Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Dexter - what's an extra 4 million....?

So there are rumours that Dexter (my favouritest show on air at the moment) is facing cancellation because of cuts:
Showtime is currently in a similar situation with its own hit series Dexter, since talks have broken down between the network and series star Michael C. Hall. The actor's contract is up after this current season, which premiered on Sunday night with a record 2.2 million viewers tuning in. That figure is up 24% from the Season 5 premiere. It is said that Showtime is offering Michael C. Hall $20 million for two more seasons of Dexter. The actor is asking for $24 million for two seasons. Negotiations are still ongoing, but it seems there is a big gap to overcome.
(via movieweb)

Read that again.
Showtime is offering Michael C. Hall $20 million for two more seasons of Dexter. The actor is asking for $24 million for two seasons.

Seriously? Four million?! What's four million to Michael C. Hall - the co-executive producer and star of Showtime's biggest show ever? Especially compared to 20 million?

Now, I'm all for people getting money for their work. It doesn't bother me that Tom Hanks has enough money to build seven Death Stars. Neither does it bother me that Michael C. Hall is (most likely) a wee bit richer than me.

But does it really matter whether he gets that four million? I'm in two minds really - part of me loves Dexter and wants to see it continue for as long as possible. But another part of me doesn't want to see the show fizzle out and get worse and worse until, finally, it's axed (Smallville anyone?).

On a side-note, Sunday's season 6 premiere seemed to present a real sense of finality about the show. As though serious shit is about to go down that will never be reversed. Dexter has to get caught eventually, right? I just hope we get to see it....

Ah, I don't know. Watch this space I suppose......

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Academy Awards "changes"

They're clamping down on the "cheating" involved in the Oscars. Take a look here.
A rundown of the new Academy restrictions:
- After Oscar nominations are announced on January 24 (until Feb. 21), no receptions may be held following screenings.
- During this period, Academy members (and nominees) may not attend non-screening events celebrating that year’s nominees.
- Filmmakers may only participate in two Q&A panels at screenings that Academy members have been invited to.
- Remember, no crap talking the other guys on Twitter or Facebook or other social media. Or else, suspension and then bye bye membership! Got it, Nicolas Chartier?
- Also, this will be the first year in which studios may send digital screeners to voting members for consideration.
But will it do any good? Will it make a difference?

There's always going to be a prestige issue with the Oscars, particularly Best Picture.

Why does a "Comedy" never win? Why does Animation get its own category - should every film not be measured on the same scale? Just two issues. There are many.

Looking at the Best Picture winners over the years:

The King's Speech (2010) - I thought Black Swan was vastly superior in terms of writing, acting, and scope. But The King's Speech was a film about a historical figure and was "important". So it won. It was always going to because of that alone.

The Hurt Locker (2009) - again, I thought District 9 was superior. But The Hurt Locker was "important" and based on fact. Whereas aliens have yet to invade (apparently).

Shakespeare in Love (1998) - I've never understood this one. How Saving Private Ryan didn't win is a mystery to me. But then.....Shakespeare in Love is about a historical figure.

Titanic (1997) - better than Good Will Hunting? Seriously?! Ah....but Titanic actually happened!

Yes, I know I'm generalising, but the point is that it's never a level playing field. Prestige is always there.

Maybe it's better that 10 films are nominated now (instead of five, since 2009). But does it mean the bottom of the barrel gets a little scraped?

Some Best Picture nominations from the last two years:

Inglourious Basterds - seriously?! Other than one very well-written scene early on, it's a bit of a train wreck, surely?

Avatar - yes, it's technologically wonderful. But what does it bring to the table? Not much.

Inception - I know a lot of people love it, but for me, the logic doesn't hold up half the time, it's not that visually interesting, the performances are sub-par, and it all seems like an inferior version of The Matrix.

Okay, rant over. You may now go back to your coffee/beer/whisky.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Talking theme - 2001: A Space Odyssey

I remember talking to someone a bit ago (someone with considerably more experience) who said that theme is pointless. A writer shouldn't think about it once during their work. It's just a word used by critics and academics. A prestige thing. To which I say - bollocks!

For me theme is what makes a good movie (which may have a very enjoyable story) a great movie. Particularly with sci-fi.

2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic example. Some say it's only about theme and that there's no story whatsoever. They may be right, but in terms of theme, it's littered with interpretation. "Bring your own subtext," as Joss Whedon would say. I've read/heard about dozens, if not hundreds, of interpretations of 2001. What is that Monolith? Is it God? Is it an alien being? An alien technology? Does it merely symbolise technological advance? Organic advance? Change in human life?

Take one route.....

The monkeys open the film. They are at war with a rival clan, it's a stalemate. One monkey touches the Monolith. Then he uses a bone as a weapon to win the clan war. The Monolith triggers his development into the humans we see aboard the spaceship. These guys also encounter the Monolith and x years later, the ship is controlled by the computer HAL - technological evolution. The people aboard this ship are forced to kill HAL, the thing they created. They destroy their own technological advance. Dave encounters the Monolith again and ages dramatically - the Monolith destroys human life and gives birth to the next stage of evolution (whatever we see floating in space). Theme = technological and human evolution.

Another interpretation: the Apollonian vs Dionysian man.....

The monkeys are purely Dionysian - instinct, emotion, the "id" - and that just doesn't work, the result is murder. Later, during the Jupiter mission, the characters we see are purely Apollonian - structure, logic, the "ego" - having created a mechanical being (HAL) to control their lives. They are completely devoid of emotion and what makes humans human. This also fails, resulting in death. So in the film's finale, the Monolith scraps both versions of Man (Dave ages rapidly and dies) and creates a new form (the foetus we see hanging in space is another kind of Man). This is the "super ego", the natural balance between the instinctual, primal side of Man and the logical, mechanical side. What Freud would say is the balance needed for humankind to function completely. Theme = what makes us human?

Anyway, those are just two possible interpretations (very loosely summarized). The point is, you can throw anything you want at 2001 and it will stick. A religious interpretation - the Monolith is God and He presses the reset button on humanity. the end, Dave - the representation of Man - becomes God (he is afterall, hovering in the sky over the world all deity-like). 

One way of creating theme would be to write the script (forget about everything else). After draft 1 or 2, look for some sort of interpretation for your script, and you can create a theme. If your film has a clear Christian vs. Atheist thing going on, change that character's name from Bob to Abel. You might surprise yourself....

Next up - Blade Runner.

