in the opposite direction. Nigel had to gather his pace to keep up and no amount of yelling would stop him.

“If he’s that bloody injured then why is he belting it down the road Nigel, answer me that?”.

The blood, that’s the main thing Nigel can remember of the pursuit. There was a constant trail of it on the ground where ever this man was going. What began as a small, red line had now become puddles of the stuff, enough to cling to Nigel’s boots and make prints whenever he took his next step. The guy must be feeling faint by now, he had to stop.

Nothing like it.

He had seen him take a sudden turn down some steps towards a doorway. Nigel had slowed down partly to get his breath back but also because he knew the running was over. They’d covered a considerable distance now, the sound of the accident scene only vague in the background. He’d at least have a moment to talk.

Nigel reached the stairs and stood at the top greeted only by an empty doorway. A large pool of blood on the first step was the only sign, by the bottom step there was nothing. He stepped down to try the door which had revealed itself to be firmly locked shut.

“He probably had a key you stupid prat!”.

But Nigel still wondered why the blood had stopped? Why this guy had so many injuries yet still outran him?

“Because you’re a fat bastard Nigel!”.

A chorus of laughter ripped through the room.

When Nigel had returned to the scene he saw that most of those who had beforehand been unable to move were now walking wounded. More ambulance crews had arrived in the meantime and had been preparing for the worst but they were soon deemed surplus such was the sudden improvement in the conditions of many. One woman had approached Nigel with a large gash in her arm, one of the worst he’d seen in his years as a paramedic, but her only complaint was that it was ‘a bit stiff’.

“Something your wife never bloody says Nigel”.

Again with the laughter.

Nigel made his last stand. How, he asked those in the room, were we looking at multiple deaths a few minutes before and yet nobody died? There had been a moment of muttered consultation before one came back with an answer.

“Sometimes Nigel, whatever bloody God you believe in smiles down upon you and wants to make your day easier. Can’t you just accept that?”.

Nigel slumped down in his chair as another call came in.

“Let’s hope it’s another bus crash like that one guys” said one as they headed for the exit.

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A View With The Buzz

I was walking back from my parent’s house today which involves a journey through the train station. As I approached the entrance I turned to see a new addition to the surroundings which made me stop, put down the bag I was carrying and take a photo.

Gretna Bench

 

A bench, placed there heck knows when. I walked around it, doing a complete 360 as I looked for a small metal sign to say it was placed there in the memory of somebody who just happened to like trains. There was nothing, it is blank.

It is surrounded by bare land, the grass does not reach it as it is directly under the huge footbridge they had to install when they upgraded the station from one platform to two about five years ago. This is, quite literally, the place the sun don’t shine. That box next to it is an electrical substation which emits a buzzing noise at a fairly continuous rate, possibly at a pitch to ruin the hearing of nearby teenagers and dogs. Beyond the train line behind the bench is a dual carriageway which is the start of the road towards Dumfries. Sitting on the bench will give you a brilliant view of the car park and the hedges beyond filled with bottles and crisp packets.

This is how we do stopping to enjoy your surroundings here in Scotland

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Polite Decline

I shouldn’t be turning down writing jobs.

I should probably be taking any kind of job put my way as long as it involves putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard.

Why then have I said no to an offer?

Those who have followed this blog for a while will know that about a year ago I dusted off the script to an old film I made on art college called ‘Le Telephono’ in which a man answers a passing callbox and is told the best joke in the world before trying to turn it into a industry. I thought it would be good to see if it could be made to the same professional level as ‘Robotics’ has been. Bear in mind that I’ve always seen myself as a writer first and a filmmaker second. A couple of people read through it, mostly didn’t see any value in it and the matter went no further until the other day.

One of those readers sent me a direct message on Shooting People asking if I would be interested in writing a 50 page eBook. It was an idea which made me raise an eyebrow, part of the mission for 2014 was to get back into writing fiction with the possibility of publishing online so I asked for more details. Once again the general rule of not getting too excited reared up again.

The email came back saying he was ‘publishing ebooks on the brand ‘inspirational stories’ inspired from the 40 million cases a year on mental health and child abuse‘. Firstly I thought about asking a few more questions as this description wasn’t that clear at all to me. I’m unsure as to putting both mental health and child abuse together in one thing and also not knowing if it was supposed to be a fictional story on those themes or something factual based on a particular case. The more I thought about it the more I thought both cases would result in me declining the job. I’m using the term ‘job’ in this post but that would infer getting money for doing it, a matter which we won’t get around to discuss even if it was on offer in the first place.

