Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Treatments and Outlines

Treatments and outlines are a written way of tricking a production company into spending a large amount of money on an idea you've had that might turn out to be complete rubbish.

Theoretically, the idea goes like this: during a meeting your agent has managed to get you with a hapless representative of said production company, you throw together enough random phrases and current new sound-bites that eventually, by sheer chance, you come up with something sounding vaguely credible. Or ''It's about a dead radioactive Russian dissident who shares a flat with... Denise Van Outen!"

The representative likes your Van Outen idea (horribly likely actually), so you go away and write a outline - usually a couple of pages, but it could be four or five - and rewrite it until the production company are confident enough to give you some money for it. The fools! Possibly this is a few hundred quid that gives them the rights to shop it about the channels for six months, or they might commission you to write a more detailed treatment (could be eight to twelve pages) which will contain details of the main characters, the setting, and probably rough plotlines for all prospective episodes.

If they like this, you then get commissioned to write the first script. If they like that you're in pilot territory, and that's a whole different world.

So theoretically it goes: outline, treatment, pilot script.

The problem with this system is that if a script gets generated this way, it's essentially been assembled by committee even if the writer's name is the only one on it. In order to try and get through each stage, you're tempted to file off the rough corners, take out anything that sounds a bit controversial (or if it's a certain kind of comedy, put stuff in just because it is controversial). So ideally, the treatment you're writing is for a series that you know the production company wants to make, but leaves you with enough space to write the series you want to make, which is probably slightly different.

You'll notice I'm writing all this from the point of view that all writers are all creative geniuses, and all producer-type people are stunted money-grabbing know-nothings, whose only aim is to thwart your artistic vision. This is, of course, mostly false, but it does contain just enough of a grain of truth to help you sleep at night. Producers, of course, aren't allowed to point out publicly that most of the writers they work with simply aren't that good. This stops most of them sleeping nights at all, because of the rage and frustration, but at least they're paid more money than writers.

And if they're not, why are you hanging around with them?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Uneasy Listening (now with lots of updates and a youtube bit)

UPDATE: 'The Crow' not by AIM at all, but by DJ Food, which explains why I couldn't find it on the album. D'oh! (and thanks Orb).

This time round, I did catch Howard Goodall's programme, which was on rhythm, and was excellent, and inspired me to finally do that podcast of all rhythmically-weird stuff I've been meaning to put up for ages.

Bluecat Podcast 1: Eargasm

At least it starts all rhythmically-weird, but if you stick with it, you'll find it goes through some increasingly odd but rather glorious mashup things, then a breakbeat piece that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck every time I hear it, and ends with a Radiohead cover of such perfectly icy beauty as to be almost glacial.

I'll do a proper track listing later, but I quite like listening to these things without really knowing what's coming up next, so I think you should too.

In other news, I've been frantically catching up on 'Dexter', the US Showtime series about a likeable crime scene blood spatter analyst who in his spare time is... a serial killer (who only kills other serial killers). It's quite possibly the greatest television show I've ever seen (apart from episode three of Heroes). Muchos kudos to the mighty James Moran who put me onto it. Good work sir.


Righto, this is a bit vague I'm afraid, as some of these are audio files that have survived four different Apple Crumbles and have ended up with their serial numbers melted off in the process:

First bit of speedy-up hip hop weirdness was 'Long Vein of the Law', by Subtle (who also lark about as rap outfit Clouddead and the indier Why? (both highly recommended).

The three mashup things are:

The poj masta remix of 'Toxic', then that 50 Cent mashup by I don't know who, and then the only mashup to feature Sigur Ros's Starálfur (in there with Kanye West and Twista) of which I'm aware (this last by flosstradamus apparently).

Penultimate song is the achingly poignant 'The Crow', by Aim, although I can't tell you what album it's off, annoyingly.

And lastly, the cover of Radiohead's 'Creep' is by the Scala Choir. So:

1. Long Vein of the Law - Subtle
2. Toxic (poj masta remix)
3. 50 Cent in the Jungle
4. 'Overnight Star' by Flosstradamus/Sigur Ros/Kanye West/Twista
5. The Crow - (not Aim at all, but) DJ Food
6. Creep - Radiohead cover by Scala

Thought I'd keep this in the same post, but blimey charlie, this is ace:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I loathe I'm A Celebrity and its utter contempt for nature.

