Twisted Showcase S4E2 – Muscle Memory is from the time from BAFTA-winning writer, Debbie Moon and stars Rachael Teate (Another Wolfblood alumni – one of the Three Ks from the series) and Joe Elis as her physical therapist.
Twisted Showcase is an anthology series of short films focusing on supernatural, sci-fi and horror stories. It was recognised as one of the Guardian’s top 25 recommended web series in 2012. The first episode of series 4, featured Gareth David-Lloyd in his directorial debut in a story he starred and co-wrote – Be My Mind. For episode 2, creator Robin Bell has managed another coup and added Debbie Moon, the BAFTA-winning lead writer for CBBC, Wolf Blood, to the list of talent in this series.
This week we were able to chat with Debbie Moon about her latest short story – Muscle Memory.
Blogtor Who: Thank you very much for taking time out to talk to me. I’m glad to interview you tonight, and I just had a chance to see the episode before we had our chat here.
Debbie Moon: Oh, brilliant.
BW: I thought I’d start with the episode itself. Where did you come up with that idea? I mean it’s a bit of a transformation from Wolfblood…
DM: I happened to read something about massage therapy, and about how it could stir up memories in people, and I thought that’s really interesting. What sort effect might that have on someone who is an amnesiac, and what if there was a really big secret buried under there somewhere?
BW: Well it’s an interesting thing, the previous episode had a tie-in with memories as well, and I don’t know if that’s the theme for this series or not, but it certainly tied in closely with the ‘Be My Mind’ episode.
DM: It did, yeah. That was weird, I didn’t know about that at the time, but obviously things float around in the air don’t they? You’ll often find several scripts drawing on similar ideas.
BW: Right, so where did you get the idea for the vampire? Why did you use the vampire in this one, as opposed to your natural environment, the werewolf?
DM: I [wanted] to do something that was a little different to Wolfblood, it’s a short film, and it doesn’t really come out until the very end what’s going on. It had to be something that the audience could understand quickly and obviously everyone understands what a vampire is, and it’s very easy to get there, and sort of visually as you see there, that memories and all that. So it was kind of a shortcut I suppose to something.
BW: Well, so why do the little short piece? I’m just curious as to how you got involved in Twisted Showcase this time around?
DM: I’ve known Robin for a few years, we used to lived quite close together. Writers just kind of tend to get together and meet at writing events. I’ve always been really interested in what he was doing with Twisted Showcase, and I thought, he has really interesting stories, and he’s got some interesting people involved. When you’re involved with something as big as Wolfblood obviously it’s fantastic, but it takes up a lot of your time. It’s a really nice thing to do something kind of small and quick and very concise. And it’s just a little bit different.
BW: The whole series is more about the writing than anything else — that’s the showcase of the series.
BW: It’s not special effects or anything like that, it’s just the cleverness of the story. Similar to, I guess, The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits or anything like that in the past. Have you watched those?
DM: Yes, I think often the best sci-fi and horror and fantasy are the ones that really can’t afford special effects, or don’t have access to them even. It’s all a lot harder to tell the story, you’ve got to find something to intrigue the audience and to make it interesting. So yeah it’s an interesting challenge to not have the budget to do whatever you want and have to have to make it with two people in a room basically.
BW: I appreciate that a lot because it’s really the story that makes the thing special. I mean if you go back to the old Doctor Who stuff.
DM: Absolutely. Doctor Who has always been about the stories, hasn’t it? And about the imagination of things. You know, yes the modern series has more budget than the original, but even so, compared to a regular Hollywood movie, it’s still very low budget, so it really has to be about those ideas.
BW: Yes, that’s what attracts me to that. Why did you get attracted to sci-fi and horror?.
DM: That’s a good question. I think I’ve always really enjoyed sci-fi, horror perhaps slightly less, but I do enjoy some horror. I think it was just growing up watching Star Wars on TV. It’s the imagination of it, I think. I obviously enjoy writing about realistic characters and about human emotions and things. But I think I like things to have a little bit more going on as well as a bit more excitement, a little bit more imagination. And of course sci-fi lends itself really well to talking about the human condition in a methodical way. And it’s hard to do of course.
