Saturday, 27 December 2008

Why I can't write over the festive period and updates

It's official, as soon as mid-December rolls around I can't write.

Not because I have the block, not because I don't want to but because I physically can't.

Christmas at a normal household is busy. In mine it's like a scene from Jingle all the way, you haven't seen it? You're the lucky one, however that also means you didn't get the only remotely funny joke in this post.

I had been writing very little this month and wanted to get in at least an hour on christmas day. It ended up I had to go around FOUR different families to hand out presents and then rush back to eat my christmas dinner before 4. I was lying on my bed asleep and dribbling by 5PM!

I woke up at 10 feeling like a junkie and that it was boxing day. I actually freaked out when I'd got dressed and opened the curtains to see the moon and not the morning sun. I went back to bed - No writing was done.


It's nearly 2009 and as an aspiring writer I would say this: SET GOALS. Why? - Why not? If you don't meet that 60 page TV Pilot by March then you pull your finger out and if you do? Great! Then what? Improve it because it will definitely be flabby.

What I'm working on

A play - I've got the first 3 pages to a one act play I want to finish and hopefully get three really good actors to work on. It's a bit crazy dialogue wise but it's set in a very real place and centers around a very realistic plot - A job interview. It stems from my love of Sorkin's and Mamet's dialogue, I've also for awhile secretly wanted to stage a play and I think the first 3 pages sound pretty good and from an insecure writer that is indifferent about his final drafts that's a really good sign.

A web series - It feels like 2 years have passed since I first wanted to write and produce a web series, that's because it is! That is so frustrating to write. This time it's getting done. The first two episodes are written and I'm currently contemplating squeezing them into one longer webisode and throwing it out there. In short, it's a comedy mockumentary about a loser student filmmaker and before you ask it's not autobiographical.

A TV Pilot. This is my biggest concern because it's something I think could actually interest people to look at me as a writer regardless of my age. It's original, dramatic, believable and dare I say it commercial. I pitched it to an ex-commissioner who was at the BBC and he really liked it, going as far as saying he wanted to see a first draft in January and if he likes it he would help with further drafts and also send it to the BBC with his ex-commissioner recommendation - Result! However there's loads of work to do yet as I'm currently on page 2, with page 1 being a quote about the main theme of the pilot - Celebrity.

So that's me, three projects to keep me well and truly busy.

On a final note. It's nearly the new year so set those goals for the portfolio.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Analysing the scene, Russian hats and my favourite script site

So I've got your attention:

We'll start light, at the moment I've got into the habit of wearing hats whilst writing, OK doesn't sound that strange but I've adopted this as my writing companion:

YES a Russian hat, the floppy ears are great!

Anyway it helps me write so I'm wearing it... as we speak

Analysing the scene

Screenplays are made of ACTS which in turn are made of sequences, and those are made of scenes. So the scene is God right?
Well I think so, after all, if the bricks are weak the house falls down. In my opinion it goes 1) Story/plot 2) Character 3) Scene 4) Dialogue... blah blah 155) Extras - sorry extras

Which got me thinking ANALYSE THE SCENE - too many people just watch TV shows and go "oh that was nice" - "It killed half an hour" or "that show was crap!" - If you don't want a job in this industry then you can afford to do that, otherwise you should be doing more than just watching TV shows. Even the horrible god awful period dramas BBC 1 loves so much can improve the way you write scenes. Learning what not to do is obviously a step forward.

So next time you watch a show THINK:

1) What was the purpose of that scene? The person who wrote it spent a lot of time on it, what was it supposed to mean in relation to the whole plot? Does it do this well?

2) How does the scene start? Does it go straight to the point? Does it linger? Are other things served within the scene, exposition or other parts of the plot commented on?

3) And then in turn How does it end? With a laugh? Relating to the next scene? How would you of ended it?

4) Time and pacing - Was it a 5 minute boreathon? Was it too snappy and you wanted more from it?

Most importantly:

5) Think about everything above and compare it to scenes you write. Are yours too long, take to long to get to the purpose or when you read them back you struggle to find the purpose. If you watch a great show or film and analyse it's scenes compared to yours you will automatically be able to write your scenes better. Therefore improving the scenes, acts and the screenplay as a whole. It will obviously read better.

My favourite site for screenplays

Wow, what a site, new scripts added everyday and I know most script sites do that but these guys get some very good stuff in. Unproduced, alternative drafts and the other day I even managed to get Charlie Kaufman's audioplay 'Hope Leaves the Theatre'

Anyway they are strict on membership and basically people coming in and taking and not giving. So if you want to join send them a nice message and add to the forum now and then.

Happy writing, with or without a Russian hat.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Perfection is only in the mind and dialogue in shoe boxes

Jean Renoir is known to have said "Perfection is only in the mind" and only till last week did I realise what he meant.

A few weeks ago I was shooting/editing a film and writing constantly, some of my own stuff but mostly screenwriting assignments I was way behind on. Anyway I edited my film and I was very disappointed, it wasn't how I imagined it and It wasn't very good - Perfection is only in the mind, but how does this relate to screenwriting?

