Dream A Little Louder

They say not to talk about your dreams. I suppose it’s because if you’re talking about them, you’re not chasing them. Obviously, that’s not true, many people talk about their dreams whilst pursuing them, it is their passion and drive for their objective that engages others, persuading them to help or join the ride. A conscious dream is a goal not yet realised.
My dream or goal is to be a working screenwriter and filmmaker. Like everybody, I feel I have stories to tell, it just so happens that I want to tell them on a screen. I do have some specific jobs or dreams I would like to do as a screenwriter/filmmaker. I would very much like to tell a definitive British black story. For a race that has graced these shores since the seventeen-hundreds, there are very few stories in fiction reflecting that on film or on television. My other dream is to reboot the X-men franchise because it is all wrong.
Another dream of mine is to work with Joss Whedon. Or maybe not. Is it good to meet those you admire? Especially in writing terms, it might be quite intimidating. No busy screenwriter has time to nurse a nervous sycophant through a starstruck induced writer’s block! So that also rules out Aaron Sorkin, Jonathan and Lisa Nolan and possibly Amy Sherman-Palladino, though she only really smashed it out of the park with the Gilmore Girls. How I would love to have that on my C.V.!
Once the dream or goal is defined, it is time to get after it. As long as it remains in one’s head and not out in the world it remains a dream, not a goal. So I write. Should I, perhaps, be writing screenplays? Probably. And I do, just not with the same proliferation that I produce blogs. I still need to take that plunge, that step to push my writing to the next level; writing a screenplay on a consistent basis.
So how would that look? The thing is, with a blog there is an audience. It may be a small one, it may even be only one individual, but that individual will read your words and feel however they feel about them. A screenplay is a blueprint for filming. It is designed to be watched, not read. When writing a screenplay, it should feel incomplete without pictures, there should be things you want to see. Otherwise, I might as well write radio plays.
The aforementioned Aaron Sorkin writes the most beautifully wordy screenplays. His characters are erudite and command wide vocabularies, utilising their words to devastating effect on many an occasion. But a lot of his screenplays can be understood without any visual reference. Michael Bay, he of Bayhem fame, using unnecessary hero shots in every film, volume cranked up to eleven, teal and orange colouring, regardless of the subject matter and generally explosions aplenty, directs screenplays that I would guess do not read so well. Visually, however, they work.
Still to achieve a dream, the goal. One has to do. The ‘do’ for me is writing screenplays and I suppose making films. I think I need to look at writing a screenplay a week, just purely as a discipline. The reasoning behind that is, my favourite type of television is the series – Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Sorkin’s The Newsroom, there are others….the Nolan’s Westworld! – and even with the changing landscape of television, it no longer being a medium where one waits for the next episode, the various streaming models giving would be viewers all the episodes at one time, I still think in terms of writing at least, you need to write episodically, almost wondering what might happen next.
Of course, that might be utter nonsense, but for me, it is a starting point, a sort of plan to get to. Now that I think of it, you’re supposed to tell everybody your dream! Apparently, it helps to make you feel more accountable, thus more likely to follow through. Whoever came up with that notion, never met a writer. Though I think it might have been referring to weight loss. Anyway, keep dreaming, keep doing.

