The Youtubes

Hi all!

Very brief post this time. I’m definitely due to write a longer post sometime very very soon!

But for now, a small disclaimer;

After much faffing about and trying to delete my youtube channel…

It’s finally gone.

And eventually I’ll start again and record some decent quality material for it.

Much as a low quality webcam and a few of my monologues were good for a few years ago, I really feel I can do better.

Message ends.

*waves*

The unsung

Hi all,

So I was looking through my blog the other day.

And to my embarrassment I realised that I mentioned a lot of projects that were

Completely

Definitely

Going To Happen.

Then they didn’t.

And this is actually an alarmingly big part of life as a writer that I’m only just experiencing. You hear all these horror stories about “development hell” and projects that go right to the very cusp, to the very edge of becoming an actual thing that people will actually see…

And then they don’t.

And that’s a part of the world of being a writer and I’m coming to terms with that.

However I am choosing to counteract this culture a little by going back through my blog and accounting for every single project I mentioned that never happened.

Here goes;

Suburban Horror 2

Committed readers will remember the first Suburban Horror, a live horror event consisting of horror stories I wrote being performed by different actors in a poorly lit house. We could have sold it out many times over which I can say without any pride as it’s a testimony to how hungry people were for the concept rather than my writing, I’m not that well known yet I don’t think!

And off the back of that we were very excited about the prospect of Suburban Horror 2.

However I was slightly busy producing a panto from September to December, so a halloween horror show was, sadly, out.

However Suburban Horror and the stories I was planning to write for it are appearing almost note for note in the upcoming PNG production of my horror play INVOCATION, which will be happening at Halloween this year. So this one’s kind of come full circle!

Flicker

This was a short film I wrote for a visual effects designer friend of mine named Jay Murray. This was originally planned to be a trilogy of short films, but unfortunately the first film was never finished due to Jay moving away to London to pursue visual effects there.

This, honestly, is a wonderful reason for a project not taking off. Because Jay is such a talented guy, I’d much rather he jumped straight into the industry rather than making something independent. And perhaps one day the trilogy will reappear. As with Suburban Horror these things tend to unexpectedly re-emerge in different forms.

Pass Me By

This was a Superhero Romantic Comedy I wrote, that we even got to the point of casting and starting pre-production on before we had to close it off. This is a project that just lost momentum, and sometimes it’s far better to let a project slip away rather than clamour for it to keep going, pushing it forwards beyond the point where you even want to continue working on it.

It’s still a script I love that has a lot of mileage, I’d just prefer to work on it when everyone involved, including myself, can get excited about it more than other projects!

Slower, less horrendously fast version of “Awkward Werewolf”

Yeahhhh… A long time ago I put up a video of a monologue I performed at Word4word which is one of my personal favourites; Awkward Werewolf. It’s about a socially awkward man who is also a werewolf, but sadly his werewolf persona proves to be just as awkward rather than the freeing, animalistic escape it’s most often portrayed as. So much fun.

Which brings me neatly onto my youtube channel. The videos are fairly low quality visually, and I’m thinking of taking the entire channel down and starting from scratch again, generate something that’s less of an afterthought, but something I can be as proud of as this blog, which I actual write in and add content to, unlike my poor, neglected youtube channel!

The Super Awesome Writer’s Collective

Many moons ago, not long before I got married, my friends Nick Clarke, Stu Boland and I revisited The Super Awesome Writer’s Collective.

We attacked a story relay together, writing a page each, and we started to put together something really quite special.

But unfortunately, for all of us, life has developed in such a way that we weren’t able to make it a priority.

Now I’m not going to be so dramatic as to say the Collective is dead.

Let’s say on hiatus.

Because I firmly believe writing happens in community, not as part of a vacuum.

Easter Video Diaries

Those who remember my Christmas Video Diaries will remember the promise of something similar for Easter.

Well they ended up taking a very different form. Some may remember that for Easter last year I wrote a half hour play performed at City Temple Church entitled “An Easter Tragedy”, and like Suburban Horror 2 the content for the Easter Video Diaries found their way into that performance, and it turned out magnificently!

