Flash Stance

I should write more flash fiction. It’s a great way of keeping up your daily word count, while at the same time not having to commit to a bigger project or challenge. Lord knows, I don’t need the encouragement to get involved in those (hel-looo, Script Frenzy).

The format, for those members of the Readership unaware of the concept, is what I used to call a short short. A short story under 1000 words, frequently coming in at well under that count. I could, if I had the idea, knock out a piece of flashfic on my train ride to work in the morning. It can be a way of writing a quick joke, or to map out a concept, or simply to fire out a character piece. The choice is yours. The only restriction is the word count.

Yesterday I hammered out my first piece of flash fiction in at least a year. I had, for once, a proper reason to do so. I submitted the story to a new incentive, The Campaign For Real Fear. This is a competition jointly created and judged by horror authors Maura McHugh and Christopher Fowler. The aim is to find stories that tap into 21st century terrors, rather than simply rehashing the same old monsters and tropes. The limit is 500 words. As Maura and Chris say in their intro, “If you can’t scare us in 500 words, you won’t manage it in 5,000.” It’s a great idea, and one I’m happy to both participate in and endorse.

Closing date for entries is 16th April. I know there are members of The Readership who would excel at a challenge like this one. Gentlemen, start your engines.

(Flash fiction is a very different deal to slash fiction, which I can’t write. I’ve got no interest in writing about other people’s characters, and I’m no good at sex. Writing sex. Sex scenes. I can’t do sex scenes. Shut up.)
(That’s probably why I’ve never got on with LiveJournal. I keep trying to explore it, and end up mired in some Russian teenager’s Farscape/Stargate mashup. Which turns into an orgy. Topless Robot have a great thread of the worst slash fic on the web, which I applaud and view as a public service. They go there so you don’t have to. It’s a dark mirror to the excesses of the human imagination. The Pokemon abortion fetish story is especially eye-opening.)

(I shudder to think what that last sentence is going to do to my Google stats.)

(image from Flickr user degan’s stream.)

Write When You Have Something To Say

A quicky, as I’m at work. That’s my excuse for link blogging, but there’s a chunk of work in the pipeline.
Like the wonderful Post Secret, SOMEONE ONCE TOLD ME is a brilliantly simple idea. The heart of it is a collection of simple B&W photos of people holding up a placard of a truism, fact or weird piece of advice that they were once told. It’s random, funny, moving and utterly addictive.

And sometimes it comes up with some really good advice.

Translated above. As in, the title of this post.
Translated above. As in, the title of this post.

A Sight I Can Do Without

Or another entry in an occasional series where Rob over-reacts to an advertising hoarding…

Dear Gods, this is un-nerving. Who put the rodent in the leather jacket? I mean, look at that scrunched up muzzle. Those wittle feet in their tiny clompy bootkins.

But it’s the hungry look in those eyes that really freaks me out. Like it’s just spotted something tasty.

Clever little thing. It knows how this game works. Play it cute. Go doe-eyed. Wait for your prey’s defences to drop. Maybe it will come in to pet, to give you a skritchy-scratch behind the ears.

And then BANG. Go for the throat. Worry out the jugular with those sharp little claws. Bleed out your prey before it has a chance to think about what’s happened. Go for the eyes as it hits the deck. Chittering in triumph as you feed.

God, I hate hamsters.

Why It’s OK to have Nazi MEPs


(Pic by hughsmuse, via the #fathitler topic foaming away on Twitter).

We have an actual, honest-to-god unreconstructed bogeyman in mainstream politics now. A real, proper, out-and-out hate figure. Someone we can really get behind as a nation and thoroughly despise. This is a VERY GOOD THING.

Hate figures make the best funny. In under twelve hours, the #fathitler thread on Twitter has gone ballistic. It’s A VERY GOOD THING. Check it out.

Wake up calls are never pleasant, but they are necessary. When was the last time you were pleased to hear your alarm clock go off? A good, hard shock to the system about the state of the country’s political landscape is just what’s needed right now. The sooner that people realise that voting a villainous fucktard into power as a protest vote is tantamount to pissing on your chips because the fish was a bit overdone, the better. A stupid, pointless and wasteful gesture.

