NOV 2015

Blimey, it was weirdly wonderful watching The Trespasser at the NFT the other day. Transmitted 1981. I met with people who I’ve not seen in the intervening 30 or so years – Selwyn Roberts, Mike Metcalfe, Jamie Leonard, Kevin Smith - though all of them also worked on subsequent films from the Gregg/Stoddart, er, stable. But our run ended in 1988.

A young friend of my son said "They don’t make them like that anymore." But I struggle to see how and why that film must seem so strange now: does everything seem to be said too often and too slowly? Does the camera linger too long on images? Perhaps it's the rapid cutting of contemporary films (particularly US / UK films) that is so absent? Or the acne-level close ups?

The script we shot – which I still have – is marked as "second draft". The script for Waiting for You (out in 2016) underwent vast amounts of change between first and shooting drafts. Why is that? Is it better, really? Or do we keep changing scripts simply because computers make it so easy to do so?

What else this month? I met Sotiris Dounoukos in Paris, there (from Australia) to work on his new film Joe Cinque’s Consolation. While there I watched Une Jeunesse Allemande in Paris, a doc about the Baader Meinhof people and their generation. A very different kind of terrorism to the kind that Bush and Blair declared war against.

Good news this month from Benoît Razy re Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes - there’s a new prospect of co-production interest.

Did my bit in Brussels where the SAA was celebrating five years of lobbying the Commission on behalf of writers and directors. I decided to take the two hour train journey on to Amsterdam to spend a great day at the Stedelijk and the Rijksmuseum.

Will the joy of travelling freely in Europe come to an end? The prospect of all these other countries behaving like the UK saddens me: here arrivals are greeted by our "Border Force".


OCT 2015

The past seems to be rearing up all over the place, but in a good way.

There's the lecture in Manchester, triggered by my efforts to adapt Earthly Powers a long time ago. God, I love that novel, but I recall a big chief at the BBC, turning down my adaptation yet again - "Oh that's caviar to the general." OK, he's quoting Hamlet but that doesn't make it any better!

The day after the lecture, there's a screening in London of The Trespasser from 1981

I'm back in touch with Colin Gregg (director of The Trespasser), and Tomasso Jandelli (producer of We Think The World of You). Colin Gregg and I were a writer-director partnership: we made six films in ten years. It's not unique but is rarely talked about, as it doesn't fit with the way films are financed, controlled and marketed.

And since I'm talking about what's not talked about... I was browsing in the bookshop at the BFI South Bank the other day. I found lots of books about how to write screenplays but there wasn't a single book about a screenwriter, the person at the desk couldn't even think of one. I'm thinking of, you know, a book about the life and work one of those writers the industry claims is so important to make a good film. It's not encouraging is it?

After that browsing I went to see Tarkovsky's Mirror. Goodness me, not much evidence of "the narrative arc" and all the other stuff we're supposed to regard as gospel. And why is a British Tarkovsky kind of hard to imagine? Are we too frightened of the unexplainable? Or the truly personal? I recall a gathering of hopefuls being told by someone from BBC Film "If you've got a personal story you're dying to tell as a drama - forget it, we're not interested."

I usually weave the personal stuff into something that isn't ostensibly that at all. I need that connection with material I'm working on, or I'm simply not engaged by it and the screenplay will feel unsatisfying to me. So it's there in Waiting for You, now in post production. But I won't tell you what it is!


SEPT 2015


Delighted to learn that there's to be a screening of this film, the second made from a screenplay of mine with Colin Gregg as director. Alan Bates and Pauline Moran in the lead roles. It's in a short season of TV drama around the theme of "fatal attraction." Come if you can. November 26th at 8.45 in NFT-2.


I'm pleased to be invited to give the 2015 lecture at the Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, also in November, arising from my (as yet unfilmed) adaptation of Burgess's magnificent novel Earthly Powers.


It seems no chance of a shoot this year but staying hopeful for next.


Charles Garrad is deep in the editing process! It seems it's coming together well, and I hope there's another chance to see the film soon.


I've found a producer who really likes my two-parter so the question will now be: can the producer in turn find a broadcaster?


JUNE 2015


The shoot went well in France and the final few days, ending June 25th, were for the UK part of the film. We ended with a big scene that really took a day and found myself persuaded to do a cameo! Now looking forward to seeing at least a rough assembly of the whole film soon.


Rhône-Alpes are now on board and contributing to the budget but we're not there yet. Benoît and I have done some more work on the script before a final submission to Languedoc-Roussillon. Benoît still hopes to shoot this year, but October is the last month that's possible before conditions get too difficult in the Cévennes.


- is the new title. I've completed some good work with script editor Abigail Davies and I'm much happier with the script. I'm not booked into the market as such but I will be "hanging out" at the Galway Film Fleadh for a few days, meetings also planned in Dublin.


APRIL 2015


Great news. The TV channel France 3 wants to screen the film so that means a pre-sale and contributes to the budget. This is a crucial breakthrough as it will help the producer to raise finance from other sources.


I think this is a "working title" - the film has evolved so far from my short of the same title that I want to leave that title behind now. I'm also tweeking the script a bit, again...


Both leads now cast: Colin Morgan and Fanny Ardant. Shooting in May. I’ll be going soon to the principal location in France with Charles Garrad, the director and co-writer, to see how the script might need refining to fit the particular house that’s been chosen, as opposed to the one we have imagined.


No takers yet for my two-parter but I remain hopeful.


I'm pitching a project for that medium too - an adaptation. I've only written for radio once before, and a long time ago at that: BETWEEN THE GATES, but it went well and was well reviewed.