Well at the time of writing I'm definitely more interested in screenwriting as opposed to filmmaking and a huge part of it is to do with what Renoir said. I don't like the idea of what you wanted to make isn't what you ended up making, it's horrible, it's as if someone else made it! The film I made finished and I was like "is that it!" - "that's not what I imagined 3 months ago"

With screenwriting if you want a car chase you write a car chase if you want it to take place in a school gym you put INT. SCHOOL GYM - It's that easy but with my film so many things went wrong, I wanted a scene by a lake and due to it being freezing outside and actors not showing up it was annoyingly shot in a dining room. It doesn't make a difference to the narrative but it made a difference to me, it wasn't the film I imagined.

I've read that some directors love this process and how the film evolves by itself: from what you thought up into what it becomes - to me it wasn't a nice experience and that was only on a 3 minute film! God knows what it's like when you don't get the cast you wanted or the studio demands re-writes.


At the moment I'm writing a TV pilot. It's a family drama with a twist and I said to a good contact I'd hand it to them by the end of January and at the moment I feel behind (on another thing!) so I've taken inspiration from a writing activity Shane Black does.

He takes a shoe box and writes on it what script it refers to: For example "Crime thriller" "Rom-Com", "TV pilot for HBO" etc and when he thinks of an idea or line of dialogue he writes it down and throws it in. He'll keep on doing this for a good part of the 'thinking up' time. Then when the time is right he'll empty the box, there will be pieces of dialogue, characters, sub-plots, main plots and even locations. So I'm using that and it's helping so I advise you to try it out

*Also if interested here's my box:

Three quick tips on dialogue if it doesn't sound right

1) Think back if you've heard anyone else say it or anything remotely like it
2) Stand up and act it out/say it aloud and see how it feels (make sure no one is watching)
3) If you still can't see why it's not right carry on writing, something might come to you or after the first draft you'll realise it was right with that specific character or maybe, just maybe you were an insecure writer for that split moment (it's allowed)

* If you're a fan of the Office, "that's what she said"

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Films that I think look good

Around christmas time you have some terrible releases and so here are the few films that I think have potential around christmas and into the early months of 2009


Hoffman and Streep will surely make this chilling drama an oscar contender


This, with Mendes, Leo and Winslet could be something special - The trailer looks intriguing to say the least and could be a chilling character study. However the studio released several TV spots during the week and with them I wasn't totally impressed

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

It's Pitt and Fincher back together again, need I say more


For the indie lovers:

My first screenwriting tip!

It's been a few days since I've blogged so I'm going to mess your brains up with two separate blogs (exciting?)

My first tip is going to sound lame but here it is: START IT!

I can't emphasise this enough, start your screenplay. If it's a Feature length, TV pilot or a 30 minute sitcom it doesn't matter, get writing. I know so many people that have decent ideas but don't start the 'process' because their worried the first draft will be horrible - the first draft will be horrible but how are you going to get to the second if there's no first!

Again this sounds very amateur but it does go on! I bumped into a fellow student a few weeks back and here's how the conversation went.

ME: Hey have you started that crime/thriller script yet?
STUDENT: No not yet, I'm tweaking it what did you think of the treatment though?
ME: Yeah it sounds really good mate I just want to read it!!
STUDENT: Yeah I'll get round to it I know it has potential but it's a lot of effort isn't it, 120 pages like
ME: Yeah tell me about it

I saw the same guy the other day and by this time he could have a solid first act, hell if he was committed maybe a first draft:

ME: So hows the first draft of that cool crime script coming along?
STUDENT: Oh I ditched it
ME: You what!?
STUDENT: Yeah I'm not doing it anymore I've started a comedy
ME: Why?!
STUDENT: The thriller was just too much and this comedy is cool wanna hear about it?
ME: Not really, see ya round man *I go home and watch HEAT*

He had a really good idea and I mean really bloody good idea but he let it slip away because he couldn't be bothered starting to write (a writer!) The conversation is obviously shortened: it was to do with little things like he didn't know police ranking in the states etc but nothing a little research couldn't have handled

I'm not saying don't think out your plot, DO, to the max but as the saying goes: Get it written then get it right

After all a writer writes right?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The Deal

Hello aspiring screenwriters.

I'm a young screenwriter and I'm offering the service of reading your screenplays and giving you 5 pages of constructive feedback starting at £10

I'm constantly annoyed when searching the net and seeing the following prices come up for coverage

140 pages = $145/£95

120 pages = $185/£122

My favourite though is still 30 pages = $150/£100!

I know what you're thinking - "Why so cheap?"

Well I'm currently a screenwriting student so reading your scripts and helping the best I can will improve my writing as well as yours.

Again I know what you're thinking "If he can't write his own great screenplays why is he taking my baby apart"

That brings up the old question posed to some of the best screenwriting gurus around (Robert McKee and Syd Field) If they are so great at teaching screenwriting why don't they get their own ones produced. Well, it's just one of those things

Let's look at the pros and cons


1) You get 5 pages at the least of critical feedback on your screenplay - Covering structure, character and dialogue
2) It's amazingly cheap - 60 page pilots for £10 is an unheard of deal (WHY? because I want to help screenwriters and at the same time improve my own writing)
3) It's quick - As soon as the script arrives at my door or e-mail less than 7 days later the notes are with you and you can use them in any way you see fit.


I'm young and inexperienced - Yes this is true but this is also a good thing because you have a young eye to analyse your screenplay.

The bottom line is: This is the cheapest deal on the net. If my age (20) puts you off sending me your screenplay then fair enough, walk on by and pay $150 somewhere else but if you want notes and encouragement in less than a week please get in touch

email me at