Thursday, December 28, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Now it's all just a bit of fun so it's up to you how serious you take this, but all you have to do is write a ten page short film script with a Christmas theme and email it to me at scriptwriter(at)thescriptwriter.co.uk. I'll read them and pick a winner by the end of January 2007 and the winning script will then be posted on my website for the remainder of 2007.
Entries to be in by 31st December 2006.
It will be good to see how many dedicated writers there are out there willing to give up a little of their Christmas to write a short.
Good luck and Merry Christmas everyone.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
If you want to view my drunken exploits click the link, as I will be visiting the bar this webcam is outside on Monday from 7.30pm GMT onwards.
I will be back next Wednesday. See you then.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
In those five years the following have been made: Dead Man's Shoes, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, Layer Cake and now Dead Man's Cards, to name a few. And yet I still can't get anyone to commit to making Sins Of The Father. I've even sent it to directors/producers on Shooting People who are looking to make a low budget feature film. Again the same answer, nobody will take it on as the genre is played out.
But is it? If first time directors are still making films like Dead Man's Cards then isn't the gangster flick still alive, and more importantly being used as a springboard to launch careers?
I guess I just need to find someone with BALLS to go and make this "well written" script with "great potential." Easier said than done.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
America is the mother land of screenwriting competitions and rarely a week goes by when I don't receive an email asking me if I want to submit to one. Besides the BSSC the only other notable UK competition has been the Oscar Moore Screenwriting Prize, but since this year's controversy when they decided not to announce a winner the competition has disappeared. Will it return? It doesn't look like it. So now the only option for UK scriptwriters is to enter American competitions, which I think is very sad indeed.
'We're always looking out for new talent,' is something we hear quite often from the UK film and television industry so shouldn't there be more opportunities for us writers. There are other competitions now and again, but most are specific (i.e. only people from a remote valley in deepest darkest Wales can enter, and only if they own more than three sheep) and very rarely are these competitions annual.
I've even toyed with the idea of starting my own annual screenwriting competition, but I realised I would come up against two rather large obstacles; (1) what would I be able to offer the winner as a prize? (2) do I really want to plough through a mountain of scripts on my own? That idea is a no go then.
I guess all we can do as UK scriptwriters is to continue to enter American competitions and hope the UK situation gets better.
If anyone knows of any UK competitions, however small and exclusive, could you add a comment about it here and hopefully we can create a small list of hope.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I am soooooooo excited. I'm off to see Casino Royal this weekend and I can't jolly well wait. I can't remember the last time I've been this excited about seeing a film at the cinema (I think it might have been Batman Begins).
Like my brother I've always been a big fan of Bond, but I've liked the darker Bonds better. My favourite Bond film is On Her Majesty's Secret Service with George Lazenby. I know a lot of people hated him as an actor, but I love the film because it was more about the character than the actor that was playing him. That's why I like Timothy Dalton too.
With Dalton they tried to make the character darker, but studio interference meant they couldn't steer too far from the original formula. This was a shame because it basically put an end to the tougher, more true to the books, Bond that I love.
Bond had to move with the times even if the hardcore fans didn't want this. He also had to be based in reality, especially after that fiasco with the invisible car in the last movie. So goodbye cheap one liners, campness, unrealistic villains and impossible gadgets, and hello to a darker, grittier, more realistic Bond.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Check out the link.
Will James be bidding for this bit of movie history? We shall have to wait and see.
Update 10/11/2006: It didn't sell so it has been relisted and someone has bid. A bargain at 99p.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
If you want to sell your work you have to send it out and that means that people are going to reject you. Reading other blogs tells me it doesn't get any better when you're an established writer. Rejection is a way of life. Time spent sulking about what might have been is time lost putting yourself in a position to be accepted. Read it. Take on board what you need to. Accept it. Forget about it. It's the only way to go.
So how did I bounce back from the disappointment of last week?
Easy, I got back in the game as quick as I could. I sent a script off to Production Company C when they requested to read it, after reading the treatment. It's not a script I'm particularly happy with, but I've sent it out anyway because the more work I have out there the more chance I have of something being picked up. I can't afford to be afraid of sending stuff out, convinced it will be rejected even before it's been read. Just because I'm not happy with it doesn't mean someone else won't be.
I have also sent the same script to a reader for some page by page notes. It's always good to brush up on your skills now and then. It stops you going rusty and keeps you at the top of your game. Even top athletes need to go back to the basics sometimes.
Write it. Rewrite it. Rewrite it again. Proof it. Send it out. It's the only way to go.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Then Marchmont. Not once, but twice.
And last, but not least, Carnival Films.
Oh for a bottle of single malt.
"The rejection gods have it in for you today, my friend. " - Danny Stack.
Do you think????
Update: My dad phoned me earlier to let me know the vet had to put the cat down. It's a cruel, cruel world.
Further Update: A production company I sent three treatments to have requested a script. Ah, I knew there was some good news out there some where.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The other week I noticed I was putting on a little weight and that I was getting out of breath just walking up the stairs. I decided to do something about it. I joined a Kung Fu class.
I know I'll never be a Bruce Lee, but I felt it was an interesting way to get fit, something I would look forward to going to every week. I've only been doing it for two weeks but I'm already reaping the benefits. When I'm writing I get up from my computer every half an hour and practice a few moves or do a few push ups. Not only am I more flexible, but I'm also more alert and I feel fitter for it.
