Thursday, 25 November 2010


I've decided to take up fiddling around with pix again this weekend. It's been about four years since I took any pix just for the fun of it. I've always been rubbish technically as a photographer, but it's still the most fun you can have without breaking a sweat as far as I'm concerned, and the only reason I stopped is cos I sorta gave up on all my hobbies out of boredom, ennui, and a fear if I carried any metal objects of height I wouldn't be able to resist the urge to beat someone to death with it.

So, many this weekend I'll start putting up some shiny lights and swirly colours...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Never Let Me Go... no wait...

I was going to post a blah about Never Let Me Go, full of my ponderings about the movie and the book, before perusing either. But apparently I have so many extra thoughts about the premise and what I know of the story, and I'm finding it so necessary but impossible to show a balance to all the different things on my mind that it's ended up being eight A4 pages long. Which I think might be too long to post. Even for me.

May edit down and post later................

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Headache, backache, eyeache...

So I've had a headache for forever. And I've been sleeping really weird. At the moment for example, my sleeping pattern was yesterday sleep at 9pm, back awake at 4am, today fell asleep 6pm, back up 8pm, don't know when the next bout will be. Few days ago it was usually sleeping 10am to 1pm, then up until the next 10am.

Now, am I not doing the script because I'm getting headaches and not sleeping well, or am I not sleeping well and getting headaches because I'm not doing the script?  I think it's there, the background, so my plan is to get back on the script one way or another every day whether I like it or not. Maybe then I'd sleep and feel like doing the stupid thing....

Friday, 12 November 2010

mad city

Totally awesome. Saw this when I was a teenager and thought it was really good, thought it was very Ace in the Hole, thought Travolta was surprisingly good, didn't think much more about it, but now I've been on a bit of a Travolta bender and took another look at this little gem.

Fuck me Travolta steals the fucking show. Dustin does what Dustin has been doing for quite some time, using that lovely voice to play Dustin. It's like dragging a broken shopping trolley over a gravel parkway. Fantastic. Nothing wrong with that, highly enjoyable, the reliability of Hoffman allows more enjoyment from the likes of Stranger than Fiction, I Heart Huckabees and Kung Fu Panda, not less. Travolta on the other hand, puts in a turn as good as Curtis in The Boston Strangler. Plus I think the only reason the film wasn't a smash hit classic is because it's believable media satire, not flash, crazy satire.

culture of explicit weakness indicating explicit strength indicating implicit strength or implicit weakness?

I keep seeing a hell of a lot of stuff in society, not just of media or culture or but also people, all around, on buses, in the bank, at any given social event, whatever, more than happy to talk about how something, some thing, that 'average' people would call slightly more difficult, stressful, hardshipi, whatever than 'the norm', that has happened to them and they want to talk about it in the sense of representing how strong they are, how much they rise above, how hardcore they must be to just deal. Sometimes the reason this happens is that many people are too unimaginative to consider that the stranger they are talking to may have problems of their own. Sometimes it's because the situation you live with is so alien to them they wouldn't know where to start with regards to the trying to empathise, in your shoes, kinda thing. But either way, there are so many ways I meet people, hear them talking about their shitty little problems and think to myself, to varying degrees of white hot rage or another, why don't you just shut the fuck up about it? You only just met me, if you talk about this when you've only just met me, you are doing numerous things that annoy me - first, you are assuming the conversation will go the way you want, with me shocked and sympathetic and maybe admiring that you have so much to go through and you clearly do get through it. Second, if you do it with me, a stranger, that suggests to me maybe you feel the need to talk about it all the time, you can't cap it, and if you can't cap it then you aren't handling are you? And how fucking annoying are you to your friends if you go on and on about this at all times, every minute you see anyone. Or thirdly, maybe you only do this to strangers, and if so is that because you assume that their time is less precious, their lives less important, born only out of your lack of imagination telling you that knowing nothing about the stranger you are prattling at means theres nothing to know. And of course, then you have my fourth, and possibly most prevalant irritant - going on about everything you deal with as if you are by default way more stressed out, hardcore, prevaling despite blah, than the person you are speaking focuses on one of my major pet peeves - trying to present yourself as strong by explicitly emphasising the weak, vulnerable, difficult, insummountable thing if your life, or the terrible tragedy that you felt such strong emotions about that it changed you as a person, that aint gonna make me think you are super awesome for going through so much and dealing with it, because unfortunately you're talking to one of those people who went through, you know, tough shit, and who dealt, came out of the other side and found out resilience is our thing. Other people might think you have super human inner strength for getting though an insummountable situation, but I think what applied to me. And yes it makes me bias:

