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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Free and online writing tool

Zhura has been around for a couple of years now. But it doesn't seem to have caught the imagination or moved on too far. It is an online scriptwriting tool. So, like Final Draft, it does your layout for you. But your script is kept online so you can access it from any web PC in the world and it also allows you to collaborate on the script with other writers.

All good features! In short - a screenplay specific version of GoogleDocs.

So why hasn't it caught on more then? My take on it is that script writing is a very solitary, unsharing type of writing. Even if you write with a partner you tend to do it behind closed doors. The film / tv making stage, when you get to it, is such a team effort - everyone gets involved. So the writing is THE time to just get your head down and work privately, consider ideas and battle cliches.

Having said all that - consider the benefits of using a tool like this if you had a writer, a co-writer, a producer and a development person having to work to a tight deadline.

But then also consider the chaos.

So the jury is out for me. And I guess for others too. If anyone has used this (or similar) websites to write a script then leave a comment. Personally I have only used such tools for pitch documents and other supplementary materials.

Friday, December 26, 2008

MeRrY ChRisTmAs

Following on from the rip roaring success of last year - here is my Christmas film 2008. Made over Christmas itself in a crazy improv method please forgive any rough edges that may be due to much eating and merriment. However this film is the only place to see the divine combination of Alexandra Burke from the X Factor, myself playing a vicar and the Advertising Standards Authority! Enjoy!!!

Note: Extra good news - this year does not feature myself pulling funny faces.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New film 2.0 blog

Quick link to James Robinson's blog for the technie / new distriubution readers or anyone who wants to know where their future pay checks may come from

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Free Faintheart - The writer gives his view...

Yesterday I mentioned the news of the film Faintheart being available free. And if you want to make sure you see it free at your local flicks then they have a map to make yourself known on! Vote here!

The writer David Lemon got back to me with his view on this release strategy. Here is what he said...

I'm really glad Faintheart is getting seen.
Obviously I'd have been happier with the original plan of a longer theatrical release (which was still the plan when I spoke at the Screenwriters Festival in June) but there's nothing worse than having made something that just sit on a shelf -or hard drive- gathering dust.

So, 'my take' on all this...difficult to say, Tim. There are aspects of the production process that I think might have worked better- and in that I'm including my script (what writer is ever 100% happy with their work?) but would those changes-in-hindsight have guaranteed a theatrical release?
The short answer is 'no'. As we both know, film production and guarantees rarely go hand in hand.

On the positive side, this sort of online/one day theatrical release is a first of sorts and should help drum up awareness for the DVD release shortly after.
We've also had some pretty good reveiws, not least for the BIFA winning Eddie Marsan (who's in so many films and tv shows of late I suspect he's cloned himself).
I also got to walk on the red carpet up in Edinburgh with the likes of Shane Meadows and Sean Connery, which is pretty cool- and, in the long term, now have a few producers actively interested in developing projects with me.

-And as you pointed out, we did audition online and involve the public in the production process, so the free screenings are a nice way to thank all the myspace and re-enactment folk for their time, passion and weaponry.

Hope that's cool with you.

Oh-and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Faintheart: a contract with the audience case study

I was pleased to see in Screen International that "Faintheart" will be released simultaneously and free of charge for one day only in 150 cinemas and on MySpace on January the 27th.
The reason I'm pleased is that I feel this fulfills the contract with the audience, at least in my mind. As you may remember this was the film created with the support of MySpace. I believe if you ask your audience to help with the writing, casting and ideas then you owe them. So see you there on the 27th. Haven't heard David Lemons take on it yet.

Nollywood - shooting a feature in a week

This talk is about the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, the 3rd largest film industry in the world. They are making about 40 features a week!

The best part about this story however is that this is an industry grown up from the grassroots. No Hollywood cash injection, no funding, no film council style lottery stuff. Just people making films, at a price that means locals can see them, which means they earn enough to make another one. Are these films great? Probably not, but they are relevant to the people who want to see them.

