Monday, 28 June 2010

Random musings

This is one of those random catch-up session thingies. I get my uni results next Monday, where I'll find out whether the last three years of my life have been a waste of time or not. At least the sleepless nights will be done.

I'm hoping to get a couple more short films into pre-production in the next few months, hopefully shooting over the summer. Fingers crossed.

I'm making good progress on my Red Planet Prize entry, rewriting the pilot script this week after some good critiques from fellow writers.

I also started watching K-Ville on channel 5 which was certainly one of the finest pilot TV episodes I've ever seen. Compelling stuff with strong characters. Episode 2 is on Wednesday.

My sister did the Race for Life at the weekend and did the 5k in 38 minutes, which ain't half bad for someone with a dodgy knee and sprained ankle. So kudos to her! In the process, though, I got sunburn - yay!!!

I've also been watching more and more game cinematics recently, merely because I love the CGI and you occasionally get some really good ideas from them. Like this little gem - more tension in these few minutes than in all the new Star Wars films put together:

Yeah, so that about sums things up at the moment. Hope everyone is having lots and lots of fun writing!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Great Screen Moments - Pulp Fiction

Oh I'm sorry, did I break your concentration? I didn't mean to do that. Please, continue. You were saying something about "best intentions." What's the matter? Oh you were finished? Well allow me to retort.

Written by: Quentin Tarantino (stories by Quentin Tarantino & Roger Avary)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Great Screen Moments - Blade

"I'm getting a little tired of chopping you up."

Written by: David S Goyer

Friday, 18 June 2010

TV pilot & short films

I've been doing a lot of writing recently, having finished my degree and having not yet found a job. I believe the technical term is "unemployed", but let's call it "free living" yeah?

With the Red Planet Prize looming, I've written the first draft of my TV show pilot. It is, without a doubt, the most fun I've ever had writing. After about a year of research and planning, throwing myself into the mythology and characters, I finally got to write "FADE IN:"

And what fun! I've had half these scenes mapped out in my mind for several months, so it flowed naturally. Making a change from my usual writing style, I spent about 4 days writing one scene per night. But, as things started to get going, I was eager to finish, so I ordered 2 pizzas, grabbed a few beers, and spent a long night getting it done.

Then came the dreaded rewrite. The biggest problem was that Act II lasted 7 pages and Act III was 20 pages. But after some headache-inducing juggling around, I managed to fix the problem. The script is now in the hands of several shiny friends who will offer their merciless critiques in the next few weeks. The number of people I now owe pints to is ridiculous!

In other news, I've been brainstorming a few short film ideas in readiness to collaborate with a fellow writer/director/producer. We both want to do something different to what we've done before, me limiting the action, and her steering away from the martial arts.

Anyway, I've never forced myself to think of story ideas before. Everything I've done has come naturally (at least the very basics of the story), so actually telling myself to think of something from scratch was a first. And I liked it!

In the process, I came up with an idea that I think goes beyond a short film, so naturally I'm sticking that on the shelf - it can develop there for a while until I'm ready to put pen to paper. But I have come up with a few decent short ideas, so hopefully we'll be writing together in the next couple of months.

Finally, on Wednesday, I received the shiniest of gifts. Y'all know about Three, yes? Well, the awesome Darren S Cook went and got the cast and crew to sign a humongous film poster and then threw it in the post to me. It made my day week month year, I tell thee! And it now takes pride of place on my wall, alongside various movie, TV and writing posters.

So a huge thanks to those craft buggers who kept their sinister scheme very quiet! An amazing way to remember my first ever writing credit!

Anyway, that's me done - hope everyone's writing is going well. And good luck to everyone else entering the Red Planet Prize - if you want me to read and critique your script for it, let me know. Never hurts to check out the competition, right?

Stay shiny!

Currently digging:

Monday, 14 June 2010

The scene every screenwriter should adapt

The scene I'm talking about is from Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Now, I read the opening of the novel not really thinking about what it was actually telling me (it was in a hurry, as I was studying it the following day!). I managed to find a version online, so if you have an urge, you can probably read the whole thing here. But here's the scene I'm talking about, edited to get to the point:

Mr. Enfield and the lawyer were on the other side of the by-street; but when they came abreast of the entry, the former lifted up his cane and pointed.

"Did you ever remark that door?" he asked; and when his companion had replied in the affirmative. "It is connected in my mind," added he, "with a very odd story."

"Indeed?" said Mr. Utterson, with a slight change of voice, "and what was that?"

