Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Back Home

It's hard to believe that it's now Tuesday morning. Where did the last few days go? I've made it back home safe and sound from That London, and the three-day Seminar I went to. It was intense, to say the least. Approximately 25 hours over three days. Now for someone that's not used to concentrating, taking notes and asking questions, that's a lot of time. It was knackering. I. Was. Knackered.

It was completely unrelated to writing, scripts or anything else scribo-matic. In fact it was Property Related. And how, even in this present climate, to make money at it. Thankfully, there was very little 'hoo-yah!' and hard-sell, and it was thoroughly enlightening and informative. As a result I'll be moving the writing to the back burner for a while and start earning myself some realistic wages.

Who knows, some of my future property experiences may lead to script ideas?

Oh, and if you're looking to sell your place, get in touch, we may be able to do a deal...

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Bush Starts Zombie War!

I've just watched a video that Bill Martell has posted on his blog site, and it's well worth watching.

So scary, it's actually believable.

Watch out for the special guest appearance by Dick Cheney...

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

RP Delay

It seems that the guys at Red Planet are still wading through the Stack (no pun intended) of entries, and hope to let anyone who has progressed know by the end of the month.

I started to review the Short that made it through three rounds of the BSSC today. I only wrote it a few months ago, but boy they must have been kind letting it get so far! I wrote it before having any real feedback on scripts I put together, so I class it as part of my B.L. phase. (That's Before Lucy, in case you were wondering...)

I used lots of Narrative 'we see', 'we hear' etc and have some Description blocks covering up to eight or nine lines. It made sense to me at the time and looked fine, but now that I'm A.L. (go on, you can work it out), it looks as if it was written by a Noddy. And, indeed, it was.

So, re-working the structure, dialogue, pace etc began today. As it only runs into 14 pages, the re-working isn't going to be huge, but I'm pretty confident that the end result will be much cleaner and to-the-point.

I'm off to That London tomorrow for a three day seminar, so I'm guessing no writing until next week. I'll be taking my notebook with me, though...

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Kaos Crash!

The semi-finalists for the Kaos/NFTS BSSC comp were announced today...

I didn't get through.

But, it's the first competition that I've entered so I'm pretty happy to have got as far as I had with a script that I wrote in an afternoon and didn't really analyse after the fact or have it PO3'd or reviewed by a knowledgeable third party. It means that I can now re-visit it and iron out the doubtless faults in it.

I've also got solid ideas for two more shorts, which I'm working on.

Congrats to Martin, who has one of his scripts through to the semis, and commiserations to Dom who didn't make the semis either (but his has got a nice new writing room, though).

I'm awaiting Red Planet to ask for full scripts of both my entries...

Friday, 12 October 2007

I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself...

No update reagrding the Short. Haven't been able to contact the director.

As any of you guys (gals) reading this may already know, I'm a Shooter. Recently The Shooting People published a book; Getting Your Short Film Funded, Made and Seen (or Shorts Directory for... well short). I bought it immediately and got it for the big initial discount and it's well worth it's jacket price. I'm reading through it piecemeal and got to a section yesterday where it talks about story development and includes a link address to atomfilms.

I'd not heard of them before so took a look. WOW! How many shorts do they have there? All to view for free (but you do have to sit through a brief advert first; sponsorship, ha!). I watched a few (some were good, some were mediocre), but then came to 'Pissboy'. Dodgy title aside this superb piece of cinema lasts for close to fourteen minutes and is well worth viewing. At least two times for the ending alone. I laughed and laughed. The way the punchline was delivered that the audience knew was coming was genius.

The build up was well-crafted, the style was smooth and the photography really quite impressive. It was written/directed by a Brit(?) called Jim Solan through Notorious Films. If it hasn't happened already, this man's future looks to be pretty good.

Oh, and if you haven't got a copy of Shorts Directory, get one. Right?

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

B*witched

I had two messages from the director yesterday... and I'm not sure which one was sent first.

I don't get a good mobile signal at home, so when I went out to do some shopping I got a text message sent through from him saying "... do you think this could be a full length film? 90 pages" and the other message I got was an e-mail saying that he'd printed the latest draft off and was about to read it.

