Sunday, 12 September 2010

A brief history of time. Very brief. I'm talking the last year kind of brief.

Time. It's a funny thing isn't it.

Sigh. Yes, this is about to get heavy.

What is it with the minutes, hours, days, week, months that gives them the right to just carrying on passing without making sure that I'm getting stuff done. I think the general consensus is that time is much less tolerant of writers. Even now as I sit here I am certain that time I am moving in slow-mo as the world around me speeds through seconds and minutes like Alanis Morissette in the video to 'Thank You' except with more clothes on. 

It's sort of the opposite effect that Hammy gets in Over the Hedge after he drinks an energy drink:

The last year in particular has been one massive, wonderful, exhausting, enlightening, terrible and terrific blur and I'm sad that it's over.  I feel like I've travelled so far in such a short space of time and as things begin to slow and I reflect back on a year that has given me so much hope in my career and life in general,  let's hope I'm not stood still for too long, because it's chilly up north. Especially when you cant afford pyjamas like our Alanis. 

I better pass this bloody MA now, or I will be deleting this and all similarly upbeat (yes upbeat!) posts.

Oh and seen as we're reflecting on the past, if you would like to have a look at some of my earlier snippets of writing in the form of film reviews, here are a few links.

The Wrestler
Slumdog Millionaire

The END. For NOW... 

Don't Feed the Animals

The Zoo. It's an odd place isn't it, where children try to poke fingers through the lion cages and scuffle to get a glimpse through the glass at empty reptile tanks.

But what if we saw the world through the eyes of the animals staring back at us? 

The pilot episode of Don't Feed the Animals introduces us to three different perspectives of life in Durnovaria Zoo on the day of its relaunch.

Meet Winston, a self-confessed thesp and luvvie chameleon as he battles to keep his colour long enough to show his not-so adoring public what he's made of; Gertrude, counsellor and all round hypochondriac warthog who reluctantly resides in the petting zoo; And Chanelle and Rodney, a couple of pandas going through the motions as we delve deeper into their relationship problems.     

The radio play was produced and conceived by Mog McIntyre and written by myself, Rick Maughan and Graeme Comrie and can be found here.

Happy listening!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Evidence-Interactive: The radio play what I wrote.

Well after much hard work from my partner in crime, Lorenza Samuels, the Evidence-Interactive website is up and running.

So if you would like to while away an hour or two investigating the disappearance of Emily Simons, click on the link below to take a look at the evidence table and solve the crime.

Or you can listen to the radio play in full by clicking on the bottom centre notice on the home page.


Sunday, 13 June 2010

Writer's Block

The title of this post may have you thinking its subject has something to with procrastination, laziness and all round non-constructiveness in relation to writing.

Fooled again dear reader for I bring you, as well as stolen puns, tales from the script and its metamorphoses from the humble written word to the sweet sound of the radio broadcast.

BIRSt, Bournemouth's Internet Radio Station have been broadcasting live for a fortnight from the 7th until 18th June. Nestled somewhere in the wonderfully varied and unique timetable of the station's output is BIRSt's Writer's Block - a four part drama serial produced by Lorenza Samuels and made up of five minute slots starting with one writer and continued by another and so on. 

I wrote the second part of the serial which originally aired on BIRSt Live on the 11th June. The only rule I had to abide by when writing was the inclusion of certain words and one single action that were suggested to BIRSt via Twitter, Facebook and Email. If you're feeling in a playful mood, try and guess what they were.. 

Answers in the post below - and no cheating!!

Writer's Block - The Answers

Hopefully it wasn't completely obvious which words/actions I had to sneak into the play or I fear I failed completely!

Although I would like to add, in a pathetic attempt to defend myself, none of the words/phrases were exactly what you would class as 'everyday':

Cumberbund (Possibly the oddest word in the world in my opinion)
Espionage (This word rarely comes up in conversation unless someone's isn't that good at said career choice)
Bamboozle (Anybody else use to play this game on teletext? No, just me. Ok then..)
Action: Accidentally stepping into a waste paper basket 

Monday, 26 April 2010

A blast from the past

Do you remember this toy ad from the 80s?