"Well, it was this way," returned Mr. Enfield: "I was coming home from some place at the end of the world, about three o'clock of a black winter morning, and my way lay through a part of town where there was literally nothing to be seen but lamps. Street after street and all the folks asleep--street after street, all lighted up as if for a procession and all as empty as a church-- till at last I got into that state of mind when a man listens and listens and begins to long for the sight of a policeman.
All at once, I saw two figures: one a little man who was stumping along eastward at a good walk, and the other a girl of maybe eight or ten who was running as hard as she was able down a cross street. Well, sir, the two ran into one another naturally enough at the corner; and then came the horrible part of the thing; for the man trampled calmly over the child's body and left her screaming on the ground. It sounds nothing to hear, but it was hellish to see. It wasn't like a man; it was like some damned Juggernaut. I gave a few halloa, took to my heels, collared my gentleman, and brought him back to where there was already quite a group about the screaming child. He was perfectly cool and made no resistance, but gave me one look, so ugly that it brought out the sweat on me like running. The people who had turned out were the girl's own family; and pretty soon, the doctor, for whom she had been sent put in his appearance. Well, the child was not much the worse, more frightened, according to the Sawbones; and there you might have supposed would be an end to it. But there was one curious circumstance. I had taken a loathing to my gentleman at first sight. So had the child's family, which was only natural. But the doctor's case was what struck me. He was the usual cut and dry apothecary, of no particular age and colour, with a strong Edinburgh accent and about as emotional as a bagpipe. Well, sir, he was like the rest of us; every time he looked at my prisoner, I saw that Sawbones turn sick and white with desire to kill him. I knew what was in his mind, just as he knew what was in mine; and killing being out of the question, we did the next best. We told the man we could and would make such a scandal out of this as should make his name stink from one end of London to the other.

Now this might not seem like an amazingly interesting scene to adapt for screen, but I assure you it is. What is actually happening here? Obviously we're being introduced to the degenerate Mr Hyde. But what is happening? You can never say for certain, but ask yourself this:

What is Mr. Enfield (a resepcted member of the community) doing out on the streets at 3am? I think we can all guess....

What is a girl of "maybe eight or ten" doing out at 3am? Again, we can guess...

What is actually happening here:

the man trampled calmly over the child's body and left her screaming on the ground. It sounds nothing to hear, but it was hellish to see. It wasn't like a man; it was like some damned Juggernaut.

Stevenson wouldn't have been published had he fully described what I (and most critics) assume is actually happening. The little figure of Mr Hyde doesn't just trample the young girl. He rapes and beats her! Is it really horrific to see a man bump into a girl and knock her over? No. But the alternative is!

So how would you adapt that scene for screen? Would you make it as brutal as you could? Or somply keep is as a retelling and show us nothng, letting the audience make up their own mind?

Personally, I'd go for all-out horror, pushing the cencors to the limit. But that's just me. The point is, there are many ways of adapting a scene, depending on a) how the adapter reads what is happening and b) how they want to show that scene on screen.

This scene is particularly important because it shapes our view of Mr Hyde from the off. In your version, is he a careless, grumpy little man who knocks people over and doesn't apologise? Or is he an evil, brutal child-rapist? The choice is yours.

Over and out.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Saturday, 5 June 2010


Via iFeatures:

Useful Sites


BBC Film Network BBC showcase of British filmmaking talent

BBC Talent – BBC’s website for new talent in film

BBC Writers Room - BBC site for new writing talent

BFI - British Film Institute

Brit Movie Website dedicated to British Cinema

British Board of Film Classification

British Council – British Film Catalogue, Directory of International Film festivals

Encounters Short Film Festival Focus for rising film talent


Films and Festivals Online and print magazine

Microwave – London’s microbudget film scheme

Microwave & Kate Leys - contains a very useful podcast on screenwriting for microbudget features, chaired by Kate Leys.

Screen International – International movie industry magazine

Shooting People The UK's largest independent film community

Sight and Sound – The BFI’s international film magazine

Skillset The Sector Skills Council for the audiovisual industries.

Take 12 Digital innovation in film

The Knowledge Industry listings online

The Production Guide Online production industry tool

Twelve Point – Evolved from Scriptwriter magazine and has built up a fantastic following worldwide. Julian Friedmann's blog is particularly good value

UK Film Council The lead organisation for film in the UK.

Wordplayer A Phenomenal resource. Set up by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio who wrote Shrek and Pirates of the Caribbean and includes great essays on art and business of screenwriting.

