My first radio interview will be broadcast tomorrow Tuesday 26th July, 1530hrs BBC Radio 4. What’s the aural equivalent of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’? Probably ‘poke your finger in your ear to scoop the wax out’. Although if your ears are fairly clean you won’t miss it all as my bit was going to be about five minutes long.
It came as a big surprise. That tremendous journalist, comic and role model Timandra Harkness got in touch to talk about how incongruous cinematic moments can throw us out of the film’s story world. We’ve all groaned at plot holes and continuity errors but what about when a filmmaker does this sort of thing deliberately? What’s going on and why? And why was the tremendous journalist, comic and role model Timandra Harkness asking me these sorts of questions?
The Human Zoo looks at current events through the lens of psychology. This episode is called News of An Atrocity, the Psychology of Rare Events and looks at why we are more attuned to the dangers of exceptional situations, such as acts of terrorism, than to more everyday threats such as a car crash.
Part of the programme looks at how we use stories to make sense of the world around us. How the patterns, rhythms and themes of a constructed world help us deal with the fears and uncertainties of real life and contribute to our well being. That was where I fitted in although I will have to listen to the programme myself to remember exactly what I said. I know there was talk about Doctor Who, and the importance of getting the right breed of cow in your costume drama and I may even have said “Verfremdungseffekt”. ‘m pretty sure I mentioned Gumball, Ned Stark’s death and David Lynch, although possibly not in that order.
And we came up with the title of my forthcoming Screenwriting manual: “Bury the Wizard.”
Thing is, I didn’t know I had a forthcoming screenwriting manual. Another example of how life is full of plot holes.
For the first time in several years, the world of children’s media have things to celebrate this Christmas.
– The Animation and Games tax relief which will help our production sector compete with the rest of the world and ensure more home grown content for our children.
– Ofcom and the ASA’s swift implementation of the Bailey review’s recommendations, which will help put the brakes on the sexualisation and commercialisation of our children
– www.parentport.org.uk, which offers parents one-stop access to all the UK’s media regulators.
However, there are still many challenges in 2013, especially for Children’s theatre, fine arts, music and dance which have been endangered by changes in Education and cuts to public arts funding.
So whether you and your family settle down to watch the BBC’s Christmas Doctor Who, or C4’s The Snowman and The Snowdog, or watch a performance of The Nutcracker, or your local pantomime, please remember that Children’s Arts and Media are not just for Christmas….
With all good wishes for a peaceful and prosperous New Year,
Did you see the BAFTAs last night? I was so pleased to see Steven Moffat receive the 2012 Television Special Award. What I really admire about his work is that he writes for everyone and has done much to make family viewing cool again. Yes I know Sherlock is not exactly family viewing but it is the kind of telly I would have badgered my parents to let me stay up after bedtime and watch; the kind of programme that they could’ve held over me as a reward for being good.
Then there’s Doctor Who. Yes yes, Russell T. Davies resurrected it and gave the tardis wings but when I teach screenwriting, it is a Steven Moffat episode that I use to illustrate so many top tips and handy hints.
I remember a particularly cool group of first year film students who decided they knew everything already. They were hard work and I just don’t do cool so hadn’t a hope of establishing a rapport. I soldiered on and showed them the first episode of Doctor Who: The Empty Child. As the titles went up, I could hear the sneers from the back row. I kept watching the screen: I might die in this class but at least the telly was good. That’s when Mr Moffat became my hero: by the end the sneers had turned to silent fear. These hardened twenty one year olds were genuinely moved, surprised and scared by the story. Being a two parter they were desperate to find out what happened next. And, seeing as I had the DVD, I was now their favourite person.
Good writing feeds the mind, stirs the spirit and excites the body; engaging our intellect, our emotions and our hormones. We question, we care, we get an adrenaline rush. When it does all these things, it has that power to engage an audience with other people’s lives, on screen and then in real life. It makes us connect; makes the world a better place.
So congratulations Steven: richly deserved.