50 Kisses – One was mine! Guest Blog Post From Ross Aitken

Advice was pretty much the first idea I thought of when the 50 Kisses project came up.

It’s not too difficult to see where the idea came from: Mike is basically me in my early 20s. The first draft was dashed off in about half an hour whilst at work, cobbled into a screenplay format, and submitted.

A couple of days later @Bang2Write posted her list of cliches to avoid. Great. I’d done something with a male protagonist, in a pub, in live action, in a contemporary setting. And it’d been the first idea I’d thought of. Ain’t got a chance with this one as it’ll be the most obvious pile of bollocks in the pile. So I went back to the drawing board and pulled 10 more ideas out of my arse in various states of wackiness and feasibility. I sent one of those in too.

Then I kinda forgot about it all until they started their little countdown clock thing on Twitter. The tension! Didn’t they know I was under a deadline?! But Advice made it through! Holy fuck! Maybe everyone else was avoiding having a bloke in a pub, too scared to look like a an unimaginative dullard. Well I wasn’t afraid.

It took a little while to sink in, but as timing goes it was great. I was about to leave my day job to go full time on my production company as a producer (thanks producer’s masterclass for that idea. No more foreign holidays for me), and now here was a feature film writing credit to give me a little boost.

Then I read the other scripts. Christ they were good. Some weren’t for me, but there were some pearlers in there. Some made me laugh out loud, some made me wince, some made me hurl. Variety is the spice of life n’ all that. But now I was thinking about making one.
I haven’t directed anything since 2010, and I haven’t directed solo since 2005 (I have a producing/directing partnership). But here was a little 2-min script that I thought I could do justice. And do it well. And it’s just the thing to add to my nascent little company’s portfolio. So I dove straight in there.

The development process was pretty simple – some feedback from readers, and from LSF, a couple of rewrites and we’re done. I didn’t want to change much about Advice, but beefed up the beginning and made it generally sharper and tighter. It’s a little film defined by its structure so I didn’t want to mess about with it too much.

I saw some other rewrites that almost destroyed the scripts, with people choosing to make the first draft anyway.

It’s a strange feeling – your film being made by someone you don’t know. I’ve had a couple of emails, and someone even sent through their photos of the shoot. Previously when someone’s made my scripts I’ve been there on the day(s) and I’ve had a lot of back-and-forth. But then, making one too, I’ve realised that all I needed was a quick email convo with the writer (almost felt like asking permission) and that’s kind of it. The script I chose I did so over the other 49 precisely because it seemed the most complete, the one I’d want to change the least. The one where I wish I’d had that idea. So there’s nothing to rewrite, and I’m gonna stay faithful to it. Maybe that’s the same thoughts from the people who’re making Advice. Or maybe they’re fucking it up completely and we’ll get to see when it’s done. Who knows, but it’s exciting nonetheless.

Ross Aitken
writer, Advice, producer-director (one of), The Price of Romance

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