Ways to get ahead – part 3

November 18, 2020
Bob Eckhard

Continuing our mini-series on the best way to pitch your projects – that is  images with narrated storyline OR a talking head to camera, I’d like to introduce my ‘Weighing Room’ pitch as an example of how the accompanying sensorial effects can generate emotion in the viewer. Click here to watch.

Actually, when I say watch, I also mean ‘listen’ as the opening narration is enhanced by music and other sounds to set up the spooky supernatural setting even without the images. The drawn images of a skeleton head, dissected lungs, a spectre hovering over the bed (etc) are all enhanced by the ghoulish music that accompanies it – in much the same way that the Duffer Brothers used their Stranger Things pitch document to shown the tone of the series and create a sensorial experience for the producers who would later green light it- find that by clicking here.

Another use for these short visual pitches is that you also have a ready made URL of your idea for agents, producers, backers etc. Also, a pitch that can be put onto your writer website for other sites. What’s not to like?

Til next time!

Ways to get ahead – part 2

November 12, 2020
Bob Eckhard

Hello!

Following on from the last post in which I made a case that your short pitch is better delivered in images rather than your smiling face to camera. Not that there is anything wrong with your  smiling face but the maxim remains that a picture is worth a 1000 words. So…if you link together a number of images in a storyboard then you might expect the 1000 word count to go far beyond that.

And if that doesn’t convince you, our ears take in approximately 11 % of information (possibly less) while our eyes absorb 80+%  – remember that next time you pitch at an event and come ready with a URL for your visual pitch for them to watch later  but also a mood board to accompany the pitch you are about to give them so that if you lose them then at least this might help.

Okay, back to Enter the Pitch competition I mentioned in last week’s post.  The following year I make it to the finals with a different visual pitch called Kings of Urban which can be viewed by clicking hereGone were the amateurish watercolour boards from my previous pitch (that served me well  then) and now a more gritty feel for an urban drama set in black and white.

ps Oh yeah, when I went to Pinewood and got to pitch in the J.Arthur Rank boardroom, I made sure each person on the table had the mood board in front of them  – takeaway from today? Repeat after me: a picture is worth a 1000 words 🙂

Ways to get a head start – pitching (part 1)

November 4, 2020
Bob Eckhard

Today we start a mini-series on pitching – and let me say from the outset, these posts are not a ‘how to pitch’ guide because you’ll find lots of advice about that on the Internet. No – these posts are more about the decisions we take in the way we pitch our projects. Curious? Then read on…

A few years ago, I entered a short film competition called ‘Enter The Pitch.’ Actually when I say film, it is probably better described as an ‘ideas’ competition in which you record a two minute pitch to camera for your short film idea. The winner secures £25K to make their short film and a chance to take it to Hollywood – a great prize because (when I entered) it cost nothing and there were less than a 100+ films initially. (Oh yeah and it also has to link up in some way with a story from the Bible)

Now, the first time I entered the competition, having seen that most pitches were people sitting in front of draped sheet (presumably their living room), I decided to create a water colour painted storyboard and asked an actor friend to narrate over it. Now, even though my painted images were pretty amateurish,  it did tell the story and get me onto the next round.  Why? Because it was more engaging to watch than me talking into a camera.

Okay, think about all those times you have sent off a speculative one page to a potential director or producer. If you were that person opening an email who is faced with the choice of clicking a weblink and watching a short film OR reading through a half page of text – what would you do?  (Yeah, me too!)

Find the filmed version of my short pitch by clicking here

Til next week

Keep it reel! (orthographic mistake intended!)

 

 

Developing Creative Discipline – part 16

October 16, 2020
Bob Eckhard

Okay…I know I told you in the post (before last) that I’d reached the end of my book recommendations but then I remembered my Kindle device. Here are  a few more book recommendations I had omitted. (As author and title are listed on the screen, I will just add a quick précis beside each).

Insider’s Guide – an ‘okay’ read though I’m not sure it was as helpful as other books are.

Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays – I am currently using  Lucy V Hay’s book as I prepare a thriller screenplay for the Netflix-Impact competition –  really useful tips /insight!

Writing for Emotional Impact – I cannot praise Karl Iglesias’ book enough! A must read if you want to write in ways that makes the producer read your script from start to finish!