Monday, 18 July 2011


This was a b-side:

All the photographs are peeling, colors turn to gray
He stayed... in his room with memories for days
He faced... an undertow of futures laid to waste
Embraced... by the loss of one he could not replace

And there's no reason that she passed
And there is no God with a plan, it's sad
And his loneliness is proof, it's sad
He could only love you, it's sad

The door swings through a passing fable, a fate we may delay, we say
Holding on, live within our embrace

He lit a match, he lay in bed,
Hoping that dreams would bring her back, it's sad
And his loneliness is cruel, it's sad
He could only love you, it's sad

Holding his last breath, believing
He'll make his way
She's not forgotten, he's haunted
He's searching for escape

If just one wish could bring her back, it's sent
And his loneliness is proof, it's sad
He will always love you, it's sad
 Written by Eddie Vedder

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

5 Shock Horrors

This blog is great for writing rants and general thoughts/advice etc. But sometimes it's nice to have the bigger audience, y'know? So scoot on over to Obsessed With Film (which has just become and check out my article on Five Shocking Horror Film Scenes to Keep You Awake at Night.
It’s undoubtedly a bad day when you and your friends happen across a seemingly deserted house, only to discover a collection of human bones and a terrifying masked killer. But spare a thought for poor Leatherface. That’s what director Tobe Hooper demands of us in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Not two kills into his massacre, Leatherface panics when Jerry discovers Pam inside a freezer. Things were fine until those meddling kids poked their noses in. What can Leatherface do? He can’t let them get away! So more killing is called for. After which, he runs in circles and collapses onto a chair. He holds his head in hands like a man who knows he’s got himself in deep trouble. This very human reaction tells us that Leatherface is not some unstoppable monster or a crazed psychopath – this is a man, nothing more. It’s a very sobering scene that ultimately brings the film back to reality. A very bad day for Leatherface!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Katie Wech interview

Here's a great talk with screenwriter Katie Wech, who has just broken into the biz with her feature Prom, having worked as a staff-writer on TV show The Dead Zone and as an assistant on Prison Break.

The vid annoyingly starts automatically when you load my blog, so go to MakingOf to watch.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Chocolate fart

Disclaimer: please excuse a young man's right to giggle.

Picture the scene.....

You're an innocent, twenty-something female out shopping with your boyfriend. You are also rather attractive (but this is irrelevant). You enter the local chocolate-selling establishment and peruse the shelves of sugary goodness. After a while, you choose your poison and head to the till, where the dashing, devilishly-handsome young gentleman (artistic licence taken) carries out his mind-numbing job.

What you don't notice is that your boyfriend has suspiciously positioned himself curiously close to the exit. He glances around, scanning the surrounding area like a casual Terminator. And then, just as you are about to hand over your money to the aforementioned devilishly-handsome young gentleman behind the till (artistic licence quota fulfilled), you hear this:


A fart. So loud a fart, so obvious a fart, that it cannot be mistaken for anything other than a fart. And you know, at that exact moment, that your boyfriend, whose suspicious self-placement by the exit you failed to notice, has done the unthinkable. And then, to make matters worse, you turn around (no doubt to die of shame) only to find that your beloved has rabbited - he's already out of the shop and out of sight.

What do you do?!

The fart was so unmistakably a fart that it's impossible to accuse it of being anything else. And the devilishly-handsome young gentleman behind the till (artistic licence quota exceeded) has an expression that says "Your boyfriend just farted. I am now judging you. Yes, YOU!!!"

The point is - how a character reacts in this situation can tell you a lot about them. Do they say nothing? Do they burst out laughing? Do they pause.....then leg it?

Arnold Schwarzenegger would say something along the lines of "My giiiirlfriend farded! This is an ambarrasing! I must teach duh giiiirlfriend a lesson. I shall farder a child wid anuther female!"

Michael Bay would say "My god, man! That was, like, the most amazingest explosion ever, man! I gotta put that in a film. Man!"

Bruce Willis would say........nothing, cos he's way too cool to go out with someone who farts!

So what would your character do? What would you do?

For those interested, this is what happened in the story told above -

Attractive Female: My boyfriend just farted.
Devilishly-Handsome Young Gentleman (artistic licence quota shattered): Erm....yeah.
*Awkward silence*
Attractive Female: Here's your money.
*Awkward silence*
Devilishly-Handsome Young Gentleman: Here's your change.
*Awkward silence*
Attractive Female: Good-bye.
Devilishly-Handsome Young Gentleman: Yep, bye.
*Awkward silence*
Attractive Female: Sorry. He farted!
Devilishly-Handsome Young Gentleman: Right.
Attractive Female: It's going to smell.
Devilishly-Handsome Young Gentleman: That's not improbable.
Attractive Female: I'm going to go.
Devilishly-Handsome Young Gentleman: Ok.....
*Attractive Female walks away. Throws up a hand on exiting*
Attractive Female: Enjoy the smell!
Devilishly-Handsome Young Gentleman: Cheers.
Attractive Female (off-screen): You twat! You farted in there! And left me! Prick!!!!

The end.

Monday, 20 June 2011


A lesson, boys and girls, from one Mr Luc Besson - this is how you shoot a suspenseful, awesome action sequence:

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Why you should all watch Ink (2009)

Ink is a 2009 US Indie film written, directed, edited and composed by Jamin Winans (no, I hadn't heard of him either). It's tricky to sum up, but IMDb says:
As the light fades and the city goes to sleep, two forces emerge. They are invisible except for the power they exert over us in our sleep, battling for our souls through dreams. One force delivers hope and strength through good dreams; the other infuses the subconscious with desperation through nightmares. John (Chris Kelly) and Emma (Quinn Hunchar), Father and Daughter are wrenched into this fantastical dream world battle, forced to fight for John's soul and to save Emma from an eternal nightmare. Ink is a high-concept visual thriller that weaves seamlessly between the conscious and the subconscious. Ink has been hailed as the new "it" movie and compared to cult classics Brazil, Donnie Darko, The Matrix, Dark City and Pan's Labyrinth.
Here's the trailer:

Looks good, right? So while I was really looking forward to it, I was also worried - the new Matrix? Really?! I was half-expecting one of those poorly-produced rip-off movies with no heart ,and style over substance. I was wrong.

Ink is probably one of the smartest films I've ever seen. Rather than being completely detached from itself, like No Country For Old Men (I liked that film, but the ending was just too anti-climax for my tastes), Ink cleverly straddles the line between realism and fantasy. No answers are given to you (as would probably be the case in a Hollywood-ized version) and you're made to work your arse off to keep up. You're constantly trying to work out the motivations of three characters (including the character Ink from the title).