Screen Agencies

South West Screen is one of nine regional screen agencies. Details of the agencies covering other English regions can be found below:

National Screen Agencies

Guilds and Associations

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Stormy May

The month just gone - May - was probably one of the most stressful, crazy and rewarding months of my life! It's the month I pissed off thousands of people (apparently), got my first short filmed and finished my English degree:

Saturday 1st
  • My parents' 25th Wedding Anniversary celebrations with the family. Lots of alcohol and the odd political debate.
Thursday 6th
  • I resisted the urge to vote for the Zombie party in the General Election. Although, had it only been a choice between them and David Cameron, they'd have got my vote!
  • I apparently pissed off north of 8000 people on Whedonesque by tastelessly describing the Columbine Massacre as "some kid went all Rambo and killed a bunch of his mates." For this, I am very sorry!
Friday 7th
  • I handed in the last 3 essays of my English degree; one on WWI and Manning's novel The Middle Parts of Fortune, one on Renaissance tragedy, and one on the issue of Naturalism in American fiction (1880 - 1910). I believe one is good, one is average and the other will hopefully get me a 3rd!
  • I got my acoustic guitar back from the shop, with the annoying buzzing on the 6th fret fixed. I then proceeded to play it non-stop for the rest of the day and most of Saturday in a desperate attempt to perfect the Stones' 'Sympathy for the Devil.' Fingertips on the left hand hurt for a week afterwards.
  • I stumbled across my old Ancient History/Classics teacher in town and had a good chat. He joked about getting my autograph now, before I become famous, and I considered giving it to him. I thanked him for all he taught me about the Ancient Greeks and the Romans, with which I was able to piss a few people off at university by knowing everything there is to know about the Emperor Augustus.*
  • My first ever short film Three was shot by Darren S Cook. As I lay in bed on Friday night (not being able to take time away to be there) I couldn't stop thinking about possible Oscar acception speeches I could give. What?! Arrogance is just heightened self-confidence. Everyone's done it!!!
Sunday 9th
  • I ventured out on a proper shopping trip for the first time in months at the terrifying Meadowhell Meadowhall. Spent a lot of money I shouldn't have!
Monday 10th
  • Went for a end-of-uni pissup at a friend's house. Watched American Psycho and worked out exactly what was going on from the first scene. Yes, I'm very proud! Being the only male humanoid there, I was forced to watch an episode of Glee. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but not an experience I would like to repeat. A bottle of Scotch helped me through the pain, but I paid the price for it in the morning!
Tuesday 11th
  • Tony Blair David Cameron became PM and I lay in bed listening to The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again', paying particular attention to the line: "Meet the new boss, just the same as the old boss."
  • The teaser trailer for Three went online and general reception was excitement.
Wednesday 12th
  • Got to work revising for my Shakespeare exam, while polishing 2 short film scripts to send to the BSSC. Also learnt Nick Cave's 'Hold on to Yourself' on guitar.
Monday 17th
  • Saw the final edit of Three and was very proud - brilliant direction and solid acting work - turned out better than I could have hoped for.
Tuesday 18th
Wednesday 19th
  • Went into uni to talk to someone about the Writing MA. Realised I couldn't start when I wanted so frantically rushed around trying to get in a late application to start in September (gone is the chance of a break between work!) in the hope that someone drops out....
Tuesday 25th
  • I had my last ever English exam, on Shakespeare, where I wrote about Henry V, Coriolanus, Othello and The Merchant of Venice. I think I did ok....
  • Had a rather interesting drink over a pint with a tutor where I came to realise the level of hypocrisy and corruption that goes on in universities. Seems they like to cut off their nose to spite their face as well. [insert very angry rant here]
Wednesday 26th
  • Spent a very long day polishing and submitting my entry for the BSSC and sorting out writing samples for my Masters application.
  • Shook my head because of how the education system will be in the next few years. University funding cut and insane private academies promoted, increasing chance of bomb-makers running schools. Good times!
Monday 31st
  • Almost finished my Masters application to take in later on in the week.
  • Actually finished reading a book I wanted to read, having been forced to read stuff for uni for the last 3 years. Twas a nice read.
Yeah, so that was my crazy month. Probably no-one actually got to the end of this - I get that it's gotta be interesting to me alone. But hope you all had a shiny May! And now, to play us out, the awesomeness that is AC/DC ............

*Note: I don't know everything there is to
know about the Emperor Augustus.
For example, I have no idea what his
favourite play was! Though, at a guess,
I'd say it wasn't Anthony & Cleopatra!!!
See what I did there?! Wrong crowd? Ok....