2011: How It Was For Me, Darling

Now, then.  Having tidied and sorted my office, which had rather begun to take on a life of its own, I’m in a good position to sit down and sum up my 2011 for you.  If you like.  (Your continued reading of these sentences and paragraphs will be taken to signify interest in this proposition.  Possibly in a court of law.)

Globally, 2011 was clearly an extraordinary year of unrest, whether natural or social.  You'll be relieved to hear I won't be writing an incisive essay about these seismic worldly events: this is purely about my year in the altogether more comforting world of fiction.  And on that front, 2011 was great.  Sure, there was some bad stuff, but there always is - and this year, that stuff was solely confined to utterly tedious business matters which almost certainly won't interest you.

Smug pointing at London's Leicester Squar Empire cinema
My debut feature film, Stormhouse, which I wrote and executive-produced, certainly made the most of 2011.  We threw a BAFTA test-screening, combined with a cast-and-crew screening, which very much taught me the value of test-screenings.  We made some really significant changes to the film, based on our audience's questions afterwards, which improved it tenfold.  Director Dan Turner created a whole new edit and it was good to spend a day with him at Elstree Studios, helping to tweak and overview what we had.  That's another thing I learned: removing even so much as a single frame in a horror movie's 'jump' scene can have a dramatic effect.  It was also a valuable lesson in terms of how much you can cut out of a film without losing the basics you need.

The finished film played festivals around the UK and indeed world.  We couldn’t have had a better world premiere, playing two nights at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.  I'll be forever grateful to Edinburgh's fine organisers for approaching us, having seen a Berlin screening of Stormhouse, to ask whether they could screen the film.  Oh yes, that was a good day. 

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend, we played the UK's biggest and best horror festival, the Film4 FrightFest at London's Leicester Square Empire, which was a real honour too.  Amazing stuff.  After that, Stormhouse was screened at the Birmingham Comic Con, the Chichester International Film Festival (as part of a Best Of FrightFest bill - honour upon honour!) and finally Los Angeles' excellent Screamfest - an event which I'd attended twice before, but typically couldn't make this year.

Stormhouse is now scheduled for a Lionsgate DVD release on February 7, 2012.  Very exciting - as is the trailer which Lionsgate cut together, which is definitely one of my favourite things of the year:

A UK release will also happen in 2012 - we're just waiting to hear when the distributor plans to release.  And of course, it will be issued in other territories too.  More news to come.

Wonderful 'classic DVD' mock-up of The Gemini Contagion
I had great fun in Whosville this year, getting to write for the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) three times.  Firstly, for a Doctor Who Adventures comic story called Earworm (which you can read in its entirety by clicking the Comics tab at the top of this very page), also featuring TV companions Amy and Rory.  I was really happy with how that one turned out and it seemed to be received well.

Next came a BBC audiobook, Doctor Who: The Gemini Contagion.  Read by the excellent Meera Syal, The Gemini Contagion was a whole load of fun to write, concerning a futuristic anti-viral handwash which turns out to contain a virus (oh, good lord, the irony!) which overloads the language centres of the brain.  That one also featured Amy, who's obviously great to write for.

My third Eleventh Doctor Thing this year was a piece of fiction for the BBC's Brilliant Book Of Doctor Who 2012.  I had an irresistible brief from editor Clayton Hickman - fill in the blanks between TV episodes The Impossible Astronaut and Day Of The Moon!  Surely you can't ask for more fun than that.  I had a brilliant time, writing an intro from the Doctor, then Amy, Rory and River Song's diary entries as they traipse around a late-'60s USA, feeling the presence of an unseen enemy, while the tally-marks on their limbs mysteriously multiplied...

The Brilliant Book gave me another fun highlight of the year: appearing among the book's various authors, to sign at London's Forbidden Planet venue.  The signing, and drinks after, were as much fun as you'd expect.  And I've noticed recently that an attendee uploaded their brief video of the event to the YouTubes.  Here it is:

I've had a couple of Doctor Who releases via Big Finish in 2011.  My short Fifth Doctor audio story The Lions Of Trafalgar featured on the company's Doctor Who: Short Trips Vol IV collection (a lovely reading by Peter Davison); and my full-cast Eighth Doctor four-parter Doctor Who: Army Of Death was released in December 2011, starring Paul McGann, Julie Cox, David Harewood, Carolyn Pickles, Eva Pope, Mitch Benn... a really nice cast, that.  I received my copies of the Army Of Death CD just before Christmas and haven't had a chance to spin them yet, but I'm hearing good things.

