Tag Archives: michael palin

Telling the story in different media

MarvinPhil: Last week I went to see The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show.

It was, quite frankly, brilliant. If you know the radio version and get the chance, go and see it. You don’t have to dress up in an Arthur Dent dressing gown (about half a dozen did) or take a towel (a few more) but it’s a great night out with the real cast. Apart from the ones who are dead obviously, but the replacements are very good although Miriam Margolyes was perhaps a bit to thespy for the book compared to the Peter Jones original.

What has this to do with writing books?

Well, Hitchikers exists in lots of different media. To date these are:

Each version of the story is the same. But different. For example, in the radio and book versions you can have characters that change shape on a spaceship. The BBC might have been able to solve the problem of a character with two heads in 1980, but they baulked at this so Douglas Adams wrote a version that was filmable within the budget and technical possibilities.

The terrible, terrible film is written by morons and we shall talk no more about it.

On stage, most of the effects you might require for a show aren’t possible. Space is Big, really big after all. So the adaptors cherry picked elements from the story and strung them together in a way that told the story but could be realised live. To be honest, doing as though the cast were recording a radio show but with special effects and costumes was a genius move too.

The computer games is probably the most interesting. Although it follows the main story, since you play the role of Arthur Dent (the main character) it behaves differently. You can explore the world in much greater detail than is possible in a normal narrative. For example, it’s important to look under the bed in the game but we never get to do this in radio, book or TV series. Of course if you are in control, doing this is interesting. On the page, who cares unless it is essential to the story?

What you have to do is make best use of the media to tell the story in the best way possible. The story is the backbone of everything, and if it’s rubbish no amount of budget, bells or whistles will make it better. Start with a good ‘un and you can’t go far wrong. Well unless you produce the second worst film in existence, but I said I wouldn’t talk about that.

Is this relevant to team nolanparker?

Maybe. At one of the places I work (portfolio career, I do lots of things now) one of the guys is a screenwriter. A proper one who’s been on courses and everything. He’s working on a secret screenplay at the moment that stands a good chance of getting him, what he describes as the Holy Grail, a credit on a film. Chatting in the pub a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that we had written a great book. I generously suggested that if he could bag us a film deal, the adapting credit was his.

I guess we just have to sit back and wait.

The thing is I can see how The Book would work on the screen. Both Candice and I write by imagining the scene in our heads. We have a pretty good idea what the characters look like. We even, after a little discussion a few weeks ago, have the perfect role for Michael Palin. So perfect in fact that I really want to make this happen before he gets too old to drive a tractor!

In the past we’ve even discussed a stage show. Like Hitchikers, we can’t do the thing as a play. Instead, we have an idea about starting with a reading of a few paragraphs and then getting on with the story of how we came to get into writing. There will be much banter at each others expense. One of use will make numerous costume changes and we’ll even have time for a bit of Q&A at the end before shuffling the audience out to do a quick book signing.

Maybe Douglas Adams started something. Is the future one story but spewed out over lots of media?

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Fifty shades of Grey – Again

 

Candice:  No I am not obsessed with this book but I noted in today’s press that the two main cast members have been announced.

I have to say I haven’t heard of either of them.  “Britain’s Charlie Hunnam and US actress Dakota Johnson have landed the coveted lead roles in the big-screen version of erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.” to quote the BBC.   It’s nice to see a brit in there but they aren’t setting me on fire.  But then, should they as it’s probably better if it isnt Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as they would take over the film.  Not that I am going to see it, the book was so bad I don’t think I could watch 2 hrs of people dry humping each other with not alot of dialogue and plot. One thing that did make me think about going was the fact it is to be directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, artist and director of ‘Nowhere Boy’, a film I did enjoy.

Phil and I have discussed before who would play the characters in our book if it were made into a film.  I actually think I would probably go for someone not so famous so they didn’t distract from the plot, but maybe the odd famous cameo in there.  I’ve just seen a trailor for new TV programme on BBC Two called ‘The Wipers’ – the content wasnt was interested me but the fact they threw in some famous faces in the middle of the main cast.  My favourite man (TM) Michael Palin was in there.  I’ve set the TIVO for it just because of him.