Finding The Funny

So I’ve embarked on the writing of the second episode of my fledgeling comedy sitcom. As I am presently at a loss as to how to move forward with getting the first episode made, I thought I would retreat to the safety of writing. I say safety, I mean purgatory. Why oh why did I decide to write a comedy? Especially an episodic one. Not only do all the normal rules apply – compelling characters, an engaging narrative, a theme, an actual story – but it has to be funny as well.
That’s kind of the point of comedy, the laughing bits, otherwise, you’re just writing a soap opera. As much as soaps have humour in them, they are not comedies. There is also the comedic tone. The first episode is quite gentle, with moments of ridiculous thrown in. That means even if I think up a hilarious, gross-out comedy gem, I can’t put it in. Wrong tone.
A lot of this blather is just so much hot air. With the sitcom’s premise and the characters I already have so much scope for comedic creation. The story is in place and there are even a few peripheral characters that could be utilised. Still, the mild panic of fashioning a wholly unfunny follow-up remains. Unfunny is the fear and the fear is real.
It might be karmic, all those times I’ve watched a comedy, disdainfully sneering at its feeble attempts at mirth making. Perhaps this is the spirits of all of those mirthless labours of love returning to haunt me. After all, who am I to think I know what is funny and what is not. Obviously, the issue is most subjects are funny or can be, depending on how they are approached. I just happen to be touching on depression, a subject and situation that many can relate to even they do not find it funny.
Depression is in itself not the ripest subject for chuckles. Though Woody Allen has pretty much built a career on mental neuroses and extracting the humour from the pain of it. Misery, after a fashion, can be very funny. As long as it is not your own misery. Even though many can derive humour from the misery or discomfort of others, it is not a route I am likely to take. I was always uncomfortable with watching characters embarrass themselves in fiction, especially if they did not deserve it.
Of course, a lot of the comedy will also come down to the actors. I know what I want to see, but it is different once the action leaves your head and living, breathing people have to enact it. No matter how vivid your imagination, tonally the voices that the characters speak in your head are still variations on your own. How they look will, of course, be very different to yourself, unless you have written some awful Norbit-esque monstrosity. So, the way it sounds in your head will be different from how it will play out in reality.
Then, by my own reasoning, I shouldn’t be writing the second episode, not until I’ve cast the first episode at the very least. As I have already started writing the second episode, however, I feel somewhat committed to completing it. Having spent weeks thinking of how to continue the story, changing it, coming up with parallel storylines for other characters and beginning to write, I will be proceeding with episode two, even as I try to get the first episode made.
It is all just an elaborate procrastination of course. As is the writing of this blog – whilst I’m writing this I’m not writing the second episode or recruiting for the first – but it is a way of building, building toward a sudden need to get it all done. That is how I work; faff, faff, faff, boom! I’m in the zone. It’s coming.

The Smouldering Boats

The performance coach and inspirational speaker Anthony Robbins, says that to move forward in life you have to burn your boats. The boats are, of course, metaphorical. We have not all reached Mister Robbins level of finance, we can’t all own a boat or boats. The metaphorical boats he was speaking of are the safety nets we might employ that prevents us moving forward.
The phrase is actually derived from history and a historical event. Caesar had come, a flotilla of ships in his wake, to conquer Britain. His forces were outnumbered by the British and he knew that if his command felt there was an opportunity for a retreat, they would take it. As his legions gathered on the cliffs, he had them look to where the ships were moored. All the boats were burning. There would be no retreating. With no other option than to go forward and fight, his forces advanced and defeated the British.
If you “burn your boats”, you have no option but to make a life on the island you have landed on. That is sort of where I find myself now, except I am not quite ready to fan the embers, hence the title. The thing is, my ‘boat’ has been smouldering for quite some time now. Years actually. The reasons not to let everything else go and focus on writing and filmmaking is simply fear.
I can come up with many other seemingly authentic excuses – because that is all they are – but the overriding one is fear. Fear of what though? There is fear of the obvious; failure and success. One does not want to fail, even if failure is inevitable on some level. Conversely, success is scary because it needs to be maintained, so is another route to eventual failure. Not that failure is fatal. The oft-quoted lesson of failure is that you learn more from failure than you do from success. Tell that to the practically failsafe J. J. Abrams.
There is also a strange guilt associated with wanting to ‘work’ in a creative industry, coming from a working class background, growing up around people who worked long hours for other people, so as they could pay bills. Even having felt the pressure of directing and making films, the pain of writing and rewriting, it does not feel like work or a chore. It feels like your cheating, as though you are trying to con a living.
There is the fear of disappointing people; family, friends, peers. If you don’t take a risk and stay uncomfortably miserable in your comfort zone, the only person you will definitely disappoint is yourself. Disappointing yourself is doable. You can lie to yourself, keep the reasons coming, the ‘I can’t just’ litany of excuses and stories you tell yourself. Truthfully, you know that those closest to you will support whatever it is that you want to do, especially if you are showing the necessary commitment.
What is difficult, is forging ahead with creative work when no one in your immediate circle – friends, family – has any interest in your thing. Everybody needs their circle. Even though writing is a pretty insular pursuit, having like-minded people around, those you can bounce ideas off and who understand the grind of the creative process. As much as any and every creative person, with writing or filmmaking, has a particular singular view or perspective on what their project or work should be. Still, nobody wants to be alone.
One has to get into the headspace, a selfish, singular headspace. That is where the bravery comes, the overcoming of fears, to forge forward, almost blithely believing that what you are doing is not only needed but will be appreciated and liked.