Sitcom

Seriously. My friend James Morris and I had a three series plan for this one.

Again this is another project that simply lost momentum. It’s entirely possible we’ll blow the dust from it again, but James now works for a company that carries out workshops in schools relating to film and television production, so we’re both busy with very worthwhile things!

I realise this may not have been the most interesting post.

And it’s definitely me using my blog to procrastinate from the work I’m actually supposed to be doing.

But this has been really therapeutic.

It’s really refreshing to know that none of these projects stalled for any overwhelmingly negative reasons.

And that I didn’t just lose interest and flit onto the next thing.

And actually, the whole “this week you could be working on a Superhero Romantic Comedy, next week you could be working on a Sitcom” thing actually makes being a writer utterly terrifying.

But utterly exciting.

Instructional and Cautionary

Hi all,

I’ve been thinking a lot about instructional and cautionary tales.

Basically because of the sometimes-hysterical Christian reactions to Fifty Shades of Grey.

Now I’m a Christian. I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey, and honestly the biggest problem with it is that it was marketed as a romance.

When it should have been marketed as a horror or thriller.

The abusive relationship depicted in it would have sat perfectly safely in the horror or thriller genre.

The issue is that it was presented and for many viewed as an instructional tale.

Twilight has the same issue. Bella Swan is a terrible role model but a great cautionary story.

The real battle lies in our perception.

I mean isn’t it morally reprehensible to go and see;

– That film where a young middle eastern lad lies in order to seduce a young princess under false pretences? (Aladdin)

– The film where a father is so overbearing his son pushes his disciplinary boundaries to the extent that he’s kidnapped? (Finding Nemo)

The problem is when stories that are supposed to be instructional are viewed as cautionary, and vice versa.

In fact, the best stories are a mix of both. Aladdin lies, but discovers lies get him nowhere and wins the girl by being who he truly is, Marlin is overbearing towards his son, but learns to relax and let his son Nemo find his own way.

And eventually in the sequels one would hope Christian Grey learns the error of his abusive ways and confronts his damaged past.

But let’s engage with these stories in a way that opens dialogue.

Let’s see what we can learn about being better people.

From the instructional and the cautionary elements that every story contains.

Something to say

Hi all,

So there was a panto.

Yep. Totally wrote that.

It’s the biggest production I’ve ever put on, and every day it seemed more people were being drawn in to help and make these black and white words on a page I wrote happen. And I am incredibly grateful to every single one of those people.

And it went so, so well. And I discovered my Katy is not only an incredible wife, but a formidably talented producer. We’ll be doing this again.

A couple of weeks later I went to London. I was very fortunate to be awarded a place on an Ideastap workshop run in conjunction with the BBC Writersroom. Henry R Swindell ran it and it was fantastic, there’s so much I’m going to carry with me as a writer for the rest of my life.

Like allowing what makes you angry about the world to inform what you decide to write.

Like putting the strongest argument against your protagonist in the mouth of your villain to avoid them being moustache twirly.

But the most important thing I learned was that the thing that makes a story worth telling is the fact that you are telling it.

There have been thousands of stories written throughout human history, but no one can write a murder mystery/bank robbery/science fiction/romantic comedy quite like I can.

And this is what ensures that as a writer, I’ll always have something to say.

And not just as a writer, as a human being.

Henry also quoted this lecture by Charlie Kaufman.

The thrust of it being, in a nutshell, “Say who you are”.

Saying who you are in your life and in your writing creates connection with other human beings who may well have felt alone until you added your “Me too” to the conversation.

And it’s led me to a new process when it comes to writing, taking more rigorous time to look at structure and story arc and character development.

I’ve set aside the whole of January’s writing time to write a TV drama that puts into practise what I’ve learned at the tail end of last year, and it’s been scary and new, and incredibly productive.

It’s taken me out of my comfort zones as a writer.

But no matter how uncomfortable, I’ll always know I have something to say.

Feelings Driven Fiction

So the Jurassic World trailer came out today;

I’m so excited about this. Jurassic Park is the first film I can remember my family and I going to see more than once at the cinema.

