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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas film

Hello Everyone.

As you know - I make films. So instead of a picture on a card it seemed obvious to me to make a film as a my yuletide greeting unto you all.

The reason it is late is a simple one. We wanted to actually make it on Christmas Day itself and have some fun. And so we did. We used what we had, which wasn't all that much - but we did it in the day! Enjoy. And if next year you'd prefer a simple card in the post instead then let me know.

If the movie doesn't play here is the direct link.



Shaune gave me an added challenge of incorporating a mystery gift to be opened live during the film. All in all, a great 365films type challenge.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Personal Currency


Peter Travers (from Rolling Stone magazine) got me thinking. "Why?", I hear you ask in your Christmas fuelled excitement.

Well its film awards season at the moment. BAFTAs Oscars etc. And that means I'm on a diet of about 2 films a day. And reading lots of Screen Internationals and Hollywood Reporters. In these mags are lots of adverts - and these adverts have lots of quotes on them.

I can guaretee that 50% of these adverts will contain a quote from Peter Travers. Easily. He must like EVERYTHING. Now I'm an upbeat guy. I find something to like in most films. But I might not recommend it. Why? Because my word. my opinion would get devalued. Like when the Germans in the 30s tried to make the country richer by just printing more money. It doesn't work. As each note (or each review in this case) is just seen as being worth less and less.

I now don't take Peters word for what is a good film. And this is something we must all watch out for. As readers, collobaorters, as reviewers. Our word must have a high value.



As you can see from this ripped out page - the film in question is 'There Will be Blood'. This is, in fact, a towering and incredible film with scope and vision. The cast is excellent all round and Daniel Day Lewis is being singled out - and I can see why. This film deals with the issue of people having goals that are too strong and narrow - that passion and greed are dangerous. However, for me, I would still recommend the much smaller film Juno above it for the sparkly dialogue by Diablo Cody.




Merry Christmas to you all. Expect a special Christmas and New Year greeting very soon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ranking


It's official. I'm a Z lister!

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Leadership in Hollywood - the new way


In a recent issue of Hollywood Reporter there was a fascinating section on film business leaders. It was called 'Innovative Voices'. You know something is mainstream when the HR writes about it - next to a special article about Oprah. Again.

It was interesting what these business leaders were saying about alternative distributions and new art forms. And you also know that us small guys have to keep on the hop with our imaginative writing and film making if the big boys are breathing down our necks. They are into things we were talking about 2 years ago when this blog started. So now - we have to be 2 years ahead.

Here is a quote from one of the five 'big boys' mentioned in the article. Why - its big cheese Peter Moore who is president of EA Sports. He says unto us...

"We just had a watershed moment in entertainment in that fewer people wanted to go to movie theatres because they were at home playing Halo 3"

But its not all that well written. Guys!!! Where are you??? Let's get in there.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

'Something new' makers

film director
In the past we all knew where we were. We made films. Simple. Write them, film them, show them. Ahhh. The simple life. What exactly is our role now?

Looking at the film2.0 pioneers its all about making something bigger than just a film. The film is part of a bigger project. This might be Robert Greenwald whose films are part of a bigger social movement. But it could also be the work of ZeFrank whose films are part of a bigger dialogue with the audience. Myself, I'm trying to experiment with characters - so Archie (from Circumference) is bigger than the film. He is a character outside of the film - he has his own blog and communication with the outside world. I'd also like to see him do the commentary on the DVD. A film is usually based on a theme or idea. But now we have more ways to explore that idea than just using film. We can have plugins, facebook apps, blogs, wikis, forums, internet art - and loads of things that you haven't invented for us yet.

What is the name of this 'bigger thing'? I don't know. I don't think its the same as those cliche terms - franchise or brand. Perhaps it doesn't need a name. Maybe its just a project. Or movement. Or art.

Who should lead the charge with these new ideas? I think it should be writers. They need to be involved. They know the characters. They know the central idea and theme and are exploring it already. All the time. It's already part of our process. We are primed. So writers - keep suggesting spin offs and new ideas.

Image of Dorothy Arzner (1900-1979) - pioneering film director. Born in San Francisco, she was the only American woman director to make a successful transition from the silent era to sound.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Game over?