I am good in a crisis.
I am better in a crisis than during an anticipatory period.
I'm quite pragmatic and just deal with what is actually a problem, not what happens to some people in the future but there is no statistical or other evidence it will definitely happen to you.
I believe in balancing my problem versus the gradient of other problems in the world, as well as my life balance of problems versus awesomeness and then other people's problem versus awesomeness life ratio, and see whether I think I and whoever the 'they' is, have a right to complain a little bit.

So, a hell of a lot of people piss me off. However it all depends on the situation, and ratio of occurance. As well as concurrance in some cases. Social skills and my own guilt in this situation can have a strong effect as well.

For example, I have some friends with ME, and I've had a few friends in the past with it too. Some didn't tell me this was the case very early, and rarely talk about. And sometimes only talk about in response to me ironically doing what I'm talking about hear: complaining about health problems consuming me without realising the person on the receiving understands that fine. Though they do it nicer, not out of an urge to make me feel bad for complaining; they're not arseholes like me. Now, I thought these people were stars anyway, so finding our they had Harsh Shit To Deal With™  just made me admire what I generally admire anyway. Specifically people who want to be about more than the weakness in their life which by proxy of Dealing, makes them look like they have great strength. That may be true, but as this blog shows, I don't necessarily like people who do it all the fucking time. Then you have other people who I've know with ME, and some of them... well, they are right little fucking bastards. Some would use their ME like the shield of a troll to bounce off any accusation of asshole status. One guy I knew when I was studying A levels (so lame, I know) he would skip any lecture  he wanted, because you know, ME, then five minutes after the class is over, he's around. Or having people over his flat to chill out, eat snacks, watch films. And shit stir. Yes, I said it, that vague phrase that can mean so much or so little. But really, he would shit stir all day, about every person he knew, with this shit eating grin on his face, picking on peoples' fears and insecurities, poisoning their love, extinguishing their flame of hope and self appreciation in order to make everyone lose the things that make their lives worth living, or lose the things they are about to have that would make them happy. I thought that guy was an asshole, I thought he gave ME sufferers a bad name, and in tandem I thought he was faking the extent to which ME caused problems in his life and created his personality due to his being an asshole. I figured even if he had been diagnosed then his condition had lessened when I knew him because obviously his proactive approach to ruining peoples' lives didn't fit in with the extentive dibilitation it supposedly caused when it came to doing any curriculum work or research. 

On the other hand, am I being completely hypocritical? A lot of people would call me more of an asshole now, and I am more outspoken about what and who I hate (to one extent or another given the week in question) and that is because I hated the fact that I had been so amiable and meek before I got ill, a behaviour that may have contributed to me becoming as ill as I was. I remembered that before I moved to london I had a real spark, a real fierce glint in my eye. People remembered me because I was outspoken, eloquent, caustic or charasmatic in turn. Whether I was being intimidatingly evil, or demurely charming, I did it with an intensity people didn't forget. Then life things happen and my soul started to die, and the glint died with it. Like my mother. And at the same age. And it seemed that what replaced the glint wasn't nearly as interesting or memorable. The moment I was out of sight I would be out of mind. All I was was an amiable, meek, helpful mass. No real face and no real voice. I had thoughts, big and intense, but with the spark gone I couldn't ignite. Then I got sick and realised that even without the glint I could have said everything I thought. Being meek hadn't helped my life, hadn't had any beneficial affect. I could have said any of the things I thought, even with the spark, the eloquence. And more importantly, nothing bad would have happened from it. I wouldn't say I regretted it, but the idea that I would have died a forgettable mass didn't make me happy, and I remembered that who I was when I was in Cardiff had made me happy, and being honest about my opinions and musings was a part of that. So I decided to go back to that and I am. But I don't think the fierceness, the spark, the charm has come back so now I'm just an angry girl crudely expressing caustic opinions. I don't think anyone would say I have the charisma to pull off the level of bile I can sometimes spill to make entertaining enough to remember. Or sometimes its just that I don't want to be consistently charming and charismatic. There was a time when I was that as well and it got me nothing but trouble. No, much better to be inconsistent, sometimes interesting and fun, sometimes giving off the intense stench of poison, as the mood takes me.  Some people would say I'm floating into mad pigeon lady territory. But I don't mind that. I like mad pigeon lady. Her madness holds secrets. 

