Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Ugly Factor

Here it is folks. The secret of sit - com writing. It came to my son and me while waiting for a Pizza. wait for it.......

Unless the male is supposed to be a ladies man never have your leads too good looking.

There it is. Think about it. Friends [including Joey] King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, Not Going Out, Men Behaving Badly, The Office, Only Fools And Horses, The Green Green Grass, Terry and June, Spaced, The Big Bang Theory, My Name Is Earl, and on and on and on.

This came to my attention when I happened to see and episode of 'Freddie' starring Freddie Prinze Junior [ cancelled] The guy is good looking. But not a womaniser. Result? Ratings death.
On the other hand of course the female leads should generally be as attractive as possible in a ''girl next door scrubbed up nicely'' kinda way.

Lines that might get a belly laugh from a geeky Ross or a gawkey Rodney just don't get the same reaction from young chisel face Freddie. Women might want to be with him but men want to punch his lights out. There's half your demographics gone right there.

Seems to me that if casting is important for drama it is vital for comedy.

Moral of the story - cast ugly for better line appreciation. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying any of the above males fell out the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. But they ain't the Elle McPherson of Friends [or any one of those dork's girlfiends with the possible exception of Janice] or the Pamela Anderson of Stacked.

I'm not a comedy writer so take the above with a pinch of salt. But to me comedy is usually about the underdog. Save the pretty boys for the Byronic heroes.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Life in the internet lane

Everything, all the time.

When I were a lad, there weren't no t'internet. The only real avenues for any novice writer to get any kind of information on the nature and practice of screenwriting was to go to a seminar buy a book, or find a willing mentor.

Those days have long gone, thank the jebus. There are now any number of great sites with excellent writers giving free advice on everything from how to construct a pitch document to what to wear at a meeting!

Great news for the novice. But also great news for the hoary old salt. Writers tend to be a solitary breed. Especially in this country where we don't really have the writers room. Meetings between writers tend to be few and far between. Prior to the internet and email, information would be slow to disseminate. A 'bitch' [collective noun] of writers might gather occassionaly to bemoan this prodco or that exec or the PACT agreement, but it would pretty much end there. A few like minded souls shouting in the wind to each other, never knowing how many, if any of their fellow writers felt exactly the same way.

Take the recent WGA strike. I have a suspicion that a major reason this one was 'succesful' when the last one certainly wasn't, was down to the internet. The writers case was put out there, often, cohesively and entertainingly. Given that the conglomorates who own the studios also own most of the media it was pretty much the only way the message could get out. Ironic really as one of the main issues was internet residuals.

But I think even more importantly the internet enables a creative community to come out of their bunkers and realise we are all going through the same shit. Be it wrestling with a script or dealing with some dingbat exec who wouldn't know if they had an arse and an elbow, never mind the difference.

And maybe, just maybe, that level of communication will give that creative community a greater sense of empowerment. I do hope so. I mentioned in a previous comment that I might post my thoughts on why writers are generally kept out of the spotlight. Still mulling the whole scenario over. But I've most certainly come across the 'divide and rule' mentality. The internet goes some way to overcoming that. Hell, I may start naming and shaming! lol

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Writer? Who's that?

I'm in script at the moment so just a quick post while I mop up the blood.
Following on from the theme in the comments about the writer's anonymity - true story happening now.

A friend of a friend had a single drama on BBC1. An indy got the rights to turn it into a series with him as lead writer of course. A few weeks in they attempted to screw him over royally on both money and episodes. That's another story. The Beeb eventually got pissed off and pulled the plug.

The writer then read in Broadcast that said Indy had sold the format rights to America! Potentially huge bucks. He had to read it in Broadcast??? 3 months behind the times if you're lucky. He informed his agents, who attempted to find out what was going on and was told by the Indy that they had no contractual obligation to tell him anything until it was time to pay out.

Ahhhhh, the business of show.
Who cares about the creator, we're talking product!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Something for the weekend?

I thought this was an apt title as a) it's the weekend and b) the last two posts have covered female ejaculation, cunts and arseholes. Clearly there is a recurring theme going on.

I'm writing a script just now, and one of the characters says there are only 2 motives for any crime. Sex or money.

Okay not very original as lines go, but hey. I think it's a truism and writers deal in truisims. As any Freudian analyist will tell you, boil any action down to it's true motive and sex will be behind it somewhere. I don't agree btw, tonight I tipped a waiter 20% because the service was great. I got what I wanted, when I wanted it, efficiently and pleasantly. oh.......wait a minute..... lol

That doesn't make me gay. [not that there's anything wrong with that. ahhh Seinfeld] And I was with my son so not trying to impress a bird.