Steve Keevil sent me a link to this article in the NY Times. It's about an internet / web 2.0 / artist pioneer who is re-evaluating the way things have worked out for artists using the web. An extract is below...

There’s an almost religious belief in the Valley that charging for content is bad. The only business plan in sight is ever more advertising. One might ask what will be left to advertise once everyone is aggregated.

This ties in with our own ongoing evaluation of Circumference. What is our balance between pulling people towards the film in a magnetic way versus pushing it as an idea towards potential advertisers by using traditional press and PR.

Whatever happens - I like being in a game where we are still making up the rules.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Inspiration

More storydust from PostSecret for your writing during the week ahead.









Friday, December 07, 2007

New project



You know that bit on the side here somewhere --->

It says above the adverts 'all funds earned go to making films'. Well. The time is coming.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The rules?

rules of writing
Can't remember where I found this. But here it is anyway. These are for the 'read' word rather than the 'performed' word - but most hold true.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

Memorabilia


If you fancy a piece of Projector Films blog memorabilia AND a chance to watch some Christmas films on the BIG screen at home then look no further than the official Projector Films projector! (ie a good projector that I've just never really used and want to sell)

Its for sale to help fund new films - in particular a series of comedy shorts for the web. So we can help each other out if you buy it. Hardly been used at all. As new.

Projector info... 6 months old. 20 hours use. Res is 854 x 480 (16:9). £339ish new. Yours as a blog reader £200.

Link to check out details.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

My lecture - Monday



If you fancy learning something on Monday then come on down to Bournemouth University in your lunch hour. I'm giving a one hour special lecture on narrative film making. It's going to be fast paced, high energy and interactive. And free. And cool. It's for people who are just starting out on film making - ie first year students - but all blog readers welcome also. Hope to see you there and make sure you introduce yourself.

Place: The Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Bournemouth Uni
Time: 1-2pm
Date: Monday 3rd Dec 2007

If you come along I'll explain the picture above.



The materials...

The Powerpoint, The check list (as a word doc), one of the style sheets, the '10 seconds' film.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Storydust of real lives


It's quite famous, but worth a mention.

The pain and joy of everyday lives, by the people who are living them. One sentence feelings that are sometimes more powerful than our scripts.

Go to the postsecret blog.

Here's some more...





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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New event

This event is similar to Power to the Pixel. Go if you can. If only because Pete Buckingham is such a passionate speaker on digital distribution.




FILM: THE DIGITAL FUTURE

Tuesday 11 December 2007, Watershed, Bristol, UK


A one-day film conference presented by South West Screen
Book now for South West Screen’s upcoming conference 'Film: The Digital Future' which is bringing a pool of experts to the region to explain how best to embrace and exploit the ongoing digital developments within the production, distribution, exhibition and marketing sectors.

More speakers have now been confirmed including Simon Oakes from Hammer, Teun Hilte from Content Republic, Marc John from City Screen and Pete Buckingham from UK Film Council. New speakers are being added to the website regularly. Quite simply, there is no better way to get the lowdown on the changing landscape of digital film.

Click here for full programme details

Booking
Places are £50 including lunch
To book contact Watershed box office on +44 (0)117 927 5100

Monday, November 26, 2007

Discussions on Hope


There is an interesting discussion about my film Hope going on over at CampFire. The film is secular, but the discussion is religious. Interesting. They also have a pdf download that can be used to help children discuss the film. All quite cool stuff really - and it's great to see your film through the eyes of others.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

New way to raise money - piggybacking!

Anchorman Ron Burgundy

Here's a great idea from legend Nick Scott (he of the super 8 films) for a way to raise funds for a film.

Nick is raising cash for his new film - by using someone else's film. And having a damn good time doing it. He runs great nights out for film fans. He has already made a success of The Dude Abides - a fun night out for fans of The Big Lebowski.

Coming soon is a similar night, but focused on Anchorman. So if you believe that Ron Burgundy tells it as it is - get on down there, have a rockin time and support a film maker. You know it makes sense and a warm feeling in your tummy is guaranteed.