There's two issues I have with this; the initial script request was to help with an 8-page short (which has already nearly doubled in size), with no financial compensation. Fine. This wouldn't take up too much of my time and it would help my development. But turning it into a 90-page feature..? I've written one feature length piece before and it takes a lot of time and effort. Time which I don't really have to spare right now. Also, I don't mind writing a feature length spec (be that TV or film) for me, to then pass on, enter it into competitions and try to get interest in it, but spending the time on developing the short into a feature effectively for someone else, doesn't really inspire me.

Yes, there may be potential for it down the line, but in my heart of hearts, I not sure that this topic or style will return the time invested in it. I may be wrong, and often am, but there you go.

If the director is set on having this lengthened then I think he'll have to continue with someone else. C'est la vie, as B*witched once wisely said.

See the title does tie up with the content... sort of.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Those that can, do, those that can't...

The director phoned me on Friday and gave me an update about the second draft of the Short script. Good news and bad news, he said. I think the good news was that he was ignoring what his tutor had told him and wasn't canning me as the writer..!

The bad news was that his tutor hated the script and didn't like the genre and pretty much bagged out the rest of it too. Apparently this was after reading only one and a half pages of the script and skim-reading the rest of it. Bearing in mind that this Short isn't going to be made as part of the School program, I'm not sure what this 'tutor's' problem is. Surely the main aspect of a film school is to see how the student (director) makes a film; it shouldn't matter what the genre is, just that the end result is a competant piece. But apparently not.

So, the result of the phone call was to lengthen the script to approx. 15 pages, include more of a back story for the female lead (femme fatale), the bad guy and how he traced the female lead, and how the drug effects her. The director also asked me to include more visual shots, I said OK, but really think that that sort of cinematic nuance is down to the director him/herself.

After making notes and then leaving the thing (telling myself that I'd mull it over and produce another draft within the week), I was drawn to the laptop at about 9pm and stayed there until 5am working on it! Brilliant. Well done Andy for leaving it alone for a while.

The result (I think) wasn't too bad. The female lead's back story confirming her as a bit (quite a lot, actually) of a man-eater worked well, as did the process the bad guy took to trace her down and trap her into what he wanted doing. The surreal drug-induced scene may need work, as I've never been in that state and have no experience to work from. It'll either be seen as suitably strange and wierd or just plain stooooopid.

I suspect that the 'tutor' will hate it.

I don't know who the tutor is, or what his/her credentials are, but their opinion seems to be a little harsh, mainly because he doesn't like the genre the director has decided to use. But that's not really my concern. Even if this Short doesn't get made (or made without my further input), I've already gained experience in working in collaboration with someone I have never met and don't know. As far as I'm concerned I'm in a win-win situation. That's not to say that I wouldn't be very happy if the Short is made (and made well) and that I have something physical to show as part of my starting catalogue of work.

Oh, and by the way, I went to bed early last night and slept a loooong time.

Mmmm. Sleep...

Monday, 1 October 2007

Working for Peanuts?

Well, I am under the Chinese year of the Monkey, after all.

There's a growing and increasingly angry debate on Shooting People at the moment regarding 'Non Pay' and 'Low Pay' work for writers. Most of the people posting seem to be really against the situation where a piece of work, whatever that may be, leaves the writer with no pay, the promise of deferred pay (which usually means nothing), or a pay that amounts to an insult.

One recently advertised 'job' offered a writer £5 per 60 second piece of work - something which has caused a back-lash from SP subscribers.

I know that any work that is done where a writer accepts no money may mean that that attitude is adopted by more and more 'producers', and that the WGGB deems it a cardinal sin, but sometimes what choice does a starting writer have left open to them?

Like hundreds of other unproduced writers I'm in that position now. The normal way of the world is that 'one' has to show an employer that 'one' can do the job for which the wage is being offered. With scripts that normally means getting your work 'out there' and seen by as many people as possible. That means entering as many competitions as you can or initially working for nothing and hoping that you can earn a reputation and get that all precious commission.