There's definitely a low-budget feel to the film and some of the acting is a little hit-and-miss. But not only is it visually stunning (pay very close attention to some clever editing), with awesome special effects, the film tells a gripping plot with compelling characters. Forget the dream-warriors and scary monster people - at the heart of Ink is a story about a man who has become detached from his daughter.

So that's substance taken care of. And then comes the style (which is why most people are going to watch this film, let's be honest!). There's a bit of a Harry Potter feel to opening - ordinary world being invaded by the unusual, with dream-weavers appearing from nowhere in the middle of suburban streets. Then there's a stunning action sequence that makes sure you don't even think about turning off.
If you're so inclined, you might like to write an essay on it - I'd recommend an existentialist reading of the film (just to be poncy!). Point of view is very important and one character says something along the lines of "it's all about how we perceive ourselves." Exactly right in this film. Time is also a factor - what happens when etc. Indeed, does it happen at all? And while you're at it, might as well throw in a free will vs. determinism debate too.

There's loads to talk about, so if you like analysing films, it's for you. But despite its various levels, Ink never preaches to the audience. It says "here's a idea....a question....we're not saying what the answer is, but we invite you to take a stab at it."
I don't describe many films as beautiful (to name a few - A Beautiful Mind, 2001, Blade Runner) But this one is, both visually and in its story. It's not for everyone, but I think you should all go off and watch it. It's a great example of what Indie film makers can do on a limited budget with just a strong story. Also make sure you check out the DVD commentary.

So if you give it a whirl, let me know what you think. Even if you hate it. Even if you think it's more brainless than Michael Bay's Recycle Bin and less entertaining than The Phantom Menace.

Stay shiny!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Review - X-Men: First Class (2011)

Let's forget about the comics - I love them, but this is a film. Obviously the biggest complaint is "this isn't Xavier's First Class at all! Grr!!!" Yes, I would love to see the origins of the X-Men with Cyclops, Beast, Ice Man, Angel and Marvel Girl. But I'm ignoring that completely. Alternate timeline, in a way.

So....X-Men: First Class. For the record, I'm a big fan of the first two X-Men films - I thought they did a good job of balancing comic book action with real-life, realist situations. I really didn't like X-Men 3 (too many characters not doing anything, too many issues not dealt with enough). And I hated X-Men Origins: Wolverine (absolutely terrible!). First Class is a mixed bag.

The film opens using segments from the first X-Men film - Young Eric in Auschwitz during WWII. Some clever editing shows evil mastermind Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), who sees Eric's abilities and investigates further. The way Magneto's powers are explored and developed from then on is fascinating and compelling, with some dark shocks to really show the good-to-evil transition.

So it's a strong opening, the only downside being that it's a little disjointed, darting from one location to the next. But if you're half awake (and you will be any time Michael Fassbender's Eric Lensherr is on screen - he owns everything!) it won't be a problem.

Once the film gets into its stride, there's loads of fun to be had - Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) struts around Oxford chatting up the ladies by reading their minds and regaling them with facts about mutations (remind me try that one in a bar!). Meanwhile, Eric goes from country to country on a revenge mission (I won't reveal why). And it's dark - being able to control metal, ripping fillings out of people's mouths and diverting bullets is child's play. It makes for great viewing - you understand Eric's choices, but can easily see the seeds of Magneto trying to get out.

We get to see the meeting of Charles and Eric, which is nice. My only issue is that, whilst significant, it seems to be played down. And from that point, the film isn't quite as good. Eric's revenge mission takes a back seat. Granted, it's probably necessary to tell the story, but you can't help thinking there's a more compelling story to be told by following Eric all the way.

You'll probably notice that I haven't mentioned the X-Men at all. That's because they take a long time to enter. A montage shows Charles and Eric recruiting mutant after mutant. And it's in this scene where the film hides its shiniest moment - amongst these mutants, there is a cameo. I'm not saying who, but you will smile when s/he appears.

Once Charles' First Class is assembled, Sebastian Shaw's plan for nuclear war (after which mutants will stand victorious) moves swiftly along, as he manipulates both US and Russian military forces to get what he wants. So Eric and Charles leap into action to save the day.

Essentially, this is two films. The first half is about Eric and his revenge against Shaw, with Charles finding a bigger purpose in life. The second half focuses more on the young X-Men, with Havok, Mystique, Beast, Banshee et al getting some screen time. 

Mystique's story is probably the most compelling as we learn why she decided to throw in her lot with Eric. Beast's is obvious and a little cliche, and would have worked a lot better had Hank appeared earlier in the film. But it works. Havok, however, is completely irrelevant. He could easily be removed from the film without consequence and seems only there to make up the numbers. The same goes for Banshee. They both take up valuable time which could have been devoted to Beast's story.

Shaw's mutant henchmen are made up of diamond-edged telepath Emma Frost and teleporter Azazel. Azazel really is there to make up the numbers. But that's fine - he's cool and has some decent action scenes (he's the first film's Sabretooth). Frost however, is a wasted opportunity. Zero screen presence and none of the jazz the comics gave her. A huge shame, since she could have been a great addition.

So it's a mixed bag. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are both excellent and Kevin Bacon is fun too (maybe a bit more humour would have been good?). I was about ready to give this film a 4/5 rating until the younger cast appeared. They do their best, but unfortunately, they're not given enough screen time to do their jobs.

The most fun definitely comes from seeing Eric's transition to Magneto (complete with retro costume). Had the film focused solely on that (and forgotten the First Class), it would have been much better. A vast improvemet on the last Wolverine movie, but could have been better I feel.

Of course, there's huge sequel, so hopefully the new X-Men will be properly developed there. And they're missing a trick if they don't put Emma Frost centre stage!

3.5/5 - go see it, then wait for it to drop to £10 in HMV.

X-Men (2000) - 4/5
X2 (2003) - 4/5
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) - 2/5
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) - 1/5
X-Men: First Class (2011) - 3.5/5

Friday, 27 May 2011

'sKorned' facebook page

Howdy folks. My first feature film - sKorned, which will be directed by Darren S. Cook later this year - is now on facebook at We're trying to generate as much buzz as possible, so it would be beyond shiny if you'd take a minute to 'like' the page. The more people who know about the film, the smoother funding etc will be.

An action-packed, dark, supernatural revenge thriller with mortals and devils. And the odd morally-conflicted angel.

When Natasha Morgan was 15, she sold her soul to the devil in return for the power to take revenge on the gangsters who killed her parents. The price – when revenge is done, Natasha’s place on earth belongs to him.