The Negative Trait Thesaurus  –  really useful book (particularly in ebook format) for fleshing out your dysfunctional characters so that the flaw/issue is out there.

Emotional Amplifiers –  same as above but for positive traits (and not flaws).

1000 Awesome Writing Promptsa helpful book for writers who need a few story start prompts  to get them going on thinking around a story idea.

Obviously, all of these titles are cheaper and easily transported in ebook format but (for me) there’s something to be said for being able to highlight and make notes in a paperback.

Til next time

 

Presenting the whole package

October 7, 2020
Bob Eckhard

PHOTO: Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

This week I came across a 10 min video that TV and screenwriters may find useful when developing or presenting their projects.

After watching it, my first response was to save the video for future reference then print-off the prose and store it in my TV file.

Originally named the ‘Montauk Project’ – the TV series is better known to most people as ‘Stranger Things.’ What is really interesting is how the team – in attempting to work out the tone of the show – adopted a sensorial approach as they called upon the cinematic influences of their youth. A descriptive and visual mood-board in which sound, pictures, posters, visuals, emotions (etc) all find their way into the pitch document.

It seems the pitch document was enough to impress the producers, even if the name did change to ‘Stranger Things.’ You can watch the video by clicking here

Til next time….

 

 

 

 

 

Developing Creative Discipline – part 15

September 30, 2020
Bob Eckhard

Okay…

Today’s post is the last of my book recommendations but ‘eyes up’ as there are a few must reads among them – not sure why the photo came out blurry? (User error presumably!)

The Coffee Break Screenwriter  (Pilar Allessandra) –  really useful guide to plotting, structuring and developing your script. Also, straightforward and informative as well as an easy read.

Reading Screenplays: How to analyse and evaluate film scripts(Lucy Scher) –  insight into the industry from the Reader’s perspective and what they look out for when reading a spec script

Writing Screenplays that Sell: (Michael Hauge) – a great book from a wise old head. He sets out  his stall to educate writers as to how their scripts might be made exciting,  entertaining and a must read.

How not to write a screenplay (Denny Martin) – easy to read, I worked my way through this book and learnt invaluable lessons as to what to avoid when writing and watch out for when editing.

Maverick Screenwriting (Josh Golding) –  a detailed book that exists to help writers create scripts that are different. It’s an easy read and (for me) provided a helpful insight into the different outcomes one should expect when developing concept driven and plot driven ideas (among other things).

Til next time….

Developing Creative Discipline – part 14

September 24, 2020
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

This week we consider an aspect of creative discipline that is often not adhered to. I refer of course to time spent at the computer – and I will confess here that I am not that great at disciplining myself to the 20-30min writing segments with a break to exercise or divert eyes away from the screen. If you’re anything like me, when you’re in full creative flow and the egg-timer beeps rapidly or you notice the last few grains of sand falling into the 30 min hourglass, this is the last thing you want – after all, you’re in the moment and words are flowing.You don’t want to stop now. And yet, if you don’t stop now, then when? An hour? Two hours? Lunchtime?

Truth is we need to take breaks from the computer because sitting too long is not good for our circulation, posture, core muscles (etc). Likewise, straining our eyes as we continually focus on a computer screen does not help us either – and can I add here that if you work on a computer a lot, you would do well to invest in eye drops to keep your eyes moist as staring at a screen will dry them out.

Whether it’s an online timer from the Internet, an hourglass or kitchen timer, we need to find ways to bring healthy discipline into our day so that our epic is not written the at expense of our eyesight, health and fitness. That way, we can be creatively in the game for the long-haul.

For that 5 minute break – removing yourself from the computer,  going into another room, actively engaging in exercise and/or looking out into the distance to reorientate eyesight, are all useful ways to make sure your break happens away from the computer. All the best!

Til next week….

Developing Creative Discipline- part 13

September 17, 2020
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

A few more books you might consider reading.

Now, at the risk of doing down ‘The Seven Basic Plots’ let me say its a well-written book which is more suitable to a university course than a handy guide to writing. Other than that…

up of the list is

The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Writers  (Karl Iglesias) – some really useful insights into how to improve your writing from the reflections of those at the chalk face.

The 21st Century Screenplay (Linda Aronson) –  everything that is not  3 Act structure. I found its tips and advice helpful when writing a biographical screenplay. Deserving of its place on any book shelf.

