Monthly Archives: May 2015

Last Days Of The Gun Fighters.

So I spend a few days out of writing after Order For Burning’s latest draft completion and during that time the itch returns. It was probably whilst watching another episode of Daredevil on Netflix that I decide I should resume writing another script, to carry on the momentum if nothing else.

I’ve met a few writers in the past who dedicate whole sections of their lives to writing one project. They will polish it, rewrite it, shine it up and then repeat the process. If they actually do get around to submitted the thing and it gets rejected they stop dead in their tracks as the script they’ve dreamed of and put so much effort into dies in the water. I do not want to be that guy.

So today, as is traditional now, I started the first five pages (which actually ended up being seven pages) of the new script. There are currently no notes, no diagrams, no character outlines, no scene by scene and certainly no deciding what each character’s favourite biscuit. It’s just the pure first fumbling love throws of a new project by getting in there and finding what floats its boat.

The thought remains in the back of my head that this could be another year in the making, the same duration it took to get Order For Burning up and running, but that’s the break you take.

We’re back to science fiction and we’re also messing about with parallel universes.

Here goes something.

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The Conquistabores Episode VIII: SummerSlam 1993

Look, it’s a show about wrestling featuring a couple of good mates and myself.

A Bad Education

The Conquistabores return! With another SummerSlam! Yay! But this one is of a pure early 1990s vintage, which means Doink! The Smokin Guns! And the red white and blue hero himself Lex Luger! Hey, what? Lex Luger? All American Hero? Oh boy. Geordie Al, Cameron and Phil get together to try and figure out why. Nothing specific really, just…why.

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The Buzz Killer

Order For Burning went up on Shooting People’s pitching emails last week and since then I have been bowled over by the sheer masses of emails coming my way.

No, not really.

Apart from it being read by a friend of mine from the college days there has been pretty much deathly silence from all around, so much so that I begin to run down all the reasons why it might not be clicking with anybody. Firstly, historical set movies are a tough sell but this one is even more so because it’s an event based in South West Scotland which not many people outside the area know about. It’s a great story to work a film around, I’m still very much in that belief. As far as recognition goes though, it’s not Braveheart.

Sorry Mel.

Sorry Mel.

There’s also the matter of appealing to producers who will probably not have the budget for a movie set in 1659. A modern setting is obviously easier to film, getting everything looking as it would over three hundred years ago would cost.

Also, my synopsis probably wouldn’t have been the best. Perhaps it seemed rushed? Did it fully explain the story? Was I getting my message across well? Probably not, if it did I wouldn’t be writing this.

It’s tempting to think it’s a year of my life down the pan and a few years ago I would have certainly spent a long time thinking this. The positives are that finishing any script is part of a learning experience, no matter what you’ve written you can always take something from it to improve the next one. The trick is to keep going.

Secondly, all is not lost by any stretch. I shall put the witches away for now and concentrate on the next thing. When given a few months to mull over, Order For Burning shall be brought back out and polished up before trying again. It exists now and that’s the main thing. If I was still, one year on, planning out a first draft and fretting over positions of scenes that don’t currently exist then I’d be far more worried.

So what to do now? Well, write the first five minutes of the next thing. It’s exactly the way I started Order For Burning and it works fine for me.

We keep on rolling.

Always.

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Who Shot The Sheriff Eric?

I’m a writer with a day job, I don’t get out much.

Apart from occasional nights.

This was one of those occasions.

A couple of weeks ago I drove through to Dumfries after finishing work in Carlisle (30 miles, for those who don’t want to Google Map it) to attend the ‘Open Mouth‘ evening in the new building The Stove Network have on the High Street. Regular readers of this blog may remember this as the event I declined doing workshops at. It became apparent very quickly that, because of the high level of talent on show, I had made the right decision. I’d have been hopelessly out of my depth if I’d have ran alongside these guys. There would have been zero chance of talking my way out of that one. There was also the fact that it was more poetry based and script so not only would I have been up over my head I’d have been in the wrong pool to begin with.

stovenetwork

Personally I don’t do poetry well. When I was doing a creative writing A-Level back in college I attempted some as part of the coursework but I just couldn’t grasp it. My stuff never flowed, always sounded juddering and fell into traps of trying to make words fit when they really shouldn’t have. I also had a strict refusal to tackle anything ‘heavy’ via poetry so I wrote stupid stuff like betting on Elvis still being alive and preachers in the street. It was described by my tutor at the time as ‘poetry lite’. I don’t use that phrase as something to hold against him, he was speaking the obvious truth and I agree.

