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Monday, June 30, 2008

Screenwriters Festival

Hopefully I'll see as many of you blog readers at the festival as possible. I won't go over the agenda here as it is already on-line here.

Here are some questions that I want to explore:
  • Will we see a new format emerging for web writing rather than just using TV methods and layout?
  • How can we remember to write from the heart and not from the text book?
  • Should we talk about people, what they do and how they feel AND NOT about characters and motivations?
  • Is the balance of power shifting? A good script has so many homes now. Do we feel that? Or not?
  • What needs adding or taking away for the next version of The Scriptwriters Life?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Who wants to go to the cinema?

outdoor cinema
From a recent visit to Albania...

Wouldn't you be more tempted to go to the cinema if it was like this?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How to work on New Ideas - in animation form

As you know recently I've been working on a question. The question is; how can work ideas up into projects.

A good question. One I would ask. But luckily this is a paid gig as well.

In past posts... ZeFrank had a go at answering, via the medium of a catchy song. And I did some interviews around the subject too with the Dailymotion dudes.

Well. Ta-dah. Here is what I handed in, at vast expense, to the corporate clients who wanted to know the big answer. How do we make ideas work for us. As writers and all round talented geezas we probably know this, perhaps subconsciously. So you may enjoy this cheeky refresher and wonder why people in business find what we do naturally - to be so hard. Of course, in return, I steal plenty of ideas from them - that's where things like The Scriptwriter's Life comes from.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Small Town Folk

film poster
Small Town Folk is a film I've been following for a few years now. I first met the film makers when they came along to one of my script writers workshops. They have been making this film for 4 years now. But it is out today on DVD and you can get it here.

Today we all went down to HMV and I banged on the counter and demanded a copy which everyone signed for me. Sweet.

I mention it really because, as writers, as film makers, as web film makers, it is important we celebrate these moments. It keeps us going and inspires us. This film was made for zero budget, in spare time and with passion. Now its out there. It is the greatest film ever - of course not. But it does have a unique style and Peter Stanley Ward, the director, has used his own location of the New Forest and run with it. He has taken a Deliverance theme and shifted it to his home turf and maximised the potential of his resources.

Here's to their next one.

(apparently the film has been bootlegged - that's when you know you've made it!)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ideas sponge

Over at the film 2.0 project Mr Vista I need your help. So far we've had a few Vista fans (is that vistarenos, nah, how about vistarites or even better, yep, vistarons) already send in ideas for series 2 of the big V man's adventures.

So far...

Mr Vista and the microwave dinner
Mr Vista and the satnav
Mr Vista and the air raid bunker (!)
Mr Vista and the incredible disappearing pay cheque
Mr Vista and the full bladder
Mr Vista and the vision of tomorrow
Mr Vista's guide to MSN smilies for the real world

If you have an idea for a Mr Vista episode then leave them here by the end of June.

Over to you Vistarons.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weekend viewing

A couple of entertaining 'youtubes' (if that is a noun) for the weekend. Both of which are classic web-film era style.

One: Words animated to the Abbott and Costello sketch "Who's on first". Its remix / hack heaven.

Two: A new one from Where is Matt. Half a million views in a day. And now people know who he is when he goes places to dance. A global web video star.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Circumference style, but no cigar

Thanks to the ever well-informed Danny Stack for spotting these two articles about a topic oft mentioned on here - how we as writers and filmmakers manage as sources of money change...

The first one is about Shane Meadows new film which is funded by Eurostar. The reason being that the film is called Somers Town and includes the new Euro-ed up St Pancras. The budget is estimated to be about £500,000 - as you may know I estimated the budget for Circumference to be £300,000. So this figure seems to be sticking. What I don't like about this project is still the fact that it has an unclear or muddy contract with the audience. Also - absolutely no talk of the idea of giving it away for free. If Eurostar are pumping in a half mil then it seems a bit (a lot) cheeky to ask me and you to cough up as well. But then these issues are the issues of today.

Also, how do we as writers feel about these pressures? Can we be precious? Should we? Should we see these films as paid gigs and that is that?

Personally, with my projects, I'm cool with it so long as it is honest and everyone wins - free film, paid by a company, and we all know it. The Circumference way. It makes sense to me and a proposition based on honesty. The opposite to this is underhand and cheesy practices where everyone loses. Some examples of which are in the second article. For shame.