So this is a little reminder to all my fellow writers to remember that exercise is important. You don't have to join a class, go to the gym, or even run around your neighbourhood, sweat pouring off you, your face beetroot read and gasping for your next breath. As long as you get up every half hour and have a little walk around, get the blood pumping, you'll start to feel the benefit. And also remember a healthy body leads to a healthy mind.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Last weekend I started going to Kung Fu lessons. I want to get fitter and decided this would be a fun way. Going to a gym is so boring; I feel like a hamster going around on its wheel when I go on one of those treadmills, and there's always someone fitter than me when I go (when I mean fitter I mean someone whose pecks don't bounce and wobble like a plate of jelly when they run) making me feel inadequate. So I decided Kung Fu was the better choice, and at last I'll be able to kick ass when needed.
After Kung Fu Susie dragged me off horse riding for the first and last time in my life. What crap it is. It's like riding a very high bike with a mind of it's own. I hated it and I've told Susie in no uncertain terms that I will never go near a horse again. You have to stand in the stirrups to let them pee, and God do they pee....for hours, gallons and gallons of the stuff, and you just have to stand there until they finish. And no matter how much you tug on the reins they still go in the direction they want, not the one you do. Stupid creatures!
The highlite of the weekend was my new phone (above). I love getting a new phone having to spend several days setting it up. I've just loaded several CD's on it so I can listen to my music while walking down the road. It's fab and does loads. I don't think Susie was too impressed though as she complained I spent more time with the phone than I did her. She doesn't understand....it's NEW. It's soooooooo shiny. I love my phone.
On the writing front I've started two new series bibles for TV drama series ideas I had last week. No problems or obstacles I've come across yet. I've also had two agents request scripts from me after initial email enquiries. Hopefully the agent situation will be sorted soon.
So a lot has changed in the last week; new experiences, new avenues to explore and new toys to play with. New things are good they add fuel to the writers creativity. So lose that comfort zone and challenge yourself. Welcome new experiences as you never know when you might need to write about them.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
So anyway, for the past few weeks I've been looking for a good television drama series idea with out any luck. No matter how much thought I gave to the subject not a single workable idea would come to me.
I was driving to work last night, a journey of about twenty minutes, and as usual I was daydreaming behind the wheel (one of these days I am going to have a crash). Not only did one idea for a television drama series pop into my head, but two managed to worm themselves free from the creative part of my brain.
Now I'm lucky in one regard and that is I don't need a pen and paper to write ideas down to remember them. All I have to do is think about them for a little while and they kind of get stuck in my head for ages.
So these two ideas were rolling around in my head working themselves out and evolving all through my car journey. When I got to work I had two fully formed, very workable ideas, ready to go. I am starting on the series bibles today.
It's a joy when ideas come to you like that. I bloody love new ideas. Woo-Hoo!!!!!!
Friday, October 13, 2006
'The grass is greener on the other side. At least dreamer Barnaby Valentine believes this until his wish is granted and all women suddenly find him irresistible. It isn't long before Barnaby realizes even the greenest grass hides weeds and the odd obsessed zombie teenage girl camping out.'
Some of you may be aware of a project called Buddha Of Birmingham and certain regretful events that happened relating to it. Below is a post published on my website in an attempt to clear the matter up:
'As most of you will know I was working on a project called Buddha Of Birmingham with Belinda Evangelista. Sadly I have to announce that Belinda and I have dissolved our writing partnership.
What will happen to Buddha Of Birmingham? I don't know to be truthful, as our parting wasn't as smooth as either of us would have liked it to be. Bad words were spoken and professionalism lacked on both sides, something I deeply regret. So all that's left for me to do is contact Belinda and try and work out an amicable solution that will keep the project afloat.
Even with a degree in scriptwriting and five years writing under my belt it came as no surprise that I still don't know it all, even if I sometimes act like I do. I have learnt a valuable lesson: make sure all the details of your partnership are worked out to both parties satisfaction, then get the details down on paper and get it signed by both parties. Make sure this is done before any work on the project begins. This is important no matter how well you know your writing partner.
Hell, no one can accuse this site of not being educational.'
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Stinson Carter, Los Angeles, CA - ANANIAS
Tom Cosgrove, Dublin, Ireland - THE SEA DEVILS
James Duff, New York, NY - MOROCCO
Rick Fonte, Austin, TX - HER FORTUNE
Ken Klein, Portland, OR - IMPACTS AND REMAINS
Yehudi Mercado, Austin, TX - BUFFALO SPEEDWAY
Bret Ootes, Toronto, ON, Canada - ATOMIC EYE
Jill Parker, London, UK - LOVE IN THE TIME OF BOLERO
Jon Preece, Newport, UK - ELVIS WALKS HOME
Greg Shea, North Andover, MA - HEARTBREAK HILL
There are still two UK writers in with a chance which is good to see. Come on Jill and Jon.
I suspect however, that James and Danny might well be supporting Tom.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
They weren't too bad because you could still see all the text clearly, but it was obvious they had been through a photocopier because some of the pages were grey. Worried I had wasted two reams of work's photocopy paper I emailed the font of all my knowledge Danny Stack.
'Send them out if you can still read them,' said Danny, 'production companies expect scripts to be photocopied.' So sod it, they're going out, black lines, smudges and all. I don't want to kill any more trees than I have too.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
"Writing," I said. She looked at me blankly.
"What have you been doing?" she said again.
"I've told you, writing, trying to earn a living at it so I can give you that house and those babies you keep begging me for" I replied.
"So you've done nothing then?"
It doesn't matter that I'm at home all day sitting in front of this computer straining my eyes and giving myself headache after headache just so that Susie and I can live a better life, I'm still not helping around the house. The fact that I hold down two jobs isn't an excuse not to do the house work. It came as a big surprise to me.
I tried to argue, to make Susie understand, "I have TWO jobs Susie."
"Do you get paid two wages?" she fired back at me. Damn that woman can find holes in any argument.
