Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writers on Writing - Episode 1

This is a new, semi-regular video series where I interview other writers - I know! Other writers who aren't me! The very thought! - about their writing process. How do they start, how do they develop an idea into a full story, and so on.

Episode 1's victim guest writer is Amber Benson, who has been writing novels, comics and movies for years - her acting background means she has a very different process to me. Although there are many similarities. Oh, you'll see. Just watch the interview, it's really good fun - it's at this link here.

Amber's new book The Witches of Echo Park comes out on January 6th 2015, and you may get it from these places:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble US

Foyles UK

There are also some other US links available at the book's Tumblr here. Amber is on Twitter, so you should go follow her. Huge thanks to Amber for being so cool and willing to talk process - we met at LeakyCon, so it was lovely of her to find time to do this. And I didn't accidentally call her Tara even *once*!

I have a few other participants on my list, but if there are any writers you'd like me to talk to - that I might reasonably be able to get - I will gratefully steal your suggestions and pretend I thought of them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My FrightFest 2014 phone idents

I've just got back from FrightFest 2014, a 5 day celebration of horror movies and general mayhem, which is Horror Christmas for us horror fans. I didn't have any movies or shorts playing, but I did 2 "Turn Off Your Bloody Phone" idents again, as I have done for the past couple of years (you can see them here and here).

The opening night one was a spoof cinema advert, and many in the audience were fooled into thinking FrightFest had sold out and gone with a really, *really* wanky sponsor... until the mayhem kicked in:

My second one "starred" me as usual, the third in a series of Angry James Moran idents:

They both got a really good reaction, I'm very happy with how they went down.

Some great movies played this year, including The Forgotten, produced by the brilliant Jen Handorf, who roped me into doing the intro for the screening - and then the Q&A afterwards! It was easy enough, as I've been on the receiving end plenty of times, so I know what questions to ask, how to make sure nobody gets left out, etc. Seemed to go really well, everyone was happy.

Also did my first proper interview as an interviewer, getting the chance to ask Jan Harlan some questions - he was Stanley Kubrick's producer for years, there to introduce the new UK Blu-ray of The Shining. As a massive Kubrick fan, I jumped at the chance to speak to Jan, who was really lovely and had lots of great stories.

A very strong FrightFest lineup this year, my highlights were The Guest, Life After Beth, Starry Eyes, Faults, and The Babadook. The venue change to the Vue Leicester Square was worrying, as we were going from one big, main screen to three main screens with staggered start times - but it worked brilliantly, nothing went wrong, and actually meant the bar and toilets never got too crowded, an unexpected bonus of the new system. Very well done, FrightFest folk, and Vue people.

Thank you to everyone who came up to say nice things, or just to chat about movies, or both, the FrightFest audience really is a great group of people. Here's to 2015!

Friday, July 11, 2014

LeakyCon 2014 schedule update

I'm attending this year's LeakyCon in July/August (details with links here), and the schedule has just been posted - you can see the whole thing here, and use it to make your own schedule of stuff to see, like a serial killer plotting crimes in tiny handwriting in a Notebook of Death (note to police: I totes don't do that).

If you want to see the bits I'm doing, all on one page, just click here! I'm on several panels, doing signings, and other things.

Don't forget, there will be a screening of Crazy For You, the short I wrote and directed, starring Arthur Darvill and Hannah Tointon, on Sunday August 3rd at 11am - I'll do a Q&A after it, so stick around. I'm also hosting a screening and Q&A for Cockneys Vs Zombies, Sunday August 3rd at 12pm. Crazy For You has some violence and gore (it's a romantic comedy about a serial killer), but CvsZ is full on blood, gore, swearing, and gratuitous violence, so bring the kids! No, don't.

And on Saturday August 2nd at 4pm, I'm doing a workshop thing, called "So you wanna be a TV writer" (although it applies to film and TV). If you want to get an inside view of how my writing process works, from idea to finished script, come along and join in. I'll be taking random ideas from bad local newspapers, and we'll all work on them together to brainstorm, outline, and form a complete movie/TV story from start to finish (obviously we don't do the script stage, we'd be there for months).

Yes, I said "we". It's interactive. I've done it twice before, it almost went wrong both times, due to the live, unplanned nature, so hey, maybe it'll be third time unlucky! Come and watch me panic and possibly cry. And at the end, one random attendee (names in a hat) gets sacrificed to Satan and eaten by the others gets to keep the scribbled outline and notes! Unless it's a whiteboard, in which case you can take photos of it, or something. Actually, you can all take photos of the board. But the random winner gets, er, I dunno, a free pen or something. DON'T QUESTION ME

I'm so excited to be attending, and can't wait to meet you all. Say hello! I'm evil nice!

