At the heart of every good story is…

July 9, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

Last week we considered the importance of structure in providing the framework on which each of our scenes hang. Something that is true for writing in any format as it is for writing animation.

That said, my experience is that often the most entertaining and readable notes on character and plot development come from those who write animation – Now, I’m not sure why? Whether it’s a case that the characters are better drawn or more easily recognised, I don’t know. What I do know is that its readable and the advice is good for all in regard to story, plot and creating fantastic characters.

Okay, this week’s resource is from writer and blogger Stephen Vladimir Bugaj who offers advice from his years working at Pixar.

Stephen lists some great sites on his website where you can also download  his ’22 Rule of Story’.’ Find it by clicking here:

Til next time –

Bob

 

Animation: Structure is everything!

July 2, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

This will be a short post today as I am in the middle of getting a stage play ready for performance a fortnight today. Interestingly, unlike my comedy farce from earlier in the year, this stage play – ‘The Lost World of Malcolm Ridge’ -has a non-linear structure. I won’t go in to detail other than to say that whatever you write – be that an animation, a TV series, a screenplay, a radio play, a novel,  stage play or whatever, make sure the structure works because this and plot are the  backbone on which everything else hangs.

Okay, onto all things animated.

Firstly, please find the third installment of my notes from Barbara Slade’s ‘Writing Animation’ seminar by clicking here.

Secondly, the other two installments from Barbara Slade’s animation class can be found here.

Til next time, keep it animated!

Bob

ps this week’s greyscale image is taken from the flyer we are using for the play.

 

The ‘how to’ on making a short film

June 25, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

Suffice to say that it wasn’t my intention to set up a mini-series on production but having tackled how to produce a stage play last week, I thought I would balance it out with one on producing film.

Now, as the same Impact 50 competition that I’m part of is offering a 48 hour short filmmaking opportunity (see below) I thought I’d provide a link as to how myself and 11 other (actors and crew) went about making our film last month. Click below for my write up that was posted on the Impact 50 website and (above it) you’ll see the competition advert.

https://www.impact50film.com/2019/05/13/the-route-to-making-our-impact-50-film-ultimate-cosplay/

Til next time…

Producing your own play

June 18, 2019
Bob Eckhard

A few weeks ago, while onlibe, I was asked about the logistics of putting on my play. Now, as my answer on Facebook took rather more words than the small text box would allow, I inadvertently ended up writing a blog – see below for the insight into how I produced my first play.

To start with, what was in my favour was I had a script that was good to go and felt confident it would be well received…so asking friends about local theatres, I settled on one in West London which was a review theatre with many shows/acts going on from there to the West End.

Initially, the plan was to put on the show for two weeks in the Summer but I ended up rescheduling it for Jan – long story. My £1200 deposit paid the cost for putting on the show for one week though we scheduled two weeks as this enabled us to have 10 shows with greater opportunity for ticket sales.

My deposit paid, I auditioned for cast. The theatre kindly offered me their stage space for free over the 2 days we auditioned. Previous to this, acting on advice, I found a director to assist me as I was chiefly production and doing both was not viable.

Asking actor friends, they advised me about others who might be interested in the play and a week later we auditioned and secured 70% of our cast in 2 days. The majority in place, I adapted a theatre contract from a friend and sent it out to actors then hired some rooms for rehearsal – though word for the wise, renting can be expensive and table reads at the start might be cheaper in someone’s living room than a large space you are paying for. Prior to this I joined BECTU and through them purchased insurance cover for myself, actors and public liability

Five days of rehearsals began in earnest before Christmas then 5 more days after that in the New Year leading up into first day at theatre. Prior to this I asked some friends to design and cut a living room set in such a way that it could be transported and built on stage at the theatre. The sound and lighting person was sorted before Christmas and I went around charity shops and back to a previous Church to borrow vestments, coats, jackets and shirts which a seamstress friend adapted into clerical shirts. I’d love to say it ended there but producing a play is a full-on roller-coaster ride with some problem arising everyday that will need to be sorted .

As I was new to all of this, I was a bit slow at getting publicity sorted and so we missed the opportunity for a review night with large posters and flyers not arriving til 3 to 4 shows in. That said, the play was enough of a success for the theatre to offer us an extended run ‘due to popular demand’ – but also because another show cancelled – which gave me a chance to make amends by ensuring cast list, posters, flyers (with new dates)  arrived in time for the first night.

In summary, putting on a play was a great experience and although it took a lot of hard work, it was very rewarding for everyone involved. Actors got work, credits and honorarium payments: I got stage writing and production credits as well as a huge amounbt of experience; directors and artists got credited; other actors got a chance to be a part of it as they replaced others who were not available for the extended run; and the theatre got a successful 4 week show; and a whole lot of people wwere entertained and went away happy.

Bob

ps To show I haven’t been deterred by the experience, I’m currently getting ready to audition and rehearse my next play ‘The Lost World of Malcolm Ridge’ which will run at the Tabard Theatre (Chiswick) from Monday 15th to Sunday 20th July. Hope to see some of you there!

Are you making space for networking?

June 11, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

Yes, yes, I know I’m late advertising the above opportunity – to be honest, I only came across it a few weeks ago – but having returned from The Media Production Show today, I wanted to give you a heads up on next year’s dates so that you don’t miss out, which are:

13-14th May 2020 @ Olympia, London.   (Put it in the diary now!!!)

Now while a few of you will ask what benefit a media production show is to writers, for me it has been a fantastic opportunity to meet other creatives, make contacts, talk to some about my projects and even pitch an idea or three. Indeed, today at lunch, I met  a respected Norwegian cinematographer and (explaining I was a writer) asked if he would like my card which he was happy to take.