So yesterday was spent doing things around the house. I only intended to clean the kitchen; the oven was in a particularly bad way. It took me a couple of hours but the kitchen sparkled and I knew Susie would be pleased. Dirty and sweaty I went for a bath. I noticed the seal around the bath was moldy. After the bath I ripped it off, treated it and put some new sealant down. White sealant looks a lot better than moldy green sealant. I knew Susie would be pleased.
"What have you been doing all day?" said Susie when she got home.
"I've been doing stuff around the flat," I said, proud of my achievements. I showed her what I had done.
"Is that all?" said Susie said, sounding none too impressed with my work.
"Yup," I said.
"Have you done any writing?" she asked.
"Err, no," I replied.
"Why not? You know I want a house and babies and we can't afford either at the moment."
Sorry, dear," I replied.
A writers' work is never done.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
How many truly original ideas are there in the world? Not many, which makes it even more annoying when someone comes up with an idea that you thought was original a few weeks before. It's happened a lot to me in the last few months and it's driving me potty. Here are some examples.
First of all there was my idea for a three part drama that suddenly turned up in documentary form in the cinemas. I won't go into details on this one because it's still workable..... Just!
Then FX go and announce Brotherhood starring Jason Isaacs, about two brothers, one a crook, one a cop, fighting for control of their neighborhood. I had just such an idea half way through the treatment stage. That one's in the bin then. Bum!
Then came a fantastic idea about a new way to approach writing for TV. Having thought about it for six months, but not being able to put it into action, I was quite miffed when Danny Stack mentioned he and James Moran were going to do something similar. Again I can't mention what it is because their idea is top secret and I don't want James coming around my house with his axe and chopping my fingers off. I need them to type. Besides, I want in on the idea, after all I thought of it first. Not that they will believe me. Thieving gits!
I've come to the conclusion that original ideas are like buses; you wait ages for one to come along and two or three turn up at once. The question is, how quick can you turn your idea around? Don't sit on your idea until someone else thinks of it too, get it down on paper.
PS. This is my 37th post, the same number as the candles on my birthday cake last April. Woo Hoo!
PPS. Danny and James, you haven't really stolen my idea, I was just joking ;-)
Thursday, September 21, 2006
"Annual award established in 1995 in memory of the late television playwright to 'nurture and encourage the work of new writers of talent and personal vision'. Submissions should be made through a BBC TV drama producer or an independent production company."
Hurrah, another competition for new writers.... that was what I thought until I read the last line.
2006 winner: Russell T. Davies
What the f%&k? Since when is Russell T. Davies a new writer?
Does anyone else think this award is nonsense, or is it just me?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Jason Butler, Dublin, Ireland - TON OF MONEY
Stinson Carter, Los Angeles, CA - ANANIAS
Tom Cosgrove, Dublin, Ireland - THE SEA DEVILS
Steven Davidson, Logan, UT - BADLAND
James Duff, New York, NY - MOROCCO
David Eskin, Vienna, VA - THE WALK
Rick Fonte, Austin, TX - HER FORTUNE
Jen Frankel, Toronto, ONT Canada - MINNIE FINSTER
Jason Ginsburg, Valley Village, CA - THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS
David Haynes, Santa Monica, CA - BAD THINGS PEOPLE DO
Kellen Hertz, New York, NY - MASQUE
Ken Klein, Portland, OR - IMPACTS AND REMAINS
Yehudi Mercado, Austin, TX - BUFFALO SPEEDWAY
Bret Ootes, Toronto, ONT Canada - ATOMIC EYE
Jill Parker, London, UK - LOVE IN THE TIME OF BOLERO
Jon Preece, Newport, UK - ELVIS WALKS HOME
Richard Redlo, Albany, NY - THE OTHER TEAM
Greg Shea, North Andover, MA - HEARTBREAK HILL
Ian Taylor, Lilling York, UK - STREET MAGIC
Nizar Wattad, Los Angeles, CA - AGENCY
Well done to Jill Parker, Jon Preece and Ian Taylor for keeping the British end up. Good luck for the final.
You will have noticed that Sins of The Father wasn't one of the scripts mentioned. Never mind, there is always next year.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
I can't remember where I read it, or who wrote it, but I once read an article about copyright, in which the author pointed out that the only people to make any money from infringement of copyright were lawyers. Can you think of any case where someone successfully sued for copyright infringement, because I can't?
It makes sense to assume that the large majority of producers, or production companies, would never dream of trying to steal a writer's idea, because if they were found out their reputation would be in tatters, and no one would want to work with them in the future. So why send out scripts covered in the copyright symbol? Copies of Hollywood scripts I've read are surprisingly copyright free. Besides, copyright infringement is near on impossible to prove legally.
I've also learnt that you can't copyright an idea, because let's face it with the millions of writers and film makers out there two people are bound to stumble on the same idea independently. Let's take Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Tombstone for instance. Two Hollywood films released at around the same time, both of which had rival productions; Robin Hood and Wyatt Earp. You didn't hear them scream 'Copyright Infringement'.
There are two ways you can protect your ideas as a writer. The first is the most simple; don't tell anyone about, or show them, your idea. The second is to write down your idea in as much detail as possible, that way if someone does copy your idea you have safeguarded your version of it. Once it's written down in detail it becomes your intellectual copyright. You don't need the copyright symbol to tell everyone that.
To safeguard your finished script there are several options. The first is to register it with the Writer's Guild of America for which you have to pay. There are also British companies offering this service, but again you have to pay and to be honest they are only taking advantage of new writers' paranoia. The best and cheapest way to protect your script is to post a hard copy to yourself, and don't open it when it arrives.
