Happy New Year everyone!
Apologies for being off here for a while, things have been changing for me, and this being my first blog of the year, may be quite long. I will be doing another immediately after to talk about a film that was shown on BBC TV last night (New Year’s Day) – SHERLOCK – “The Abominable Bride”, as I loved it – but I know some didn’t and would like to air my views.
This blog also involves Sherlock, and you may see I have added a new Category: Screenwriting – a big clue to my new found voice.
So talking of clues, I need to start with this new found love of mine – SHERLOCK. When I say love, this isn’t simple fan-stuff, this has changed my life! I only discovered the BBC series in September (2015!) – only 5 years late! I was blown away!! Proper – jaw to floor stuff. EVERYTHING – from the actors, the script, humour, the directors, cinematography, music, sound design, SFX, editing, sets, even the continuity – was all of incredibly high standard and you got a sense that they all worked together as a team creating a simply amazing series of 90 minute films for the series. I was so blown away by the repeat being shown on BBC something (3?) that I went online and ordered the box set, something, by the way I NEVER do! (I’m very rarely into anything enough to want to sit and watch it religiously or more than once).
To backtrack a little, about 15 years ago, I found I enjoyed the idea of writing film scripts. I think it all started with a dream (haha cliché perhaps, but true) that I wrote into a short film… I was still writing and producing music (doing a lot of work in TV advertising at the time) but this became my new inspired hobby. Ideas started flowing and I began a couple of features, which were all rom-coms and remained, in the main, just ideas, except one. I took to writing this one to the full. It was a cute modern day Romeo and Juliet idea, only with an Irish boy and Jewish girl, whose families didn’t want them to be together, but for whom fate had other plans…
I was working very hard, but in all my spare time, I wrote. evenings, (some of which started very late!) and weekends and whenever I could. I’d take my notebook in my rucksack – I didn’t have a laptop then – to my local park, and in all weathers, sit under the canopy of the park cafe, with tea and generally a smoked mackerel salad, and write for hours. Anyway, 2 years of finding snippets of free time later, I had a full 90 minute script written and was very excited about it.
What happened next was incredibly unfortunate. I had a break-in at my house. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Thankfully too, this had never happened before, nor since, however, the b**tards saw what they wanted, and took my rucksack to put it all in, complete with my script. The script was absolutely of no use to them (they probably wouldn’t have been able to read my scrawly handwriting for much of anyway), but to me it was everything! I was devastated and broken. Whilst I knew the gist of my story, it’s beginning, middle and end, plus a few bits and pieces, I couldn’t have remembered all the conversations, dialogue, nuances and special moments that all went into it. I tried, but trying to re-create something that was a gift of inspiration(s) was never going to happen, and I couldn’t face the idea of ‘painting by numbers’ which is what it felt like to try and recreate a piece of my art.
I couldn’t face writing that script again, nor any others. I was too frustrated and my head used to ache when I tried. As the years passed, I got on with my music work. I thought about trying again, but still felt the same as when it happened, so didn’t. This is where it gets a little weird…
Last year, I decided to have another go. I had been in a relationship that was full of “that would never happen”s – a real life Romeo and Juliet love story, (with a less dramatic ending thankfully!) with bizarre occurrences, and I thought it’d make an interesting film. So I started writing again. I was quite excited that I was able to do it, and start enjoying it. I went with friends on holiday to France in July, taking my MacBook with me. On our last day, we had decided to take a late flight back so as to enjoy another day on the beach. Our cases were all packed and were covered over in our car for the day, in the beach car park. I was designated driver (another side story is attached to even this bizarre set of events that involves me actually not being designated driver, my friend was, but she damaged her leg on the first day, and was on crutches for the whole holiday, so it became my job… but that’s for another blog maybe) and I went to get the car. Imagine my horror when I saw that there was a big gap in the back… the covering, (a sarong) on the floor of the car. Thieves had got into the car and taken….. MY TWO CASES!! I say MY cases like that, because my friends’ cases were both still there. Just MINE were taken – and yes, one had my MacBook! And NO I had forgotten to back it up! I won’t go into the crying, the stress, the police station, the “you can’t fly without a passport” rest of this farce – again, perhaps another blog.. but I coudn’t believe another script – taken!!!
