Saturday, July 04, 2009

What Is And What Could Never Be...Again?

Former busy blogger and present-day busy UK TV writer James Moran is in today's Telegraph talking about his role in the upcoming 5 part series Torchwood: Children of Earth.

Moran offers some insight into the writing process and what it was like working with the wicked Russell T Davies, but what really struck a chord for me was the following:

When I started out in 2003, nobody here was making science fiction TV. Doctor Who was in limbo, and whenever you mentioned science fiction, people would sadly proclaim, “Ah, but you see, it doesn’t work.” So I wrote a horror movie called Severance. I spent a year writing it, then it sold to a production company, who made it into a successful film. It was only later I discovered getting things made is a rarity in the UK film industry. But by then, UK science fiction TV was thriving.

I wrote more scripts, and got a meeting with the Torchwood producer and script editor, for series two. I was already a fan of the show, and pitched several ideas of my own. They picked one, and I wrote an outline (about three to five pages). I did several more versions, getting notes and feedback at every stage from the script ed, the producers, and Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner, the executive producers.

I then wrote a draft of the script. Again, I’d get notes, feedback, then do the next draft. This continued until it was time to shoot, about five months altogether.

It’s a strange job. You work alone, writing, for weeks, occasionally meeting the team for feedback. So you’re on your own, but constantly supported. Once my episode (Sleeper, the one with the stabby-arm aliens) was finished, they offered me the Doctor Who job. Obviously I had to think it over carefully for 0.3 nanoseconds. It was a dream come true, and I’d love to do more if they’ll have me. After that, I worked on Spooks, Primeval, Spooks Code 9, and Crusoe, in what became the busiest two years of my life.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Moran's recap took me back to a time that doesn't seem that ancient but is in fact approaching ten years ago here in Canada. Everyone it seemed was making sci fi/paranormal/fantasy television (primarily for foreign and US syndicated television markets), and over a four year period I worked on (writing and/or directing) Psi Factor, The Outer Limits, Earth: Final Conflict, The Immortal, Beastmaster, The Lost World...not to mention meetings for Stargate, First Wave, Mysterious Ways, and Dark Angel.

And then, it all mostly kinda went away...those kinds of TV shows I mean. The rules for making Cancon drama changed, and reality television and procedural dramas have ruled the airwaves for the better part of the last decade. I know forms of popular entertainment go in cycles, and we'll never go back to the way things were, but I know I'm ready for semi-return to those days at least.

I've watched Severance, and it was a great calling card. And the 'how things unfolded' that Moran describes is pretty much bang on for anyone who's experienced the same sort of meteoric rise up the ladder. But so much of the key to his or anyone in a similar boat's success is that sci fi came back in a big way in the UK (though, as Warren Ellis points out HERE, that phase seems on its way out). You need the talent, that's for certain, but you also need the genre that you specialize in to be popular at the time when the planets align. Otherwise, well...it won't matter if you're good at something if nobody is making it.

But if your genre is 'in' and you're in the loop, then Moran is dead right when he says it's the best job in the world.

Cheers James...enjoy the ride.

1 comment:

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