Celebrating Great Films

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Yay! My wife and I attended the private premiere of The Man Who Married Himself at BAFTA's Princess Anne Theatre yesterday, and it was brilliant.

The film looked great on the big screen. The music added a whole new dimension, emphasising the tragic elements of the main character's loneliness. People laughed in the right places, clapped plenty... there were even one or two heckles. :)

I'm generally not great at schmoozing at those kind of events, but it was fun to chat to Warren Clarke (he praised the film, and offered me one piece of advice for the future: "Write bigger!"), and Mark Joseph who I'd met on the set, and Film Four people, and some of Garrick's friends and family.

It's incredible how many people were involved in making an 11-minute film. Everyone worked so hard on it, with such an incredible amount of goodwill, mostly for little or no money - what other industry (apart from the charity sector I suppose) can claim that kind of dedication?

So, soon the film will be touring festivals and I'll be persuading all my friends and family to go see it. You too! Go!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

10 Rules For Writing

My wife sent me an article about various writers' ten rules for writing fiction. It's fascinating to read how disciplined, intelligent and well-read everyone else is.

These are the ten rules I seem to live by:

1. Do anything - anything - to put off starting to write. Read about the bystander effect on Wikipedia. Play Scrabble on your iPod Touch. Just sit there and stare at a blank screen for forty minutes.

2. Leave the house. A cafe or a pub is a more productive place to write, particularly one without a wireless internet connection. Start by drinking Cokes, because 2pm is too early to be drinking alcohol. After a couple of litres, when the sugar buzz is making your eyes shake, start on the beers to calm yourself down.

3. Stay up ridiculously, self-destructively late. Several nights in a row. You'll know you've had the right amount of lack of sleep when you're barking at passers-by on the street for walking too close to you.

4. Dwell on a particular line of dialogue for at least an hour without moving on. Then realise how long you've been stuck on it, put in a placeholder, and end up cutting it later anyway.

5. Edit, edit, edit the first ten pages before you've written anything else. Editing is so much easier than writing more.

6. Bring your laptop everywhere with you in the utterly misguided hope that you'll pull it out to snatch a few minutes of writing on the train or wherever. Having to carry your microchip-brick all over town is a useful kind of penance for being a lazy writer.

7. Deadlines are essential enemies. It is perfectly natural to leave it just a little too late so you end up writing in an antisocial blood-sweating panicked frenzy. Face it, that's the only state in which you ever get any writing done anyway.

8. When you've finally finished a first draft, assume that there's nothing wrong with it, and refuse to listen to any constructive feedback for at least three weeks.

9. When a project is at last finished and out in the public domain, rest on your laurels. For goodness' sake don't do any more writing until you've milked all the mileage you can (to mix metaphors) out of what you've already written.

10. Remind yourself that you enjoy writing. It's fun.

Honestly, it's a wonder I ever get any writing done.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


The website for The Man Who Married Himself now has some content on it, including the trailer. I'm excited.

I was looking forward to introducing my wife to Richard E Grant at the premiere, but she attended the premiere of Food, Inc. on Monday as an ambassador for the Fairtrade Foundation, and he was there - so she's met him already! Apparently, they had an awkward conversation along the lines of:

"Who are you?"

"My husband wrote The Man Who Married Himself."

"Oh! It's a good story. Will I see you at the premiere?"




We're clearly not cut out for this hanging out with famous people malarkey.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Back to the Future

Back to the Future
#74 at time of writing.

"Where we're going, we don't need roads."

There are a few films that create their own mythology. A mythology so complete it's as if it's always existed. Back to the Future is one of them. H G Wells might lay claim to the time travel book, but there's no doubt Robert Zemeckis created the time travel film.

Doc Emmett Brown, the quintessential mad scientist, invents a time machine and Marty McFly inadvertently gets stranded thirty years in the past. Watching this is like a journey through time in itself - it's so wonderfully Eighties. The script is very clever and layered, executed with a rich dose of slapstick humour.

Some good music too, including The Power of Love (Huey Lewis and the News not Frankie Goes to Hollywood, nor Jennifer Rush). Huey Lewis himself is in the film, playing a High School band audition judge. And there's a suitably stirring and catchy score by Alan Silvestri.

But for me the highlight is the over-the-top dramatic tension of the climax, with Doc Brown hanging from the minute hand of the clock tower (which I went to see as a child as part of the Universal Studios backlot tour a couple of years after the film was released). By the end of the film, you will be grinning from ear to ear.

Michael J. Fox was working on the sitcom "Family Ties" during the filming. Apparently, every day during production he drove straight to the movie set after taping of Family Ties was finished, allowing very little time for sleep. The bulk of the production was filmed from 6pm to 6am, with the daylight scenes filmed on weekends. The whole thing was wrapped in less than ten weeks.

Using a DeLorean seems like the perfect choice now, but the device originally considered for use as the time travel machine was a refrigerator. Robert Zemeckis said in an interview that the idea was scrapped because he and Steven Spielberg did not want children to start climbing into refrigerators and getting trapped inside.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Wedding of the Year

Today I received an invitation to the wedding of Oliver and... Oliver. The premiere of the short film I co-wrote last year, The Man Who Married Himself, will be at the end of this month at BAFTA in Piccadilly.

Extremely exciting. Another chance to hobnob with the stars and feel terribly important. Also, hopefully a chance to introduce my wife to all the great people who helped make this project happen.

But I'm not going to deny feeling a shade nervous as well.

OK, deep breath...

Bring it on.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Secret Agent

Jeremy Sheldon provided me with an introduction to a guy who works for Curtis Brown, the pre-eminent UK literary agency.

I'm meeting him next week to get some advice on the perks and pitfalls of breaking into screenwriting. I'm excited.