Monday, July 31, 2006

David Gemmell obituary

Fantasy novelist David Gemmell, best known for stories such as Legend and Waylander, has died at the age of 57.

Gemmell had heart bypass surgery two weeks ago and appeared to be making a good recovery, according to his publisher Transworld.

His career began in 1984 with Legend, a tale of a fortress under siege. He wrote 30 novels in total.

Transworld managing director Larry Finlay said Gemmell was "writing at the peak of his powers".
More from BBC News.

Revised Guild Rule Book

The Writers' Guild of Great Britain Rule Book has now been revised, incorporating the rule changes agreed at the Annual General Meeting in May this year.

You can download the new version from the Guild's website.


In The Guardian, playwright Mark Ravenhill explains why he hates theatre-writing workshops. Especially the ones he runs himself.
The trouble is, the more I write, the less I feel I know about writing - certainly, the less I feel I can articulate what is going on when I'm doing it. And the more suspicious I become of anything that pretends to be a rule of playwriting. But tell a workshop participant that there are no rules, that they need to discover what a play means to them and write something that is unique to their sense of the world, and you are likely to be faced with a sullen customer who feels they aren't getting their money's worth. And a black mark on your "How helpful was this workshop?" evaluation form at the end.

Children's TV in danger

Children's television is held in high regard in Britain - and not just because of our advanced sense of nostaglia. The genre has a world-class reputation and British children's TV shows are hits around the globe. But leading producers, including the makers of Bob the Builder and My Parents Are Aliens, are warning that this great progamming tradition is in danger of being snuffed out if two proposed regulatory changes are enforced over the next year.

First, the government is cracking down on advertising to children in its fight against rising obesity, and second, ITV is sharpening its knives to have its children's programming quota slashed as it tries to shed less-profitable shows.
More from Dan Milmo in Media Guardian (free registration required).

Friday, July 28, 2006

ITV plans massive drama cuts

Drama on ITV1 is facing budget cuts of around £20 million over the next year as the network’s latest clampdown on costs begins to take effect.

At the moment the broadcaster spends close to £900,000 a day but in coming months this figure will sink to around £800,000, as part of chief executive Charles Allen and director of television Simon Shaps’ drive to deliver a total of £100 million in savings from across both the schedules and the organisation.

However the network’s director of drama, Nick Elliott, was confident that the reduction in cash flow to £300 million a year would not have an impact on the quality of programming. He said: “It is just a matter of being smarter about what you commission. That’s not a bad thing.”
More from The Stage.

Brick Lane filming cancelled

Following protests from some local residents about the content of Monica Ali's novel Brick Lane, shooting of the film adaptation has been cancelled on the advice of police, reports BBC News.
Brick Lane Business Association chairman Mahmoud Roug told BBC News it was a "victory for the community".

Some members of the Bangladeshi community claim that the original novel, by Monica Ali, is "insulting".

The book is about a Bangladeshi woman sent to London for an arranged marriage.

Ruby Films is now seeking alternative locations for exterior scenes it had been due to film in the Brick Lane area this weekend.
In The Guardian last week Germaine Greer joined the debate. She's no fan of Ali, but says that all writers end up offending their subjects.
Writers are treacherous; they will sneak up on you and write about you in terms that you don't recognise. They will take your reality, pull strands from it and weave them with their own impressions into a tissue that is more real than your reality because it is text. Text is made of characters. A character is, as it were, graven in stone; when you are charactered you will last for ever, or pretty nearly, but what lasts will not be you. Every individual, every community ever to be written about suffers the same shock of non-recognition, and feels the same sense of invasion and betrayal.
(By the way, when did "charactered" become a word?!)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ken Levine's worst script

Comedy writer and blogger, Ken Levine (MASH, Cheers, Frasier etc) remembers his and co-writer David Isaacs's worst ever script, written for a cancelled series with the sole aim of securing a payment.
We normally write scripts by dictating them to our assistant...Having done this for so long we can usually write a half hour episode in three to five days. We called our assistant into the office and told her we were going to write a script before lunch. It was 11:30.

