Sunday, 27 February 2011

Dead Island trailer

Piers Beckley posted this trailer on his 'Between the Pavement and the Stars' blog a few days ago, and it's brilliant. It's a trailer for a game - 'Dead Island', but as a stand-alone piece of short film it's amazing.


If anyone thought that game writing/story-telling was simple then this puts that theory to bed. This is a genius piece of story-telling at its finest. I wonder if the game can live up to it ...

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Tiberius latest

The last few days has seen a surge in the Tiberius Found story. I've written just over 5,200 words - approx. 1,700 words/day - which has bumped the current word count to just over 44,000.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I find it so odd that for ages I seem to have a slump in the word count production and then all of a sudden they just flow. It might help that I've got to the bit (which in a screenplay would be described as the Act II climax/Break into Act III) which turns the world upsdie down for the Hero and sets him on the course which will descide not only his fate, but also the fate of those he cares about.

The decisions he makes from this point will have life-changing consequences, and sets up the final showdown between him and the bad guy. If this were a Panto, you could now Boo and Hiss.

This final act is pretty fast-paced with action leading to information which leads to more action which in turn leads to Space Elephants. I'm joking about the Space Elephants. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. But the resolution is fairly energenitc with (hopefully) a few twists along the way. And I'm enjoying writing it.

Will he manage to over-come the obstacles and defeat the bad guy? And if so, what price will he have to pay? First draft here we come.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

More Tiberius, more

Following on from the post the other day (as written about here)  Tiberius Found - my story about the genetically modified boy - has grown by another 1,700 words today, and broken through the 40,000 mark.

I don't know about other writers but I find it really odd that at times I just look at the page and although I know what I want to write, it just doesn't happen and at other times the words just flow. I know which I'd prefer to be the norm. Still, all progress is good and I'm happy with the way it's going.

And it's going to get bloody for him before it gets better: this lad is not going to have it easy ...

Birthday Gift Requests

With several birthdays coming up in the next few months of close friends and family I thought I'd get ahead of the game and ask what people might want as gifts, rather than just getting something last minute that was neither apprpriate nor wanted. And what a diverse list I was given. Some ranging from the unexpected 'new car' (do they really think I'm made of money?) to 'oh, just anything. I don't mind'.

However, some of the specific requested items included the immensly affordable gillette mach 3 razor. For a man, I might add. The ladies seemed to opt for a set of GHDs - pink being the prefered colour. The young lad who works for me suggested a timex ironman watch because he does triathalons. And last but by no means least the request for one of the flotec pumps range.

By my calculations I think that a few people might get a birthday and christmas present in one. Unless, of course I win the lottery in which case that person can have her new Saab.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Selling Sweeney and Other Scripts

After a few more emails with notes from the director and Scott another version (dare I say the last ...) of Selling Sweeney has been written. It incorporates some of the ideas of the director whilst staying true to the original concept - and I think it's much better for it.

Dialogue which didn't really contribute was mercilessly hacked out to make room for scenes which added depth to the emotional reason behind the protagonists motives as well as making it clear what a shit the antagonist is.

I think the ending is much stronger now and adheres to Scott's original concept for the mood of the piece. And I've managed to keep it withing ten pages! Although, interestingly - if it were formatted into US Letter, it would add a whole extra page to it.

There's still rough shooting date of march/april so right now it all looks good.

Also, I've loaded Coffee, Biscuits and Bullets as an extra page to this blog - you can either click on the link here or link via the 'Work (Finished or In Progress)' section to the right. Any directors/producers out there who see it and like it then by all means get in touch and we can discuss it.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Tiberius is Getting Bigger

It may have been a while ago since I last posted an update on my 'regular' writing so I thought it was time for another. My latest YA Novel - Tiberius Found increased by 1,200+ words today. I was at a point where I knew what was going to happen and just needed to push through and write the bloody thing.

It's looking like it'll be around a 60,000 final word count mark (as if these things can ever really be gauged?) at I'm currently at the high 38,000s. I'm hoping to have a first draft finished april/may time.

War of the Dead - update

Despite earlier hopes that War of the Dead would be premiered at the Berlin Film Festival Andrew Tiernan has let me know that the final colour grade on War of the Dead is due to be completed in Rome next month, meaning that it will miss screening in the Berlinale.

The good news though is that it has sold the UK rights which means some sort of distribution will happen, although no further news as to who's bought the rights and what sort of release is planned, or when.

Five years and more in the making, we can wait another few months ...

British Bookshops and Stationers' closures

Following on from an earlier posting about the BB&S situation - there is more news:

Zolfo Cooper, the administrators dealing with BB&S has announced that although they are still looking for interest in the remaining 28 stores, it's likely that some branches will close within a month unless last-minute interested parties can be found.