Otherwise stop worrying about copyright. Seriously, remove the copyright symbols from every page of your script (leave one on the title page if you're really that paranoid). Producers will only think you're unprofessional if you leave them there when you send out your scripts. They think like this; Copyright symbols on every page = New Writer = Crap Script = Bin.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
On Thursday 28th July 2006 David Gemmell past away at the age of 57.
I have every book David has ever written (as I write this I'm waiting for delivery of Shield Of Thunder, David's last book) all of which have been read several times. The pride of my collection is my hardback copy of White Wolf which I had signed by David when I met him at Borders in Bournemouth. I remember the day, I told my boss I was going to see David for the signing at Borders (during working hours), as he was my favorite writer, and I didn't care if I got the sack over it. My boss accepted my passion and agreed to let me have the morning off.
I stood in line to get my book signed until it was my turn. I stepped up nervously, but I needn't have worried. David was a great man, very humble, with no ego. We chatted away like we were old friends. It was a truly memorable, and inspiring experience for me.
Friends have asked me what my favorite David Gemmell book is. After thirty novels I still have to say that Legend is the most read in my collection. What is so appealing about David's writing? He writes real characters, flawed, but essentially good, trying to do the right thing.
David, for me, was, and is, and will forever be, a true LEGEND.
R.I.P. David, you will be missed.
Update: Sheild Of Thunder arrived on my door mat with a gloriously thick sounding thud this morning. My head will be between its pages until I've finished. It's a great shame the triology will not be completed.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Everyone has been asking me if I'm scared yet and to be truthful I'm not. The only thing I'm slightly nervous about is giving my speech, as everyone knows I'm a writer so they're expecting it to be good. I hate public speaking so I've decided to treat it as if I were pitching to a producer. That way I'll get some good practice in and hopefully I won't be so nervous about it. But as for the wedding, that'll be a piece of cake. That may not be the case Saturday morning though ;-)
The wife and I (heh heh heh) will be spending our honeymoon on the lovely island of Kuredu in the Maldives (below).
I can't wait as I've never been that far from my own country before and it looks so good. I've even bought a snorkel set so I can swim with the fishes. I'm so excited I can barely control my bladder.
So anyway, those of you who visit this blog regularly will have to wait until August 22nd before my next post, if I'm really tired when I get back then you may have to wait longer, but I promise to let you all know about the exciting time we had. Bye, bye for now.
Monday, July 24, 2006
A while back I sent World Productions a copy of From This Day Forth. They read it, liked it, but rejected it because it was too similar to something they had just done. However, they went on to say that they loved my writing and thought that I have a talent worth pursuing and developing. They then gave me an open invitation to send them more of my work.
So another script has come back from World Productions this time Where Angels Fear To Tread. Again they liked it but it wasn't something they wanted to pursue at this time.
What do I send them next? I can't decide so I'm going to let you do so. Here are the two choices and their brief outlines.
Title: Sins Of The Father
Genre: Feature thriller/drama
Outline: Will Pearce (17) escapes his abusive stepfather and mother to return to his home town, and the father he hasn’t seen for eighth years. Will soon discovers his childhood memories are a lie as he struggles to come to terms with the violent world his father, Steve, inhabits. But his plans for a reconciliation are thrown into jeopardy when an attempt is made on Steve’s boss’s life and Will finds himself sucked into a life or death game of cat and mouse.
Title: Mr. Valentine
Genre: Feature comedy
Outline: The grass is greener on the other side. At least dreamer Barnaby Valentine believes this until his wish is granted and all women suddenly find him irresistible. It isn’t long before Barnaby realises even the greenest grass hides weeds and the odd obsessed teenage girl camping out.
In the best Big Brother traditions; which one goes, you decide? Please tell me which you think I should send and why?
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Here is the first in a series of how to be professional starting with that must have tool of any writer, the business card.
A business card is essential for a writer because it's your point of contact. It not only holds your contact information, but it also tells the recipient that you're serious about writing and that your script wasn't written on the back of cereal packet during the breakfast the previous day (it might have been but we'll discuss presentation in another blog). It also tells the recipient that you're prepared to put yourself out there.
You don't have to have a fancy one like I do, a plain one, print on one side, with your name, occupation and contact details will do. Don't worry too much about cost because even if you only get a commission from one of those cards it will have been worth it. So make sure to get plenty printed. I found five hundred to be a good number.
I decided to spend a little more money on my cards and had a template designed especially for it. If you look closely at the card you can see that the script in the background is one of my own. No one will ever notice, but I know it's there and I get a kick out of it.
But having a business card is no good unless you're prepared to use them. Keep a small amount on you at all times (because you never know when you might bump into Russell T Davies or Ridley Scott) and hand them out when you meet people in the industry, or to people with contacts within the industry. I paper clip one to every letter or script that I send out. Most come back, but a few have been kept.
It's not uncommon in meetings for people to swap business cards. If someone gives you a card give them one of yours and keep their card in a safe place. If someone doesn't give you a card then give them one of yours anyway. Remember, you're promoting yourself here.
Use it, that's what it's there for.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
You might ask yourself why does a hat make so much difference to your writing? It's because the brim of the hat is in my view and blocks anything that might distract me above it. Think of it as the same sort of thing as blinkers for horses. I'm less distracted when I wear it.
Besides it makes me feel more like a writer, it puts me in the mindset so I can sit in front of my computer for several hours and do that little something that eludes even the best of us at times - actual writing. It focuses me.
What do you guys and gals wear/or do to facilitate the flow of words that will one day become screenplays?