Rona Munro interview

Playwright Rona Munro talks to Lyn Gardner in The Guardian.
Rona Munro is worried. For the first time in her 20-plus years as a playwright, things are going swimmingly - but instead of celebrating, she says: "I'm really worried that I'm doing so well that I'll be punished and it will all fall apart." She breaks into laughter and shakes her head. "That's such a Scottish thing to say. I just can't help myself."

Peter Morgan interview

Playwright and screenwriter Peter Morgan talks to Richard Brooks in The Sunday Times.
Peter Morgan is a modern-day History Man, a television dramatist who has already chronicled Henry VIII, Colditz and, in The Deal, the Blair-Brown leadership pact. Over the next couple of months, Morgan will have four more of his dramas on stage or screen and, again, all have the thread of history running through them. Three, set in the 1970s, are about larger-than-life characters from that decade, while the fourth depicts that momentous week in 1997 following the death of Princess Diana.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Novelists writing plays (and vice versa)

It's a curious fact that very few writers have ever been able to write both good novels and good plays. Almost invariably, even the most acclaimed and technically skilled novelist turns into a rank amateur when writing for the theatre. The most famous case is that of Henry James, who decided in the 1890s to embrace the stage. He published four dramas in book form, with prefaces complaining that nobody would put them on, before finally striking gold - of a sort - with Guy Domville.
The first night of Guy Domville was one of the most famous theatrical disasters of the 19th century. The play staggered on for only five weeks, almost never to be staged again. A glance at the text shows why: the plot is something about a Catholic priest renouncing his vocation, delivered in the novelist's famous subtle dialogue, which proved impossible to speak on stage with any conviction. James, clearly, just couldn't write for the stage.
More from Philip Hensher in The Guardian.


Not sure how long this has been running, but Channel 4 have a comedy website, 4Laughs. It's a bit like the BBC's Comedy Soup site, although 4 laughs promise to pay £250 for stuff they use.

Crash payments

If you'd written a film that cost $7.5 million and took $300 million and your contract gave you rights to share in that success, you'd be laughing, right?

Not necessarily. The writers, director and stars of last year's Oscar winner, Crash have so far seen little of the cash that has been rolling in around the world, reports Sharon Waxman for The New York Times.
The movie’s co-writer and director, Paul Haggis, has so far made less than $300,000 on the film, a pittance by Hollywood standards. The eight principal actors in “Crash,” including Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon and Don Cheadle, have been expecting large checks for months, after deferring their usual fees in exchange for a percentage of the film’s profits. Recently, their representatives say, they each received checks for $19,000.
OK, so your heart might not bleed for them, but it does show the dangers of accepting 'points' (percentage of profits) for payment - movie accountants are famously good at making profits disappear.

US reality writers strike

With the support of the Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw), the writers on America's Next Top Model (ANTM) - one of the CW network's most anticipated, highest-rated shows this fall - have gone on strike to demand a WGA union contract.
“We are the overwhelming majority of those in the story department on America's Next Top Model who want to be represented by the WGAw. While we are all very committed to this show, and we are proud of the work we do, we are taking a stand to get basic benefits and protections,” said the writers on America's Next Top Model in a joint statement.
More from the WGAw.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wood steps down as Polka’s artistic director

Polka Theatre artistic director Annie Wood has announced her resignation after four years at the children’s venue in South West London.

Wood is moving to Hawaii, where her actor husband is working on the US TV series Lost.
More from The Stage.

Elif Shafak - Turkish novelist facing prison

"Nobody was expecting this," says bestselling Turkish novelist Elif Shafak. A decision in Istanbul's seventh high criminal court earlier this month reopened her prosecution on charges of "insulting Turkishness". She faces a maximum jail term of three years if convicted.
More from Richard Lea in The Guardian.

Tanika Gupta interview

In The Guardian, Lyn Gardner talks to playwright Tanika Gupta about her new play Sugar Mummies and her career so far.
Sugar Mummies is characterised by the same clear-eyed, no-nonsense approach that has been a feature of Gupta's work over the years. In the theatre, that has included plays about the ebb and flow of family life, such as Inside Out for women's theatre company Clean Break or The Waiting Room at the National Theatre, while for TV she has written many episodes of Grange Hill and EastEnders. The soaps have paid the bills and helped Gupta hone her craft as she has raised three children - but she also finds writing them "frustrating", as her heart has always been in the theatre.

