Planning for Creativity

December 4, 2019
Bob Eckhard

 

Hi all,

I don’t know about you but it seems that being a creative often results in living with an untidy desk. By that I mean, a space which is barely visible amongst hastily scribbled notes on paper that need to be typed up, post it notes with clever ideas for plugging the plot holes and character inconsistency, or a thousand and one other things like ‘buy milk’ or ‘Blood Test.’

Now, while there is scientific evidence to suggest a cluttered desktop – adorned with a tapestry of ‘post it’ notes – Continue Reading

‘Click or attach? (part 3)

November 27, 2019
Bob Eckhard

 

Hi all,

And welcome to part three of our ‘click or attach?’ mini-series, looking at the alternative approaches writers might consider when sending their fantastic idea to a producer. If you haven’t read the first two posts – you can do that now by clicking here and here.

However, for those of you know the rules of this game: you are the hardworking producer that has come home late at night from a long day on the set to find a writer (you kind of encouraged at the festival)  has now sent an email about their project. You’re tired. You’re weary  – so which one of the two options (below) do you choose? Do you- click…

a link to watch the short video he sent?  or the attachment to download the document to read?

Your choice: watch or read? Choose one from the two blue links above.

(Can I add here a really big thank you to Lincoln Fenner of Creation Box Films for providing both video and prose for this week’s post.) All the best with the project Lincoln!

Bob

Til next week. Keep writing and thinking outside of the box!

‘Click or attach?’ (part 2)

November 19, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

Okay, if you haven’t read last week’s post, do that now by clicking here Then decide which approach has the best chance of drawing the interest of the director/producer – something that is accessed through a hyperlink and plays OR something that is downloaded and read on screen/ printed paper.

And of course…if you are thinking like a producer or director, you will realise that the short film wins hands-down because visual always trumps prose because through this medium -along with sound- we experience drama, tone, issues, characters, etc. In short: this is the power of the filmic piece.

Now, had we been pitching an idea for radio, the link would take us to a recorded excerpt from a radio series because (for this format) audio always trumps visual. Let me confess here that I haven’t got an example to demonstrate with today but it wouldn’t be too hard for me to use a friend’s podcast equipment and get a few actors I know to record some pages from a sitcom or radio drama that could then be placed online as an audio hyperlink for others to access.

All of which brings us nicely on to the task for this week which is a different storyboard of mine for a project I hope to see produced next year. Possibly something I might use to raise funds for the short film. It’s called ‘The Weighing Room’ and (like last week) you have  choice:

WATCH it here by clicking this link https://vimeo.com/270749660  

OR

DOWNLOAD the attachment by clicking here and read the prose to understand the thinking behind it .

(Remember, you’re a busy producer/director with little or no time to be distracted: which of the two is most likely to draw your interest?)

Til next time!

 

 

‘Click or attach?’ (part 1)

November 12, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

This week we consider the dilemma facing writers when submitting a speculative outline of their project to a production company or responding to a ‘call out’ for scripts. Here, I’m talking about the inner turmoil of:

  • will my script advance? (Also know as, will I get it past the gatekeeper assigned to reading it?)
  • have I presented my project in the best possible way so that it generates interest and follow up?
  • have I maximised the likelihood that the potential of the script will make it through to production?

Okay, the focus here is not on helping people to write better loglines, concise summaries, engaging treatments, or ‘wow’ factor scripts because you can find all that on the Internet. However – as any writer who has ever submitted a script to a competitions or a production company will tell you – getting people interested in your project is not easy, especially if you are taking a chance on a speculative endeavour – aka ‘cold calling. And that is one of the main problems with scripts that are rejected because the individual you are emailing has not personally requested it from you and  (more importantly) they don’t know you.

Now, aside from the fact that there is a very thin line between being bold and becoming a nuisance, it is also likely that the person who is about to open your email may have just finished doing a thousand things that day and your introductory prose with its accompanying attachment of a 90 page script (great as it is) is just too long to read. So much so that it is far easier for the person to set it to one side rather than engage with it.

So, what to do? Well, over the coming weeks, I will outline in this short series a few things you might go to get others to consider your work. Okay with this in mind lets do a little experiment – imagine you are the producer/director who has just received an email from a writer about a short film – do you:

  1. click the hyperlink and watch the narrated short film OR…
  2. open the attachment which contains one page treatment of the short film for you to read?

Okay…decision time (choose one only) WATCH SHORT FILM STORYBOARD by clicking https://www.enterthepitch.com/watch/kings-of-urban/

OR

READ THE ONE PAGE VERSION which can be downloaded by clicking here. 

