Cartoon Gravity 24

Haunter of the Dark, some thought on British Television, Annie Leibovitz's apartment for sale!

The brief-ish missive today, as I'm heading off on holiday this afternoon and a half-packed suitcase is still sitting by my desk begging for attention.

As you'll be aware by now, The Haunter of the Dark was released last Monday and seems to be going down pretty well, despite the slightly shorter-than-usual running time. I might talk about what happened with that at some point here or on Development Hell. The show is available on BBC Sounds in the UK and on Apple Podcasts (and all other podcast services) worldwide. Tell your friends!

We have no idea yet if/when there will be a Season 5, but we do know that there will be a third season of Aldrich Kemp coming to Radio 4 towards the end of next year, so I need to get writing on that soon.

I'm working out what the back end of 2023 looks like, post holiday, and I think it's going to be busy. There's at least two movie scripts and an Amazon pilot, all with Christmas deadlines, which are going to be filling up the days. Past that, I think I will take a break from work-for-hire and concentrate on creating some new stuff, and focus on building out our company, Storypunk; we have movies and TV and audio scripts that need to get out into the world.

I'm also noodling with the possibility of crowd-funding audio drama. I'm not sure how best to do that yet, or what the uptake would be. Would people chip in for a new Lovecraft Investigations, or another show from the Pleasant Green universe?

As to online "content" (ugh, hate that word), I want to grow both this site and the Development Hell and Pleasant Green spaces. At a certain point, there may even be some kind of amalgamation/consolidation into a more general story-worlds site that could encompass everything, but I'm still figuring out what that would look like. I like the idea of a site where talking about creativity and actually doing it can happen in one place. Certainly there's a lot of crossover in terms of both audience and material between Cartoon Gravity and Development Hell right now, but I am loathe to let go of either one. All thoughts on this welcome.

Productivity-wise (oh come on, you didn't expect me not to talk about that) I am straddling several apps at the moment. Notion is back in pole position for project management since they introduced dependencies and actually made them work. Obsidian is still there, because it's really great for flow and for world-building. Evernote has been a surprising addition to the stack in recent times. It feels like old-tech now, and it may well be in trouble, but really nothing currently beats it for document storage that syncs perfectly across all devices AND works offline.

I've gone away from any kind of one-app-to-rule-them-all idea, at least until Tana develop a proper mobile app, and so I'm now more into a perfect-tool-for-the-job approach, which means a larger stack of apps but nonetheless seems to be more efficient.

Day One just threw up THIS PIECE by Warren Ellis from 2019, which has certainly not aged badly. The last time an enquiry was made by a UK television company about my directing services was probably around 2016. Outside of audio drama, I haven't written anything (or been asked to write anything) in the UK since about the same time. The few meetings I've had about UK projects have been fine; the people were very pleasant, but the follow-up has fizzled out very quickly.

I mean, maybe I'm shit, right? You have to at least consider the possibility that they are simply, and sensibly, filling the slots with more talented people. But, in the meantime, I have worked for Fox, Amazon, Netflix, Paramount, Universal, eOne etc in the US. Some of them even had me back more than once. I even had BBC Studios in the US competing to buy a project from me when their UK counterparts wouldn't even return a phone call. So I don't think it's me. Or rather, it might be me, but for different reasons...

Echoing Warren, I don't think that what I do is appealing to UK broadcasters. And I don't just think that because they're not hammering the door down, but because it has been years since I have found anything (with a few vanishingly rare exceptions) that I have been interested in watching on UK television. We seem to have drifted apart. It also seems, looking at the viewing figures, that UK broadcasters have lost their audience, as well as their talent, to streaming. I don't think this is irreversible, but something has to give.

BBC Television, in particular, as a non-commercial broadcaster, has an incredible opportunity to attract creators of all stripes if they would just give us some creative freedom and support. I don't know anyone who wouldn't gladly take a significant pay cut (and budget cut) to have their own show on air in the UK, done their way. But the truth is, we all currently get far more creative control, freedom and respect (and a lot more money) in the United States. The US showrunner model generally works very well and allows creators to realise their vision. The UK, despite some protestations to the contrary, does not have that model and seems incapable of implementing it.

I also think UK television has a problem with genre. And I think this stems from an inherent, and wildly outdated, snobbery that puts literary fiction on a pedestal and looks down its nose at everything else. Crucially, I don't believe this snobbery is shared by the audience, and that is why they are going elsewhere.

To illustrate the point, I am currently noodling with the idea of making an Aldrich Kemp TV show. To my mind, in the land that gave us The Prisoner, The Avengers, Sapphire and Steel, Doctor Who etc etc, this should be an easy sell. Even if it wasn't an easy sell, it should be pretty easy to get a meeting about it, right? With that cast alone, we should be able to get a meeting. But no, that door got slammed in our face again last week. The reason? "We have lots of similar projects on air right now." Oh really? Where? I'd love that to be true. If it was, I would be watching those shows instead of writing this one.

And so, in the New Year, I'll take an Aldrich Kemp pilot script out in the US. There's certainly no guarantee that it will get picked up there, but I can at least be assured that those companies will read the script promptly, and that a high percentage of them will at least take a meeting on it.

A few choice links to finish...

Annie Leibovitz is selling her Central Park West home - The Spaces

Studio House is a prototype home that is ‘permanently’ relocatable - The Spaces

Thomas Bertie Taylor's abstract photos find beauty in the most mundane of places | Creative Boom

12 magazines and blogs that every photographer should check out | Creative Boom

22 amazing works of art to inspire you from the World Illustration Awards 2023 | Creative Boom

Barbed Wire, Chains, and Shears Cleave Through Delicate Pottery in Glen Taylor's Profound Sculptures — Colossal

And this great piece by Michael Marshall Smith on Keith Richards and writing.

That's all folks. I'm heading to the airport.

Fuck it. Send.