Monday, July 24, 2006

ITV to air Marchant dramas

ITV is to return to single dramas with a series of one-offs from Bafta award-winning writer Tony Marchant.

The ITV head of drama, Nick Elliott, snapped up Whistleblowers, made by independent producer Carnival, after the BBC decided against commissioning the six-part drama.
More from Ben Dowell for Media Guardian (free registration required).

Web auteurs

Even as David Lehre’s “MySpace: The Movie,” an 11-minute parody of the social-networking Web site, spawned a high-profile feeding frenzy, some of the Hollywood agents, managers and lawyers who were clamoring to represent him didn’t know much about who he was, what he did or what they would do if they got him. But they wanted him anyway.

“It’s their fear of not being a part of it,” said Scott Vener, Mr. Lehre’s manager, who first discovered him on the video-sharing Web site YouTube, where “MySpace” became an Internet phenomenon.
In The New York Times, John Clark investigates Hollywood's new interest in film-makers who use MySpace and YouTube to make their mark.
“MySpace: The Movie” first appeared on YouTube on Jan. 31 and since then has had millions of hits, enough viewers to rival big-budget films or TV shows. Mr. Lehre, who is 21 and lived at his parents’ home in Washington, Mich., when he created the video, shot it there with friends. He scored the music himself so he wouldn’t have to deal with copyright issues, designed the graphics and Googled any technical questions he had. This development and distribution process makes even independent films, with their retinue of maxed-out credit cards and frenzied film festivals, look positively mainstream in comparison.

The Net is particularly conducive to short-form comedy — skits, parodies, satires, even stand-up acts — because surfers tend to look at video in small increments. But so far television, especially cable, has been more receptive than the feature film world to these possibilities. Mr. Lehre signed with Fox and will produce a sketch-oriented television show that is set in his hometown and features his friends.

Alfred Bradley Award

BBC Radio Drama is looking for talented writers based in the North of England, with compelling stories to tell. You could win a bursary of up to £6000, have your work produced on BBC Radio 4, secure a six month mentorship with a Radio Drama Producer and have the opportunity to develop future commissions...
You can apply for the Alfred Bradley Award (by submitting a 45-minute original radio play) if you were born, brought up or are currently based in the North of England and have never had a play produced by BBC Radio Drama. The closing date for entries is 3 November 2006.

Full details from BBC Writersroom.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Writing in games - event at BAFTA

Following last year’s highly successful inaugural event, The Writers' Guild of Great Britain in conjunction with BAFTA will be holding another computer games industry forum on 11 September 2006.

Full details and an application form for tickets are on the Guild website.

The Funny Farm

The Guardian is inviting readers to send in two minutes of comedy (stand-up, a sitcom extract etc) for a pre-Edinburgh Festival collection.
It should be no longer than two minutes if it's audio (in an MP3 file, please) - or 1,000 words if it's written down. We will then put the best on our podcast and up on the website just before the festival starts. So dust off that script and send it to You have until July 28. Go on, give us a smile.

Jonathan Harvey interview

Playwright and Coronation Street writer Jonathan Harvey, interviewed by Tim Teeman in The Times.
As a boy Jonathan Harvey was mad about drawing. One day he did a sketch of some cavemen, which failed to impress his teacher. “Jonathan Harvey, cavemen did not wear stilettos,” she admonished him crisply. But he didn’t learn, and, in one guise or another, cavemen in stilettos have been figuring in his writing ever since. Harvey’s skill is to find the exuberant in the everyday, a glitter-ball in the drabbest council flat.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

BBC Vision

The BBC has announced organisational changes to enable implementation of its Creative Future content strategy launched last April.

One of the main changes is the creation of BBC Vision.
BBC Television, Factual & Learning and Drama, Entertainment & Children's come together in a new group, BBC Vision, led by Jana Bennett.

This group will be responsible for in-house multi-media production, commissioning and audio visual services, including the TV channel portfolio, and digital services like High Definition and Interactive.

Multi-media, 360 degree production, under a single Production Head, will be more closely aligned to – while still physically separate from – the 360 degree commissioning teams.