Anyway, is that what my A level friend was really all about? He was about the age I am now back when I was a teenager... was he simply channeling his inner truth, based more in a truth laying outside of moral questions of social interaction and appropriate treatment and more in what his soul was telling him he'd be happy with if he died that very day? Did I not see this because I hadn't really been tested yet, I hadn't seen how unimportant certain issues of human interaction and social norm were? Sometimes what is right for the soul is not nice, not positivity, not polite tact. Sometimes making friends with your hate diminishes it's strength, allows you to remain the master of yourself and the master of your perception of proportion. Sometimes following the bile in your soul and analysing your inner reaction to everything is the only way to flush out public opinion and have some integrity to the universe, to anything that comes your way.

Either way, my perception can be erratic. Sometimes I meet certain people who do what I advocate today and I hate them. Sometimes I see people who do what I often think is pompous, self involved and without a sense of proportion and I think its contextually reasonable. Sometimes I'm the asshole calling everyone else an asshole. Like the Scottish Drunk I saw next to a graveyard screaming 'Who's the fucking best?'

But in general I will say, there are certain people in society who seem to complain about very small problems and never seem to vocalise that they know how much they have to be happy about. And for these people I have nothing but complete scorn, all the time, any time, no matter how I may be perceiving the ratio of assholes in the universe with me on one side and every other body on the other side. Then you have the people who complain about problems that are self induced and/ or relate to them not having 'the perfect life'. These people are swiftly ejected from life unless I have no way around it. I could literally spend my entire life, every minute of every day for as possible puking in the faces of these people, if it wouldn't rot my teeth and make my immunosuppressed body quite likely of shutting straight down and have a heart attack or something. If I ever hear someone talking about how they need a new car but the 80 grand they earn each year gives them no leaway to make this possible, or another faceless idiot talking about how now they have the perfect house, the perfect job, great friends, great style, a safe and secure environment but they can't find the absolutely perfect man when they have reject 600 guys for offenses ranging from not knowing what a cravet is to getting blond highlights on dark brown hair then I will probably put a billboard up with their face with aforementioned statement, asking all to honk if they think they are a cunt. Or any variant therein. I do not do well in conversations about such self induced problems. They are either people who cannot keep anything in proportion or they are trying to highlight how awesome their life is by expliciting that their only problem is X, eg small. Either way it's a conversational vacuum and you will get nothing from me. I will most likely just walk away, probably forgetting that a conversation was in progress at all.

End Rant.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Script: this week really was a whole load of blah...

Well, the past week was supposed to be all about getting back to the script, but instead it ended up being all about being ill; having a stomach flu, conjunctivitus, a cold and then gout in my foot. Totally fucking yay. These are all by products to one extent or another of transplantation drugs. You are very well informed before organ transplant that the drugs you take afterwards are designed to stop your body, your immune system, being able to recognise foreign invaders as just that, foreign, since another person's organ is recognised as tissue not belonging to you.Unfortunately this also means it doesn't recognise all sorts of other things, flu, colds, bactieral, viral, all that. It also means you're more likely to get skin cancer but that's another matter, one I don't get since that's all about your own tissue, but I accept it on face value.

Now I will do my first post about the script. The enigmatic, never finished script. Well I say never finished, we've only been working on it since July, that isn't realllly long enough to suggest we'll never finish it. But since me and Ant were writing a different script for four years before I got ill and it never got finished I have to jest.

Anyway. I haven't done anything on the script. Instead I've been moaning about feeling ill, watching random comedies, and a Quentin Tarantino marathon. The story is supposed to be about a load of people with health problems but that in no way means me having health problems helps me write the fucking thing.