We now get a chance to take photos of ourselves looking grim, noble and defiant, and post them to a petition. It’s one sure way to make ourselves feel better. And in case you think I’m sneering here…

Believe it or not, it could be worse. MEPs can’t be elected as members of parliament, so there’s no chance of seeing Griffin or Brons in the House anytime soon. Plus, at least we’re not the Netherlands, where Geert Wilder’s PVV is now the second biggest party in government. Imagine the BNP as the official party of opposition. Sends shudders through you, don’t it? We’re a loooong way away from that yet.

6. So, this is not our proudest moment. But let’s face it, Readership. This country is in the midst of the biggest political shitstorm in decades. Weird things happen in this kind of environment. Basically, Griffin and Brons have exploited our anger and frustration at a truly screwed-up state of affairs for their own purposes. That’s wrong, but it doesn’t have to stand, and they are going to find that being in the full glare of the public eye will bring some very unpleasant truths about who they are and what they stand for out into the light. I say, let’s give them the chance to talk themselves out of a job. In some cases, the oxygen of publicity can be downright poisonous.

A couple of scary toons

Leading on from the previous post, these two prime examples of the form are both beautifully made and deeply, wrongly disturbing.

The last shot of this one has stayed with me for a very long time. Lazy critics will call this Burtonesque, but I think it’s a lot darker-hearted than that. Burton always goes for the happy ending. There’s none of that in this.

I remember watching Harpya as part of a late night animation season on Channel Four years ago, and being so freaked out by it that it gave me bad dreams for weeks. Even now, I have no intention of watching it again. But I thought you might appreciate it, my brave Readership.

I promise success will not change me…

A sunny Friday afternoon in Cambridge. Thinking Girl’s Crumpet Clive and I are in town for the Super 8 festival, where for reasons that remain pleasingly unclear, Code Grey is in competition.

Always up for a party if nothing else, we’ve met up with Doco Domsy and set ourselves up with booze and grub. It’s the perfect afternoon for slightly beery chat about films and film-making, and the three of us indulge fully. At the back of my mind, the thought that there is a Q&A at the end of our screening that I maybe should not be head-dribblingly drunk for raises a tentative hand before getting shouted down. I’m far more eloquent after three pints or so. I’m a goddamn raconteur after five.

We wander through Cambridge, Dom taking photos for an imaginary press kit. I feel a little bit like a rock star, and a lot like a drunken twat. I can’t really give the camera love, but I do a mean growl. Which’ll do, apparently.

One last beer by the Cam, and I start to get the giggles. And I don’t feel drunk at all. Just nervous. But ready. This isn’t like a Straight 8 screening. I know exactly what’s being presented. There’s no fall back now. This is a film that’s had some hard work and a lot of heart and soul poured into it. It’s grown up now, and it’s ready to strut like a player.

I poke my head into the screening room a half-hour beforehand to announce my presence (resisting the urge to bellow “L’auteur est arrive” – alright, it was six pints by now) to be greeted by Simon, one of the organisers, who was so pleased to see me that he did a little dance. More people should do that. I might have to insist on it.

The room fills, and we settle in for the programme. Fifteen films, a strong European presence, and a fearsome sense of the quirky and surreal. Code Grey feels positively mainstream amongst the art pieces, documentaries and animation on display. We’re just a dumb little shuck and jive show with a neat little idea at it’s heart. We’re on last, and don’t quite get the reaction I was hoping for. Chuckles rather than belly laughs. That’s the problem if you make a comedy. There’s no such thing as an appreciative silence.

After the films, the Q&As. It’s a room full of directors, and they’re all erudite, amusing and interesting. I, on the other hand, have had six pints and am a twitchy mess. I gabble through my questions, pointing out Clive and trying to namecheck everyone, trying to crack a few funnies, and doing the one thing I really didn’t want to which was to out myself as a colourist. I don’t like to talk about the day job when I’m being a film-maker. Especially as I knew at least one person afterwards would make the joke about a colourist making a black and white film.

This did indeed happen, and the smile I gave was indeed as thin as you’re imagining.