Start Time: Saturday, December 8, 2007 at 9:00pm
End Time: Sunday, December 9, 2007 at 3:00am
Location: Kingpin Suite, Bedford Way, London, United Kingdom

Map.
Facebook event page

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See more about Nick's films here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

2 examples

Almodovar
Following on from my recent blog posts - here are 2 short extracts from Screen International this week. Just to show that I'm not on a one man ranting crusade...

The first is from Agustin Almodovar who produces for this brother Pedro.
"We make business our ally. There's no difference between the making of a film and its commercial exploitation. Pedro and I approve each commercial venture associated with the movie.

John Sayles

The second story concerns John Sayles. An indie film veteran he says...

"You've noticed in the last five years that independent movies live or die in their first weekend, and they can't survive that way. Most of our films took three or four weeks before people started to talk about them. Our films play to people over 30. Those people don't go the first weekend. It was clear to us that some new way of getting these movies out has to come around"

John solution is what he calls 'a grass roots political campaign'. it involves a touring band. Marketing wise, he targets specific local areas that have blue-grass music fans - the topic of his new film.




What's clear is that if, as a low-budget or indie film maker, you don't have an exciting plan for distribution you may as well not shoot the film. Just as much as if you didn't have a script.

If you're a scriptwriter then stories that will appeal to passionate fans (e.g. Sideways for wine buffs) are going to be much more appealing to these new producers AND you can offer added value as an expert in that field due to your research.

Its a new world of niche marketing and niche films. But its 100% there for the taking. By all of us. People who will miss out in this new world are - writers who 'just' write scripts and are scared to get involved with production, film makers with no marketing ideas, big films who want to appeal to wide audiences (but they'll look after themselves anyway) and lastly - people who don't want to get out and meet the audience.

Picture of Almodovar brothers fromhere. Picture of Sayles fromhere.
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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Words AND a picture!



One of my favorite cartoons. And that sort of insight has to be one of our peers. It is! It's by Alan Parker and is from his book Will Write and Direct for Food. It feels like a companion idea to storydust - passion sand! An easier to read extract from the cartoon below.

Monday, November 12, 2007

People who love Circumference - episode 7



I hope you've checked out the feature film 'Four Eyed Monsters' which is an experiment in distribution on-line - as well as a romance for the myspace era. If not, its above.

I got a great email from Arin (half of the duo who made it) who says of Circumference "I did sign up and I do like the sound of the project and hope it comes out awesome and now I'm on your list so I'll keep track of when to see it. Nice work on the site but also consider some kind of an RSS feed."

Which is a good idea I think. In the meantime for all your Circumference news remember to check out Archie's blog.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ira Deutchman says more...

ira deutchman and robert altman

Ira has been making, marketing and distributing films for 31 years. He now runs Emerging Pictures. Last week I posted his views on the state of the theatrical business as he delivered them at the recent Power to the Pixel conference. Today I'm going to report on what he says can be done to get people back into cinemas.

This should be of interest to scriptwriters and film makers for the primary reason that writing or making a film for the cinema is very different than for TV or on-line viewing. And also it may give us some new and exciting opportunities for additional work!

He says...

Here are 5 ideas to make going to the cinema a better idea - and also more commercially sensible.
  • Bring down the cost of marketing. It costs more to market a film than it does to make it. So slash your costs and the ticket price with more targeted marketing.
  • Offer variety. Don't have 10 screens at a multiplex but only have a choice of 4 films. Be creative in scheduling.
  • Offer better 'extras' than a DVD - more live events and talks. This doesn't have to be a Q&A with the director or writer. How about a talk by a local expert, either film expert or subject expert if the film is about an issue. Or use 2-way webcams to hook into a big 'star' Q&A anywhere in the world.
  • Reduce cost of distribution - 35mm film prints are expensive. Expense means producers are afraid to take a chance - and so will create low-risk products like sequels. Reduced costs means less fear and more variety of films. So essentially we need to find a way to dump film prints.
  • Reduce prices. Ideas like those mentioned by Peter Buckingham in his talk. Ideas like sponsorship and subscriptions. But prices need to fall to make sure empty seats are reduced.


