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Blog: A Good Start

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Happy New Year everybody! Hope you've had a DELIGHTFUL Festive Break. Myself and The Dates In My Diary had a lovely start to the New Year, heading down to Cornwall to see my parents where we did some walking, some chatting, some drinking, and a LOT of eating. It was GRATE!

Whilst down there, as is my WONT, I quickly checked my emails on my phone, and realised that on my first day back at work I was due to head out to ACTON to attend a Writers' Group with Mr J Kell. I'd completely forgotten about it, and so was SURPRISED to realise that this was going to be my very first gig of the decade! John's writing SCREENPLAYS and is doing a version of Dinosaur Planet to propose as an ANIMATION, so he'd invited me along to one of his regular meetings to SING the songs during a readthrough of an exerpt.

HOWEVER, there'd been a slight change of plan - usually they have five or six readthroughs, but this time there might not be any as they were having a Guest Speaker in, the producer/director/author Chris Jones. To be entirely honest I felt a bit grumpy about it at first - here I was, on my first day back at work, TRAMPING for MILES across London in the COLD to go and sit in a ROOM where I might end up NOT even playing! BAH! But then I thought "Hang on, you're going to get a free seminar about scriptwriting from someone who's DONE it and continues to do so. This will be at LEAST interesting and maybe ADVANTAGEOUS. Come on Hibbett, let's GO!"

After quite a lot of travel and COLDNESS I rolled up (a bit later) to the West London Trades Union Club, where I found about 25 people gathered in a COLD upstairs room, listening to the talk. It was VERY INTERESTING INDEED. It was basically about making a success of being a screenwriter but it was fascinating how much of it applied to The Crazy World Of ROCK too. It was a bit like a Motivational Speech really - there wasn't much about it where I thought "WOW! THAT'S a new idea!" but lots where I nodded HEARTILY along and thought "Yes! Yes, that is what i think too!"

There was a really good bit where he recommended a NEW way of doing films - rather than struggling and trying to get into big corporate movie making, you could actually make films YOU wanted to make, distribute them yourself to a few hundred people, and be HAPPY doing that. You create the ART you want to and interact directly with people who LOVE it, rather than making probable crap for people who are unlikely to be particularly bothered. "THAT SOUNDS FAMILIAR", i thought, and it was GRATE to hear him speaking about it with Proper Respect, not seeing it as a cop-out or easy option, but as a valid way of doing things. "This is the way things are moving" he said, and he's not wrong.

The Motivational Aspect was basically him saying you've just got to DO it - and KEEP doing it, and then "luck" and ability will eventually flow from that which, again, EXPERIENCE has shown me to be correct. While he was saying all this I started to think "Hang on! Perhaps THIS is the 'lucky chance' of which he speaks! Maybe if i offer CHEEKILY to buy him a PINT he will feel indebted enough to listen to our READTHROUGH - then he'll LOVE it and make the film!"

I was a bit alarmed when, almost directly after this, he said "The way to get people to read your stuff is BUY THEM PRESENTS, then they'll feel the owe you something!" GOOD ADVICE, but a bit spooky - i got a bit nervous, SHOULD i really do this? "You've GOT to get over feeling scared about talking to people, and just DO it!" he said. SO, when he finished and said "Any Questions?" the second - and LAST - of the questions asked was "Would you like a drink?" asked by ME.

He LARFED but then i got him a cup of TEA - MOVIE FORTUNE AWAITED! I was now DETERMINED that John and I would get our readthrough - i used to get a bit like this in Olden Times at ROCK events, where Famous People would appear and my MIND would DISSOLVE into PANIC about whether or not I should say hello or not, in case they thought i was the kind of git who JUST says hello to people in order to try and get something out of them. I'm generally a LITTLE bit better about that now, and hopefully don't act like SUCH a wazzock, but this time he'd explicitly SAID you had to try and interact with people to GET stuff.

THUS I got John to come and stand near the organiser so I could listen out for any mention of the second half, and when it came up made myself visible and a bit STARY to try and REINFORCE the idea that i'd come MANY MILES to do this and that we should therefore get to do our BIT. As I say, I felt a bit of a TIT doing this, but it WORKED! There WOULD be time for ONE readthrough, and it would be US!

Actually it worked a bit too well, as Mr Jones did a big BIT comparing John to the traditional hero of HERO'S JOURNEY, ricking his script being rubbish but DETERMINED to make it. I didn't mean to LAND John in it QUITE so much, but was pleased we were getting the chance to DO this.

Once the second half of the seminar was over John LEAPT up to distribute scripts, I tuned up, and John introduced us. Various people from the group were reading parts and I was singing the relevant songs, and we WHISKED through a chunk featuring My Theory Of A Dinosaur Planet, We Are The Giant Robots, Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates and We Are The Dinosaurs. I REALLY enjoyed it - it was EXTREMELY interesting hearing the words - some of mine, some of John's, and some a mix - being said out loud and realising what worked and what didn't, and also in hearing the different readers' different interpretations of it. Some were brilliant - some less so!! And obviously I ESPECIALLY enjoyed the songs, NOTHING will ever replace SHOWING OFF as my Favourite Thing To Do!

Afterwards we had some discussion and feedback, the BIG point being that, if this was going to be an animation, it needed more action and less standing around talking. I'd never even considered this before, but it made a lot of sense - the one man show version and the radio/concept album version currently being recorded both have LOTS of talking and Explaining What Is Happening because it has to, as there's no pictures, but this'll have to go in PRECISELY the opposite direction. AHA!

The Chairman then asked Mr Jones for his thoughts - be he said he hadn't really listened, as he'd had to answer an email. GAH! Bang goes THAT daydream of BEST MOVIE SOUNDTRACK OSCAR! Still, we did hang around for a bit afterwards and i DID do that thing of Lurking Nearby Someone Until You Can Force A CD On Them - well, he DID say you had to have Business Cards always to hand to give people, and it DOES have my email address on it!

The NICEST thing tho was a chap who came over and said that him and his old flatmate had used to listen to my records when they were getting DRUNK, as said flatmate was a fan. AAAH! That was LOVELY - it really made my night that, suddenly bumping into someone who a) KNEW b) LIKED my stuff. I was all pleased!

Less pleasing was the COLD outside, but we soon hopped onto a bus and then i FLEW home from Shepherds Bush station. I got home FLUSHED with pleasure, it had been an unexpectedly FASCINATING evening and a GRATE start to a - hopefully - DECADE of ROCK!

posted 5/1/2010 by MJ Hibbett

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