Thursday, 8 June 2017

Today I vote in an election I'm sure can't be won. Yet I somehow I feel hopeful for the first time in years.

Like many of you. Today I'll be voting, by the time you read this I may have already. And like many of the people on my social media feed, I'll be hoping for something better. Because I truly believe our current government are painfully misguided, selfish, inadequate and utterly incapable of putting the needs of the people first. So I'm strongly voting for change.

But, honestly I'm painfully aware that there is a very realistic chance that things won't play out the way I want. In fact, I'm certain of it. I just don't think the numbers are there. I mean, If you look at my social media feed it's a landslide in my favour, but we all live in a bubble, surrounding ourselves with mostly likeminded people. So I honestly I think I'm going to spend most of Friday wallowing in self pity.

But before you label me a pessimist, let me say this...

I was disgusted by Brexit for many reasons. I was disappointed so many people would vote for blind nationalism over cooperation. I was appalled at the lies told (and stamped on the side of a big fucking bus) by politicians in order to sway votes. And if I'm honest, more than anything I was ashamed at the arrogance of the left.

Rather than engaging in reasonable debate and trying to use rational arguments to persuade those on the right. We labelled them racists and morons... dismissed them out of hand. No ones ever been convinced of anything by being insulted. It was all very nasty, and for all I know I was just as much a part of that cycle of dismissal.

But this campaign. Well, it's been absolutely glorious to watch. I've never seen such calm, reasonable and thoughtful debate happening. From what I've seen, people been engaging with those who think differently and working to persuade them through honest conversations and idea sharing rather than lies and insults.

And the difference in the polls now vs. six weeks ago suggests to me that it's an approach that works. I mean, just look at how many young people registered to vote this time. No matter what your politics; those numbers, that level of engagement, is incredible.

And that's why, for me, when the left inevitably lose on Friday morning. I will be sad knowing my country has some tough years ahead, but I won't be devastated as I have been in the past. In fact, I'm feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time. Something that has never felt more out of reach than it has these last few years.

And I do genuinely believe that if we stay the course we will ultimately see change. And after Trump and Brexit, I'll take all the hopeful feelings I can clasp my chubby little hands around.

Thanks for reading.


PS: And before someone says it, I do accept there's still been a fair bit of shit slinging in this campaign too, but comparatively to the last two major votes this one has been a bloody dream. And it's unreasonable to think you're ever going to purge all the poisonous thinking from either side

Monday, 13 February 2017

Well here I go writing again...


Hello,

One second while I dust off this old thing.

*cough* *cough*

Dear lord it has been a while hasn't it? 

Let me just check the date of the last entry. 

Yup. June 2014. That is quite some time ago. 

The funny thing is, this blog was always a sporadic thing at the best of times. I figured my creative energies were best spent on screenplays than ramblings no one wanted or asked for.

But I felt compelled to write and post something today. More to document an endeavour and keep my myself accountable than for anyone to read, so if you are reading this, you're sort of not the intended audience. This is more for myself than you. 

So just like this blog, over the last few years I've found myself drifting away from my dream of writing. Not coincidentally, it can be traced back to me spending nearly a year of my life on a six episode web series that no one watched.

I sound a bit bitter don't I? 

It's a weird thing, because I've always said I write for the simple joy of writing. So I found my own feelings on that web series and its lack of finding an audience somewhat paradoxical. "Why does it matter no one watched?" I asked myself. "You worked really hard to make a thing you are very proud of, that should be enough. You made a thing. Not everyone gets to make a thing."

It's taken me some time to realise I was misunderstanding my own feelings on the matter. I realised it's wasn't really about the lack of views, and more about the lack of progress towards my goal of being a paid writer. I guess at some point I convinced myself that was going to be it. Make a web series, go viral and you'll be discovered.

And don't get me wrong, I wasn't waiting for a call from the BBC offering me my own prime time slot. My goals were always more realistic. Paid writing work. Enough to live on. Enough to pay my bills and feed me the occasional pizza. So my disappointment at the amount of traction my web-series got was not about fame and riches, and more about my goal of getting to do something I love for a living. 

I just wanted enough attention to get my work noticed by the right people. A ridiculous thought in hindsight. 