After I was back in England and the pain and loss of stuff was all (not) sorted, I began to think…. Is this a sign? Are these both signs? Am I NOT supposed to write. Friends said, if I feel like writing, maybe try books… but its wasn’t what lit me up… Films did.. but here I was again… I felt a spark inside me – I WANTED to write – but blah blah blah…. and so I didn’t. That is until…….
And this brings me back to SHERLOCK. In September, after having started dating again (since the split up with the film story partner last Feb, I decided to start dating. No, I didn’t date Sherlock, or Benedict Cumberbatch (though had he asked…..) but I did date a man with undiagnosed Asbergers. He didn’t know anything about it, but I did, and this guy had it! Big time! I tried to work around it, as I really liked him, he was charismatic, had a great understanding of nature (not spiritual, but like a tree!) and he was on some levels, incredibly intelligent, but his denial and ‘bloody minded’ attitude meant I couldn’t – and we only lasted 6 weeks (any longer and I probably would have lost my mind!) However, it kind of helped me identify with Cumberbacth’s Sherlock, as some of the traits were similar. I watched this one repeat – and as mentioned was blown away enough to buy the box set.
Whilst watching the episodes, (and splitting from this guy) I realised I didn’t just like this series, I LOVED it and was becoming quite addicted to it. I tried to analyse myself as to why, and realised that part of the attraction was the Sherlock character and Cumberbatch’s portrayal (naturally), but it went far further. I was totally struck by all the list of skills and execution of them as mentioned above – and this was where things changed for me….. I WANTED TO BE A PART OF IT! I wanted to write an episode. I wanted to bring these characters alive with an idea of my own. I wanted to share in the light of wonder and gifts of excellence spilling out with each episode. And so at the end of October, it began.
(A little aside: I know the series isn’t for everyone, there are Conan Doyle purists, people who aren’t keen on the actors, perople who aren’t into detective stories, or humourous ones etc etc… but you can’t deny, it’s very well done!)
I started researching Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock. I researched the cast, the crew, the directors, and of course, the writers and creators of the show. I soaked up the episodes, watching them (and sections of them) a few times (!) and I listened to the soundtrack in the background. Incidentally, I had met one of the composers, it was composed by the amazing David Arnold and a guy called Michael Price. Michael had expressed an interest in purchasing my studio business the previous year (he didn’t btw) and so had come down to take a look around… Anyway… I was like a sponge and was taking it all it, eating, drinking and breathing the films (for anyone who doesn’t know, each series is made up of only 3 episodes, but they are full feature length, 90 minute movies!) and in my element. Then the ideas started to flow.
I knew the creators were the writers,and this would always be a long shot to actually stand ANY chance of a) doing anything and b) even getting read! But I still was desperate to do it, and the universe was making it easier and easier for me, so I continued. I was going to write a synopsis and few scenes, just to show ‘I get it’ (the character interactions, the humour, flavour etc… and of course, a great story) but the ideas and the flow was like a torrent. On one of my research and distracted stalky moments (I watched many panels and interviews to get to know these guys better…) I happened across a new Sherlock Holmes collection book that Waterstones in London were promoting – and who had written some introductions and was doing a book signing in 2 week’s time? Yes Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the writer/creators of Sherlock! BOOM! The rocket was up my backside and the next two weeks was a bit of a blur – and with very little sleep. I was SO excited! I could actually hand it to them in person! None of this ‘send it in’ and it get filed in the dustbin lark…IN PERSON!!
So – to cut it a little shorter (!?) the few scenes became – A FULL 90 minute film script. Yes, from when I actually started to dip into research, to the finished thing, which was a period of just over one month (if you don’t count the sleepless nights) I had completed a full film script – and it was good!! I was writing on FINAL DRAFT – a screenwriting software I had bought for the stolen MacBook, and so I knew the formatting was right. I got 2 copies printed (one for each of the writers) and packaged them in a large padded envelope for the big day.
