I kill people for money...

October 13 2016

...Okay, not real people - I'm a writer-director for film and TV. So I've killed a LOT of people on screen. There's more to the job than that, but if anyone is going to complain about something you've made, it's usually a death scene, either for the gore, or the loss of a favourite character.

I wrote the movies Severance, Cockneys Vs Zombies, Tower Block, TV episodes of Doctor Who, Torchwood, Spooks, Primeval, Crusoe, Crossing Lines, Eve, among others. I've directed short films, festival idents, and webseries. And, along the way, people end up dying. Drama where nothing goes wrong and everyone survives isn't particularly dramatic. So as the saying goes, if you want to make an omelette, you have to brutally murder some innocent people...

When people find out what I've written, their first question is usually ""do you write the whole story, or just the dialogue?"" Yes, when I write scripts, I do both the story and the dialogue. Everything you see and hear on screen, has to be in the script first, otherwise they don't know what sets to build, what people say, and what happens. Obviously there is some improvisation on set, things change, but it all starts with a script.

It's a strange job. You work alone, writing, for weeks, occasionally meeting the team for feedback if you're on something that's in production. If you're directing, you have a short burst of shooting before you disappear into a dark room to edit, grade, do the sound, fx, etc. And then you unleash it on an unsuspecting audience.

The most stressful part is just before it's released. Suddenly, you start second guessing yourself. What if everyone hates it? I'm a fraud. I'm terrible. I'm ugly. I smell. My career is over. But then you see your work unfold on screen, and all the hard work and worries are worth it. And you remember why you do this: to give people something entertaining, something they'll be talking about the next day.

And that's why it's the best job in the world. Even if nobody quite understands it.

My current project coincides with me winning the Listserve lottery - it's a webseries, which has just started airing the first season online, so I'm still in the ""worry"" phase. The hardest part of doing a webseries is letting people know it exists, so I'd love it if you had a look. It's a modernised, vlog-style adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula (I'm trying not to say ""Vladaptation""). I've flipped the characters around so that Mina and Lucy are the heroes instead of the boys, it's a funnier, more self aware take, with plenty of left turns - even if you think you know the story, you'll have some surprises along the way.

And obviously, because it's Dracula, not everyone will make it to the end in one piece. But you'll have to wait and see. It's called Mina Murray's Journal (minasjournal[dot]com), if you check out the show's Twitter account at @MinasJournal or mine at @JamesMoran then you'll find the links. If you like it, please like, subscribe, and/or pass it on to someone else that might like it! These things live or die on word of mouth, and it's very much a labour of love for me, so I really want people to see it.

Thanks for reading this, I hope you enjoy some of my work (some of which is on Netflix, DVD, etc). And thanks to PJ Holden for introducing me to the Listserve!

James Moran
London, UK
jameswriterdirector@gmail.com


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