So with that disappointment firmly under my belt, and understanding why I felt that way. It's no surprise I became a little disheartened. Weird really because now I think of it I was pretty naive to expect it to be stepping stone to anything. And my initial intentions when we came up with the concept and developed the script were just to make a thing we were excited about, but through the long production and editing process it somehow morphed into something else, something weirdly poisonous. Because when it didn't work out it I became apathetic to my own dream, deemed it a lost cause. Gave it up, a man defeated.

Now, we all go through phases like this, but the reason this one engulfed me for three years is an uncomfortable one to admit to myself. But I feel like the major factor contributing the length of this funk was that my writing partner and I drifted. Oddly, not as friends, we were and still are in very regular contact. In fact during this writing funk me and my old writing partner have build a small podcast network, producing six podcasts a month for an exponentially growing audience. But when it comes to our status as writing partners... well let me put it this way; we haven't worked together in that capacity since that the web series died it's death. 

Now historically when one of us had wavered in our shared dream of screenwriting for pizza money, the other would continue to push. Holding the other up like a solider helping a wounded friend from the battlefield. But that's not what happened this time.

Now I can't speak for him, so this is pure speculation, but it seemed to me we both had the same hopes for the web series, and got knocked back as hard as each other at the exact same moment. Two wounded soldiers can't exactly help each other back to their feet can they?

We both needed the other to push and we both didn't have it in us.

I found that hard to accept for a long time, we'd been writing together for so long. And for a while the thought of us not working together again was painful. And I think that compounded my own situation, making me even more doubtful of my future as a writer. 

My writing partner, beacon of strength that he is, has long since picked himself up and is doing genuinely wonderful writing work with a local theatre now. He even wrote and starred in a short film that came out last year.

Further evidence that he's the better man I'm afraid, because I wallowed. Pulled away from writing on the whole until it was a distant and bitter dream a young and naive version of myself once had. A stupid and foolish version of myself who I didn't recognise anymore. 

Over the ensuing years I did pull a few ideas and treatments together in a vague effort to relight that fire, some I felt were strong and became excited about, but never for long. And I even did a few bits and bobs of freelance writing work for a few quid here and there. But it didn't work, not really. Stopped me from completely accepting defeat, but sadly I'd given up on that version of myself a long time ago.

Then a few happy coincidences happened in a short space of time that shifted things. 

First of all I realised I turn thirty this year. 

Shouldn't have been a surprise really should it? 

Personally I'm fine with the notion of turning thirty, I'm handling twenty nine just fine and don't expect thirty to be much different. But realising this did make me feel thoughtful, made me take stock of my life. Think about where I'm going and where I came from. And I remember that naive dreamer that wanted nothing more than to write for a second. And for an odd fleeting moment I got excited at a weird thought, maybe I should finish some of those ideas that had been building up before I turn 30, a last nod to send off the moronic and hopeless twenty something before I turn thirty. 

That was a few weeks ago. My intentions were good, but predictably nothing came of it. Not at first at least. But the idea kept occurring to me. Each time with more enthusiasm than before. 

Then, a few days ago I found an old MP3 file I'd saved in a long since forgotten Dropbox folder. It was titled 'Writers Block' and when I listened to it, it turned out to be a segment from an episode of Dan Harmon's podcast Harmontown I'd saved years before where he talked about writers block. It was elegantly simple and brilliant advice.

Prove you are a bad writer.

I'm never going to explain this idea as well as he does, but essentially he suggests that all writers think they can be better than they are. Which is probably true, there is always room for improvement. He feels when a writer isn't writing it's because they are dwelling on the potentially great thing they will write once they get as good as they think they eventually can be. But the irony is they will only get to that level through practice, which they won't ever do if they continue staring at the blank page thinking "I'm not good enough yet".

So he suggests writing with the aim of proving you are bad. Which will just get you writing which gets you practicing, which will ultimately lead to getting better. You can click here for the clip if you want context.

I can't tell you how much I love that advice. It just makes so much sense to me. I kept hearing his words in my head all day. Word for word it kept filling every little gap in my own thoughts, like having a song stuck in my head. 

That same day, through sheer coincidence my writing partner of old sent me the script for the play he has been working on. It was predictably brilliant and made me think about the only concept for a play I'd ever come up with.

