Look At Him

Jason Arnopp recently had a showing of his new short film Look At Me. (trailer)

Great fun was had by all. A precursor, no doubt, of greater things to come.

His next task? A feature with a working title of ASK. Director Dan Turner offers a prize to those hardy souls who can guess what it stands for.

And if you don’t look forward to it then Jason and I will hunt you down with our giant floating hands and destroy you while you sleep.

Let’s not make any bones about it.
This is a bona fide threat.

Oh, the Humanity!

Finally got round to watching Being Human last night.

Well that was rather fucking fine.

You can watch Being Human online here for the next couple of days. After that, you may have to resort to the usual channels.

Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (“She’s a cheerleader! She slays vampires!”), the setup itself gives no clue as to the goodness within.

You hear: “A Vampire, a Werewolf, and a Ghost share a house,” and you think: “Sitcom.”

This is not a sitcom. This is an accomplished drama, and the story engines are revving mightily.

The clue is in the title: These are people who desperately want (like so many of us) to be normal. And (like so many of us) aren’t.

Solid reviews from The London Paper and The Times.

Now, I don’t know how BBC3 commissioning works. It may be that they have already blown their new drama budget for the year on Phoo Action.

But if you saw Being Human and liked it, there is a petition to get a series commission here.

It would not kill you to visit.

Panel Beating

Oh, I know you’ve been in suspense.

My panels at this year’s Eastercon are:

Are TV novelisations and tie-ins proper books? Friday, 7pm
The Doctor – Saviour or trickster god? Saturday, 12noon
Is there a future for Trek with no series? Monday, 12noon

More information about the rest of the programme.

And I can also highly recommend Crisis Management, which you’ll need to sign up for as soon as you get there, as spaces go fast – I won’t spoiler it for you, but it’s well worth two hours of your time.

"There is no nepotism. I hardly ever write for the Guardian."

You may already have seen the first (and, now, last) part of Max’s travel blog for the Guardian.

Basically, a 19-year-old boy doing a gap year is about to travel to India and Thailand. He’s going to write a blog about it.

Good for him. Thousands of kids his age do just that.

Here’s where it all goes pear-shaped:

Somehow, someway, the Guardian commissions him to put his blog on their website. And a comment-storm arises criticising Max, the media in general, and the Guardian specifically for writing and publishing this.

The writing is, to put it kindly, not the best travel writing ever. But pretty much none of the thousands of other “Here I am in Thailand, wow,” blogs are either.

So, why exactly was Max picked from the crowd to a featured spot on a national newspaper?

It doesn’t take much research on the Internet to find that Max’s dad is, funnily enough, a travel writer. And it’s not a big leap to suspect that nepotism may have played a part.

Whether it did or didn’t is actually irrelevant. The problem here is that no-one at the Guardian thought it might be a problem.

The Guardian’s travel editor, Andy Pietrasik, responded (but, notably, didn’t apologise), saying basically “Yes, he’s not a very good writer, but I thought it was interesting that a 19-year-old was writing for Skins. And I didn’t edit his writing.”

Max’s writing is trite. That’s not an offense in and of itself. My writing here is often trite. I keep a blog, don’t I? Who the fuck wants to read my bizarre witterings?

The fact is that it doesn’t matter in my case, because readership of this blog is self-selecting.

Now, if a respected newspaper such as the Guardian had promoted me as an exciting new talent, who happened to live in London, and I happened to come from a nice middle-class family, and my father happened to be a respected travel journalist, and my first piece happened to be badly written, dull, and about a small well-off subset of London society, and no-one at the Guardian thought that people might wonder why the hell I’d been commissioned then that’s a different story entirely.

So. Max’s blog becomes a minor Internet sensation, and he’s wisely decided to not write any more. Good.

But then we have this story from the Observer, in which we find that Max’s dad was surprised by the outpouring of vitriol. But I believe that his quote from which the title of this article is taken proves that he, too, really hasn’t thought this through.

It’s not a crime to write badly, to be white, to be male, to be middle-class, to live in London, or to have contacts at the Royal Court, Channel 4, and the Guardian.

This is not about Max. It’s not his fault, and I wish him well on his trip.

This is about the editors at the Guardian who damn well should have known better.

Let’s Make a Deal

The deal summary for the WGA strike can be found here.

It’s not as much as we would have liked. It’s more than the studios would have liked. It’s a deal both sides can live with.

That seems fair to me.

Some of the highlights:

The WGA is recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative for writing for new media

Fairly self-explanatory.

Separated Rights

If a writer creates a show or character for a program premiering in new media, and that character or show is then turned into a TV show, or film, or board game, or action figure, the writer gets money for this.

Internet Residuals

After the initial payment for a programme created for the Internet (which covers 13 or 26 weeks worth of showings, depending on whether the viewer pays for access), writers get money if the programme continues to be available.

Internet Re-use / Distributor’s Gross

For the next two years, casting a programme in a new medium (internet, cellphone, etc) attracts a flat rate. After that, the fee is based on a percentage of the money earned.

What did we lose on?

  • Reality and animation still aren’t covered.
  • The DVD formula (4 cents per DVD sold) stands.

A vote is occurring today and tomorrow to stop striking; within ten days the WGA membership will have voted on whether to accept the contract.

This is a good contract.

The showrunners are already back at work. Everyone else (pending the expected let’s-stop-striking vote) will be back at work on Wednesday.

It’s over.