Saturday, 27 December 2014

'Very Strange Things' - Further progress on Pilot redraft for Cast Readthrough (27/12/2014)

Another week, another update on the demo cast recording of my pilot script. My collaborator, Keith Matthews, is now getting started on changing up the third act to suit the audio-drama nature of the recording. Naturally, progress is weighed down by the business of the store during the post-Christmas sales period, but it´s nothing to get too agitated over, and with the end in sight, it shan´t be long before Town of Miracles takes flight.

I´m only getting more and more excited, dear readers!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

'Very Strange Things' - Mini-update on Pilot redraft for Cast Readthrough (20/12/2014)

As you know, there will be a demo cast reading/recording of the pilot script, and Keith Matthews is working on a more theatre-friendly version of the script to work better for the readthrough, rewriting the action lines of the teleplay to be shorter, and serve more to just establish a scene for the actors to then work off of.

So far, he's about half way through the pilot script. Naturally, progress has been affected by the business of the store during the Xmas period, so this is isn't quite zooming along, but still, so far, so good, and I eagerly await the end product.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

'Very Strange Things' - Drafting narration for Cast Readthrough of Pilot (13/12/2014)

As I've said before, there will be a demo cast reading/recording of the pilot script, The Town of Miracles, courtesy of my good friend/co-worker, theatre veteran Keith Matthews. Right now, with the main cast assembled (more on that in the future, so stay tuned...), Keith is working on a more theatre-friendly version of the script to work better for the readthrough, as well as for the audio recording.

This is mainly in rewriting the action lines of the teleplay to be shorter, and serve more to just establish a scene for the actors to then work off of, and not be as actively running or potentially intrusive as in the actual TV version of it. Below is a photo of what's been drummed up thus far (bearing in mind how busy the store is right now because, well, 'tis xmas). The reading is, as I've stated before, due to take place sometime after the holiday period (circa New Year or early January) to enable both time for rehearsals, so there will be more updates on this in the coming weeks as the drafts progress and the rehearsals begin. So, have fingers crossed for the very, very best!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

'Very Strange Things' - 'Town of Miracles' concept art for 'Dan Clancy' (9/12/2014)

Some more concept sketches courtesy of the dear Mr Ceranic of the show's leading man, Dan. This was also, alongside the previous bit involving Risa,  the same piece I gave to Keith for the demo readthrough coming in the near future.
(c) Luke Ceranic 2014.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

'Very Strange Things' - 'Town of Miracles' concept art for 'Risa Velton' (6/12/2014)

Some more concept sketches courtesy of the dear Mr Ceranic of the show's leading lady, Risa. This was also the same piece I gave to my collaborator Keith for the big demo readthrough.

(c) Luke Ceranic 2014.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

'Very Strange Things' - 'Town of Miracles' concept art for 'The Angel' and 'The Plague Doctor' (3/12/2014)

Courtesy once again of Mr Ceranic, here are some concept sketches relating to two other key characters in the pilot script for the series, Town of Miracles.

In Drawing A) we have the mysterious 'Angel' who performs the titular miracles, as well as somewhat inaccurate concept art of the episode's antagonist, 'The Plague Doctor', here as a more literal mad physician. This was down to a slight miscommunication in what he thought I meant by plague doctor. In Drawing B), now we have more fitting artwork of 'The Plague Doctor', here with a distinctly Burton/DelToro-esque spin on him.

(c) Luke Ceranic 2014.

Monday, 1 December 2014

'Very Strange Things' - 'Town of Miracles' Pilot script preview (1/12/2014)

What follows down below, dear reader, is the first ten minutes i.e. the First Act of the 'V.S.T' pilot, dubbed The Town Of Miracles, now in its fourth draft (ninth if you count the old Black Bells version of the pilot as well, which I discussed in the entry on the show's origins). 

Naturally, the blog isn't quite formatted the same as my script writing software, so please excuse the odd formatting, and hope you get a good gauge of what sort of adventures our duo will be in for.







At the far end of a Children's ward in a hospital, marked by the cartoons on the wall and colourful curtains, a family grieves. AN ELDERLY DOCTOR, a pudgy wolf, departs somberly, leaving two parents, a MOTHER and FATHER lion, mid 30s, dour and mournful over their young SON, no more than about 8, pale and thin in the bed.


Oh, angel...


Mum... the hurting's stopping...


Heh. Even now, you're still a little soldier, aren't you?

This attempt at humour soon has the Father on the verge of tears, even more so than his wife, who grips her Son's wispy hand in hers.