The idea had originally occurred to me back in 2011, and while I felt the concept was solid, over the years I'd never been able to make it work as a script. It went through many many terrible drafts in the years leading up to the web series.

After the web series it found itself in a pile of concepts I thought were strong but would never be able to make work. Now I mentioned that during my writing funk, the wilderness years, I'd had occasional spits and starts that never amounted to anything, well weirdly enough one such moment was when I actually cracked the play concept. I had a weird eureka moment and actually figured out how to make it work finally.

The only downside was this meant a ground up, page one rewrite. Which basically means any work done before was going to be cannibalised for a few spare parts before being unceremoniously dumped in a bin. And I did make an attempt to produce this new functional version of the idea at the time of the brainwave, but due to this being during my funk, my own inability to follow through ensured it ended up amounting to little more than a treatment and few loose lines of dialogue.

Smash cut to the day I rediscovered Dan Harmon's advice about writing, and read my writing partners script, which brought my own abandoned project sharply back to the forefront my mind coupled with the thought about wanting to accomplish a few last things in my 20s and it was something akin to being struck by lightning. 

That sudden culmination of things all occurred at once and I couldn't stop writing. I wrote about 40 pages in a single day. Suddenly feeling rather fearless. 

The most remarkable thing is that once again, my writing partner, my friend, was once again carrying me across the battlefield, having bounced back from his own wounds. And the weird thing is that he didn't even realise he was doing it this time. He just sent me a script to read. 

So, this is all my long winded way of explaining I'm writing again, substantial amounts. And I feel an itch and a burn to do it I haven't felt in years. I should probably see a doctor about that, but truthfully I don't see it going away anytime soon.

And with the screenwriting comes the over analysing and with that comes blogging.

Yes that's right that entire overly long and brutally honest diatribe basically exists to explain I'm probably going to be blogging regularly again.

Now I think about it I could have just said that couldn't I? But chronicling my endeavour to finish some of these old projects before I turn 30 should keep me honest, and to keep me accountable to that goal now I've put it out there in so... so many words.

Oh well. Thanks for reading.

-- Dan


PS: Coincidentally "cannibalised for a few spare parts before being unceremoniously dumped in a bin" is going to be the name of the autobiography I'll never write.

PPS: There's a chance this is all just me blowing smoke, and the crushing defeat will set back in soon. If that's the case I'll just say "False Alarm" now to cover myself.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

'Writing Space' is coming

Many of you have been wondering exactly what is happening with the web series we announced and shot last year. The last time I updated this blog on the subject (or on any subject for that matter) was back in February and some were wondering when it would be released, so I thought it was time for an update.

When it came to editing Writing Space, I ended up taking on those responsibilities myself in order to save a freelance editor the horror of having to work with a complete control freak like myself. I had a very specific idea of how Writing Space should be edited and had enough experience in the field to feel confident I could handle it. The problem was my day job and other commitments meant I was only realistically able to dedicate weekends to editing the series.

Which was fine at first, I made a great deal of progress very quickly once I started in January and our original planned launch window of late March was looking good. But then in mid February I was offered a couple of freelance writing opportunities I simply could not turn down. As a result, I went from having my weekend's free to dedicate to editing, to trying to cram an hour or so in here or there while I tried to balance short writing deadlines and a 50+ hour a week day job.

And that doesn't take into account our TV podcast Nothing But Static, which I also edit and upload myself (See Second Paragraph... "control freak"). So you don't have to be a mathematician to see how, time wise, this may have hampered my progress when it came to getting Writing Space finished. But thankfully I eventually caught up on all this work and by mid April I was back to editing every weekend, no longer weighed down with other commitments.

In early May I announced post production was completed on the web series and since then we have spent the majority of our time getting feedback from our peers and friends and making small changes to the series based on this feedback. Also, something that didn't occur to us until we needed to do it, is how much there was to consider when it comes to releasing a web series like this. Everything from the marketing and release date to deciding what service we would be using to distribute the series all had to be arranged, and to make it worse, each one effected the other. So we found ourselves trying to get all our release plans straight through most of May.