As long as the crutch of the job, other fiscal opportunities, sensible, credible excuses and the mythical peer pressure exist in the mind, the boats will always remain smouldering. It’s getting to the point where I must blow on the embers and push the boats out into the sea to be consumed and sink. It’s time to burn the boats.

Me See, Me Do.

More and more I am thinking that I am going have to write the next episode of my sitcom, even as I contemplate – see procrastinate – making the first episode. It is probably another way to avoid tackling making said episode. More procrastination.
I know I’m going to make the first episode, so I should just get on and do it. Yes. I’ll get to it. Instead of outlining the next episode or fashioning some pithy prose to persuade people to join me on my project – crew recruiting – I am having a cinema day. A female empowerment cinema day to be precise. Having just finished watching Colossal – a peculiar but highly enjoyable Anne Hathaway starrer, I have gone straight into the latest attempt by the DCEU to redeem itself in Wonder Woman, starring the luminous Gal Gadot. I realise referring to her looks is not very empowering, but the woman is distractingly attractive!
My stalling does seem to be working as I am sure I have the second episode opening worked out now. It has completely changed from what I had in mind a week ago, so score one for procrastination. Other elements of the story are coming together as well, though the main character is at a bit of a loose end at the moment. That, obviously, is a problem.
What you, dear reader, cannot know is that I write my blogs over the course of a day. Even though they are short, because I tend to write as I commute, my writing windows can be brief. Also with various goings on during any given day, the subject matter can sometimes get subverted. This being a film blog, after a fashion, and me having watched two films that bear similarities, whilst being very different, it is hard not to slip into review mode.
I am not going to review the films; Wonder Woman has already had many fulsome reviews, that I would just be reiterating and Colossal is a film that needs an in depth and researched review – I want to know who wrote it (though if you want to read a good review of it, you could do worse and go here). What I will say is what watching good films, which both are, does for me.
There is the obvious; they inspire, especially from a story point of view. That Wonder Woman is a tentpole film, but still manages to bring heart and emotion, as well as the thrills and spills you would expect, is testament to the story craft. Colossal is a different beast altogether, managing to make an incredible story, involving a monster a giant robot and disaster in Seoul, believable and engaging.
Watching good cinema, great cinema, having watched a fantastically intricate episode of American Gods the night before, one cannot help but be inspired by the talent of the writers and story makers. The visual flare of all the fare – American Gods is very cinematic in its shot selection – is breathtaking, true visual storytelling.
It makes me want to try different types of storytelling, explore less conventional methods of exposition, or in the case of American Gods, have the bravery to trust the audience to stick with the story. Of course, that takes compelling characters and a strong story arc. The detail in these projects – Colossal has a scene in which Anne Hathaway’s character, Gloria, visits Jason Sudeikis’ Oscar at his home and we the audience discover, just by the chaos of his home, that Oscar is not as together as he might seem. Wonder Woman not only has the detail you expect in a big budget film, it also, unlike so many of the rest of the DCEU fare, has amazing colour, though not quite on the level of the gorgeous Nocturnal Animals – cinematography to die for! – it still rises above the pallidness of Man Of Steel and B vs. S.
The best thing about seeing great cinema and television is the feeling of excitement to do your own thing, to try and emulate or match that which you admire. It may be procrastination, but it is the necessary kind and hopefully, it will help to make me a better storyteller and filmmaker.