My solution - a new low cost digital projection standard for independent films. Called i-cinema it is of a slightly lower quality to the full-on Hollywood digital standard (1.3k instead of 2k) but is simpler and based on current, ready-to-go technology.

Digital projection has no prints so it's easy to be flexible in both the location and the scheduling of screenings. It's also cheaper. And a more flexible screening timetable means a more targeted and local (ie cheaper) marketing strategy can be used.

I say...
I feel pulled in 2 directions by Ira's i-cinema proposal. It makes sense to allow independent film makers easy access to this technology so that they can benefit from the reduced costs. The Hollywood DCI standard is great, but will there be a high digital 'tax' put on the price of using it? Hollywood won't want their old 35mm chums to miss out! However will 2 standards confuse cinema chains who will decide to keep the old 35mm system instead - for fear of buying a 'betamax'?

More important for us as writers and film makers will be our role in these add-ons that Ira predicts. Writers should be excited about getting involved in new marketing ideas - they should be demanding a role in these, not walking away. And they should be first to put their hands up to volunteer for these extra Q&As. Actors find it hard to attend due to the nature of their work. Writers less so.

Changes such as these should force film makers to say 'how can I use this?' and not 'why should I fear this?'

Let's embrace them and use them to get nearer the audience.

Photo of Ira with the late great Robert Altman
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Friday, November 09, 2007

Result


Didn't win the Young Professional award. I was too young. But, with my colleagues from my corporate life, we did win Team of the Year as you can see from the clip above. I filmed it - hence why I'm not in it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Young?


I'm off to the e-learning age awards tomorrow. To see if I win Young e-learning professional of the year. No sniggering at the back. Will post results as soon as I can.

Just got back from meeting Danny, Lucy and Martin. Always good to meet writer / bloggers. But what I feel is that its always good to meet people. What's fantastic is to hear about people's lives and their adventures, not just their careers.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pitching - a new angle

Here is a new take on pitching. This clip is from Dragon's Den on BBC2.

It doesn't really relate to pitching as we writers may know it. It more relates to producers pitching to investors. But still worth a look. While some TV Lies may mean we don't see the full picture what is interesting is that none of the 'dragons' questions are about the story.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ira Deutchman says...

ira deutchman

Ira has been making, marketing and distributing films for 31 years. So he knows his stuff. I won't name all his credits now, but here is his IMDB page. He now runs Emerging Pictures which is a distributor for independent films that specialises in use new techniques in getting films seen. He says...

"With the advent of digital distribution there is simply no excuse for distributors to justify the current economic model".

Why does he say that? And does that mean he sees no future in theatrical? In this post I'll highlight Ira's points for why theatrical / big screen entertainment is hanging in there. In the next post I'll highlight Ira's views on how to lift ticket sales.

He lists 4 factors that influence audiences decisions on how they will see a film.
  • Convienience
  • The Experience
  • Price
  • Choice of films

Put theatrical cinema next to that list.
  • Convienience - low, you have to travel
  • The Experience - big screen is good, audience could be good, but could be bad, jury is out on quality of the cinema itself
  • Price - very high
  • Choice of films - average to crap


So why does it survive? Ira says 3 reasons. So here are his 3 reasons why cinema is still alive when economics say it should probably be dead or dying:
  • Theatrical releases still get noticed by the press. DVD / on-line doesn't.
  • A theatrical release is a great advert of the DVD - even for people who don't actually see it on the big screen
  • Film makers themselves - they love it.


I say...
I'd add one more thing to Ira's list. I think distributors themselves are as 'romantic' as film makers. If Ira was more of a hard nosed businessman he might conclude that he should dump screenings. But I bet he never would.

If you want more detail on these ideas then below is a video uploaded by Arin from the film2.0 project Four Eyed Monsters who was also in the audience at this talk.



Photo from Miami IFF.
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Friday, November 02, 2007

2 thoughts on free content

free dilbert
2 extracts from an interview with Dilbert creator Scott Adams.

Does free mean worthless?:
"A few years ago I tried an experiment where I put the entire text of my book, "God's Debris," on the Internet for free, after sales of the hard copy and its sequel, "The Religion War" slowed. My hope was that the people who liked the free e-book would buy the sequel. According to my fan mail, people loved the free book. I know they loved it because they emailed to ask when the sequel would also be available for free. For readers of my non-Dilbert books, I inadvertently set the market value for my work at zero. Oops... ...Free is more complicated than you'd think.