But we have now finally settled on all those details and am happy to announce that Writing Space will be launching on July the 1st from the Nothing But Static YouTube Channel. And new episodes will be released every Tuesday through July. In total there are 6 episodes of Writing Space to release, all around five and a half minutes in length.

We are immensely excited about finally getting to show people what we have been working on all this time, and really encourage people to subscribe to the channel and share the content with friends once it's released, as that is the only way this sort of project survives. We are also planning on releasing some Nothing But Static related content along side the web series, such as short discussion videos and top ten videos relating to the subject of TV.

So that's all for now. I'll leave you with the first of two 'In Character' video trailers Chris and I created separately in order to promote the series. We hope to see you in July for more!

Thanks for reading.

-- Dan

Monday, 10 February 2014

So what's 'Writing Space' about?

As many of you are already aware (mostly because I won’t shut up about it) Chris and I have been working on a web series for a little over a year now. Some of you may even remember the blog post I wrote late last year announcing we were producing the series, and the two subsequent posts detailing the writing process. (Found here and here)

Since then we managed to successfully shoot the thing (I know, and I assure you, I am far more surprised we actually managed it than you are) and are now neck deep in post-production.


That in mind, I find myself facing an undeniable truth… it actually exists. It sounds odd to say, but I am genuinely having trouble getting my head round this fact. For so long it was just this passion project that existed in some shared fictional universe that existed only in minds of Chris and myself. But now I can look at it. Admittedly, in a very rough state with wobbly sound and no colour correction as we develop it…

But, it’s a tangible thing now. Not nothing, but something.

So as it has now occurred to me that people may actually be watching this thing at some point, it might be worth me finally explaining what it’s about.

Writing Space is a 6 part comedy web series presented in the style of a documentary that follows two struggling writers and their failed attempts to be creative and avoid completely winding each other up.

The premise is that a fictional documentary crew, having lost their original (more interesting) subject are forced to quickly put together a piece on the lifestyles of screenwriters by documenting the lives of two writers they found last minute on craigslist. But they got a little more than they bargained for with this highly dysfunctional and mildly delusional pair.

Essentially, the project is made up of the documentary crews footage of the two attempting to work combined with talking heads for context. Many of you will no doubt be instantly reminded of The Office or more recent American comedies like Parks And Recreation and Modern Family. But we share only the mockumentary style of filmmaking with these comedies. Writing Space is more comparable to a sketch show, only all of our sketch’s involve the same scenario and characters.

So, a comedy about screenwriting… I know, very original. Chris and I also happen to be playing two characters called Chris and Dan who have previously taken a sketch show to Edinburgh Fringe Festival and written on a web series. Well... they do say you should write what you know!

And indeed, Chris and I have based much of the web series content on our own attempts to break into the industry in order to give it authenticity. And while the characters have elements of Chris and I and their lives are eerily familiar, their personalities and how they interact with each other are mixed around to suit the situations and are greatly exaggerated.

Chris isn’t nearly as irritated by me in real life as is depicted here…

Actually…

I should go. I need to go apologise to Chris for the last five years...

Thanks for reading.

-- Dan









Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Breaking News: Ideas are important

In a shocking turn of events it seems that in writing, the ideas themselves are quite important. I suspect many (if not all) of you reading this will already be aware of that fact. And while that seemingly obvious statement is something I’m sure I already knew, somehow I only feel like I truly learned it this year. I now realise exactly how important the skill of being an idea generator actually is. 

Again this may seem obvious on the surface, but multiple and frequent ideas aren’t exactly a requirement for a wannabe writer who works at his or her own pace while building a portfolio. A writer without deadlines who only has to work when they are excited about the creative prospects of a concept they already have has a lot less reason to sit and stare at the blank screen. Because when the idea isn’t there that deadline-less writer can afford to not write until it is. And when the idea finally bubbles to the surface the writer gets to scratch that glorious writing itch.

Although it is a bit of a chicken/egg scenario; do ideas occurring make the writer want to write, or does the writers desire to write force their subconscious to invent concepts? Which came first, the desire to write or the idea itself? Sorry, got a little more philosophical than I originally intended there. Try to forget this paragraph.

So it all came as quite a shock to me this year when I suddenly found myself with multiple writing projects of my own being combined with several freelance jobs that had either short deadlines for or required multiple scripts. With so much to do I had no choice but to sit and bang my head against the keyboard until ideas came; the luxury of simply leaving it until I had something being long behind me.

