Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Hope Lottery

The company that had shown interest in my sitcom have said that they do not plan to produce it – bugger. Still my Red Planet 10 pages have now been sent. Another ticket purchased in the hope lottery.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Get thee to a library

I am a procrastinator – it’s official. For years I have been saving money to take a break from the rat race to try and make it as a writer and what do I do when I finally get this chance – very little that’s what. It all started very well – I thought my first 12 hour writing day was going to set the pattern – did it heck. It seems that without constant urgent deadlines or the prospect of a good old bollocking I turn into a complete waste of skin. Well no more. There’s just too much distraction when I am home alone, too may things that suddenly take priority –important things like reorganising my desk or seeing how long I can hold my breath (initially not very long but I am finding with practice I am getting better). So from now on my days will be spent in the fine Library of Streatham with other people who have nothing better to do in the daytime then hang around in Streatham library, you know drunks and weirdos.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The state of British TV

I love television. Really love it. Nowadays I watch maybe 10-15 hours a week of it. That’s not a lot. Whilst I would like to tell you that I don’t have time because I spend every waking hour writing, I cannot - it would be a lie. The fact is I no longer watch TV because there is never anything I want to watch on. I want to love every new British drama – I wanted to love Bonekickers last night, OK the trailer looked pish but I was there rooting for it. Again I was left disappointed – for all I know it got really good in the last half hour, I don’t know, I turned it off.

Ratings for British TV have been dropping for the last decade. Experts say that this is because we have other alternatives, multi channels and the Internet. All of this may be true in part but the bigger reality is that people are deserting them because British TV is not very good. The success of soaps over the years shows not that the British public love soap but that they love drama. The networks have tried to satiate this need by just giving us more episodes of what we already have to the point that schedules are now packed with soap operas.

There is good drama on TV, occasionally it’s British, mostly it’s not. House, The West Wing, Battlestar Gallactica, Mad Men, the Sopranos, CSI – the list goes on, all brilliant, all American. It didn’t always used to be like this. I spent the 80s and 90s deriding the awfulness of American television, was it as bad as I thought it was – probably not, was it as good as it is now - defiantly not. What was the main factor in the improvement of American television, I am not sure I know, but certainly a big factor was HBO. HBO raised the bar. They produced great quality, intelligent, brilliantly written drama. Audiences loved it and the quality of the programmes, along with the usual 22 week run, meant that large extra incomes could be generated by DVD sales. The networks saw what was happening and upped their game – they didn’t have a choice.

Where is the British HBO to raise the bar. The answer should be where it has always been, the BBC. The licence fee is designed so that the organisation does not have to chase commercial revenue, it does not have to worry about advertisers and so is placed to take a few risks. Why doesn’t it? If you were to look at the BBC schedules they are not dissimilar to the commercial channels – safe, generic, reality based, lowest common denominator crap. You can see the fear inherent in the decision making process just by looking at the Radio Times. It doesn’t have to be this way it really doesn’t.

I hope that these past few years have been the low point in British TV. My fear is that they are not.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Why can't life...

…be more like a 1980s Coca Cola advert -notably the one below? When I was growing up I was convinced that my life would just be like this. It absolutely and without doubt would involve kissing a beautiful woman as a wave crashed over us. This never happened. It probably didn’t help that I was living in Birmingham at the time and there isn’t much of a sea front. Also I am pretty sure the actresses in this advert didn’t have heavy Birmingham accents like all the women I knew.

Then one day you wake up –in your 30’s, and you realise that you have missed the chance of life being like this. And then you realise that even if life were like this you would get a snog, which would be nice, but you’d have to walk home wet – which wouldn’t. It doesn’t really matter anyway because you are so fat from drinking sugary soft drinks that no woman is going to look at you.
Not that I’m bitter you understand.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Red Planet Prize

Ever since the Red Planet prize was announced last week I have been racking my brain for a TV series premise that works.

I reverted to the old random picking and combining of shows to create something new and sparkly by use of an old shoebox and bits of paper technique (possibly a technique that requires a catchier description). It has to be said it didn’t really work for me unless you can think of a great new TV show that is a cross between Jonathan Creek and Shameless – it’s the story of an alcoholic unemployed magic designer who could solve crimes but can’t be arsed – actually that still sounds better than Ultimate Force.

No thanks to the shoebox I think I now have an idea that works and am now looking to develop this. If you want the Jonathan Creek/Shameless idea I am prepared to sell it to you at a not inconsiderable cost.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

My Brilliant Plan

Well, maybe not brilliant, maybe quite flawed – but a plan.

In 3 months – the time I plan to remain “between jobs” I will:

Write a screenplay - probably the longest of my longshots. Never written one before –halfway through a first draft - proving to be every bit as difficult as I thought it would be. If nothing else it will make me a better writer.

Write a 60-minute piece for Red Planet and for the portfolio. My last 60-minute script was written 6 years ago and wasn’t entirely successful. It is the script I never speak of – sshhh don’t mention its name.

Write the world’s greatest sitcom – last sitcom did OK and got me invited status at the Beeb. Now need to nail the follow up.

I also plan to start submitting to News Revue, maybe get a little money off that (very little from what I hear) so that I can actually use the term writer – I may just whisper it to start off with, put in an embarrassed laugh when I say it.

I need to get some more contacts, not just industry people but peers to bounce ideas off and provide support.

Oh and finding a muse would be nice. I do actually have a muse, his name is Tim. Much that I appreciate Tim’s musing abilities, it would be nice to find a muse that looked a bit like Holly Willoughby.

I am a ....

OK, still trying to work out what to say when people ask me what I do. I feel slightly disingenuous to say that I am writer. So far I am yet to make a penny. My last script got some interest from the industry; nice things were said about voice and style, all very good to hear but it didn’t make me any richer. And so can I say that I am a writer?

I don’t know - probably not. But the alternatives:

Between jobs – probably closer to the mark but it does sound a bit too much like:
Unemployed – which is of course literally true
Dosser – no comment

Mind you I have just left my job of three years and I couldn’t tell you what I did then either. Well I could do but I would lose interest half way through my own sentence.