Another benefit has been the multitude of seminars that run continuously during the day, offering something for everyone. Yesterday, I attended an excellent discussion on the ‘State of the Nation:UK Drama’ with representatives from Sister Pictures, Kudos and Drama Republic giving their astute insights into the current state of the TV industry – which turns out to be very encouraging as the money is still flowing in to these projects.

In summary, so often writers lament that they can’t get their script in front of producers or filmmakers and yet here is an event that is crammed full of opportunity. Obviously, I think it helps if you come having directed, produced or assisted with a project  – if for no other reason you’ll need something to talk about when you meet the CEO –  but if for no other reason, it’s a brilliant opportunity to meet people and make friends.

Looking forward to seeing you there next year!

Bob

Writing Animation – where the action never stops.

June 4, 2019
Bob Eckhard

 

Hi all,

Today we consider dialogue versus action. One mistake many writers make is to overwrite spoken exchanges. A few years ago I heard a story about how Clint Eastwood – when making the film Gran Torino  – was faced with the task of learning an unnecessarily lengthy monologue in response to a question asked of him in the film. Reluctant to let the speech get in the way of the story, Eastwood reduced the prose to a gutteral ‘grunt’ and a grimace to camera which certainly seems to have worked well in the film.

In a similar way, animation is about action and not the spoken word which makes planning one just that little bit harder. Why?  Because there’s no let up in the action/adventure until the end. Yes, there are a few animation films with a story that deploys a slower feel but generally, these are the exception to the rule. The majority of animated films are lively and action packed.

Okay, the second part of my notes taken at Barbara Slade’s session on Writing for Animation can be found here. Til next time, keep it fast and animated! (pun intended!)

* part 1 of my notes on Barabara’s session can be found on the link from my post of a fortnight ago.

What is the value of a produced script?

May 28, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

Apologies if you’re searching for part 2 of the writing for animation mini-series – in my defence, I did say it will be a drip feed over the next two months but I can tell you now that the second instalment will be with you next week. In the meantime…

A few insights into the value of a produced script.

As some of you may know, earlier this year I produced a comedy farce which played at a west London theatre for four weeks. While one of my reasons for doing this was my belief in the script I’d written, another was centred on my desire to not be thwarted by gatekeepers.

Now, while as a newbie I imagined a stage writing credit served to look good on my cv, I never thought it would open as many doors as it has – to date, my script has been requested by a film director and TV producer. It has also presumably been influential in leading an animation company to contact me. Of the three, all have offered me writing projects as a result of that which was written and produced (and I am following up on two of them).

In addition, the credit also facilitated my recent application to BAFTA as part of Bafta Crew which I couldn’t have entered without having one. Having submitted it, for one brief moment, I thought I’d been successful in my application. Indeed, I even received an email that said as much – only for my hopes to be dashed minutes later as I received another email telling me (along with other hopefuls) that the first email notification had been sent out in error. ($@!*^$)

Q) So what is the value of a produced script?

A) Well, it shows people you are a safe pair of hands – that you have production experience – and you can be trusted to get it written/made/whatever

Okay, believe me: I’m going to keep on bleating  about this until all of you do it. So don’t wait for that elusive competition win to come calling – it may never happen. Instead, become a winner and produce yourself.

As I write this Panayiota Pantelli’s play is showing in Hackney. Taz Emm has made a film for the Impact 50 (myself too) and another friend from Talent Campus 3 is raising money to put on a play of the film that he’s writing. Bottom line is that your future is in your hands so start to make this happen for yourself.

Til next week

Bob

Writing animation – part 1

May 21, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hello,

Today, we begin a 3 part series on writing animation which will be delivered as a drip feed over the next two months as my own project develops (see below). The attached notes on ‘Writing for Animation’ were taken during a session with Barbara Slade and I’d really recommend you attending one of her seminars should you get the chance as her teaching and insight into the industry is excellent.

Now, I’m not sure sure how this opportunity came about but a few weeks ago I was approached by an animation company to flesh out a storyline for their feature. True to the Hero’s Journey, I refused the call – moreso because my experience of animation is limited to a couple of spec scripts for children’s cartoons – but relented when they explained how it’s a compelling ‘story’ they are looking for. I offer that last moresel as herein lies one of the keys to getting work read and produced.

Now, back to the writing!

Find my notes from Barbara’s class here

Building a TV Series Bible

May 14, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

A few years ago at the London Screenwriter Festival, Jeff Norton did a session on how he pitched his TV Series idea and episodes using powerpoint. In this, concept, characters, plot, theme and story were all portrayed visually using a range of pictures harvested from the Internet (though Pixabay and others platforms now offer an alternative way to avoid infringing copyright).

While I don’t have Jeff Norton’s powerpoint on How to build a TV series idea – actually, I don’t think he offered it – I do have his notes on the session which he worked through in regard to his TV Bible for one of his YA (young adult) actions books. Find Jeff’s notes  here.

All the best!

 

 

Agency – Conflict of Interest?

May 5, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

Came across this infographic the other day and thought it might be of interest to those writers who long for the day when they will be represented by an agent. Now, while this deals primarily with writers operating in North America, it is worth watching for reason that

  1. the same thing might catch on here
  2. your great TV series might get picked up by a US production company and you end up across the pond with an American Writer Agency
  3. it’s good to know what agents are doing so you don’t get fleeced by agreeing to  something that is to their benefit and not yours.

Click below to see how having an agent might not work out for everyone…