Not a real publicity image obviously but rather a cheeky mock up by yours truly. Euro star image from here.
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Friday, June 13, 2008

Scriptcloud - a new way of looking at your script again

Last year I wrote about Scriptcloud by my friend Stewart McKie.

Good news - it made it into Nature magazine as an example of a useful tool for analysis. Check it out if you haven't already.

The link again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Myself as if on The One Show

A little while ago I went to meet the guys at Dailymotion about how they work - all part of my interest in gatekeepers and spotlighters. Anyway, here is the final film presented by yours truly in a bright red shirt. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Click or turn off


From here...

I was having dinner with a group of friends about a month ago, and one of them was talking about sitting with his four-year-old daughter watching a DVD. And in the middle of the movie, apropos nothing, she jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen. That seems like a cute moment. Maybe she's going back there to see if Dora is really back there or whatever. But that wasn't what she was doing. She started rooting around in the cables. And her dad said, "What you doing?" And she stuck her head out from behind the screen and said, "Looking for the mouse."

Here's something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Here's something four-year-olds know: Media that's targeted at you but doesn't include you may not be worth sitting still for. Those are things that make me believe that this is a one-way change. Because four year olds, the people who are soaking most deeply in the current environment, who won't have to go through the trauma that I have to go through of trying to unlearn a childhood spent watching Gilligan's Island, they just assume that media includes consuming, producing and sharing.

Thanks to chris stack @ deepstructure for heads up.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Battle or Ballet?

A long time ago (2 months!!!!!) Chris Stack wrote about a book he had read called "A History of American Screenwriting"

Here is a quote from the book that he liked. And I blog about it now as it has stayed with me as a thought. It is discussing the relationship between Orson Welles and Herman Mankiewicz:

Screenwriters mourn their entire careers over their failure to meet that one director, that one empowered, inventive, and most of all sensitive filmmaker who could understand the writer's most profound ambitions and serve as a spur and a goad, a best creative pal, to bring them out. So too, on their part, directors wish for that one writer who could put down on paper for others, make a narrative out of the magnificent, never-seen-before images that flash through their consciousness in their half-sleep, what gordon craig called his "left-handed ideas". This rarely happens. For all the talk of collaboration in filmmaking, the metaphor is most often battle...success, if it comes, derives from a random coupling, an ad hoc agreement on goals and intentions plus extraordinary luck.

I like it because this idea of 2 people working together (in battle or in ballet) extends far beyond the film world or this specific relationship. And whatever our own minor battles if we share a clear goal - we'll be okay.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Character types and my cup of tea.

If you want to explore a character think about how they would react at an airport when the coffee machine breaks down for 5 minutes! The amount of variation and complexity is enormous.

Tim, at the airport, with a tea.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Storydust source we all know and hate

Kipling West says...

I am inspired by spam; taking something that is intrusive, annoying & stinky, and seeing beauty (or at least a bit of entertaining weirdness) in it. Spam, like another common commodity, is plentiful, everyone deals with it daily, and it can be a rich fertilizer if cultivated appropriately.

New ideas are everywhere if we look out for them. For more nonsense see SpamTin

Monday, June 02, 2008

How to be a keymaster

Last time I wrote about the new gatekeepers - or what eventually I concluded were a group of people who needed a new name. Perhaps spotlighters - people who throw the follow spot of attention onto certain films.

So today's post is about - how do we work as filmmakers with spotlighters? Four tips have come out of my discussions with various spotlighters:

One:Recency is everything.
If you are trying to get spotlighters to look at your film it had better not have been up for more than 4 days. If it has, delete it and upload it again - unless it has had loads of hits.
Two:Be a tart.
Cross posting is not usually frowned upon. Exclusives are not expected but they may be requested. Spotlighters assume you may have uploaded elsewhere and are cool with that. That way, an offer to make it exclusive to a certain site becomes a bargaining chip.
Three:Serial Killers
A series of films is more attractive than a one off.
Four:You know - actually... speak
Everyone is on line. No one phones. So phoning up makes a difference, a real difference. Email, in this case, is for the great unwashed. Cut through the crap and get on the phone.
Five:Tomorrow's news, today!
Talk about future plans. I spoke to Dailymotion about Mr Vista 3 weeks before we even shot it.

Good luck and get uploading.