Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Got my first TV Credit - Pablo

So, BIG BIG news everyone: just got my first legit, signed-on-the-dotted-line television credit. I'm writing an episode of the popular CBeebies animated series Pablo (also broadcasts on RTEjr and CBC).

 
The series, produced by Paper Owl Films and CAKE, is about the misadventures of the titular six-year-old, who has autism. The series focuses on how Pablo interacts with the world and how his atypical mind can make seemingly mundane things like clothes, baths and toys feel like great conundrums.

It's a great honour to be working on Pablo, having been diagonsed on the spectrum as a kid. I wish I had something like this when I was growing up (and I doubt I'm alone in that, given we're on a second series now). Naturally, this (hopefully) won't be the last, as I've continued to pitch ideas, some further along in development then others.

Now, not to get overly schmaltzy, but I have to extend a big thanks to several people: first, to my wonderful script editor Andrew Brenner, who has been very helpful and supportive; to Helen Stroud over at Collingwood&Co., who introduced us and was my 'Yes'; to Dominic Carver and my tutors at Met Film School who helped me create and hone the spec that lead to this.

When further arises, you'll be the first to know.,.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Abel Diaz - Complete Credits

Just a little record I keep of what I've done, on top of my little IMDB page (and will still keep even after that, as its reliability is notoriously unwieldy at the best of times). Stuff both on-screen and off, for your perusal.

Film/TV Credits:
  • 2019: Pablo (TV, 2x11mins, CBeebies/Paper Owl Films). Pre-school, animation. A 6 yr. old boy with autism explores the world in his own unique way.
- #81 Headache Volcano: Pablo has a funny feeling in his head when he plays on a hot afternoon, and it won't go away.
- #94 Oink Cluck Neigh: Pablo doesn’t want to leave the city farm, so he decides to become an animal and live there!
  • 2018: Wrapped Up (short film, 15 mins.) Dark comedy. A lovestruck finds herself in deep when she kills her boyfriend, who was sleeping with her brother.
  • 2017: Creative Access: Bobette’s Story (Promo, 2 mins.) A recruitment video for Creative Access (a service that enables B.A.M.E youth into internships in media industries), centring on one of their success stories, theatre manager Bobette. Link to film.
  • 2015: Spiderfly (short film, 5 mins.) Romantic thriller. Two lawyers, following the closure of a murder case, embark on a ‘killer’ affair of their own. Available at: https://vimeo.com/139926786
Film (Not as writer):
  • 2015: Silver (short film, 10 mins. Dir. Zay Basile. Script consultant, credited under ‘Special Thanks’). A tale of love between two living statues in the heart of London.
Non Film/TV:
  • 2018: Cull (One-Act Play), performed at the Oast Theatre, Tonbridge, as part of New Writing triple-bill. A dystopic drama that looks at overpopulation in the near-future.
  • 2016: Doctor Who: Iron Joe (published short story for charity anthology Time Shadows). The Sixth Doctor and Peri travel aboard the newly inaugurated Transcontinental Railroad, only to come face to face with the ultimate terror of the West: a bandit made of metal known only as ‘Iron Joe’.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Reference Books - The Writer's Secret Weapon

For a lot of writers, it's a pain: ''I don't want to do homework, I just want to write!''

But, as discussed last article, the old addage of 'write what you know' can only help to a point. But where do you start research: any subject can be broad and look rather daunting from the outside. How do you begin to tackle proper police procedure or modern medical practice or the Napoleonic Wars?

Internet, right? Well, not really: while the options are nigh-limitless, it also means you could get easily overwhelmed by all the search results. Within that comes sites of varying credibility, the always debatable Wikipedia and even the differences between countries - police in the States are quite unlike our local bobbies, for example.

What is needed is a guide, a lense that will focus where to start and, from there, expand. Reference books are just such a tool: tomes devoted to specific subjects that will tend to cover a little bit of everything, giving you plenty of places to then dig further on Google or Bing. It's actually kind of incredible they aren't talked about more often by writers, blogs, courses or just in general discourse.