Sunday, July 02, 2006
After paintballing everyone piled around to my house to watch the football (see Olaf, I told you all Swedes were rubbish, everyone kept yelling, "4-4-2 not 4-5-1 you dozy Swede"). After showering and downing two pints of water to regain some lost fluids we started on the beer. Two cases were quaffed before the final whistle had blown. During extra time we had a pizza delivered and the pizza delivery girl came and watched the football with us until it went to penalties, when she jumped back on her moped and raced to her next delivery to watch the penalties. I knew if it went to penalties we would lose, we always do. We can't take penalties for shit.
After the game we went into town. I would report what happened here but for some funny reason I can't remember a great deal. I think I must have been mugged of my memories because my head really hurt this morning. Some of the things that did come back to me during today include; lots of shots including sambuca, a never empty bottle of lager that changed flavour every time I drank from it (At one point it even tasted of pears), exploding a 2ltr bottle of diet coke using a packet of Mentos (you put the sweets in the coke bottle and then stand back to watch as the sweets react with the bubbles and send a fountain of coke 20 feet into the air which drenches your brother's trousers), losing a shoe, running down the middle of a main street without my trousers or boxers on screaming at the top of my voice, playing Halo 2 really badly on the X-Box 360 until 4am and being told to F#%k off by Susie when I woke her for the seventeenth time to tell her I loved her.
Susie woke up the next morning to be greeted by the sight on the left, a real sleeping beauty. I'm not really convinced that she had to take that picture to remind me of my stag do for all eternity. Still, it was a good sleep and much needed.
To sum up it was a wonderful day one I am finally recovering from at 9.30pm.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I received an email a week before asking me to fill in a tick list of the sessions I wanted to attend - "Please find attached a tick sheet containing the session for Tuesday 27th June. Would you be able to tick which ones you are interested in and return to me, we want to make sure that everyone will get to the sessions of their choice." When I got there I was told that people had to sign up to the pitching sessions on their arrival, something as far as I was concerned I had already signed up for on the above tick list. I was told that this was not the case and that all the pitching sessions had now been booked up and I couldn't get on one. This was the main focus of my day and I was quite furious that I wasn't allowed to attend when as far as I was concerned I had already booked my place.
To make matters worse the rest of the events/presentations were basic at best, not really geared to what I would call New Writers trying to break into the industry. The guests simply went over stuff I already knew. It was all basic stuff aimed at people who have just decided to take up writing and not those who have been writing for some while and want a little more insider knowledge to help them along.
Most of the presentations were 45 mins long and so hurried that they were brushing over large chunks of information. The question and answer sessions at the end lasted no longer than 10 minutes allowing for 2-3 questions only. The delegates were then hustled out like sheep to the next presentation by a woman with radio and headset/microphone.
14.00 - 14.45pm Getting in - A Pitching Case Study the fourth presentation was by far the worst. The first 20 minutes were taken up by the presenters telling us their bios, which we already had in our welcome pack. They then talked about how shit the industry was at letting talent in for the next 15 minutes and then during the last five they answered two questions from the audience.
I staid for one last presentation on the legal side of things (contracts, etc) and was treated to a slide show that was brushed over so fast I didn't have time to make any notes. By this time I had had enough and I left for the two and a half hour journey home.
It was a total waste of time as far as I was concerned and I will be writing an email asking for my money back.
UPDATE: I think my lack of enjoyment can be put down to my expectations. Having a degree in scriptwriting I knew pretty much everything that was covered at the New Writers' Day. I was kind of expecting the day to be aimed at those writers who hadn't yet had a sale/commision/option. I wasn't expecting it to be aimed at those people just taking up the craft. 75% of the people who have contacted me seem to agree.
I have been reliably informed by Danny Stack that the Professional Delegates Festival is a winner. I shall be attending that next year.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Maybe I should have posted this before everyone started their 14 day feature challenge? It's a simple device I use to plan out a script to make sure it flows properly. Here's how it works.
Key scenes are the major turning points in your script, inciting incidents, points of no return and major character obstacles. Simply put they are the important points of plot and character development for your main story.
They should roughly be spread out like this; 10 key scenes for act one, 20 for act two and another 10 for act three. Key scene 10 should be your first turning point and the end of act one, key scene 20 the second turning point and the midway point, key scene 30 is the third turning point and the end of act two, and key scene 40 the final scene.
If you write a paragraph for each key scene you then have a rough layout of your plot. Of course you don't need to stick exactly to the 40 scenes, these are just a guideline to the key moments in your plot. Other scenes should be inserted to cover sub plots, build and show character and move the plot along.
I hope you find this a useful tool as I certainly have.
Monday, June 05, 2006
The quickest I've ever written a feature script was in three months. That was Sins of The Father for my final year project at university. We had no other choice than to finish it in those three months but at least we had six months to prepare for it before we started.
The reason I chose to do a rewrite instead of starting a new feature script is that Mr. Valentine has so far taken something nearing four years to complete. Not that I've been writing it for four years, it's just that most of that time it has been sat gathering dust. I've decided to lose one character and a couple of subplots to make the film tighter and give it a better, more logical ending.
I am very interested in the write a feature in fourteen days idea and I think I'll even give it a go again sometime soon. I do have a feature idea ready to go so this is just the motivation I need to get it done. The only reason I haven't before is that I was reluctant to spend another year or so writing one and not doing much work on other projects. I think I'll give myself the two weeks before my wedding to complete it that way I have a self-imposed time limit and two weeks off afterwards to clear my head before I read it.
I had better crack on with this one now though, so I'll see you all soon.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
(1) Change The Way You Look At Life.
If you think of yourself as unlucky you will see bad luck everywhere. With the glass half full the unlucky person will say, "I've only got a bit left." The lucky person will say, "It's not empty and I didn't pay for it."
(2) Make Opportunities.