But if its free do you still own it?:
As part of the book deal, my publisher asked me to delete the parts of my blog archive that would be included in the book. The archives didn't get much traffic, so I didn't think much about deleting them. This turned out to be a major blunder in the "how people think" category.

A surprising number of my readers were personally offended that I would remove material from the Internet that had once been free, even after they read it. It was as if I had broken into their homes and ripped the books off their shelves. They felt violated. And boy, I heard about it.


Thanks to Hugh for the link to the interview.
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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Peter Buckingham says... (part3)

Peter Buckingham is Head of Distribution for the UK Film Council. He is also a friend of Circumference. In the final part of this blog trilogy I share some the solutions he offered during his speech to the 'Power to the Pixel' conference.

He says...
A final word of warning. In South Korea superfast broadband has seen a drop in cinema attendance and DVDs. Not because of piracy or peer-to-peer sharing of copies. But because people would rather stay in and do things on-line instead of going out to the cinema / watching TV. So we need to do something to make sure film / cinema stays in people's imagination.

The UK Film Council is doing something about it. We are committed to ensuring that:
People from around the world get to see British film
UK audiences get to see the best of World Cinema.

And now those goals can be achieved digitally as well as by using 'traditional' means. We are also investigating collecting figures to help film2.0 pioneers as a lack of detailed figures (eg british on-line viewing figures) is making business plans hard to deliver.

I say...
Thank goodness. Especially about the initiative to gather detailed and reliable figures. That would help us - a lot! When I met Peter in Berlin earlier in the year the UKFC had nothing and no plan. Now they have a plan and a goal. It's great. And it's not too late for the UK to be an exciting centre for film2.0

I also cringe at the arrogance of the cinema industry. A drop in cinema / DVD usage in South Korea? Well of course, it has to be to do with piracy and people ripping us off. Of course it is. It could never be because Hollywood films have become uninspired and if you give people a chance they will naff off and do something more interesting. Nah. Can't be that. Jeeeez.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Peter Buckingham says... (part2)

Peter Buckingham is Head of Distribution for the UK Film Council. He is also a friend of Circumference. Here are some more phrases from his speech to the 'Power to the Pixel' conference.

He says...
The future is about having no gate keepers. Currently a film maker has to go through 7 gate keepers to reach the audience - festival pickers, distributors, exhibitors etc. Each gatekeeper picks films that they believe, with their experience, the audience will want to see. This is a system that obviously works so well that 75% of tickets are unsold.

Can we find a new distribution strategy? Here are 4 ideas:
1 - Free cinema screenings. Theatrical (ie cinema screenings) is just an advert for DVD sales anyway, where the big money is. And about 70p per person is already collected through advert sales.
2 - Video on demand
3 - Subscription models
4 - Use film as an advert for other 'real world' events. This is an idea from the music industry. Recorded music has become an freebie to get you to go to gigs where the big money is. Gigs can't really be pirated. They are 'analogue'.

I say...
Anything that gets the film maker and audience closer together is a good thing. I've been talking about it for over 2 years now. See! (croaky old man's voice; "I told you all')

I really like Peter's 4 ideas. Circumference being closest to idea 1 I suppose. But I wonder if you added pop corn sales and extra merchandising ideas (like soundtrack / posters / DVDs of the film you've just seen) to it then you could possibly have a really free theatrical strategy. What would be the impact of that I wonder? I also wonder if idea 3, subscription models, could apply to theatrical instead of just DVDs? Similar to people who have a ticket to an opera season. Idea 4 was a new one to me. But I really go for it. But what could be the analogue / real world / events for cinema. What is the film equivalent of a gig?

Last bit from Peter tomorrow.

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Odd thing...


I was listening to this song. Hear the phone dialing sounds at the start of this song? I held it up to my phone. It rang. The number is the garage where I bought my car. Who'd have thought?

What's all the mean? Nothing I guess. It's just a true story.