Create To Relate

So I signed back up to shootingpeople.org a website and resource for budding writers, actors, filmmakers and all things related to film. I have not used it for a few years as it is a few years since I last made a film. Now that I am on the lookout for a producer to get my next project rolling, it seemed a good time to actually take some sort of action.
Having not been on the site for a good long while, I decided to take a little look around, especially as I’m paying for the service. I came across a pitch section that I am pretty sure was not on the site before. Basically, you pitch your project and ask for what you’re after – a producer in my case – and hopefully said person will see it on the site and get in touch.
As I have always said, film and television are collaborative, you need others to do good work. The pitching of scripts or stories, however, introduces another element of the creative process that some like to ignore or feel themselves to be above; acceptance and the need to be appreciated.
There will always be those people who proclaim that they do not care whether they are liked or accepted, they are going to do their own thing. Whilst this is, to a degree, laudable, only the exceptionally talented can really take this stance. If you are lucky enough to be considered exceptional amongst your peers, people will want to work with you, your talent allowing you to pick and choose your collaborators. Even so, the exceptional still have to display their talents – be accepted – initially before they can become choosy.
The truth is we human beings crave appreciation, some more so than others, but we all have someone in our lives, whether it be work life or personal, that we want appreciation and recognition from. The pantomime that is the annual Academy Awards, in these cynical times where everybody tries to show they are above such things, invites derision in some quarters. It is overlong, self-important, self-congratulatory and indulgent. It still matters. No matter what social media might spout; it’s sexist, it’s racist, it’s run by old farts, all of which is true, it still does not take away from its relevance.
It’s not just the Oscars. The Golden Globes, Palm D’or, Baftas, Emmys, they all matter to the content creators; writers, directors, makeup, set design, cameramen and women, special effects and every other type of job that is involved in film and television production. Though winning the awards is obviously nice, it is the acknowledgement of your peers, people who understand what you do, that gratifies.
Before all of that – or not, which is the reality for most – you have to persuade others of your vision, make them believe that you’re worth that which is most precious to them; their time. Not only must they believe that you’re worth it, they have to believe the project is worth it. Even after all of that, a good script, a good team, actors who are committed, you can still end up with a project that fails.
It takes only one believer, that one person whose opinion you value, that you respect enough to want to show them that their encouragement or attention was not unwarranted, that you have the wherewithal to push through with your project, that you can overcome the fears and get your work done.

Of course, your belief in your own project is where it all starts. Unless you are one of those outliers who happens to write something brilliant first time out of the gate, you’ve been working on things, rejecting things, rewriting, feeling disappointment when you thought you had nailed it, only to find out that it maybe isn’t quite….right.
A creative endeavour may not be necessary for existence, like oxygen or food and shelter, but for our sanity, to feel alive, to get that perspective one may never consider, life needs the content creators, the writers, the filmmakers, the creatives to believe, to feel relevant, to create.

All Together Now

The making of films or television programmes is a collaborative process, that involves the input of many, many people. With television being much more immediate and in our homes, the creative process, whilst still as involved, does not attract the same sort of attention for the unseen, working minds behind the output that film does. A film’s star or director are routinely used to promote the film, especially if their previous fare has been well received. In television, it is all about the story.
The landscape is changing a little on television, more in the US than in the U.K., writers, or the showrunner – a much more prevalent role stateside – is coming to the fore in television. Names like Greg Berlanti, Shonda Rhimes, Kurt Sutter, David Benioff are now the creative forces and decision makers behind some of television’s most successful shows.
Whereas a few of these showrunners are becoming well known and rightly lauded for their media contribution, it is still in the realm of film where the auteur is truly appreciated and, to some degree expected. In television, in the U.K. at least, the show creator or writer still remains an anonymous figure.
There are a few shows here in the U.K. that have elevated the creative forces behind them to the national consciousness. Sherlock has made Mark Gatiss and to a lesser extent, Steven Moffat, household names. Julian Fellowes is similarly well known due to the success of Downton Abbey. These are shows that have one writer or a duo as opposed to the more common setup of a group of writers working on an overall arc.
In film, it is usually the director who is credited with the overall vision of the film. Unlike television, films are a complete work, so the director shapes the whole look, from story and pace to visuals and acting performances, they are usually involved from beginning to the end. With television, episodic as it is, after the initial concept or idea, the show can be developed by numerous writers and generally have a rotation of directors.