Til next week…

Why producing your own script may be good for health and well-being? (part 4)

November 5, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

Hot on the heels of the last two posts that considered the benefits of producing your own script with respect to TV, today I’d like to explore how the creative decision to produce can have a positive affect on health and well-being. But first…

…unlike other occupations in which the outcome of our labour and hard graft is instant, this unfortunately is not the experience for the majority of unproduced writers. While the teacher will be paid for helping the children in class, staff in a store will be complimented by the grateful customer, the lecturer will take a bow at the end of an insightful seminar and the taxi driver who takes him/her home will be paid and (hopefully) receive a generous tip, most writers do not experience these positive encouragements. Indeed, while many occupations in the world result in gratitude, encouragement and acclamation, the majority of writers do not experience this, not because their work is undeserving but because it is yet unseen – and here we touch upon the knotty world of gatekeepers and the writer’s quest to find a way around them so that their script can be placed in front of the person who can make it into a film, novel, televison series, play, etc.

Unfortunately, the sad reality is that most writers discover too late that becoming a produced writer is much harder than they imagined. So what’s the answer?

Produce yourself!

Write a play and set about putting it on at a theatre! Gather creatives around you and make a short film! Buy the Stop-motion app to create an animation film by manipulating plastercine models on your mobile phone, etc…The opportunities are endless  but what is really needed is:

a changed mindset that breaks out of the cycle of continuous writing (which is going nowhere) and into producing your own body of work.

In short, sidestep the gatekeeper by taking it from the page and placing it in front of a live audience – be that theatre, web or screen or whatever. Only as we do this and others gain access to our work will we (ourselves) start to become more fulfilled, positive and confident in our writing ability as it brings other opportunities our way.

Until next week…

PS At the risk of sounding like I’m blowing my own trumpet – 2019 is the year I took the decision to put on two of my plays at a theatre in West London – one, a comedy, the other a drama (flyer above image). Both were well received and resulted in me being offered other opportunities from a filmmaker and a producer from Sky who both requested my script and who I’ve met with since . I also made/directed a short film for the Impact 50 and have another couple of plays planned for next year, a TV format for the producer and as many of my own short films as I can manage. I will also direct a friend’s play in 2020 and continue to write having recently sent a couple of scripts in for competitions. It can be done but it all starts with the decision to produce!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

 

Why producing yourself might be the best thing yet! (part 3)

October 29, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

Firstly, apologies to those who are reading this post and wondering what happened to my promised blog of ‘Why producing yourself will be good for health and wellbeing?’ Rest assured, it’s coming but has been temporarily shelved until next week because…

…I came across a series of tweets from writer, director, and producer Chris McQuarrie which fits well with last week’s post  about how creatives are more likely to advance within the industry if they consider developing production potential as much as their writing. Now I’m not entirely sure what inspired Chris McQuarrie’s thread – other than being entirely dismayed at writers who continue to submit script after script to competitions in the hope that one day they will ‘win’ and/or be ‘discovered’- but he is passionate that to ‘just’ write scripts is not enough.

In his thread, Chris McQuarrie uses the word ‘Lottery’ to define the fallacy of people entering screenwriting competitions in the hope that this approach will result in an agent, producer, director or screenwriting commision coming their way when the cold hard truth is that for the majority of writers (bar an elect few) it will not happen!

In short, Chris McQuarrie’s thread is a wake up call to screenwriters everywhere to consider other things they should consider doing rather than hope that their great script (aka as lottery ticket) this time round will win and make their dteams come true. Read Chris McQuarrie’s excellent thread by clicking here

Til next week, keep writing and thinking outside the box, considering what else you could do to engage with the industry to make things happen for yourself (and others)! All the best!

Why producing your own script might be the best thing yet! (part 2)

October 22, 2019
Bob Eckhard

 

Hi all,

Following on from last week’s post about the seminar I attended a few years ago at the Soho Theatre in which the speaker admitted that scripts sent to BBC Writersroom seldom end up being made into TV – and the angst-ridden horror of the 100+ playwright attendees when they realised their beautifully crafted play would never see the light of day on TV – we turn our attention to the positives that did come out of this session. If you haven’t read the last post, find it here.

(Just to say I managed to locate my notes on the ‘Perfect Ten’ – the talk I attended which is really helpful and  you can download by clicking here!)

