Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Salesmen Abroad, Script Day #3

Initial feedback from the Salesmen Abroad treatment is quite positive. Obviously there'll be amendments and such but I've taken the decision to start working on the script.

So far, three days in to the first draft and I'm already fifteen pages down. And I think this speed is the result of spending time working on the 40-card beat-sheet process. I'm finding it really quite easy in just focusing beat-by-beat or scene-by-scene.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Salesmen Abroad, treatment sent

Well, that's it. The treatment's been sent. Not bad, I think, for two weeks' work.

Now comes the limbo of waiting to hear what the producers think about it.

Salesmen Abroad, Treatment Day #14

I finished the first-draft of the Salesmen Abroad treatment late yesterday. This is the first time that I've tried using the 'correct' process of creating a 40-card beat-sheet and then write a synopsis/treatment based on that. And what do I think? I found it surprisingly easy.

A few years ago - when I first started writing seriously - I read as many 'how to' books and articles as I could, as well as following numerous writers' blogs detailing the screenwriting process. I read Blake Synder's Save the Cat and Syd Fields' The Definitive Guide to Screenwriting. But this is the first time I've actually sat down and followed the beat-sheet process that these two heavyweights advocate. Why? I think it's because I'm writing the treatment for someone else, and not just for me. By being invited to write the treatment by professionals it gives the project more of an importance, somehow. There's more at stake than just getting something down.

I've blocked-out the format for stories before, sure. And when I came across that concept (about five or six years ago) it came as a revelation. "What? I can actually work out what's going to happen in the story before I start writing? Wow" It made the whole process much easier. I could see where plot gaps were, where there were pauses in the action or where avenues for character development could be slotted in.

The projected running-time for Salesmen Abroad is ninety minutes, so with 40 beats it means that when I come to actually write the thing each beat only need an average max of two-and-a-half pages each. Sure some of those beats will only be a short visual but others - the 'talking' scenes etc - will help smooth out the average. The same as a page of script evens out to a page a minute, I guess.

Anyway, before I get into horse-and-cart territory, the treatment needs to be approved by Scott Barber and Paul Wallis, before it'll be passed onto Steve Hughes. With only a few amendments and tweaks (I hope) it'll be time to sit down and write the screenplay proper. I'm goign to review the treatment later today then take the plunge and mail it ove to Scott and Paul.

If I thought that the beat-sheet / treatment process was scary then I'm sure to have a few sleepless nights in the weeks to come ...

Friday, 23 March 2012

Salesmen Abroad, Treatment Day #12

The last piece of the 40-card beat-sheet fell into place earlier this week and the actual writing of the Treatment for Salesmen Abroad started yesterday; story overview, descriptions of the main characters and finally a scene-by-scene breakdown. This'll be the first serious Treatment I've written and I'm trying to stay within the guidelines I've read about how they should look.

The trouble is: there doesn't seem to be a definitive format for how a Treatment should look. Kind of like a piece of string and its determined length.

Still, what's taking shape at least looks sensible to me, so I'm hoping it'll be OK.

What's making me a little anxious though is that Scott Barber (one of the producers) has emailed me to say that a director friend of his - Steve Hughes - is willing to have a look the Treatment with the possibility of being attached to it should the script ever make it through to production status. Steve's directed Dr. Who, Land Girls, Doctors, Holby City, to name but a few. Did I say anxious? No, that doesn't even cut it.

No guts, no glory though. Hold tight ... I'm going in.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Salesmen Abroad, Treatment Day #8

I'm further along with 'beat-sheet' process, for Salesmen Abroad. I've been adopting the 40-card beat sheet system championed by Blake Snyder/Syd Field (amongst others), using ten cards for Act 1, twenty for Act 2 and ten more for Act 3. So far I've got twelve cards yet to fill, but I'm pretty happy with the ones I've already got.

The flow's working well at the moment and all I think I'm missing are a few linking scenarios.

So far, so good.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Salesmen Abroad, Treatment Day #2

Ok - so I've not been working on this for too long but I'm already beginning to see where the characters are starting to go. I've created another secondary character (which may turn into the antagonist) and think I've worked out what the Act 1 and Act 2 plot-point transitions will be.

Some of the interpersonal relationships between the central characters are beginning to gel. Scott Barber and Paul Wallis are continuing to feed me with anecdotes of their own experiences in the 'world' in which the story is set - so I've plenty of ammo to call upon.

So far, so good.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

It's nice to be schmoozed

I had a very interesting meeting this afternoon with Scott Barber of SeaView Pictures (and the driving force behind the FilmNav website) and Paul Wallis. I've written a couple of short pieces for Scott in the past - Selling Sweeney, and Novocaine WIll Numb the Pain - and he got in touch with me to see if I was interested in working with him and Paul in developing a feature.

The film - with the working title of Salesmen Abroad - will be loosely based on their experiences of working in the broadcast arena in Eastern Europe around the turn of the new millenium. At the moment it's intended to have an Auf Wiedersehen, Pet tone but with a more white-collar feel. We've indentified the central character, the three other 'salesmen' and the 'love interest/dilemma', and I've got three or four weeks in which to develop the initial treatment/synopsis.

Scott and Paul have some very good connections in the film and broadcast medium, so (in theory) the production and post-production element of the process should be much easier than novices working from scratch. All I need to do (all!) is to produce a strong template which we're all happy with, respond to feedback and then produce a first-draft script. We're looking at a run-time of 90 minutes with a 15 certificate.

I may be quiet here for a while, or I might use this area as a means of letting of steam.

We'll see how it goes.

Monday, 5 March 2012

If I'm not writing here ...

It's because I'm writing elsewhere.

I've been re-working the Oliver Drummond and the Four Horsemen story - including new elements which come pretty much right in at the beginning: more suspicion and (hopefully) more tension. They're going well and I'm liking the new inclusions. I think it'll make the story stronger and let the reader ask more questions about some of the character's motives.

I've also (in the last couple of days) starting fleshing out the plot for the (as yet unnamed) Tiberius Found sequel - oooh, there's some stuff going on: revenge, betrayal, intrigue, power-gaming, double-crossing. I'm thinking it'll be a touch darker and harder than Tiberius Found - the Daniel Henstock at the end of the story isn't the same person from when it started, and those events have changed him. His world's different and he comes to realise that the stakes are now much higher.

At least, that's how the Beat Sheet is shaping up. Right, back to it ...