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?