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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Red Planet

Just got this good news...

Congratulations Tim Clague!

Your submission “Off” has been chosen as one of the finalists for this year's Red Planet Prize. Can you now email your completed script - as soon as possible - to this address, along with your synopsis and details. The script will then be considered by our panel of judges and the winner will be announced in the New Year.

All the best and well done.

Red Planet Pictures Limited

The next big genre is...

Thanks to Robert at Zen Films for this chart. As you can see, perhaps that old favourite of the low budget film maker, Horror, is in recession too. It is suffering a monster munch credit crunch.

But as you know my philosophy is that people want to see films and people want to make films. So that only leaves the question of 'what genre'. My guess (and it is an emotionally based guess) is "Children's".

Watch out over the next 2 years for a kid overload. You read it here first.

Monday, November 24, 2008

If you are NOT a nerd then don't read this

Not strictly true, but slightly true. Check out this link to see what I'm on about. It is a new technology that allows multi-camera streaming so you can cut between 5 clips yourself. The top big window is for the main image. The bottom 5 mini thumbnails are your camera options.

So that is interesting from an IT angle. But it could also be an interesting dramatic opportunity. What kind of story could be told this way? What options does it open up? What dramatic techniques could be applied? Perhaps an exciting new story telling method? But only if we make it happen. Otherwise this ground breaking technology will be limited to this style of show.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas gifts for film nerds aka "Get shorties"

Don't know what to get the film geek in your life for Christmas? Or maybe that's you and you need a treat. Either way, may I suggest the new Cinema 16 - World Short Films - it's a double disc edition. Here is what the Amazon blurb says...

Proof that the best things really do come in small packages, CINEMA 16 - WORLD SHORT FILMS is a collection of inspired shorts, and a must-have for any self-respecting film fan. It features the works of some of the world's most gifted directors (Guillermo Del Toro, Sylvain Chomet, Guy Maddin, Alfonso Cuaron, and Jane Campion), who demonstrate their adroitness at conveying their artistic visions simply and succinctly. But it's not just established directors who are celebrated here; a new generation of filmmaking talent is represented by the likes of Andrea Arnolds' Oscar winner WASP, 2008 Oscar nominee MADAME TUTLI PUTLI, and 2008 Sundance winner ON THE ICE (SIKUMI).

So in short (geddit) it is people who have become famous for features sharing their low budget shorts. What did they do with the same level of equipment and budget as you may have? The Cinema 16 range are always fascinating and inspiring. I've not seen this one yet but I have got a couple of the other editions and my own film Eight is on the British edition, not because of me but because it was directed by Stephen Daldry. The best thing about seeing these shorts is that some of the films are almost a bit rough around the edges. If you are struggling to make your budget go far enough then at least you'll learn that you are not alone. These people have done it too.

Lastly it is worth mentioning the man behind it all, Luke Morris, a film maker himself who thought that he would want to see a DVD like this - so did it himself!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weekend viewing

If Facebook were real.

Thanks to Chris Kenton for sharing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I went home

Over at GapingVoid Hugh is talking about his blue monster project. An interesting initiative for Microsoft which says, as you can see, 'Change the world or go home'.

That's what we all try to do. I do at least. Whether through bold schemes like 365films, Circumference - or by changing how we view our work with The Scriptwriters Life - or by working on adventurous and challenging spec scripts like the 'medieval western', the Kiss of Judas.

We all do that as writers and film makers I believe. We all want to say something that matters, that makes a difference.


I also think it is okay if you go home instead. Sometimes you can't change the world. Going home is okay. It is where my long-suffering wife is for a start! In fact not enough people 'go home'. This video I directed a while back is about just that.

Caroline Bannock was the youngest ever associate producer for ABC News. She talks about the ultimate work pressure, working in a war zone to tight broadcast deadlines – and how she now has achieved a better balance in her life. She is now a scriptwriter by the way!

So in fact I would say to Hugh...

"Change yourself like you'd change the world"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Following on from a recent post here is what I'm thinking about right now...

Go with passion, rather than techniques.
If everyone else doesn't want to write about something - then you should do it.
Okay may not be good enough.
But you should be satisfied with your best - if not, then madness lies your way.
Let your characters do things because it makes sense, not because the plot says it must be so.
Apply that to yourself too!


