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Saturday, March 31, 2007

People who love Circumference - episode 4

Check out this interesting open source idea...

Stray Cinema is an open source film. Here you are able to download and re-edit the raw footage from a film we have shot in London. This will provide people from all over the world with an opportunity to create their own version of the film. Stray Cinema will navigate the film experiment out of the online digital world, into the 'real world' with a screening of the top five films in London. The footage shot in London is the first of many open source films to be provided by Stray Cinema.

What I like about these projects is that aim to find out how active you can make the audience. Does the audience really want to get involved with the edit? If they don't, and would rather just watch the film, then does 30 versions of the film put people off? On the other hand are people bored of a purely passive experience in the internet age?

What is the middle ground? A blog doesn't ask readers to write whole posts - just to comment. In that way we have an ongoing conversation. What does a film version of that look like? A soap?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

New storydust source

Remember the idea of Storydust? Here is a new source. Its a photo blog. Each photo is of a character and situation from the past. Looking at the people you can't help but wonder about their situation, their dreams, their future, their relationships, their lives. All good stuff to kick start you thinking.

Image taken from the Shorpy blog. Photograph unattributed but probably by Louise Rosskam in Washington, D.C. (Anacostia), fall of 1942.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Scriptcloud - a new way of looking at your script is a new fun tool from my old friend Stewart McKie. It is similar to the Technorati cloud or any of the other meta clouds you see in web2.0 apps. Except its about your script! Give it a go. Not sure how much use it really is. Here's what Stewart says...

Why Bother with a ScriptCloud?
  • Because it’s fun.
  • Because it might help you to spot opportunities for improvement or problems to solve in your script that you might not otherwise see.
  • Because it’s fun.

Here is my cloud from Circumference. I'm pretty pleased that 'smiles' came out top.

Monday, March 26, 2007

What's new in film?

I was at a networking event the other day. I was talking to all round creative eccentric Isaac (see photo) when someone came up to ask us "what's new in film?" Isaac talked about the graphic novel / comic adaptation trend. Not a bad answer really. I thought about it for a while and then said 'nothing'.

Don't you sometimes feel that nothing really new has happened in a decade or so. Dogme95 was 12 years ago. Since then we've had a culture of back to back remakes and repurposing. The Ring uses techniques for computer games for example. But computer games whose main influence was films. It just goes round and round.

Quite depressing really.

Or so I thought until Isaac stepped back in with this thought. A creative wasteland is his friend. There is more chance to take action, take the initiative, make something wonderful, something fresh, something remarkable. The time is now. No competition, cheap equipment, an available workforce and self distribution a very real and happening reality.

If you can't make interesting films right now then you never will.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pitching Your Script part 1- company research

Pitching Your Script. After the slightly radical first half of Pitching (pitching yourself) we would now seem to be on more standard ground. Pitching your script is second only to structure as being seen as a black art or occult magic by some writers. More is written about it than anything else. I won't repeat all the advice here. For those that want it here are two articles from Danny Stack on preparation and how to do it and there is also a wordplayer article.

Instead this entry is about something you may not have heard others saying. But perhaps you do it naturally, or perhaps you've never even thought about it.

Company research.

And by company I also mean individual producers or film organisations. Whoever you are pitching to, don't just know your onions, know their onions too. What are their greatest successes? What are their upcoming projects? Who are their co-production partners?

Knowing this helps you to tailor your pitch. It makes it personal. It makes it a pitch to them, not just another pitch.

The good news is this is easy. The research part is easy as ALL companies want everyone to know about their successes. The tailoring part is easy too as it just involves a couple of tweaks. Its a tuning of your pitch rather than a redraft.

As a cautionary tale imagine pitching Shaun of the Dead (the rom com zom) to Working Title and concentrating on the zombie aspect. A bit of research would indicate that you should probably concentrate on the comedy element.

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, March 22, 2007

A plug for some friends - sorry

A nifty film shot by some great guys. If you're local then check it out. If you don't have a better time than going to the 'normal' cinema I will buy you a drink. Guaranteed!

Get a flavour of the film and make your own mind up by visiting the website.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Only as smart as the people in the room

I'm not sure why, but the phrase "but we're only as smart as the people in this room" has cropped up a lot this week. Enough for me to take stock. What do I mean by that and when do I say it?

