31 January, 2010

The Day Job

The Times:

"I gave up the day job to become a scriptwriter"

"I am about to leave the security of having a full-time job and salary to give myself a shot at making a living from writing movies. I would love to sit in a cinema as the credits roll and see my name, and though it’s a distant goal I at least feel that I’m now doing something about achieving it, rather than just talking about it — so this week I am starting an MA in screenwriting and production."



The Guardian

"Don't give up the day job - how artists make a living"

"How does the average ­artist make a living? If you're Damien Hirst, of course, you need only flog a couple of sharks in formaldehyde; if you're Tracey Emin, an unmade bed will do. If you're an actor, a well-publicised turn as Hamlet and near-omnipresence in the Christmas TV schedules, a la David Tennant, would keep the ­accountant happy.

But none of these scenarios will ring true for the average artist – who is more likely to be stacking supermarket shelves, waiting tables or writing ­advertising copy by day, and acting, dancing or sculpting by night."



Writing World

"Balancing Act: Ten Reasons to Keep Your Day Job"

"If writers got a nickel every time they heard the dreaded advice "Don't quit your day job," most would be rich and wouldn't have to worry about a "day job." The fact that many writers would love to quit their non-writing jobs doesn't make it a reality for most beginners or even some seasoned writers. But there are many tangible benefits to holding down a steady job outside of your writing business. As a writer who has spent many hours agonizing over having to work my day job, I'd like to share the ten best reasons I've learned for balancing your writing with a secure line of work."



Screenwriting Manifesto

"How to keep your day job from killing your writing career"

"Like most writers waiting for their big break, I have a day job. I have, in fact, had a day job for a long, long time.

There are many dangers inherent in leading this double life. It’s easy to lose focus and let writing take a back seat. This is because the day job is more immediate, though not necessarily more important. Plus, in a job you often have other people depending on you, whereas in the early stages of a writing career, the only person you’re likely to disappoint is yourself. And unlike the seemingly endless process of writing and rewriting, a day job often brings the immediate rewards of cash and a sense of accomplishment, of actually having done something."


30 January, 2010

"What is This 1950? Women Are Missing as TV Creators"

Women and Hollywood

"While there are a fair amount of pilots about women, the story here is the lack of women who are writing and creating the shows. The only way I know about this is from a very disturbing email from a reader who sent me info that came from a high level female TV executive. This is an industry wide problem and 2010 is way worse for women creators than it was in 2009."

From the comments:

"You know what I just noticed. Many of the female written pilots are actually by a team. A man and a woman. I was told by someone if I wanted to work, I needed to get a male partner. They told me he didn’t even have to be good, he could literally be my “intern”. This really is 1950."


"Hello, I am the renowned Akinator. I speak and understand all the languages of this world. You woke me up from a centuries-long sleep. However, this long rest did not affect my prodigious skills. I am capable of guessing who you are thinking about with a few questions. If I cannot, if you beat me, then I shall leave you alone. But be careful! Answer my questions accurately or... or you will take my place in the lamp."

25 January, 2010

Preview: "The Good Wife"

"This is most definitely a year of surprises on the drama front as 'The Good Wife' might just be the best new hour and I sure didn't see it coming." The Futon Critic

"THE GOOD WIFE is a drama starring Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies as a wife and mother who must assume full responsibility for her family and re-enter the workforce after her husband's very public sex and political corruption scandal lands him in jail.

Pushing aside the betrayal and crushing public humiliation caused by her husband Peter (Chris Noth), Alicia Florrick (Margulies) starts over by pursuing her original career as a defense attorney. As a junior associate at a prestigious Chicago law firm, she joins her longtime friend, former law school classmate and firm partner Will Gardner (Josh Charles), who is interested to see how Alicia will perform after 13 years out of the courtroom. Alicia is grateful the firm's top litigator, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), offers to mentor her but discovers the offer has conditions and realizes she's going to need to succeed on her own merit.

Alicia's main competition among the firm's 20-something new recruits is Cary (Matt Czuchry), a recent Harvard grad who is affable on the surface, but will use any means to ensure that he, not Alicia, secures the one full-time associate position that's available. Fortunately, Alicia finds an ally in Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), the firm's tough in-house investigator. Gaining confidence every day, Alicia transforms herself from embarrassed politician's scorned wife to resilient career woman, especially for the sake of providing a stable home for her children, 14-year-old Zach (Graham Phillips) and 13-year-old Grace (Makenzie Vega).