Commissioning will be grouped under four controllers of: Fiction (drama, comedy, BBC Film and programme acquisitions), Entertainment, Knowledge (including all factual and Learning) and Children's.
There's plenty more where that came from and, if you like this kind of thing, you can read Director General Mark Thompson's speech to staff (free registration required).

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Jon East interview

Head of Children's BBC Drama, Jon East, is interviewed for the BBC Writersroom.

Heard and not seen

Prompted by the broadcast of Joanna Murray Smith's play, Honour, The Daily Telegraph's Gillian Reynolds sings the praises of drama being heard and not seen.
The listener is probably alone, doesn't know the expression on a face or a character's movements but, once the right connection is made, can imagine it all, directing, pointing the inner eye's camera, getting close-ups at all the right times. What the author has written, what the characters are saying becomes personal, collaborative, creative and we become passionately attached.

Monday, July 17, 2006

EastEnders all-time low

EastEnders fell to its lowest ever audience ...[on Thursday] night attracting just 3.9 million viewers, falling foul of an special hour-long Emmerdale episode.

The BBC1 flagship soap, which has picked up a Bafta and an National Television Award over the past year, only managed to pull in a little over half the audience that the Yorkshire-based drama did.
More from The Stage.

Armando Iannucci on sitcom

In The Times, Armando Iannucci tells Stephen Armstrong about his fears for the future of the sitcom.
“Just as it gets more daring and varied in format and technique, and just as audiences get more and more sophisticated in the breadth of comedy they’re willing to watch, viewing figures for comedy shows are in decline,” he said. “Less comedy is being made for the mass-audience channels, BBC1 and ITV, while the commissioning of comedy shows (for these two channels) is increasingly in the hands of TV professionals from outside comedy production, under pressure from advertisers and schedulers not to take risks.”

Friday, July 14, 2006

Alfred Fagon Award

Celebrating nine successful years as a presence in Black British Theatre, the Award is dedicated to providing inspiration and validation for playwrights of Caribbean descent, who are resident in the UK. Set up in memory of the late Jamaican playwright and actor Alfred Fagon, the Award seeks to discover a wide variety of writing talent.

In 2006 the winner will be awarded £5,000 in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the art of playwriting.
The closing date is 31 August 2006. Full details from the Talawa Theatre Company. Thanks to BBC Writersroom for the link.

Ignite playwriting competition

Ignite is a national playwriting competition aiming to find undiscovered voices for the Scottish Stage. Using a contemporary piece of literature as inspiration, we want you to write a short play scene (not an adaptation of the original source).

The winner will receive six months focused dramaturgical and directorial support, advice and training to develop their scene into a full length play, which will be given a rehearsed reading as part of Glasgow City Council'’s Aye Write Festival, in February 2007.
You have to be Scottish or living in Scotland to apply - closing date 31 August 2006. Full details from the Playwrights' Studio, Scotland. Thanks to BBC Writersroom for the link.

Kay Mellor interview

In The Guardian, Laura Barton speaks to scriptwriter Kay Mellor.
'Everything's set in Yorkshire. It's a decision. It's what I hear when I'm writing." Kay Mellor raises her chin and ruffles her feathers. There is something of the mother hen about her and she talks in an agitated way, as if pecking persistently at something. "I'm passionately northern, I suppose," she concludes, and takes a resolute sip of bloody mary. "God!" she splutters through the late afternoon hum of the Groucho club. "That's strong!"

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pirates writers interviewed

Dylan Callaghan interviews Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest writers, Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, for the WGA.
Terry Rossio: The jumping off point was to look at the story from the point of view of the Jack Sparrow character. People really like the Jack Sparrow character. I think most people think he's a good guy so, is it really true that Jack is a good guy? It's a lot of fun to put Jack in trouble, particularly the kind of trouble that helps reveal what type of character he really is.

Ted Elliot: We've created a fantasy world where we've rejected the Manichaean dualism common to most fantasy worlds. How's that?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

When memory becomes history

In The Guardian former Guild President, Alan Plater, explores why the Second World War has such a hold on our imaginations.
A few years ago I had a couple of calls from producers wanting me to write screenplays set in the second world war. I mentioned this to my youngest son, the engineer. "What's with all this obsession about the war?" I asked. "Oh, that's easy," he replied. "We've reached that moment in time when memory becomes history."