Apparently some branches (no details of which ones) are due to shut their doors for good next Wednesday (23rd) whilst overs may remain open until some time in March. A number of disgruntled employees place the blame firmly at the feet of the company's owners/upper management saying that they doubted they could organise a party (my re-wording) in a brewery, and it's the hard-working shop/head office support staff who are getting the dirty end of the stick. That said, it was reported a few days ago that BB&S former MD John Simpson was owed a little over £82,000.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Jamie must be happy

According to Nielsen Bookscan Jamie Oliver has topped both the Hardback and Paperback non-fiction charts this week, for the second time. His '30-minute Meals' (published by Michael Joseph) topped the hardback list (49,899 copies) and his fourth Comic Relief recipe book 'Jamie's Monster Bake Sale' (Penguin) headed-up the paperback (7,777 copies).

He has to be happy with that. Pukka

Monday, 14 February 2011

BB&S Debts announced

The financial debts of troubled British Bookshops and Stationers were announced over the weekend, reports The Bookseller. Following close on the heels of news last week that W H Smith had acquired 22 of the chain's stores for £1m, the full details of outstanding money to unsecured creditors was revealed: £6.3m, with BB&S only being able to pay out a total of £2.2m, despite W H Smith buying 22 stores for £1m (as mentioned here).

Those owed large sums are: Hachette companies (Bookpoint, and Littlehampton Book Services) for just over £1m, Random House's distribution company The Book Service $443,317 and both Macmillan Distribution and HarperCollins each for approx. £500,000.

Zolfo Cooper, the administrators dealing with BB&S say they are still "actively pursuing" opportunities for the remaining stores, which continue to trade until decisions are made as to their future.

Valentine's Day ... and all that brings

I got caught up in a conversation the other day as seeing as though it's St Valentine's Day, it seems appropriate to mention it. Someone at work - a customer who is a semi-regular visitor - started telling me that he's recently signed up to an online dating service, and was surprised about how well it was going.

Apparently he found the particular dating site as a result of a web search and viewing top dating sites. Now this particular guy wouldn't be the sort of person you'd immediately picture as the typical dating service member: he's in his fifties, and divorced with no kids. It was towards the end of the evening and he'd had a few glasses of wine, and he was telling me he was surprised about the amount of interset he was getting from ladies of a similar age; mostly just after friendship and someone to spend time with.

I think online dating services have a bad rep but if it's working for this guy then all power to him, I say. Me? I'm sorted, thanks.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

SBFF - Worst Film Festival Ever?

Probably not, but the documentary made by Americans Steve Rosen and Terri DeBono of their experiences at the Swansea Bay Film Festival 2010 (last May), doesn't do it any favours.

These guys travelled over 6,000 miles to attend the 'Festival' because thay had been nominated for an award for their documentary Boyhood Shadows - "I swore I'd never tell", which was about child abuse. I know that documentaries can be edited so that only the filmmaker's persepctive is highlighted but this really makes you wonder what the founding director (and apparent owner of the Festival) - Binda Singh - was really more concerned about. The Festival had no catalogue, no hard time slots, just a running order: they just started films at one point during the day and a film was shown was it was shown. The basic list of the films didn't even include a synopsis of what the film was about - just the title and running time. To make it worse: the schedule kept changing. It certainly looked as if he was more concerned about just getting through, rather than the people's work which made the Festival possible.

One comment that was made was that it was (apparently) down to the filmmakers to find an audience for their film, but without a definite time slot how could they do that? And more importantly, why should they have to? Isn't that down to promotional material from the organisers?

It's a shame that Mr Singh has such an apparent disregard for filmmakers and their efforts. It doesn't matter how far they travel (although the longer the distance the worse it seems for them) as long as the Festival is well organised and promoted. If the audience is pretty much only made up of other filmmakers and they may not know even what the film is about before the screening starts, then it's a pretty poor showing from a Festival organiser's point of view.

It did seem that the SBFF organisers may have been more concerned with profit over presentation. The 2011 Festival runs May 7th -15th and it'll be interesting to hear what experiences filmmakers have of this one.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Shooting script? Not by a long way ...

Following on from this post about Selling Sweeney ...

The latest Selling Sweeney'news is that Scott has had some feedback from another director friend and the main comment he had was that - although the premise, characters and locations were good - it lacked any real conflict. Conflict that I was asked to remove from an earlier version in an attempt to cut down on locations and characters...

A few suggestions have been made (by the director friend, Scott and myself) as how to improve the situation and I feel another rewrite is imminent.

Am I disheartened? Am I frustrated? Not really. This is all part and parcel of the writing industry. I fully expected that when a definite director was attached (and I'm not sure that the guy offering comments is the one) then changes would be called for. It's almost as if the director has to suggest changes to put their own stamp on a piece of work. C'est la vie.

I'm just waiting now to hear what amendments Scott wants me to make.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

War of the Dead update

Still no confirmation yet as to whether War of the Dead starring Andrew Tiernan will be actually be getting a premier at the Berlinale next month. However there is the unofficial 2011 trailer for it on You Tube.  Unofficial because ( I believe) there are still production issues. Click on the link and watch.