Of course you don't. Because Lots-o-Huggin' bear doesn't exist except in the fabulously well realised imaginations of the creatives at Pixar studios as they put the finishing touches to the long awaited animation Toy Story 3. If it wasn't brilliant enough that they created a concept whereby they practically designed their own merchandise, viral videos such as this show their dedication to making you believe in the magic. I could have owned a Lots-o-Huggin' bear instead of a Care Bear (Sunshine bear, just in case you were wondering) and I remember ads just like this one. This commercial would have fitted quite nicely in between a 'Baby wee wee' and 'My Little Pony' ad. But what I love about this ad, complete with the dodgy tracking making you believe its been recorded on VHS, is that this isn't for the little ones who will one day have their own memories of toy ads. It's for all us grown-ups out there. Now as depressing as it is to refer to myself as one of these, I take great comfort in knowing that someone out there that cares about us oldies too. And so when I sit down in the cinema to watch Toy Story 3, I will be able to believe in the magic just as much as my 4 year old nephew sat next to me.

Toy Story 3 is released in Cinemas in the UK on July 23, 2010

Monday, 19 April 2010

'It's time's like these..'

Well the MA is drawing to a close and my major is fast approaching. Without any idea of what to write, one thing I know is that if it doesn't make people laugh even just a little bit, I'll be disappointed.

At the moment, I'm working on a 30 minute radio drama and even though I know it's supposed to be a really serious radio drama, I can't resist putting (and later deleting) the odd line of comedy to break the tension. I just can't help it and I think that often even in the most dramatic situations there is always a little bit of comedy to be found. It's what makes us human.

The moment in my life that symbolises this most is the point of complete heartbreak in my family, when my grandfather died suddenly. He was and is absolutely beloved by every member of my family. A lovely warm, funny and downright silly Grandad who spoiled his grand-daughters with fruit pastilles, mint imperials, Cadbury's Chocolate Eclairs and the odd trip to Blackpool or Lytham, St Annes. At his funeral we laid roses into his grave. They were yellow, his favourite colour, defining his bright, warm character so well. My mother, tearful herself and in an attempt to comfort her sobbing daughters tried to put her arm's around us all. And it was then that she uttered the words that have haunted her ever since: 'It's time's like these I wish I was an octopus.' And just like that the tears of sorrow turned to a mixture of laughter and love as the sun shone through the trees and we all wished Grandad was there to laugh with us.

It's his birthday today, he would've been 79. And even though I'll never hear him tell another joke or get him to pull his false teeth out before getting shouted at, I'll always remember the importance of comedy because inevitably, where you find laughter you also find love.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

I guess now it's time that you came back for good

Well it's been a while hasn't it. And no excuses this time, well except one. I've just completed a module of my MA called 'Cross-platform' practice where the brief was working in a group to create a cross-platform product for kids. Part of this also involved writing a blog, and while I was busy scribbling down every little detail of the last six weeks, I neglected you. My first, my last, my everything...

If you're having problem sleeping and would like to take a look at my project blog (warts and all), it can be found here:

I can't say I'm not relieved that it's over and done with, but it has been an experience. I think the most valuable thing I can take away from it has been working with people that I'd never even talked to before, even dare I say it, building friendships. Of course I didn't get on amazingly with everyone but the people with who I most certainly did, made up for it. It was also interesting being involved in other disciplines, things I'd never even considered being a part of. And I found out that actually I'm not half bad at some other stuff... and some things I'm appalling at. Acting for instance (videos not to follow) was something I realised, despite my desire to be the next Helen Mirren, should be left to the professionals.

But the thing I realised most, after six weeks of being away, the written word is my bff and it's been too long.

But honey I'm home and I've missed you.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

'Ideas are Hard' (Brockbank, 2010)

If there's one thing I've learnt from pursuing a career in writing it's that a good idea is half the battle. If you don't have something in your head that you actually care about and want to see where it will go, you might as well stop staring at a blank screen and give up. Because it's certainly not going to come that way.

Well this is my experience anyway. I'm not sure whether this is particular just to me but I usually find that once I have an idea mapped out in my head and the first few lines of a script written on the page the rest is easy. Well no, not easy. But easier. The first few lines and the commitment to the chosen story is just the encouragement needed. There will be plot changes, name changes and countless rewrites. But the very essence, the bare bones of what will one day be deemed good enough to be referred to as the final draft is there. And that always feel nice.

