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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Big Moo on holiday

Half way through the holiday.

I've been reading The Big Moo by Seth Godin which I picked up at the airport. Its primarily about new ideas for business. As a lot of you will know I'm interested in new film models - ideas such as the 365 and the Circumference funding model. However this book is great for all writers. It talks about the need to stop trying to do everything perfectly. Its overall aim (and I mean overall as it is in fact written by 33 writers) is to stop us putting in all our precious energy and effort into getting everything 100% perfect. Instead we should (just) be aiming to be "remarkable".

An odd approach for writers - they like to polish things and make them perfect. But what if instead we aimed to get into new territories with our writing. What if we tried instead to make bold statements with radical stories and fresh characters. Perhaps then it wouldn't matter if it was a little rough around the edges. Would it better to have 3 crazy new ideas than one polished safe one?

This is something that I've never heard said before. But its worth a thought.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A big break

Right then guys. I'm off on holiday for a week. I'll leave the enormity of the 3 circles for everyone to digest. If you want more info on the outer circle content then let me know and we'll crack into that on my return.

A little break...

I saw this on Gia's blog Porn stars whatever. These girls have been directed by 'The Biggins'!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What is "The blue circle"?

Your dialogue with the industry.
This circle, the last of the three, looks at your dialogue with the industry. And dialogue is what it has to be. It has to be a two way conversation. Only by being in the conversation can you ever hope to find that people are talking about what you want to talk about.

If you look in the three inner sections you can see what I mean. There is:
  • Gravity - How often are you networking and discussing projects? Not just at formal 'networking events' but also informally and on-line. And how visible are you? Do people know what you are doing? If they think 'writer' - do they think of you first? Gravity has been talked about on this blog before but the diagram shows how it fits into the big picture - and also how important it is.
  • Business - business is boring. That's the normal battle cry of a writer. But your business head should be put on for more than just invoices and accounts. Do you know where your money is coming from? Should you spending more time on those projects (eg. corporates) and less on your pet projects. Or the other way around? Do you know what other people are charging? Are you selling yourself short?
  • Relationships - how are you keeping in touch with people? Or has it been six months since you last spoke to that great contact you made? How are you meeting new people? And who are you keeping in touch with? Producers of course and agents I hope. But what about other writers? What about business experts - eg. lawyers? What about new up and coming directors? What about actors?

This circle can be the most difficult for writers. Which is strange. Perhaps as professionals we don't always relish the idea of networking. Instead we would rather get our heads down and get on with some of the tasks in the other two circles.

But for over a year now on this blog (and in many, many other places) writers have been moaning about their position. The cause of discontent is around status. We sometimes feel we don't get enough respect or people are not aware of our work and what we do.

This circle is about doing something about that. And doing it as an everyday thing / part of your normally working pattern.

New to this diagram?
What is it? - How do I get a copy? - Read from the beginning on the blog.

The Scriptwriter's Life diagram is by Tim Clague from a joint venture by Projector Films, South West Screen & MartonHouse.
The diagram can be used by anyone and is under a Creative Commons License.
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Short cut

If the effort of the Scriptwriters Life is wearing you down then here is a shortcut. Fox (in the US) are doing a 'pop idol' for directors. So sign up, upload your film and let the yanks vote you off.

Its all here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What is "The red circle"?

Building your character.
This circle, the middle of the three, looks at building up your character. That means you have to be three dimensional - never mind the people in your story.

If you look in the three inner sections you can see what I mean. There is:
  • The industry - how much do you actually know about your industry. Do you look at box office figures. Do you read other scripts, professional scripts? How many?
  • Research - where are your new ideas going to come from? Are you up on the new developments in other art forms? Do you look inside yourself and consider your own emotions and thoughts?
  • Training - are you getting help. Have you identified your weak spot and done something about it?

I think this is my favourite circle of the three. This is because it invites us to look deep in ourselves, where we are, what we want to do, how we compare to the best people out there. But at the same time its about being open and outward looking. Its about getting our head up and looking around for new sources of inspiration.

In essence this circle is about the long term. Its about having the character to stay the course and get there in the end. This is what I try to do. And I've noticed its what the best writers do do.

New to this diagram?
What is it? - How do I get a copy? - Read from the beginning on the blog.

The Scriptwriter's Life diagram is by Tim Clague from a joint venture by Projector Films, South West Screen & MartonHouse.
The diagram can be used by anyone and is under a Creative Commons License.
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New Scriptwriter's Life diagram for printers

There is now a version of the diagram for greyscale printers - or for those who don't want to use up a months supply of ink in 2 minutes!

Download it from here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What is "The green circle"?

What is your story?

This circle (out of the three) looks at your story. How good are you at the nuts and bolts of the scriptwriting craft? Can you do the work? Can you do it well?

If you look at the three inner sections you can see that I've split that into:
  • Story telling skills - Can you tell a good tale?
  • Technical - Can you tell it in the right way?
  • Pitching - Can you tell other people about it competently AND tell them about yourself?

What is interesting about this is to compare this diagram to any training you may have had.

Most courses concentrate only on the first section. They focus only on story telling skills. And, in a way, they are right to do that. It is important. And, as you can see, the Scriptwriting Life diagram reflects that - we say it is important as well. What the diagram challenges us to think about is the importance of our technical skills and our pitching skills also. I was never trained in these.

But that's crazy. The more you think about it - the more crazy it seems.

We must be good at our pitching skills if we consider ourselves writers and we must know about layouts, treatments and IT skills. So, yes, storytelling is crucial - but so are other things.

And we still have two more circles to go. The blue and the red.

