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Monday, April 30, 2007


The Pre-cannes networking event was a great success - about 100 people were there. As not everyone reading this is from the local area (that's the great thing about blogging) I won't go into all the details. But here were some general observations about networking.

One: Get a business card. Whatever it looks like, simple or crazy, get one. Some people didn't have one. I can't name names as I don't remember who they were. Which makes the point really.
Two: Its okay to give stuff - DVDs, CVs and short treatments.
Three: Remember the 'conversation' idea. Ask people about what they are doing and how they can help you and how you can help them. I had some great conversations with people where we shared ideas and discussed industry issues etc. And some conversations where people just told me about themselves. Perhaps we may be able to work together, but I never pieced together how as they were so busy banging on about their projects.
Four: Take a prop. Shaune walked around with the camera we bought and that did two things. Firstly it gave people a hook to start a chat. Secondly it connected people visually with his craft. Shaune = camera.

That last idea happened accidently as Shaune in fact had the camera for filming purposes. But spotting these new ideas as they happen is all part of the game.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pitching Your Script part 2 - practise it!

Practise pitching your script

Very simple. Practise your pitch. That's it.

Here is what that doesn't mean. It doesn't mean thinking it through in your head, it doesn't mean making some notes, it doesn't mean writing / reading your treatment.

It does mean actually doing it. My suggestion is to pitch to someone, perhaps a scriptwriting colleague or friend, who can help you get better - but not someone who you want to impress with your pitch. We all know this, but so rarely do it.

A normal pitch practise session normally consists of the first effort being rubbish. But that's why you are practising after all. It is at this point you should feel great. You should feel great because you didn't do this rubbish attempt 'live' in front of someone who matters. You should then, after feedback, do it a few more times. Personally I find my pitch gets good at around the 5th go.

Last year we did a practise before Cannes - myself, Danny Stack and Suki Singh. I know it really helped. When Suki comes over this week I think we'll do a pre-Cannes practise of our LooP pitch. Its even more important to practise if you are a co-writer to make sure you both tell a complementary, yet equally powerful, story.

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, April 26, 2007

all you think about it film... part 2

Who cares? That's some feedback I got from yesterday's post. We love film so get off our case.

The problem is if you only think about film then what do you bring to film? What new ideas are you injecting? This is not even mentioning the damage a full-on work schedule does to your home life. Most people, if asked, would pick their partner over their work. But yet everyday they do just the opposite. As storytellers we keep expecting life to be like our art - for their to be a third act, a moment of choice. Well it isn't coming. Most people's partners leave them over time. They don't slam the door suddenly.

I wanted to put up a photo with this post as I always like a bit of visual stuff. And today was no different in that regard. But it was different in another way. I wanted to put up a none-work photo. So I opened up iPhoto (other photo management tools are available) to get one. What an eye-opener. There was me in France - in Cannes. There was me and Kim in Edinburgh, promoting our short animation Hope. There was me enjoying myself - on location.

My photo moments were work moments. Even this photo above. I'm wearing SkillSet gear and I set them a copy. That's work.

So I present to you another photo.

This one is me at a sculpture park in Slovakia. Seeing other things. Doing something different. Being an idiot. Great!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

All you think about it film...

Well here I am on the set. So its okay to be thinking about film. In fact I need to be. Its my job.

But you hate those saddos who take their work home with them. Don't you despair at the business guys who work on their laptops late at night doing the figures? Don't you ridicule the sports teachers who coach a local football team at the weekend? Don't you tut under your breath at the people you see on holiday still spouting rubbish into their mobile phones?

So what is your reaction when someone says, "I live an breathe film" or "I write everyday, I love it"? Maybe you say it yourself. Isn't this just as bad?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Networking Reminder

This Thursday. Poole.

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.

Rosie Jones,

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Homer Simpson's Can of Pop

Homer Simpson has his arm caught in a drinks vending machine. Eventually the fire department arrive. But there is no choice. They will have to cut his arm off. But just at the last minute a fireman looks through a small crack in the front.

Homer, are you just holding onto the can?

Your point being?

Are you holding onto a can because you want to? Even though you know they will cut your arm off?

This could be in a story where you can't quite make the cuts you need to, even though you know it isn't working as it is. Or maybe the script is too long. You know it needs cutting, but you love all the quirky bits in it. Let go of the can!

But it could be in your writing career. Are you still holding onto the can that says 'An agent will get my work for me' or 'Film is better than TV'. Let go of the can!

What's your can?

Image of Homer nicked from t' net
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Where do you get ideas?

This is a post about something that I do that's a poor effort. Basically its lazy.