At the moment, I'm onto my third draft of a 20 minute comedy screenplay I am writing as part of my MA. The majority of the script uses inner monologue which I have used before but never to this extent. I would be lying if I said it wasn't a challenge. But what has shocked me about this script is the realisation that the rewriting and reworking that I often found extremely tedious is fast becoming my favourite part of the process as I fiddle and tweak changes that however insignificant always seem to make rather more of a dramatic change than I expected. Perhaps it's because in the past I was ignorant enough to think that the editing, re-writing and different drafts were not necessary. Looking back on the atrocities to English Language committed in my name, they most certainly were. How very silly of me. Will try Harder.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

OMG and FML it's Valentine's day 2moro

February 13th: The pre-cursor to a day of disappointment. Expectation is high, and self esteem is low.

Most people are hoping for at least one card even if it is from their Mum. And to be honest I never even got one from her (make of that what you will). And guess what, I'm not a fan of St Valentine and his annual day of ridicule (or is that not what he's the patron saint of?)

And it's not for the reasons most people site. Yes it is a horribly commercial and contrived celebration. Restaurants churn out crap mass produced dishes from a set menu and charge you extra for the privilege. Yes that's annoying too, but what really gets my goat is that Valentine's Day implies that you have to be madly in love with someone to be a part of the sham celebration that is February the 14th.

I remember vividly that when I was about 11 years old my older sister asked me who I was going to send a Valentine's card to. I panicked. I really didn't know who my valentine was. The day was fast approaching. I ended up blurting out the only boy who I knew my sister could verify was real even though I had no feelings whatsoever for my poor unsuspecting friend. Which, looking back I can see is perfectly natural as 11 was far too young to be considering such things as love and marriage. Even at the age of 23 I'm still not completely sold on the whole idea.

Eventually though I was outed as a fraud after I went on about it a bit too much, declaring my undying love rather too nonchalantly. My sister had uncovered my secret. And I was ashamed. Why didn't I fancy anyone. And of all month's to be so indifferent in relation to the subject, why February.

And that's why I don't like Valentine's day because it forces people to make bad decisions based on the fact that they don't want to be single or alone on this day. Like all the holiday seasons (if Valentine's day can be classed within this category) waiting for one day of the year to act a certain way is a cop-out.

So the next advertisement you see that tries to convince you to buy something nice or take that special person out for the evening, leave it a few days, a week, or a couple of months and show the person that you love just that.

Not because someone else thinks you should, but because you want to. I wonder which they'd prefer?

And if like me are almost puking onto your keyboard as you read this I shall leave a little video that for me, really encapsulates the spirit of the whole subject.

Friday, 5 February 2010

"The Hibernator"

Well it feels like only yesterday I was wishing you all a Merry Christmas and predicting a Happy New Year. And now its February. Already. But.... I meant to mention that during Christmas I tend to eat a couple of months worth of food in order to spend January and February sleeping it off. Yep, that's right I'm a Hibernator (It's like being The Terminator only more docile). So that's my excuse. And it's true. Honest.

Ok... so it's not true. But technically, it's not that far off. I mean it's not like I've spent the last month partying, socialising and generally living up to my reputation as a student. My days and nights have been spent mainly in one of three situations:

1. Eating,
2. Sleeping,
3. Sitting in front of keyboard and a blank screen

Poor girl, I hear you cry.

Fear not reader, it's not all bad.

Because all three of these tasks require me to stay stuck in the house, I'm finding more and more that I am succumbing to the reclusive and introverted condition that often affects writers. Not that I've ever been an extrovert, but more and more I feel able to communicate the world through words without being comfortable in it.

Hmm. Still sounds depressing, let me elaborate.

I say it's not all bad because, whilst it sounds I'm on the brink of depression, these thoughts and feelings actually enabled me to devise a short film script which is currently in production about a woman suffering from Agoraphobia (a fear of open spaces and the outside world). Writing it was too easy, when normally writing a script feels like gnawing a limb of with your milk teeth; a long and agonizing process. But I sort of understood my main character and she is definitely a part of me. I felt lonely with her but wondered how many other people have those days when they feel the outside world is just too scary, too tiring, too difficult or too stressful to have to bother with.

And writing about her, somehow was therapeutic. Because I knew she felt that way, it made me feel normal. I realise that talking about a fictional character this way probably makes anyone reading this think I'm anything but normal. And you're probably right. Normality is alien. But who wants to be normal anyways?