Friday, November 07, 2008

Show not tell

If you are interested in new ways of film making and new ways to reach an audience then the Power to the Pixel event has uploaded some interviews with film makers who have this done this successfully. So learn from those that have braved it before you. Get them here.


Change is drama they say. But what I find interesting is that this photo is from Obama's Flickr account. And is shared under a non-commercial creative commons license. So by checking the detail you can see it was really taken by a guy called David Katz and was taken at 23:23:38 on a Canon EOS and David decided to use a manual iris.

Open government indeed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The best single bit of advice for new writers - EVER!

Well I thought long and hard about this one - obviously. What would be the one piece of advice on scriptwriting. And by that I am limiting this to the craft of writing rather than the career of being a writer.

It has to be an idea out of the book Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach.

There are lots of ideas even in this one book. And there are many books out there. But there is a single idea that helps me. It is not about structure, or techniques. It is not about dialogue. It is not about layout. It is this...

For each character know what they want. And know what they need.

They may think they want to get through the working day. But we all know they need to change their home life priorities.

They may think they want to survive the shoot out. But we all know they need to discover their partner is a rat.

So many examples. And it is so simple. But without it your drama, whatever the structure, is flat. So that is my number one piece of advice. What is yours?

Photo of Jason Arnopp as taken by me under the direction of Danny Stack.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The small films who could

warwick davis
This post is about celebrating that it can be done.

Yes - the times are changing. Yes it is tough out there. But then film makers are tough - so that's okay.

The above photo is of Warwick Davis signing DVD copies of Small Town Folk
, a funky feature made local to me. It was made for no budget. Just by sweat, ingenuity and down right cheekiness. But there it is. In the shops! And Warwick signed my Willow VHS too!

The following poster is a film made by a great Cannes contact - Rob Pratten of Zen Films. It is called MindFlesh. And here is the email he sent to me...

Of course I hope that you'll buy a copy of the film but if it's not for you, you can still help by forwarding this email to friends and others for whom MindFlesh might be their cup of tea!

Now that is the face of new marketing ideas I feel. No hard sell. You can download direct from him. Just positive messages. And most importantly both these guys did these films with good spirit. They don't have to be hardnuts or screw people over. So cheers to you both.

Last note - both of these films lie somewhere in the horror genre. Word on the street is that this genre may now be saturated so time to seek a new one all you low budgeters. Perhaps perky teen films? Not sure.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Credit crunch - on films

So, without getting too much in the detail, here is a short synopsis of the film world - from a financial view. I know most blog readers don't relish the prospect of ploughing through trade journals. This is linked to slightly, but not totally, the current economic situation or credit crunch. A picture of the munch bunch was my best effort!

Essentially what used to happen was that the big companies (Universal, Paramount etc) either made films themselves or bought them off of producers for a period of say 20 years to use them as they pleased. The big companies would look after all the deals and the advertising and all that stuff - and keep most of the cash.

What is happening now is more of a service contract. The big companies simply release the film (do the film prints, get them in the cinemas) for a fee of about 8%. The producer does all the rest. And keeps all the rest of the cash.

One way to view this - the producer's job just got harder. They now have to find the all money to make the film AND to advertise it AND they have to look after the myriad of deals. One producer recently stated that they split the budget in half now. Half for making the film, half for marketing.

Another way to look at it - you keep your film and can control what happens to it.

So what does that mean for low budget film makers, indys and writers?

Well it should mean a combination of the two things above. It will mean more control and more influence, financially and creatively. However it could also mean more investment up front - more work for indy types and more back end deals / spec work for writers. In short, there will be more individuality between deals. Each job / deal will be unique.

As a writer I'd be asking questions to producers such as; "can I help you write the marketing material too", "can I co-produce if I bring in finance", "could I swap some payment to hold onto the rights of the characters" etc

As an indie film maker moving into this way of working it becomes very much less about thinking about which big companies will fund my film to who will distribute my film for the best value, how do I fund it creatively, how do I build a team around me to do this? What do I do with the rights now that I'm keeping them?

So both a challenge and an opportunity.