That's when I realised how crap I was. I been concentrating all my effort in just one small slice of a much bigger complete picture.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Scriptwriter's Life - why and how?

I'm aware that the crazy diagram above doesn't look that a traditional piece of advice for scriptwriters. So let me tell you how it came about.

I'm a scriptwriter and director, as most of you know. I believe, as writers, we all seek to get better. It's hard wired into us - probably because we love redrafting and rewriting. We always seek a better way. Personally, I've always been interested in structure and form. But I know of contemporaries and colleagues that are equally excited about dialogue. So I worked on my structure and they worked on their dialogue. And we got better at writing.

But then a few years ago I started doing some corporate work - scriptwriting for financial institutions such as HSBC. Once I got over my initial prejudice that the sales people there were dull bankers I realised that they were on a similar journey. They were trying to get better at their job as well. But they did all this other stuff. They worked just as hard at getting better at their pitching skills, at their mentoring, at keeping an eye on the industry, at speaking on the phone, at having meetings, at keeping in touch, at knowing what to charge.

This was all stuff we should do. But no one ever said! No one told me! Yes, we got better at writing over time. But were we getting better at being a writer? Did we know what was really required for a successful scriptwriter's life? I got together with colleagues, fellow writers like Danny Stack and people from outside the industry to put all these ideas together, in one place, on one page, for the first time.

I use it everyday. Have it in front of you. Today, in your writing time, don't just do what you want (whatever is easiest in my case). Look at the chart. What haven't you done in a while? Who haven't you spoken to? What's your weak spot?

The goal is to help us all be better at making a living from writing. I want to take this further and South West Screen are seeking finance to help me do just that. In the meantime - print it out, use it, share it, tell me what's missing. Get your copy here.

On the blog here I'll be putting the diagram into practice and using it as often as I can. We'll work around it one element at a time and I'll show you that it works (hopefully!)

New to this diagram?
What is it? - How do I get a copy? - Read from the beginning on the blog.

The Scriptwriter's Life diagram is by Tim Clague from a joint venture by Projector Films, South West Screen & MartonHouse.
The diagram can be used by anyone and is under a Creative Commons License.
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Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Scriptwriter's Life

This is a new approach for Scriptwriters, like me, to think about what they need to do in order to be successful. The diagram contains, all in one place, the life of a scriptwriter. Its a map that we can use to see what we need to tackle next. As far as I know no-one has done this before. Go to the site.

Successful writers must maintain a balance between the three circles.

  • What is your story? How do you pitch, how good is your story skills, are you on top of the technology?
  • Building your character. Do you know the industry, are you getting regular training, do you know how to research?
  • Your dialogue with the industry. Are you good at networking, are you drawing people towards you, are you keeping in touch often enough your key contacts?

Tomorrow I'll fill you in on why I made it and how it came about.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hyper-reality TV

everyday on Vimeo
A long time ago we put in a series of proposals that tried to take TV documentary into new areas. Our thinking was - what is beyond reality TV. Is there a hyper-reality TV? A type of show that doesn't just show you what someone does - but gets you closer than that. It would be much more intimate. Current reality TV is about being a voyeur - about lookat at someone. Hyper-reality TV would be about being with someone.

This video is from a site promoting the idea of Wuntsah and is along the same lines. Lets really look at this guy and his life.

Of course this before I stopped banging my head against the wall with TV commissioners and started just doing the ideas on the interent instead.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A New Hope

Hope lives on

A quick request for you to indulge me slightly. Please visit the BitFilm awards site and vote for Hope (or any other film that you feel is better). Its up for an awards sponsored by Adobe due to the copious amounts of full on HD After Effects work in there. Hope is my last short and I'm pleased with the progress of this film through the festivals. It's a good feeling to go out on.

By request...

If you are a comment reader you will know that Rich S was a bit unhappy with our last effort. But the whole 365 vibe is for us to be responsive to feedback.

So we've done a special Rich S edit. Check it out above.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Wiki (updated)

Fame of sorts as I have a Wikipedia entry. And I didn't even do it myself (before you ask) as I seem to be available only in French. C'est La Vie.


Even better this page puts me next to Chaplin!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fonts - the movie!

Check out the new film about a font. Yes - next year will see a film called Helvetica. I like Helvetica - but only since someone told me that Arial (which looks very similar) was invented by Microsoft.

The rise of fonts is odd. People, that's normal people - not designers, now talk about it. If you look at a poster you may say. "I don't like the picture but the fonts okay". What? Who talked like that 10 years ago???

Anyway. I guess thats what this film is about. So I've talked myself into seeing it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hi tech structure cards

Stewart McKie tracks every piece of software that relates to scriptwriting. He knows of my love towards the use of structure cards and said I should check out Super Note Card. This shareware priced downloadable software aims to replicate the card structure workings but on your computer.

The advantages are that you can then track the paths of certain storylines or characters easily.

I think it works well. But its still not for me. It assumes that I'm further down the line that I probably am. I may not even have scenes on my cards. I may have just ideas and thoughts.

I'm looking at the board for LooP now. One series of cards say to ensure that we return to the same location 3 times. One just says "Russian Doll" and one says "Each hour is a minute shorter" - an idea to thread through the whole film.

These aren't scenes that we can move about. These are loose ideas seeking a home. I don't think the software can cope with that.

Friday, September 01, 2006

365 example

Some of you may not have seen our 365films demo movie. This is a production that was written, shot and edited in 8 hours. All in HiDef!

A bit of trivia - that is Chris Musselwhite's shirt (from Small Town Folk) that I am wearing. Cheers Chris! All the best for your premiere tomorrow.

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