The day arrived. I was shaking with anticipation. My good friend (who had, bless her, been my confidant through this process and allowed me to read her scenes as I went along (also had become a bit of a Sherlock fan, luckily for me!) agreed to come with me. We arrived at Waterstones and I waited. I had intended to see them personally, and not as a ‘fan’ in the queue… but they had arrived late, and so seeing them before wasn’t possible. SO I waited. And waited. It was a LONG queue – well the show was incredibly popular, and rightly so! A couple of hours, I think it was… and I moved into the room where the queue led to the 2 writers. Sitting behind them was a familiar face. It was that of Sue Vertue, the show’s producer. I knew who she was (stalking the panels/interviews online etc…) She appeared quite bored, whilst waiting for her husband (Steven Moffat) and Mark to be done, and I thought it’d be a good opportunity to go and speak to her, but I also felt in my gut that she would be too ‘official’ and tell me no way. So I didn’t.
However, the BBC books PR girl, who I’d told I was waiting to see the guys, had gone over to speak to Sue, and they were looking in my direction. My heart nearly pumped out of my chest as Sue got up to come over. “This is either going to be awesome or awful” was going round in my head. So we chatted. She was lovely. I really liked her – but….. she/they couldn’t take my script. ‘Unsolicited’ for one (I’d known about this, but thought it was more a protocol of not taking stuff that wasn’t either asked for, or via an agent, but under the circumstances….) and the boys write it all – and love it! for two. Those 2 reasons weren’t something I could, with all my “but I have been so inspired…. previous scripts stolen…. I’ve really nailed it!” persuasive powers, change and I was going home with my unrequited 2 copies. Was I gutted? Was I f**k!!
I went up the boys after the queue had finished and told them my real reason for being there, though I’d spoken to Sue etc… and it was all good… (?!?!?!?!?!?!?) I shook their hands and thanked them for an incredible and inspiring series, and Sue called over to tell me “don’t stop writing… if you’re that passionate… keep going”. “Oh I will!” I replied and left.
My friend and I found a nearby pub, and I downed 2 glasses of wine and smoked about 3 cigarettes! ( I only smoke very occasionally, and if I do, it’s usually 1 or 2 in a whole day). We then went and had some food and headed home.
Of course I felt awful. But I was also buzzing! Still! AND I’d met some people I had so much respect for, and had a lovely chat. And now…. I really had something to prove! Mwwwahahahaha!
I kept thinking… what is it then? Why did this happen? Why was I given so much inspiration by the universe, to just be told no. I must wirte something else… What though? What do I want to write? I want to write Sherlock is what I want to write – and I have – and it’s bleeding marvelous! I thought about adapting it for the American version, “Elementary”, though I didn’t want to. My characters were directly written for Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s incarnations of Holmes and Watson, not some American and a woman!? I thought about adapting for the film, to try and get it to them. SO I watched the films. No. That wasn’t going to work – at all. So I watched Elementary… well, about 15/20 minutes.. I just couldn’t. Nope. This script is British Sherlock or no Sherlock. The End.
This reluctant ‘betrayal’ to my true love, and my watching the US versions took place over the next few days after the Waterstones event – but on the very next day after it, I had meanwhile hit on a new concept – for a new TV series. I’m not going to pretend it’s not heavily influenced by my previous relationship with Sherlock, and it is a detective thing… but it is glorious. It is an idea to die for… and IT IS A WINNER! (Do I believe in myself? You bet I do!! Actually – I believe in the Universe.. as it’s the universe feeding me stuff… not me…) So – the book signing was December 2nd – I started on Dec 3rd and I have over an hour of script done! And that is with creating the WHOLE THING – all the characters, their backstories, where it’s set, where they live, and loads more than I had to think about for Sherlock… I have been so excited about this – and still am. I should be writing now (I do it whenever i can) but the Sherlock Xmas Special vibed me up so much – I wanted to write about it -and ended up doing this instead! Distracted much? However, I am really really excited about this – and hope to have it finished very soon. The plan? Read through a few times, make amendments where necessary. Get a couple of pros to read it and critique it, then try and get an agent! (I am after Curtis Brown… so if anyone knows anyone…) Then I’m going with it – back to Sue… Solicited!
I can’t say much more about it just yet (close to chest ‘n’ all that) – but please cross all your fingers and toes for me… like, follow, spread this blog, tell anyone about it and ‘WATCH THIS SPACE‘ I guess is the apt thing to say… THIS IS GONNA HAPPEN!!
I hope you find what it is that makes you feel the mojo rising I have felt over this – something I haven’t felt since I first got excited about doing music – about 100 years ago!
Thank you for reading. XX