With television, episodic as it is, after the initial concept or idea, the show can be developed by numerous writers and generally have a rotation of directors.
Where television has sometimes run into problems is when someone, generally a powerful writer, is too attached to the material, not allowing other writers or directors creative input or insisting on writing every word of every script. The brilliant ‘The Newsroom’ suffered from that, with the incredibly talented Aaron Sorkin apparently so invested in the material, he insisted on writing every episode. On a multi-charactered, verbally complex and layered show, it was a big ask to maintain the quality of even the first episode over three seasons. The first season was ten episodes, the second cut marginally shorter to nine. By the third season and final season, it was down to six. Even for a talent such as Sorkin, with his dialogue-heavy writing style, taking on the burden of scripting every chatty episode was too much.
The rise of the showrunner is a good thing. The quality of television has benefited from the vision of so many of these great creatives, their vibrant ideas and story arcs light up screens worldwide. A good showrunner though is good because they surround themselves with good people. Even if they are great storytellers in their own right, they know that utilising other creative voices, even those that are different from their own, can improve the shows and ideas they want to bring to networks.
Whether the showrunner will ever come to these shores is up for debate. Cable television is slowly becoming more prevalent, but the national broadcaster, the BBC, still remains, for a lot of us who would try to get a foot in the industry, the gold standard and first port of call. Still, I believe the showrunner or more Gatiss’ and Fellowes’ are inevitable.
With so many ways to get one’s work into the public sphere now and the aforementioned rise of cable television, the path of the future showrunner is gradually coming into focus. Just remember though; it’s a collaborative business.

And Some Wine For The Ladies.

With only two days to go until Wonder Woman hits the cinemas, it is a good time to reflect on the paucity of heroine roles in cinema. Whereas on the small screen there are an ever increasing number of strong female characters, from the kick-ass to the cerebral to the Machiavellian, on the big screen female characters continue to support their male leads.
There has always been the, frankly poor, argument of female leads not being able to open films. While it may be true that there are not many women who headline films, making them must-see events, it was not always so. Before the sixties, there is a whole pantheon of female actors who headlined films, from Lillian Gish to Claudette Colbert, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Fonda.
As films became more actions driven, less dialogue heavy, the men came ever more to the fore. Whereas before, cinema was still pretty much like television, with the dialogue being paramount, it was, perversely, the rise of television that created the need for something bigger.
To give people a reason to leave their homes and invest in seeing a story that is projected on a massive screen, there needed to be more than a film that would look just as impressive on a small screen. There needed to be a spectacle. For a short while, there was a resurgence of the musical, but as great as dancing is, musicals are an aural experience as much as a visual one. Cinema needed something else. The blockbuster was born.
The thing with those early seventies blockbusters is that they were very much old school hero films. Jaws, Towering Inferno, Airport and its sequels, these were films that centred around a man overcoming overwhelming odds or situations to save the day. With this model proving so effective, the everyman blockbuster was set to dominate. In the following decades, there were variations; muscles and martial arts in the eighties, muscles and technology in the nineties, back to muscles and martial arts in the noughties and then the era of superheroes began.
There have of course been many superhero films over the years, though, surprisingly on the big screen at least, few have captured the imagination. One would think that comics would be perfect for translating to screen, after all, they have ready-made storyboards and heroes and villains galore. Unfortunately, the lurid costumes that work so well on a two-dimensional page do not work so well when brought into the real world.

Though the camp television incarnations of Batman and Flash Gordon worked and even the earnest Hulk of Bill Bixby is fondly remembered, on the small screen. It took Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman to get costumes characters any credibility on the big screen. Still, it was not until Tim Burton’s Batman in ’89 and Jon Favreau’s 2008 Iron Man that the genre really began to gather apace.
With the genre being such huge business, the two main comic book players, Marvel and DC, have been vying for top billing in the world of superheroes. The battle has thus far been overwhelmingly dominated and won by Marvel. The DC output, up to this point, has been underwhelming, with only elements of the films under their banner garnering positive feedback.
Up until now, DC have never looked like matching Marvel. Their films have been bloated and humourless, the best version of the Batman was unrelated to their output and they have never managed to capitalise on their superior television output. Wonder Woman could be – someone would say needs to be – the turning point in their fortunes.
Wonder Woman is not only looking like a – if early word is anything to go by – good film, it is looking perfectly timed as well. Both studios have been trying to release a film with a female lead. Both had poor efforts before with Marvel’s anti-heroine, Elektra, best forgotten by any Frank Miller’s Daredevil fan and DC’s truly risible Catwoman, a film of almost indescribable awfulness. After these outputs, both believed that the cinema-going public did not want to see a female superhero.