I've entered competitions - I'm a third round qualifier in this years BSSC and have two entries in the Red Planet comp. And I'm collaborating with a young Director on a Short for his film school slate. As per the previous Post, my re-draft of his original has been passed on to a possible Producer of the Short, who liked what I had done with it. Fantastic! What chance would I have had to get something in front of this guy without 'working for nothing'? Nada, that's what. But because I've acknowledged the fact that I may have to work for nothing (financially, that is) I've got something in front of a Producer, who has seen my work in a positive light.

Yes, we all want to be taken seriously, and some perceive this as being paid well, but some of us realise that to get taken seriously we have to actually get work 'out there' in the first place.

There, rant over.

Draft Update

Well, it seems that my first stab wasn't too bad after all.

The Director sent my draft off to a possible/probable Producer for his thoughts/opinions, and then sent me a copy of the mail that he received back. On first reading I didn't know who this other guy was (I thought he was another writer the Director had approached) and initially experienced a pang of "if you're going to be sooo picky then I'll walk away from it and let you get on with it", but as I read the mail, the more I understood the angle from which it was being written in. And it made sense.

There were parts of the original script that I had felt were dubious, but I left intact. After all, if it were my original and some writer I'd asked to help ripped it apart and said it was crap, I wouldn't like it at all (not that I'm saying the original elements were crap, but you get the point, right?). So I left them in. These were, in the main, the areas the possible Producer said needed working on or changing completely.

Fine. So today I re-drafted again; changed several elements, built on the 'evil' side of the bad guy and completely changed the nature of the ending. So it's been sent back off, and I await the response.

I don't know the Producer and he doesn't know me, but he sounds like a very intelligent and probably handsome man. He writes "...Who have you got writing this at the moment? Who is Andrew Goodman? He's done well with this, he's a writer alright, it does show."

Like I said, he's obviously a highly intelligent and astute man.

Also, either my new draft or the old one is going to be sent to this guys business partner (a director) and another Producer whose currently working for ITV. Cool! My name's on the draft and if they like it... who knows?

Friday, 28 September 2007

Anxious Waiting

My first stab at a re-draft of the 'noir' Short script went off late last night. I had a text back from the Director saying that he would be reading it today. And frankly I'm worried whether he'll like it or not. Isn't that silly considering that the gig is not being paid, that it's for a piece for a students slate, that it's only eight pages long?

Maybe, but if I couldn't be bothered about his reaction, what would that say about my attitude to this whole game? I do care. I do give a shit whether this (probably) teenage guy thinks that my re-working of his idea is any good. I've changed some elements from his original, added extra detail and created a whole new reason why the girl feels that the 'bad guy' can trap her in a relationship that she doesn't want to be in.

I think it works, but it may be too wide of the mark from his original thoughts.

What's that, you say? Slang? Oh, well, I'm sure that that will come later. The story is the main thing right now, yeah? Yeah.

I'll show you whose got the minerals. (I apologise if I've just offended anyone - I have no idea what that means...)

Thursday, 27 September 2007

The Big Sleep (Easy?)

Yesterday I eventually got in touch with the student Director based in South Wales, regarding a collaboration with a 'noir' style Short script he has as part of his studies, that I got in contact through the Shooting People Scriptwriters' Bulletin. A couple of weeks or so ago I took a look at his script, offered some suggestions and a proposed re-write. He then asked if I'd like to continue to help the script/Short through to development.

He has something in style akin to 'The Big Sleep' in mind (black-and-white, noir, gangster'ish(what? it's a word)) but with a British edge; slang, tone etc. I think the premise he has, has the potential to be good as long as the end result avoids cliche's. It's due to be filmed in Jersey next July.

So, I've got a week to produce a (new) draft for him to have a look at. Shouldn't be a problem, right? Easy? The thing is, I don't think I know enough current British slang to cut the mustard. And I doubt that watching 'Lock, Stock...' and 'Snatch' will help all that much. Still, I've blagged things before.