And my parents are almost always the “see a film once then only on DVD” kind of people.

To this day, the special effects still stand up. Think about that. This film was released twenty one years ago. And it still looks great.

And the layers. The layers!

Seriously, go back and watch it again, and pay especially close attention to that jolly white guy with a beard, John Hammond.

I thought he was so lovely as a character when I was a kid. And he mostly is.

But his desire for the park to be a success overwhelming all other desires, his temper outbursts, his throwing his grandchildren into an unfinished dinosaur park. He’s *really* sinister. And he’s just one of the characters whose journey is absolutely fascinating in the film. The script, the dialogue, the pace of the story, the hurtling-out-of-control-ness.

Very few films have gotten it right since.

And watching this trailer reminded me;

I want to write a monster script.

Which got me thinking about feelings driven writing.

I’ve also been rewatching Broadchurch recently.

I am utterly paralysed with excitement about series 2;

And I’m allowing that excitement to draw me back to “LAKE”, my detective drama I’ve been working on.

And I think there’s a lot to be said about allowing your feelings to draw you into projects.

There are other projects I’ve got in the pipeline that I *could* be working on.

But I’m not getting paid for those yet and I’m in the beautiful place where, for the most part, I get to choose what I’m giving my writing time to.

And if you’re a writer like me, at the very beginning of your career.

Use this time.

Don’t mope around complaining about people not making your stuff.

Write whatever the hell you want.

Because when you’re getting paid money for this, actual money? It’ll become a lot more difficult to sit down and write that gritty thriller about a killer robot set in the antarctic, or the tenderly told love story about a man and his toaster, or that period drama with aliens.

Write your passion projects now. You’ll thank yourself for it.

So what else is going on…

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

On December 6th, at 2:30 and 6:30, the pantomime I’ve written for City Temple church in Cardiff is on.

Writing this panto has been such fun, and directing it has been a rare chance to learn and exercise a new skill! I’ve never put on a production this big before from scratch, but so many people have risen out of the woodwork to help, for which I am so incredibly grateful and I’m sure it’s going to be a big success.

The script is still making me laugh in rehearsals. And it’s next week. It’s been so much fun!

Special mention must go to my producer/wife Katy, who has never produced anything like this either but she’s just risen to it. The phrase “That’s my girl…” has flitted through my mind and been spoken out of my mouth so many times I’m running out of ways to say it.

INVOCATION

I’m also very pleased to announce that I’m working on something new for PNG (Playgoers New Generation) in Newport!

I’m returning to my horror roots and writing a horror anthology play entitled “INVOCATION”. It’s been great to write something purely horror and something for the theatre again! It’s going into rehearsals at the start of 2015, and I’m hopeful it’ll be scaresome.

Regular readers will realise that this is the fourth project I’ve written for PNG (“In the Spirit of Things”, “Around the World in 80 Days”, “Four” being the previous ones) and I still just love working with these guys.

Now… There haven’t been any films about giant wombats yet, have there…?

Noise Holiday

So recently I’ve been thinking a lot about noise.

More specifically; When I’m alone in the car, or alone in the house, my first inclination is to reach for my phone, plonk Spotify on and saturate my inner world with noise.

Now, I love music. Music most often fills my heart, mind and soul with colour and joy and life. This isn’t some horrendous diatribe against the evils of listening to music.

But one day I made the decision to stop listening to music in the car when I was alone. Just for a bit.

This was often just a ten minutes or so after I dropped my wife off at work, but I started to notice something really interesting.

My inner thought life is insecure, suspicious, and above all it’s venomously critical.

And because I tend to put music on when I’m alone with my thoughts I just… Didn’t notice!

But the good news is, when confronted directly by these thoughts, I was able to recognise that, actually, they were fictitious.

I mean yes, some may emerge from some massively exaggerated version of reality, but writers, let’s be honest; Everything we write springs from some massively exaggerated version of reality.

Is it based on reality? Yes. Is it fictional? Yes.

The point being I realised that when I gave myself the opportunity to face the insecure, suspicious and venomously critical thoughts that were directed towards myself head on, to allow the dragons of my Worst Possible Fears about myself to rise up to full height, expose their jaws and snap their teeth, it led me to a simple truth.

