The image above is very much how I picture myself when I'm working. The reality is, unfortunately, very different.
2023 was a slow year movie and TV-wise because of the WGA strike. Now that the strike is over, the industry is slowly getting its shit together. No one knows what they want (they never know what they want, and if they tell you, you should always ignore them, but right now they are actually ADMITTING that they don't know what they want), but they do want SOMETHING and, as 2024 gets underway, they will hopefully want more of it.
The prevailing wisdom is that we will see a contraction in the industry, because studios and streamers have been spending too much money on titles and they need to calm down. While they definitely HAVE been spending too much money, I don't think we're yet back to a "buy low, sell high" mentality. For reasons passing understanding, the people in charge still seem to think that throwing a gigantic stack of cash at a bad idea, simply because it's based on existing IP, is smart business. It's going to take a while for them to realise that it's not. Who am I kidding? They're never going to realise it.
Meanwhile, I suspect that a few much lower-budget things will get under the wire and some of them will make a lot of money and so there will be some new players in town who are at least a few months, or even a few years, away from getting suckered into playing at the high-stakes table with the money-burning idiots.
I am finishing off a movie re-write for a European studio over the next couple of weeks, then I'm into a US movie script which has been waiting for the end of the strike to get moving, a TV pilot for Amazon which I am STILL not allowed to talk about (it is based on IP, but it's IP that I helped create and which also hasn't yet seen the light of day - hopefully that will happen in 2024 too), a new spec movie script that I've been noodling with for a while, and the next season of Aldrich Kemp, which still doesn't have a name beyond Aldrich Kemp 3 (I really made a rod for my own back with the whole "Who Is..."/"Who Killed..." thing, especially as Aldrich isn't even the main character in the show.)
Those writing projects take me to the end of Spring, and then we'll record Aldrich in the Summer.
At some point 2024 may also see me directing a movie. We've been putting this together over at Storypunk for the last few months and it is now looking promising. I've teased it before as a movie set in the Pleasant Green universe but, it being New Year's Eve, and me being bored of pointless secrecy in the movie industry, I'm now cheerfully going to jinx the whole thing by revealing that it is BAD MEMORIES. Someone will undoubtedly be pissed off with me for telling you that, but I'm sure they'll get over it.
I was writing a novel for a chunk of last year, and then it got put on the backburner because the strike ended and I needed to do other things. I want to go back to it and at least get a first draft done, so that goes on the schedule at some point.
There are also a couple of other movie scripts I want to write on spec, but I'll have to wait and see when the opportunity presents itself to get to those.
At Storypunk, we have a really strong slate of movies, audio fiction and TV shows that we'll be going out with this year. It's tough getting stuff off the ground when you're a new company, but we already have a few irons in the fire, so I'm hoping some of these projects will move forward over the next few months too. I'm optimistic that we can put ourselves on the map in 2024.
So that, I think, is all the work stuff that is on deck at the moment. No word yet on another Lovecraft Investigations season. I'm up for it, if we can get the shape of it right, but the BBC's license fee issues might mean there simply isn't the money available.
In the meantime, serious thought is being put into releasing Lovecraft seasons 1-3 as some kind of deluxe limited edition CD box set. There are a couple of rights issues that need to be worked through, and then we need to figure out exactly what the set could comprise and how much it will cost. Watch this space.
No one has really tapped the potential for audio fiction yet, because it's a lot harder to monetise than a weekly non-fiction podcast (and even those aren't making many people rich). Fiction has a longer tail, and a greater cultural impact over time, but we live in a world that demands immediate financial reward and that makes audio fiction a hard sell. Nevertheless, we persist...
Work stuff done, let's turn to the online gubbins. A few weeks ago I said I didn't really want to put out a Cartoon Gravity newsletter any more, at least in the format to which we had all become accustomed. I'm sticking with that for the foreseeable future - being able to write what I want when I want is nice. The bigger pieces get to you via email, the smaller ones go directly onto the site. I'm still not clear if subscribers get notified of that, but you know where it is if you want to browse. (Be aware that me dialling back my social media use means there will often be no external notifications of new posts).
Ideally, I'd like to build more of a community around Cartoon Gravity. I'm not sure how to do that, outside of a Slack or Discord channel, which I'm not sure if I'm up for (and which has had scant take-up in the past). If you have any ideas on this (which can be actioned by someone with zero programming skills) do please let me know.
Development Hell will also continue into 2024, but where is currently in question. I'm led to believe that Substack has a Nazi problem. But then everywhere online has a Nazi problem. I'm going to dig in and see what's what. If Development Hell were to leave Substack, I would probably move it here to Ghost, so it should be a seamless transition for existing subscribers.
One other change I'm looking to make at Development Hell is to give paid subscribers access to "below the fold" stuff. The idea is that, instead of separate paid and free articles, each piece will be free and self-contained with some kind of "bonus material" for those who are paying. I'm not completely sure how this will work yet, but it seems like a fairer system all around.
The Pleasant Green blog has been stagnating since the release of Haunter of the Dark. I'm very aware of this, but I'm getting back on top of it now. The Saltmarsh storyline is a LOT more work than I thought it would be (I don't know why I didn't think it would be hard) - plotting this out is every bit as tricky as designing a Lovecraft Investigations series. I'm trying to get ahead of the outlining now, so that I can start to put up episodes faster. Please bear with me.
I think that just about covers everything. It'll be interesting to look back on this in a couple of months and see just how wrong I was about everything.
In the meantime, enjoy the New Year (if that is something that you plan to enjoy) and my very best wishes for 2024.
Fuck it. Send.