I include this odd Sims video as it's an easy way to have the song on the blog.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Peter Buckingham says...

peter buckingham
Peter Buckingham is Head of Distribution for the UK Film Council. He is also a friend of Circumference. Here some phrases from his speech to the 'Power to the Pixel' conference.

He says...
The current distribution model is broken. It is fundamentally built around preventing people from watching your film. You choose the time, the place, the way. Not the audience. We even lock people up when they try to watch film when they want rather than when we want. It is broken.

More than that, independent films come off worse as they get squeezed out the most and treated the worst.

The answer for the film industry is obvious. Just do this:
Give people what they want. When they want it. And how they want it.

All consumers worry about is:
A quality image
A great story
Good price

I say...
I really go for Peter's no nonsense delivery of the 'state of the industry'. It's a style that says, "let's not fool ourselves here". And I agree. I don't see how the industry can have it's head in the sand anymore. Doing nothing probably means going out of business. I also feel that what Peter says backs up the Circumference idea 100%. The Circumference website highlights the quality of the film and, of course, it's the best price of all - free!

The only hard part in Peter's advice is "Give people what they want". That's the hardest part of all maybe, and it always has been. For the whole history of film - of art - of business in general. My advice around that is to listen. Social networking means ideas between humans is floating around all the time. We just need to plug into that, listen to the links if you like. Now that's a new phrase waiting to happen - "listen to the links man!"

More from Peter tomorrow.

Still from Digimart.
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New film2.0 idea


These guys are trying a 100% collective idea: "filmforay is about collaboratively creating a Hollywood film from the ground up.
Right now we have no production deal and no Tinsel Town connections, and we like it that way!"

Thanks to Stewart McKie for link.
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Back...


Am back from 3 days of learning and preaching to the converted and unconverted. Will report on more interesting things than the fact they spelt my name wrong over the days ahead.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Schedule update

Quick update on where I'll be...

Thursday night at BAFTA for the writing for interactive media talk.
Friday at the Power to the Pixel event.
Saturday - just generally in London.
Saturday night - a talk by David Lynch at BAFTA.

So jam packed - but room for a meet up. Let me know.

Mobile - 07974 823 587

Renaissance Man - fact!



Following on from this recent post the video abovee is illuminating.

Why are we creative?
Why do we love storydust?
Why should we examine other art forms to help our inspiration?

The clever brain doctor explains all. So listen. And realise that there is a medical, scientfic reason that the character you are writing reminds you of the texture of wire wool! Or is that just me!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Power to the pixel*



I'll be at this on Friday...

It's part of the London Film Festival and is a day focused on new distribution ideas - and all sorts of lovely Projector Films blog goodness that we talk about on here. It's like this blog - live! Not enough emphasis on how you script write for this type of media, but I guess I can ask about that. Hope to see you there. It's a bargain at £35. If you see me then say hello and I'll give you a Circumference trailer DVD!

If you want to know about getting your film out there yourself and grab your own audience then go. If you're happy to leave it all to guys who take 50% and then just go and put your film on the shelf and leave it there - then don't go.

Some old hands from this blog on the panels so it should be good...

Peter Buckingham, Head of Distribution and Exhibition, UK Film Council who has supported us.
Michael Gubbins, Editor, Screen International - who writes great editorials about film2.0 ideas
David Straus & Joe Neulight, Co-founders, Withoutabox
Sara Pollack, Manager, Film & Animation, YouTube
Robert Greenwald, Director, Iraq For Sale, Walmart, Outfoxed. You can watch Outfoxed on Google Video (of course) here.
Susan Buice & Arin Crumley, Directors, Four Eyed Monsters - which you can watch all of (its a funky romantic feature) here.
Matt Hanson, Director, A Swarm of Angels - another film.0 idea we featured a while ago.

Here's the guff stuff...

Power to the Pixel is a one-day forum that will connect the film community with key innovators of the digital revolution who are pioneering new ways of distributing, marketing and financing independent films.

Leading filmmakers, entrepreneurs, networks and companies creating cutting edge distribution strategies will share their expertise on the latest digital tools and practices that are transforming the film business, as well as describing new ways of working in the digital environment.

