Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I'm impatient and always have been. It's so all consuming and almost impossible to ignore. Sometimes I think I might actually die of impatience one day. I may have even written about it before, indeed I'm sure I have, but here it is again rearing it's ugly head, taunting me with possibilities just around the corner.

I'm feel like my eleven-year-old self again waiting for Saturday morning so I could run up to the paper shop with my pocket money to buy the latest copy of 2000AD and a bag of pineapple cubes to munch while I read. Those Saturday mornings were the best, but the six day wait before was always pure hell, full of nervous anticipation that would occupy my thoughts every waking moment.

These days it's waiting on others, specifically; the editing of a short film to be finished, for a deal to be struck on a feature or TV mini series, for a mind blowing cast list to be confirmed, for a short film to go into production, for confirmation of a job offer, for an offer of representation and for payment for services rendered. But I have to be patient, things don't happen over night. It would be nice if they did. So I wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait. Sometimes I seriously wonder why I haven't gone out of my mind already!

I can't let it get to me though, otherwise I would be emailing and phoning everyone, every minute of every day and soon people would get fed up of me and stop answering my calls and emails. So for things I know are happening soon I'll chase up every two weeks and for those things I know will take a while I'll stay in touch roughly once a month, just to keep myself up to date with progress, not to moan at them for not getting things done, because that would be bad.

It's worth noting the short film I'm waiting to finish editing so I can see a copy has been two years plus in the making, but I know it will be worth the wait when I see the finished version.
So how do I cope? By allowing myself a small treat now and again when I finish a project or if I have something pretty awesome to celebrate.
And this fat boy is today's treat for finally finishing The Lost Soul screenplay. Don't mind if I do :-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pimp Yourself

The ever lovely Mr Scott Castle asked me yesterday how I go about getting work as a writer. This is a very good question because the answer is I don't. Let me explain...

All the work I have been commissioned for so far has been the direct result of two things; networking like a beaver and having a great, highly polished calling card script that people love.


I have found by years of trial and error that the best way to get work is to put yourself out there and by that I mean you need to network like a fanatic, getting to know everyone and showing genuine interest in what they are doing. When I say everyone do I mean just producers and directors? No...I mean everyone, everyone even remotely connected to the entertainment industry, actors, casting directors, script editors and fellow writers at all levels. And you have to show a genuine interest in their work, because if you don't they will know and think you're sucking up to them just to further your career. I don't have that problem because I have a passionate love of film and TV and a general curiosity about people, so I find it a pleasure to talk to others (even if it does terrify me sometimes) and find out what they are working on. Remember it's about them, not you, so never, ever go begging for work. Remain helpful, polite and never pushy. If like me this comes naturally to you, then it's a great advantage, otherwise you'll have to work very hard at it.

I find it helps to keep a spreadsheet of the people I meet detailing when we last talked and what about, as it can get quite confusing when you have met literally hundreds of people, especially if you are as rubbish at remembering names as I am. Some days I even need help remembering my own name.

Signing up to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn help with the process, but you must remember everyone will read what you write so keep a separate account for personal use and gobbing off, and one for professional. You are what you write after all. Personally I chose to only have one account on each site, as it would take too much time to keep up with separate accounts. Therefore I have to be very careful not to Twitter or Facebook when I come home from the pub and think it's funny to post a picture of my bum. General personal stuff is fine, it makes you appear human, just as long as it's not offensive.

Writing ten or fifteen short scripts and offering them free to up and coming directors is a great idea to get your name and work out there. Plus if any are made it will give you something to be proud of and a credit on your CV. A good place to find directors is on Shooting People. Always remember to check out the directors previous work first to see if it's of the quality you want your short to be and if they are intending to place the finished film in festivals. That last bit is important as this will increase your exposure.


This is the one that best showcases your writing. It is not designed to ever get made (you're lucky if it does) but to show others what you can do. Make sure it is the best it can be before you send it out, as a sloppy, poorly written script will not impress anyone. And you need to send it everyone - production companies first and places like the BBC Writersroom and Industrial Scripts, and then to smaller producers and directors and actors and just about everyone, but with this second group of people only if they request to read it first.