For the first time in years, Alicia trades in her identity as the "good wife" and takes charge of her own destiny. Tony Scott, Ridley Scott, Robert King, Michelle King, Dee Johnson and David Zucker are the executive producers for CBS Television Studios." CBS

The Good Wife is my favourite new US drama. I love law shows in general but this one is particularly well-written. By that I mean the characters, their relationships and their dialogue ring true. I also mean that the story of the week is compelling and surprising.

Julianna Margulies' previous show was Canterbury's Law which, although in the same genre, didn't get all the elements right. Popular television is looked down on but it isn't easy to do. So when it's done right and written well, it deserves to be acknowledged in the same way as unpopular well-written shows like Mad Men.

The good wife and her bad husband have a complex relationship. At first, I thought he was just a special guest star for the pilot and we wouldn't hear from him again. At home there's conflict with the husband's mom who helps look after the kids.

At work there is immediate conflict set-up with a fellow new colleague - set to conclude, co-incidentally, at the end of the season. But even that obvious set-up isn't written in an obvious way because the characters aren't stock stereotypes and remain interesting.

Creators Michelle and Robert King Interview (video)

Channel 4 site/4oD

Mondays, Channel 4, 10:00pm
Wednesdays, More4, 11:40pm

19 January, 2010

What the Papers Say: "Material Girl"

Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

"Right, that's the froth dealt with. Now to the espresso underneath. With a glass of Veuve Clicquot and a line of coke on the side. Because
Material Girl (BBC1), an important new drama set in the world of fashion, takes on the ­altogether more profound question: what to wear? OK, it's silly and deeply shallow. It's also gorgeous, fizzy, bitchy, self-indulgent, obviously bad for you but dangerously addictive. Careful, Material Girl could become a habit.

Dervla Kirwan makes a splendid queen bitch evil designer with no talent but an impressive Rolodex. Being ­Human's lovely Lenora Crichlow is again lovely as Ali, the talented young designer, who's tottering in five-inch heels along the thin line between the real world and fashion nonsense. Only the hunk is wrong – too puppyish and doey-eyed to be a hunk, I think. And since when did motorcycle couriers ride Harley-Davidsons?

It's part of the Babylon franchise, based on the writing of Imogen ­Edwards-Jones. This is better than ­Hotel Babylon though – simply more fun. As usual, IE-J wrote her book with "Anonymous", an insider from the world in which it's set. Unfortunately, although I understand chaos theory perfectly, I know very little about ­fashion, so can't ­comment on its veracity. But I know a woman who understands fashion well, my own insider – let's just call her Guardian fashion editor Jess Cartner-Morley.

The daft, post-show, backstage ­"Darling, you are a fashion goddess" conversations between the celebrity and the designer are spot on, says JC-M. Plus the brash, very London supermodel, and the slimy Eurotrash ­business partner in the turtle neck – right again, those people are real.

Obviously a lot of old fashion cliches are dragged out, some of which JC-M could have done without, such as the scene in the shoe shop where Ali sells her soul for a nice pair of shoes: Jess is so over that scene, she's seen it about 5,000 times, come aaaawn. And where it's just plain wrong, she says, is when the baddie journalist demands sexual favours of a GIRL – very unlikely. The men in fashion really are gay. Oh, and she likes it. So I was right about that."


Tim Teeman, The Times

"Flights of fancy were also evident in the glossy BBC drama
Material Girl, an hour that felt a bit like a day of blistering sunshine and horrendous hailstorm: funny then not funny; sharp, then suddenly, lamentably pedestrian. The story of a plucky young fashion designer and her evil former boss had all the Cinderella elements of Ugly Betty, the show it most obviously resembled. However, whereas the latter glorifies in its absurdity, its camp cartoonishness, Material Girl allowed Dervla Kirwan as Davina to dress up as Cruella de Vil, and snarl and scowl icily, but then the tone receded and became all workmanlike and clunky. British, in other words.

Lenora Crichlow as Ali, who had left the evil Davina to set up on her own, slugged beer from a bottle (to show she was a regular gal), she didn’t want some fancy-schmancy star to wear her dress to the Baftas (yeah right!). Her boyfriend is just a regular guy courier who rides a motorbike and who puts her, chaste and untouched, to bed after she gets hideously drunk. What a prince.