But as a writer, the Freudian approach is a useful tool when approaching character motivation. It adds another layer to your view of why a character chooses a course of action, be that over a script or a single scene and helps humanise them in your mind rather than making them simply plot enablers.

A character has to have a self-perception of who they really are if they are to work on paper and on screen. That's what a real character biography is. Not what colour of socks they wear. Where they eat or what Cd's they buy. Those are just examples of how they'd like the world to perceive them. What really makes them tick is their attitude towards sex and money. Get to the bottom of that and you have a very real character.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Harsh Realities

An old writer salt once told me 'Most execs are cunts and the ones who aren't are arseholes' he was pretty drunk at the time and in fairness, he had been at this a loooooong time so was probably coming off yet another meeting where the heart was ripped out of what he'd just written.

I don't agree with the above. Most execs are just trying to do their job. Unfortunately a lot of the time that might be something that is in contradiction to what the writer is trying to achieve.

Consider the advert in Broadcast I've just read for a Script Editor on The Bill. Now, The Bill goes through Script Ed's like a hooker through condoms, but the job description reads 'Must have the ability to take control over a creative project'

There's nothing about 'be able to get the best out of writers and help them to create fantastic stories, gripping characters and must see TV'

It's about control. Because episodic tv is an expensive sausage machine where on time and on budget tend to be the watchwords.

That's the eternal dichotomy that exists between execs and writers. They aren't cunts and arseholes. They just have different Gods to worship.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Female Ejaculation

Yep strange title. But writers have to be students of human nature I guess, so this tickled me.

I came across female ejaculation recently, if you'll pardon the pun. Being naturally curious, and never to my knowledge having previously induced it I decided a google was in order. Luckily my computer was by the bed and she seemed too drained to notice.
Anyhoo, the facts and figures are in dispute to some extent and I don't want to spoil the romance by talking about skene glands and urethas. But having read up on the medical guff I happened upon this.

It's a letter from Feminists Against Censorship [Do they know it sounds like Fuck?] to the BBFC. It sets out all the medical proof for female ejaculation because the BBFC don't believe it exists and class it as , well, pissing, which means any film it contains can't recieve an R18 rating because of the Obscene Publications Act. Apparently urine isn't allowed. The FAC's case is that it isn't urine.

Does anyone really care? I mean anyone who cares if female ejaculatory fluid is an important part of the entertainment?

As far as censorship is concerned, personaly I'm of the school that finds it odd that torture porn like Hostel and the like get manstream certificates but good old porno has a list of what can get shown and what can't.

Okay, there has to be some form of censorship. If there wasn't someone would without question try to show a snuff movie. Although I'm all for Celebrity Big Brother - The Death Match!

I don't write a lot of sex in what I do. It slows up the action and rarely adds to character development, unless it is beautifully done like between Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in Don't Look Now. I don't have any interest in seeing on screen ejaculation, male or female. Unless it is Cameron Diaz's hair gel.

But I do find it hypocritical that murders, rape, and gratuitous violence are ''socially acceptable'' as far as the BBFC are concerned. But they have to debate the existance of the female ejaculation?

Maybe I've been reading too many Canadian Blogs and the whole censorship rammy going on over there. Maybe I'm just trying to say that no matter how liberal you think the media appears, it is actually very conservative.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Lions In The Wild

Shamefully stolen post from Alex Epstein

''Paul Graham has another insightful essay entitled You Weren't Meant to Have a Boss. It's about the difference he's observed between programmers who work for Google and Microsoft, and programmers who work for their own startups.

He compares them to lions in the wild versus lions in the zoo. The lions in the zoo seem "both more worried and happier."I think that's why I like show people. The ones who don't seem happier are executives. They have big salaries and regular paychecks, and here in Canada, they're not in constant danger of being fired. (Though, I suspect, they also don't have absurdly lucrative "golden parachute" clauses.) But they have to work within a structure and a specific mandate. My network executive friends may like my show, but they already have one in the same territory, or it's not in their mandate, or they can't sell it to their boss. And they're always in meetings. Ack.

I don't know anyone who's left a network job who didn't seem happier afterwards. My producer and writer friends are worried all the time. They don't know where their next paycheck is coming from. They don't know if the industry will collapse due to moralistic Conservative government intervention. They have no idea what they'd do for a living if people stopped hiring them, or paying them. But their frustrations are the frustrations of lions in the wild. They are always stalking the next antelope, or trying to keep the hyenas off of one they've already caught.

They all seem so alive.''

Kinda says it all. A writer can never be a zoo lion, unless it is for research and even then they'll probably fuck a zebra and eat a keeper.