A lot of the time we limit ourselves. We create work that we know how to do. We create work based on the people we know. We all too easily can find ourselves saying, "I've written this great script. Pete can play the main character. We'll shoot on our camera. And that recent After Effects plug in would suit it down to the ground". That's fine I suppose. But what it does mean is that it is hard to grow and develop. You can only work within the confines of the talent around you.

Instead it can be more challenging to find people who can make you and your core team smarter. For instance we're hoping to work with casting agent Jesse Malone ever more closely on Circumference. Myself and Adam are quite good at casting, we know some agents, we know some actors, we're competent. We're probably competent enough to give it a go. But the effort would only be as good as the 'people in the room'. We want to move beyond that. We want the results to be better than what we can deliver.

In short - find the best people you can. It is not always easy. But it is the way to make a film that is better than the best film you could ever make.

If you understand that last sentence then you're on your way!

Image taken from A Night at the Opera.
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Monday, March 19, 2007

Pitching Yourself part 3 - two way meetings

2 way meetings incorporating 'their projects' really sums up the whole philosophy of this slice on Pitching Yourself. I've already written about it here and here with regard to Cannes.

In essence the advice is this...

Never have a meeting. Always have a conversation. Why?

Because the classic pitching idea is absurdly one way. It indicates that the producer has all the power, the talent and the decision making abilities. That the writer is lucky to see him and be given a chance to talk about his script. This isn't actually what it is about at all. People work with people. Not scripts. So always try to get into a two way conversation. It's less effort for you and probably more productive in the long run.

Isn't dialogue easier to write than monologue?

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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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cannes in Poole!

Sorry to all the international readers of the blog as this has a South Coast of England bias to it. You may remember last years film makers barbecue. We wanted to do it again, but better. But I wasn't sure I could spare the time. Luckily Rosie Jones took it on and here is the result...

Prequel to Cannes is a Film Festival Networking Party aimed at all filmmakers, performers, screenwriters, crew, bands, dancers and anyone wanting to network on film projects or wanting to discover how you can attend international film festivals and markets.

It is happening at The Study Gallery of Modern Art, Poole in Dorset. Supported by South West Screen, Borough of Poole Arts Development Unit, Southbank Publishing, The Writers' Guild of Great Britain and a host of other partners. SWS and The WGGB will be on hand to answer questions on either funding, membership or how to gain accreditation and will be holding pre-booked consultations bookable with your £10 ticket through Lighthouse, Poole on 08700 668701. This is a non-profit making event.

It takes place Thursday, 26th April, 2007 between 6 and 9.30 pm.

A Wall of Words will be available for scriptwriters' to pin up their treatments, pitches, log lines, synopses, maybe even first few pages of their script. In the Talent Circle performers, crew, composers or musicians looking to work in film or maybe talk about how they can get a music video made, or any other film associates, will also available to pin up their pictures CV's, past and present projects along with their preferences for future involvements.

Independent Producers, Directors and Production Companies will be present on the night looking to discuss or commit to new projects.

If you live in the Wessex area and work independently in the film industry this party is definitely for you.

Book early to avoid disappointment as places are limited.

What an awesome event. I'll be there. But don't let that put you off, go anyway!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007

Can you write as well as this

Watch this video.

This guy wrote (essentially) one line. Just one line. But its such a good line that other people wanted in on the act. And now everyone's talking about it and using it and making CDs and DVDs etc. Do you (do I?) know how people think and fell well enough to write like that?

Go for it Ray!

And let us, once more, consider this diagram. Has Ray required the use of a record company and a big marketing budget to reach everyone? Nope. Somethings just catch on because they resonate. And that's enough.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Scriptwriter's Life in the press

My diagram to help writers look at their own working patterns and create a long-term career is still out there and being used. The Scriptwriter's Life has been downloaded well over 2000 times. And its also featured in the next issue of Script.

Its a great issue all round actually with a regular column from podcasters Sam and Jim as well as a blog round up that features the UK's very own Andy Coughlan.

That's in addition to an article on Robert Towne, an interview with Edgar Wright, an article on short films and even a 'tax man' special. I was never a fan of Script and I thought when it was taken over by Final Draft that it would become one big advert. But in fairness I like the look of it. Give it a quick look and see what you think - is it worth a fiver?

Obviously my Scriptwriter's Life diagram remains free to everyone!

Question to myself: If this magazine was just on-line then why would fewer people pay? Even if it was 50p?

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