Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Lots to do? Struggling under the weight of it all? Then you need a list!

Some days I don't know whether I'm coming or going I've got so much to get through. It's hard to decide where to start, what to work on first and what to ignore (at least for a few days). The answer is simple and I don't understand why I struggled on for so long without thinking of it - make a list!

All you needs is a numbered bullet point list (easily created in word) so you can list out all the things you have to work on. Put the most important project at the top - for me anything that is commissioned and has the nearest deadline - then put the least urgent projects towards the bottom of the list. As you work through them cross them off... simples!

You'll be surprised at how such a simple thing can motivate you so easily. It's especially satisfying for me to cross off the work I've done and I'm really happy to see my list with black marker pen through several lines. It tells me I'm making good progress.

Sometimes I even go further. If I've got several projects that are important I'll make another list, organising my day so I can give some of my time to each of them. It's a great help clearing urgent work quickly.

It's also a good idea spending 10 minutes every day, before you sit down to work, to quickly go through your list and update it if necessary. I find my list can change quite often and I always want to try and keep ahead of myself.

Another list I find useful is one for goals. No, not the goals in the World Cup, but in the achievement sense. Set yourself goals for the year, pin them up on your wall behind your computer screen, where you can see them easily. As you achieve these goals cross them off. Top of my list at the moment is to get one of my features at least into preproduction by Christmas and another to be commissioned for a TV episode. Remember though, setting unrealistic goals will only leave you frustrated at the end of the year when you don't meet them. The idea is to motivate, not disillusion.

Spending ten minutes a day to organise your lists, will make your day go a lot easier. Good luck!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Danny contemplates his next gem of advice.
Last weekend I spent a lovely couple of days at Kingston Lacy in the company of other writers, listening to the wise words of Danny Stack. The occasion - Writing for Children's TV, all thanks to the organisational skills of the lovely Rosie Jones.

After two days stuffing myself with the sweets, biscuits, coffee and fruit, I came away with a greater knowledge of the world of Children's TV, a bigger belly and ten A4 pages of notes. Some of the things Danny covered over the weekend were:

  • The UK Tax Credit for animation.
  • Which channel was looking for the most writers.
  • The one page pitch.
  • How to approach production companies.
  • How to get a commission.
  • The breakdown of age groups.
  • The breakdown of episode length.
  • Beat sheets.
  • Scene by scene.
  • Fees.
  • Series bibles.
  • Brainstorming ideas.
  • Pitching.
  • Writing an episode.
  • Get voice over artists on board to help pitch your show and characters.
Danny shows us they way.
It was a wonderful learning experience, in delightful company, and Danny even made time to listen to our ideas one-to-one and give feedback. If you ever wanted to write for Children's TV then it's really something you shouldn't have missed.

Luckily for you Danny is doing another course on November the 15th and 16th, again at Kingston Lacy. You can find the link HERE.

In other news from Danny, the Kickstarter campaign for 'Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg?', a children's mystery feature he wrote with Tim Clague, due to shoot later in the year, begins next week (keep an eye out for it). There are also auditions being held at Lighthouse, Poole's Centre For The Arts on Saturday 14th for the child parts in the film and you can find the details HERE.

While I was locked in a room with Danny over the weekend I took the opportunity to interview him
about his up coming feature and here's what he had to say.
DOM: Where did the idea come from for 'Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg'? 
DANNY: Tim was keen to do a kids’ film, and what with me writing a lot of children’s TV, it seemed like an ideal way to team up and make something. We brainstormed a few ideas until we came up with a murder mystery set in a summer camp where 4 misfits kid investigate the apparent murder of the camp’s mascot. Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? was born! 
DOM: When are you planning to begin shooting? 
DANNY: We start at the end of August, and shoot mainly weekends over September and October, before finishing with a full week’s filming during October half term. This is due to children’s availability, plus our low budget needs. 
DOM: How much are you looking to raise and what will it be spent on? 
DANNY: Our Kickstarter target is £12,370 which is to cover our day-to-day production costs: transport, food, filming with kids, insurance, etc. We’ve got two stretch target goals in mind, one to cover our Kickstarter commission fees, and the other to secure a cameo from a well-known actor so that we can broaden the appeal of the film even more. 
DOM: Is the Nelson Nutmeg costume up for grabs for whoever donates the most? 
DANNY: Not at the moment!  But that’s something we could look into once the film is finished! 
DOM: Where can people go to be kept updated about 'Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg?' 
DANNY: We’ve got the main website and we’re on Facebook as well as Twitter 

DOM: Where can people go to volunteer to help out during filming?
DANNY: We’re lucky to have a great local crew helping us for the film so we don’t need any volunteers as such. However, if you’re interested in being an extra, then check out the Kickstarter page for that particular perk, or contact us for more info. 
So there you go. Good luck Danny and Tim.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


Act 3 is where the following should happen...

The final battle.

Where the protagonist and the antagonist have their climatic struggle, where they face off for one final time before the champion emerges victorious. It's worth noting here that the protagonist doesn't have to win all the time. Sometimes it can be far more interesting for the antagonist to win, or the protagonist to win only to find his life still changes for the worst. Don't ever be afraid to mix it up, to play with the audience's expectations, to give them something they'll talk about for ages after. This is what will make you stand out form all the other writers out there. And above all, whatever direction you decide to go, your ending should always satisfy.

Tying things up.

All your plot threads must be resolved by the end of the screenplay. There's nothing worse than walking out of the cinema and thinking, 'What happened to that tall guy after he popped out to buy some garlic bread during the final battle scene of the zombie apocalypse?' Tie up all those loose ends. Again they don't have to have a happy ending, they just need to be resolved. Your act 3 will look messy if you don't and will be very unsatisfying.

New world order.

I've read a lot of scripts that end just after the final battle between the protagonist and antagonist, especially with thrillers and action scripts. However, I like to add two or three scenes more to show the protagonist's new world, how he's changed and how that change has affected his immediate environment. How has the protagonist grown? What has he learnt? What has changed? What is his new world view? How do his friends/family/work colleagues react to the changes in him?

So there you go, three acts split into four easy sections. Remember though, there are no hard and fast rules about what you should do. You should always be flexible, adapt ideas to fit your own writing style and not be afraid to experiment with new ones. All the things I do when writing a screenplay have been honed from literally thousands of hours of discovering what works for me and what doesn't. I'm always eager to listen to other people's ideas, just in case there's something there that will better my writing.

Happy writing people.