Come on, Mr Tiernan.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

'Selling Sweeney' latest

Scott took possession of the latest (and possibly 'shooting') script for 'Selling Sweeney' today. All things being equal it's still looking promising for a shoot in march/april, with the possibility of Mark Savage (Grange Hill's Gripper Stebson) taking the role of the 'bad guy' Peter Franks. This has yet to be confirmed but I think he'd have just the right level of smarm and arrogance the character needs.

Anyone who watched Grange Hill in the 80s may not recognise the name Mark Savage, but should definitely remember the uber-Bully Gripper Stebson he played. Mark is similar in style to Danny Dyer, but hasn't had the break-through success that Mr Dyer's enjoyed. Maybe this project will propel him back into the limelight?

Scott's already got a composer on board and has lined up meetings with people on both sides of the camera for when he's back in the UK in a week or so's time. I'm trying to remain calm and relaxed about it all. I wonder how long that'll last?

W H Smith buys 22 BB&S Stores

As reported on The Bookseller website this morning W H SMith (High Street) has bought 22 out of the 51 British Bookshops & Stationers stores, which had fallen into administration earlier in the year, in a deal worth just over £1m. This deal secures 200 jobs although 40 Head Office staff were made redundant when administration came into effect.

The 22 stores now under W H Smith ownership are:

Bexhill
Bognor
Brighton (London Rd)
Brighton (Western Rd)
Chichester
Crowborough
Dorking
Eastbourne
Hailsham
Hove
Lancing
Lewes
Littlehampton
Reigate
Rustington
Seaford
Sevenoaks
Shoreham
Southwick
Teddington
Tunbridge Wells
Uckfield

No word has yet been announced as to the fate of the remaining stores.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

First 'short' shoot?

The latest update from Scott is that (as far as anything can be certain before it's actually done) 'Selling Sweeney' will be his first short produced. Which is great news and really very exciting. He's due back in the UK in a couple of weeks or so and the London meet looks like it'll happen.

I was at a local writer's get together in Taunton last night, where I passed on the good news and was treated almost as if I was royalty. Odd. I suppose that being part of a group with some positive news cheers everyone on and, although I kept saying that the filming hadn't happened yet so there was no guarantee, they were all really excited about it.

The last week has been an emotional roller-coaster, but I guess that's all part and parcel of this crazy writing business. Something that I wouldn't mind getting used to. The next step is actually getting paid for it ...

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Waterstones to close 11 branches

As reported in the media at large and on The Bookseller website, Waterstones is to close 11 branches by the end of the week. The branches concerned are throughout the UK and Ireland, with the following outlets affected:

Dublin, Dawson Street
Dublin, Jervis Street
Colchester, Culver Square
Worcester, High Street
Guildford, North Street
Stafford, Guildhall
Hemel Hempstead, Marlowes Centre
Coventry, Cathedral Lanes
Tiverton
Luton
Chelmsford, Meadows

The branches at Slough, Maidenhead and Edinburgh East End were three stores already earmarked for closure by the end of the year, which leaves another half dozen stores to be identified. There seems to be some speculation that this move is more in response to cutting high rental overheads rather than  pruning out non-profitable stores. Who knows?

Perhaps one element is when a chain tries to diversify to stay current and competitive it loses some of the spark which make it a high-flyer to begin with. Waterstones, like its HMV sister, doesn't appear to have been run very successfully in the last few years and this seems to be the consequence.
Some people may say that big branch closures will be a good thing for the small independant ... Possibly, as long as the independant managed to stay alive for all this time, but it might just mean that consumers are more likely to go to their local supermarket and buy there.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Latest version anxiety

So. The second version of the screenplay went to a director - someone reasonably important within the BBC and a friend of the producers. Eeek.

A reply email came back quite quickly - frighteningly quickly - with suggestions and comments. A re-write was in order. And quite a big one because the central premise wasn't that well liked.

So a re-write (about 90% owing to the changes needed to accommodate the change) was finished today and sent off to the producer. The biggest problem I had was changing the ending to try and satisfy what I thought the director would be more content with. I'm happy that what I've done with the re-write is still perfectly suitable, and hope that that opinion is continued down the line. Or should that up the line?

Anyway, I still await hearing whether the mid-February meet between producer, director and yours truly will actually happen. On a positive note I did see the producer post a casting call request for the main character today via Shooting People, so hopefully that's a sign that he's still keen to progress this project with me attached.

The upside is still that I've been in the position to write to a (hopefully) high standard three versions of something within a tight deadline. That exercise alone is one that would probably not have happened had I not answered the original script call, and shows me that I can produce when the situation calls for it.

I have the work and I have the experience. Even if it all falls apart now (and that would really SUCK) I've still come out of this ahead.