Normally my hatred for various television programs manifests itself in the form of not watching and finding something else to do instead, which means you can't really vent, or you end up looking like something from the Daily Mail or one of the stupider bishops.

Big Brother, for example, strikes me as increasingly unpleasant form of class warfare*, and one that can't be excused by picking on the stupid. In fact, I'm fairly sure that picking on stupid people makes it just a little bit worse, as stupid people really ought to be protected by the brighter ones, nurtured and cared for and treated kindly, as quite often they turn out not to be stupid at all, and even if they don't, well, you had a go.

I could go as far as to describe Big Brother, and those behind it (producers) and in front of it ('oh my god it's awful isn't it but you have to watch it don't you' journalists, of which the Guardian seems to employ an increasing number) as a bunch of over-privileged yahoos with the compassion of an African dictator. And to those who say 'Ah, but the public loves this stuff', I would say: 'Well They're Cunts And All'.

However, I didn't watch it, so these opinions are baseless, and wildly ignorable.

On this occasion however, I did watch an episode of I'm A Celebrity at close quarters with some colleagues (stout-hearted and compassionate folks all), and frankly it rather freaked me out. Something about the way the contestants joyfully screamed and wriggled and yelled as they had insects poured on them, or crunched underfoot, or pulled off their backs filled me with what I can only describe as a bleak loathing for all humankind.

It's entirely possible that the assorted creatures didn't have a clue what was going on, or were having a fabulous time, maybe even thinking 'Ooh, that David Gest didn't sound a bit like I thought he would, hang on, I think he's sussed, I'll just scuttle round to his other shoulder'. And I have bought a spanking new leather manbag, and on my recent working trip (ahem) to Mallorca I managed to live on Mostly Sausage, so clearly I'm a massive hypocrite. And yet something about the way those people behaved with the animals, as though they existed only as rather revolting props, demonstrated just how homo sapiens has become divorced from the rest of the natural world in a way more profoundly tragic than any number of documentaries about polar bears splashing miserably about in melting icewater could ever achieve.

Furthermore, I missed the Howard Goodall thing about music Sunday night on Channel 4. ARSING BLOODY BOLLOCKS.

*This isn't to say I loathe all reality television - the cello one off Faking It made me cry out loud.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

praying mantis

praying mantis
Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
This beast was easily three feet long. He went for Fay and Ori, but I leapt out of the jacuzzi in time to intercept his lunging foreclaws. Our battle spilled down the hill and into the abandoned town centre, where I was finally able to beat him to death with (oh the irony) an olive branch.

We will eat well tonight.

THINKING ABOUT IT: I could have tied him to the orange gas cannister, lit it and rolled it into the sea where it would have exploded for maxumum dramatic effect, but you only think of these things afterwards.

PS: praying mantis is fine really, he just wandered back off into the garden.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ooh good post

Hamilton's Brain writes about First Direct's potentially rather bastardatious scheme...


- no Mark Heap or Stephen Mangan nominations in the British Comedy Awards this year. Not that the other actors aren't deserving (and Tamsin's up in the Best Female Actress category, naturally), but when you know how much both of them put into their performances, it's a real shame not to see this recognized. Ah well, and hey ho. Still, if you're reading this and you're near anyone who organises the British Comedy Awards, please subject them to a Hard Stare.

UPDATE: actually that's a ridiculous thing to say - of course it's recognised, otherwise there wouldn't be one squillion people turning up to have DVDs and books signed and then going 'squeeeee' on the internet. And I can inform those people that the actors quietly go 'squeeee' as well afterwards in the pub. Ignore me, I am a twunt.

In other news, the Loud American Producer one of our number brought with us asked if he could make a guest post on this humble blog, which I was quite up for until I found him staring at Youtube, shouting things like 'Hey you guys, you wanna see a man die?'. Anyway, he left very early this morning, possibly because Fay and Ori kept shouting things like 'Go away, we hate you'. He took it all in good heart however, and as we all know, producers don't have feelings like normal people.

He did find this though, from a US show called Reno 911, which I had seen ages ago, but not all the way through:

Also, ooh, French Steampunk Illustrations.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

bedroom view from the villa o'development

Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.