The more you try the more opportunities open up to you. If you have a script you want to send out to producers then follow the carpet bombing method. The more people it is sent to the more chance there is of it landing on the right persons desk at the right time.
(3) What's Important To You?
Take a little time now and again to slow things down and reflect on what's important to you.
(4) Expect Good Fortune.
Believe good things will happen even when bad things are happening. Never give up, only unlucky people give up. Lucky people keep going and eventually get their reward.
I am Buddha, hear me roar.....meowwwwwww.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
This has been a rollercoster ride for me and a real eye opener. I think I've been through about every emotion there is with the second draft. I haven't doubted myself so much for so long. But now isn't the time to doubt as I've sent it; now all I can do is wait. I've followed their notes but there is always the chance they won't like what I've written and drop the project. I have no idea how I'll react if they do.
My other half keeps telling me to be positive about it. The thing is I am normally a very positive person. My positivity is infectious and most people can't help being positive about things too while I'm around. I'm not arrogant, or at least I would hope I don't come across like this, I just have an unfailing belief in myself and I can't look at life in any other way than 'the glass is half full'. Half full is infinitely better than just plain empty. So why if I'm normally so positive am I acting like a paranoid freak?
It matters, that's why! Everything I've done in the last ten years has led to this day. I need to get this option on my script to validate those last ten years and the direction I have decided to go with my life. And I need the money.
Have you guys wanted anything so much you have almost burst?
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Rewrites make you paranoid, as you're constantly questioning what you've written. "Is it good enough?" "Does this character work in this scene?" "Are my brains dribbling out of my nose?" You start to second guess yourself over the rewrite you're doing for a production company. You've read their notes several times and you worry even more that you're not quite getting it right. It seems to matter more when you're writing from someone else's notes. It matters when there's a chance it might get made, so instead of writing something and being happy with it you keep looking at it and asking yourself, "is it really good enough?"
Then you start to become paranoid about yourself, "am I really any good?" And that's when you become paralysed, your fingers poised on the keyboard but the connection between your creativity and your fingers broken. Amazingly the only thing that does work are your tear ducts.
You begin to realise you've been so tied up in your work you're neglecting other things. Your girlfriend pops her head around the door and asks, "I need some new shoes." "Fine," you say, "just don't bother me again, I'm busy." Before you know it she's bought two pairs of shoes, a pair of riding boots and a £45 dress from Debenhams. Now your wallet's paranoid too. And amazingly your tear ducts still work.
In the end you just give in. The newly rewritten script is shoved in an envelope, sealed and addressed. "Right, that's it," you say as you leave the flat for the first time in weeks to post your work of art, feeling dizzy on all that fresh air.
You get back to the flat and sit down in front of the computer again. You rip open the envelope and throw the script into the bin, "OK, just one more rewrite and then I'll post it." You're not surprised to find that your tear ducts still work.
Friday, May 12, 2006
While I was at Bournemouth University doing a BA (Hons) degree in Scriptwriting For Film and Television it was the norm to discuss your work, or other's work, over a few beers in the student union bar. Even the lecturers were partial to a few pints.
So what is your drink of choice?
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Procrastination is a trap anyone can fall into. It's trapped me now as I'm meant to be doing a rewrite but I'm writing this instead. I'll start my writing in a moment, but first I'll go and make myself a cup of tea.
It's an easy trap to fall into and one that's hard to get out of. "I'll just check my emails," or any number of things can get in you way and interrupt your flow. So how can you avoid it? Here's my guide to the essentials.
When you get out of bed in the morning only allow yourself to do the following - Go to the loo and eat breakfast. If this takes more than half and hour you're procrastinating (or you might be constipated in which case I suggest laxative). Once done sit in front of your computer and start writing. It's that easy, but yet it's also so difficult. "But what about a shower and brushing my teeth?" What about them? You're alone in the house so who's going to care that your breath smells, or that you haven't shaved in a week, that your hair has enough grease in it to fry chips and that you've been wearing the same underpants for the last four days. What's important is that you sit in front of your computer and write. No looking out of the window, no checking your emails, no checking the news on TV, no playing your X-Box, no reading the paper and no making a cup of tea every five minutes. Set yourself a time to start and a time to finish and don't let you bum move from that computer chair until that time is up. And above all write, write like your life depends upon it.
"But what if I have a block?" Just write. Write anything, it doesn't matter what just as long as you write. It may well be rubbish but when you come to do the rewrite you can sort it out then, what you need to do is fill those pages. Don't worry about quality for the moment it's quantity that matters more at this stage.
There is one important question I ask myself every morning, "What is a writer?" If you answered with anything other than, "Someone who writes," or you had to think about it, then you're already procrastinating. Go and bloody write!!!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
We all loved Olaf, or at least most of us did. There were a few who sent him hate mail, but then if you write about your mother you have to expect her to hit back. So why did Olaf court such adoration and hate in equal amounts?
Olaf to me summed up everything that is writing; the seemingly constant rejection, the paranoia, the self-doubt, the ridicule from your so called friends when you tell them what you want to do with your life, the constant search for validity and the hope that one day it'll all be worth it. And on his journey he made us laugh. We thank you for that, Mr. Legend.
So why has he disappeared? I can only assume it all got too much for him. Poor lad, we'll miss him. RIP my friend.
What is you favorite Olaf Legend moment and why?
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
At first I thought maybe it's because these shows can't compete with American imports? British shows like Ultraviolet provide great drama but the only thing I can see that they lack compared to American shows are visual effects. American shows have bigger budgets so more money is obviously spend on special effects and CGI. British TV simply can't match this but surely that means the writing has to be better? If this is so why have shows, such as above, vanished from our TV screens so quickly? I don't know the answer and there are probably multiple answers, a different one for each programme.
