Monday 28 October 2013

Bluestone 42 - Field Notes No. 3 - Magazines

When you’re writing a sitcom, you’re creating a world. And when you’re actually putting that world onto the screen, you have to think about everything. And I mean everything.

The script says:
Mac runs into the cookhouse with a porn mag, being chased by Rocket.
Rocket (Scott Hoatson)
It’s two squaddies. So far, so believable. What are they wearing? Have they just been on ops? Don’t worry too much – the costume department are all over this, and continuity will make sure it all matches up.

But the props department look at this and think ‘Porn mag? What type of porn mag? Is it proper full-on porn? Or a lads mag, which is not quite the same thing? And, crucially, what is the porn mag called?’

You can’t just use existing magazine without permission and/or paying someone and so you have to make up a name.  Fake pornographic magazines are always called something ridiculous like Big and Bouncy, but that just feels fake (about as fake as those things that are billed as big and bouncy). The props department will have a few ideas, but they’ve got 1001 other props to sort out. Ultimately, you have to approve something – or more likely think of something yourself. And it can’t be something that’s already the name of a magazine that happens to be about something else.

Ideally, you don't want a magazine title that's funny, satirical, creepy or open to misinterpretation as it'll get in the way of the scene, the dialogue and the jokes. Remember, by the time you're on set, you're ironing. You want the jokes you've written to stand out, and you want the background to be remain background. Doing two jokes at once is almost as bad as not doing any joke at all. (Discuss).

Naming porn mags is something I’ve now found myself doing on two occasions on the set of Bluestone 42. In Series 1, we ended up with a magazine called Racquel’s Choice, which, for some reason, I found pleasing. It seemed to me that this was a magazine started in the 1970s with had a bit of history to it. But Richard Hurst, my co-writer, was never that convinced but we had to settle on something fairly swiftly. In the end, you hardly saw it anyway. Richard's happier with the magazine title in Series Two, though. And you’ll just have to wait and see what it’s called. 

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