Saturday, 31 December 2011

Hogmanay Humbug.

Well, it's that time of year again. It's end.

I kind of can't be arsed with New Year. We're supposed to be the best at ringing in the New Year in Scotland but I just don't get it. I had Hogmanay stuffed down my throat as a kid and developed a bit of an aversion to the whisky/shortbread/JimmyfuckingShand Scottish cheese. I had fun in my late teens and early 20's getting thoroughly pished in the centre of Edinburgh but it stopped being fun around 1997 when there were massive crushes and rumours that someone even died in town. Just not for me, really. Christmas is done and I get eager to get on with things.

But I suppose I ought to take a little stock and reflect in the year a little.

I finally made another short film.
I made some more good friends on the filmmaking side of things.
I found a fair deal of confidence in my creative abilities.
Yet another draft of a feature was completed.
I saw nowhere near as many films as I like to due to unsociable employment hours.
Unsociable employment hours ended when I was laid off.
We had some heartbreak when we lost a member of our household. We miss you, Midge.
My wee sister got married. Am I really that grown up?
Was proud as anything to see my friend's first feature on the big screen at the BFI. Well done, Jon.
Possibly confused a former member of Ride in the pub.
Went to a couple of more gigs. Even if it was the same band twice (Warrior Soul - the guitarists are nice blokes).
Had my view at a film showing partly obscured by Dylan Moran's hair.
Didn't see enough of my friends.
Caught up with a good friend I'd not seen in over a year, which was odd for that relationship.
I simply got older and achieved nowhere near as much as I wanted.
Saw more of my wife. The best thing of all.

I wish I could say more about this year. Maybe I'm missing some obviously big things.

Well, there's a lot to get on with. Bring it, 2012. And no, the Myans didn't say shit about the end of the world. They just stopped their calendar. Why are we so obsessed with our mortality to such an extent that we let it get in the way of things?

In our next blog entry, something positive.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Faith, discovery and all of that shit...

One of the things I love about writing and creating stories is the early stage, where an idea can go anywhere if you let it. And I do that by constantly asking questions about my characters and the story possibilities. I don't like to be too tied down to an idea at the beginning, but the idea has to be strong enough and formed enough for me to warrant asking questions about it. I create documents where I kind of brainstorm; I write stuff down about the story but I also write down anything that pops into my head about said idea. And so, in beginning to really try and flesh out a science fiction short script, I find that questions galore raise their heads. I literally write these questions down as I brainstorm and see where they lead me. A lot of them get scribbled out. But not all of them. In fact I probably spend too much time doing these questions but I find it invaluable - you never know what you're going to get. But not chocolates.

I don't know if it's the fact that I'm writing a science fiction story, but the particular idea I have is definitely raising lots of questions, not just about plot and character but about deeper ideas (I know, potential wankiness could ensue) that make me consider the ramifications of the story. Or, is this story saying something about me? I've always loved the genre deeply - sci-fi on TV in the 1970's forms a fair chunk of my earliest memories, thanks to my Dad - and while I love the surface, whizz bang of a lot of it, the genre acts to ask questions about ourselves in a way I don't think many other genres really do. Like a dealer on a corner, Star Wars and the original Star Trek were my gateway drugs to stuff like Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov. But I still consider myself less literate than I ought to be.

One line of questioning has drawn me up a religious alleyway. I'm pretty much agnostic these days but raised Catholic (like Dara O'Briein says, just when you think you're out, they draw you back in!) and lots of questions linger, particularly about faith. Not just religious faith but lots of different kinds. Even just the concept of faith alone. And I find myself reluctant to push that too far as I feel that religion and questions regarding it can be very dicey territory. I don't want the idea in this script to be about religion so I have to find a way of drawing out the theme of faith in a more universal way. Right now in the world, I find too many people using ideas and questions about faith in order to push their own absolute ideas, be they religious or atheist; like I say, I'm agnostic and personally do not believe that anyone has the right to tell anyone else what to believe, unless it oppresses people, something I find on both sides of the modern religious arguments. In fact, to such a point that I have about as much contempt for hardcore atheists as I do for religious fundamentalists. Dogma is dogma.

And so I feel very anxious that I try and get this idea down on paper (and on screen, eventually) in a way that, while I hope it might encourage discussion, is told responsibly enough that it raises positive questions and doesn't fall prey to the twistings of certain ideas.

That's the thing I've discovered about writing and creating stories - everything matters and you have a responsibility as a writer and creator not just to the story but also to yourself and your ideas. If you have an idea and tell it the wrong way or write it in such a way that you lose sight of what made you write it in the first place then you do yourself a disservice as a person. Heavy shit. Is that the difference between a hack and a real writer? Not that I'd ever describe myself in the latter form, but the desire to stay true to an idea and my own feelings on a subject seems to be more and more important as I write more. A fear of audiences finding the wrong meaning (if there's such a thing) in my idea, or taking it too seriously.

All that wank about writing and discovery is true, it turns out. And to think this all came about from a daft idea about new stars in the night sky.

Sunday, 4 December 2011


Winter, I hate. Christmas, I love. It snowed last night, a light dusting of the "white shite" as I posted on Facebook. I just don't want a repeat of the last two winters when we were snowed on from a great height.

A polish of my feature script is about to commence along with the commencement of another feature. Depending on how confident I'm feeling after that I may go looking for an agent and for that I'll need a proper game plan. No sense in chasing just any agent. You need to kknow both who to approach and how to make yourself attractive as a client to them. Life is short. No sense in faffing about thinking, "I'll do it tomorrow".

Also got an outline for a promo for a campaign I've said I'll do. That and a short script. I also have another short I might give a polish to. A mock-doc. Black comedy. Pretty sick actually. A man eating himself for charity.

I haven't been to the cinema for over 5 weeks now. What the hell is going on there? Well, actually, I have been. I went to see my friend Jon Spira's film, Anyone Can Play Guitar, at the Cameo last week, complete with Mark Gardener of Ride doing an acoustic spot at the end. Nice bloke (but his set was cut short towards the end as the old lady who lives above the cinema complained about the noise!). Good film as well. You can buy the DVD at the link above. Quite proud of my mate for actually making the thing. Very from the heart and Jon is possibly the most passionate music fan amongst my circle of friends. He loves movies but he loves music and I think he' done his hometown of Oxford proud by showing the music that came from there.

No sense in not doing things. Now, where is that Ikea cabinet I've got to build...?