BW: It certainly opens up the human condition. While I haven’t seen all of your Wolfblood series, I’m probably a little too old now. But my daughter’s quite interested in it. It’s about emotions, and the idea of the outsider, and everything like that. You allow your thoughts, your characters, to be different, and certainly in both of these they’re different.
What’s next with you? .Will you be doing more shorts or things like that because I think they give you an opportunity?
DM: I’d like too, yes. I’ve got various things in development, but this is the infuriating thing about being a writer — you never know what’s going to get made and what isn’t. Whereas with something like Twisted Showcase is an opportunity just to make something and put it out there quite quickly, and just get it to an audience. Which is really appealing.
BW: It’s certainly a different idea with having online movies, and certainly the equipment allows people to make it more easily. You can have a Canon camera and a few sound pieces of equipment and you can actually make it and put it out there and publish it quick. I’ve noticed more and more people are doing that. Do you think that, while it’s breaking down some of the structure that you have on the BBC, as being able to make as much money, etc., but do you think it gives more opportunities to young writers coming up in the world?
DM: Definitely. Yeah, I think just being able to get some friends together and shoot something quickly. I know so many writers who are just making shorts, putting them out there. They can do them in a weekend with very simple equipment, and get something out and it’s just about the enjoyment of writing, as well, I think. Because obviously writing for a big TV series is not unenjoyable, but there is a kind of –it becomes your job, effectively. Something like this takes it back to being a hobby again. It takes it back to being something you do for fun, which of course is really great.
BW: And the result is not affected by the limitations of time.
DM: That is true, yes. You have a lot more control over it. I really have been quite lucky with Wolfblood actually, in many situations writers don’t have control over what finally reaches the screen. And to be able to do something like this where it’s all your brain child, and it’s exactly how you want it is really nice.
BW: I noticed you also had a blog. Where it’s kind of something that new people can read, and new writers can read. Could you talk to me a bit about that?
DM: Really it just started as sort of wanting to talk about films that I’ve seen, TV shows that I’ve seen, about what I was experiencing as a writer, to really get some of my experience out there in the hope it would be helpful to people. So yeah. It’s been a lot of fun, actually. I’ve met a lot of people through it, and I get responses from people, what they’ve written, and it’s another way of sort of reaching an audience, and building a community of writers, as well, I think. The internet is so useful for that, for writers to just be able to talk about their craft and their ideas.
BW: Yes. There’s everything from fan fiction (some of it good, a lot of it bad), all the way to Big Finish for instance, a group of fans originally doing stories that they wanted to do. I think your blog is a good promotion particularly for young writers that won’t get an opportunity through the standard route through school, or something like that. So I think it’s an excellent approach. Will you be writing a little bit about your latest episode?
DM: I should be really, yes. I haven’t written anything yet, but perhaps I should write about the experience of writing.
BW: I think it would be a good encouragement for people coming up, because it would give them an idea of where they can go. I’ve certainly seen a lot of people in the fan world that have done some really talented things, and it’s allowed them the opportunity to grow. So I think your blog gives that encouragement.
DM: Yeah, I hope so. I hope it can help some people. You’re right, I should definitely do it.
BW: I just think the selling points are the little anthology series, and the people writing it, and seeing experienced people write something, and seeing it’s attainable for them, as opposed to something out in the stratosphere.
DM: Yes, I think this is the thing about writing really, isn’t it? When I was a kid being a writer felt very unattainable. It wasn’t something that people like me did. So I think it’s really important to be as encouraging as we can be to young writers, and to say “we’re not any different to you. We’ve done this, and you can do it too”.
BW: I think your blog adds that. I’m going to use it with my daughter, because she likes writing such stories too. So she can see that she can do something similar going forward. I’m very much interested in that. What other ideas would you like to do in a little short? Do you have any other ones that you might be coming up with, or any other new series that you’d like to talk about?
DM: Yeah. I’ve got a few things in development. Some of which are sort of sci-fi, and fantasy related, some of which are not. But I kind of can’t really talk about them yet. Of course, they never tell me when they’re going to happen. I’ve got at least one idea for a short that I’m talking to someone about making, actually. A young director. So fingers crossed, if we can get everything together, that might get made.
DM: So more stuff will be appearing from me soon. You’ve inspired me now. I’m going to do that this weekend.
BW: Okay, well thank you very much. And it was really lovely to talk to you.
Twisted Showcase Returns next week with another new episode.