Anyway, no more complaining on that. Previous scriptwork consisted of us figuring out the whole narrative based on three defined characters and many other faceless characters with usually one or two script functions. Next we need to develop the rest of the characters, and I realised that is why I've been having problems with them. The narrative has been based around one person as the total protagonist, and a second main character whose pov we never follow specifically. All the other characters were to be fodder to move the story along and allow the necessary plot points to take place. I was hoping to elevate them in the odd scene but mostly I was fine with them being utilitarian. The film would most definitely follow the zombie genre technically without the zombies, and for such a story I was naturally inclined to create the normal dynamic - a group of people come together because being in a group is stronger than being alone when under attack, but ultimately there is one or two people who are more central, more logical, level headed and strategic than the rest. In order to create the best protagonist in these stories they lead, sometimes subtley in the beginning and then more strongly as they continue to survive while more people in the group die and the group gets smaller.  They in variable ways have the ideas that are the most sensible to keep them alive, or they are just strong, resilient and nimble enough to survive more than the rest, but they are also more empathic, they will not be the member of the group who loses their head to fear and tries to viciously sacrifice the safety of others to save themselves. The protagonists in this genre are often proactive, strong, thoughtful and a mixture or self preservatory and considerate.

That is, in the most generic of the genre. Since there are many ways our project subverts all that, straying quite strongly away from the usual content an end of the world / humanity, wierd infection, humans changed template, I automatically found myself using the basic character dynamic template to design the character relationships, and I built the basic elements of the supporting characters to support what was in the narrative. This can work fine for someone who does want to make something like Carriers, such a typical examples of 2D characters for simplicity, but if you want to do something with watch and rewatch factor you need something more.

I was being lazy. Partly because the biggest challenge for me is dialogue, and partly because I wanted to complete a first draft really fast. And if I just wanted to do something like Inside (that Dalle film) then my characters would be totally top dandy super fine but I don't want to do three minutes of character development surrounding but homogeneous death and torture.. Now I see the reason that lightning speed draft never happened is as soon as I started seeing the limitations of my characters, I stalled writing the actual scenes. I don't want Carriers/ Inside level of character development. I want The Odd Couple. I want Hot Fuzz. I want Hobson's Choice, Back to the Future, Moon, fucking Wall-E for god's sake. I want people to totally identify with my characters and be engrossed in them, in whether they live or die, do the right thing or wrong, get a reward or get their comeuppance. And I want my dialogue to zing, I want people to be waiting for that line the second or third time they watch the movie again, because hearing it again is just that good.  Some people might find that wish just a little surprising, because as you can see, I sometimes communicate like I'm a frigging litigator. Secondly, only my closest friends think I'm funny. But does that mean I'm funny when I'm comfortable and in comfortable surroundings, or does it mean my closest friends know it would be a major hassle to weasle away from me now and if they admit I'm about as funny as cancer I'll beat the fucking shit out of them?

But even if you are naturally funny, how do you write that? I mean you may watch a thousand films and be able to pull out what is great about them, and more specifically in my case you may be able to pluck out the best dialogue and say why it's incredible, but just because you can identify incredible when it's right there in front of you doesn't mean you can pull words together and put incredible out there for other people to identify. I might be able to hear President Merkin Muffley screaming about not fighting in the war room and squeal about what is so special about that line, but that doesn't prove I would ever come up with it myself.

My problem is I'm good at scenarios. The scenes themselves and what might happen, which part might play funny, how to make the whole thing flow with logic and plausibility. That lends itself nicely to rudimentary dialogue. Just what's necessary for that scene. And for plenty of films, that works fine. A lot of Cameron's back catalogue is just that. Same goes for the supposed main characters of Bladerunner (no, not Rutger's touch of genius at the end). All that can be great if you want to focus on being able to identify with the character's as realistic with no distractions through comedy relief. For example, Inception doesn't contain zingers, yet I loved it, and there is no need to explain why. Wit can take away from emotion sometimes, can lighten a tone that has specifically been engineered to feel heavy. But I want wit. I want zing. And that's not good if you don't even think you're any good at dialogue in general.

