The above screenshot is taken from ‘Ultimate Cosplay’ – a short that we filmed earlier this year in Tower Hamlets. It was written by yours truly then made for the Impact 50 competition (London Screenwriter’s Festival) in the hope that it – along with a raft of other short films – might become part of a feature film created around the premise of how people choose to spend their last moments when they discover a giant meteor will strike earth and trigger an extinction event.
Okay, if you’d like to see the short you can do so by clicking here
If you’d like to find our more about how we made the film you can do that by clicking here
Now, I realise many of you see yourself as sole writers and that making a short film is beyond you but let me say it isn’t – YOU CAN and YOU SHOULD!
And for those of you curious to know how this short was made – getting a London roof top? actors? crew? insurance? heath and safety? costumes? storyboards, script? then tune in for next week’s blog for answers to these questions.
Til then, keep it creative!
As it’s the start of a new year, I thought it would be good to revisit Andrew Price’s excellent seminar. Although it’s 25+ mins long, if you pick up a few tips as to how you may save time editing your projects, it’ll be well worth it.
Need to add here that Andrew is a graphic artist – that said, the seven points he makes have wider application for creatives everywhere – be they screenwriters, playwrights, novelists, filmmakers or whatever.
For me, point 2 ‘Volume: not perfection’ helped me a lot last year as I have since sought not to get bogged down in seeking perfection in one script at the expense of other writing I could be creating/producing. Again, the skinny of his 20+ min talk can be found at the bottom but I would really recommend watching the video as I think there is something in it for everyone.
WATCH: Andrew Price’s seminar on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Artists by clicking this link
TAKEAWAY: The brief notes I made while watching the session can be found here
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Artists- Andrew Price at Blender Conference 2016.
- Daily work
- Volume: not perfection – get on with your next work
- Conscious Learning
- Get Feedback
- Create what you love
The other day I got to thinking about how disastisfying the whole process of writing can be for many writers – irrespective of whether they realise this or not. Indeed, from the moment a writer begins to plan, outline, create and edit their masterpiece, they embark on a frustrating, exhilarating and exhausting experience. Not that they mind. After all, they are utilising creative thoughts and imagination, converting ideas onto paper, which is therapeutic in itself. And of course, because the writer also recognises that part of the process of gaining experience towards becoming a better writer requires them to write countless scripts, they continue on this treadmill in the hope that one day, one of their scripts will be singled out and they will be discovered, showcased and lauded. Sound familiar?
Now, while it is not my intention to burst anyone’s dream bubble in this (and future posts) I do believe that we – as writers and creatives – need to rethink what we are doing in regard to getting our work produced. The problem is that many writers cede responsibility for their screenplay, TV script, stage play, novel, radio idea onto others whose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ determines whether the work is produced or not. Regrettably, we also may unwittingly make such decision-makers the sole arbiters of our creative potential – inadvertently raising them to the position of a gatekeeper who then (unwittingly) limits our full potential when really the issue rests with ourselves. After all, isn’t it our responsibility to be the gatekeepr and become creative, proactive and productive in this process?
Okay, this term, I will be posting on how to make yourself more proactive and produce your own work this year – so look out for the series title ‘Proactive and productive?’ in future posts. Til then, may the creative force be with you in 2020!
(image: Tabard Theatre where my play was produced in July 19)
pic: early morning whale watching off Kaikoura (NZ) 2011
Hope you had a restful Christmas? Also, a chance to reflect on the year that is passing? What you’ve achieved or discovered about yourself that you will take with you into the months ahead?
Now, while we each get the same amount of time each week to work, relax, spend time with loved ones, write, produce, (etc), the demands of life will be different for each of us – and that’s to be expected!
However, what’s not okay – and perhaps most frustrating – is when the time we have set aside to write is lost to writer’s block, lack of discipline, distractions, family needs etc – in short, anything that leaves the page/screen blank before us. (Or even more frustrating, only one edited paragraph for our efforts!)