*'right on' (and presumably in the digital world - 'left off')
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New money for new ideas

20 pound note
Do you have an idea for a creative product, service or business that you would like to get off the ground?
Would you like the opportunity to share in up to £10,000 of no-strings attached start-up funding?
Are you wanting to put your new ideas into action?

Then 'InsightOut' could be just what you’re looking for.

InsightOut is a programme of 5 one-day workshops looking at business planning and business set-up specifically designed for the creative industries and delivered in a totally new and interactive manner. Upon completion of the workshops, which will happen over the course of 3 months, the InsightOut ‘graduates’ will have the opportunity to pitch for a share of up to £10,000.

To facilitate this each of the seven Insight Out programmes is delivered in partnership with a number of creative industry support agencies, cultural organisations, regional development agencies and Higher Education Institutions across the UK.

Still from 10 Seconds.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Renaissance Man


As I've been preparing to write some blog posts on The Scriptwriter's Life - and in particular Building your Character - I've been thinking about a wider trend I've noticed.

Maybe it's always been there but it's whether we notice it or not that has changed over time.

I'm talking about multi-dimensional people. People with a rounded character, who can draw on many interests. Who don't specialise. Other terms are generalist, polymath and, my favourite, Homo universalis. Perhaps the most famous is Leonardo Da Vinci whose work in art informed his science, or was it the other way around? Or was it that he saw them as one thing?

You don't need to be a Leonardo though to be generalist. The painting above is by Rolling Stone legend Ronnie Wood who says the guitar, the piano, the paintbrush are just different tools to him.

For many years we were encouraged to specialise. But these days jobs / techniques / roles change unbelievable quickly. The way around it is to have a wider knowledge. As you know this blog is about the worlds of the web, scriptwriting and film making. Its about how they cross over that I am interested in. Not about how they are separate.

If I was just a 'pure' writer then I'd just be studying existing scripts, existing films and reading McKee etc. If I did that where on Earth would the new ideas come from?

What's your broader interest? How does it overlap with writing?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Milton


If you are a fan of the film Office Space then here is the cartoon it was based on. Yes! This actually was spun out to a feature!!! Amazing. Nano-movies my friend, a great way to make a pilot. Cheap to make - but can launch a career. You could sweat away for a year on one feature. Or write AND make 20 of these and sees what sticks and builds an audience. Hmmmm. Tough choice!

Monday, October 15, 2007

New distribution portal

babelgum logo
Here is a new online video viewing site. It's more pro than youtube but not as locked down as Joost. You have to be a company to upload rather than an individual. But the benefit is an ad revenue profit sharing scheme and a healthy size of prize money for a launch festival.

Check it out.

Unfortunately the viewer is PC only so far. From a viewers point of view (!) however it should be a great experience. The aim is all the fun of youtube but without the crap. Although sometimes its the crap that really makes youtube fun to use.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Industry - part 1


By knowing about films with relation to The Industry I mean getting your head (and keeping your head) focused on what is happening on the front line. What's hot? What's not? Where are people, real people, handing over hard earned cash to see silly stories. And why? Some people have misinterpreted this as advice to write only what is selling - to write for the box office.

This isn't what I mean at all. You may want to go that way. And hey - blocks always need busting buster!

Instead what I mean is - know your cinema onions. What are the trends in the business? What sort or stories and characters are catching people's attention. As (ongoing) students of story that should be of interest to us anyway. But this piece of advice has a practical purpose as well. It let's you know which of your current projects on the backburner should be now on the front burner. It lets you know what films are 'hot' that you can compare yours to in a pitch. Do you still want to call it a Woody Allen style comedy in front of producers if you look at his Box Office figures of his last few films? And maybe, like me, you look to trends to see what is unpopular - so you can fill the gap and offer something different.

For all those reasons it is sensible to have a rough knowledge of trends. How do you get that knowledge?
1 - standard magazine like Empire
2 - 'proper' publications like Screen International
3 - IMDBs BO page.

So keep an eye on the cash - and be a head-in-the-sand writer no longer!



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, October 11, 2007

Nanoscripts


A new term is born (as far as I know).

My scriptwriter / Business Analyst / Technology Writer friend Stewart McKie has found a simple word for all those ultra-short little notes / scripts / storyboards that you need when you create the new breed of super short films. Once something has a name then people find it easier to discuss, critique and contribute to. So what do we call 1 page scripts...

