Never seen this before. Forgotten how much I love Peanuts.
Archive for December, 2008
We recently put this together for Paramount:
It’s our first global initiative, working with both the Domestic and the International teams.
I’ve just finished watching the last of the Star Trek movies – Insurrection. Suffice it to say, as franchises go this ones definitely in need of a ‘reboot’. I watched the first three a couple of weekends ago, and was really taken aback by the scale and substance of the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
It’ll be interesting to work on this – I’m not known for being a major Trekker, but I’m still enough of an enthusiast to be able to enjoy the sheer enormity of Star Trek and its following, and am looking forward to working on a campaign for a property engendering such fanatical enthusiasm from the few, and appealing in some inexplicable way to so many.
I posted recently about a trip out to LA to work on some short scripts, as part of a project I’m working on at the moment. There’s not much I can say about them at this stage, but I do have the following observations about the process of writing as part of a team.
1. Give yourselves plenty of room to breathe
I’ve never been involved in a collaborative writing process before – it’s always been something that I’ve done alone. It quickly became clear that it can be quite a creatively claustrophobic process, especially in relation to a screenplay or script, where every word costs money, and needs to be driving your narrative forward.
The right adjective or adverb might make the killer line, but the wrong ones have to be ruthlessly dispensed with. As a result, everybody is zeroed in, throwing words or phrases around, and shooting the majority of each others ideas out of the sky like clay pigeons.
I guess Dane must have seen this coming, because he’d transformed the loading bay behind the PPC offices into the largest writing room you’ve ever seen (pictured below), and we ended up using the extent of it in order to periodically remove ourselves from a central creative vortex within which nothing was sacred, and nobody could be assured of holding sway.
2. Make sure you have your own screen
We had Final Draft running across three Macbooks, so that anybody could drive, and all of us could keep an eye on things. I hadn’t really thought about the alternative, but over one of our many cigarette breaks Dane talked a little about his experiences of working around the same laptop, and the merits of having a screen of one’s own became clear.
It’s one thing to be engaged in the inevitable intellectual sparring that seems to be a necessary feature of a collaborative writing process, another entirely for a full-blown fistfight to break out in the battle for control of the keyboard. Even as it was we periodically snatched the cursor away from one another with our respective trackpads, but never more than playfully.
3. Bide your time and pick your battles
Writers generally have their own ideas about how things should be said, and are generally accustomed to saying them that way unchallenged. In a collaborative scenario there will be words, phrases, sentiment and structural details you instinctively disagree with, probably in abundance.
It’s importance to learn to let the bulk of them go, unless you see your storyline branching off in a wholly unhelpful direction. Taking issue on every potentially problematic detail will quickly grind things to a halt, and drain away any creative momentum you’re collectively accumulating.
When you’re writing to a deadline your first priority is to complete your script. Once that’s done, you can worry about making it better. With the number of rewrites most scripts go through you’ll likely find that a lot of the problems you have come out in the wash, without the need to waste any of your precious individual equity by taking issue.
You’ll also find that maybe a couple of readings softens your objection, or that it disappears altogether, and you realise that your first instinct was the wrong one. It’s important to keep that basic principle in mind. SOMETIMES YOU ARE WRONG. But then, of course, never lose sight of the fact that SOMETIMES SO IS EVERYBODY ELSE.
We posted this earlier. It seems to be racking up plays already, mainly due to being picked up by PS3 Fanboy.
It probably began with a lunch at the O’Conor Don at least two years ago. It’s exciting to be playing around with movies inside such a new space. And, let’s face it, movies-wise this is as much as I could hope for.
The video was cut by our new ‘pr guy’, Marc Berry, who couldn’t resist taking it into iMovie and playing around. Later on we hoping that Annie will put some pro stuff together, but for now this does the job perfectly.
Picked up an award today, and more conscious than ever that I’m working with one of the best movie marketing teams in Old London Town. That probably sounds arrogant. Lucky for me, it’s just a statement of fact.
I don’t look very guilty, do I? That’s because I just don’t do ‘blogger guilt’. It’s been over two weeks since my last post, maybe three or four since I wrote anything of any substance. I guess it was inevitable, given that the election was bound to end, and my leg was bound to unbreak itself.
Some bloggers seem to beat themselves up over this kind of thing. I think it’s because they build up momentum, they see their visitor metrics go up, and the can’t bear to watch them drop back off again.
Personally, I’m not so bothered. I’m not really in it for the numbers. Besides which, I have enough obligations in my life not to be busying myself inventing any new ones.
To say I don’t feel obligated is not to say I don’t feel committed. As I noted way back when, it’s like Syd Field says: talent is a gift, but writing is a responsibility. I guess the blog’s here for the times when I need to write, with no other outlet. Happily for the last week or two the day job’s been giving me more than enough to think about on that front.
I checked my passport on the way out to LA last week and counted back eight US visas in just over two years. Of all my visits, this last one proved to be the most enjoyable, and arguably the most productive – I guess that remains to be seen.
I was travelling with Dan Skinner, whose job title escapes me, but whose essential role at PPC is to provide creative leadership across a large portion of the business. He’s also somebody whose ready to get his hands dirty where lesser people might be busy washing theirs, meaning he’s a pretty good guy to have around in any situation.
At the other end, Dane McMaster, who effectively IS our LA office. He’s been busy recently setting up the Monty Python channel on Youtube, and was still smarting from the discovery that, within days of uploading the last of the 30 hours of original Python footage he’s encoded, Youtube had switched to their new widescreen format.
Our task was pretty straight-forward: five scripts, each none more than five or six pages in length. Dan and Dane are both experienced screen-writers, whereas I suppose I was there representing the money, and bringing fairly extensive knowledge of the subject matter (not to mention all the creative insight harvested from browsing HOURS of period reference material on Youtube.)
I post brewing off the back of what followed, but I figured I’d start by getting this odorously self-indulgent, little wittering out the way, just to clear the air. And to let you know that, after all that time spent trawling the imaginary annals of Youtube, it looks like maybe they’ve finally got my number: