Monday, September 26, 2011

LSWF 2011 - Tickets

The London Screenwriters Festival is nearly upon us (starts 28th Oct) and there are a few tickets left. If anyone is interested then please follow the link below to sign up and use the code (also below) to get £30 of your ticket. There are already some great speakers lined up and it's a great chance to network your socks off. Remember there aren't many tickets left so act now to avoid crying like a baby when they won't let you in.

Go on, you know it makes sense.

Discount code is 2385251

Hope to see you all there :-)


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

LSWF 2011 - Preparation

LSWF 2011 is five weeks away and by now, if you're serious about being a writer, you should be preparing for the event.

Things To Do:
  1. Buy your ticket if you haven't already.
  2. Sign up for the speed pitching. It's a wonderful chance to get five minutes face-to-face with an agent or producer, and not one to be missed.
  3. Make sure you have accommodation close to the festival. If you have to travel a fair distance every day, you'll miss out on valuable networking time.
  4. Practice, practice, practice your pitches so you know them off by heart. You never know when you'll be asked to pitch and if you're not ready then you'll blow your chance.
  5. Check the list of speakers every couple of days, research them, choose the ones you want to listen to (or even appraoch to have a chat) and have a list ready for when the schedules are published. That way you can plan which sessions you want to see in advance.
  6. Go on to the Private Delegate Network Page (only accessable when you've bought a ticket), research everyone on it, highlite people of interest you want to talk to and send them a peliminary email and arrange a meeting if possible.
  7. Choose your projects wisely. I would suggest that you choose no more than three and make sure they're finished, proof read and the best you have.
  8. Order at least 250 business cards, you'll need them. Make sure they're blank one side so people you speak to can write notes about you afterwards.
There will be another handy list coming your way soon, chock full of advice on what to do when you get to the festival.

Now get researching!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Musaab Ag's Variety Article

The director of my short film The Traveller, Musaab Ag, has had an interview published in Variety Arabia magazine. A transcript of the article is below:

mussab ag talks to variety arabia about his first mystery thriller, “the traveller”, and the ups and downs that came with it
BAdAr i. sAlem – duBAi
Filmmaking was not an obvious career choice. He studied photography and music and has been working in the media industry for almost eight years now. But Mussab Abdel Ghafour, or Mussab AG, 26, was always fascinated with films and filmmaking. For him, cinema beautifully blends different magical combinations of sight and sound, creating a world of fantasy and hope.

“I was bitten by the film bug early on and visuals have always interested me. I always wanted to be able to tell stories with vivid, colourful, multi- faceted characters using pictures and sound,” says AG, who is a big fan of English director Ridley Scott and “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson. “They both have an extraordinary ability to create worlds and genres in their movies, which always have a profound effect on me.”

A filmmaker’s first feature film is usually a project of passion, to which he devotes all his time and energy to make it the best film of his nascent career. This certainly seems to be the case for AG. His first mystery-thriller film, “The Traveller”, was selected at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner (SFC) – a good start for a first-time filmmaker. “It was such a rewarding moment when I [found out] my very first film had been selected at Cannes SFC. It was a great impetus to me to keep going and I hope it will be

Musab AG’s first mystery-thriller film, “The Traveller”, was selected at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner

to anyone who dreams of becoming a filmmaker.”

The way AG talks about “The Traveller” makes you want to watch it. He may be young, but the knowledge he has of human vulnerabilities, fears, doubts and the uncertainties in our minds and hearts is pretty striking.

There is only one character in the film; the other character was created from the main character’s inner voice, his doubts and fears. Both characters collide in the film. “By showing the conflict between the main character and his other-self, we were able to show other emotions, from revenge to love, guilt and doubt. We don’t show all of this in the film, we just hint at it.

“I won’t say that the main character is 100 per cent good or bad; there is no black and white. The character struggles between both. I want the audience to decide.”

AG likes to refer to himself as “we," as he believes the film is a collective achievement. By “we” he refers to the scriptwriter Peter Mitchell, the screenwriter Dominic Carver, the lead actor UAE-based Ibrahim Renno and the cinematographer Jack Elliot, among others.

AG notes that the film script was originally a three-page story idea from Peter Mitchell. Dominic Carver then worked extensively on the script, making it longer, more twisted and mysterious.

“We kept working on the script until the night of the shoot; all of the team was on the same track when it came to how we wanted the film to look. They all deserve a big thank you and much credit for their work on the film.” Despite having a supportive and talented team, AG had to overcome many challenges while putting the film together.

“Shooting the whole movie, including the stunt shots, over one night in adverse weather conditions was a big risk,” he acknowledges. “I had to take care of almost 30 crew members, as well as some technical issues, and make sure we wrapped the film before dawn. We had to postpone the shoot three times due to logistical problems. I also had to give up so many ideas due to time and budget constraints.”

The film, which was shot near Fujairah in the UAE – “a surreal place with beautiful mountains”, as AG puts it – had a budget of almost US$13,000 and was self-financed. Regarding the decision to make his first film in English, AG has one direct answer:

“I wanted to emphasise the story and emotions and take out the language element. Besides, the screenplay was originally written in English, and having it in English will help promote it at international film festivals.”

Asked about what he wants his audiences to walk away with after watching “The Traveller”, he replies: “I always try to balance between these two goals – good entertainment and a good concept. I want the audience to go out with both. The story is like a shape made by dots and I leave it to the audience to connect them.”

AG is currently working on a short and a feature film, both of which are in the drama/thriller genre and being written by UK-based Dominic Carver. For him, the journey into the wonders of cinema has just started.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

It Begins

And I'm back...

I'm finally back at my desk full-time after seven months part-time, while my dear lady wife was on maternity leave, and to mark the occasion I've started a new feature screenplay. There's nothing quite like the feeling of starting a new script and even though I've spent months planning it, it has already begun to grow a life of its own. Nearly twelve pages in and characters are starting to change from how I envisioned them, scenes have relocated to new places and personalities have started to affect how characters act and react.

That's what I love about the first drafts; they have a way of running away from you, in directions you never expected, even if you have meticulously planned every detail before hand. They're very experimental, very organic by nature and you shouldn't be worried if your screenplay does go off in unexpected directions. Let it!

With your fist draft you're just finding your way, fleshing out your story and characters, seeing how it all fits together, or doesn't. This is the most glorious time for a writer, to be able to just put words on pages, letting them flow from your unconscious, allowing them to be born, to breath and grow. I know of so many writers who can't resist the urge to go back and immediately rewrite what they've just put on paper, forcing their words to conform to their story. The first draft is the time to get your ideas, all of them, on to the page, even ones that come to you as you write. Reigning in those ideas and tidying up will come with later when you rewrite; you can worry about such things then.

For now celebrate your creativity and let yourself go. It's a wild ride, so enjoy it.