Ooo, blag. Good word. I'll be using that one for sure.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Red Planet delay

The guys at Red Planet have announced that, due to the amount of entries, they have had to delay the first round full-script call until mid-October. No word of the final entry count, but it had to be high (who'll win Lucy's wager, I wonder?)

Can't say that's a real surprise, but another two weeks of nails being chewed? When mine are gone I think I'm gonna have to start on the dogs...

BSSC Fever

The Kaos/NFTS BSSC competition has announced the Third Round qualifiers...

After reading Dom Carver's post about his Short making the cut, I followed his link and had a peak at the list. Yep, mine's there too! By my reckoning they're down to about 160'ish from over 2000 original entries. Dom's pretty excited to have made it through and, let's face it, so am I.

STOP PRESS!!

Apparently the fine Mr Martin Adams has made the cut, with TWO entries still intact!
Now that's some going. Well done, sir.

The rumour is, is that there's one more round then the semi's.

More biting of nails to come, then.

Well done to the others out there that have made it through as well.

Monday, 24 September 2007

To POV or not to POV?

There's recently been a question posed on Dom Carver's blog-site, regarding the use of a cinematic direction in a Slug-line. He seems to be keen to use it, and I say it's his script and he should do what he wants. The vast majority of those that have commented on this though, advise that this should not be done - the main reason being that a 'reader' is likely to discard the script for the impertinence of suggesting what the Director should be doing.

As I commented on his site, when I write I visualise my action, characters, settings etc and as a result think in a 'cinematic' fashion. I'm sure that I'm not alone in this, but how we as (aspiring) script writers can manipulate the script to accommodate what we want to get across in tone and pace etc, and satisfy a 'reader' that we aren't telling a Director wat they should be doing is, I'm finding out, not at all easy. Established writers seem not to have to worry about this too much, or at all.

I posted a question on the Shooting People Scriptwriters bulletin regarding the use of POV. The example I gave was that I have a scientist trying to activate an (evil) item, and in the course of doing so has a series of flashback montages showing some of the Items creation and use. The final element of the montage is one of the Supernatural bad guys effectively 'looking' at the scientist before something really nasty happens to him. I said that I didn't want to use POV and asked those that read the bulletin if they had any suggestions how I could otherwise get around this.

The responses I had differed greatly. Some were from Directors that said " put it in, tell me what you're intending to happen", others were from 'readers' that said "DON'T put it in!" and a host of other responses between the two extremes. Lucy said to use it only if the script needed it, and gave an example of how it may be done. Out of all the responses, this was the most helpful, although it still didn't really help me a great deal. That's not to say that I'm ungrateful for any response or opinions I got from posing the question; I just think that I may not have worded the question quite how I meant.

In my short time writing I've been advised that simply because writers know what they mean in their head, when it comes to writing it does not necessarily mean that our intent is conveyed suitably for those reading to understand as we do. Interpretation is crazy and whacky thing.

Over the last few days whilst I was in That London (going to a property show) I spent a lot of time on trains and tube, and just thought. And in that meandering way that our brains seem to work out the most complex things when you least concentrate on them, I knew how to get around the use of POV or not: in the last montage the scientist finds 'himself' in the prescence of the bad guy (an impossible event) and the bad guy laughs at him before the scientist 'returns' to the real world and suffers the nasty. I can get across the fact that the bad guy has seen the scientist and caused the nasty to happen without using a 'cinematic slug-line'.

Perhaps not an earth-shattering revelation, but it was a moment of eureka, and I was happy that I was able to resolve my problem myself.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Time and Tide

As I've previously posted... where does the time go? It seems only the other week when I was cooking Christmas lunch in the caravan near Chippenham (God that was awful! - the caravan that is, not lunch).

In the hope that my second entry gets requested for the Red Planet comp, I've reviewed it and asked a respected Blogger if he's still willing to read through it and offer comments. This isn't the supernatural mystery, which is still on the back-burner, and ticking over nicely. I get the feeling that I'll be chopping huge sections from it though, after the first draft is done.