Now, four years later, revenge is close at hand. But the closer Natasha gets to completing her mission, the closer Satan gets to taking over her body and mind. Meanwhile, best friend Dexter launches his own campaign to rescue Natasha from her self-destructive nature, turning to redemption-seeking Father Ronan, a mysterious priest with a dark past.

Natasha’s journey comes to a close in a climactic finale, as she battles not only her human enemies, but also the devil himself, who senses victory is close at hand.

Teaser trailer

We've also decided that once we get 100 'likes', we'll put the first 3 minutes of the script online for the world to see - that will be your chance to insult my work ;)

So please follow this link, or try the button/badge thingy at the top right of this page.Your awesomeness is, as always, appreciated.

Stay shiny!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Hopefully you'll take something away from this....

There's a reason Will Smith is one of the most skilled and successful actors working today..

Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.

If you're gonna be here, then there's a necessity to make a difference. I want to do good. I want the world to be better because I was here. I want my life, I want my work, my family, I want it to mean something. If you're not making someone else's life better, then you're wasting you time.

I want to represent an idea. I want to represent possibilities. I want to represent the idea that you really can make what you want. 

The first step, before anybody else in the world believes it, is you have to believe it. There's no reason to have a plan B, because it distracts from plan A.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Monday, 2 May 2011

Watch 'Three' online now!

Three - the first script I ever wrote, about four years ago at university - was directed by the uber-talented Darren S. Cook, starred Mike Sani, Tony C, and Dean Rees, and was written by yours truly. I'm very proud of how it turned out (everyone did a great job!) and I'm glad this was my first produced credit.

You can now watch it online on the official site, or enjoy below (click full-screen for extra shinyness):

Feel free to let me know what you think - I won't be offended.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Positive reinforcement

Yesterday, I finally finished the three-page treatment for my latest featue script. For some reason, it was taking gorram ages to get done. That reason is probably what David said:
Writer's block is where confidence fails. The writer doesn't know their story or their characters or their world. Maybe they haven't done enough research. Maybe they haven't dug deep enough into their creations. Maybe they've lost confidence in their idea, their reason for writing the story, for writing in this genre or for this medium.
Although a big helping of my inability to get the treatment done is just darn laziness :(

Yesterday, I did get a surge of confidence in the idea, but what really got me through it (it only took me half an hour to complete) is the pomise of a reward. It's like that Skinner bloke said - if you have something positive to look forward to, the work will get done. It ain't rocket science (just behavioural psychology).

My promise - a book. I decided that once the treatment was done, I'd start reading Mike Carey's The Taming of the Beasts (it's been sitting on my shelf for months and I'm really looking forward to it based on what happened in the previous book!). It's sad, I know, but it works.

Now I must be off to finish redrafting a short film script. Maybe I can give myself a cookie once that's complete.......

Monday, 18 April 2011

Just because it's awesome.....

PS - if they pay me enough, I'll happily write the feature. Just sayin'

Thursday, 14 April 2011

If in doubt - female.

Most of the stories I write are about men. That's because I am one, simple as that. I find it much much easier to think what a man might do than a woman. Just like it's easier for me to imagine what a 22-year-old would say than a 40-year-old. Because I haven't yet been 40 (in this lifetime).

There are some stories where I actively want a male protagonist. The last TV script, for example. And there are some occasions when I actively want a female protagonist - my last feature script.

But when I started planning what I'm working on now (a contained horror script), I saw no reason for either gender. It didn't matter whether the hero was male or female. So, by default, I went for female.

Because, no matter what anyone says, there is still a lack of women in films. Both in them literally, and working in them. One reason is probably similar to what I've said above - I'll wager there are more male screenwriters out there than female (or at least getting their material produced), so they're writing from the comfortable POV of male writer = male hero.

So the female protagonist is now my default. Unless I have an active urge to make her male. In which case, I might call him Jayne or something......

I also planned my characters (for the current script) based on a gender balance. There are more men than women in the main cast, but that still works out at 4 ladies. And many people will die in this film. It's not looking too good for the gents - my current plans have the survival percentage at around 75% for the ladies and only 25% for the blokes.

Anyway, I'm feeling good about this one. I'm sure the film industry will continue to be a male-dominated business for a while yet, but I'm playing my part by writing parts for the ladies. And, for the record, these ladies are not gun-toting "blokes with tits" or scantily-clad sex objects. We have Zack Snyder for that, right?

Over and out!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Everyone is the main character

I came across one of the best nuggets of writing advice ages ago when listening to the Joss Whedon DVD commentary of a Firefly episode. He said that every character is the protagonist of their own story. As far as Jayne is concerned, everything happens to him first, then others.

Think about The Terminator. The main character is Sarah Connor. But from Ginger's POV (Ginger would be Sarah's best friend), this is her story. She's in a happy relationship with a decent bloke. She lives with her introverted friend who likes lizards. She loves her new Walkman and listens to it all day. After a nice night out with her boyfriend, she is suddenly attacked by a huge bloke wielding a Glock. He kills her boyfriend and shoots her in the back.

It's not the best story (which is why she isn't the protagonist) but it's a story. It has a constant state (happy relationship) and a trigger (the T-101 breaks into her house). She just dies very early on.

It's all about looking at the entire story from your sub-characters' POVs. The supporting cast are always tricky to get right. Some characters are there just for expositional reasons (to show that your hero only has one good friend). There's nothing wrong with that, but you run the risk of them being throw-aways.

So a good way to make them relevant is to check out what their story is. How would your script play out if John was the centre, not Jill?

What if Captain Dallas had survived in Alien? What would the story be from his POV?

Ron Weasley is the main dude in Harry Potter - what's it like being best friends with the most famous wizard ever?

What does Alfred do when Bruce Wayne is off saving Gotham City?

You don't need to go overboard with backstory or huge developments, but by thinking about sub-characters' story arcs, they will seem like far deeper personalities.

The last script I wrote has a female protagonist who is going down a particularly rough road in her life. That's where the best story is. I have two main secondary characters:

One is her best friend, who makes it his mission to protect our hero and drag her out of the life she's made for herself.

The other is a Priest who sees the bigger picture. He's not really too concerned with the people involved, but more on what their actions will result in. He has a past that is hinted at throughout and perhaps gets explained if you pay close attention.

But the point is - they both have stories. One goes on a mission to save his best friend, and the other sets out to save the world. All three stories (these two and my protagonist's) come to a head in the final act.

Make sure those minor characters are major in their own heads!

Over and out - shiny writing!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

The film I always go back to - 'Jurassic Park'

This be part of the Kid in the Front Row blogathon, the idea being that you declare which film you always go back to and why. As Kid says: the film that speaks to you when you need to be spoken to. See Kid's here.