It was also announced this year that 2012 will see the release of Big Finish's Doctor Who - UNIT: Dominion.  This is a four-hour Seventh Doctor mini series which I've written with the splendid Nicholas Briggs - a hoot!

Among all the Doctor Who and Stormhouse stuff, I was toiling away on projects of my own, or those brought to me by other people.

I script-edited The Man Inside, the film which Dan Turner shot in Newcastle this Summer, starring Ashley 'Bashy' Thomas, Peter Mullan, Michelle Ryan, David Harewood, Jason Maza and other fine thespians.  That one should be out in 2012 and it was nice to be involved with a non-horror feature project.

I was delighted to be invited to quack at the Cambridge School Of Art and the London Screenwriters' Festival 2011 this year.  Felt like those events went well.  I also signed various audiobooks at the Big Finish Day in Barking, where one of my favourite things of the year happened - a guy called Mick handed me a homemade card, which visually gathered together a couple of different things I'd worked on.  You can see the card here, below right.  It was, and remains, so touching - the idea that someone might actually be aware of, or even care about, your work as a whole.  Thanks, Mick - and Happy New Year!

I wrote the short prose story The Screams Next Door for charity flash fiction e-anthology Voices From The Past, which you can still buy here at the mad prices of £0.99 or £2.99.  I also wrote the seven-page comic story Consumed for the zombie anthology Dead Roots (site here), which I'm very much looking forward to seeing brought to life on the page.  Oh, and I published my first non-fiction ebook, How To Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne And Everyone Else, which draws on my journalistic past to tell readers everything I know about interviewing people.

Mick's splendid card
2011 has been my first year with an agent, the excellent Matthew Dench at The Dench Arnold Agency, and we've been building up various specs for film and TV.  One handy thing an agent can do, is 'package' you together with other people under his agency roof.  Matthew did that during 2011 - a welcome move which will hopefully result in a new feature film during 2012/13.  I now have three or four feature scripts in various stages of development now, so will continue to write/push those next year.  Needless to say, I'll also be looking to make my way into TV - things seem to be moving in that department, which is encouraging.

While Twitter continues to be the place where I spend most of my social media time, it feels like I've blogged more during 2011 than I have in the last couple of years.  Why, I even wrote posts across five consecutive days!  The most-read post here, over the last 12 months, was The Magic Of Draft Zero, which seemed to strike some kind of chord, while the one which generated the most comments and discussion, was the recent Eight Ways To Annoy People Whose Help You Want.

While I very much intend to be even more focused on the all-important writing during 2012, I'll try to keep up the bloggery-pokery.  Hope you'll join me!  I also hope you've had a tremendous Christmas and will have a magnificent New Year.

If you're a writer, what is your writing-related resolution for 2012?  Please tell us all in the Comments below.  (My resolution will be stricter time management.  In particular, not checking e-mail every ten minutes and definitely not replying to e-mail straight away.  That way lies distraction and sheer, screeching, wall-eyed madness.)

And now you've told us all about your resolution, why not check out my script-mates' own end-of-year posts, hmmm?  Good DAY to you.

James Moran: 2011 In Words & Pictures

Phill Barron: 2011

Dan Turner: 2011, Review Of The Year

David Bishop: My Report Card For 2011, Part One and Part Two

William Gallagher: So Where Was I?

Ken Armstrong: Happy New Microcosm

Helen Smith: Lovely Things, 2011

My Amazon-acclaimed ebook How To Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne And Everyone Else is out now on Amazon UK, Amazon US and Amazon.de.  You can also get a Triple Pack of files (PDF, ePub, Kindle/mobi) direct from me.  Full details here, you splendid individual.


Ken Armstrong said...

It's been a pleasure watching your successful year unfold and you did it with such enthusiasm and a sense of gory fun.

I wish you an even better 2012 and for me to be allowed to watch it all happen for you. :)

Jonny Morris said...

Resolution: To hit more deadlines, write at least one more sitcom spec, write at least one more drama spec. But mainly, and most importantly, to keep on working full-time.

Eleanor said...

I'm excited about Stormhouse, that trailer is great!

Writing related resolution? Erm... Write?
Okay; get a filmscript and its accompanying book finished by August, so I can go in search of people who want to make them later in the year. I also want to write another book (based on a previous screenplay) before the end of January.
Whether these things will happen or not is another matter altogether. But that is my current, enthusiastic plan.
Wish me luck, I'm going to need it!

ShaunaJ said...

Resolution... resolution... I think mine needs to be to put more words on my script than my twitter.

That would be a good start.