Why writing the script just isn’t enough.

April 7, 2021
Bob Eckhard


Hi all,
I posted this a couple of years ago but I still see the same old complaint from writers about scripts being overlooked by ‘gatekeepers’ searching for the next new thing. Now, while I have some sympathy and experience of similar disappointments, I am not so easily derailed these days. What follows are a few pointers people might consider doing to facilitate making it happen for themselves.

(The parts written in orange text are practical things that I have done or I am currently in the process of doing to make things happen for me. I share them not as pomp but as an encouragement that if a die hard writer like myself can do it then so can you!!!!!!)

1. Profile – develop a social media presence (blog on twitter, post facebook, contribute on web forums…you get the idea )
If you don’t have a website, attend a WordPress or other site building course to get one up that will help you to promote your writing.
(Currently, I have 4 websites and blog on 3 of them once a week. Also on Facebook groups, Twitter and Google+) 

2. Network – do this as much as you write. Get onto Linkedin and join other Facebook groups that give you access to directors, producers etc. Set yourself a goal of  (remotely) attending one networking event per fortnight/month/term etc.

3. Have a plan – if we aim for nothing, we hit nothing. Set yourself targets to get a script ready, a number of people to network with in a month, socials to attend, actors to work with you to help film or record something
Set yourself a goal even if its just writing an audio project one month and finding an actor for it the next, producer to record, etc

4. Produce! –  if you want to see your ideas on screen, stage, online or wherever, then take production into your own hands – set goals to get things made whether that’s an ebook, novel, short film, an animation filmed on iPhone, a blog,  hosting a film event – the list is endless but do something in addition to writing  because life’s too short to wait for the Golden Ticket to arrive.
During the year of lockdown I have – in addition to writing a number of scripts – also (with the help of actors and tech peeps) produced 2 audio sitcom episodes, one comedy monologue, one two-hander audio comedy (and) been placed in two film freeway competitions (albeit for short film scripts). 
Presently, I have another 8 projects in differing states of production, one of which involve eight (2 minute) comedy episodes of filmed series.

5. Learn new skills within the industry. Invest in a camera and make some short films – download the free edition of DaVinci Resolve or another and learn how to edit your work. Check out BFI and Future Learn who both run free online course on screenwriting,  films production and distribution. Go online and watch short training films on how to direct actors.
ps when making short films make sure you direct them yourself (as videos are never a showcase for writers, only directors!)
Currently, I am storyboarding my short scripts ready for filming when the restrictions of pandemic finish or lift enough to film. Moral of the story? Now is the time to be writing your short film and getting people on board ready for when you can make it outdoors.  The Kings of Urban’ Image (top of post) is from the mood board that accompanied my pitch when I reached the finals of the Enter the Pitch Competition at Pinewood a few years ago now.)

And finally…in regard to script writing:
Never stop learning and definitely do not ever think you know it all! Instead,  keep engaging and honing your script until it is the most interesting, enthralling and compelling read that the person who picks it up has read in weeks.
 All the best, Bob

Developing a production mindset

March 31, 2021
Bob Eckhard

Good Morning

A couple of years ago, I happened across Andrew Price’s excellent seminar.  Although Andrew is a graphic artist, the seven points he makes have application for all creatives whether they are screenwriters, playwrights, novelists, filmmakers or whatever. Okay –

WATCH: Andrew Price’s seminar on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Artists by clicking this link 

For myself, point 2 ‘Volume: not perfection’ has helped me over this last year as I have sought not to get bogged down in seeking perfection in one script at the expense of others I that otherwise could be creating or producing.

Again, the skinny of his 20+ min talk can be found at the bottom but I would really recommend clicking link above and watching it as I think there is something in it for every creative amongst us.

ATTENTION: Those doing the 6 week Write4Production course , I will send out your tasks for the week tomorrow.

(There are still 2 places left and if want to become more productive in getting work made, leave names beneath this post)

TAKEAWAY: The few notes I made while watching the session are here

 


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Artists- Andrew Price at Blender Conference 2016.

  1. Daily work
  2. Volume: not perfection – get on with your next work
  3. Steal!
  4. Conscious Learning
  5. Rest
  6. Get Feedback
  7. Create what you love

Competitions and traction

March 9, 2021
Bob Eckhard

Firstly, sorry for the absence of posts over the last few months. Hopefully you are reading this now otherwise its back to the drawing board to sort the SSL issue. If you are reading it, I want to talk about screenwriting competitions in regard to the mindset of some who believe that winning a festival will also result in their film being made. Sadly, this is seldom the case – cash prize, yes! Millions of pounds producing a newbie writers project? – er, no! Or very least, unlikely. So, what are we to make of competition wins?

Well, firstly, competitions can be a useful measure of how we have (or have not) developed as a writer. From not listing in a competition one year to making the semi-finals the next..yada…yada.

Another way to gain traction is by submitting with the intention of getting it placed in an industry competitions – the laurels (above) are for my 15 min supernatural short script ‘Sadie’ that I entered in a Film Freeway competition just recently. Will I make it into a film now? You bet because if the judges thought it worthy of reaching the finals, then it must be worth making.

And lastly (though there are probably more reasons than I could think of here)  a lot of competitions will for the entry price or an additional fee on top, give you feedback which will be useful in the rewrite process – especially if you choose to produce it yourself. Of course – sometimes, rather than using your money in a competition – for the same price you may be able to get a reader to give you a detailed report which will help enormously.

To finish, let me add one last thing –  as many find when starting out, it is not enough to be ‘just’ a writer – in short, we need to be our own producers and cheerleader team wherever possible. Also our own financiers (money permitting) to make that short film or feature, play, audio piece, project, etc  After all, why should a producer take a chance and invest in you or me or our projects if we are not prepared to take risks ourselves? (Just saying!)

Til next time – create that epic!

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….