Oh angel, please don't go! Mummy wants you to stay so bad! Please...

She can't restrain herself and bursts into sobbing. Seeing this, the Son weakly, shakily, stretches out his hand, and places it on his mother's arm. Noting this, she ceases her sobs and envelops him in a great big hug. The Father faintly, meekly smiles, a few tears streaming down his cheeks.


My little soldier...

Just then, the heart monitor stops beeping, and instead becomes one long whine of white noise. The boy's arms loosen, and he slumps in his mother's arms. Her sobs resume as she slowly, gently, lays him back. Just then, as the Father finally is about to succumb to the tears too, he sees something in the distance; a sort of light. Vivid and golden. It draws closer to them. She tugs on his wife's arm:



Pulling back, rubbing the tears from her face, she too sees it;


It's... it's her.

As it draws closer, the light gives way to the form of an ANGEL; a vixen with long, blonde locks in a flowing robe, her wings grand. The Mother is at a loss for words as it approaches her son, and looks down on him, pityingly. Gracefully, she reaches out her hand, and touches the Boy's head. Slowly, the boy regains colour, his hands flickering back to life. The parents are utterly shocked.


Uuugggghhhhh... Mum? Dad?


Oh, angel! My sweet, precious little angel!

She lunges, snaring her Son in her arm and pressing him close, tears of joy streaming down her face. The Father then hugs them both of them, sharing in her wife's relief. While the Angel vanishes in a flash of golden light, behind them, DOCTORS and NURSES pull back the curtains and observe the miracle, all completely stumped and baffled by the incredible sight before them.





Inside a train traveling through evening countryside, pulling along a little suitcase is a golden vixen, early 20s, with flame red hair, RISA VELTON, dressed casually. She looks down at her smartphone, reading over a message;


Pocketing it, she scans the aisle for anyone matching that description, and casts upon several possible candidates.


You know, the whole 'standing still and glancing about' thing is kind of a dead give away of being a secret agent, love.

Perplexed by the remark, she turns to face its origin; a green fox, matching the description given to her, sat casually towards the front. He wears a long leather coat and a wide brim hat. This was DAN CLANCY.


Miss Velton, I infer?


Y-yes. (Clears throat) I was sent here to meet-


No offense, but just to get this out of the way, I stipulated I didn't want a partner on at least more than one occasion. Twenty, I think. Oh well, orders are orders I suppose.

Risa looks at him, both befuddled and somewhat indignant at his wisecrack, as she takes a seat opposite. He removes his hat and plops down by his side, quickly running a smoothing hand through his hair.


Dan Clancy's who I am, and I'll make the pleasantries short. Oh, and do cut the 'sirring', if you don't mind. It really gets grinding.


Look... sir. I don't wish to come off as insubordinate, but I can assure you, I am not some thick airhead out of the academy.


I'm not questioning your competence, love. I question your purpose.

Risa's cool demeanor begins to wear thin, and her tone gets a little more fiery.


Excuse me? Look, I didn't ask for this transfer, but I'll have you know, my track record-


Your old spy games aren't quite in the same league as The Bureau's work, are they now?

Though she is visibly getting irked, Risa regains some composure.


I know what you do is of a highly sensitive, and honestly, peculiar nature. Among the regular service, you lot are gossip-fuel.


Well, at least reputations are being maintained, I see. Do you believe what you've heard?


Very comic book-y, I found. All things weird and wonderful, right?


That may be the greatest understatement in the history of understatements, Miss Velton-


Look, if all you're going to do is play around, you might as well drop it and just call me Risa.

Dan mock-feigns hurt.


Ooh, fiesty. Well 'Risa', what we, or rather mainly I, to be more exact, do is dissect the kind of things that most people think  only lives within the plastic confines of a screen. You name it, I've probably seen it.


Oh yeah?


Try me.




Last Tuesday in Essex. In fact, they seem to be rather frequent.




Vengeful couple in Cardiff. Big old insurance scam.

She playfully strokes her chin, and smirks, pondering a moment.


How about a great big jelly bean?


Not yet, but some spiked sugar in Kent did turn a few unfortunates into fire breathers, if that's any consolation. Ah, goody!

His attention diverts, off screen, to the snack trolley.

EXT. TRAIN - later

The train speeds past the underpass of an ancient stone bridge.

DAN (v.o)

So, Petersbrough. Quaint, quiet little town in mid England. Nothing unusual until about a month ago.


