Not a ‘lads-mag’ Jane Austen but a look back at how an online chat and a couple of postprandial meal softeners took us from 0 to 3 scripts before closing time and the last of the Bacon Fries…
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We’d arranged a Skype call with director John at 7:30 to discuss the progress of two of our shorts as well as the finer points of life, work and funding in John’s fresh new Glaswegian fields. We rattle through the preliminaries in a few short minutes:
- the scripts are still sexy;
- a production team is being assembled;
- Scotland is supernaturally cold;
- John’s bed is supernaturally messy (cheers, Skype…)
John distracts us from his tousled duvet with an eminently sensible plan for funding and filming going forward then advises he’ll be shooting low-to-no budget in a month or so with his new team: do we have anything ‘dialogue-y‘ we could punt his way for two characters in a single location…?
Not at 7:45 with full tummies and an eyeful of ‘crime scene’ bedroom we don’t, but give us some pointers and we’ll see what we can rustle up.
John likes what we do so bats the creative ball deep into our half of the court. He chuckles through our funnies in the right places for the right reasons but he’s also big on ‘dilemma’ and disarming twists and switches. He’s worried he’s being too vague in sketching out what is admittedly a pretty sketchy wish list but we don’t see it that way: give us a pirate hat, a lolly stick and a kilo of cubed beef and we’ll give you the daring deeds and hairs-breadth ‘scapes of buccaneering wooden terror Captain Stroganoff. It’s just got to be short. And cheap. And half the cost again.
DIRECTOR: So what have you got I could shoot in a day?
WRITER: The 25th Century. A space station perched on the outer ring of Saturn. Two gigantic space millipedes…
DIRECTOR: Okay, let me just stop you there a second…
In a final, inadvertent master stroke before returning to the remains of his detonated digs, John forwards over two headshots of actors he’s eager to work with and gives us plenty of time before the shoot to mull everything over. Now we have a spare couple of pub hours and some smouldering publicity portraits to pin a few stories and situations on. Lining up a couple of cold-filtered imagination lubricators, we make short work of making short works.
Between Premier League predictions and strategic micturitions (possibly not a real word…), we flesh out two single-location comedies and a spellbinding little dramatic short that owes much to Rich’s willingness to wipe the smile off what started life as a cast iron belly laugher but ended up with a sizeable lump in its throat. Thinking only in shillings and pence, we cook up an irritable vampire, a double-booked werewolf, a private investigator obsessed with the photographic clarity of a cheating husband and a cosy, cuddly conflab about home improvements that’s anything but. All this at 10:00 from nothing whatsoever at 7:30.
As writers, it feels great to be able to layer something as substantial on so disjointed a collection of bones in so short a space of time. However, much as I love the image of the fast-thinking, finger-clicking screenplay ninja, looking back I realise just how much was already ‘there’: a director who connects with our writing style; a host of shared ideas and fragments finding new reasons to be thrashed out; a couple of faces to stick in a room and characterise; crisps and lager. The movie-making cogs may at times move slower than a lazy glacier handcuffed to a radiator handcuffed to Terry Waite, but the wait on one project shouldn’t detract from the excitement of beginning another. Next time out we’ll hit the cognac on empty stomachs, set fire to the director’s bed and hammer out an award-winning, multi-season series about a bunch of pals living together in the same West Village apartment block. Perhaps we’ll even call it ‘Pals’.
As for Captain Stroganoff, he’s way too meaty for the shorts.
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As always, if you want to know more about our scripts or wish to explore the possibility of filming one, have a browse through our LOGLINES section or strike up a conversation via our contacts in, er… CONTACTS.