Material Girl isn’t as bad as some critics say, but it’s not as fun as it could be. It’s not really new to identify fashion as vapid and fashion people as empty, self-serving egotists. (Oh and for all the men to be bitchy, camp gays: there are not enough of them on TV, thanks!) There’s a great moment in The Devil Wears Prada where Meryl Streep tells Anne Hathaway she can pretend to be all superior about this empty world, but what about the blue jumper she’s wearing ... which Streep then deconstructs piercingly. Material Girl could be very funny, if it had a sharper, more knowing respect for the world it sets out to satirise."


Rihannon Harries, The Independent

"If Glee grabs its stereotypes and gives them a big, bone-crushing bear hug, Material Girl, the BBC's new fashion-world drama, lacks the courage even to shake hands with the stock characters it promised to deal with.

The first episode found young designer Ali putting the finishing touches to what was supposed to be a fabulous high-end collection backstage at a Paris fashion show. Sadly, it looked more like the latest Ann Summers range had exploded all over the catwalk and the credibility of the show spiralled downwards from there on.

The problem with the costumes (The Apprentice has better-dressed casts) is one of many. Worse is the uneven tone – Dervla Kirwan, who went high camp with her arch bitch performance, clearly didn't get the memo that told the rest of the cast they should play it straight to the point where they seemed to be boring themselves.

The whole thing is accessorised with some crudely sketched moral dilemmas ("Is fashion more important than being a good person?"), lots of clunky name-dropping and a female Iraq veteran with Hollyoaks body whose post-traumatic stress appeared to be solved by a skimpy orange dress.

The fashion industry may be many things, lots of them worthy of a send-up, but it is rarely dull and never worthy so it's baffling that Material Girl managed to be both. An independent report published earlier this week suggests that the Beeb should spend less time and money chasing 16- to 35-year-olds and focus on quality broadcasting. If confirmation were needed, this series is it."


Phil Hogan, The Observer

"I'm guessing there'll be some crossover appeal between Glee and Material Girl, BBC1's new early-evening drama set in the preposterous world of fashion. Lenora Crichlow as hot young frock designer Ali looked more like someone who might work at Next, but perhaps she's meant to represent wholesome values amid the preening, cut-throat, candyfloss-haired twits she's up against. There was romance and excitement among the sewing machines, but for me she beds in more comfortably as Annie the ditsy ghost in BBC3's Being Human..."


Maysa Rawi, Daily Mail

It was supposed to Britain's answer to Ugly Betty, but new fashion drama Material Girl failed to deliver when it premiered last night on the BBC.

Despite a reported £6m budget, underwhelming styling and lacklustre wardrobe choices left viewers cold - with one critic describing main character Ali Redcliffe as sporting 'a selection of hideous clothes that look as though they once clad the extras down Albert Square.'

Material Girl, which follows a wannabe designer as she struggles to make it to the top, sees the opening sequence introduce characters backstage at a fashion show.

But outfits were more Wag than Wang and the script did little to redeem the show.

The London Evening Standard's Laura Craik said: 'Material Girl is one of those jaw-droppingly, dreadful pieces of television that barely deserves to be buried on ITV4 at midnight.

'Designer Ali Redcliffe, does a lot of running through the streets of Brick Lane, dressed in a selection of hideous clothes that look as though they once clad the extras down Albert Square.'

Craik said: 'Despite gratuitous references to Balenciaga, Chanel and Steven Meisel, it’s clear the writers of Material Girl know as much about the fashion industry as Giorgio Armani knows about darts, although — surprise! — they do seem to have picked up that all fashion people are shallow, evil and thick.'

Although the familiar Hollywood tale of the new girl attempting to claw her way to the top of the fashion industry without compromising her morals has been successfully rehashed in shows like Ugly Betty and Oscar-winning film Devil Wears Prada, Material Girl was not categorised in the same vein.

The Independent's Alice-Azania Jarvis said: 'Seemingly a sort of low-budget British version of Ugly Betty, it offers none of the attractions it should: no wit, no glamour, and absolutely no plausibility.'

Performances were hailed as strong however and Material Girl could possibly turn into guilty pleasure viewing, similar to BBC's Secret Diary of a Call Girl, starring Billie Piper.

Jarvis said: 'Really, it has very little at all to recommend it, except, that is, strong performances from all the lead roles.