I left the armed compound for a stroll this morning and can confirm that this part of Mallorca, at this time of year, is comprised mostly of builders and huge dogs, arranged in alternate groups of varying sizes. More news as it comes.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Finally this whole 'blog' thing comes in useful.

My mailbox at james hyphen henry dot co yoo kay has gone bonkers in my absence, so if anyone's trying to send me anything important, they need to use my hotmail address instead. If you don't have that, it means I don't love you, and perhaps I never will.

UPDATE: wait, I think I've sorted it now, so if you've had mail bounced back, do try again. OH MY CHRIST this is interesting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I've run out of credit on my phone as well, so I can't reply to texts. Also the jacuzzi has yet to heat up; apparently it will take at least another 24 hours. I CANNOT LIVE LIKE THIS.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I flee abroad.

Rob and Ori (and Fay) have convinced me that the only way to escape the hordes of autograph-hunters following our every move is to go and do some post-Green Wing development work with them in the Balearic islands for a week. That sentence started off silly, but the second half is true.

That said, the airport we're flying in to is apparently the number one place for CIA secret renditions, so if I don't come back, can someone tell my mum I was right about Rob the whole time, and it was all a trap after all. However if I do see some big men in dark suits hustling someone with a bag over his head into a waiting van, I shall attempt to enforce international law by shouting 'stop, you cunts' and being shot. So that's my plan for the week.

In other news: two of the three things I've been waiting to hear back on (Cornish Teen thing and Superhero movie thing) have just done jolly well, although intensive contract negotiations are being made, so I can't murmur anything other than a quiet 'woo hoo'. The third slot on the fruit machine (the blogcom thing, don't worry, it's won't be called that) is still spinning, but if that comes up with a big pound sign as well, I might go mad and treat myself to a lager shandy top and a bit of a lie-down.

In the meantime why not look at some of the other blogs on the list to the right? Or catch up on the blue cat backstory with some of the posts from when it wasn't the sickening stream of self-congratulation and hair anecdotes it is today:

Injured Paladin
Doctor Who/Green Wing crossover (rejected)
Lying Producers
The Cornish Birthday Dinosaur (purely because I like the photo)
Apple tree
Being Shouted At In Museums, Part the Second

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Green Wing Book Signing Friday 10th November 1-2pm

Which is, I know, tomorrow. It's at Forbidden Planet in London, on Shaftesbury Avenue, and I didn't realise how soon it was until I went there today and saw the posters. Rearrange the following words into a sentence: Writers, Told, Never, Anything, Are.

Julian M, Stephen RT*, Karl T and the always gorgeous Pippa H will be there to sign books, so if you get a chance go along and... well, buy one. FP have a great roleplaying section as well, so if you could also buy a copy of Pendragon, a game of Arthurian quests, and tell me what it's like, I'd be most grateful, as I've been meaning to buy it for twenty years now (ouch) and never got round to it. But I digress.

If people are wondering why the signings are so London-based, it's because trying to get the cast together at short notice is horribly difficult, what with them being successful and working lots and that. Of course this time next year, they may all be doing regional panto, and there's no shame in that.

*or whatever

UPDATE: well I did go in the end. Hello to the people from the Green Wing Fan Forum (excellent t-shirts). I tried to leave a hello thing on the forum, but couldn't make it work instantly, so gave up. Me and Ori and Rob ended up signing stuff as well, and at one point were asked gently by the Forbidden Planet staff if we could move a bit as we were blocking access to the Batman action figures - perhaps the greatest moment of my life.

My hair seems to have driven some impressionable young people wild (I think they were all wound up to see Julian, who couldn't make it in the end, so they had to make do with what they had), and later that evening, having ventured out from Canterbury's Pennyfeather Towers into the City Arms public house, a man I have never met before stumbled over and stroked the top of my head. I was later informed he was a funeral director.

I may have to dial it down a notch.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

By the way...

...if you work in a commissioning department, and you're called either Josh, Florrissa or Tilly, the post below was merely an unfortunate coincidence, and you shouldn't let it put you off commissioning me for paid work and that.

Or 'Blogcom'

Thanks for the wolves stuff - I was wondering if it was possible to create a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen-style uberpack. It might be, not sure yet.

