Friday, 21 July 2017

A funny thing happened on the way to the camera

Never say no

They do say never say no, but I don't know who they are. Still there are those who wait to be employed and those for a corner shop to rent and the film and acting game is the same. You can wait for the phone to ring or demand a salary, or make a web series and win awards and get noticed. Ewe are all artists and Picasso did ask for a dollar each time he picked up a paint brush. Enough said, but we have always made and invested in films, and had we not many of the pop videos we made back in the day would never have turned into making The Krays, I would never have been able to give myself such a huge credit at the front of the film as Stunt Coordinator and got an instant career bump, and then been able to afford to make my own films etc...

The road trodden is never straight. So, just as I am at think tank conferences at the British Screen Council and with distributors learning a little about on-line morphication, (there spell checker deal with that one!) My wife asks if she can make something for the web. Coincidence my composers (Mar k Blackledge who is brilliant and has his own studios) said his son wanted to direct, so I threw about 20k at setting up a small camera set up to make web series. There was no way they were shooting that on my 5k Red Epics!

After 61 episodes of Shades Of Bad and winning countless awards, we had shot in Norway and Barcelona as well as the UK, just for a laugh and just because we could, and we ended up with a travel show - DORIS VISITS

Now some 200 travel films later in less than two years, we have an on line travel shop web base and people are booking hotels and cruises through us. You see when I started as a trainee DJ at radio 1 & 2 back in 1973, then went into commercial radio a few years later I never knew I would be cast as the DJ in a TV soap before the decade was out. I never knew once I got into TV that pop videos would be invented or I would produce and direct via a weaving route in and out of action.

I certainly never thought I would be a travel agent. But that is why you should never say no. Just saying, if you need a hotel use our link through Doris Visits, it is an official affiliate link as is our one to Monarch, P&O and a dozen other cruise lines and Tour Guide functions. That is because of volume of content and traffic, and it all came from no where.

So, the hair pin bend, and there always is one. I am given scripts all the time. Some to direct some under the guys of would I direct when what they would really like is for me to produce so they can direct. They are all normally poor. But, I was brought a series of books. Very raunchy female romance books. Why Me !!! ????  Now my wife Jean, now presenter on Doris Visits has often been heard to say that when I am offered female lead things. She nearly dies when I was asked to direct a film with Claire Danes in the USA by a producer who thought my output was female lead (Devil's Gate with Laura Fraser, The Scarlet Tunic with Emma Fielding etc) .... I stray. These books lacked a direction but had legs. It is that wonderful line I am sure is from a Linda Seger I read years and years ago... so we want to buy your script, it just needs a complete rewrite - here's why.....  Years later when I understood Hollywood a little more I wrote my own take on it, The Script Writing Cheat Guide, which I must update. But these books were / are still I have yet changed them that much, but wait. Are still about an older woman released from you will find out what in good time and when she is ready to tell you and can tell you, at an older age into life. So, to cut top the chase, she realises the clock is ticking and she wants to discover what most do in their teens. As an agoraphobic, by a route to be discover she swaps the house for a steel box otherwise know as a cruise ship. It is a fascinating look at life, and somehow I was the fit... female lead, cruise industry - obvious! (no there is no action.)

So, the SOLO CRUISER book series was in development and the table I set up (writer's table, development table) sat and criticised as they do. But I wanted to see ten episodes. Forget film, film is dead. Forget books I have no skills or interest. I needed to see a structure that worked for TV. I have an older Bridget Jones type, we all love her, where she is going but it is a mess. How would you handle it? So far this is what we have done. I have changed each book to be around a real cruise, the books starts the moment you board, ends when you get off. For arguments sake, Southampton to Southampton, round the Canary Islands. Then we have a time line, we have a looming end, we have a fixture. Book one ended up being placed into a cruise template of the Canaries that was Doris Visits Azura Cruise A628. Book 2 ended up being based on Arcadia Cruise round the Baltics and the third of Violet Becket's story, now more confident in direction uses bits and bobs of cruises in the Caribbean.

Look it is a tough life, but someone has to do it, and remember this is years of work with no fees and me investing, so that would put many off. I happen to thrive on it. My connection was this other little piece in the jigsaw, Amazon Editor Simon Okhill who came to me and got me to put my Brit Flick Freight into book form. He had the cruise project and made the fit.

What is next? Well having spent years advising soaps, and loving Jimmy McGovern's work, I can see the SOLO CRUISER books series as a soap, but each of the characters coming to the front in film fashioned with their story. That was a battle, but I seem to have one that Violet's story, as fascinating as she is, is only three books long.
Her Virgin Voyage
The Perfect Storm
American Portrait
and Panama On Your Six is a rewrite using Tank Commander Kieron Phipps as the new solo cruiser for the next series / three books. Those who know me will see a little of my influence in book 2, The Perfect Storm which is much darker.
All versions of the books are selling and as such will come up easily on Amazon searches, but I have added links. They are free on the Kindle library. What we are doing now is a simple break down into ten episodes and location structures because we obviously can't shoot it all on a cruise ship. But it will look like at as we all know, and quite wonderful. I need series two, which is three more books and I guess it is a five year project.
I also have insisted on Light versions of the books, not just the full fat versions. So there are two Virgin Voyages; Book 1, Virgin Voyage is very raunchy, but Her Virgin Voyage is the lighter version some 2500 words shorter. Book 2 is in two versions which are less than 500 words apart, and book three I think can survive in one version.

Life is strange, but who knows what will come next. The secret is to never say no.

Stuart St Paul

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