Flat Packing – a lesson in re-working ideas

Interest declared. I am only writing this blog in a bid to get you to watch my video and buy my song. But there’s a lesson in it. Not the view/purchase, that’d just be you showing what a good person you are and doing something nice for once in your life. Look at all the free content I’ve provided. And it’s a good song, so buy the blimmin’ thing. Is that a deal? Excellent. Here’s  the link to buy Flat Packing Anger Management on iTunes.

Why is there a lesson in it? Well, this song and the subsequent album came about because a couple of years of ago something amazing happened – Channel 4 commissioned me to make a short pilot – or taster as we often call it in televisual show business – of a spec musical sitcom script I’d written. As you can imagine I leapt around the room when I got that call and screamed with excitement. I was surprised because it’s quite a risky idea, but they liked the script and if someone likes something I’ve done then I like them, they’re ace. Genocidal maniac gives me a five star review? Cool!

The commission meant recording a few songs with a full band and working with my musical production genius of a friend, Gus Bousfield, who not only used to work with me in TV, but who also writes, performs and produces brilliant music. His band Gurgles have become faves of Stuart Maconie on BBC 6Music. Nice work, Gus.

As a creative process it was immensely challenging but incredible fun and I felt very privileged to have been given even a small budget to produce the music and then shoot some scenes to show how the script would come to life. We cast Diana Vickers and David Elms who made a really great couple and Javone Prince as a crazy ex-boyfriend of Diana’s character. It’s rare that a pilot feels perfect – you want it to be brilliant and guarantee a series, but even if it’s close to doing that, it should at the very least be something you can build on to develop an idea further – and this was no exception. The cast was great, lots of elements worked and overall I was really happy with the result. There were certainly things I’d change moving forward but I was proud of something I’d put a huge amount of effort into.

I’ve used this from the taster as a video for the single….

The reception to it was positive at the channel, but in the end like most projects it didn’t move forward. Gutting, but them’s the breaks. Pick your self up, dust yourself down and scream into the abyss. The chances of me getting the project as far as I did were slim, they always are. Of course, I think it would have made a really good series but the competition is incredibly tough and I always see rejections as part of the process. Even the most talented people have to be committed, persevere and bounce back from rejection to succeed.

What I decided to do, though, was use the songs I’d recorded as the basis for an album. I’d enjoyed the process of recording with a band so much that I thought, ‘what the hell, keep on rocking.’ I’ve got some good songs really well performed and arranged, so it would be a shame to just hide them away on a hard drive.

I think there’s a lesson in this somewhere. Maybe it’s that having completed something that you think works or has something so it, then it’s worth looking at different avenues to move it forward. I don’t believe it’s a good to focus on one idea for one medium for too long once it’s been rejected by everyone. It is good to be passionate and committed to an idea; you should care for a horse that’s living, treat a horse that’s injured or unwell with love and attention, but as for a dying one… put it out of its misery and bury it in your bottom drawer until all the commissioning editors have moved on. Then you can whip the horse repeatedly until it comes back to life. What you should never do is keep flogging a dead idiom.

But if you can find another format or arena where your horse can live on, then feed it some hay, strap on your saddle and ride off into the sunset.

My short album about stuff can be pre-ordered on iTunes now.

We’re In This Together Trailer

In a bid to build excitement in the multi-pronged release of We’re In This Together as a song and a short story I have made a trailer. The story is available for pre-order (scroll down a bit and there’s a link on the right hand side) and they’ll both be unleashed on 29th Jan to a suspecting public. Here’s the vid…

Some of you may recognise this from a show I did a while back (okay, it was four years ago, but I’ve been busy). I’ve been playing the song live recently and it always goes down a treat, so I’ve recorded it properly with the brilliant Augustin Bousfield of the mighty Gurgles. And turned the show into a short and eminently digestible story.

Huge thanks to the incredibly talented John Griffiths of LUA Design for the brilliant artwork.

Things I am doing…

Hello. It feels like the right time to tell you some news. That sounds portentous. It’s not, I’m just struggling for an opening sentence.

I’m up to a few things at the moment on top of the usual reading, writing, developing and commissioning editor bothering. So I thought I would let you know here in the neglected news section of the website.

1) I’m working on an album. Of proper, but mildly amusing, music. Buoyed by the success of my song High as a Kite on Spotify*. It’ll feature a newly recorded version of High as a Kite alongside a host of block rocking beats. I’m also releasing the new High as a Kits on digital platforms only (because I don’t want to clog my house with boxes of CDs) on 6th November. Excited? I can feel your anticipation from here.

2) Some years ago I did an Edinburgh show about how I kidnapped the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Which is something that absolutely happened in a semi-fictional sense. That is to say it was made up with some truths. I liked the material and one of the songs I played still goes down well when I play it today, so I am writing it as a short ebook. A novella, novelette or something. I plan to release it early December for a token cost for you to read and enjoy. It’ll be called In This Together, obviously.

I played the song at a lovely gig, Vin’s Night In, recently where audience members are encouraged to draw pictures of the acts to win exciting (wonderfully terrible) prizes. One talented person decided to do this…

George Osborne VNI Pic

How good is that?

3) Have you tried to contact me? I get many messages on here and I do try to respond. Most people just want someone to read their script and, yes, it can be difficult. There are a couple of blog posts of mine that can help a bit – Help I Need Somebody and Infotunity Knocks - so do give them a read. As ever, you probably won’t get a reply if you just email saying ‘Hey can you read my script?’ but I will try if you’ve been polite and said nice things. Thankfully most people do and it’s really appreciated. I’ve had some lovely messages recently, so thanks for those. They’re appreciated.

I hope that’s interesting and useful. I’d better plough on through all the stuff I’ve got to do now.

Thanks.

*It’s had more than ten thousand streams on Spotify, which is very impressive for a little known ‘artist.’ Less impressive when you discover that the vast majority of these are coming from confused Norwegian fans of indie band Highasakite.