Online marketing for plays

How theatre producers are generating word of mouth online, by Jesse Green in The New York Times.
Word of mouth has always been the ideal. But the Internet has provided a new and, some say, vastly improved set of tools to generate it: not just e-mail blasts but also Web sites, banner ads, search-engine pop-ups and blog coverage. In the last few years these tools have reshaped the way the theater reaches its audience.

Gareth Roberts interview

Scriptwriter Gareth Roberts who has written for several soaps and will be writing for the next series of Doctor Who, talks to BBC Writersroom.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Writing Oblivion

American screenwriter and blogger Craig Mazin says that video games writers are getting a bad deal.
I want these guys [the writers of Oblivion] to be treated like kings, because they did great work. What to do, though? Video game writing isn’t covered by the WGAw or ANY union, for that matter. It’s the wild west out there, and that’s the way the employers like it...

Frank Cottrell Boyce interview

In The Guardian screenwriter and children's writer Frank Cottrell Boyce talks to Dina Rabinovitch.
Both of his children's novels are on a big scale - wildly filmic adventures set against family life. A boy finds a million dollars at the bottom of the garden; art treasures and the perfect crime. "I've got kids," Cottrell Boyce says laconically, "I already have a constrained domestic existence. Most of my life is at home or standing outside schools - so of course I wanted to write big adventures, not school gates dramas."

Theatre by diktat

In The Guardian, Peter Gill argues that top-down thinking has created a new form of censorship on new play writing.
The embarrassment caused in the theatre by Channel 4's recent programme The Play's the Thing, which showed a vain attempt to manufacture a West End play from the early offerings of first-time writers, should prove salutary. But I doubt it will. The programme presented in caricature form a set of now common practices, ways of handling new writers, and the desire to create theatre by diktat.

The new interventionism seems to have begun around 1979 as part of a proliferation of new ideas - devised theatre, documentary, attempts at new forms, physical theatre - that had their roots in the 60s. The emphasis on top-down thinking, rather than anything created writer-up, meant that a new form of censorship began to impose itself. This has led to young writers delivering drafts instead of plays, knowing the humiliation that lies in store.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sphinx Theatre competition

Sphinx Theatre Company is pleased to announce a new award for the playwright who creates the most interesting role for a woman in a new play. This is a scheme designed to create a body of work containing stronger roles for women in contemporary plays.

The winning playwright will be awarded £2000 as well as the commissioning fee and the successful play will be presented as part of the Brave New Roles showcase. 5 additional short-listed writers will also have their pieces performed as part of the award's lunchtime showcase. The winning play will be produced in 2007/2008.
The closing date for entries is 30 September 2006. Full details are on the Sphinx website.

When "yes" turns to "no"

The real magic of Hollywood is not the knee-buckling resonance of a perfect screen kiss or the ability to conjure an army of Orcs from the plains of New Zealand. The real magic of Hollywood, as any agent, screenwriter, director, actor, producer or studio executive will tell you, is that movies get made at all. Especially now.
In The LA Times reports on the growing number of American movies that are having the plug pulled midway through production.

In praise of grotty theatres

In The Daily Telegraph, Robert Gore-Langton is unconvinced by the fashion for modernising old theatres.
There's an age-old connection between poetry and pints, between theatrical creativity and gently decaying playhouses.

I am not entirely convinced by our gleaming new fleet of Lottery-age theatres and museums. It's a question of character. If it's a straight choice between theatrical grottiness and architectural swank, give me the grot.

Jack Rosenthal's Last Act

If you're near a radio, tune in to Radio 4 at 11.30 today for the first part of screenwriter Jack Rosenthal's memoirs, adapted by his daughter Amy. If you miss, it you can Listen Again at your leisure.

In The Times you can read why Maureen Lipman found directing the production a cathartic experience.
"Jack had no idea how loved or valued he was and it’s a shame that the full extent of people’s regard for you sometimes only emerges when you are dead. He wrote with so much honesty and humour and insight into ordinary people’s lives. Now, whenever we perform the autobiography in public, it’s always packed.”