Both studios have been trying to release a film with a female lead. Both had poor efforts before with Marvel’s anti-heroine, Elektra, best forgotten by any Frank Miller’s Daredevil fan and DC’s truly risible Catwoman, a film of almost indescribable awfulness. After these outputs, both believed that the cinema-going public did not want to see a female superhero.
They were wrong. People, as ever, did not want to see awful films. Marvel, their cinematic universe chugging along successfully, saw no reason to disrupt it with a female lead superhero film, shelving indefinitely a Black Widow/Scarlett Johansson vehicle that had been mooted. They were already ticking a box – ethnic – with Black Panther slated for 2019. DC could not boast the same.

Their films, even though they made money, failed to excite the fans or critics. Their headliner, Batman vs. Superman, failed to bring any excitement to the ailing DC universe. The only glimmer of hope in the film was Wonder Woman.
Gal Gadot, the actor portraying Wonder Woman, was, even before she had donned the costume, having to fight a backlash. She was too skinny, she’s not an Amazon, she’s got a funny accent – the comic book loving, keyboard critics were not pleased. They were calmed a little by the cameo in B vs. S.
Now we are on the brink of the first credible female led superhero film. It not only has a female lead, it is also directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, and the word on the street is the wait was worth it. I for one cannot wait to see it. Marvel, DC have stolen a march on you for once in the superhero stakes, what have you got?

Swayze’s Way

There is, in my opinion, no legislating for the human ego, especially when it comes to the cinematic arts. I could include the performing arts as well, but as stage productions are transient, they do not have the same ego massaging impact as more permanent fare. It is not only laziness and fear that drive the televisual and filmic want of rehash or remake content. It is the egotistical belief that they can improve upon the original or former version.
There is a lot of rehashing and do-overs in music, songs get remixed, sung by different recording artists, genre changes even, but the nature of music allows one to know if they prefer a new, alternative version within the first minute. With film or television, one has to invest more time and – especially with beloved works – try and separate the new from the old.
Not every show or film can or should be remade. The remake of Carrie, whilst not terrible, was pretty pointless. Same with Total Recall; first version is still way more enjoyable than its more up to date mutant twin. There has been the odd remake that has matched or improved upon its predecessor. Michael Mann’s remake of his own film LA Takedown is one. Upgrading cast and scope to make Heat.
There will always be remakes and reimaginings of film and television shows, some good, some not so good. There will always be those who want to take a classic, beloved work and remake it. It is always a horrible idea, but as long as there is money to be had and an audience to be suckered, they will keep being churned out.
There is one person who’s films should never, ever, be remade, in any shape or form. History has shown that to take on this man’s works is folly. I speak of the, now departed, greatness that was Patrick Swayze.
Swayze, who died of cancer in 2009, was an actor fondly remembered for some classic films and roles. Though he acted for many, many years, earning nearly fifty credits, Swayze is best remembered worldwide for only a handful of roles; the television series North and South, the films, Road House, Ghost, Point Break and Dirty Dancing.
Never an outstanding actor, there was something iconic about Swayze in his seminal roles that made him irreplaceable. Sam Wheat in Ghost, Bodhi in Point Break, Dalton in Road House and the most celebrated role of all, Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing, It is hard to imagine anybody else playing those roles. Not that that stops the rights owners trying.
There was a misjudged attempt to remake Kathryn Bigelow’s dreamy Point Break. It did not go well, garnering awful reviews and making less than ten percent of its budget on its opening weekend. You would think with one of his remakes being so poorly received, they would leave one of Swayze’s most loved films alone. No. Not a bit of it. They went there.
Dirty Dancing has recently been remade into – I kid you not – a three-hour television film. Three hours. Where did they find three hours of story in a ninety-minute film about dancing and the haves and have-nots? It’s also a musical. It has not hit the UK shores yet, but if the internet meltdown is anything to go by, as well as an IMDB rating of below four and hovering at twenty percent on Rotten Tomatoes, it is not an event to look forward to.
I have written about and regularly Instagram my dislike of remakes or reboots of classic films. Just write a new story or at least plagiarise a bit. To have the gall and hubris to believe that not only can they do a remake, but they can also expand on it, is egotism of the highest order.
What is even more irritating is the modern penchant for remakes does not seem to recognise any film pre-1980! Film has been around for over one hundred years, there are plenty of films that could benefit from a remake – and rewrite – that were made before the advent of special effects.
Back to the main gist – why would anyone want to mess with a Patrick Swayze classic?! The answer? They have no honour and no shame. Leave it alone. Please.

