Monday, February 28, 2011

Meetings in Television

My two and a half year old daughter has come up with an excellent way of making a sentence, when you're not entirely sure of every specific word you need, by padding out the excess with the words 'WUBWUBWUBWUB'.

Hence: 'want toast and jam WUBWUBWUBWUB warm milk please'. This does make it sound like I'm sharing the house with a tiny dubstep producer, but it's a technique I've started using in my meetings, mainly because my last few meetings have all been WEIRD.

Seriously, writers are always fretting about how to scrub up properly and maintain the illusion of being a functional human being in meetings, but I'm starting to think producers need to work on this just as much.


Producer takes me through achingly trendy office (all exposed industrial space and a Grifter nailed to one wall) to meeting room. Although it's probably called 'WOMBZONE', what with its reliance on organically shaped beanbags and tables that look like melted Airfix kits.

PRODUCER: So hey, read your stuff, like your stuff, think we can work together-

Producer sits down on an organically-shaped beanbag that's clearly about a foot lower than he expected, and very slowly rolls off the beanbag and onto the floor. Fantastically, he keeps his iPad held aloft the entire time.

PRODUCER: -get you a coffee?



I am having a meeting with a comedy producer, to discuss a spec pilot sitcom script Patroclus and I have written together. It is set in the tech industry, although we've been very careful to make sure the tech stuff is at a minimum, you don't really need to know anything about technology to understand it, it's just really about people behaving like dicks. But, you know, amusingly.


(note, this meeting was less than a year ago)

ME: It's, erm.... seriously, how do you not know what Facebook is? I mean, I don't like it particularly, but-

PRODUCER: Is it like Twitter?

ME: (cautiously) Ish?

PRODUCER: The runner uses Twitter. That script you sent me is all about tech stuff, so I thought you might be able to tell me what Face book is.


ME: You do know I came up from Cornwall for this.

PRODUCER: I don't really get all this geeky stuff. You need to take it out of your scripts, I could probably do something with them then.

ME: Right, only the new script I sent you? What Patroclus and did was, we made sure although it is set in the tech industry, we kept the tech stuff is at a minimum, you don't really need to know anything about technology to understand it, it's just really about people behaving like dicks.

PRODUCER: I didn't understand a word of it, there was all techy stuff in it. You should send me some ideas. Couple of pages, one paragraph each. WE SHOULD TOTALLY DO STUFF TOGETHER.

Later I email the producer some ideas. They don't get back to me. A month later I send some more. I still haven't heard anything.


ME: Right, so, the outline's for 6x60 minutes episodes, it's kind of a crime drama, but not murder of the week sort of thing, more like the crappy investigation jobs real detectives have to do - minor embezzlement, divorce cases, that sort of thing, but the cases always spin off into more elaborate stories, Kind of funny, slightly surreal sometimes. So there's bits of ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN in there, BIG LEBOWSKI, kind of a Chandleresque vibe. But with room to go into slightly spooky urban territory, there's one story where I want to draw on J-Horror, like THE RING, DARK WATER, that kind of thing.

Long pause.

PRODUCER: So this is a sitcom?

ME: Erm... no. Sixty minute crime drama? There will be funny bits in it, but it's really more-

PRODUCER: What's it like living in Cornwall? My partner and I are thinking of relocating.

ME: Is this why you got me up here?

PRODUCER: Partly, yes.

I panic.



This last bit didn't happen, sadly.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Literally Curtains

I have a problem with any element of home improvement/DIY, being as it often involves measuring, which is a mostly reality-based procedure, and therefore something I have great difficulty with.

I tried to measure up and purchase a curtain pole/curtain combo before, and the procedure went like this:

1. Carefully measure width of window.
2. Go to DIY place, realise I have left measurement behind.
3. Guess approximate length of curtain pole I will need.
4. Get home, realise I have bought, essentially, a small piece of kindling. And no curtains.
5. Return to DIY store, with measurements this time, buy much longer curtain pole and strangely short curtains.
6. Get home, realise I have measured width in inches, length in centimetres.
7. Realise that I also wrote down the inches as centremetres, and the centimetres in inches.
8. Buy blind instead.

Yesterday I went into daughter's room, pulled on the blind cord (don't worry, the cord is securely hooked up so no-one other than me can get tangled on it, I watch the CBeebies thing about alpaca health and safety inspectors, it's bloody good actually) and the whole thing collapsed.

After some time spent looking one of our eight tape measures (if I can't find the piece of technical equipment I need immediately, I go and buy another one, hence our home's collection of one thousand Phillips head screwdrivers, I might build an ossuary out of them one day, like that one in Greece, although I'm not sure how I'll fix them into the wall, think about it) I measure up the window. This time I am very careful to use centimetres.

We go to Falmouth's premiere Europhobe bargain department store (no European commissioners are hanging in effigy near the entrance this time, which is nice) and Patroclus buys some curtains. And linings. We have a curtain pole from the last time it all went wrong. I don't know what happened to the curtains.

One the way home in the car:

ME: (quietly) I was in the wrong room.

Indeed. What I had done is walk out of my daughter's room, go downstairs, find the tape measure, go back upstairs into my son's room, and measure the window there. IF YOU SAW THIS IN A SITCOM YOU WOULD SNORT IN DISGUST AND TURN IT OFF.

Anyway, it turned out that despite son's window being half the size of daughter's window, Patroclus had panicked and bought curtains that were way too big, and in fact our combined problems with reality/being outside/doing things had cancelled each other out and it was all fine. THIS IS WHY MARRIAGE WORKS, PEOPLE.

Anyway, I then found a spare bit from the last broken blind that I had carefully put in my man-drawer and thus was exactly the bit I needed (in your FACE McIntyre) so I could in fact mend the original blind, which is now back up until it falls down again, at which point we have all the stuff we need to put the new curtains up, although it looks like I might need a new Phillips head screwdriver.