Munching a sandwich, Dan throws the wrapping aside and continues. Risa nibbles on some cookies.


Young couple. Newlyweds in fact.

int. living room - night, flashback

We no briefly return to the scene, a darkened sitting room where there's a large, blackened hole in the wall and loose wires sparking.

DAN (v.o, cont'd)

Faulty wiring gets them electrocuted. Not exactly everyone's dream honeymoon.

Then, a group of PARAMEDICS, three bears in fact, rush into the room after busting the door down.

DAN (v.o, cont'd)

Then, just as the paramedics arrive on scene, what do you know?


Something of excessive oddness, I guess?

The Paramedics look on, bewildered, as a golden light shines vibrantly before them. They almost back away in awe.


Zingo! A living breathing angel, no less, appears and revives them. It's like the accident never happened.


EXT. TRAIN - same time

The train speeds on across a small river, the sun just about to set.

DAN (v.o)(cont'd)

Of course, doctors are baffled and it could've been chalked up as a hoax, but then our winged friend starts reappearing.


Dan chews down the last bit of sandwich, brushing his lap.


Old grannies with bad hearts, sick children, even the odd dumb teen who thought of pulling some crazy move on his bike.


Each time when someone was facing death.


Tippity-top marks!

Risa is now even less amused.


You know, I can learn to live with freaks of nature, but patronizing me isn't going to earn you any favours.

Dan exaggeratedly feigns mock hurt in response.


Patronizing? Me? Never!


Later on, now dark, the train slowly pulls into a quaint little country station, an old embossed sign proclaiming the town's name.


The train halts, and the passengers disembark, Dan and Risa being among them.


Anyway, now we go in, scope things out, and then see what exactly the real trouble is.


And said trouble will come up before too long, I assume?

Suddenly, they hear two car horns blare, and then a crash outside, followed by screams.


Oh, so you're psychic now, eh?

They rush outside, as do a number of the departing passengers.


Outside, a Crowd builds up around a smoking pile from two crashed cars. Inside, they hear the moans and groans of pains of the DRIVERS inside.


Somebody help them!


Call an ambulance!


Won't someone get them out?! They'll burn!

Arriving on the scene, Dan hands his hat to Risa, and runs over to the wreckage.


Everybody, stand back!

However, just as he reaches them, one of the bonnets explodes, engulfing the cars in a ball of fire, forcing him back.


Gah! Rats!

Just as he shakes it off, he spots something; the golden light from earlier, piercing through the orange flames. As it draws closer, the crowd begin to hush up and stare on in awe.



Gradually, as it nears, the light dissipates, and the Angel is fully visible. Walking slowly, she drags the Drivers, a Badger and Wolf, from out of the wreckage, grimacing and coughing, yet utterly unscathed.


Well I'll be...


A miracle.

The Angel withdraws, allowing some of the crowd to draw in and check on the Drivers. Risa finally rejoins Dan's side, and they look on as the Angel clasps her hands, almost in  prayer, and vanishes in a flash of light. Recovering, Risa is bewildered, but Dan is intrigued.


That.... That-


Yes. Truly something is it not?

Just then, they hear a cold cackle overhead. They and the crowd turn in the direction  of it; from atop a tall statue is a tall, dark figure, wearing a blackened getup akin to a PLAGUE DOCTOR, the mask sporting ominous red eyes.


Such ignorant misfortunates! Do you so pathetically think that such a great tiding has bestowed upon your paltry little town, without even the slightest sort of upset?

He raises up a hand high, red smoke begins to swirl around him as he walks on open air with total tranquility. Everyone is stunned, Dan only further intrigued.




Be warned, the cosmological balance has been grossly unhinged! Till she is driven out, only total damnation awaits you!

He makes an aggressive swish, and every window nearby shatters, terrifying the crowd.


Be warned!

Then, the swirling smoke envelops him, bursting into a great plume of fire. People down below shield their eyes, though Dan tries to peek through his fingers. However, as the fire disseminates, he sees nothing; the Plague Doctor has vanished. The duo, like the crowd, look on, perplexed.


Well, what a way to start, eh?

Dan's face narrows with a sort of determination.




Saturday, 29 November 2014

'Very Strange Things' - Preparing for Cast Readthrough of Pilot script (29/11/2014)

Some major news: there will be a demo cast reading/recording of the pilot script, The Town of Miracles, courtesy of a good friend and co-worker of mine, Keith Matthews, who also has a wealth of theatre experience. Over the next few weeks, he will be sending the script out to some of his actor associates, and has already been breaking down the script to prepare for the reading, as you can see.

