Monday, January 29, 2007

A different kind of seven year itch

Did I mention this already? Can't recall. Our telly went bung last week. As a consequence I spent my evenings reading and listening to music for several hours, before going down the pub to meet friends. Got more reading done in a few days than I've managed for months. Finished off Pamela Douglas's Writing the TV Drama Series [good stuff but aimed at American scribes], ripped through Chris Curry's Writing for Soaps [very British, full of insights about soap production office politics], and cherry-picked chapters from Brian Sibley's official Peter Jackson biography.

Having time to listen to music was a bonus too. Before iTunes my musical tastes had atrophied to an alarming degree. My days of buying singles were long behind me and I was reluctant to buy whole albums when I only liked a few tracks on it. For me, iTunes was the perfect solution. I could hear an extract, decide how many tracks I wanted and create my own bespoke playlists from the restuls. Being a sad, High Fidelity style gek who spent hours compiling the perfect mix tape, iTunes is utterly addictive.

Recommending music is an eminently pointless waste of time, since everybody's taste vary so wildly. But here are a few things I've enjoyed lately: the eastern promise of Natacha Atlas, both for her covers of You Only Live Twice, Man's World and I Put a Speel on You, and also for originals such as Just Like a Dream and One Brief Moment; daft cover versions like Giant Drag doing Wicked Game, Fink playing All Cried Out and Duran Duran attempting Watching the Detectives; the overwrought emo-glad of My Chemical Romance; new chanteuse Candi Payne; the Arcade Fire single Rebellion (Lies); The Last Town Chorus doing Modern Love; Kiwi enemble Goldenhorse's Maybe Tomorrow; the Architecture in Helsinki remix album; the soundtrack album for Little Children; Hot Chip's herky, jerky cover of Sexual Healing; and some Julie Feeney. Nice.

Don't know why, but I've been getting the seven year itch lately. No, Marilyn Monroe hasn't moved into the apartment upstairs. I live in a semi-detached house and the only thing upstairs in a hot water tank. I'm talking about the urge to get an office job. I've been freelance for six and a half years, and it gets quiet sometimes - too quiet. Phoning your mates is all very well, but I miss the rough and tumble of office life: the intrigues and the gossip, the madness and the mayhem.

Once I've finished my screenwriting MA, I don't want to let the skills I've honed atrophy. But I'm all too aware that almost nobody walks out of film school and into a paying gig writing scripts for film or TV. Doesn't happen. Those kind of gigs take years of networking and graft to secure, along with a large dollop of luck and - usually - an agent to seal the deal. Places like Screen Academy Scotland are a cosy, cosseted environment. Once you get out into the world, nobody need give you the time of day, let along detailed feedback on the latest draft of your magnificent octopus.

I've decided to dip my toes in the water and see if I can get a job inside the machine, work my way up from within. Whatever happens, I'll keep writing - that's one itch I can't help scratching. But I also believe I could make a decent script editor, finding and nurturing other writers, working with scribes to make their stories the best they can be. The funny thing is, when I was a comics editor for most of the 1990s, I didn't think it was preparing for anything except more work in comics. Now I can see it equipped me with all manner of skills. You don't commission and edit 1500 pages of script a year without learning a thing or two.


Brian Sibley said...

Glad you found some cherries to pick in the Jackson book! I keep reading reviews by people who've obviously chewed on a stone!

Interesting blog, I shall be back for more viciousness!! ;-)

Pillock said...

Sounds like a good move. Best of Scottish.