Further update: Gaming! I will be tabletop gaming with you a couple of times, in the Gaming Area (Marketplace) - Friday 2.30pm to play Resistance, and Saturday 10am to play Ticket to Ride. I've never played either, so come take advantage of my foolishness, and leave me a blubbering wreck!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Convention in Rome

Friends! Romans! Convention-goers! Lend me your beers!

Yes, I'm coming back to Italy again, for another event. It's in Rome this time, and I'll be available to meet on the 13th and 15th July - click here and here for details. So if you're in Rome, or near Rome, or passing through Rome, come along and say hello!

Friday, June 27, 2014

The end of VS Comics

It gives me no pleasure to say this, but we're closing down VS Comics, and shooting all the creators. Wait, we're *not* shooting all the creators? Okay, that's good, I was a bit worried about that part, because I'm one of them. But we're still closing VS, sadly.

There's a blog post on the VS site here explaining the reasons, but to summarise: too many costs, not enough sales, lengthy story development, and difficult third party sites. Please read the post, it goes into more detail.

To elaborate on the Graphicly situation (more info here and here): we took a major hit in our very first month when we went with them to get our first issue out there. They cost £150 up front, put the wrong price on (much lower than expected), and launched us on Christmas Eve for some reason. Due to their, er, interesting sales tracking, we couldn't even tell how many we'd sold through them, and they were quite rude any time we emailed, so we stopped using them from issue 2 onwards, moving to our storefront and PDF system, which worked very nicely. We still haven't had any payments from Graphicly, but hey, neither has anybody else! Some of the Graphicly team have moved to Blurb, so you might want to be cautious about using them too, given past experience. If they'd like to respond to any of this, or even pay us what we're owed, we'd love to hear from them.

Getting onto Comixology would have really helped a lot - but they'd have taken 50% of sales, after Apple's 30% cut if it sold through Newsstand. Oh, and there was a 16 week wait for approval. For *each* issue. So that wouldn't have really worked for a monthly.

If you want to read more about how we ran the monthly operation, I wrote a post over at Den of Geek explaining all the ins and outs of it, including our sales tools and how to set up an automatic storefront - if you're selling your own stuff, it might be useful.

But! We put out a year's worth of quality tales, I'm really proud of what we all achieved. We had fantastic reviews & feedback, and an open submissions policy that brought some amazing talents to us. It was some of the most creative, fun work I've done, getting to tell a story with no limitations, helping others tell their own stories, and working with clever, brilliant people. I wouldn't trade that for anything - you should only regret the things you don't try, and I learned a lot from the whole experience.

There'll be a collection of some of the stories later (see the VS website for details), so if you missed out, you'll be able to grab lots of them in one big book. Until then, I'm planning some shorter form comics, and intend to finish Day & Night with Patrick (the artist), Nathan (the colourist) and Mike (the letterer) - the full, 12 episode arc is all written, Patrick has done the art for episode 6, and is working on episode 7 now. That will be printed separately when it's all finished, but now we don't have to hit a monthly target, I can stop shooting bullets at Patrick's feet and he can stop screaming. Although that part was fun, I can't deny it.

If you want to follow the work of all the people involved in VS, go to the website to see all the artists, writers, and editorial team. It'll be like when a band splits up and they all go solo, but more fun. Thank you to everyone who read VS, and thank you to the creators for making it so cool.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

STICCON in Italy

Italian people! I'm attending this year's STICCON (Star Trek Italian Club Convention) from May 22nd to 25th, in Bellaria, Italy. Yes, that's next week. Yes, I should have mentioned it before. Yes, I've been working a lot.

It's partly a Star Trek event, but I'll be there in my general science fiction capacity, having written for other shows that have spacey and alieny stuff in. Other guests include Connor Trinneer, John Billingsley, and Bonita Friedericy, several special effects people from Star Wars, and more. If you're Italian, or live in Italy, or are an alien with the ability to beam down for the weekend, come and say hello!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kermode Uncut

I'm a guest on Mark Kermode's film blog this week, on the subject of whether critics pay enough attention to writers, and if, in the film industry in general, writers are undervalued. As you may imagine, I have *lots* to say on this particular subject...

It was great fun to do, and I'm very happy to have been invited on. The Good Doctor is one of the rare exceptions who will actually mention writers, and has been very nice about my work in the past. Of course, one day I'll write something he hates, and I'll have to fight him to the death on that spiked platform from Flash Gordon. It's our way.

Crazy For You at NYC Downtown Short Film Festival

New Yorkers! And New York-adjacent people! Crazy For You will screen at the NYC Downtown Short Film Festival, on Wednesday June 18th.

Tickets for the evening are available through this link here - they're $15, and you get to see 6 shorts including mine, and can attend a cocktail reception too. Go drink cocktails for me. Oh, and watch the film! Don't forget that part.