Okay, the main thing I took away from what was said at the seminar is that those who write plays have a ‘head start’ on those who don’t. Mainly because they possess many of the skills necessary for writing TV drama. Things such as:

  • writing in a medium that is dialogue-driven
  • creating well-crafted characters with flaws and disparate personalities that will be exposed on stage to a live audience
  • working in a way to manage tense conflict within small set/locations
  • developing interesting storylines that keep an audience hooked while facilitating a slow-burn
  • not giving too much away while keeping tension and suspense
  • writing in ways that are not overtly elaborate or exhaustative on budgets for actors/locations……and dare I say it…
  • tried, tested and approved by theatre audiences long before they take that step into TV writing and production.

Indeed, look at the CVs of most writers and you will see they were writing plays long before the opportunity to move into TV happened. And a number of them will point back to one of their plays garnering interest from someone who saw the potential for them as a writer in other mediums/formats. Moral of the story – take a step sideways to move forward? Unless of course you love theatre and want to write for that medium in which case keep on, keeping on! Til next time…

(ps I have decided to add a third part: ‘why producing your own script is good for your health and well-being.’

 

 

Why producing your own script may be the best thing yet… (part 1)

October 17, 2019
Bob Eckhard

 

Hi all,

Several years ago, I attended a morning seminar at the Soho Theatre in which a senior BBC reader presented the 10 rules of writing a good script – actually, I probably still have the notes for it somewhere and (if I can find them) I will post them next week.

Anyway, as BBC Writersroom was at this time still running the send us your script throughout the year approach, an assortment of playwrights listened eagerly as the reader detailed what makes a great script. Suddenly, someone asked him a question that – although off topic – had relavence for everyone who was attending. He asked:

‘What was the last production that resulted from a script being sent into BBC Writersroom?’

The reader thought about it then answered: ‘The Smoking Room.’

CUT to ‘audible gasp from attendees’ who were astounded that the last BBC show produced from a script submitted to the Writersroom was over four years old. More pertinent was the playwrights’ collective realisation that their chances of having their script produced had just gone from ‘moderately hopeful’ to ‘somewhere just above zero.’

In fairness to the reader presenting the talks, he went on to explain how BBC Writersroom were more interested in looking at scripts to find excellent writers who may be able to work with others on BBC projects – he didn’t elaborate which projects – but as people left at the end of the session, my sense was that a lot of dream balloons had been popped that day.

Now, if you write for stage (and even if you don’t) , I do have a positive in the next segment of the story. Til next week…don’t wait for someone to produce you – do it yourself and show initiative, guile and a belief in your own work!

 

KIcking your can or making a film?

October 1, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

Yes, it’s a tin can with the wrapper removed…but to Queen lovers everywhere, it serves up the mnemonic of  the proverbial ‘can’ that is ‘kicked all over the place.’  Whichever way you see it, if you’re a writer, the reality of seeing your screenplay made into a film – that is getting it ‘in the can’ can be a lifelong ambition. One that for many may sadly never be realised.

Last night- while watching Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets  I was not surprised to find Luc Besson was both screenwriter and director. Why? Because he also wrote and directed ‘Lucy’ and probably countless other films that are on his IMDb page that I need to research. All of which got me thinking that screenwriters can enhance their chances of getting their work produced by also developing skills that enable them to be proactive in the field of production as producer, filmmaker, director, editor, etc.

Where to start? Well, a couple of years ago I enrolled on a (free) NFTS online course on filmaking – find link by clicking here

If its the same as when I did it, it runs for 6 weeks and require 3 hours per week…but it’s a start!

Til next week…Onward and upward!

Learning to write clever in a data world?

September 25, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

A few weeks ago, I decided to catch up on all my unread emails – a huge task as there were 300+ Obviously, a lot of the circulars were easy to delete without reading, others not so…but then I came to the weekly email digest about all things film from writer, filmmaker and data researcher Stephen Follows. (Actually, I’ve met him at the London Screenwriters Festival back in 2013 and he’s a great guy).

Anyway, Stephen is the ‘go to person’ in the American Film Market and research industry and I guarantee that what he researches and writes about can and will help writers and filmmakers to rethink their strategy. Things like:

  • the advisable length of a screenplay for genres – not too long for comedy but make it really long for history (which scores high in US)
  • how a Christmas themed film that does not occur over that December holiday will not fare so well in the box office as one that does.
  • the affect of happy endings in film and the type/length of scripts that might fare better with gatekeeper readers.

Okay, find Stephen Follows blog/website by clicking here

Til next time…