At one point this genuinely resulted in the rather cliché image of me slumped over my desk with several balled up pieces of paper surrounding me and my bin. None actually made it into the bin of course; I’m not the most coordinated person. At one point I honestly started to think that I might have simply run dry of new ideas that genuinely excite me. But of course this wasn’t that case, I had just never really had to exercise the massively important skill of being an idea generator.

The best example of where it was a problem was when I was hired to do a writing project for a London based acting studio. They had asked me to develop several short scripts to be shot using their students, the intention being to use them in their showreels once they finish the course. Over a couple of months my mandate was to write around twenty three 3 page long scripts for them, each being set in one of two locations and using two of the actors; it sounds simple enough until you realise you need twenty three entirely separate and original premises. A daunting task to say the least.

My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t have enough time to let good ideas come to me and develop in the natural way they usually do, forcing me to use ideas that weren’t fully developed or that I wasn’t happy with. But in the end I feel I did manage to entirely avoid this potential pitfall and I was ultimately very pleased with the results.

It seems that my usual method for idea generation takes a long time because I'm doing a large part of the processing in the background on the odd occasions when my mind drifts from whatever it is I'm actually doing. As a result the shower and that moment just before I fall asleep seem to be when a lot of my best ideas occur.

What I found effective in the end for encouraging this process when I was on a tight deadline was actually setting aside time specifically to focus on it, and not beating myself up for not producing large quantities of text during these sessions. I simply made notes of all the thoughts that occurred and then went back to them a day or two later to see if I could improve them.

So there you have it. The solution is to simply make generating ideas one of the stages of writing instead of letting it happen by accident. I'm basically an idiot for not seeing it sooner.

But as simple and as obvious as the solution is, as someone who was never required to do it before this year, it was an odd sort of revelation. People always say you never stop learning as a writer, and while I never doubted the validity of that statement; I honestly didn’t expect to learn such a large and important lesson this far in. And it’s made me really excited to find out what I might learn next.

Thanks for reading.
-- Dan




Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Long Way Round

Welcome to yet more of my drivel on the subject of how the script for our new web series 'Writing Space' came to be. This is the second part of a post that was simply far too long to put up as one, if you missed the first part and would rather, quite sensibly, prefer to read them in order; click here. To find out what 'Writing Space' is, click here. If after reading those you're not entirely bored with reading things I've written on this subject then feel free to continue...

Christmas 2012 was, at least for me, spent mostly in a perpetual state of feeling guilty about the fact I wasn't writing. It's an all too familiar feeling to me, but on this occasion it was exasperated by the knowledge Chris was beavering away on his first draft of the other project we were developing at the time... or so I thought. Turns out I needn't have worried because when I picked up the phone in early January for a catch up, it seems we had both achieved little more than watching Doctor Who and eating an unhealthy amount of turkey and chocolate over the Christmas break. We did not eat these things together I might add, we're not monsters.

So, in the knowledge that the deadline for our drafts was the first week of February we both did our fair share of beavering and we managed to complete them in time. At this stage the script was 27 pages long. Now you're probably wondering how I could be so bold as to pronounce this anemic 27 page script as the 'first draft' when the subsequent script we produced is 45 pages. Well, this particular project is not heavy on narrative and while the scenes involve the same characters and scenarios, structurally speaking, it resembles more closely a sketch show than a sitcom. The scenes in themselves have individual premises and while these are interconnected in mild ways through the subject and themes, there isn't a heavy narrative running through the entire piece.

This format allowed me to intentionally leave the script short in order for Chris to add original scenes of his own design. This was more important on this particular script than any other we have worked on because we hadn't actually discussed the content of this script or it's scenes prior to me taking on the task of producing the vomit draft. All we had decided together was who and what it was about and what the tone ought to be. So it felt important to have content entirely generated by Chris to counter balance mine. After I completed my draft it was Chris's turn to go over it before we started working on it together and he did not disappoint; the second draft came in around 48 pages.