Let’s Go Again

A friend of mine, who has a film production company, but is predominately a director, called me yesterday. He is in New York getting ready to premiere the conclusion to his documentary, In The Land Of The Free, with its brilliant follow-up, Cruel And Unusual – The Angola Three Story. I urge you to see it, utterly heart wrenching. Back to the call.
He told he had read my script – I sent him a script for a sitcom – on the flight over and really liked it. I have a real ear for dialogue he told me. I thanked him, really grateful that he had found the time to read it. Not at all, he had really liked it. He then said I should make it. Really? Yes. It’s easy. It’s a sitcom so the locations will be easy, it’s mostly set in one place. Um…okay…
Understand, this is a man who has just come off the back of directing two successful sitcoms, both of which got second season renewals. I have directed, a bit…okay, three shorts. Three! I wrote and edited them as well, but that hardly qualifies me to direct and, in essence, produce a half-hour sitcom! Don’t get me wrong, I like directing, really enjoy it, but I see myself as a writer first, editor way, way second and a Director third, at a push.
Still, the challenge has been uttered and I must decide what to do. Having written the script I, obviously, know the material quite well. I know what the characters are supposed to do, how they’re supposed to act, what they’re meant to feel. That is why, perhaps, I don’t want to direct it. I have never been a fan of omnipresence in film or television production. I understand that someone has to have the overall vision, but I just feel that comedy especially, works better when many find it funny, in terms of production and vision.
Of course, there is just the plain brain frying, pants wetting, stomach churning, finger pointing, it’s-all-on-me, fear of it all. I had always thought the writing was difficult enough. The thought of pulling an entire project together, a project that could pretty much become my industry calling card, curriculum vitae if you like, is mildly terrifying.
After the elation, at a creditable source thinking the work is viable, then the panic; where the hell do I start? That was quickly followed by lucid thought, quickly followed by panic once more. I need to get a producer. Yes, a producer is what I need, someone to raise the finance. Wait a minute, do I have to pay the producer? Does the producer get paid through the producing? I don’t even know. What about the rest? Location person/manager? Catering? Get the right actors – I’ve miscast before, so I know how important it is to get the cast right – shooting schedule, makeup, camera, lighting, crew, sound? This is just the bare bones. I want it to be better than a good YouTube video!
It could all be pointless of course, regardless of whether I direct, write, produce or not.

There is no guarantee that it would be of any interest to anyone beyond the friends and family of those involved in the production. After all, there are countless programme produced, year after year, that do not find an audience.
Still, what choice do I have? I could send it out to production companies in the hope that someone else likes it and pays to have it made. It would probably turn out a lot different than I imagined it, but that is the lot of being a screenwriter. I could also just keep writing. Just keep honing the craft, looking for that perfect script, the perfect calling card. That would be the way of cowardice, telling myself I need to work on ‘it’ more, that it could be better. Of course, it could. That is the same for anything; it can always be better. That does not matter. Anyone can be brilliant in their basement, they can stubbornly believe that they are great writers, actors, artist, but no one ever sees it, it does not matter.
So, it looks as though I am about to embark on another filmmaking adventure. Wish me luck.