Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Review

As I pound away at the keys on my keyboard writing my latest feature screenplay at a furious pace and reflecting on another year gone by - my second as a freelance writer - I can't help but think of what a year of contradictions it has been.

In January 2011 I was in a blind panic worrying where the money for the bills was going to come from, as our second child was due in February. Eventually I had to take a small step back from the writing and get a job in a local supermarket working forty hours a week in the evenings to ensure we had enough money coming in to survive my wife's planned maternity leave. It put me under a lot of pressure, but also gave me some perspective and the chance to take stock of my first year freelance. It also gave me time to plan what I was going to do when I went back to writing full-time and what I wanted to achieve from the three months left of the year when my wife went back to work in October.

Early on in the year, around about March, I was offered the chance to write a romantic comedy feature, but despite my best efforts to get a contract and a writing schedule organised things dragged on for months, eventually fizzing out late summer. The offer of work is still there, but it's not one I'm actively chasing right now. They know where I am if they want me.

The Traveller, a collaboration with Musaab Ag, was chosen as an official selection of the Cannes Short Film Corner in May and did rather well, so much so Musaab and I are now working on three future collaborations together, two screenplays of mine - one a short the other a thriller feature - and a feature written by someone else.

In June I heard back from a competition - The Prequel to Cannes Screenwriting Prize 2011 - informing me I had made the final four. It came completely out of the blue, as I had entered and forgotten about it almost straight away. I was quite frankly stunned and had an incredibly nervous wait for the final results. I didn't have to wait long as the results were announced two weeks later in July and to my absolute delight I discovered I had won the competition. Then everything started to go a bit a good way...

The same script was chosen for Industrial Scripts' Talent Connector and because of this I've had some serious interest from an agent working at a top London agency who wants me to come in for a chat in the new year. I also received offers of work from at least two directors and things were beginning to look really good.

Around came October, my dear lady wife went back to work enabling me to once again concentrate full-time on my writing, which included attending the annual networking event called The London Screenwriters' Festival. Again my award winning screenplay landed me work, a project I'm really excited about, and attracted a lot of interest in me as a writer from directors and producers.

Then in November another writer I know phoned me up and asked, 'What are you working on?'

'Just my Red Planet entry,' I replied.

'Forget that, I've got a job for you' said the writer, who then proceeded to offer me paid work. Contracts and payment were signed and sorted this month and I know find myself commissioned to write my first fully paid feature for a French production company.

So although 2011 started out slow and uncertain, it has graduated into opportunities galore, career progression and some serious paid work. 2011 has been very kind to me indeed.

Here's looking forward to a prosperous 2012 and I hope it's a successful one for all of you out there.

Happy New Year to you all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone.

Peace be with you all.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


I dread reading a screenplay every time I'm asked to sign an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) by a writer wanting me to read their work.

I've signed five NDAs in the last three months and four have been totally unnecessary. So why do people get so paranoid their idea might be talked about and stolen when they really don't have anything to worry about? What do they think I'm going to do read their script and think 'by Margret Thatcher's balls that's a brilliant script, I'm going to steal it and make my fortune?' As if!

The WGGB suggest you simply put a little © by your name on the title page and leave it at that and I agree. There is no need for NDAs because anyone who wants a long and successful career in the business WILL NOT steal your work! If they did their career would be over the instant word got out. No one would want to touch them...NO ONE!

I could understand if the people in question were Hollywood writers with potential blockbusters on their hands (not that they would come to me anyway), or production companies with a project nearly ready to go, but why do new writers in this country insist on having a reader sign an NDA before they send out their script? And I have to be brutally honest here, it's usually the average scripts that come with the NDAs, the ones that don't have a killer plot worth talking about in the first place. That's not to say I haven't seen some very well written screenplays after I've signed an NDA.

Besides you can't protect an idea. Once you've written a screenplay it's your intellectual property by law, but the idea can still be written in a different way, with different characters by someone else. I can guarantee that while you're coming up with your unique blockbuster of an idea there are hundreds of other people, maybe even thousands, having the exact same idea at the exact same time. As if to prove this point earlier in the year someone pitched me an idea for a TV series to see if I thought it was any good, then last month I read the EXACT same idea had been made into a Hollywood film and was due for release soon.

So if anyone is reading this and is thinking of sending me their screenplay to read, don't ask me to sign an NDA before hand, it's not needed...honest!