Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Things From James Moran

I'm not going to talk about the present or future James Moran and his two feature films up for release this year. No - it's about that new writer on the scene and prolific blogger, and curse word user, who had just sold his first spec script we know as 'Severance' back in 2005.

James has been blogging in his writing journal for around 9 years now. This tempted me to travel back in time and see what he was like in the beginning. Although, it's not the actual beginning from when he first started writing, but from when he won the Sci-Fi Channel's Sci-Fi Shorts Competition, got his ten-minute script entry made, and got an agent.

I flicked through a few more early entries from 2003 - 2005 which are interesting and quite fascinating, as he talks about the umpteenth draft of Severance, then named P45, which was becoming quite a nuisance. But what interested me and thought I would pinch and share are some great and insightful words from 2005. So I will unless he sues, hacks me with a sharp fictional object or explodes my toaster with his mind. Or my mind with his toaster. 

  1. Things I Have Learned: 
  • Characters and background first, then plot - it's so much easier that way round 
  • It's a lot harder to sell an outline, than a script 
  • Shorter, shorter, shorter - you can always trim more stuff out of a script or outline, it's always too long 
  • Everyone else is pretty much making it up as they go along, too - not just me 
  • No matter how nice movie/TV people seem - Don't. Fucking. Trust. ANYONE. Most of them are decent people, but some of them are fucking evil, greedy sharks in human form, that will slice open your kidneys with a homemade shiv if you give them half a chance. Even the nice ones who you're friendly with are looking out for their careers, not yours. 
Being able to say that I'm a writer is a huge step. It's vital to recognise your strengths, without bragging. And, of course, your weaknesses - but they're easy to see: being nice to yourself is much harder. As for that final bulletpoint, I am *not* exaggerating. It's a harsh, harsh world out there ("it's a shit business!"), but particularly so in MediaLand. I've learned the hard way that you have to be extremely tough and thick-skinned. Never climb into a shark tank without cast-iron underpants. You don't have to be a bastard to people, just don't let them walk all over you. 

Things I Want To Do In 2006: 
  • Become a better writer 
  • Sell another movie 
  • Write two full spec scripts, and just write more in general 
  • Go to a film festival to plug Severance 
  • Write an episode of Doctor Who (fuck it, aim high) 
  • Do a DVD commentary 
  • Get fitter, and lose more weight 
  • Write shorter blog entries 
I'm on the hustle. I want to get out there, show my face, put my name into hats (or something). Things move way too slowly in MediaLand - you make your own luck, and you have to push for what you want. I've wasted a lot of time this year when I could have been writing or outlining. 2005 was great fun, and watching the creation of Severance, from casting, storyboards, location scouting, shooting, to editing, has been an incredible ride. Seeing something get organised, filmed and edited can only improve my writing - already my stuff is shorter, sharper, and more effective. Except for my blog entries. They just get fatter and more self-important. But hey, like I say, get your own blog, I'm in charge here. 

That first section, some brilliant advice. The last part speaks for itself.

I can say that he does now write shorter blog posts, most of the time. They are really a lot shorter. I'm not just saying that. 

Here's the full blog post with lots more advice and insight, and here's his free writing seminar in a blog post.

He has made his own luck and that is how it's done.

*All words and copyright belong to James Moran except the bits that I wrote, although, he can have them too, if he wants* 

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