Mine is Jurassic Park.

It's not the greatest film ever made. But it's the first film I saw at the cinema. Tiny five-year-old me, sitting in the front row (yes, I think it was the front row, due to the aforementioned tinyness), eyes wide open, staring tabula rasa at the humongous silver screen. 

Then that ominous music started as the team rolled out the huge crate containing the (unseen) velociraptor. And I was bloody hooked. Scared out of my gorram mind. But hooked.

Then there were the dinosaurs themselves - running around, throwing cars through trees, leaping onto T-Rex skeletons - generally destroying things. And the truly terrifying velociraptor kitchen scene. I remember viewing that through shaking fingers.

Those dinosaurs made such an impression on me that, for the next....12 years, I wanted to be an archaeologist. Part of me still does. Assuming all archaeologists get to endorse dinosaur theme parks. No? Ah well, writing it is.

What really strikes me about this film is that I don't recall being remotely bored at all. If you think about it, a fair bit of the film is taken up with scientific explanations. One scene actually sees the main characters sitting round a table discussing the ethics of bringing dinosaurs back to life (now that's something my script tutor would flay me for!*) This is not writing for little people.

But I was never bored. Why not? There's no way I could have understood the line "what you call discovery.....I call the rape of the natural world." It must have been because there were fucking dinosaurs!!! Massive, man-eating monsters roaming around, waiting to break free and wreak havoc! Perfect!

And that's why I always go back to Jurassic Park. If I'm feeling all smart and sophisticated, I can sit back and marvel at the possibility of using frogs to complete DNA sequences and bring dinosaurs back to life, or get thoroughly invested in the ethical ramifications of such a decision.

And if I'm feeling like a scare, I can regress to Five-Year-Old Neil and rewatch those fecking raptors lurk through the kitchen.

But, finally - and most importantly - if I'm feeling in the mood for destructive dinosaurs and general peril (and, let's face it - when am I not?!), Jurassic Park is always going to deliver.

Honourable mentions:
  • Die Hard (I'll always watch it when it's on, no matter what time it is or how long it's got to go)
  • The Lion King (my favourite Disney movie, and some killer action sequences!)
  • The Terminator (greatest sci-fi horror ever? After Alien, anyway)
  • Predator (same as Die Hard. I can never resist posting quotes on facebook as they happen on-film)
So what about you? What's the film that you always go back to? Please - someone tell me theirs is Jurassic Park! Please?

* My script tutor might not flay me
for writing such a scene.
Perhaps I would just be
dismembered or something....

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Over here....

Just cos it's awesome:

That is all.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

FADE OUT....and relax....

I've literally just written FADE OUT on the feature script I've been writing this week. And what a relief it is!

Time being quite important on this one, I didn't plan as much as I should have. I know, a big slap on my wrist. I hang my head in shame. I was working from 10-page outline when, for a feature script, I'd normally like something twice that long to go by.

Anyway, I started writing the script itself on Monday at 5am. By Monday 5pm, I was nearly half way through the outline. And I'd written just under 30 pages. You do the maths on that one - if half is 30 pages, then the full script would be 60 pages. For a feature script. To sum up ------

So it suddenly dawned on me that I'd fucked up somewhere down the line. On something we often take for granted - length. This has never been an issue before, not really. I've had to cut the odd page here and there before, but I've never come up so monumentally short on the page count.

So I panicked. Like you do. Impressively, I resisted the urge to open with an Alien-esque tracking shot, which would probably add at least three minutes to it. Self-control, people!

So instead, over the course of Tuesday, half of Wednesday (I took the afternoon off), and today, I was constantly thinking of ways to lengthen the story. There had to be bits missing that would have worked really well. There had to be subplots or characters that weren't developed fully.

And there were. I found myself doing a very strange rewrite whilst writing. If that makes any sense. I was writing draft two before I'd finished draft one. I'd be working on scene 80, then I'd suddenly stop, go back to scene 5, and put in a few extra lines of dialogue. Or a completely new scene.

Anyway, I wrote FADE OUT, then clicked 'Type Set/PDF.' That will mean something to those of you using Celtx. You wait, painstakingly, for about 10 looooog seconds as the little green bar fills, the text next to it saying "formatting script" all god-like.

I won't give away the spoiler, but suffice to say it's longer than 60 pages. Which is good. It's not yet a feature length piece, but I'm leaving it until Monday now. The weekend will give me some perspective. Space to breathe. To get my head round everything and brainstorm a few ideas. Then I can attack it on Monday and finish everything off.

So this is a cautionary tale. I'm a big planning dude. I love it. It gets a little slow after a while, but it means that when you come to write the script, you're itching to go. And nothing can stop you. You can write a 60-minute drama in just under three hours on a good day.

My other piece of advice - don't panic. Everything works out in the end. You'll come up with something. Take that half day off (like I did). Get out of the house, go for a walk, meet up with some friends, get completely sozzled in a crummy bar. Do something other than writing! This way, you won't get a massive headache! Which is always good.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to bash my head against a brick wall.

Over and out. Shiny writing!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Just because it's awesome....

A fan vid for what will always be favouritest TV show ever! Ain't it shiny?!

Monday, 14 March 2011

TV show bible template (for Celtx)

We all know TV show bibles are a huge pain in our little (relatively speaking) arses. I've never written one. Not properly. I've been putting it off for ages. Now, thanks to Mike Jones, there's a template for Celtx, with pretty much everything you need. 
What I am proposing here is a more clearly defined third kind of series bible; the Development Bible. The purpose of this is for the bible to serve as an effective writing and project development tool. Certainly parts of the Dev Bible might become part of the pitch and indeed it may also serve to guide writers of a series into the future when a show is in production, but its primary purpose is to give the creator of the show a firm structure and platform to flesh out story-worlds, natural dynamics, characters and story-archs in a way that will feed the series scripts.
Download and edit to your heart's content here. Please spread the word as much as possible.

So so shiny!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Perfect 10 (pages)

The BBC have been doing workshops around the country recently and yesterday they paid a visit to Sheffield Hallam uni. Being a good old script student there (and also fitting comfortably into my tutor's pocket) I managed to get my first 10 pages looked at by Jo Combes from the Writersroom. She only talked about them for a few minutes, but it was enough to get me rethinking the opening.