I have most of my story ideas when I walk to work, or work home. It takes 15 minutes. The good news is, I've found a little secret. I've found that walking helps me think.

The lazy part is, I don't do anything with this secret. I don't walk when I need some new ideas. Its as if I've been lucky enough to discover a pot of story gold but I can't be bothered to do anything with it.

But I'm not alone. I've mentioned this to a few people and we are all the same. Where do you get your new ideas? And do you actively go there? Do you use your 'secret'?

Image taken from Wimborne Road documentary - sneaky plug!.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Children of Men - amnesty!

Alfonso Cuarón was said to be pretty hacked off that the Children of Men DVD was, frankly, a wee bit crap. What is called 'a vanilla'. The skeptics amongst us believe that is a scam to lure film fans into buying the super duper 2 disc version later on.

Well not this time. Read below.

Upgrade your DVD for free.

The film has been re-released as a 2-disc special edition featuring documentarys, deleted scenes etc.

Universal is offering you the chance to trade in your vanilla disc for the new special edition.

All you do is send your copy (no ex-rental or pirate copies) along with a self addressed jiffy bag stamped to the value of 70p to:

PO BOX 188

Offer valid until June 30th 2007

In my mind this is the first sign of something. Quite what that something is though is hard to say.

Some may say its the web2.0 / blogger movement in action. Other industries have seen it and maybe its finally come to the film industry. This is the idea that the public won't be jerked about anymore. Networking sites / forums / blogs mean that bad news travels quickly. And if your core audience is an informed audience then they will pounce on you and your product mistakes very quickly. For instance if Nike make a duff shoe that falls apart after 5 minutes EVERYBODY will know about it in 6 minutes. And that's that. No advertising or marketing or branding will help because everyone knows its crap. So was it an awareness of this mentality that promoted Universals offer? In this case I don't believe so. I believe it was something else. I believe it was a sign of the director (and probably producer Iain Smith following the other new trend - film makers being hands on with marketing.

Either way, interesting times my friends.

If you have no vanilla then you can jump straight in and get the
Children Of Men 2-discer here.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The spirit of the scriptwriter

We all know about the importance of a hero to a story. Done and done! But in this post I want to put to you that the writer should also be a hero. Many of you will have swung by and had a look at the Scriptwriter's Life diagram. And that covers the life of a scriptwriter obviously. And as a guide to your day to day work its going down a storm - over 2700 downloads now.

But above that, away from the detail, what is it that we should stand for? What is the ethos of the writers I meet - people like Danny Stack, Dom Carver, Christina Ferguson, Sal Brown and just recently Yann Demange? What I've noticed is a common spirit and this is what I hope to define below.

The spirit of the writer says...

One: This is my world.
Thus have we made the world NOT thus is the world. The writer seeks out to explore both why the world is like it is and what we can do about it.

Two: If it is broke I will fix it.
The writer does not complain if the odds are against them. The writer fixes the odds by doing something about it. Active, not passive. Finding a way around, not giving up. Starting something if no one currently offers it.

Three: Writing is life, work is just work
Most writers don't make a living from just scriptwriting. They do other things. But everything they do comes back to writing - every person they meet is a character, every overheard line is dialogue, everything in their life is a situation. Writing is life.

Four: The meerkat mentality
The spirit of the writer is about helping each other. A good script will be promoted by other writers because it is recognised to be good. A good script needs to put forward by more than just its 'parent'. We seek out good scripts rather than just good writers.

Five: I can handle the truth
No one else gives us honest feedback except ourselves to each other. We welcome it and we offer it freely.

Comments on this manifesto are welcome. Its an ongoing work.
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Monday, April 02, 2007

Chin wag

ALL of my recent ideas have come out of conversations. NONE have come from sitting on my own. And yet so many writers sit alone in the belief that they can "hammer it out".

Just one example has been working on Dom Carver's script with him. Briefly the script is called Epitaph and concerns 4 friends. One is the dead and the other three need to find out why he killed himself, perhaps because they all have a guilty conscience. It's a half hour TV drama set mostly in a single room. Good stuff. And I've been trying to help Dom tighten it up and make it more dramatic with the view to myself being attached as director. So I'd been thinking about the script for a couple of weeks already when we met up on Sunday. Now Sunday morning isn't always the best time for meeting, especially if Dom hasn't had his cuppa yet. But we did it all the same. And we were so right to do it. The bloggers call it 'riffing' - kicking around an idea. I don't know who thought up what, it just happened. But we came up with ideas to do with changing ages, changing races and changing characters motivations. All the for best.

Of course it didn't 'just happen'. It happened because of our conversation. Get talkin' dudes.

Other ideas that got riffed in a conversation include 365films, Hope, Grubby, Circumference.