PRODUCTION JOURNAL: Chris Cooke's BBC Director Diary part 2

For a moment I thought I was having writer's block. You sit down to solve your writing troubles and find that there's nothing going on in your head at all... but the great thing about developing these current projects is collaboration. While we are in development you can follow us on the early stages of that process. I am writing with two people: Helen Solomon is co-writing our bleak comic road movie; and Steve Sheil and I are developing our comedy of pain set in the world of regional wrestling. He appears in the two diaries so far because of this - plus the fact that he can edit and film them too!
Both projects are at the outline stage, then we head off into the deep water of first draft. At the moment the road movie needs all my attention, and I have never been so distracted: there is illness, money, short films, and work to do if I am going to make any money to pay off the mountain of debt I have built over the year since One For The Road (which is out on DVD/video on 22nd November from Tartan, by the way).
A couple of weeks ago I worked as second camera on a digital short set in Norfolk: a sinister ghost story about the legend of Black Shuck, the devil dog that haunts the beaches there. It was directed by Andy Brand and was a massive laugh to make. It was also one of those shorts where there is a crew-cold to catch and I think everyone has now had it.
Then I worked on another digital short, this time directed by talented animator Katy Milner. She's making her move into live action with Wig Sisters, a brilliantly acted film about aged theatre types stuck in a fantasy world. I got ill after that one too!
In this section of our ongoing video diary, Steve and I tackle the joint themes of collaboration and writing an outline. There is still a vagueness about what the difference between a treatment and an outline is, but I suppose if you are attempting to let people into the world and story you are trying to write, then it really doesn't matter which is which. Our outlines have sometimes been enormous and bulky - over 40 pages long - then streamlined down to something referred to as a 'beat sheet' - no, not a porn mag but a scene by scene, 'just the facts' version of the story. The film we are developing is also very visual and a mini-doc was shot alongside a very graphic design package.

Chris Cooke's BBC Director Diary


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