Standing at the urinal, I feel a giddy sensation. I wasn’t used to giddy sensations when urinating. Not these days, anyway. And certainly not in a public men’s room in the heart of Bristol’s City Centre. In fact, I would go so far as to not recommend that anyone stand at a public urinal in any given city centre with a massive grin on their face. At any rate, I’d like to think that the days of heady excitement whenever I would go for a tinkle in a public place amongst my gender peers was long behind me. And yet, on this particular occasion, I most certainly was grinning.
Being the happenin’, technologically hip, man about town that I am, I had taken the 30 second window in which I wasn’t engaged in conversation with another human being to remove my mobile phone from my pocket to check my email.
Two days earlier, I’d received an email from my good friend and frequent writing partner Dominic Brancaleone. I rather look forward to these emails, as more often than not they signal the propelling forward of one project or another, in some way or other. In short, an email from Dom often meant I would inevitably have some work to sink my teeth into. But this particular email, two days ago, had been rather… cryptic.
Judge for yourselves:
See what I mean?
Although, I thought the “x” was a nice touch. It certainly kept me on side.
I’d been collaborating with Dom on and off for a few years. We met on the UK Film Council’s Advance Screenwriting Program, and had immediately clicked. At the conclusion of the course, we kept in touch thanks to email and social media. Just the odd “How are you?”, “What are you working on at the moment?” sort of stuff, but our correspondence always ended the same way. With the automatic – almost unconscious – sign off that I have found to be the “go to” conversation ender between any manner of creative individuals.
“We should work together on something some time.”
A standard farewell, hilarious in its ubiquity amongst writers and film makers alike. I shamefully confess that it is something I have said (and had said to me) so often over the years, that I paid it no credence whenever Dom or I would use it to sign off 90% of our correspondence.
The writery equivalent of “Let’s do lunch, sometime!”, or “I’ll call you, baby!”
But then, over time, we started to exchange actual ideas. Before long we had written a comedy short about a group of inept documentary film makers (a sort of send up of exploitative “The Man With A Face For A Brain” pseudo-documentaries), and a frankly hilarious six part web-based comedy series revolving around two “odd couple” flatmates that was initially devised by Dom.
While a “rough cut” pilot for the latter of the two has been shot and is currently in post production in London, both projects remain in various stages of development, out of our hands. While I continued work on my own individual projects, and with Dom refining a feature of his own, our progress as a writing team was stagnating.
So, stood at that urinal two days after “cryptic-gate”, with that ill-advised grin upon my expectant face, it was with great curiosity that I opened his highly anticipated follow-up email. Contained within was something I could never have expected.
Having worked on a handful of 6-8 minute projects together, the last thing I expected to read was a pitch for a feature film script. But that is what I found. A little taken aback, I read the email over a few times and… well… I LOVED IT. A little ambitious? Sure. But such was the power of Dom’s enthusiasm that I was completely convinced that we could pull it off.
And so, in these last few months of back and forth emails, we have developed a clear narrative path and a working treatment from which to start the first draft of a script for “NO IDEA IN DA HOOD”: A comedy set in North London, highlighting the contrasts between the middle class suburbs and the high-rise tower blocks that surround them.
Will it be a challenge? Absolutely, but an exciting one! With the better part of 80 miles between us, the bulk of the exchanging of ideas will be limited to email and video calls, with face to face meetings likely being few and far between – not to mention individual family and work commitments to juggle too.
This process is going to be just that – a process. We are learning the art of feature collaboration as we go. How to split up the work? Page by page? Scene by scene? How to keep the dialogue consistent and uniform throughout? After all, it is one thing to work on a mini series together, developing a series arc but dividing up episodes, but a feature is a different beast entirely.
We intend to blog about this process, from the inside out, taking anyone who wishes to read about it along on this brand new experience with us. We have no idea where it is going to take us, and only a vague idea of how we’re going to get there, but as we develop this script we want to try to keep everything as transparent as possible. Sharing the stories of the highs and lows, the struggles and the triumphs along the way. Hopefully by the end of it all – in the not too distant future – we will discuss what happens next, when we have a finished script.
There are already a host of exciting peripheral aspects to the film on the horizon – with all the usual Twitter, Facebook and YouTube Channel goodness to follow, once we have a finished script. As well as the pilot for the aforementioned mini-series, which we hope will be ready to share with you all in the near future. But, those are all things for another time and another blog.
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