Here's what she said about those dreaded first 10:
  • Think very hard about the opening hero shot. What the character is doing, who they're with and - particularly - where they are is very important. I had to justify showing my hero staggering out of a strip club. What's the relevance? Well, it obviously tells you something about his character, but that element isn't that important to the story. So change it.
  • Work out what the strength is in that opening - what really screams "I'm different! Sit up and listen!" In mine, it was the supernatural element (which felt really fresh) rather than the crime moments. Things felt best when those two came together. So the advice is to work out what really works and hammer that home in the opening.
  • We all know we need to get into the story ASAP, but you really really do! We need to get a sense of what is going to happen from page 1. Maybe even line 1!
  • Our opening should either a) make us concerned for the character/s (meaning they, their relationships, their lifestyle etc are in peril) and/or b) make us curious about who they are and what their motives are.
  • Establish some contrast - between characters, between location etc. There's something very interesting about seeing a priest in a brothel, or an atheist in a church, or a free-thinking woman in some misogynistic boardroom. These are compelling contrasts that instantly make us sit up.
  • Are the stakes high enough? Links back to the character or their life being in some kind of peril. Think of the opening of Blackadder Goes Forth - we instantly establish that our guys are a) in war, and b) likely go over the top soon.
    • Start on the job, especially if the job is the story. A cop show needs cops. Who do some copping. So start with a cop copping with other cops.
    The rest is fairly straightforward you're all bound to know anyway. Some kind of hook to draw people in, decent characters, good dialogue etc.  

    There's even more useful information on the Beeb website, so go take a gander.

    All in all, it was a seriously interesting class. And all this advice comes straight from the Beeb. So if you ignore it, you're a wand short of being a wizard! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and completely rewrite my script.

    Shiny day, all. Happy writing :)

      Thursday, 3 March 2011

      But did it really happen?

      There's been a lot of talk recently about "True Story" films and how much of what they contain is actually accurate. It's probably because of that little film The King's Speech, which has been criticised for its portrayal of Churchill.

      Black Swan has also come under some fire from the ballet community who say it presents their world as nothing but brutal and harsh.

      Clearly there are issues involved in false information within a script. It doesn't bode well if, for example, Hitler is portrayed as a fun-loving dude with a slight foot fetish or something. There obviously has to be some realism in there. You can't really have a car turning up in the Wild West (unless it's a DeLorean). The second you show that lack of research in a story, the audience begins to completely doubt everything you say.

      But here's my standpoint from a film/TV watcher - I don't care.

      Simple as that. Obviously I want things to make some sense, but does it bother me that Churchill was George VI's best bud in The King's Speech? No. Why? Because it makes for a better story than if he weren't. I like that the ballet profession was shown to be brutal, because, again, it made for better storytelling.

      300 was based on a graphic novel, so it's an interesting discussion. People assumed that it was grossly inaccurate, what with it featuring giant elephants and 11-foot tall warriors etc. But it's not actually that far off. We don't really know that much about the Battle of Thermopylae anyway. The one thing I do know is that the way those Spartans fight is wrong. But do I care? Not really. Because by taking a few liberties with certain plot points and fighting styles, the film is simply better.

      A Beautiful Mind - I don't know that much about John Nash, but I doubt the film is 100% accurate. And I'd wager that if it were 100% true, the film's story would suffer.

      I don't feel that it's a film's job to present accuracies. All it has to do is show some things as truth so that the audiences trusts the storytelling. But there's no moral obligation there. Is it Tarantino's fault if kids start writing history essays on how Hitler was gunned down and blowed up in a cinema? Is it Bruce Willis' fault if folk go around thinking you can punch a dude in the face and not break your hand? No.

      From a storytelling POV, you have to do what your audience needs you to do, be it tell a certain level of truth, or take creative liberties to enhance the experience. And from a viewer POV, I couldn't care less. If it makes for a good story, I say go all out. If I want to know the true story of George VI, I'll hit wikipedia, thanks. Tell me a good story - that's what I want from a film.

      Any thoughts? Should writers/film makers always tell the truth? Do they have a responsibility to their audience? What if that audience consists of children? Is Pocahontas a gross betrayal of its content subject? Leave a comment.

      Thursday, 24 February 2011

      The 3D event of the year!!!

      WARNING - RANT IMMINENT anyone else completely sick of these bloody 3D movies? It seems like if any film has the tiniest bit of action in it or it will appeal to anyone under the age of 20, there'll be 3D galore.

      What really pissed me off was this brilliant Thor trailer which is spoilt by that pesky "in 3D" thing at the end:

      Let me explain.

      Y'see, I already see in 3D. I think we all do. Unless you have some serious depth-perception issues, you're capable of knowing that the smaller car behind the bigger one is not in fact miniature. It's further away! We've been knowing this for a while now.

      The other thing is that it completely fecks up the picture quality. Filming in 3D or adding that post-production layering thing makes the picture darker. Then, you're forced to wear dark glasses. The picture you're looking at on the big screen isn't what was intended. So the cinematographer might as well have not turned up at all.

      Oh, and you have to wear crappy glasses. Well, at least they're not made of cardboard.

      And it costs more. Considerably more when you consider you're paying for the aforementioned dorky glasses. Which you already own from your last trip.

      All this just so you can be absolutely, 100% positively certain that the smaller car is, in fact, further away.

      Ok, rant over. I now return you to your previously scheduled Thursday.

      Tuesday, 22 February 2011

      Watch immediately.

      This was doing the rounds last week. Excellent, innovative storytelling. And there's zombies:

      That is all.

      Friday, 18 February 2011

      Writing sitcom B characters

      This just in from the Euroscript newsletter on writing the B characters for sitcoms. Very useful advice for anyone undertaking the sitcom writing. By Paul Bassett Davies:

      Think of some great sitcoms. Fawlty Towers. Absolutely Fabulous. Peep Show. All based around great characters: Basil Fawlty, Patsy and Edina, Mark and Jeremy.

      Now think of Basil without Manuel, Patsy and Edina without Saffron, Mark and Jeremy without Super Hans. What would happen? Those sitcoms would lose more than just a secondary character, they'd lose a vital part of what makes them special.

      The right B character can make a sitcom a classic.

      B characters aren't as complex as the main characters, in fact they're usually stereotypes, but they play a vital role in the way they interact with the main characters.

      Why are B characters so important?

      When the B characters show up in a sitcom something changes. B characters always behave the same way - but they change the way the main characters behave.

      How do B characters change the behaviour of the main characters?

      The B characters are often like cartoon versions of the A characters. They're like an exaggerated offspring of one quality in a main character. They can represent exactly what the A characters don't like - about themselves. They reflect them in a distorting mirror.

