Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Last Time We Spoke...

Was a very long while ago but here are a few updates.

First off:

I didn't make the Final 10 of the Peter Ustinov Competition.

Now I don't actually know what that means because: Is that a positive or a negative? I didn't make the Final 10 could be good because I'm nearly there but not quite - but then in the same instance I could have been binned with a thousand other hopefuls and they've sent us the same e-mail to keep our hopes up.

"Sorry, you didn't make the final 10"

They did however offer feedback and I thought what's the worst they can say and maybe I'll learn from it. I was wrong, the feedback was terrible and just made me question the competition -- I'm not bitter, here is the feedback:

“The story is good, but it launches late, it is not clear who's story it is, the characters are believable, it does not sound origional but it is done differently, there is clear visual realization”

Yes, the woman who is in charge of communications for a Screenwriting competition has poor spelling and grammar. I'm annoyed I'm writing like this because it sounds like I'm pissy, when I'm not, I just feel like getting this off my chest.

So let's kick on,

The story is good, but it launches late

Page 3 is too late? Because that's when mine starts.

it is not clear who's story it is

It's a family drama, it's about the family.

the characters are believable, it does not sound origional but it is done differently

I actually take this bit as a compliment.

there is clear visual realization

Thank you.

Enough about that, the Ustinov competition, I didn't make the grade.

Young Writer's Programme at Everyman Theatre

I got to the interview stage which was pretty cool, went and had a snoop round at the theatre and to be honest, thought I got the gig - Which would have meant 6 months of workshops, meeting writers like Jimmy Mcgovern and making contacts. It wasn't to be.

However they now know my name so I'm going to send a play in soon and a full-length one in January (That is when the people who got on the programme are supposed to hand in their full-length plays)

Setups and Payoffs.

I'm starting to become obsessed with this device in screenplays. It's such a cool technique and I've got to start using it more.

I'm not going to patronise you by explaining what they are but they are used a few times in Casablanca, The Office (U.K) (when Tim gives Dawn the drawing she did of him) and in a screenplay I read the other day by Max Winkler where he kind of did an amalgamation of the above two but I've got to say, he pulled it off.

So use Setups and Payoffs - You'll look like a Pro.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Cover Page

I have a thing for cover pages. Here is one to a script I'm sending off next week to the prestigious Peter Ustinov competition...

Wish me luck.

In other news, go and read Aaron Sorkin's The Social Network -- It's awesome and will inspire.

That is all.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Summer Reading

I'm a pretty terrible reader.

I order them off Amazon, I enjoy opening them and then I put them on a shelf. That's about it.

However over the summer I'm really trying hard to read more, seeing as I'm living off a fat student loan and probably won't be getting a job for two months I should really get some productive things done. One of those things is finishing the books I've got 5 chapters into or less.

Here is my summer reading list:

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre

Hollywood by Charles Bukowski

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland

Big Sur by Jack Kerouac

Friday, 24 April 2009

A Few Excerpts.


Here are some tiny snippets from the script we intend on shooting come July 1st.

Part of a scene where the main character (Jack) runs into his ex-girlfriend and her new cooler musician boyfriend:

Here Jack hides in the bushes with his best friend Pete who's not so keen on the idea:

You can't really tell much from the above but it gives you a little insight in what we're trying to do and you get a few punch lines.


Today we are posting for crew via Shooting People. It's £30 to sign up so it better be worth it! I'll probably post the ad here just for keep sakes and future reference. Getting a Cinematographer and a Sound Man to work for free for 20+ days might prove difficult...


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

I'm a terrible blogger

But in the time I've not blogged I've written a feature length screenplay. *applause*

Well not quite, I'm 5 pages away from the FADE TO BLACK

It's been a quick write, I wrote 25 pages in two days which is probably the quickest I've written on anything.


On one of my pessimistic screenwriter days I thought to myself "This is actually what I want to do, what happens if I don't make it" - This instantly created a character, based on me, about ten years older who hasn't 'made it'. I knew it had dramatic elements but also had a lot of room for comedy.

How the writing partnership worked

I don't really like the idea of writing with someone else and I hadn't so it was a new experience but I've found it really encouraging and I suppose it's a step to becoming a better screenwriter.

Taking criticism, brainstorming, deciding if scenes work or not and the general back and forth of the process is an eye opener. I think writers arrogantly want to do it all them self and it's not always the best way. With this I was stuck on page 40 and had hit a wall, there I brought in Paul and the next 20 or so pages seemed to flow pretty well.

I might post an excerpt from the script in the next few days, don't hold your breathe though, look at the title of this blog :S


Saturday, 24 January 2009

Outlines. Do you need them?

This week I've been speaking to a screenwriter who spends a long time outlining and I caught him off guard and just said "Why?" He couldn't really give me a good enough answer, I said "Why don't you just start writing and you'll find your character along the way" -- We disagreed and he still hasn't started writing, in my opinion it's just a form of procrastination.

"I'm not going to write because I feel like I don't know my story and my characters"

Well that's a fair enough point but how are you going to know your characters by never writing. For example the first pilot I wrote, I thought it up for ages, maybe 6 months and I did outlines, scene for scenes and character grids and when I got down to it, only 1 out of about 6 characters felt right. But then I had a first draft to work on and I could go back over it till the characters all improved. The screenwriter in question has nothing, he's wasting time like I did.

This isn't a naive standpoint either, I'm not on a high horse, most top screenwriters don't outline.

Two quotes (that I'm paraphrasing) I've heard over the last couple of weeks.

George Lucas when asked does he outline said "Hardly ever, I do what my friend Francis (Ford Coppola) taught me to do, lock myself in a room and just get through it, the first draft is going to be terrible but writing is rewriting so you might as well get that first draft out of the way as fast as you can"

The second being Fight Club scribe Jim Uhls who I'm lucky enough to talk to via the net quite regularly, he says "I don't outline because it's like shooting your load early, I like to explore and outlining ruins that."

I'm not for one second saying neglect planning but there is a distinct difference between a few grids to outlining every scene and spending months on the character's back story. Like Uhls said, "explore" you'll find your way.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Writer's Block? What's that!

Hope I haven't scared you off with the title.

Anyway I've been listening to a stupid amount of interviews with screenwriters over the past few days and a few little gems cropped up courtesy of David Chase and Aaron Sorkin.

When asked about writer's block and how he deals with it Soprano scribe simply said:

"Writer's block, that is just something I don't understand, it's having trouble writing right? Well that's just writing!"

At first I laughed but the more I thought about it the more it's absolutely spot on, what is writer's block? It's just hitting a wall where you feel you can't write any more or you get stuck in a certain scene and can't get out. Again it's not 'the block' it's just part of the process we're addicted to.

With a lazy ass google definition here are these two written short hand:

an inability to write; "he had writer's block; the words wouldn't come"

Writer's block is a phenomenon involving temporary loss of ability to begin or continue writing, usually due to lack of inspiration or creativity.

Both of the above serve Chase's argument, especially the latter, which when you think about it should be written:

"Procrastinating due to"

I salute David Chase. Writer's block doesn't exist.

When Aaron Sorkin was asked the same question he was kind of straight down the middle, he wasn't debunking it didn't exist but more "It means I have to do anything to get through it, even if it means me standing on my head whilst eating" - So his answer was more, yes it does exist but I only see it as a further challenge. Which is a very cool way to look at it.

Interviews With Screenwriters

Also if you read one comedy screenplay this whole year, let it be Chad Schmidt, I'm not going to ruin the genius premise but google, download and enjoy. It's like Curb Your Enthusiasm meets Arrested Development with a pinch of Being John Malkovich.