Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I bought a DVD of a low budget film last week. The cover looked good, the trailer looked great, the cast looked fantastic... but for all the production value obviously poured into the film there was still something lacking... a decent script.

There are some great, well written and very entertaining low budget films out there, but there is also a lot of dross. I can't understand why this is because I know for a fact there are a lot of up and coming, very talented writers out there desperate for a break, so why are low budget films still being made with substandard screenplays?

The one I watched last week was written, directed and edited by the same person. The visuals were excellent, something you would find on a film with a higher budget, it was well shot and acted yet the plot didn't match up to the rest of the effort put in. Why? Was it an ego trip on behalf of the director, that he felt he needed to write the screenplay too, to keep control of his vision? Surely he knew the screenplay was lacking? I can't believe for a moment he didn't care, not when he had taken so much time and obvious effort over the rest of the film. So why not put the same effort into the screenplay?

The thing that bugged me most about the film was the fact there was about thirty minutes of scenes repeating exactly the same thing, getting over the same point again and again with different characters and introducing new characters late on to hammer home the same point. And the worse thing is it did it all with dialogue and not with action. In truth only one of those scenes were needed. Just one. That's roughly twenty-seven minutes of film wasted on nothing.

I really don't understand why anyone would risk making something that is less than brilliant when it's their reputation on the line. There really is no excuse, there are plenty of writers out there who can produce a script worthy of your efforts, so why not use them?

It's what we do.

It's all we do.

Give a new writer the opportunity to show you what they can do. I'm sure they will surprise you. At the very least have a professional reader take a look at your script and give you notes on how it can be improved, then work on it.

Directors, don't just settle for any old script just because you wrote it and want to retain control. That way you're spreading yourself too thin. Concentrate on what you're good at and let us writers do what we do best, then there will be many more high quality low budget films to come.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I have always considered the film and TV industry, and especially fellow writers, as a community, one massive family, a support network I can rely on when I'm having an off day. As creatives we all jump over the same hurdles to get our passion projects and visions up there on the screen and experience the same pain and frustration when we don't quite make it, so when someone I know has overcome all obstacles to actually finish something, then I'm damn well going to make sure I support them in some way or another.

Recently there was the DVD and Blu-ray launch of STALLED, directed by Christian James and written by and starring Dan Palmer, a superb comedy horror that knocks the socks off pretty much anything else out there at the moment. So to support Dan and Christian I not only bought a copy of the DVD I also posted this picture of me with it on Facebook.
My hilarious attempt to help promote the STALLED DVD release. 

My wife thought I was mad! Christian said I went above and beyond the call of duty! To be honest I don't mind embarrassing myself to help promote something I thoroughly enjoyed. Dan and Christian did an amazing job and I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Then last night I went to see DRUNK ON LOVE, screened at Lighthouse Poole, as part of Indie Screen Dorset. Even though I've already seen the film once it was great to see it again on the big screen and see how others reacted to it, and of course support producer Ben Richardson and writer/director David Bryant. I'd previously spoken to them via email and Messenger and it was wonderful to meet them in the flesh and have a good natter about their work, how it's being received and what they are working on next.

So if you have a feature due for cinematic or DVD release, or you have a TV episode due to air, email me about it, as I'm always interested in seeing what other people are up to.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


You're offered your first feature commission. You're super excited. Then the producer tells you it will be on a deferred payment basis. Do you panic, throw your dummy out of the pram and demand payment up front? No... and here's why.

I've seen plenty of new writers on the web tell other new writers they should never work for free and they should always ask for payment upfront. Absolute nonsense! They are probably still wondering why they have yet to land a commission themselves.

As a new writer it would be almost impossible to get paid upfront for your first commission. Your writing might be awesome and the best they've ever seen, but you're untried and you don't have any box office figures to back up your talent. Therefore you're considered a risk and no one is going to pay you upfront because of this.

Most features are paid on a deferred payment basis, especially low budget features. The producer doesn't want to pay out his own money if the project never makes it to production. And why should he? Doing this for even just one project could lead to that producer being bankrupt.

So for a writer it's a gamble to write a screenplay for a deferred payment. If it doesn't get funding or go into production you'll never see a penny. It's also a risk for the producer, relying on the strength of your talent to provide the funding to get your words shot. But it's a risk worth taking.

Writing that first commission on a deferred payment gets you off the ground. It gets you a credit. It launches your career. You can put it on your CV. So what if it doesn't get funding and never gets made, producers know projects fail to get funding, or get made, all the time. You were commissioned to write something, that says something about you. Fingers crossed your screenplay gets funded and goes into production within a couple of years and you get paid. Happy days if it does!

Sometimes though it won't get funding and you won't get paid, but at least you'll still have the experience of writing to a brief and a deadline to fall back on for your next commission. You could always ask the producer for a small payment up front, a couple of thousand maybe, just to help with your living expenses while you write the screenplay. Most producers will understand and won't mind you asking. You might even get lucky and find they do pay you an advance.

Remember it's easier for the producer to get funding if he has a script ready to go and a lot more difficult if he doesn't. Would you part with your money for just an idea? Then why should they?