"Art is not a mirror with which to reflect the world; it is a hammer with which to shape it"

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Digital Tension

So, I done gwain mi’ way down a’ Bris’l. Und oi presented them to mi’ works fer ther Digital Shorts, zo I did. None too major in general scheme o’ thing but o’ import to me, noneless. Journey o' underd mile starts wi’ a zingle step, so they do zay… ‘septin’ this case it were more a quick step down M5. Und this ‘ere Shorts thing been bein' a bit odd for me. After when it was firzt bein' announced I cudn think a zingle thing fer it. Nuttin’ come inta mi’ yud!

This lack of ideas continued for a couple of weeks. I noted, maybe, thirty different thought-trains but nothing like a full idea. I’d come settled for not entering anything. Then, with maybe ten days left, an idea came to me while I was asleep, fully formed with the structure, the characters, the dialogue, the whole thing in place. Of course, I was asleep at the time so when I woke up the next day there was a minor flaw: I could remember everything… except the dialogue. So, I wrote the thing (with rough dialogue) and prepared the entry from it, they solely wanted a synopsis after all, but I would have been preferring not to do it from something all arse-backwards! Then, I found a short I did a while back and prepared an entry from that too. I reckoned me it best to have not one good piece but two middling and get me a doubled chance of failure!

At the actual SW Screen office, there was a steady stream of entries coming in: I asked if there’d been many. There have. A lot. One bloke seemed to have a vast pile which either meant he’d not read the instructions or was handing in for a whole herd. Course, anybody with talent isn’t going to be posed a problem but I’ll wager that none of us really knows for certain whether we’ve been gifted this wise. Even if we had, would we really know? It’s one of those things that’s probably haunted every writer since the dawn of the chisel on the stone tablet… Ug the Caveman was heard muttering all day in his cave, ‘am I any good?’ Of the two submitted shorts, the older short was a take on horror and the brand-spanking new one wasn’t. The new one has a wonderfully pretentious Latin title that means ‘have mercy’. They’re both a bit (small ‘p’) political.

So, now I have four pieces lodged in various competitions for good or ill: Red Planet (like pretty much everybody), South West Screenwriter Development* and two for the Digital Shorts. Do I rate my chances? Not really but then I’m an eternal pessimist, so I wouldn’t! ‘Try again. Fail again. Fail better’ as a great man once wrote. I have two longer and, in my humble opinion, much better short scripts waiting in the wings.

Now, for the first time in at least a couple of months I have some choices to make as to what to write next. It’s always slightly strange to have a freehand. The conspiracy thriller I mentioned before has gone west. I managed to get 40 pages in and realised it failed a simple test I have: would I actually watch this. Simple truth is I would have walked out after about fifteen minutes. The concept is not inherently bad, it’s just that it’s being written by some kind of fool who’s trying to bore the audience into submission: the start’s a bit dull, the middle is fine but the end is a muddled ill-thought through mess. I think the truth is that I’ve gotten too close to it so now is the time to set it aside and clear it from my head for a little while.

There are a number of things I’d like to write but I’m really not sure which: weird Vampire epic, Sci-fi Vampire Western, mad-cap comedy whatnot or a dark occult horror using a couple of characters from a previous script. However, I think my vote goes to the film about revenge. While preparing the Digital Shorts, bits of it seemed to rear their heads constantly telling me to get on and write them down. I’m not sure what details to mention about it so I’ll confine myself to saying it’s about a person who has a trauma and feels a deep need to kill some people: simple! The big problem is that the idea-monsters have demanded a stupidly complex triple three act structure all using the same character at different eras of their life at the same time to contrast against each other and all within a standard three act structure. I may be able to convince them that two are enough with maybe a flashback to the other. I don’t know whether they’ll buy it though. Cruel idea monsters!

I’ve also been maliciously neglecting to listen to a whole host of CDs I’ve bought over the last couple of months. Top of the pile would have to be:
  • PJ Harvey’s White Chalk (good West Country lass),
  • Siouxsie’s Mantaray,
  • Bat For Lashes’ Fur & Gold,
  • Maps’ We Can Create,
  • Skeletal Family’s Burning Oil,
  • Dot Allison’s Exaltation Of Larks,
  • Primal Scream’s Live In Japan,
  • Mahler’s Das Lied Von Der Erde (conducted by Karajan with Christa Ludwig),
  • Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (conducted by Solti),
  • Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 (Karajan again),
  • Gorecki’s Beatus Vir (and some other choral works on an unbelievably obscure Polish record label)

…and so on and so on…

There’s also a couple of DVDs but music is my first and abiding love; film is my cruel and unrelenting mistress constantly demanding my attention…

There’s also about three weeks of post to come… quite a lot I suspect as I pre-order the new CD and vinyl releases online… really hope the Pistols 7s are not monumentally screwed from sitting under a ton of junkmail in the sorting office!

So, there you go a brief précis of my rather dull week. Now, there’s the Rugby final, the last round of the F1 with Mr. Lewis Hamilton, the return of the right-wing programme I love to hate/ hate to love, in other words, the excellent Spooks and the new series of Top Gear to look forward to…

*Or whatever it’s called. I prefer functional titles for these schemes. Screen Yorkshire is wackily calling their Digital Shorts scheme ‘Caught Short’ which is probably an amusing pun the first time then gets progressively grating and albatross like as the months pass and people keeping asking what you’re working on. A talented friend of mine didn’t that he was submitting for the Digital Shorts scheme!


Chip Smith said...

I'm slowly replacing all my Siouxsie vinyl with CDs, but I still don't think you can beat the first four albums (The Scream still sounds fresh today I think). That said, I'm tempted by Mantaray, now that Sioux and the Budge have gone their separate ways - The Creatures never really did it for me, but Siouxsie solo sounds really intriguing...

Jon Peacey said...

I never quite 'got' Kaleidoscope but the other three of the four are classics. All spruced up now, remastered and with extra tracks (that's almost like an advert); the only caveat for me is that the remastering has made the top end almost painfully bright. The Creatures were more a mixed bag and I'll find out what the solo disc sounds like in the near future. :)

martin said...

"would I actually watch this?" wise words. good luck with diital shorts!

Jon Peacey said...

Thank you kindly.