But what do some of them actually offer?
  • The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure by Michael O'Bryne and The Real CSI : A Foresnics Handbook by Kate Bendelow. These are as good as anything for getting started in writing about crime, providing a nice overview of police hierachy, investigations, crime scenes and the plethora of possible crimes you can use.
  • The Writer's Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction by Benjamin Sobieck: want to know how guns, knives are other weapons work and are supposed to be like? This military vet had you covered with easy-to-read yet comprehensive detail on all types of weaponry.Plus, he deubunks common myths and exaggerations. such as the uselessless of pumping and cocking guns to be threatening.
  • The Writer's Guide to Psychology by Carolyn Kaufman. Too often, insanity is used as a lazy crux by writers to write dull, nonsensical villains who exist just to be bad. Or worse, misappropriating conditions such as schizophernia and giving them nonexistant effects like split personalities. Well, Kaufman's here to combat that with a tome that covers all the major mental illnesses and, more handily, also provide coutner-examples to common misuses of the conditions.
  • Oxford Handbooks: this ever-respectable label is most notable for its lengthy series geared towards healthcare, such as Clinical Medicine and Clinical Diagnosis. These are primarily intended for students in these fields but still contain a wealth of useful intel on the how and why of medicine, surgery, hospitals and proper treatment. They're so good they even got namedropped in the BBC miniseries Trust Me.
  • Spycraft: Essentials by Bayard and Holmes and Spycraft Secrets: An Espionage A-Z by Nigel West. Fancy knowing about the real life 007s, what their jobs are really like and the strange lingo? Well, these books'll have you covered, though Bayard and Holmes' book is geared more in favour of the States and organizations like the CIA.
  • The For Dummies series: hey, they have the title for a reason! Well written for novices and very detailed, these books have endured so long for a good reason and are the most common and easiest to find of any on this list. There exists one for just about every topic out there, no matter how random or ridiculous it could be. After all, they did books on sex, beekeeping and Youtube Channels. What's next? A book about Freemasons?
And that was a super-quick skim. Just typing in 'reference' in Amazon will yield loads more results that cover almost every subject you could want to know. You'll also often find tons of them at charity shops and boot sales for ridiculously low prices, since they're seen as just disposable 'general interest' and thus, not percieved as valuable as novels, comics or even their more respected breathren, encyclopedias.

Also handy - autobiographies: what better way to learn than from someone who's been and done it? You can't take it word for word, you'd need to buy the rights for that, but these two can help guide your explorations and even help inspire a few characters.

Monday, 6 August 2018

The Research Conundrum - How much to do for scripts?

''Write what you know'' is quintessential writing advice: Start from your own life, experiences and memories. From there, you can mine for thrills, chills and laughs. But after a point, it stops yielding. If you want to write a procedural and you're not a police officer or detective... what do you do? Or being a super-spy, or a rocket scientist?

RESEARCH! Good old fashioned studying is there to help you with your woes. In our information age, education and knowledge have never been easier to find and access. Or maybe you're the old fashioned sort who likes going to museums and libraries to study: Also a valid method. You fill up notepads, diaries and Word docs with all sorts of tidbits to help you create a world and characters you can draw from.

But then comes the question: how much is too much? 

When does research becoming delaying and excusing not writing? At what point does your story become a documentary or worse, an essay? On the one hand, William Goldman spent several years researching the Old West to write Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid; by contrast, David Henry Hwang, who wrote the acclaimed Broadway hit M. Butterfly, said he only researched what he absolutely needed and then got on with writing.

This is a question that's been, I imagine, especially on the minds of those who wish to write period pieces and stories with a lot of technical jargon, such as medical dramas, spy thrillers and anything involving scientists. Here's the thing: like most writing questions, it's not so much a matter of right or wrong, as everyone's method is different. Rather, it's a question of priority. What is your story really about, and what does it require?


Consider the following trifecta when pondering this question:
  • AUTHENTICITY: How 'real' are you trying to make your story? Are you going for a complete tell-all recreation of events, or just enough to give you a credible platform from which you can tell the story that really interests you? How heightened or fantastical will it be? Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Carribbean are both period pieces with well-realized worlds that are researched, but they're not concerned overtly with historic fidelity or recreation: they just give the story a world to play with.
  • ACCESSIBILITY: At what point does this information become irrelevant for the reader/audience and, worse, could create a roadblock? Is there a simpler way to say or name something so a reader doesn't have to break off and go find an encyclopedia (or Wiki it)? Deadwood is a classic example: its unmistakable roostersucking dialogue was anachronistic, but it was done because actual curses of the time would seem silly to a modern ear and thus, lose a lot of their vulgar impact and harm the drama.
  • NECESSITY: Following from the first two, relating to setting and clarity of information, do you need this specific thing to make your story work? Does your character arc or theme hinge on this detail? Do you need to mention the extact brand of shoe polish Winston Churchill used in order to write about his nature in office? Do you need to name a specific make of Rolls-Royce, if it somehow serves to inform that character, or just put up the date and say it's a Rolls? Remember, the more details you put in, the bulkier your action lines and, by extension, screenplay will be, which will have a knock-on effect on pacing.
Never forget, your plot and character is your first priority. So long as they're good, the audience will forgive anachronisms and, to be frank, most are not versed in random cultural or historical minutiae. Saving Mr. Banks was so touching and funny you forget P.L. Travers actually hated everything that happened, or Tombstone so exciting you'll not recall that the real Wyatt Earp was not the clean-cut good-natured Kurt Russell.

But okay, that's what to do during the research: what about a starting point, since the internet can be a giant ocean to explore? Next time, I'll tell you about your new best friend(s).