Now, please hear what I say next as I am not offering a ‘cure all ‘ to writer’s block – if I could do that it would be worth millions! That said, I did happen across this handy resource by Henneke in Enchanting Marketing a few weeks ago which has helped me. Initially, I hoped one idea might emerge that I hadn’t considered BUT was surprised to find three/four ways of doing things differently: two of which I have incorporated into my own writing routine and are working for me at present.
Okay check out ‘How to Write Faster: 12 Unusual Productivity Hacks’ by clicking here
All the best for the New Year!
Write lots! 🙂
Sorry to be late with the last post of 2019 but I’ve had a few other issues to deal with. Suffice to say any New Year’s Resolution to be better organised in 2020 will still be dependent on the water company’s management of the street’s drain and the proclivity of mice to keep well away from the nooks and crannies of my house.
Okay, in the last two blogs I have posted on how I use small magnetic white boards for:
- admin purposes (competitions, stages of projects for film adnd writing)
- a large portable whiteboard to store screenwriting info in a 3 act structure to ensure that which should be in my screenplay is actually there.
(You can find the respective links for each of these posts by clicking here and here)
Today, we turn our attention to the final magnetic board I use – one that I know is the workhorse for many screen and TV writers across the world. I refer of course to the large whiteboard often found mounted to the walls of homes and writersrooms – or any place where countless stories are plotted, edited, revisited, unintentionally to provoke tantrums and despair to the individuals using them, mulled over, wiped clean and on rare occasions, pulled from a wall and jumped up and down on in a fit of rage! Not me I might add! (Though I once took a hammer to a printer!)
Anyway, I really do recommend that if your partner agrees (VERY IMPORTANT!) that you should consider investing in a large mounted whiteboard as I have found mine invaluable. One reason is that it can be used in so many ways. Everything from using pens to write/plot directly onto the board itself or using magnets to secure large sheets of paper to it as you plan story or create character arcs. And lastly, my favourite, using it to manouevre and reorganise the positions of your story scene grids in your script to ensure narrative is water-tight and that there are no inconsistencies in the plotting.
Okay, you can find an example of my lastest project as constructed on a mounted white board by clicking here – it shows the various ways a whiteboard can be used. All the best and have a creative Christmas! Blessings….
Okay, following on from the last post in which I eulogised on the benefit of mounted white boards for keeping track on the development of projects, today I’d like to introduce you to what I term my screenplay ‘structure board.’
Unlike, my admin boards, this board is not attached to the wall for two excellent reasons:
- I don’t have enough wall space for it
- I like to be able to sit and look at my board as I mull structure issues and think about planning/character.
I need to add here that I am indebted to Scott Myer’s sessions at London Screenwriter Festival in 2018 in which he spoke about the two stories that occur in every (good) film. One being the saga itself – aka PLOTLINE. The other being the THEMELINE in which we journey with the main character (hero) as they attempt to resolve their issues in order to achieve their goal.
As you will see from the photo of my planning board which has great resolution and can be downloaded by clicking here, the PLOTLINE occupies 70% of the board and follows a 3 act structure of:
ACT 1 – top section ACT 2a-next section down ACT 2B- next line down (and) ACT 3 – bottom section
Likewise, the THEMELINE occupies the remaining 30% of the board and has the same 3 act structure but deals with the changing emotional state of the hero as they progress through the story. The idea being to ensure that when developing your story, PLOT does not come at the expense of THEME and vice versa.
Okay, I hope you find it helpful. I have one more board to talk about next week before Christmas…
Til next time…
PS just to say that also found in the THEMELINE section are the actions and emotions of the antagonist, including their rasion d’être because the more vile and seemingly invincible the antagonist is, the greater the challenge and success of the hero who overcomes them.
Til next time…
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
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!
Til next week. Keep writing and thinking outside of the box!
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
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!
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:
- click the hyperlink and watch the narrated short film OR…
- 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/
READ THE ONE PAGE VERSION which can be downloaded by clicking here.
Til next week…