I got to The Stove around 7pm and there was plenty people there. All the way during the drive there I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I’d seen the outside of the building last summer whilst my day job had stationed me in the town for a few weeks but I’d never seen inside. The building itself is a former retail premises bang in the middle of town. Dumfries, like many other town of its size, has suffered during the economic downturn and many shops have closed their doors. The theory The Stove have is that it’s time for a change. Rather than the local council attempt to woo large companies into a town centre they can instead prevent the slide of boarded up windows by having a hub for culture there instead. From the looks of it they’re doing something right.

There’s an exhibition in the room about Rock Against Racism with various posters and articles on the walls. I spent a few minutes looking around to get a feel for the place. It wasn’t long until everybody sat down for the performance part of the evening.

nazisarenofun

Now I’ve heard of poetry slams before but never looked into them that much. Tonight though we were in the presence of Bram E Gieben, the UK champion. It’s safe to say he blew my mind. Whilst I don’t have footage of the evening (I’m always worried I’d put performers off by taking out my phone and filming) he’s on YouTube so here’s a sample.

See? The words just pour out of the guy and he does it all ‘off page’ which is another thing I could never do.

We also had Emily Elver who was fantastic. At one point she asked if we wanted ‘a new poem about bingo or an old one about sex’. Of course everybody went for the sex option and the following piece about science fiction based fantasies was both touching and hilariously funny. I can’t find it one YouTube but here’s another.

There were other brilliant ones too, some who were performing for the very first time having attended the workshops during the day. There was a woman who did some excellent rap, another guy did one about his experiences growing up in care and somebody else forgot theirs completely halfway through and instead finished on the politest sounding ‘oh fuck’ I have ever heard in my life (and everybody still cheered). Sarah, the host of the evening, also had a brilliant one about visiting her doctor who turns out to be her cat.

I couldn’t stay the whole night, around 10pm I was reminded by my rumbling stomach that I’d come almost straight from work so hadn’t eaten anything since lunchtime so I walked back to my car and drove home for food. I had tiny blast of inspiration during the drive, not easy to contain at 60mph. Pulling up outside my house I could only recall one line though..

‘I’ll drink Pepsi through your final straw’.

It’s a start I suppose and a result of an evening that made me want to have a crack at spoken word again in the near future. You surely can’t have a greater legacy than that?

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The Devil’s Radio

I’m not the greatest fan of writing a synopsis, whenever I read them back it always seems like I speak a foreign language and I’ve Google translated the finer points of the story back into English. The synopsis for Order For Burning isn’t much different but it exists at least and it’s been packed off to Shooting People’s website to be considered for inclusion in the next Script Pitch email that’ll do the rounds soon. I’ll probably still be tweaking the script itself many times over in the very near future but it needs others to see it now. It needs to be sent out into the daylight to see if its skin burns or not.

It’s occurred to me that Order For Burning has taken up a whole year of my writing life already. It should probably have been much shorter to get it to this stage, maybe around six month had I actually concentrated on the thing but I’m here now. There wasn’t somebody waiting to give me a pay packet whilst I worked on it, getting more and more annoyed at my periods of inactivity.

It can go either way now. Perhaps I’ll get people interested in making it, asking me to do rewrites and change things around before going on to film it. On the other hand it could go nowhere and I’ll have spent a year writing something which goes no further than the pitching stage. If it’s the latter then I can still take plenty of pointers from the experience. You get better at writing and constructing a story with each project you write so I at least have that.

Actually, it won’t be the case that nobody will read it. A college friend, now making his own movies, has asked to read it so I sent it off to him yesterday to get his thoughts.

The biggest question is what to do next. I don’t like the idea of sitting, waiting on somebody to say yes to Order For Burning and doing nothing in the meantime. Whilst I have an idea for another feature script I don’t think I’m going to rush headlong into it right away. There’s a couple of smaller, non-movie related stuff I want to get out of my system first.

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