The Writer’s Journey (Christopher Bolger) – a must read but set aside some space in between as there is a lot to take in.

Just Effing Entertain Me (Julie Gray) – invaluable advice from someone who knows the industry and how to make your script a hot sizzle on the barbecue rather than a damp squib in the sink.

The Anatomy of Story (John Truby) – this book offers interesting insights and thinking that some may find overly prescriptive but well worth a read as there’s a lot of good teaching within it.

Til next time….

Developing Creative Discipline – part 12

September 10, 2020
Bob Eckhard

Well…

…it seems like the ideas for the ‘Developing Creative Discipline’ strand just keep coming. This week, we consider what to do after the script is written – and let me be clear here,  I am not talking about sending it out to agents, producers and competitions (though that should happen a little further down the line).

No. What I am talking about is taking that fine tooth comb and ‘editing’ your magnum opus to within a millimetre of its literary life. Strangely, it is in this last phase  that a lot of writers fall down. Possibly, the effort of completing the umpteenth draft of a script  makes the writer rather jaded when faced with the daunting prospect of then going back through it all with a fine tooth comb to edit. And yes, it can be a struggle. I know this from my own initial reticence to engage fully with the process. However, these days – having gone to the effort to come up with an idea, plan, plot, write and do multiple rewrites – I am determined to make sure that I take as much time as necessary to make sure I have not left any typos and grammatical errors (etc) in my script which may suggest I am less than professional in my writing and approach. So what to do?

Well, currently, I have amassed  a number of resources from across the Internet which fill my ‘After it’s done’ file – if you don’t know what that is, you can check out that post by clicking here.

Okay, here is a resource that will get you started: https://dianaurban.com/words-you-should-cut-from-your-writing-immediately

My advice is to use the ‘find’ function ( CTRL ‘F’ ) on your script and type in each modifier/word suggested. For example, the word: ‘really’ to see if you are using words that would be better deleted or replaced with another.  Making your way through the script, find each occurrence of ‘really ‘and rethink, rephrase  or delete that word altogether.

The link above gives you all the ones on Diana Urban’s site but start today to be on the lookout for others – build a word bank of terms and semantics that will assist you when editing your script.

Lastly,  to any of you who think finding redundant words and modifiers in a script and removing them is unnecessary because your story is brilliant and that’s what counts, remember that those writers who do scour scripts and remove unnecessary words will always be a few steps ahead of you in terms of their presentation, readability and professionalism. No reader wants to come across the word ‘really’ twenty times in as many pages, if at all. Why? Because, there is always a better way to phrase a sentence in order that the word ‘really’ becomes redundant. Which in turn will show to the reader, the wide vocabulary/lexicon of the writer. Yes! Really! (intended)

And if you find any links to words to avoid, please do send them to me as none of us ever stop learning or developing.

Til next time…get editing

 

Developing Creative Discipline – part 11

September 3, 2020
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

Hot on the heels of finding time to write, we consider the value of reading. This week – the importance of books that will help you to become a better writer. Interestingly, three of the books (in the photo) are on film director Ron Howard’s list of ‘must reads’ for his Directing Masterclass – fancy that? If you know which ones, why not post your answers below the post on Facebook or (if reading on Twitter)  post as a tweet.

Okay, now let me add these are just a few of the books which I have found useful in advancing my understanding of screenwriting – I will follow up with more books in the next post or three. In the meantime, in the photo above, moving left to right we have:

Screenplay (Syd Field) – a solid book that will help you understand story craft and structure.

Making a good script great (Linda Seger) – a fantastic book that needs to be read cover to cover such is the depth or writing and editing insight offered.

The Art of Dramatic Writing (Lajos Egri) – this will lay a foundation of how premise and key question are the fundamentals and develop it from there.

The Negative Trait Thesaurus (Ackerman and  Puglisi) – invaluable resource  to aid your research and decision making about what character flaw to use and why.

One Hundred Ways to Improve your Writing (Gary Provost) – a book that will help develop a writing habit but also advance the way you do it as you develop your craft.

While there are no hard and fast rules  (for myself) I do try and read a t least three screenwriting books a year though (I’m a light weight and) you can do better.

 

Til next time….