In some ways, the development of this script may be one of the simplest and most straight forward processes I've ever experienced. The lack of a deadline allowed us to work at a comfortable pace and due to its sketch like nature, we were granted the luxury of being able to remove any scene at will purely on the basis of quality. We weren't, as we so often are with narrative comedy, at the mercy of scenes that were important to the overall structure and pacing of a plot that were simply not funny. When that happened in this script we simply cut it and wrote something entirely different, although I should mention that as a result the scripts length fluctuated greatly over the coming months.

In March, with Chris's draft complete we felt it was time to start working on the script together. And while some aspects of this scripts development were an easy sail down a calm river, around this stage is where the other aspects started to creep in. You know the ones that involved stormy weather and capsizing. The problem is that Chris and I have full time jobs, other writing/acting commitments, a website and a podcast to work on. So finding time in which to work together on this script was not easy. This was not made easier by the fact we do not live a commutable distance from each other, this meant that in order to avoid wasting a few hours of each writing day on travel, we would write and develop this script over the internet.

It's nothing short of miraculous that the internet permitted us to continue working despite geographical differences, an advantage the writers of yesteryear would not have had. So we would set entire days aside to work on the piece this way, occasionally pulling double duty and recording a podcast in the morning and then writing for the rest of the day. Incidentally I wouldn't recommend this as it never left much time for editing the podcast in question, or indeed living my life. To write over the internet we use Skype to talk to each other (Audio only) and used the 'Screen Share' function in order for one of us to be able to see the script the other had loaded up on their computer. As a writing method this has a drawback of only one of writers being able to alter the document and type.

I'm certain there are more efficient ways to do this, I think final draft has a feature that allows both writers to work on a script at the same time over the net, but it's not really a problem for us. This is because historically, even when Chris and I write in person I usually have the keyboard, because while Chris finds it easy to pitch stuff verbally, I sometimes struggle to explain myself accurately and find demonstrating by typing the idea or joke up there and then helps. Also, I'm a massive raging control freak. So on the whole this writing over Skype thing really works for us, or more accurately, while we live this distance apart it's the best option. Naturally we would rather be sat in the same room, but for practicalities sake this is a sufficient substitute. In fact, in this case, the gift of cutting out travel actually helped us progress faster. I shudder to think how far we'd be along now if we were only writing in person.

But that's not to say writing over the internet made it possible to write everyday, as mentioned already our schedules made that about as far from possible as it is to get. We would go entire months without finding any time to work on it. I suspect if we had written regularly this script would have potentially completed in April or early May at the latest. Instead we were forced to take the long way round, writing once every couple of weeks. slowly but surely improving the existing draft and developing it into the piece we finally landed on in early August. We claimed this was the final draft at the time, the finished article. But true to form even now it's still being tweaked in small ways with the production scheduled to happen in just 7 short weeks.

But despite having to take the slow path, chipping away at the draft we had in March over the course of several months in order to mould it into the sculpture we wanted it to be, I actually think this was the best way to develop this script. Sometimes a gap between writing sessions, and in this case we had many of those, can actually help you clear your thoughts and allow you to approach it with fresh eyes and a perspective you may not have had the first time when you return. So despite those 45 pages taking the better part of 9 months to complete, in my opinion the pace really helped improve the quality of the final piece.

So for me it was worth every second.

Thanks for reading.

-- Dan

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Every Journey...

So based on a small number of tweets it seems a certain percentage of you may be interested in hearing how the script for Writing Space came to exist. If the existence of such a thing is news to you and you are now squinting at your computer screen in confusion trying to understand, I recommend reading this blog post in order to catch up. Or you can move forward under the rather sensible assumption that it's a project I'm working on, for which a script is complete. If you're not one of those interested in the process, then feel free to click that small x in the top corner of the window. I won't mind, honest. I'm barely interested in it myself and I lived it.

First of all it's worth noting that the process I'm about to describe works exceptionally well for me and my writing partner Chris, but by no means by posting it here am I suggesting anyone should approach anything using the same method we use. It may very well be suitable for a certain percentage of you, but writing in a team can be challenging and I think an important part of developing into a team that functions well is developing a writing method that works for both members. I feel it's better to find something that works for you than adopt a system someone else uses.