Two minutes or an hour and a half later, depending on where you were standing, I sat back down. I was shaking faintly. But I was assured by Clive and Dom that I had indeed been charming, witty and erudite, and that people had laughed at my jokes. However, in a headrush of unprovoked egotism I’d given myself full credit for the idea behind Code Grey, which was all Clive’s.

I took shit for that for the rest of the night, and deservedly so.

Unfortunately, there seemed little opportunity to meet with the other directors after the screening, as the other bar at the University Student Union was hosting a members-only darts night, and seemed unwilling to let us stick around. Shame, as I’d genuinely wanted to congratulate the guys that made it down to Cambridge on a job well done. I’ll try and dig out some links to my faves over the next few days.

After the screening, there was little to do but eat and drink more, and chat about films and film-making until the early hours, which we did at the very excellent Cambridge Chop House, and our digs for the night, The Portland Arms. These places are both most worthy of your patronage.

We left Cambridge the following morning, Clive to his acting classes, me to the Reading Beer Festival, which was another afternoon of beer, food, and yakking. Really, I’m going to need a diet and a vow of silence after this weekend. Twitter has documented my feelings on that one, so check the status bar off to the right.

Turns out if we’d stuck around for the final night, we would have been around to receive our award for best UK film. I had the email with that nugget of good news while starting this post. It’s a result far above and beyond what I could have expected, and proof that there is life after Straight 8. I’m sending massive hugs out to everyone involved in the making of Code Grey, and urge you if you’ve not watched the film yet to check it out.

It’s officially worth your while.

Ranting lemonade label from embittered screenwriter

Ranting lemonade label from embittered screenwriter:

I feel this guy’s pain. Spotted by a Boing Boing reader, who picked up a couple of bottles of lemonade from a stand in Malibu, only to find this on the label…


My name is Matthew and I am one of the best screenwriters in Hollywood. Unfortunately, the television networks and movie studios don’t know that yet. As it stands, the decision of which films get produced are left in the hands of emotionally-immature, substance-abusing ex-lawyers who live in dread paranoia that everyone in the universe is out to get them. They spend the bulk of their time spying on their fellow executives, composing nasty counter-intelligence rumors and spreading them through their network of FA-BU-LOUS, yet cunning assistants.

Much of the actual work, like ‘reading’ is left to a gaggle of twenty-something interns who are all the product of George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ policy. To these bimbos, nothing in the world existed before 1995, and the most reading they’ve done has been through text messages. They believe that good writing is something that fits into 160 characters, all performed with the thumbs. :)LOL!

Needless to say, I’m making my own damn movie and you just helped! All of the profits from this amazingly refreshing drink are going into my independent film. Why? Because I believe in the spirit of America – CONSUME AND DESTROY! POOR=BAD/RICH=GOOD! WAR IS PEACE! YOU-ESS-AY! YOU-ESS-AY! YEE-HAW!

Any-hoo, if you work in ‘THE INDUSTRY’ as a common below-the-line slob and would like to work on my film for less than you’re worth for no other reason but to satisfy my giant ego, send your resume to: malibu.monkey@verizon.net.

If you’re a producer with a distribution deal, somewhat sober, and capable of actually reading a screenplay by yourself, shoot an email to me as well. I’ll be happy to send a script to you along with your stupid submission release agreement boilerplate wank-rag.

If you are an actor, congratulations on making it this far. It’s a lot of words. Who’s a good boy? You! And you are very special. Plus, you serve specials at the restaurant. Special food served by special people to special people. Okay, I admit it. I’m just jealous because you are better looking than me and get all the hotties. Girls who go for me are all smart ‘n’ junk. Plus, they sag. And you’re in SAG. Isn’t that special?!

Agents, entertainment lawyers, managers and all other Pimps of The Antichrist can do us all a favor by simply killing yourselves. If you can, try to attempt a single moment of original, creative thought by finding an entertaining way to do it. Like performing seppuku with a champagne flute during the lunch rush at The Ivy. Or hang yourself from one of ‘O’s’ in the Hollywood sign with a noose made from your Kabbalah strings and rubber cancer-awareness bracelets. Either way, die bloodsucker! Die!



(Via Boing Boing.)