I’m just not comfortable writing about child abuse and mental illness especially not when I haven’t written any fiction in years and am looking to break back into the stride. I cannot think of any way of approaching something like that and not trivialising it in the worst possible way. Such things do not need me to go in there and try to make something entertaining out of it. I wish this producer the very best of luck with the project but I don’t see how I could do anything that will help him.

It’s now filed under ‘a nice idea until I saw the details’.

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A Woman In The Mirror

In August 2011 I attended the fifth birthday party of the hotel my Dad managed at the time. There were tables laid out in the reception and dining room area full of arts and crafts from the Dumfriesshire area alongside other groups such as the local amateur dramatics society. In one corner however, were a group who caught my eye as they were promoting their Ghost Walk tours around Dumfries town centre. I took a leaflet from ‘Mostly Ghostly’ and read through it when I got home. About two months later I found myself walking through Dumfries on a Halloween night being told about ghosts, witch trials and haunted buildings. It was a fantastic night, I e-mailed the group to let them know how much I had enjoyed myself and they got back in touch to thank me. Their marvelous Ghost Walk project then won the 2012 Tourism Champion Award from Dumfries and Galloway Life magazine and well deserved it was too.

They went on to launch a Haunted Highways Coach Tour covering the local A75 road between Gretna and Dumfries, said to be the most haunted road in Scotland and this resulted in  me e-mailing them to tell them about the various haunting stories of Gretna Hall, the hotel my Dad managed when I was young and the place I grew up in. Also, I informed them of my two great Uncles who both died as a result of motorcycle accidents in the 1930’s on that road, five years apart from each other, in pretty much the same circumstances.

Haunted-Highways-Flyer

It was this that set up a meeting between members of Mostly Ghostly and myself in Dumfries on Friday past. To explain to you dear reader, I am not often in Dumfries town itself despite being born there and having family who work in the town therefore I’m fairly clueless as to my way around the place unless it’s the main street. Our original plan to meet in Costa was quickly altered when we realised that the piped music and general chattering noise in the place would mean we’d probably not hear each other at all so we found ourselves heading towards the tea room in Barbours department store not far away (imagine the sort of place that still sells home made cakes from glass cabinets and has paintings from local artists on the walls and you’re just about there).

I sat for about three hours with Kathleen, James and John from the group as we went through theories behind various sightings, stories of Gretna Hall and my great Uncles. For some reason that I cannot recall I ended up talking about videogames as well, hoping I wasn’t going to end up going on about them for ages and boring them with the details. I might have told them about ‘Papers Please‘ a fair bit. My Mum, being the historian she is, had given me a newspaper cutting that confirmed our thinking that Gretna Hall was used as an asylum for mentally ill patients in the 1930’s so we flicked though that whilst drinking coffee and eating some rather lovely cake. Whilst I was with them somebody rang to say they had seen a ghostly figure in a mirror during one of their tours of the Theatre Royal in Dumfries, a conversation they seemed to take in their stride. I suppose when you’re searching for evidence of spirits then this kind of thing is fairly common. It was a brilliant chance to have a talk with such good company.

Mostly Ghostly are a fantastic bunch and I don’t think they have anybody else comparable in the local area at least (there are other groups who do investigations but none  have made the effort to get these stories out to a wider audience in such an entertaining manner). Kathleen is writing a book about the various ghostly goings on around the South West Scotland area and is interested in any stories people may have to tell. If you’re from the local area and have had any sightings or experiences of the paranormal then you can get in touch with them on their website to let them know.

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The Drill

The first burst of energy getting though the opening section of ‘The Last Alive’ has burnt out leaving me hanging onto the first half hour duration with nowhere to go.

Morag, the girl who has returned from the dead, has awoken fairly quickly. My internal debate about keeping her dead for a while was quickly sorted when I found having a corpse sitting around during the story meant she didn’t have much of a say in matters. It also meant that it risked falling very quickly into something like ‘Weekend at Bernies’ as I’d have two men try desperately to hide the body of a ten year old girl from her Mother.

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I’ve also had her wander away from our main character and end up meeting her Mother anyway. Her Mother reacts with great shock but accepts her on face value and is now thinking her daughter has come back. I’m beginning to think this has come in far too easily and it would be better if she’s met with a little more resistance initially. Morag has been given the power to twist minds to her own desires though so it’s also got to be done by taking this into account as well.

I probably need to stop here and take the overall story into account before pressing ahead again. The adrenaline fuelled sessions have only got me so far. Back to the notebooks I go.

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