For Chris and I, we prefer something Judd Apatow describes as the 'Vomit Draft' approach. The idea consists of riffling through the first draft of any script as quickly as possible to ensure you do not second guess anything. The goal is to simply push past the barrier of doubt and get the idea on the page in as pure a form as possible. That way you're working from something more than the daunting blank canvas. This draft is usually about as far from perfect as it gets, but you are left with a slab of marble to shape into the script you envisioned.

The reason I prefer this approach is because I find it incredibly frustrating to spend hours and hours perfecting a scene only to discover that it needs to be cut for structural reasons once I reach the end and realise it was redundant to start with. Also, if I'm honest I like getting to the end of that first draft knowing how much work the piece still needs. I find it oddly comforting to know that I'm not completely at a loss for how to make it better. I'm terrified that one day I'm going to reach the end of a draft fully aware how broken it is but not having a single idea about how to fix it. So being full of idea's and notions about what I need to correct on the next go around is strangely and powerfully encouraging.

The problem we found is that both Chris and I subscribe to this writing method, yet the very notion of writing in a team is diametrically opposed to the 'Vomit Draft' approach, because the entire point is to question one another as you go. This mean's it's practically impossible to write a first draft as a team using that method. So Chris and I have taken to writing the first and second drafts solo. We develop the characters, plots and ideas as a team, but then one of us tackles the first draft while the other writes the second, before we ultimately sit down and start working on the drafts together. This allows us to just get the idea on the page without the other over our shoulder questioning the positioning of a comma. (I'll be honest here, that's usually me.)

Interestingly, or possibly ironically, 'Writing Space' was born out of procrastination. Chris and I had met up to break the story for another project we were writing and during a period in which we had hit a bit of a wall our conversation drifted and gave birth to a very vague but simple idea. An idea that practically oozed with fun, an odd but accurate statement. We noted down several bullet points summing up the concept before we caught ourselves and forced our minds back to the task at hand, although like the petulant school children we are, we did resist for a little while longer first in order to play 20 questions or something equally time wasting. We were clearly fond of the new idea, but I'm not sure we seriously discussed perusing it during that meeting at all.

But it would not die, that same evening the idea would not leave me to sleep in peace, only now it came to me with a new element attached when it swam through my mind. I suddenly understood it needed to be a mockumentary. It's a conclusion Chris and I would have come to eventually regardless of whether it had occurred to me that evening or not. The significance of realising it in that particular moment is that it caused me to become more excited about the project and was immediately inspired to write a couple of sample pages there and then to demonstrate to myself how it would work in that format. One of those sample pages ended up being the first page of the finished script.

As a mockumentary it was suddenly very produceable, which to two writers working on several projects on spec with no sign of progress is a very enticing prospect. Chris had already been assigned the task of writing the first draft of the project we had actually met up to develop that weekend, we did end up breaking the story as we set out to. This left me to write the first draft of Writing Space, which had a different title at this stage. This was in late December of 2012 and we agreed to finish our respective first drafts by the first week of February 2013.

This is actually one of the reasons we didn't record any new episodes of our podcast Nothing But Static in January, as we were both highly focused on finishing our first drafts.

Seems I've rambled enough for now, my next post will pick up where this left off.

Thanks for reading.
-- Dan

Monday, 26 August 2013

Nothing But Static Site Relaunch

Nothing But Static is a podcast.
More specifically Nothing But Static is a podcast I co-host.
More specifically Nothing But Static is a TV podcast I co-host. 
Even more specifically Nothing But Static is a TV podcast I co-host which just relaunched its website. 

Now you have the specifics, the purpose of this post is to let you know I'd like to ask you to check it out. If you're interested in that sort of thing that is. We don't expect anyone who doesn't watch TV to listen, if you don't know Son's of Anarchy from Breaking Bad, I expect you'd be utterly baffled. It would sound like Chris and I were speaking in tongues. 

But for those of you as obsessed with TV as Chris and I, (Fuck it, we'd take mildly interested. It's not that exclusive a club.) I'd encourage you to not only check out the podcast itself, but keep your eye on the website as well. Our intention with this relaunch is to keep the site updated with TV related news and Articles that may be of interest also. These may be loftier ambitious than our time will permit, but that's never stopped us before. I'm be posting links to some of the articles on my twitter also, so I'm sure you'll here more about the content as I tweet. 