And this is where the networking comes into its own. If you've done your job properly people will also be genuinely interested in knowing what you are up to and might ask to read your script. If they like your work they might even offer you some work.

It's really all about building relationships and an awareness of your work. Do this and eventually people will come to you when they need a writer and one day you might even get paid for it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


I got a phone call the other week from someone I knew of but had never spoken to personally. Nothing strange or special in that you might think, unless you consider how the phone call came about.

In March 2011 after the birth of my second son I found myself too busy to write and too tired to concentrate, but with enough time to sit down for short periods and do little things. I decided to make the most of that precious time and email people I had met over the years at various events, online, or who were in my LinkedIn contacts. The idea was to say hello and see what everyone was working on, just to be friendly. I can't remember exactly how many emails I sent, but it was in the hundreds.

The response I got was magnificent and on the whole positive until two self important people decided to take offence to me emailing them, accusing me of trying to worm my way into their little incestuous group for the purposes of furthering my career by sending out cut and paste emails. The emails I received from them were rather nasty and spiteful and at some point one of two was ringing up others I know and checking what I had emailed them...all very childish and very unprofessional. What was meant to be something positive was turned sour by the actions of those two cruel bullies. The experience left me a little deflated to say the least. But I eventually got over it and forgot about the incident.

Then last week I got a phone call out of the blue from someone on my LinkedIn contact list who apologised for not replying when I sent him an email last year. He told me he was busy at the time and had simply forgotten about the email, but had meant to reply. He was very impressed I had taken the time to email him and enquire what he was working on and laughed off the incident with the two little bullies after reading about it in one of my previous blog posts (now deleted). He went out of his way to let me know he appreciated what I had done, even if the two bullies hadn't, and we continued chatting on the phone for over an hour about what we were both working on. At no point did we discuss how we could help each other, or how we could get work via our respective contacts, it was just two people talking about their love of TV and movies. It was a lovely, heart warming phone call and it really made my day :-)

If you feel like me and if you're happy to share with the world what you're working on please do so in the comments, after all we are a community of film and TV lovers and I personally would love to hear about everyone's projects.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


5.30am is not a good time to wake the wife and kids on a Sunday morning so they can drive you to the train station, not if you want a peaceful life. They tend to be very cranky at not having enough sleep and the wife won't let you forget it...not days after, not weeks after...probably never... but I did it anyway. The reason? A training course on How To Make A Low-Budget Feature Film held at the Industrial Scripts' offices in London.

Now I know what you're probably thinking, why go to a course that is primarily designed for producers? The answer is because I thought it would give me a greater insight to what producers have to deal with, the mistakes to avoid and what potential things in a screenplay can eat up a budget. And you know what, the course answered those questions and so much more.

I have to admit a lot of the information, especially some aspects of budgets, raising funds and tax breaks did go over my head, but I did learn the kinds of obstacles that can cause producers problems and projects to fail. I found this very helpful as a writer. For example on a low-budget production even the shortest delay in handing in the finished screenplay can lead to the project folding and the company set up to make the film going bust - as the course speaker Richard Holmes said, "Writers lie!"Lesson: deliver when you say you will and they'll remember you fondly for it. Delays cost and money can easily run out, much quicker and almost over night on low-budget productions. It was also interesting to know how much even the basic stunts can cost, setting someone's head alight for instance costs about £15,000, so on a low-budget film you can only do that once.

It was great course and a great day and I've already recommended it to one of my producer friends. So if you're a writer and you don't think you need to learn about the production side of things... think again! I would highly recommend the course. Let's put it this way - there will be a room full of producers looking for great ideas and the writers with the talent to put them on paper - the saying, 'Shooting Fish In A Barrel,' comes to mind. It's worth noting my little trip to London has netted me one collaboration already.

The course costs £156.99 and is money well spent if you get just one job out of it. If you're serious about your career it would be silly not to book up.