I've been reading with interest on other Blogger sites about the state and opinion of downloadable screenplays the Net has to offer. It seems that I'm not alone in thinking that most (80%+) are really pretty dreadful. And this leads onto why professional Readers have such a low opinion of the majority of the scripts they have to plough through.

This gives me an even more determined stance to really make an effort before sending my scripts to be Read by a script-call or other such requests.

I subscribe to 'Shooting People' on the scriptwriting and pitch Issues and am a Candidate Member of the WGGB. If you aren't a member of either these then I'd suggest that you should think about it. Advice/Help/Backup are all provided by these two organisations, and Shooting People in particular (in the Screenwriters Network Issues) allow writers to comunicate and help each other to improve our scripts.

In the last week I've responded to two requests for script reading/help and have received and replied with notes to one of them - a young Director in South Wales, who has asked me to help develop his short script further. There's no money in it, but it's something. And by the sound of his script, something with potential.

I've also read/commented on another Bloggers two short scripts, which I think have been well received, and an offer has been made to do the same with a piece of mine - hence the re-working of the second RP entry.

The bright lights of fame and fortune can only be a stone's throw away - can't it?

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Where does the time go?

In this last week I've been concentrating my working time in what I laughably call the 'garden'. When I moved into this place in West Somerset at the start of March the first thing I did was remove the (approx.) 20 tons of concrete from the courtyard garden and try to level it.

Now that we're near the end of the project and the only trade we have in is the guys lime-washing the exterior (looking damn good), so it's time to finish the landscaping. The base for the steps have been cut out and the posts and gates have been set, secured and hung.

During all this time the writing has been shelved somewhat, although I'm trying to set aside a fixed time per day to concentrate on it. As Bill Martell says, if he can write 5 pages per day, then in no time he'll have a full length first draft.

What writing I am doing is being concentrated on a supernatural mystery feature set in the 1920s (I used to help run actual events like this and have made up my own take on it). I've broken down the main sequence blocks, the three acts etc etc, but find that I write scenes that are far too long. After feedback on other pieces I've written I'm determined not to get too hung up about it. I've decided that for the first draft I'm simply going to write as I see fit, whatever the length. Once I've done that and stepped back from it for a while, I can then go back to it with a scapel (probably more like a chainsaw) and trim it down and tighten up the scenes to help with pace etc.

I've no idea if this is a process that other writers use, or would even consider, but I think it'll work for me. I keep reading that no one particular style is THE STYLE.

I'm also trying to read two scripts per week from a list I've downloaded from the Net. I've quickly got the idea that some of these so-called scripts have been written off DVDs etc and are very bad examples of certainly what a spec script should look like. Until you are a name the best you can do is spec scripts, but there seems to be little, sorry that should be no spec scripts that you can read to get the feel of what is expected of you. The first couple of pieces I wrote and laughingly stored in my 'Completed Scripts' folder, were based on such internet scripts, and once they were professionally reviewed/critiqued, I found out how far off the mark they were from the accepted norm.

I hope that in my short time writing I have learned what is and isn't accepted. Perhaps I haven't. Time and future scripts will tell.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Red Planet Saviour

That's Mr Danny Stack.

On his Blog Site he's re-assured all people that had late entries for the RP comp bounced back, saying that they will all be processed in due course. However, he's made the very generous offer of those of us (that would feel more comfortable) in re-sending the bounced entries to him at dstack30 at hotmail dot com, with proof that the original try was bounced. No cheeky late entries!

UPDATE!!

Danny has now posted a new mail address: resubmission at redplanetpictures dot co dot uk

If anyone has sent a re-try to the 'dstack' address need not re-send.

Thanks again Danny.

END OF UPDATE

I think that this offer is more than we should expect and is evidence that he is a top bloke (I've never met him), and he's opened himself up to a great deal of extra work, with no kick-back.

Cheers Danny.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Red Planet Horror?

After posting on Saturday about my second entry for the Red Planet comp, I opened up my mailbox today to find an 'underlivered mail' message. This came because the mailbox to Red Planet on Saturday was apparently FULL! My mail-server will try to re-deliver etc etc, but will they accept it?

