Looking Back Part 2
The thread on the last entry ‘Don’t Look Back’ was hilarious, especially the way it morphed from Liv Tyler to Andy Murray, so I thought I should continue. The photos above span thirty years. (I think the one with Doug ‘Pinhead’ Bradley is on the shoot for our dentist horror short with Charlie Boorman.) The best part of ageing is the gradual return to invisibility – until I was forty too much was judged by my appearance, and reviews talked about my grooming as much as my writing. Newspapers still do this with young female writers, and sadly there are some female writers who play up to it.
Meanwhile, the film versions of various books were optioned and cast with different stars before being written, rewritten, then junked. I had eight separate scripts for ‘Roofworld’, most of them rubbish. One of them started with Nazi U-boats surfacing in the Thames (no, me neither). Five scripts were produced for ‘Spanky’ – including one brilliant one by Guillermo del Toro. ‘Psychoville’ and ‘Disturbia’ scripts were both written by me, and I liked them a lot, but no-one was interested. The version with Jude collapsed as he announced his divorce. The director of ‘Psychoville’, Dominic Anciano, became so disillusioned by the whole process that he took early retirement and moved to Ibiza. That’s the effect that working in film has on people. Actually, ‘Breathe’ was very nearly filmed, and the script is terrific – but currently without an option.
Hollywood executives would phone me up at 3:00am to tell me that my script was in a safe pair of hands, and there was me thinking ‘You can’t even work out the time difference, why would I think it’s safe with you?’
Having a film made drastically changes your career. Your next book usually sells for a million. I’ve come this close *holds up thumb and forefinger* twice and fairly close about six times. At some point you stop caring because you’re told so many contradictory things, or the person who options your work shows such a staggering lack of understanding of it that you shrug and take the (minuscule) cheque.
With film the money rises exponentially, rather as in roulette. The odds steepen with each step, and you are promised your big wodge on first day of principal photography, then on theatrical release. I have friends who have never published a book or made a film, who have become rich doing rewrites on films that were never made.
And there are hierarchies within writing – scriptwriters want to be novelists, popular novelists want to get good reviews and writers who go wherever their art takes them want popular success. And everyone wants a film made. Most friends who have had a TV series produced from a book have hated the result, or have been in television to start with.
Some of this will covered in ‘Film Freak’, due out next April. At the moment I’m still checking it for libel!