More importantly, my script is supposed to be moving in some places, supposed to be unbearably sad now and again, so it's not like I want wit the whole way through. Another problem is, I like satire. I write satire, and frankly even more so that common or garden comedy, you can never tell who will get it and who won't, who will find it funny, who will see a joke even exists, and who will just get offended by the lack of wink. Fucking hell, what a conundrum : P

I have been thinking about characters alot though, and how to change mine.  How do you choose to make all your characters interesting and engrossing without making it implausible that they would all come together in a story. There is of course the obvious, the grand tradition of only showing those who are interesting in amongst all the boring arseholes. Many writers, including Tarantino, like to focus on the occupational, combining the grand tradition with the hint that in such and such a situation / job / industry any person having a place within it would contain such and such trait as a necessity for the job. People who are as tough as each other, as grand as each other, as crazy as each other, they gravitate to the same situations because (often) they have the same characteristics, or at least enough of them. This can be helpful for both the writer who is good at dialogue and the writer who is good at scenario. Say the writer in question only finds humour about the mafia interesting, or interesting period, regardless of humour, they can fill the screen with scenes to do with the mafia if scenario is their strength, and much of the dialogue needed will present itself. Equally if their strong suit is dialogue, the scenarios appropriate for such dialogue will pop up as dialogue is written.

Then you have the writers who just want realism and sometimes the accidentally perfect humour of the salt of the earth types. This can be both the hardest to write and or the easiest, depending on whether the characterisation falls on its arse or if you are totally engrossed. Why, for example, do so many people care so much about the old guy with the bird dying in Shawshank Redemption? The scene doesn't last very long and it isn't preceeded by much in the way of characterisation, yet it brings many to tears with the regrettable pathos of it all.

But what to do when you want both light relief and emotional resonance? Identifiable, believable, likeable characters who are both entertainingly charismatic, occasionally distanced through comedy and get indelibly moving and touching and unforgettable? And yet still kookily designed with enough contradictions to create enough grey area of moral ambiguity to leave you rapt with intrigue?

For a first time writer this was a pretty stupid task to set but that's what I've set myself up for doing so that's what I'm trying to do. Let's see if it goes horribly wrong.

I'm really good with get new ideas from seeing other peoples ideas, so I'm currently doing a bunch of cliches to try to jog my brain into thinking up more interesting characters than the ones I've got.

1) Super methodological, I'm trying to wade through my favourite characters and their dialogue and work out why I like them and why they work for me.

2) Reassess books about dialogue and character development. Some books I really like, some I think are shit. Writing Dialogue for Scripts (Rib Davis) is an excellent book, often articulating what you may have already subconsciously know but had never thought through before. Perfect for me since I wanted this title specifically for what it is, a book about dialogue. There are many other great books about how to get the whole architecture of a script down and how each part relates to each other. But for the person who feels they have a grasp on all that and definitely have no grasp on dialogue, this is the best. Then you have Creating Unforgettable Characters (Linda Seger). Perhaps I only say this because I had read quite a few of the books that can be lumped into the 'they all say the same thing' catagory, but for me this book did indeed only say what I had already read in many other places. Anyhoo, I'll be rereading some of them, proper revision styli.

3) Write down the traits of your friends, or indeed every interesting person you have ever known, make a list, then take, say, one trait from three different friends, combine them together... what kind of person do you get?  The theory goes that if you do this when you need to write your characters, their fears, motivations, hidden ulterior motives, likes, dislikes, habits, you will be calling upon the memories of full fledged people, how they were perceived through their idiosyncratic mixtures of habits, motivations, likes etc. You will be creating characters with minimal abstract thought, so your characters will hopefully be less abstract.

4) Writing a day in the life of. Many people will tell you that writing a biography of your character(s) is the best way to get to know them, but someone like me can't do that - I won't know how much detail to go into and when to stop. I might end up with a novel for each character but no film. So I'm going with a day in the life of each character. I realised if I wrote a day in the life of myself, I would regularly be reminded of what in my history has made this habit or that hobby a part of my life, so the same might apply to my characters. I'm figuring I'll write the day in the life thing, and allow myself to follow what I think their background is from that. If I think a character doesn't work I'll just accept which bits aren't working for me and start again.

CLICHES!!! CLICHES!!!! Everywhere I look cliches! I know right? Well I'm stuck so that's what I'm trying. Hopefully in a week I can move onto getting all scene cards written out and move on to tackling the monster that is dialogue, and then move on to fact checking my medical research and fill in the global issue gaps through media news network research.

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