2008: The Words, The Pictures, The Tomfoolery

Warning: this review of the year contains exclusive images and video footage which may excite your eyes and mind.

Happy New Year! Professionally shrieking, 2008 was a damn fine 12 months. 2009 will be even better, but I'll remember 2008 as a li'l gem. Here are some of the reasons why...

In February, my first short film Look At Me received its London premiere. This was probably the most exciting and overwhelming night of the year - not least because so many good people turned up to see the film which Dan Turner directed and I wrote. It was also tremendous when then-Torchwood-showrunner Chris Chibnall called me a "mad, brilliant bastard" after viewing it, while one Russell T Davies called it "one of the most chilling things I've seen". Job done.

Here's a never-before-seen interview with actress Kimberly Williams (nee Butler), from the set of Look At Me, in which she reveals what it's really like to work with director Dan Turner:

In April, I was in Doctor Who, which was utterly mental. Only for two seconds, mind, but nevertheless I was in Doctor Who. Can't get much better than that. Here I am in the make-up trailer, and on set with a UNIT soldier threatening to blow my brains out:

Nice. The year saw me attending various top-notch events - chief among them being, of course, the Screenwriters' Festival 2008. Piers and I hosted a very successful pre-event Scribomeet on June 30, which was tremendous fun, and hopefully something we can repeat in '09. Oh, and here's a little video-treat of TV's James Moran talking about showrunners on a stage alongside Tony Jordan, Barbara Machin and Philip Shelley (who would all prove invaluable to me, thanks to the Red Planet Prize, inspiration and great notes respectively):

Then there was the whirlwind fun of Cannes 2008 (big lesson learnt there: during a meeting, don't point out typos... on anything); the San Sebastian Horror & Fantasy Festival; and the Edinburgh TV Festival. Here's a lovely moment when Dan Turner and I arrived at an Edinburgh party, only to be confronted by two big fellas:

Perhaps the most ludicrous moment of the year can be seen on the following video, during my time at the brilliant Fantasticfest in Austin, Texas, along with TV's James Moran, writer/editor Jay Slater and director Sean Hogan, plus our gracious host Eric from the festival. We were driving to a shooting range, while banjo-twanging country music played on the radio. To complete the picture, I seem to be laughing like some kind of hillbilly. Utterly preposterous.

Of course, I got a lot of writing done too. Not as much as I'm going to do in 2009, but a fair bit. My proudest achievement here was writing the first draft of the film Blood Red Sky in five-and-a-half days. A feat of near-Barronian proportions. And frankly, that first draft turned out pretty well. The latest draft is well on its way, too, so I'm really hoping that BRS gets shot next year.

There was further development work on The Accidental Serial Killer; a new TV spec by the name of Happy Ever After, which has attracted the attention of industry folk and garnered some good feedback; another TV spec called The God Exclusive; a short called The Good Magician; various scripts for the TV sketch show Splendid (another 2009 contender and a really exciting prospect); and the pilot episode for my series Undying, which has made the finals of the Red Planet Prize. Hearing this news was, unsurprisingly, another major highlight of my year, to say the very least.

I bagged my first script-editor credit, on Dan Turner's short Big Mistake. The cast & crew screening was another year highlight.

I embarked on the road to my first BBC credit, by impressing the good folk behind Radio 4 sketch show Recorded For Training Purposes. It seems that at least one of my sketches will be performed before a studio audience in the coming weeks. Provided they laugh, I'll be laughing too, like some kind of drain.

I had my first piece of official Doctor Who fiction published, in Big Finish's hardback collection Doctor Who Short Trips: Christmas Around The World. Seriously thrilling.

I kept a few toes in the journalistic pool, interviewing the likes of Piers Morgan, Dermot O'Leary, David Morrissey and Matt Di Angelo for heat magazine and continuing to contribute to Doctor Who Magazine (although from June onwards, I made the tough decision to take on much less reporting work). Also reserved some exclusive interviews for this very blog, because I love you: Doctor Who's incoming showrunner Steven Moffat; Peep Show writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong; and Human Nature creator Toby Whithouse.

2008 was a great year for TV - not least because genre continued to make its presence felt. Apparitions, Survivors, Demons (starts ITV, Jan 3) and Merlin, plus of course the continued success of Who, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Primeval, are all are very encouraging signs that this is a playground where I can really feel at home. Other great series continued to have me raring for a shot at them, including Hustle (Series Five starts soon - and it's great, despite the cast shuffle), Spooks, Waking The Dead, Wire In The Blood, Hollyoaks, Doctors (Vivien's rape story was incredibly strong and brave), Silent Witness and good old EastEnders.

This year, I continued to love-love-love the scribosphere community - for inspiration, encouragement and social value. Here are just a few of my favourite Sweet Christ, That's Useful posts from the year, in no particular order:

James Moran's Fifth Blogday Revelations, in which he shares a mountain of insight which he really should have saved for an e-book in, like, 2016.

James Moran's Two Weeks In The Life. A real careful-what-you-wish-for post - this is what it's going to be like, folks.

Phill Barron's Lift/Career Metaphor, which is very good to bear in mind. See Also: the Screenwriter As Amoeba section of Adrian Mead's excellent Making It As A Screenwriter e-book.

Lucy Vee's handy Research Or Die series.

Danny Stack's 10-Step Screenwriting Guide - a one-stop shop for Stackly wisdom.

Robin Kelly's Guide To The First 10 Minutes Of TV Pilots. Lord Kelly deserves an extra toast, I think, for being The Gift That Keeps On Giving, all year 'round. He collates shards of screenwriting wisdom, newspaper reviews, curios, trinkets and eccentric music choices, so that you don't have to. And whereas I and most others spend the year blathering on about their work and their progress, it's a rare moment when The Kelly talks about himself. Here's to the great man. Clink.

So, then. 2009. I have plenty of resolutions, but they're staying inside my head. And on the sheet of A4 pinned to my desk's noticeboard. I'll tell you two things - there are a lot of them, and I'll be doing a lot of typing this year. I'll also be watching a great deal of old Doctor Who, as part of the Four Year Mission to which Piers, Dan and John 'Caution' Harrison have also signed up.

As the endlessly inspirational Dan Turner evocatively wrote to me in an e-mail this afternoon: "Grab ALL your guns, sir. We going shooting..."

Yee, and indeed, hawwwwww!

I shall leave you with the highlight of last night's all-new Shooting Stars show. George Dawes, singing the already-legendary Innovations. During the year, I was memed with the task of presenting a song which sums up writing. I failed to find one. Until now. This, for me, is it. Good day to you.


James Moran said...

Marvellous, sir! Congratulations on all of it, and here's to an even better 2009!

By the way, the "James Moran" in those videos looks and sounds *nothing* like me. Next time, try and find someone a bit more convincing. He's wearing trousers and everything, for fuck's sake.

Andy Phillips said...

Keep storming, sir.

David Lemon said...

Here's to a great 2009, the continued resurgence of imaginative genre TV and continued success all round!

One other thing: in 1942 I invented the shoe...

Janice Okoh said...

What a lovely post. Glad you had such a great year! More writing than what you did in 2008? That was loads!!!