Thursday, November 23, 2006

Shameless self-promotion, mark II

The next Mixt Nutz gig is Sunday the 26th of November in central London (follow the link for details). Be there and laugh at my sketches, or I'll... wish the audience were bigger.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

CV building

I've just finished a second straight weekend of getting up at 6 AM and trudging off into the cold, dark morning. This time I was script supervising a short film. I've done bits and pieces of crewing over the past couple of years, and it's not my favourite thing in the world, particularly when the job is unpaid as this one was. But I didn't have a script supervisor credit on my CV, and now I do. If I can parlay that into a bit of paying work here and there, that'll be no bad thing.

Back in the world of writing (and thankfully not getting up at 6 AM), I've spent this afternoon trying to come up with some sketches for The Treason Show -- and failing rather miserably. I haven't had anything in The Treason Show for three months now, and I'd really like to end the drought, but I'll have to do better than I did today. Perhaps the muse will return tomorrow.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I laughed, I cried, I fixed my script

This past weekend I attended the Robert McKee story seminar. You may recall that a few posts ago I wondered whether this course would be worth the extremely hefty price tag. Now I have my answer, and it's a resounding yes.

Much -- perhaps even most -- of the material was familiar to me already, but spending three days in a lecture hall listening to McKee talk about it (and draw graphs about it, and periodically rant and rave about it, and on one occasion sing about it) really helped me internalise it and apply it rigorously to my own work. I came out of day one with at least two ideas for improving the episodic, arcless second act of the script I've recently been redrafting.

The seminar was a long slog -- three days running 9 AM to 8:30 PM with three coffee breaks and an hour for lunch -- but McKee is such a good performer that the audience's attention seldom wandered. I use the word 'performer' deliberately. This was nothing like a university lecture. There were impressions, jokes, sociological asides, and random stories about what happens to women when Paul Newman walks into an ice cream parlour. The guy held my attention for a total of almost thirty hours, even at the end when I was literally dizzy with exhaustion. (I slept til 1 in the afternoon today, incidentally.) And he helped me fix my ailing script in the process. Were I wearing a hat, I would doff it repeatedly.

It seems not quite all my fellow students were as impressed as I was, though. On day three I overheard a couple of young American women complaining that the seminar was overlong, that McKee was repeating the same points over and over, and so on. Then one of them said, "I suppose if I were actually, you know, someone who writes scripts, I'd find it more useful."


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

On thick skins and not writing Waiting for Godot

I've been kicking around the pub theatre scene for about a year and a half now, and my failure to progress to anything grander is bothering me a lot at the moment. The most recent rejection in my pile comes from this Radio 4 sketch writing competition. There were over 2,000 entries and only 50 places on the short list, so I've got about 98% of my fellow entrants to keep me company, but I thought I had a good chance at this one. Much sulking took place on the day I got the rejection.

I need to get better at dealing with bad news, or the people who make Prozac will soon be one customer richer.

On the non-self-pitying front, this month I'm writing a one-act stage play as part of a challenge instigated by Piers Beckley and William Gallagher. Mine's a two-hander set on a completely bare stage, and I'm conscious of Samuel Beckett's ghost lurking in the shadows alert for any signs of plagiarism. I hope I can produce something original enough not to invite too many comparisons.