      In 'Will and Grace' Jack is exactly the kind of flamboyantly camp gay man that Will would dread to be seen as. Yet Will knows there's a side of him that could be like that. And Karen is the type of crazy, raddled New York fashionista that Grace suspects she could become if she just let things slip a bit and let one aspect of herself out of the cage.

      Sid James was the perfect side-kick for Tony Hancock, the lower-middle class snob, because he showed Hancock everything he was trying not to be, and often lured him into betraying himself - or taking such pains not to betray himself that he became ludicrous.

      How to create a B character.

      Pinpoint the quality that the A character most hates about themselves. Create a B character who embodies this quality. Write some dialogue in which the B character offers advice - like the A character's bad angel, luring them to betray themselves or to react against the B character's attitude so strongly that comic tension or conflict is created.

      Now you've got the makings of a B character - and now you can start to play, because:

      B Characters are a lot of fun!

      More info on Euroscript's courses here. I went on the Exciting Treatments day-course back in 2009 and I highly recommend them. They're somewhat expensive though, hence the reason I've only been on one. But if you've got bounds of cash to throw around in Tony Stark fashion, have at it! At the very least, sign up to their newsletter to hear about upcoming classes and get these nifty tips/nuggets of advice.

      Tuesday, 15 February 2011

      Natalie Portman love

      I was ill last week - so very very ill. With flu. And not over-egged "Man Flu", but proper, real, completely horrible flu. I didn't get out of bed once on Monday and in the space of five days I think I ate a total of two meals.

      Anyway, over it now (more or less). I don't have a blog post prepped, so I thought I'd pointlessly shae some Natalie Portman love. The last film I went to see was Black Swan - not sure if it should get the Oscar (haven't seen the other nominations), but I really want Portman to get Best Actress. She perfectly balances the vulnerability of the White Swan with the raw primal instinct of the Black Swan. Flawless.

      Anyway, here's some Natalie love. But first, you should watch this. Just.....cos:

      See how I've tastefully avoided putting in any saucy videos? There are a few in Black Swan. Just sayin'

      Tuesday, 1 February 2011

      Dollhouse - potentially the best show ever made

      The key word here is "potentially." I don't think Dollhouse is the most amazing show ever, but it's definitely in my top 10. Just think about the premise for a moment - an organisation that turns people in tabula rasas and them uploads personalities into their brains so they can live out other people's fantasies. They can be anyone. Literally!

      Now that's high concept!

      The massive problem with season one, though, is that our main character - Echo (Eliza Dushku) - is a complete blank slate. We can't relate to this character, because she isn't a character! It's far too episodic, since after every hour, Echo ceases to be whatever person she was, and becomes nothing again. Of course, episode six threw things wide open with a brilliant hour of TV. And the show got so much better.

      But it didn't really come into its own until season two. Based on ratings, it should have been axed, but Fox were scared to repeat their mistake with Firefly, so gave it another season. Good old Joss Whedon, knowing full well that season two would be the end of Dollhouse, went all out with twists and turns and made it a lot better. Go out with a bang. Why not?

      My personal favourite moments were the Epitaph episodes, flashforwarding to the future, where the Dollhouse has gone apeshit and destroyed the world. So I'm uber-glad the comic books are following that storyline.

      Anyway, Dollhouse could have been amazing based purely on that awesome premise and the potential it had. But, while we wait for the comic books, why not check out this shiny fan-made trailer. Really captures what I'm on about. Ain't it cool?

      Thursday, 27 January 2011

      The problem with theme

      I got thinking about this yesterday, when a writer shot down another's comment about the importance to theme. He said he'd never really given it any thought and that it seems to be a term thrown around by literary/critical types (such as myself, with that ol' English degree).

      I first thought he was talking a load of bollocks, because theme is bloody important. It's what your entire script is about! Not what happens, why it happens, or when it happens, but the underlying (sometimes overlying) message/issue etc that the story contains. I don't think I've come across a single screenwriting book that doesn't stress the importance of theme in such a way. But it got me thinking - is it really that important?

      For me, the whole issue is very problematic. There are at least two dangers when you think about the theme, with the intention of demonstrating it through the story:
      1. You get so caught up on the theme/message that it completely ties you down. You become inflexible. Say you want to write a story on the theme of outcasts, but as you get writing, the story wants to become a story about religious oppression. Because of your desire to write about a particular theme, you can't see the better opportunity when it arises.
      2. You think you're writing about one theme, but that doesn't come across to the audience/reader. You think your comments on child suicide are perfectly fine. But the audience somehow thinks you're saying it's a good thing.
       So it's tricky.

      So I'm currently looking at stories in terms of available themes. Not necessarily what it's about, but what it could be about, depending on what the audience wants to take away from it. A few examples:
      X-Men is about a variety of things - oppression/domination, empowerment, the outcast, the "Other", slave/master.

      The Terminator - humanity, female empowerment, rape, survival.

      A Beautiful Mind - the power of the mind, love conquering all, triumph in the face of defeat.
      Blade Runner - what is human?, the right to exist, consciousness.
      You get the idea.

      All the above themes are available, but not everyone takes them all away. For example, I don't see Gladiator being about female empowerment particularly. But maybe that theme is there and plenty of other people get it.

      So maybe it's worth thinking less in terms of what your theme is, and more in terms of what your story has to offer in the way of theme.

      If it's about oppression, chances are it's also about survival (Schindler's List). If it's about what death is, it's about what life it (American Beauty). The value of one man's life = the value of all men's life (Saving Private Ryan). Slavery = religion (Harry Potter).

      There are loads and loads of things every story could be about. And if you're really, really, really stuck, think about sex. Dig out an Idiot's Guide to Freud and make it all about the Oedipus complex, Penis Envy and whatnot. Can't fail.

      Stay shiny!

      Tuesday, 18 January 2011

      Forgive me, for I have sinned.....

      ......just not, y'know, much. It's been a week and four days since my last blog post, and I know you're all desperately awaiting my next lot of brilliant insight. No? You're not? Well poo to you then.

      The reason I've not posted sooner is cos of that thing called work. You may have heard of it - always gets in the way, huh?

      I managed to get my Firefly essay finished. It was on feminism (so fairly easy in terms of finding stuff to write about) and we all know how much I like Joss Whedon. I also wrapped things up with my TV drama script ready for submission. I'm quite proud of it. Obviously I need to do plenty of polishes, but it's going well.

      So now I have a week and a half relatively workload-free (besides the usual), so I can spend time on preparing the children's fantasy feature I'm going to bash out for my next writing project. Raring to get going, since I started thinking about it over a year ago!