If they don't - fine, if they do - bonus!

But that got me thinking about anyone else sending entries over to RP close to the deadline. I sent my mail just after 10am, and the mailbox was full! How many other entrants (with their one-and-only entry) left it to the last minute, and may not have their submission accepted?

Obviously, I have no idea what the stance of the RP guys is; they may accept entries sent on Saturday because of the full mailbox situation, or not. Either way, I don't think us last-minuters have anything to complain about. With hind-sight it seems obvious now that hundreds of people may have thought the same thing and used every second to hone their ten pages.

Also, looking at the RP site, they thank the 'hundreds' of people that have entered. Hundreds? Surely they mean thousands, don't they?

I'm glad that my first choice entry went in well ahead of the deadline.

Thanks to Tony and all the others involved in the RP comp, for giving us a chance.

Anyway, good luck to all that have entered, but as everyone else says not too much luck!

Saturday, 1 September 2007

More of the Red Planet

Encouraged by the news yesterday of getting through the second round of the BSSC Comp, I decided to tidy up the first ten pages of a short (approx. 30 mins) piece I wrote a while ago in response to Adrian Mead's suggested 'Writing Package' deal.

So, late last night I began to trim the adverbs out and tighten the dialogue and scenes up. Then, after a little more tinkering this morning, I submitted this in addition to my earlier piece I sent in last week.

I know that quantity is absolutely no guarantee of quality, but I thought 'why not?'

Good luck to everyone else that's entered the Red Planet Comp, but not too much luck, eh?

Friday, 31 August 2007

Perhaps I Should Explain...

About the Bearded Child thing.

Because I have an excuse for a beard (a very poor goatee thing - but it at least hides my potato-like chin) and have been known in the past to behave in a very silly manner, a friend of mine by the name of Robin Bruce very kindly gave me the knickname, and has been fully adopted by those that know me. I think I should say his nickname is Love Stump, but that's another long story...

And apparently I'm the top of Jason Arnopp's Blog-links! The day does indeed get better.

BSSC Comp Update

After reading on other Writers' Blogs about they either going through, or not, to the next round of the Kaos/NFTS BSSC Comp, I thought I'd see if I had.
Clicking onto the link on the BSSC site was like going to find out if I'd passed 'A' levels, or something. It didn't help as my script began with a 'T'.
And it was there..!
'The Right Thing'.
I'm pretty much humbled to find myself down to the last three hundred or so, out of the over two thousand original entries.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

What Do I Do...

... Now that my Red Planet submission has been sent in?

It feels a little odd to not have a deadline to work to, to polish a script, re-draft etc; of course assuming I get through the first round (please, God!) and get asked to supply the full script then no small amount of PO3 polishing will occur.

I'm torn between going back to my four-parter terrorist script or start working on something new. Lucy duly "... ripped the shit" out of the terrorist story for overly long scenes and seemingly even longer monologues. She said that one of them was the longest she had ever seen! I think I knew what she meant, but then she is a strange one.

Like the rest of the six-hundred odd people, I'm waiting for the BSSC to announce the next round qualifiers, but I'm doing my best to try and forget about it. Can't change the outcome, can I? They said end of August, didn't they?

I've just done my daily read through of numerous Writers' Blogs, and am glad to hear that Dominic is getting over the worst of it. I had an attack of 'Influenza des Hombres' (Spanish Man-flu) earlier in the year, and barely made it through. Of course, the other half said that I was putting it on, but women will never understand how bad it can be, can they? Get better soon, Mr Carver.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

The Story So Far...

An as yet unpublished writer of TV screenplays, but... through the first round of the Kaos/NFTS BSSC with my Short 'The Right Thing', and just sent my submission 'He Came Back' through to the Red Planet Competition (after Lucy at Bang2write ripped it apart (in a good way) and Dominic gave me his suggestions), I think it's all the better for it.

My 'day job' is finishing a property renovation in west somerset, which has been doing my head in. Bloody Plumbers! And the writing is a way of escapism and relaxation (when it's going well!)