Friday, April 30, 2010

Level up your humour with Microsoft

Via the always-interesting Alice, it appears Microsoft have added 'Humour' (or rather 'humor') to their set of professional development competencies

Rather worryingly, I'm not sure I even qualify for a 'Basic' level of 'humor' ("Is conscientious about timing and setting for humor"? Erm, define 'conscientious'....) Certainly the 'Overdoing Humor' section is worryingly familiar:

Overdoing Humor
May disrupt group process with untimely or inappropriate humor.
Yes. We call those 'script meetings'

May use humor to deflect real issues and problems
But if we addressed real issues and problems, there would be deaths, or worse: raised voices.

May use humor to criticize others and veil an attack.
Well you can't go criticizing people openly, they might notice.

May use humor to deliver sarcasm or cynicism.

May be perceived as immature or lacking in appropriate seriousness.

His/her humor may be misinterpreted.
Actually this does happen.

So in conclusion: er, 'pissflaps' again.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ben Stephenson Interview

Writers Room has an interesting interview with BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, Ben Stephenson, which is worth a read if you have anything heading in that direction at the moment, or are hoping to in the future.

Some interesting stuff about how iPlayer has affected viewing figures (short answer: not as much as you'd think):

The iPlayer's an amazing invention, but the majority of television is still watched live. Something like 89% of television is watched live. If you get 200,000 on iPlayer - which is still a lot and can add to the overnight - it's a relatively minor amount overall. Particularly for mainstream... It's different for Being Human, which got about a million on the overnight and then we added about 500,000 through repeats and iPlayer.

I think Skins and Shameless actually get more from their non-original Tx, although some of that is still linear repeats. But mainstream television certainly is, contrary to popular belief, still very much watched at 9 o'clock on the day it transmits. Catch up obviously is increasing, but if you get three million for a show on BBC1 at 9 o'clock, you're not suddenly going to find that you actually reach 6 million. And the pick up on iPlayer for Five Days is no more than it is for anything else, which I was quite surprised by. I thought it'd be way up.

We got six and a half million for Five Days, ten million for Doctor Who, sixteen million for EastEnders. ITV got nine million for Unforgiven. Mass audiences still want to watch TV live. They still want to find something as it happens, they still want to feel that sense of liveness and freshness. I'm sure it will continue to diversify and the figures will continue to get smaller but audiences still want to turn on.

Full Ben Stephenson interview

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Stan Freberg: "Yellow Rose of Texas"

For no particular reason, other than I couldn't find my "Best of Stan Freberg" CD, so found this on YouTube, and then the CD turned up. It's not a great story, and there's no video, just the audio, but man I do still love this song.

"I feel like, volume-wise, it's just a little much, what you're doing there".

Monday, April 19, 2010

'Let's blame Rolf Harris'

I, and some of the Green wing writers, and two of the not-Green Wing writers, are maybe about two thirds of the way through writing Campus, which is the thing that was piloted last year. It's being written sort of in the Green Wing way, which is to say we have some very vague ideas for plots, then we all write quite sketchy sort of scenes that hopefully fill those plot gaps, but also are ideally funny in their own right. This method does have quite a high attrition rate for material, which combined with me writing in sketch mode rather than normal scene mode means I end up operating a sort of 'fire and forget' policy. Which leads to this kind of phone call:

PRODUCER: Just wondering if you explain the end of this scene to me.

I look up the scene. Two people are talking for a bit, and it ends with one of them saying 'Let's blame Rolf Harris'. Which doesn't really tie in with what they're talking about. At all.

ME: Um...
PRODUCER: (helpfully) I think perhaps you missed a couple of lines.

I stare at the scene again, trying to think of a couple of lines that link the penultimate line (something about a sexual vigilante called 'The Mucky Whale') to the line 'Let's blame Rolf Harris'.

ME: I'm not sure I did. I think... at the time, that seemed like a reasonable ending.
PRODUCER: (gently) Is it possible you're not re-reading these before you send them?
ME: That is certainly a possibility.
PRODUCER: Could you perhaps give that a go?
ME: (warily) I will try.

Later it occurs to me I don't even read them while I'm writing them.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Writer's Guild backs the D.E. Act

(just like they did product placement)

Really well-written post here by Nathaniel Tapley, expressing his disappointment at the Writer's Guild backing of the eye-rollingly poor Digital Economy Act.

Quote here:

"It is a crying shame that, in order to appear to robustly support the rights of creators, the WGGB feels the need to support measures which assume guilt rather than innocence, and are fundamentally flawed and unjust in the ways in which they are to be applied.

It is more of a shame that Mr Corbett (President of the WG) either does not understand, or pretends not to notice the difference between what the Bill does, and what he says it does: “introducing automatic penalties against people who use the internet to download music, films, books or whatever in breach of copyrights held by creators, publishers, producers, etc.”

Mr Corbett responds here.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Digital Economy Bill then.

Over at her work blog, Patroclus explains why, quite apart from its many other failings, the rushed-through Digital Economy bill is likely to spell disaster for local (in this case Cornish) buinesses such as B&B's or web cafes who thoughtlessly provide free wi fi for their customers.

One of the least-encouraging moments of the parliamentary debate: Labour MP Derek Wyatt, not appearing to know the difference between email and the internet. Still, at least he voted against the bill, unlike my Lib Dem MP, Julia Goldsworthy, who sent us a letter telling us of her concern about the bill, but failed to vote for or against it.