Also to help, I gave him some more concept art for the characters in the pilot (more on that in future posts, so be aware) to help the actors with developing their personas and takes on the characters, which he stapled alongside copies of the full script. The reading is due to take place sometime after Christmas to enable both casting and time for rehearsals before the big day, so expect an update on this sometime in January.

I am incredibly excited about this, dear reader: aside from Keith's tremendous kindness, what's wonderful is that I'm going record the show, and use it later for a potential animatic of the episode. With that, I could give potential producers a better idea of how the episode would feel and look, instead of just relying on the script alone to do all the work. So, fingers crossed!

Friday, 28 November 2014

'Very Strange Things' - Development History and Origins: 2010-2014 (28/11/2014)

Despite the relative 'new-ness' of the blog, 'Very Strange Things' is actually a project that has been active for some time, having been the result of several years of trails, experiments and redrafts. I briefly covered this in the 'Outline' post earlier, but here's a more detailed explanation of how this got started, and what has happened since.

The Beginning: As I stated before, this series was originally based on my own writings from college, specifically BTEC Media, as a means of creative amusement between the rather more tech-oriented nature of the studies. The series was birthed very much from my childhood love of adventure and fantasy stories, with some of the biggest influences including: Doctor Who, Tintin, Around the World in 80 Days, Blake and Mortimer, Batman Returns, The Shadow and Doc Savage. I loved the escapism, loveable characters and the high concepts that could be as fantastical as the writer wished: mad machines, lost continents, nature-defying experiments, lost treasure, evil cults, monsters, it was all there and my young mind ate it all up. So, around 2010, as secondary school was ending and my college career was set to begin, I decided to try my hand at serialized writing, much like the pulp authors of old. English was one of my strong suits at school, and my teacher often encouraged me to not let that talent and passion go to waste.

So, 'Very Strange Things' was born, albeit under the slightly less distinct title of 'MI4 Adventures', as 3-4 part written stories that were posted weekly on Deviantart. Fundamentally, this was the same thing as the show is now: Dan and Risa, two British secret agents, go out and solve seemingly bizarre mysteries involving some kind of phenomena. The biggest difference though, was the audience: this was not a children's series. It was sort of stuck in an awkward midground, with the odd bit of cussing and even some darker subject matter (like a gangster with a mutated head, and a mad doctor who murders girl to rebuild his dead wife), but I didn't care at the time: it was the thrill of creation.

Despite some formatting and spelling errors here and there, I kept going, and did so for a good two and half years. The entire series is available here for your consumption on Deviantart:

However, all things must come to an end, as pressures from college, moving to university and finishing my Spanish A-Level all took their toll and the series had to be dropped in order to accommodate circumstances. For the full story, I did a full editorial on why it ended, and what the plans were after to continue the series on DA:

Naturally, having written these a few years back, and having done as many as I did, gave me lots of time to think about how to someday bring it back. Then, the next issue would be how to fit them together into a half hour weekly format for a television series, as well as add an extra layer beyond the simple nature of the one-off adventures, now armed with the skills and foresight of a screenwriter. So around spring 2014, I began to redevelop MI4, under that title still, as a pilot for an animated series. I adapted my old first story, The Black Bells, and set to work topping and tailoring it for a half hour tv show. Fast forward to summer, and now redubbed 'The Oddities Bureau', I began shopping the script around, primarily to the BBC Writersroom, who had an opportunity to submit for an children's show. I threw my hat in the ring, and saw what happened: I didn't even make it past the first round.

Still, in the meantime I went on holiday to Spain, and armed with a little journal I had received from a good friend, began to make notes and plans for the rest of the series and new episodes. One of them was an idea for a second series' script, The Town of Miracles, which centered on an English town being visited by an 'angel', who brings about odd miracles upon the townsfolk. When I received news of the rejection, I reviewed my old pilot and, dissatisfied personally, I junked it and began developing Miracles instead. 

And well, that's the whole backstory, dear readers. If you want more details, please visit the links and quench your thirsts. Next time, I'll be showing you what the original pilot was like.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

'Very Strange Things' - Early concept art for main characters (27/11/14)

Of course, what good's a blog on creating an animated series if you don't have, well, VISUAL representation of what the show is going to look like. Back in September of this year, a very good friend of mine, a training animator and artist over at the Scuola Internazionale di Comics in Padova, Italy named Luke Ceranic, agreed to work on a few bits and bobs of concept art for the show. 