That sitcom thing, where the main character is sort of based on me and the blog, only with more guns (codename: Project TSTWTMCISOBOMOWMG) is now with a person in a large broadcasting company, who is hopefully even now sitting round a table with people called things like Josh and Florrissa and TIlly, and saying things like 'Guys, it's crazy, but it's so now!'. But then looking at the current lineup for Friday night television on Channel 4, or at the fact that Tittytittybangbang has been recommissioned, Josh and Florrissa and Tilly, whatever company they work for, are clearly a massive shower of twats.

UPDATE: although the person sitting with them, who's looking at my script, isn't a massive shower of twats, let's make that quite clear. They are gorgeous and witty and in every way quite pert.

Think I just got away with that.

Project TSTWTMCISOBOMOWMG already has a producer attached, and we discusssed casting at a very early stage, mainly because it's easier to pitch if you can say it has a lovely Famous Comic Actor-shaped space in the middle of it. It doesn't, not really, so we moved onto potential casting acting-people who could be phoned up in the unlikely event I came down with a cold and was unable to play the role myself. This is the thing about producers, they have to be able to think through the unlikeliest of scenarios, unlike writers who are gritty and earthy (like the SAS get sometimes) and deal with just the facts.

PRODUCER: How about (mentions the name of an actor whose first name begins with a Letter, and whose second name begins with a Different Letter)?

ME: Well, other than him being THE MOST UNFUNNY PERSON ON THE WORLD, who has shown not a flicker of acting talent in his ghastly career thus far, unless you call the ability to make people high up in television (hello Josh and Florrissa and Tilly) give him vast amounts of money and airtime so that he might do nothing other than be viciously unpleasant to members of the public who are then intimidated into signing releases so that their humiliation can be broadcast to millions, making the world once again just a slightly less pleasant place to live, 'talent', and some might, he'd be great, yeah.

PRODUCER: Have you ever met him?

ME: Nope, and I don't want to, as I suspect he is a massive ****.

PRODUCER: Oh, okay.


ME: Erm, you know that conversation we had about casting?

PRODUCER: Yeeeeees?

ME: You actually suggested (mentions the name of an actor whose first name begins with a Letter, and whose second name begins with a Different Letter, just like the other one, but is spelled slightly differently), didn't you?


ME: Oh, I thought you said (mentions the name of an actor whose first name begins with a Letter, and whose second name begins with a Different Letter).

PRODUCER: Christ, no, he's a massive ****

ME: That's what I thought.

PRODUCER: So what do you think about (mentions the name of an actor whose first name begins with a Letter, and whose second name begins with a Different Letter)?

ME: Oh he'd be great, yeah. But obviously it still makes more sense to play the main role myself.

Slight pause

PRODUCER: Oh noes, my phone have gone (sound which could be static, but also sounds suspiciously like someone noisily crumpling up a piece of paper to the earpiece).

ME: Helloooooo?

In reality, I've never heard Producer swear, but you know, these things have to be punched up a bit.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Slightly frazzled arooooo

I was swimming in the Caribbean, animals were hiding behind the rocks, except the little fish. No, wait, that's a song by the Pixies. In fact, I was in the south of france, where I was staying with a Grecian bust, a stuffed monkey and a stuffed monkey's girlfriend (who hasn't got a blog). And to think that a few years ago, that sentence wouldn't have made any sense at all.

French fun fairs are the most depressing in the world. A French man sat huddled in the too-small seat of one dodgem car, eyes glazed with intensity, mouth emitting a thin stream of gallic drool as his hands wrenched the steering wheel from side to side in a desperate attempt to avoid the other cars. Except all the other cars were empty. And no-one had turned the thing on yet.

The rest of my time there was very pleasant though, the vineyards of the Languedoc looking particularly lovely in the autumn mornings, the only sound the clattering of Sunday Times journalists' laptops and the random screams as pissed-up hunters shot each other while wild boars let down their tyres, giggling.

But I'm back now, tired and unshaven, and in need a list of fictional wolves, for a thing. Preferably from classic children's books, but others will be considered. Not counting werewolves either. So far:

Romulus and Remus
Peter and the Wolf
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
Maugrim (from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe)
Diefenbaker from Due South
White Fang (Jack London)

Fairytale Wolves (red riding hood, that one with the pigs and the blowing down of houses)

And then of course it occurred to me to look at Wikipedia, which has more, (Akela! D'oh!) but it's a bit anime-heavy, so are there obvious ones missing?