      Random Musings:
      • Really looking forward to seeing Black Swan at the cinema as soon as it comes out - Natalie Portman is a great actress and it looks disturbing as hell! Definitely my cuppa tea.
      • I watched the first episode of Breaking Bad - liked it, not majorly, but some good writing there. I think it's on its 3rd season or something now, so I'll probably have to dedicate some time to catching up.
      • Hated Ricky Gervais' speech at the Golden Globes - he's still a humourless arsehole, it seems. But loved the digs that Robery Downey Jr & Tom Hanks got in at him.
      • Rewatched Taken last week - still a feckin' awesome film and the sequel should be filmed soon.....
      • Got The Time Traveler's Wife playing in the background - make sure you watch it for some clever narrative crafting.
      • Reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins at the moment - a great book, appeals to everyone 10+ in my mind. Making me think a lot about book-to-film adaptations and how you would work this one (apparently one is already in the works). It would be very tricky, but is visual enough to work really well.
      Now here's a cute picture for your amusement:


      Friday, 7 January 2011

      Dialogue: less is more

      Let's talk dialogue. Because it's one of the least important aspects of a script. Yep, least important, way behind structure, plot, character, action, audience etc. (Note the honest in keeping with my award thingy)

      Everyone knows that one of the biggest issues with "aspiring" writers is that they overwrite, especially dialogue. This is also the case with first draft scripts - my first drafts are always riddled with unnecessary, expositional dialogue. But, in later drafts, you have to accept that less is more.

      With dialogue, it's not about what's said, but about what's not said. Subtext. Which is better:

      "Please shoot that woman, giving me an excuse to put a bullet in your brainpan."


      "Go ahead....make my day!"

      And which is shorter?

      There are two films that I think nail the "less is more" dialogue rule. The first is Wall-E.

      The poor little dude can hardly say anything anyway, but all his emotions are done through actions (such as watching TV and making substitute skyscrapers) and through the way he says things. "Eeeeeeva?" he wails, desperately. So simple. So subtle. So emotional. It just works. So if you haven't watched Wall-E before, go away and give it a viewing. If you have, watch it again and make a note of how much is actually said by the two main characters.

      The second film is Conan the Barbarian. It is, hands-down, one of the best written movies around. Conan isn't a talker. He's a do-er. He acts (usually with a heavy broadsword). One of his lines is actually "Enough talk!" before hurling his sword into someone's chest.

      Conan, the protagonist, doesn't say a word until 23 minutes into the film. 23 minutes! And it's this:

      Slave-driver: Conan, what is best in life?
      Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.

      For the next seven minutes, the only word even uttered by Conan is "Crom!" (which, to those who don't know, is the equivalent of "God!")

      Conan's last word is spoken at the 01:44 mark. It's a prayer to Crom, which pretty much says "Give us a hand. If not, fuck you!" That's his last bit of dialogue. The film finishes a the 02:01 mark. Let me grab my calculator (I ain't too good at the ol' mathematics). That's 16 minutes without a single word from our hero. What does Conan do in that time? He acts. He fights off the advancing hordes, travels to Thulsa Doom's castle, nearly fails his mission, then hacks off Doom's head and sets the place on fire.

      Now toddle off and watch Conan the Barbarian (give Conan the Destroyer a miss - it's rubbish). Come back when you've done that.

      Back? Good.

      Anyway, what I'm saying is - less is a hell of a lot more. Compare Raiders of the Lost Ark with the fourth (crappy) Indiana Jones movie. Compare the dialogue and how much there is. I'll bet good money that if a film uses less dialogue, it's simply better.

      Dialogue is important, but it's not the be all and end all. Choose your words wisely and sparsely. If you can do it in two words, don't do it in four.


      1) Go through your script and cut every single section of dialogue down by half. If you have 10 words, cut it to five.

      2) Rewrite one, dialogue-heavy, scene cutting all dialogue. Not a single word. Do it all with actions. It might not be possible, so instead do the same thing, just cutting all dialogue from your protagonist.

      Thoughts? Any other films that nail the "less is more" dialogue rule?

      Stay shiny, folks - happy writing!

      Monday, 3 January 2011

      Peer award-winning!

      The lovely Miss Manda over at Memoirs of a Word Nerd has gone and awarded me this beast:

      This is awarded to folk who tell the truth, so I now feel like a character from a George Orwell novel. I'm very proud of my no-bullshit approach to blogging. What's the point otherwise? So uber-thanks to Manda for the award - it proves that at least one person is reading his. Howdy!!!

      I'm now supposed to brag about getting it - check. Then I'm supposed to write some random facts (Manda has done 5, so naturally I upstage her by doing 6. Ha!) and pass the award on to other bloggers. So here we go:

      1) Get me drunk, give me an acoustic guitar, and I'll make a royal arse of myself with sloppy Pearl Jam riffs and vocals like Bob Dylan on razor blades. I'll mercilessly sing Black at the top of my lungs and it will sound awful! This happened on New Year's Eve. And in the right hands, an acoustic guitar is a poweful love-weapon (not like that!). My hands are not the right hands.

      2) Jack Daniel's is both my best friend and my worst enemy. If it were a woman, we would shag and fight.

      3) I have a thing for ladies who play acoustic guitars and for ladies with Australian accents. So if there's an Australian woman out there who rocks out on the ol' acoustic, you know where I am....

      4) I once got floored after I was hit in the face by a perfectly-executed spinning back-kick from this dude (the fella with black hair) from Strike (Britain's Got Talent). It hurt. A lot. NB: he wasn't so angry at shirts at the time. I don't know what went wrong. On the plus side, I now know his weakness. Muahaha!!!

      5) I am in love with Kaylee from Firefly. There is no denying this. It is probably the only way you'll ever get me in the engine room of anything remotely mechanical.

      6) I am a vigilante, Black Ops, warlock-Viking and space cowboy, slaying dragons in a post-apocalyptic world. I am best friends with a giant flying talking tiger called Ragnar. We voyage the nine worlds in search of epic battles and thrilling heroics. We always return home in time for tea.

      Factual note: one of the above 'facts' is, in fact, false. In fact, I can actually play guitar reasonably well.

      So now I nominate some other peoples who deserve the no-bullshit award (by which it will known forthwith):

      Michelle Goode over at Confessions of a Screenwriter

      John Hunter at Nigh Journal

      Kid in the Front Row (you can work out where he is)

      Honourary mention - Manda herself, who always writes entertaining and honest posts, including what life would be like if that sparkly "vampire" bloke (I use to term "bloke" loosely!) were her boyfriend.

      Over and out, campers.