“There is no way I am as bad as I think I am.”

I’m not as bad a friend, colleague, husband as I sometimes think I am.

And I’m not as bad a writer as I think I am.

Because when you cancel out the noise, even briefly, you realise that actually it’s not even possible to be as bad as you sometimes think you are and be completely aware of it.

People who are as bad as you think you are lack self awareness and the ability to recognise the impact their actions have. The very fact that you have those worries about your behaviour means that you are not one of those people.

And people who are terrible writers? They’re terrible writers because the suspicion doesn’t enter their head that they’re actually a terrible writer. That’s what makes them a terrible writer.

So if you’re afraid you’re actually a terrible writer then good news; You have all the tools you need to become a better writer.

Because when you know your shortcomings you can target them.

And when you’re blind to them they sit in a dark little corner, gleefully ruining your writing without you noticing.

So I had a little holiday from noise.

And I know this blog post has diverged a bit from my usual writing focussed content.

But being a better writer and working at being a better person are intrinsically linked.

It’s been a while

Hi all,

Being a part time writer is simply lovely.

I’ve written the entire first series of SPOILERS, I’ve written both episodes of DEFENCE, I’ve started my own detective drama entitled LAKE. It’s been such a productive time!

Now, LAKE warrants a moment’s consideration.

This is why every writer needs a wife who pushes them into greater things, rather than rolling their eyes at the amount of time they spend making things up.

I was in a rut. I was adapting old work and trying to make it work. I was afraid. I thought I didn’t have any new ideas.

And one morning my wife casually mentioned to me that I love BROADCHURCH, so I should write my own murder mystery.

By the end of the day I had the bare bones of a story, and to date I’ve written the first draft.

I can very highly recommend doing something that scares you. The first time I watched BROADCHURCH I thought it was beautifully structured, the facts were disseminated expertly, every character was memorable, and that denouement hurt. A lot. BROADCHURCH mattered.

So, inevitably, I thought it was something unattainable. A level of drama I could never write.

And I’m not saying LAKE is as good as BROADCHURCH. That’d take more arrogance than even I could believe I’m capable of.

The point being; If there’s a genre you haven’t tried but you love, a style you want to attempt. Go for it. You’re a writer. At the very least you owe it to yourself to attempt it.

There are two other exciting projects I don’t really want to say more about right now, aside from the fact one of them is a feature film and one is a web series, and there is the promise of money involved when it exists.

I’m looking forward to the day when it’s not a big deal to be offered money to write things, but for now; I’ll take that!

It’s also fantastic looking back at my previous blog post, I posted about four MARVEL films that I’m excited about.

I’ve now seen three of them.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 was just grin inducing. I wanted to go back and watch it again immediately. Andrew Garfield is completely the perfect Spider-Man, Dane Dehaan… Well. That guy just has to show up and he’s fantastic. I really feel the “too many villains” argument a lot of reviewers threw at it was just a really easy cheap shot, when the film was actually like watching a relay race, with the baton being handed from villain to villain, focal point to focal point, careering towards that conclusion. I loved it.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER was, in the truest sense of the phrase, Game-Changing. Again an overused combination of words, but what this film means for the Marvel cinematic universe, then watching those seismic shifts ripple into AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. was so ambitious and so exciting. And even completely ignoring the impact of The Winter Soldier on the wider cinematic universe, it was a spectacular film in its own right. The character of Steve Rogers has been left in such a fascinating place for AVENGERS; AGE OF ULTRON next year. Bring that film on soon!

X MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. Where do I start? An absolute triumph from start to finish. Bryan Singer absolutely belongs in the X Men universe and he just stepped in, took the franchise over and steered it back on course. It’s really hard to gush about this film without too many spoilers, but it expertly married together the journey First Class began and the X Men films that started fourteen years ago. Gosh.  Fourteen years. And may it go on for fourteen more. X MEN: APOCALYPSE is on the way!

My personal future and the future of the art I love is moving into a more and more exciting place.

And the anticipation of the ride ahead is almost unbearable.