Friday, July 07, 2006

Brits scoop Emmy nominations

British dramas Elizabeth I (written by Nigel Williams), Bleak House (adapted from Charles Dickens by Andrew Davies ), The Girl In The Cafe (written by Richard Curtis) and the comedy series Extras (written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant) have picked up a host of nominations for Primetime Emmys, America's top TV awards.

Inside the Shed

On the Guild's website, Richard Bevan speaks to Shed co-founder Eileen Gallagher and writer Maureen Chadwick.
"You’ve got to bring the broadcaster into it early, they’ve got to feel a part of it and be part of that process. There’s no point in sitting in a darkened room writing the best script in the world if there just isn’t the market there. It could be the best script in the world but if it’s not the fashion at the moment broadcasters won’t be interested. You’ve got to pick your production companies and partners very carefully."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Olivia Hetreed on women screenwriters

On Channel 4 News (streamed by Intelligent Media), Guild member Olivia Hetreed (Girl With A Pearl Earring) talks about the lack of opportunities for female screenwriters.

DIY audio books

In The New York Times, Motoko Rich finds writers producing their own audio books.
"The truth is, if you have a Mac at home and the software that comes with it, it doesn't cost much more for you to have a decent little recording set up," said Geoff Shandler, editor in chief of Little, Brown.

Paul Schrader interview

As Taxi Driver is re-released the film's writer, Paul Schrader, talks to Geoffrey Macnab in The Guardian.
"At the time I wrote it [Taxi Driver], I was in a rather low and bad place," Schrader says. "I had broken with Pauline [Kael], I had broken with my wife, I had broken with the woman I left my wife for, I had broken with the American Film Institute and I was in debt." For several weeks, he drifted around LA, living and sleeping in his car, eating junk food, watching porn. Eventually, when his stomach began to hurt badly, he went to the hospital and discovered he had an ulcer.

"When I was talking to the nurse, I realised I hadn't spoken to anyone in weeks ... that was when the metaphor of the taxi cab occurred to me. That is what I was: this person in an iron box, a coffin, floating round the city, but seemingly alone." He claims he wrote the script, which he dashed off in under a fortnight, as self-therapy, to "exorcise the evil I felt within me".

The Edinburgh Writing Awards 2006

Isn’t it amazing that the world’s biggest arts festival, which helped launch the careers of Steven Berkoff, Tom Stoppard, Alan Bennett and Richard Curtis among countless others, has never acknowledged the craft of creative writing? There are prizes for Best Production, Best Actor, Best Comedian, Best New Comedian and Best Just-Starting-Out Comedian. There’s even one for Best Poster.
Dave Cohen explains why the Writers' Guild is joining forces with The List to present The Edinburgh Writing Awards at this year's Fringe.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Pinter's screenwriting

In The Guardian, David Hare argues that Harold Pinter's screenwriting shows how much the screen owes to the stage.
To jump back into the world of Pinter's movies is to remind yourself of a literate mainstream cinema, focused as much as Bergman's is on the human face, in which tension is maintained by a carefully crafted mix of image and dialogue. These are directors' films, where the director's opportunities have been created by a writer. That's what the best film writers do - give directors their chance. Unlike certain of his best-known colleagues, Pinter does not deliberately work with weak directors: this is a writer who boxes his own weight. His collaborators of choice include Joe Losey, Elia Kazan, Karel Reisz, William Friedkin and Jack Clayton. Not exactly the bunch a writer would choose in search of an easy ride.

BBC Films gets the giggles

BBC Films and the BBC's television comedy production department are joining forces to develop comedy feature films, reports Ben Dowell in Media Guardian (free registration required).
The corporation's head of comedy talent, Kenton Allen, and head of comedy, Jon Plowman, will work with TV writers and producers and the head of BBC Films, David Thompson, to produce what Mr Allen called "mainstream comedy feature film hits".

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Daytime drama returning to ITV?

Writer (and blogger) David Bishop has spotted a report in Broadcast suggesting that ITV are planning to develop new daytime drama with a budget of around £40,000 - £50,000 per hour.

NB. David's Vicious Imagery blog is well worth a read - and he has excellent taste.