'And, against all better judgement, I found myself sticking to it. Will I watch it again? Probably not on purpose. But if I happen to tune in by accident, I might just stay there. Guiltily.'

Set in trendy London's Brick Lane, Ali (played by Sugar Rush's Leonora Crichlow) spends her time battling an evil ex-boss, a sexy business partner and snobby fashionistas to get her break in work and love.

Star Leonora says: 'The fashion world can be very fickle, but Material Girl focuses on the fun element, the creative element.'

'I can't say that I move and shake in the world of fashion, so it's wonderful to get to do something completely different.

With the recent explosion in fashion-related entertainment, from Vogue documentary The September Issue to reality TV shows Project Runway and Britain's Next Top Model, the message is clear: fashion is hot.

But perhaps Material Girl is not.


Overnights: 3 million/12%


BBC Press Pack

Viewer's Page

Catch up with iPlayer


'Material Girl', Thursdays on BBC1 at 8:00pm for 6 weeks

13 January, 2010

Preview: "The Persuasionists"

"From the makers of the award-winning series, The Inbetweeners, and debut screenwriter, Jonathan Thake, comes new British sitcom, The Persuasionists.

Renowned for ‘the slag of all snacks’ campaign for Pot Noodle, Jonathan Thake draws on his experience in the fast paced world of advertising for this six part series.

The sitcom focuses on the lives of five overpaid and underworked employees at fictional advertising agency HHH&H.

The series stars Adam Buxton, (6Music’s – Adam & Joe, Hot Fuzz, Randall & Hopkirk Deceased), Iain Lee (11 O’clock Show, Absolute Radio), Simon Farnaby (Bunny and the Bull, Jam & Jerusalem), Daisy Haggard (Psychoville, Ashes to Ashes) and brilliant stand-up comedian Jarred Christmas.

The uncontrollable urge-bag Keaton (Simon Farnaby) peruses the workplace for new conquests – everyone he hasn’t already had. Billy (Iain Lee), the intelligent underachiever, indulges in his role as the office menace. Spoilt neurotic Emma (Daisy Haggard) would like to break the glass ceiling, but only if it doesn’t damage her lovely hair. Boss Clive (Jarred Christmas), the most Australian man on the planet, exults in his position as the resplendently ridiculous manager. The hopeless, witless and feckless Greg (Adam Buxton) is the eager Account Director desperately aspiring to be as ambitious and amoral as his colleagues.

Over the course of the series viewers will witness the five advertising degenerates battle their way through a variety of scenarios from having to sell a brown smelly ‘cockney cheese’ for disillusioned, aggressive and frightening cockney client, Jim (Lee Ross – The Catherine Tate Show, Eastenders, Secrets & Lies and Press Gang). Issues of beauty are tackled in episode two, as Emma becomes the ‘Head of Handsomeness’ and creates the ‘corridor of beauty’, placing the uglier colleagues in the boiler room. Later in the series Keaton, the Head of Global, becomes impotent as he learns that women are “somehow human too”. Keaton and Billy engage on a war of being impractical and battle it out to prove they are not mature and sensible. Emma embraces the new ‘Diet Stuff’ drink a little too enthusiastically and begins protesting against obesity. Billy experiences the frustration of writer’s block and Keaton sets out to steal his colleagues’ happiness.

Script edited by Andrew Collins (Not Going Out), The Persuasionists follows the underworked and overpaid agency staff who spend all day trying to persuade you to buy things you don’t want with money you don’t have.

Cheryl Taylor, BBC Controller of Comedy Commissioning, said: “As a big fan of inventive comedy characters I’m thrilled to see the bizarre world and twisted logic of the The Persuasionists coming to BBC TWO.”

The series is produced by Bwark, the makers of The Inbetweeners, Angelo’s and Free Agents. The Executive Producers are Simon Wilson for the BBC and Iain Morris and Damon Beesley for Bwark. Directed by Tristram Shapeero (Reggie Perrin, Peep Show) and produced by Jon Rolph (Taking The Flak)."


Jonathan Thake interview, The Independent

Jonathan Thake interview, Daily Mail


The Persuasionists, BBC2,
10:00pm, Wednesdays for 6 weeks
(repeated Saturdays 12:00 midnight)

12 January, 2010


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11 January, 2010

Ashes to Ashes picture exclusive

This is a picture I took* of Ashes to Ashes co-creators Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah at the final read-through in December.

*Took from Matthew Graham's Twitter page