Nanoscripts.

Who will be the first nanoscript professional writer? Who will make this their own as DW Griffiths made cinema his own? The race is on.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Back to the Scriptwriter's Life.



YES! Back to the scriptwriter's life. Did we ever leave? We've had a good and complete look at the first circle - What is your story? In a way of course I'm wrong to tick it off. We haven't actually done it, finished it, slam-dunked it. We've only discussed it. The actual process of keeping on top of your story telling skills, practicing your pitches and being technically up to date - all of these should be ongoing for top writers.

But as I've been back into the writing myself recently, with new projects, my thoughts have turned to new scripts and new stories. Where do these come from? Most blog readers will know about my passion for 'collecting' bits of life and using them - what I call (rather pretentiously but in what I imagine is an endearing and funky way) Storydust. But HOW do we collect Storydust? How do we make sure we have something worth writing about? How do we know our scripts are any good? How do we keep getting better?

Yes, my blog reading friends, the answer lies in red circle - in Building your character. And that, from tomorrow, will be the focus of the next part.

Worth a mention is the fact that diagram itself has now been downloaded well over 3000 times. So if you need help with your 'reds' then you're in excellent (and numerous) company!





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.
Technorati Tags:,,.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Do you know too much?


Doug Liman (Go, Bourne Identity) is directing a new film called Jumper. As you know, I normally like to credit the writer above the director but in this case I think Doug has been a bit choppy in requesting rewrites and in fact 3 writers are credited. Not sure why you need all those guys as it's an adaptation from a novel by Steven Gould anyway. The film itself is about people jumping about in space and time and other people who try and stop them - blah, blah.

That aside, Doug said some interesting things about story in this month's Empire that chimed with the 'maverick writer' within me.

Why does the person you're following have to the hero? Actually in my conversations with Fox there's a scene we've been debating where Sam Jackson's character has a very sympathetic moment with a kid. The usual reaction is 'He's the villain of the movie so you can't show him having cotton candy with a kid'. There are two sides to every story.

The odd thing about this quote is that for script writers it throws up a debate about the difference between a protagonist and a hero. But 'real' people just read it and say 'dur - well, obviously'.

Sometimes as writers we know too much. It's okay to go with common sense and feelings sometimes you know!

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Monday, September 24, 2007

On holiday for a week

So I expect to see some good writing work done while I'm away...

New ways we watch films...

video watch
Saw this article below on Netribution...

9 billion films were watched online in July 2007 in the US alone, according to the latest figures from comScore Networks. The figure is up from around 7 billion in March, with 134 million people each watching an average of 181 minutes of video during the month.

Interestingly, just 27% of clips watched were through Google/YouTube, which nevertheless far outstripped its rivals - Yahoo nabbed a distant second place, serving up 4.3 percent of the clips, while Fox Interactive Media (MySpace), came in third with 3.3 percent. Viacom (3.1 percent) and Disney (2 percent) rounded out the top five. Google also ranked first in July in unique video viewers with almost 68 million, followed by Fox Interactive (35.8 million), Yahoo (35.3 million), Time Warner Inc. (26.6 million) and Viacom (22.6 million), comScore said.

That means over 50% of films watched online on either very small video sharing/hosting sites or on people's own sites.


So what?

For me - it means I still feel we are onto something with projects like Circumference and 365 if we can make them catch fire.

For producers it means a new possibility of large volume audience figures ready to view films on-line. But this is tempered by the lack of a clear path through. ie. no one 'best place' to do this. It could be Google Video, but not necessarily. You can go it alone. Are these ideas factored into your distribution plan? What do you want to achieve from the web? Money or publicity?

For directors a new challenge. Are you shooting in a web friendly way?

For writers it means getting out some of the skills used in shorts. 181 minutes a month doesn't cut down very far. Is your writing delivered in short, sharp chunks. Our challenge as writers is to keep things moving then - and fast! The web is not the cinema and it's not TV. It's a medium of itself. So enjoy exploring it.

Believe it or not thisvideo watch actually exists. Dick Tracy style!
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