Superman writers

Dylan Callaghan for the WGA talks to Superman Returns writers, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris
Did any unexpected lessons come from completing this project?

Michael Dougherty: It's interesting, from a technical point of view, I never realized how long it would take to shoot a scene that involves flying or water. I mean, you're a writer, you write this stuff and try and make it as good as possible. But then we found ourselves on set in Sydney, and it would take six hours just to get two shots.

Dan Harris: The scene where Superman's lifting Richard and Lois out of a boat underwater was probably written in two or three lines and took two or three weeks to shoot.

Is this going to affect what you do on the next one?

Dan Harris: I think we're done with water.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Promoting your book online

In The Times, Anthony Thornton reveals the simple secrets behind the succesful online promotion of his book about The Libertines.
[My] website was based on the design of the book and looked pretty slick. But the slickest website in the world can do nothing if nobody knows anything about it. Like Arctic Monkeys and many bands since, we decided to move into MySpace, an online community site (owned by News Corporation, the parent company of The Times) for people to meet and make friends.

I imagined that interest would be minimal — after all, the book wasn’t due out for two months and no one knew it was coming. In the course of the first week a handful of people “made friends” with the book: close mates, hardcore Libertines fans and those who stumbled on it by mistake (some looking for De Sade sites). I sent a message to each one thanking them: it was a simple cour tesy. Suddenly, it mushroomed: first there were five people a day, then 10, then 15 then 25 people wanting to be “friends” with the book. Some asked questions: each received a reply. All my spare hours were spent talking to people who seemed almost as excited about the publication as I was.

Two weeks before publication, the book hit Amazon’s Top Ten bestselling pre-orders.

Lloyd Richards

Lloyd Richards, one of the most influential figures in modern American theater and a pioneering director who brought the plays of Lorraine Hansberry and August Wilson to Broadway and championed several generations of young playwrights, died on Thursday in Manhattan.
More from Campbell Robertson The New York Times.
"Lloyd was a consummate teacher, but when it really comes down to it, when you look at his legacy, it's new playwrights," George C. White, the founder of the O'Neill Center, said yesterday. "I can't think of anybody who has been more of a force for developing playwrights since the 1960's."

Sally Wainwright on Jane Hall

Sally Wainwright's new comedy-drama, Jane Hall, comes to ITV this month - after two years on the scheduler's shelf. Wainwright tells Daphne Lockyer in The Times about how her own experiences as a bus driver shaped the show.
"“To be honest, ...[it] was the one thing that I never really wanted to write about, because it was such a grim job. Even now, all these years later, I still have nightmares that IÂ’m driving the bus but I've come off my route and I'’m lost."”

Work-life balance

Mark Ravenhill must have known what he was letting himself in for when he argued in The Guardian that a balanced family life and creativity don't mix.
I have to confront the fact that, although I don't think heroin or bi-polar disorder create art (on the whole I think they make it more difficult), I do believe that there is something about the focused energy that goes into the making of a work of art that doesn't sit well with the balanced life. There is something about the dramatic form that benefits from the flash of inspiration - which means throwing away the real world for a time, to work in a totally concentrated way.
His comments drew an angry response from playwright April de Angelis:
...let's find another way to condemn women playwrights who may have the audacity to mother the next generation of Mark Ravenhills, as well as trying to pen a few of their own. Is it our fault that childcare is not free and universal?
And, today, father of four and artistic director of Bristol Old Vic, Simon Reade, insists that his chaotic family life actually enhances his creative work.
Life and work can never be perfectly balanced; the scales are tipped in favour of work. It earns us money; it is tax-deductible; we spend more of our lives with colleagues than we do with family. But it is still worth trying to live a little. I think Ravenhill's assertion that decent art is created in bursts of single-minded intensity is worrying for a playwright: without the fuel of life, artistic inspiration will run out of juice. In short, it will be all work and no play. If you're an artist, you enrich the lives of others. Your own life, therefore, needs to be enriched to start with. Don't believe that the ultimate flash of divine inspiration comes only through being a stressed-out workaholic. That way lies ulcers and a migraine - which you'd never get from bringing up four children while trying to run a theatre.