Since the summer

Ah September you’ve been a weird one. On the plus side, I saw Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and thoroughly enjoyed its 70s Gary Oldman goodness. It was wonderfully evocative of the period, and Oldman certainly gives a powerhouse minimalist performance, but I do have issues about the hurried ending, and too-easy tie-up of some of the story strands BUT it was an involving, smart and pretty much satisfying experience. In contrast I also saw Drive starring Ryan Gosling. Very different. VERY violent, but again, woo, worth the trip. Ryan Gosling was a bit of a revelation for me in the title role. He plays a sort-of child man in some respects, but this is counterbalanced by his obvious experience of extreme bone-crunching violence, and his ease in performing it on those he deems worthy of it. It has an odd quirky. stylised 80’s feel to it that works perfectly for the film, and the sweeping night-time drive through neon-lit city streets evoked Bladerunner memories in me. The soundtrack is terrific, and I’m still thinking about whether Gosling’s character was, became or once was a ‘Real Human Being’ as the song proposed.

And so to work things, I’ve been writing a treatment for a short set in urban London that was requested by a new London director; redrafted my graduation feature, Masterbaker (more on that later); sent a few projects into production schemes; and have redrafted my app-isodes for Persona, the smart-phone drama which has just been relaunched. Got a few more things in the pipeline, but they’re all dependent on finance, except for a very dark idea which I am going to outline in October regardless! Gotta keep the fun factor – and though dark, this one already appeals to my autumnal mind.

Then October crept in, all sudden gusts and scattering leaves. And some good news – I’m currently longlisted with a feature in the Playwrights Studio Scotland Screenwriting Residencies scheme – early days but fingers crossed. Always nice to get a bit of approval on a project, particularly one that’s at a relatively early stage – and this scheme sounds like a great opportunity to develop a feature with excellent industry support – I’ve put in my full draft now, along with supporting material so it’s out of my hands – but good luck to whoever gets on the shortlist. Which brings me to the subject of schemes, and applying for things. I am getting pickier about what schemes I apply to – I imagine this will also extend to the festivals I submit to with finished projects. I get more rejections than successes – I would bet most writers have this ratio, unless they’re either incredibly lucky, or perhaps don’t apply to many. There’s not much point in listing the rejections – you suck up whatever feedback (if any) you get and move on – but it is true that the more you get, the easier they become. Oh don’t get me wrong – some still feel like a kick in the gut, and leave you winded and hurt for a few hours or even days – it’s inevitable, but in general, it does get easier. Another thing that gets easier with time, is the acceptance that their opinions are just that. Maybe they’ve had their fill of comedies, had too many horrors, or don’t like your style. Maybe they don’t like your writing. Maybe they’ve seen a blood-spattered, alien-licking, religious version of Calamity Jane just TOO many times before. Maybe your project isn’t very good. Maybe your script was one of the best they’ve read but you don’t quite have the experience they’re looking for. Maybe you were 11th on their list of 10 top scripts. You’ll never know. I’ll never know. So why worry?

One thing I do know, I’ve fallen back in love with cinema. Not films – I’ll always be in love with films – I mean, with going to the cinema, the building that screens stories on a screen the size of a house. And I go when it’s quiet. And it’s just me and some random oddities (like me), and we’re generally pretty respectful and don’t eat hotdogs and crisps during the screening, or get all rowdy or check our phones. And we sit through the trailers and then slink into our seats and get really, truly involved with all those giant faces and tiny stories and meaningful glances. I love the convenience of DVDs, but sometimes you just can’t beat the cinema screen for nestling you into the dark, and filling up your world for 2 hours. I’m planning weeks ahead now for hoped-for cinematic glories still to be released. See you in the aisle.

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