So could we do that here? Could we do a feature in say 10 days? Why not? Would you, should you? Should I?

Probably not. As it has taken me a week so far to try and get the insurance done so I can get my new mac. So I'm one feature behind already!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Broken mac

I may be less bloggy for a while as my Mac has 'bit the dust'. The image above isn't actually my mac (I stole it from here) but is more dramatic to look at. Mine has simply stopped working due to a flood through the roof. I have much more detail around this personal story but I'm sure that that simple synopsis more than enough for now. You don't need the full treatment!

The good news is that I am a back up nerd. So no data loss at all. I hope that you are all the same! The better news is that this random event has afforded me a rare chance. I have lived, partially, the experience that my characters go through in my Red Planet competition TV series called 'Off'. Here is part of my synopsis / pitch for it...

What would happen if everything had to be switched off for 10 minutes?
The mobile phones. The television. The radio. The internet. Everything.
Everything that we use to bind us together. The things that hold our society together even though none of it existed 20 years ago. What would those 10 silent minutes be like? And then what would happen if they didn’t come on again? What would happen if everything stayed “ OFF ”?

So what about me? What happened to me when the computer stayed off? Here are the phases I went through:

1 - Straight away I felt at a loss. What do I do now? Confusion.
2 - Then came an effort to circumvent the system, to cheat the problem. I got my emails on my iPhone and am writing this blog elsewhere.
3 - After that I looked for things to fill the vacuum. Doing other things. Making script notes on paper. Catching up on films to watch etc. As if to say, "hey, I don't care anyway"
4 - Anticipation - I'm getting ready for when things return to normal.

So 4 phases. What will be interesting will be using those 4 phases in the script but at a more exaggerated level. Characters can live these day to day but with a much higher impact on life than just one machine going wrong. For them it is everything. And of course, as you may guess, things do not come back on. So their anticipation is short lived.

As I stuck in phase 2 I'll see you around!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Video pitch

Following on from Monday...

Kenny at the Screenwriters Festival asked those with a webcam to do a little video pitch of their idea, in my case - "Friend Delete?". Well that's not mad enough for me. So I did this instead.

Ticking your own box

With some competitions coming in now and more soon (Digital Shorts, Cinema Extreme etc) it was worth remembering what Lucy says about her script...

Perhaps it's not high concept enough? In that case, that's absolutely nothing to do with my writing. However good it is, if it's high concept they want - I'm just not ticking the right box.

I'd just like to extend that argument a bit further. You don't need to enter any competitions these days. You don't need your script and idea 'validated' by anyone if you don't want. Just get it out there. And get it made outside of the system.

Hope, Mr Vista, WaterMelon were all done this way.

The point is if you love it, if it ticks your box then you go for it!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Pitch in Time

I'm also through to the final ten of pitching competition at next year's Screenwriters Festival.

Which is nice for me as I therefore get in free. But of no use to you. Which is no good. So in the spirit of the blog I thought I could at least share my entry so you can prepare your ridicule in advance.

Delete Friend?
25 word pitch
Children’s TV series. After deliberately spreading a facebook virus Jade must visit everyone of her on-line friends to apologise. But is everyone who they seem?

150 word synopsis
Jade is a menace to her friends, in real life and on-line. But when she goes too far and deliberately spreads a virus across a social networking site she becomes the media hot topic.

The internet companies want to make an example of her. The school want her out. Even the politicians want to show that they are on top of childhood antisocial behaviour.

So a plan is hatched. Jade must visit every single on-line ‘friend’ in person and apologise.

A childhood ‘road movie’. A physical journey each week to find the friend and make them forgive her, that’s if they really are who they said they were! But also an emotional journey for Jade to learn empathy, understanding, tolerance and how we are all inter-connected.

“Byker Grove”, “My Name is Earl” and “Straight Story” come together with massive television / internet crossover opportunities.

Lecture Materials

If you were at today's lecture then here are the materials...

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