Twelve Things A-Happening!

On the first day of Christmas, my true love kicked me in the nuts. But that's another story. Here, for your delight and astonishment, are a dozen vaguely festive morsels. Nine good, one sad-but-celebratory, then another two good ones to end on. Where to begin, hmmm? In no particular order:

1) My full Red Planet Prize script, Undying, has long been submitted for the finals. Thanks to everyone who helped me shape it, over the last few months, into what I now reckon is my best work – the one who read several drafts and gave splendid notes; the one who made me lose one of my favourite lines; the one who helped me turn a clunky, creaking plot-point into a well-oiled beauty; and the one who swore at me a lot (okay, yes, that was Phill). While it would naturally be insanely incredible to win, I’ve realised that my Number One goal is to show RP supremo Tony Jordan that I can write. If I can achieve that, I’ll be delighted. So let’s see. There are 72 finalists, but I’m not thinking in terms of odds – it’s not a lottery. If any of the other 71 scripts are better than mine, then I won’t win. Simple as that. And while I'm waiting, I'm going to write another script.

2) Doctor Who Short Trips: Christmas Around The World, the collection of short stories to which I’ve contributed, is quite literally out now. Your yuletide experience will not be the same without it. My story's called Christmas Every Day, and involves people being eaten. TV’s James Moran’s in this tremendous tome too, temporarily becoming The Literary World’s James Moran in the process. His story is a thing of beauty, my friends. And wasn't his Spooks episode a belter? Ooh yes.

3) Lo and behold, I have my first Script Editor credit, on a nifty new short film called Big Mistake. I’ll let its writer/director Dan Turner tell you all about that when he’s good and ready, but it was very instructive and fulfilling to follow the project from start to finish - especially as with Dan being such a can-do dynamo, it happened like a click of the fingers.

4) The sketch show Splendid, run by Dan Turner and actor/writer/radio host Richard Glover, becomes increasingly exciting. We had a meeting a few weeks ago which was simultaneously nerve-wracking and thrilling. Picture this: several writers around a table, each with print-outs of their sketch-scripts. Each sketch gets passed around in turn, then is discussed and placed on either a Yes, No or Maybe pile. As you might imagine, this process can generate a fair bit of anxiety – hence the small vat of red wine I consumed as the evening went on, despite doing rather well with my own efforts. It reminded me of the 1988 Chevy Chase film Funny Farm, which every writer should see. There’s a scene where he gives his novel manuscript to his wife to read (as a wrapped present!), then sits there, watching her every reaction. “What are you doing?” he protests, as she turns a page. “That was a big laugh, right there!”

5) My TV spec script Happy Ever After has been receiving favourable responses from the great and good. Comments have included “it is always really useful to know writers who clearly love a particular genre” (in this case, horror), “a cracking read”, “absolute page turner, good sense of jeopardy and wit” and “the best damn thing I’ve ever read.” Admittedly, that last one was me.

6) Look At Me plays Hollywood next year! Yes, the short which I wrote and Dan Turner directed is playing the British Film Fest in May. I am very much liking those apples.

7) Apparitions has become my favourite new drama series of the year, by a fair old margin. Martin Shaw proves he’s underrated as an actor, bringing an infectiously subtle presence to the freaky proceedings. Once upon a time, you could have easily taken the Pepsi Challenge with BBC One and Channel 4 shows, guessing which were which. These days, the likes of Apparitions, with its countless taboo topics, bloody murder and untold blasphemy, are mixing it right up.

8) Developments are afoot on what will hopefully be Dan Turner and I's next film collaboration, the feature Blood Red Sky. I delivered a new draft over the last few weeks, which is drawing us ever closer to our desired feast of scares, shocks and people's faces exploding.

9) The Screenwriters’ Festival have announced their 2009 dates! Now, while the event is one of my very favourite things in the calendar, I must confess to being gutted that the next SWF is in October. This is for the best reasons, though – I just don’t want to have to wait another 10 months for it.

10) Before launching fully into the Christmas spirit, I always spare a whole load of thoughts for Ray Palmer. Legendary rock photographer, champion drinker and an utter charmer, Ray was one of my very best friends. Of course, the past tense will have given the game away there: Ray died six years ago today, whereupon I created a tribute site for him here. I’m going for a drink later, and every last one will be in his honour. Especially the sixth. Here’s to Ray Palmer. Clink.

11) Last night, I dreamt that I was in M Night Shyamalan's underrated film The Happening. Or, rather, in the situation: a world being torn apart by an invisible enemy. It was terrifying, seemed to last as long as the film itself and even threw in new details when people started turning into plants. I found myself wishing I'd mastered Piers' intriguing lucid dreaming technique, as then I could have flown or had sex, rather than frantically beg loved ones not to go off in the city by themselves.

12) Six must-read posts on the blogosphere, as we shriek, are Danny 'Stackman Crothers' Stack's illuminating ruminations on Reading, Writing, Networking, Being An Industry Insider, Getting An Agent and Discipline. If you haven't already, then please read them with the ocular orbs in your head which Satan bestowed upon you.

Good day!


Andy Phillips said...

72! Proud company, Mr. Arnopp.

Dan Turner said...

That is a great shame about the Screenwriters Festival. I am definitely going again, despite my inability to write (he he).
For anyone who is still undecided about going I cannot praise it enough. I had never been before, and I found it to be absolutely brilliant and worth every penny.
And if cash is tight, do have a word with your local screen agency who may have some money to help you out.

And let's not underestimate just how excellent it is that Mr Jason now has Doctor Who fiction published in all good bookstores. Marvelous!

Anonymous said...

If you think that The Happening was underrated you're higher than I am right now

Michael Cook said...

Happy Ever After was the name of the sitcom starring Terry Scott and June Whitfield that ran for one series in the 70s, before slightly changing its format and relaunching as Terry and June the following year.

Strangely, my Red Planet entry also shares its name with a far-from-top-notch 1970s sitcom.


Yes, it probably is.

Adrian said...

Re no. 6 - I have just watched Look at Me. It has to be said nice work by messrs. Arnopp and Turner.

I feel that I have just seen into your psyche and it is a little disturbing. I have a friend who is a Psychologist if you feel the need to talk it through.

Piers said...

Last night I dreamed that I was in new vampire-film-for-chicks Twilight.

It was much better than I was expecting.

Sarah Dobbs said...

I love The Happening.

Piers said...

Good. Me too.

Chip Smith said...

Blimey - we'll all be saying that Lady in the Water is underrated next! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Cheese and crackers - were me and my bah-humbug bunch of friends the only ones who affectionately renamed it The Crappening? Moving swiftly on...Did anyone else see Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe last week? It was all about writing for TV, was very interesting and is still available on iPlayer.