Friday, 18 April 2014

Five projects: why I'm only now writing my second blog post of 2014

Where does this lead?
I never have enough time to do everything, but so far this year, I’ve used all my spare time to do the things I want to do. I’m balancing several projects at different stages of development. It’s mid-April, though, and my first blog post was this week – about spoilers and Shakespeare and “Game of Thrones”.

And though I’ve been to see some amazing theatre this year – so far the highlights have been “Neighbourhood Watch” at Melbourne Theatre Company and The Rabble’s “Frankenstein” at the Malthouse – 2014 has been mostly focused on writing. My writing and collaborations. Productions and pre-production. Applications and workshops and improvisation.

I’ve never really believed in writers’ block. I always have more projects that I’d like to work on than time in the day, week or year. Ideas that have bubbled away in the back of my mind for months and years before I’ve committed words to a page. Sometimes I can’t make the small things work. Lines or dialogue or scenes. But I tend to always have ideas waiting to be realised.

And the list of projects I want to get to next grows ever-longer. For example, there’s a new play I want to write – but I don’t think I’ll find the time this year. Uncharacteristically, I wrote the first few pages of (working title) “Asylum” just to get those first few images and ideas onto the page, before putting it on the back-back-back burner. And turned to all the projects that are in full swing.

The Dead End

A feature film script that is still in its very early development stages. I’ve been working on this project with a director and a producer since last year, but after beating out a very rough first draft last year, we’ve decided to step back and take a different approach to the material. There are elements of that script we want to keep, but we want to devise a different story altogether.

For a long time, I put off writing a feature film script. There are two or three in the bottom drawer, that shall never see the light of day. But they feel like training, while The Dead End will be the marathon.

The House of Goodbyes

I’ve been playing with this idea with actor/producer Wallis Murphy-Munn for a while and this is the year we decided to get the ball rolling. Though we’re keeping the details of this project close to our chest, we do have some really great actors on board to help us workshop ideas and characters around our central conceit and concept.

A couple of weekends ago we spent a full day with six actors and lots of improvisations based around the premise I gave them and some vague character outlines. Then I let them go and they worked magic. Excited to have finally kickstarted this one.

Sonnigsburg

A six part TV series I’m developing with writer/producer Fiona Bulle and Alex Scott and Meaghan Bell. Channel 31 are interested in looking at the pilot, which is scheduled for filming in July. But for the first four months of the year so far, the four of us have developed the characters and story in a “writers room” model – which is a new way or working for all of us.

Film and theatre are all very collaborative, but plotting a TV series around a table with three other writers – pushing each other to make it the best it can be, is really exhilarating. If I was working on a project like this by myself, I expect it would have taken a lot longer to get to this point – and be nowhere near the shape it’s in now.

Casting is soon and then I can talk more about what the show is about – and maybe give you a sneak peek at some footage we’ve already shot.

A Modern Superwoman

2013 saw two readings of this work – one in Melbourne and one in Adelaide. This year will see a third research reading much further afield, and plans are afoot for a full weeks’ workshop later in the year. The team that’s been assembled for this project is amazing, but there’s not much more I can say about what will happen next. But it’s been at the forefront of my mind for much of the past twelve months and will continue to be for the next twelve months.

Who Are You Supposed To Be?

After its debut at Edinburgh Fringe last year to great reviews and solid audiences – and a short successful run in London a few months later, this show will have its Australian premiere at Melbourne Fringe in September/October. We’re currently searching for a venue and planning marketing strategies. And I’m going to settle in sometime this weekend to do a little bit of a re-write, having learned things from the two previous seasons – and knowing that some pop culture references are very well dated a year later.

I’m really excited about bringing this show to Melbourne, with Edinburgh/London star Jennifer Lusk being joined by the wonderfully nerdy Rob Lloyd.

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I could talk about a short play, another full-length play, a short film and another TV series idea I’ve had. But these are all mere figments, compared to the five projects above.

As always, thanks to my collaborators, who keep me passionate about projects, even when the work seems difficult and the future still hazy.

It’s nice to be busy, but boy am I glad for this four-day weekend. Which, sure, will be filled with writing and re-writing and a Sonnigsburg meeting – but at least I’ve got time to sleep in and make my second blog post for the year.

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