If you’re not in touch with your inner seven year old goth chick like I am. You may have not noticed a little piece of joy called Ruby Gloom. The show was developed as a way to sell pencil cases and other merchandise. However, imaginative writing and animation have made it a cut above the average kid’s show. In fact the show was nominated for a Gemini (Canadian TV) award.
The opening credits are a delight. They remind me of the excellent closing credits for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events but with a catchier tune.
Worthy of special mention is a pint sized Emotastic character called Misery. Ruby is far too cute and annoyingly positive, Misery is much more my speed.
And finally all you need to know about writing suspense.
A while back Sheikspear memed me with a challenge to list my pet writing hates. So rather belatedly here they are.
1a/ A lack of time. Since it took me five months to get round to doing this post, it’s no surprise that number one on this list is not having enough time to write. Or indeed read, watch decent films, I haven't blown my nose since Tuesday...etc, etc. (I kid you not, we have a three foot wide shelf, full of new DVDs waiting to be watched.)
1b/ In the little time I do get I’m usually too tired to think. I have a physically demanding day job so in the evenings lifting a mug of tea and trying to remember how to drink it, is about the limit of my mental abilities. (Ahh, the life of an international super model takes it out of you.) Trying to deal with the subtleties of script development when all your energy is being used just to keep you awake is a guarantee of turning out rubbish.
2/ Thinking up some perfect scene/ dialogue/ prose etc, when you are walking or driving home. Unable to write it down you keep going over it in your head. It’s perfect. It’s character defining, it’s award winning, it’s bloody brilliant. Never before has anybody been able to sum things up as perfectly as this. You are staggered by your own genius. But just before you get to the safety of your desk, somebody you vaguely know says “Hello” you politely say “Hi” and in that instant, like Kaiser Soze “Puff…and it’s gone”. The industry standard response to this is: “OH @#&*!!!%”.
3/ Spending a considerable chunk of your life working on a story idea. Only to find out that for the same amount of her life your wife has been working on a very similar idea. The industry standard response to this is: “OH @#&*!!!%”.
P.S. Two or three reworks later our ideas are far enough apart now and the reworking I think has turned out better stories. We also talk about what we are working on much earlier in the development stage. It’s good to talk.
4/ Having a really good idea, which seems to just pour out of you without any real effort on your part. It all just seems to slot in so beautifully it’s like it was just waiting for you to write it. Only to have somebody say “Isn't that the plot of (insert name of major Hollywood or obscure foreign language film here.)” The industry standard response to this is: “OH @#&*!!!%”.
5/ Never being able to find a parking space wide enough for your giant mechanical scorpion. (Sorry that’s from a different list.)
Note to self. Get “OH @#&*!!!%” printed on a tee-shirt.
Remake, reinvent, re-create, re-imagine, replicate, imitate, copy. My heart is starting to sink every time I hear words like this. It seems that every few days another remake is announced. And sometimes, like in the case of The Fall and Rise (Rise and Fall) of Reginald Perrin, and The Edge of Darkness the originals are such perfectly realised things. It’s hard to see why anybody would attempt a remake. IMHO.
In this industry there is nothing new about the idea of remaking a film, play or TV series. And there is nothing wrong with that in itself. After all adaptation is one of the foundations on which the industry is built. If something has already been filmed/preformed it shouldn’t stop you from doing it, if you think you can do something new, different or truer to the original story. I don’t have anything against the idea of remaking things.
Reinvention can work very well, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica spring to mind. (I’ve never been able to get into Battlestar Galactica but I am reliably informed as to its quality. O.K. Rachael told me.) It can also fall flat on its face like the remake of Survivors. (I’m not going into why I believe Survivors was a failure here. That is a subject for another post.)
I believe the reason that some remakes do work is down to the attitude towards the original of the people who are remaking it. I think you need to start by finding all that was good in the original. All that stuck in your memory, all that you loved. All the things that made you want to remake it in the first place. Once you have that list of positives, you have something to build on which shows respect to what made the original great. Instead of trying to fix all that was wrong or all that you didn’t like. Which means you are looking at the original in a negative way and not with any kind of respect. Respect is the important word.
It is also important to be brave and imaginative about how you approach your rework. If you go about it in a half-hearted way, worrying about offending people, then you are not going to do it justice. If you show it too much reverence, then it is going to stifle your creativity and you’re not going to change it enough. In which case what is the point of the rework? Am I contradicting myself? I don’t think so. What I’m saying is if you decide that you can add something or tell a story differently then you need to have no fear and really go for it. If you don’t think you can do something at least as well as the original, then don’t touch it. Go and do something completely different.
I believe that the same rules apply whether you are re-adapting from the original source or from a previous adaptation. IE: remaking a film/TV series or adapting form the original book/play. I know that adaptation, reviving and remaking are all different things, but they are very closely related. So I’m not worried about talking about them all in the same breath.
I have a couple of videos to illustrate my point. The first is the brilliant Morcombe and Wise breakfast sketch. Enjoy.
The next is a dreadful, half-hearted, pale imitation.
But this is what happens when you really go for it.
I think this has been really well done. And it is obvious to me that the people who made it loved the original. Showing respect. Showing bravery about making changes. Being imaginative. And just having fun with it. Well done to whoever made it.
These last two clips were going to be in a post called “Stuff needn’t be boring”. But I thought that the title was quite boring so I didn’t bother.
The first one is a very simple and imaginative music video that was all over the internet a while back.
The last clip is a straight copy of the above video as performed by four lads in a high school talent show. However, they go for it so completely so whole-heartedly and with such honesty, that instead of being a simple copy, it is a delight. Well done to Matt Bersi, Hieu Tran, Ian Fisher, Stephen Behrens. Enjoy.