With the site relaunch came a brand new episode of the podcast. This week we discussed the new shows that most excite us from the upcoming TV Season. As well as the four US shows Channel 4 have picked up and news about Danny Boyle returning to TV. Also, in our previous episode Chris had challenged me to watch a British TV classic I had only ever seen in passing; Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. So this week, having watched the first six episodes I gave some thoughts on it.

If you're interested in our website it can be found at nothingbutstatic.co.uk

If you'd rather just skip to podcast itself, you can listen via the player below, iTunes or right click on the link below and select 'Save As' to download the mp3. 

Direct Download.



Thursday, 15 August 2013

Shall we try that again?

So a brand new design and a brand new attempt to reinvigorate this blog. Which, as an endeavour, the realist inside all of us has already probably dismissed as hopeless. Not that I'm giving up at the start line, just acknowledging the fact that I've spoken of bringing this blog back in the past and to put it mildly, I don't have a great track record of success. So there is a chance I may become distracted again and the consistency of postings may falter, but in the meantime I'm going to try and enjoy it while it lasts rather than beat myself up about my inability to post regularly.

Those few among you who follow me on twitter may already be aware, but it's worth repeated for the purpose of this post that my writing partner Chris Billingham and I have completed the final draft of a script for a new web-series. And we are very pleased to announce that production on this particular project is currently scheduled to commence on the first week of November 2013. We are producing this one ourselves on the rather indulgent budget of zero pounds and zero pence. Calling in an obscene number of favours from friends to do so.

The script we currently hold is a massive source of excitement for both of us and will likely change in small ways between now and when we ultimately shoot the project; this won't help me memorise my lines, but will help make it better. With that said the script we currently hold is pretty much what we set out to make all those months ago.
'All those months ago?' you probably aren't thinking, 'this is entirely new information to me the reader'. Well, as I just hinted, this particular script has technically been in development since December.

That of course doesn't mean we've been working on it non-stop for nine months. Which I'm grateful for, because while Chris often displays an abundance of seemingly infinite patience, I think nine straight months of working with this maladjusted and picky perfectionist would have most certainly caused him to snap and stage an 'Accident' involving myself. I suspect something involving stairs, and me 'falling' down them, that seems like Chris's style. Or perhaps a long swim in a shallow grave after one of our famous romantic walks along Bournemouth pier.

Theoretical murder aside, it was actually a fairly quick and smooth experience that suffered from frequent and lengthy periods of interruption due to scheduling conflicts. So there would be months where Chris and I would simply find ourselves too busy with other work and our podcast Nothing But Static to be able to develop this script further. Not that we see ourselves as important jet-setter types who are above the notion of fitting stuff in, we just had enough stuff going on to make it more challenging to schedule than our lazy nature would permit. But it never once left our minds, which is mildly remarkable considering how easily distracted we often are. No matter what, we always found the time to come back to it eventually.

I feel that this script, more than anything else we have ever worked on, truly reflects our writing voices, and that fact is in itself immensely exciting. Although this may have something to do with how close the subject matter is to home. A lot of my satisfaction stems from knowing the execution of the concept is almost exactly what we had originally envisioned those nine long months ago. And now we are facing the daunting and arduous task of taking this forty five page script and organising a production that will turn it into six viable episodes of a web-series.

Despite the obvious challenges that lie ahead as a result of trying to produce a fairly sizeable production with less money than the value of a freddo. But we think we have something really special on our hands and cannot wait to show everyone. More details will be posted on this blog as we go forward regarding the content of the scripts as well as updates on exactly how badly our production has fallen apart.

And then, someday... if we're lucky... I'll be typing the words 'Introducing our new web series... Writing Space'.

Thanks for reading.
-- Dan


Edit: Since this post I have written another two part piece describing the writing process for this project. Part one can be found here and part two can be found here.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Nothing But Static #1 - Cliffhanger

So we've had a little delay getting Episode One of 'Nothing But Static' on iTunes. It will be there shortly (We hope) but in the meantime episode one is now available to stream and direct download. Stream in the player below or download from here.

In Episode One Chris and Myself lament the fate of BBC's 'The Fades' and tackle the issue of whether networks owe their audiences closure in the face of cancellation.