So fellow bloggers which British TV programme do you wish they would bring back and why?
Monday, May 01, 2006
Last week Richard Woolfe, Sky One's newly appointed Director of Programmes, wielded the axe for the second time this month. Not one, but two flagship programmes of Sky One are now no more.
What is it with new Directors of Programming that they feel they have to start with a clean slate when they take over? Popular and innovative shows get the axe simply because they were the brain child of their predecessor and not because they were losing ratings. Surly any self-respecting DOP would want to keep a successful show because after all their job relies on good ratings? Or is it an act of ego?
It appears to me that a new DOP simply wants to take credit for their own shows and not the shows of their predecessor. They can't be seen to benefit from someone else's work so they axe them with scant regard to the wishes of the viewing public.
Hex was one of the few successful British Sci-fi series that could compete on the same level with anything the Americans could throw at us. So what is Richard Woolfe going to replace it with? Reality shows are at the top of his wish list apparently. No doubt we'll see several new shows with the world CELEBRITY in them, featuring some unrecognisable people who's only claim to fame is that they one appeared in the Big Brother house for about thirty seconds, or someone who once dated Jade Goody. We lose good quality drama for that? Thanks a lot Richard Woolfe, lets hope you're not in your job for long.
Monday, April 24, 2006
I'm not opposed to spin offs, in fact I'm rather looking forward to the much darker Torchwood, but when I read today on the Broadcast website that yet another spin off was being planned I couldn't help but think that maybe they're milking it all a little too much. With CBBC planning a cartoon of Dr. Who aimed at younger children and Jetix Europe confirming that they are going to make a CGI version of K-9, could my favorite programme be about to suffer from overkill?
Yes, I understand that programme makers want to exploit the audience's thirst for all things Dr. Who but doesn't flooding the market with the product shorten it's life? We all know what happened to Star Trek when the producers created new shows to satisfy public demand; the show failed. It failed because to satisfy that demand quality had to give way to quantity and because of this old stories were remarketed with new crews. The show had nothing new to say and the audience soon became tired and moved on.
It's obvious that more money has been spent on the new Dr. Who series but the scripts have still been a little raw in places, especially the first episode New Earth. I'm worried that in their desire to satisfy demand quality might be lost and in a season or two we might well see the demise of Dr. Who from our screens once more.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
After graduating five years ago, despite a short lived attempt dabbling in computer game writing, he has never tried to follow a writing career. In fact he's actively avoided it. CM felt very strongly his degree was worthless and was very skeptical regarding his fellow graduates' chances of making it in the film and television industry. It came as a shock to me therefore, that he has quit his job and moved to London with the intent of starting a writing career.
Always one to offer encouragement and support I text him to let him know that if he needed any advice he should give me a call. No reply. Thinking he might have changed his number I emailed him a couple of weeks later telling him about my fellow bloggers and how forthcoming they are with advice, as well as offering advice on which books to read to help him on his chosen career path. I even offered him an old version of the writing software I use to help him with his writing. Still no reply.
I know we never saw eye to eye on everything and he may on the odd occasion have had good reason to think me an idiot, but to turn away free help, help that he obviously needs, seems to me to be very silly. He's in London, not earning any money, living off his girlfriend's wages, with no contacts in the industry and with no portfolio of work. I can't help thinking he's making a mistake and that maybe he's not really that serious about a writing career after all. But then it's his mistake to make I suppose.
All I can do is offer my help and let him decide if he wants to take it.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Picture it; Dom Carver on a camping trip with the outlaws, in Porlock, north Somerset. "Lets go for a drive," Steve, my future brother-in-law, suggested. I wanted to go and watch the football but I got dragged along against my will. "Let's visit the Valley Of The Rocks," said Steve with glee. I hate glee, glee means trouble. Glee is the Devil laughing in your face and stamping on your bollocks for good measure.
Once we had gone past the Rocks (very exciting they were too - big granite shaped rock type.... well, rocks) Steve decided to drive us along a single track coast road overlooking a huge cliff, one lacking a barrier between us and the 200ft drop to the rocks below. Now Steve likes large vehicles. I'm rubbish with anything like this so as far as I'm concerned Steve was driving a tank (think something along the lines of the A-Team van... but bigger). We were fine until we were headed back down and met another tank coming the other way. There was physically no room for us both to pass.
Perhaps I should have mentioned before that I suffer from vertigo, so it is safe to say I wasn't enjoying the trip anyway. Steve pulled over to his side (the one without the barrier and the very long drop) to let the other tank past. I was screaming at this point and, I'm not ashamed to admit, touching cloth. There was literally one inch of mud separating us from a tumble to our deaths. As I looked down out of the window in horror the one inch of mud decided to do exactly what I expected us to do a second later. The tank started to slide over the edge.....
When I awoke I expected to be very squashed at the bottom of the cliff melded with the twisted wreckage of the tank. Instead I awoke to Steve laughing in my face and to find we had actually made it down the track and were now parked on a wide road with no cliff-drops in site.
I learnt three things that day:
- Never go camping with your other half's family.
- Always take plenty of clean y-fronts with you.
- If the football's on then go and bloody watch it.
A lesson well learnt.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
However, knowing you've got to lose 30 pages really focuses the mind. While I was working on it today I realised I had tried to do too much with character in the first episode and that was watering down what could be a tense drama. I started to cut several scenes (which I shall probably use in later episodes) and one subplot that were only slowing down the story. Before I knew where I was I had lost over ten pages of script. I thought the process would hurt but instead I found it exhilarating. When I read the first 20 pages again there were no wasted lines.