These days it’s all about who can ‘open’ a film which isn’t really fair on all those budding actors who can’t break into the world of acting. But we all want what we know.  But I think if you can throw in some things people are comfortable with they will accept other unknowns.  The same goes for books, as long as we have some reference to another author that we like – ‘in the style of Marian Keyes‘ then we might pick up something we don’t know.

Perhaps I should shoe horn a role for Michael Palin into the book, one so I can meet him again, and two so it might get the book and therefore film off the ground!

 

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Talking to a ‘National Treasure’

Me and Michael PalinCandice: Phil and I were lucky enough to attend an event at Stratford Literary Festival last week, presented by Michael Palin.  To quote the lady who introduced him, everyone else Pales in comparison (ha ha).

I’ve been a fan of Michael’s for years, as our six form common room would always be full of the sounds of boys chuckling to ‘The Knights who say Ni‘ or ‘The Parrot Sketch‘.  Whether we wanted to be fans or not, we took it in by osmosis.  In fact, it was more the films than the Python TV show as they were on repeat on the TV and we’d sneakily watch them and then spend the next days quoting stuff back.  My one friend took on herself to write down all the words to the song at the start of ‘The Meaning of Life’. Year’s later the same group of female friends who listened at school went to see ‘Spamalot‘ and were quoting sections back to the cast (which they realised as we were in the front row and Lancelot was winking at us as we did it!)

Mr Palin has done alot, from Python to films to some random children’s books and then a travel writer.  It’s quite a varied list, though his presentation his travel shows is always done with tongue firmly in cheek, and I wonder if some times he’s going to break into the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Sitting listening to him talk for an hour, it was less about the art of writing per se but more about the amount of things he’d done. But he gave us snippets of some of the scripts he’d written as well the above mentioned books.  What I didn’t realise he is has actually written two fiction books, the most recent being ‘The Truth’.  As we were running out of time I didn’t get the full gist, but I might have to search this one out. The hour wasnt enough to get in nearly 50 years of experience and anecdotes.  However, he comes across as such a nice chap I could see you walking over to the local pub and carrying on the conversation over a pint!

I’d been set a task by the other half for the evening, as Michael is from Sheffield, the hubby wanted to know who he supported.  Well, while sneaking a cheeky photo, I asked.  ‘United’ was the response, I mentioned Richard was a Wednesday man, but Michael came back and said really either as he always supports his northern roots.  Good answer!

I’m not sure I came away from the event learning any more about writing but I certainly had a good laugh.

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An unashamed plug for Stratford Literary Festival.

 Candice: Last year Phil and I went to the Stratford Literary Festival and enjoyed a talk from three recently published authors.  I work in Stratford upon avon so was pleased to see that my work has decided to get involved in this year’s festival. Why, because it means I might be able to blag some free tickets!  Seriously, its nice to be involved in something local and give them some support, the same reason I do my best to attend shows or plays that friends of mine are in as if we didnt all experiment in these things the world would be a boring place.

Anyway, work is sponsoring at talk by, and I quote, ‘Python, adventurer, travel writer and all round national treasure, Michael Palin‘.

COOL!  I love the Palin.  Even though he is old enough to be my Dad he has a certain something that isn’t exactly sexy but just makes you love him a little bit.  Girls, you understand.  Even more confusing that one should feel like this as he is often seen dressed as a woman or making a tit out of himself trying to dance like the locals.

Anyway, Michael is not the only one appearing at this month-long event, there are lots of other writers of all styles and other events all about things writing.  Phil and I will be doing our best to pop along to a few events and get some more insight into the hallowed world of writing and publishing.

As part of my conversations with our writing buddy Daisy Waugh I’ve mentioned the festival so I’m hoping she might be able to get involved.  If that’s the case we might get to meet her (not stalk her, promise) which would be extra cool.

If you want more information have a look at their site. http://www.stratfordliteraryfestival.co.uk/

Go one, branch out and give it a try.

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