Monday, 24 August 2009
“The clips were from a 1996 episode written by Russell T. Davies that went on to win a BAFTA Children’s Award for Best Drama. Steven said that although the episode was over a decade old, he thought it could still be broadcast today without it appearing dated.The storyline dealt with the subject of internet grooming in chatrooms – a boy was being lured to a meeting in a park (in order to buy a rare comic) by a man pretending to be another schoolboy .Steven asked us all to guess how the episode ended – and I don’t think anyone got it right. Although the boy escapes – just – so does the man, and the bleak final shot has him in the park, walking another child he has lured, back to his car. That’s a hard-hitting ending for TV drama in general, let alone a children’s drama.”
The concept of not talking down to children is one that I'm familiar with and it's true that children are capable of all manner of big ideas, dark concepts and all manner of things that would terrify any ordinary grown adult. I'm not trying to criticise the subject matter either; A child would see the above and not find it as sinister or as an adult would, as children are always told not to walk off with strangers and it's only really the adults that can formulate ideas about what happens after the kidnapping. The problem that I have with that being children’s drama is that it's...well, a bit dull.
Obviously, it can be seen as a brave thing to do, if only because although the character we care about escapes, the villain doesn't receive any sort of retribution. But the concept and the set up just seems too much like one of those videos they show you at school warning you not to play around industrial farming equipment, swim around in quarries or jump in front of tractors. Anything like this that I would have seen as a child would have caused me to switch off instantly. I'd be surprised if there is anyone that remembers "Children's Ward" as their favourite show as a child, or if they even remember it without having to think for a few minutes. No matter how well it may be written, and Russell T Davies is pretty good, the whole setup and premise of the show would just leave me stone cold and although I may not be a standard archetype for the rest of humanity, I'm sure I'm not alone in that.
I haven't read much more of Michelle Lipton's blog, but if you are also a new writer, it looks to be pretty good.
I don't know if you know what I mean by those videos that warn you about the dangers of playing in a grain hoppers, or the dangers of playing "pin the tail on the live agitated bull", and maybe I only saw these sorts of things because I grew up in a very rural area where these sorts of things could potentially happen, but some of them stuck with me, if only because of the slight absurdity. I remember one video that was called something along the lines of "EVERYBODY ON THIS FARM WILL DIE IF THEY'RE NOT CAREFUL AND THEY'RE NOT" or something equally terrifying, and the plot consisted of the eldest sister of a large family that lived on a farm being warned by a ghost that various siblings were on the brink of death as a result of games of "Hide and Seek: Idiot Edition". The ghost had clearly died from all of these methods in the past and the older sister being switched on and sensible very diligently runs around the farm rescuing her kin from their impending doom. The bizarre bit happens right at the end. The ghost has clearly taken a bit of a shine to the girl and would like some company in the afterlife, so doesn't warn her about the tractor, which unexpectedly squashes her just before the end credits. I'm not sure if this was meant to be as hilarious as we all found it or if it was meant to be more of a "and just to show you that we're serious, we're killing one of the characters" moment. Also, at least one person came away from the screening thinking "hey, playing on farms looks fun! I never thought of that!".
(If anyone has any idea what I'm talking about, please let me know what the video was actually called because it's driving me mad.)
Thursday, 20 August 2009
Then the BBC made a version of Robin Hood. I'm not a fan.
I thought that it looked pretty good at first. Promotional posters looked like it was taking a slightly more interesting approach to the character than normal, and I was optimistic about this. Ok, so I probably had to shelve my little project for a while, but perhaps the show would have been ok and much better than I could have done.
I think I survived the whole of the first episode, but I didn't come back to it again. I'm not even too sure what it was about it that repulsed me so much. Maybe it was the plastic-looking axes, the annoying text affects when the scene changed, maybe it was retooling Maid Marrion to be a cross between Lara Croft and Batman (or maybe I'm remembering that wrong) or maybe it was just that there was something everso slightly off about the whole thing. As a quick disclaimer, I acknowledge that there is every possibility that the show found its feet and that the first episode was a glitch and that it's grown into a fully fledged multiple award winning juggernaught of a show, although I doubt it.
I'm not really saying that I could have done better. I don't know whether I could or not. I haven't done anything like that yet all the way through so I can't criticise just yet, but I was annoyed that my ideas were now somewhat invalid by what I can't help feeling is a missed oppurtunity.
A brain wave recently hit me that I could keep my project after all, if I just twisted it slightly, resulting in starting work on a script that is at present titled "Guild of Thieves". I'm using the same scenario, but changing the setting to be set in a city as opposed to Sherwood forest, altering the characters slightly and putting new ones in and essentially changing all but the bare premise. It's turning into a much more interesting beast that I'm ten times more excited about each time I sit down to write something for it, and it also makes me look a little bit more creative than I actually am. Depending on how much further I get with it, I might share some less vague details about it, but for now, think Robin Hood, but Not Robin Hood.
Apparently, BBC Robin Hood has been filmed in Hungary. Although that's possibly why it just didn't feel quite right, I do however find it unlikely that my subconscious would have been that eagle eyed to spot subtle differences between the English and Hunarian countryside.
I'm also told that there'll be a new Robin Hood film coming out soon starring, wait for it, Russel Crowe, as Robin Hood. Now, I don't mind Mr. Crowe. I think he's pretty good at what he does and I don't think Gladiator would have been quite as iconic without him, but I just can't quite see him as the prince of thieves...maybe I'm just missing the point and have got too used to my idea of scrawny, scruffy and morally questionable Hood.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
The following has made it's way into a brief scene summary in my script: "The Sheriff discusses his motives for being near the docks at this time of night."
I’m not really making a point here about anything in particular, I’m just commenting on my own complete lack of enthusiasm. It’s been particularly bad lately, but there are two things that I feel could possibly pull me out of this. The first is fantastic advice as seen on 43 folders amongst other places to essentially get on with it and stop complaining, and the other is some sort of structure. It has been established by some friends of mine that Tuesdays are now a day for making things and being creative, a sentiment that I hope to uphold religiously, possibly obsessively if things go well.My current personal project to take me out of the creative crunch is to complete a script for a semi-adaptation of Robin Hood, but that isn’t Robin Hood, because the BBC already did that. Sort of. Depending on how that goes, I might update on my progress.
My particular brand of writers block has nothing to do with inspiration, but more to do with a lack of effort required to actually make me do something with the inspiration, normally resulting in me firing up (or shooting up...I’m never sure which is the appropriate way of saying it) Warcraft instead and vaporising the evening in one fell swoop.
In personal news: I’ve finished my law course completely. My final essay was handed in with much drama and confusion when there was no plausible way of submitting it, but I just interpreted that as some kind of final test. I didn’t fall through the trap door into the maw of the leopard, therefore I think I passed.
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Admittedly it's not exactly an FAQ, but inbetween panicking an essay out (it's not a piece of writing, it is a piece of panic) I have been having my soul slowly drained by this site. The TV tropes wiki.
Now, I was introduced to this a good few months ago and didn't see what the fuss was about. Then randomly I looked up a phrase I'd heard about "fridge logic" which then inevitably lead to one long "wiki walk" that is yet to end.
Try it for yourself and see where you end up.
My personal favourites: Jumping the Shark and the Batman Gambit. So many funny semi-serious names and so little time....
On the plus side, the whole thing is oddly inspirational. If I can coin a popular trope through my writing, I will actually feel acomplished...