I learnt a valuable lesson today; kill your babies. No mater how well a line of dialogue or a scene is written, no matter how much you love it, if it doesn't contribute to the story or character then it needs to be cut. I cut a lot of my favorite lines and scenes today and now the script is looking much sharper. I'm not saying it's done yet but it's a lot closer than it was.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I've been after this for years and now I've sobered up after my birthday I've realised it's finally here, and to be honest I feel a little lost. Don't get me wrong I know where I go from here (a re-write from their notes), I just feel strange. For the last five years I've been so focused on getting interest in my scripts I never gave any thought to anything beyond that. Now I have to and it's a little more daunting than the first step.
I have faith in my ability and I'm looking forward to the next exciting challenge of my chosen career. There is some hard work ahead of me but I have the tools to cope with it. It just came out of the blue and caught me a little unawares I suppose.
I can't wait to get my hands on those notes.
Friday, April 07, 2006
I've more hair growing in strange places hair shouldn't grow.
No matter how much I diet and exercise I still have a thick layer of fat hiding my six pack.
My eyebrows are starting to go grey.
Every birthday message I have received so far has started, "Happy Birthday you old git."
No one bought me an X-Box 360.
I hear the pub calling and it's not even 11am.
Another year not commissioned.
Life sure knows how to kick you in the balls.
On the positive side Susie bought me a shiny new strappy-briefcase-bagtype-thingy so that I will look ever so professional when I'm eventually called into a meeting with a producer to discuss my work. I like my shiny present. Happy Birthday to me :-)
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
I'm not a superstitious person and I normally wouldn't give a toss, but just recently I've been having a more positive response to my work and this in turn has elevated my expectations and hopes. Now I'm starting to get paranoid too. I keep thinking, 'what if they didn't receive it and I'm waiting on nothing?'
This got me thinking what if production companies had on-line tracking systems like the major parcel couriers do? You could then log in and check on the status of your script every day.
- Your script has arrived.
- It's being read now.
- We're laughing hysterically.
- It's propping up my desk.
- We've run out of toilet paper.
- We read it with interest but decided you're a twat so we've sent it back - what's left of it.
It would make the writer's life a little less complicated.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Also, has anyone else written a script with a partner and if so what are the good and bad points you experienced?
Friday, March 31, 2006
I also finally succumbed to subscribing to ScriptWriting Magazine, after an expensive few days with my good friend Arne Reidar Mortensen that's another £36 evaporated from my bank account. So I thought, 'Sod it!' and renewed my Shooting People subscription too. There's nothing quite like being overdrawn when you've just been paid.
Maybe I'll spend the weekend writing as I have no money to spend on Guinness. It's a hard life.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Four jobs I've had:
- Database Project Manager
Four films I can watch over and over again:
- High Plains Drifter
- Donnie Darko
- Withnail And I
Four places I've lived:
- Sutton Coldfield
- Norris Hill
Four TV shows I love:
- Battlestar Galactica
- A Touch Of Frost
- Match Of The Day
Four places I've been on holiday:
- Gran Canaria
Four of my favorite dishes:
- Spaghetti Bolognase
- Tom Yum Soup
- Shepherd's Pie
Four blogs I visit everyday:
- Scriptwriting & Scriptreading In The UK
- I Must Be An Idiot Screenwriter
- Light & Shade
- Writing For Performance
Four places I'd rather be right now:
- In Bed
- In The Pub
I hope this satisfies the curious.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
It's the first episode of a series of six but the page count is causing me concern. I originally conceived it as a 6 x 90 minute drama series but looking through the Radio Times I've noticed most drama series run at 60 minutes; EG, Hustle, New Tricks, Mayo, The Royal, etc. But there are a few exceptions such as A Touch Of Frost, Agatha Christie's Poirot and Taggart. Most of the 60 minute dramas are on the BBC and the 90 minute ones are on ITV. It seems 90 minutes are mostly reserved for long running shows or two-part 'event' dramas.
So what do I do? Savage the episode to get it down to 60 minutes, or stick to my guns and go with 90 minute episodes?
Your advice would be appreciated.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Personally I turn my on my MP3 player and listen to Oasis... LOUD! I find that loud guitar music shuts off the part of my brain that tends to wander when I sit in front of the computer to write. Otherwise I'd be getting up every five minutes, making myself a drink, looking out of the window, playing Halo 2 on the X-Box, blogging, reading a book and any number of other things dangerously distracting to the serious writer.
So what works for you?
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
As far as I'm concerned if you're going to set out to do something then you might as well do it properly. The first writing software program I bought was Scriptware. It was very basic and to be quite honest it didn't do it for me. It just felt too slow and other than formatting my script it didn't do a lot else. And to top it all the spell checker was American. I was about to go back to using Word when someone suggested I try Final Draft.
I think the first version I bought was version 3, but now I'm using version 7. What a difference Final Draft made to my writing. It's so much easier to see what characters work, or don't work when you can print off a report of their interaction with other characters. In fact there are so many reports you can print off I haven't yet used them all. Another neat touch I can't live with out is the speech facility which reads your script back to you using digital voices, saving you the effort of trying to track down a friend to read your work for the one hundredth time. The computer doesn't start twitching when you ask it to read through your nine hour Napoleonic mini series for the fifth time.
Another piece of software I have been delighted to discover has helped me to improve my writing further is Dramatica Pro. A friend of mine screamed at me, "Why the hell did you spend all that money on a structuring program when you already know how to structure a script?" The answer is a simple one. Dramatica Pro actively questions your decision making when you're putting down your ideas. It forces you to look at your script from all angles and from different character perspectives. In short it's like having a writing buddy with you every step of the way ready to shout at you when you want to your hero to don spandex to fight crime in North Yorkshire.
Two great pieces of software. Check them out.
What does everyone else use?