This was his first attempt and I have to say, he did a damn fine job. The angularity gives it an anime quality, while the anthropomorphism is sort of a plenty of the sleekness of the artwork from say, Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog, with the liveliness and attire more befitting the Disney TV Renaissance of the 1990s. 

If you want more from Mr Ceranic, not only will more artwork be coming to here soon, but you also check out his Deviantart page here:

(GUIDE: Green male fox is Dan Clancy. Gold vixen is Risa Velton. Mammoth was actually a character from an earlier version of the pilot script that got cut in later drafts. More on that in future posts)

(c) Luke Ceranic 2014.

'Very Strange Things' - Short Character Bios & Brief Outline (27/11/2014)

Basic Outline: Set in an animated anthropomorphic world, "Very Strange Things" is a 12 episode mystery-adventure series for all ages. The series is headed up by two agents from an enigmatic 'Bureau', Dan and Risa, who combat all sorts of bizarre villains and phenomena week to week. However, it’s not all what it seems, the bigger mysteries being much, much closer…

Originally based on my own writings from college as a means of creative amusement between the occasional mundaneness of studies, the series was birthed very much from my love of adventure stories as a child, with key influences including the likes of: Doctor Who, The Adventures of Tintin, Blake and Mortimer, as well as 1930s pulp characters like The Shadow and Doc Savage.

Naturally, having written these a few years back has since given me much time to think and mull over how to fit them together into a half hour weekly format for a television series, as well as add an extra layer beyond the simple nature of the one-off adventures. In an age where children's entertainment seems to be dominated more by comedy (Phineas and Ferb, My Little Pony, Gravity Falls etc.) this would make for a refreshing change of pace, with its slightly darker and more serial-esque adventure flavour. Furthermore, it also serves as an introduction for children to the more dramatic and arc-heavy style of television storytelling that has become more mainstream over the past decade, and as shown by series like Doctor Who and the tragically defunct Sarah Jane Adventures, children do respond to this, and given criticism levelled at Who recently with Series 7 and 8 for maybe being too complex, this series would offer a much more even playing field for this young audience.

As for ethos, it’s really quite simple: Children love to see the fantastic and sometimes scary. However, it also deals with issues that as they grow, children face; choice, morality, the nature of lengthy platonic and romantic relationships, consequences and atonement. It’s this balance of elements that I greatly and sincerely hope ‘Very Strange Things’ will help impart and inspire within each and everyone who watches this series for years to come.

Dan Clancy: Our protagonist; a self-styled man of action, the ‘coolest guy in the room’ sort. Underneath his brashness though lies a strong concern for those around him, and a manic desire to see right be done. However, all this hides a secret that even Dan himself is not fully aware of.

Risa Velton: Dan's partner, herself a former member of Britain’s secret services. She is very spirited and feisty, but is no one’s fool. Of course, this drive is partly brought by a less than tender past with her family.

Heidi Clairemont: The woman in charge of the Bureau and former field agent/companion of Dan (More on that below in the outlines). Despite her matter of fact exterior, she still harbours feelings for Dan with whom she has many fond, even personal, memories.

Rucard: Dan's brother and seeming archnemesis. He is a supremely intelligent and conniving criminal who is also rather unnerved by his brother’s lack of ‘remembrance’, and decides to set that straight in his own vicious, cruel way.

Introduction to 'Very Strange Things' & Welcome to All ! (27/11/2014)

Hello, surfers and residents of the internet! My name is Abel Diaz, I'm a twenty something Spanglish guy with all sorts of skills and thoughts, just drifting through the universe. Well actually, I'm a young screenwriter with two pence in his pocket, and a head full of wacky ideas for all kinds of tall tales. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what this saga will be all about:

This blog will be an ongoing diary/archive/workflow portfolio of all things related to the creation and realisation of my titular pet project. Join me as I battle the odds to see a dream project of mine since teenagehood come to life on television screens all around the UK. It's a mystery/adventure series called Very Strange Things, and it's exactly what it sounds like. Imagine a blend of say, Willy Fog, Ducktales or Dogtanian, shows that use the image of anthropormorphised creatures to invite the children into a world of adventure, with the likes of Fringe or the revived Doctor Who, series with a carefully planned story arc and high concepts designed to capture the viewer's imagination and send them on an incredible ride.

Over the course of the coming weeks, months, maybe years even, you'll see news updates concerning developments in the pilot script, meetings, concept art/other art for the show, even little tasters of what the end product may be like. So sit back, relax and let's get rolling!