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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Writing your way out of recession


Earlier in the year I wrote about how the recession had the opportunity to help my script - Circumference.

So I did a rewrite and a script reading which was great. And, yes, it all worked. Semi finalist in Scriptapalooza. Top marks from Lucy in the scriptmarket. Now currently quarterfinalist in BlueCat. The script shows the benefit of the many rewrites. Check it out if you like.

If you are a long time blog reader you will remember this project in its previous draft. It was an experiment to see if it was possible to fund a film through adverts - in a ITV style. A new idea -Google meets film - kind of thing. But the figures just didn't add up once the money men were forced to consider it when the proposal went live. And then the recession came so that definitely killed the idea in that form.

And so I thought the story was dead. You may have similar projects that suffered the same fate. Whole TV shows are suffering it right now - even with the largest of companies.

But moaning about it, I felt, was a poor attitude. That isn't a film makers attitude at all. It isn't a writers attitude. While the rest of the world falls into chaos we were already living there. We know how to make something out of nothing. We do it everyday.

So the new plan is simple once you realise that:

One: Rewrite as a recession era romance that taps into the concerns of our times. (done, tick that off)
Two: Fund it in a recession method that matches the ethos of the story (launching right now)

The basic premise being that this is a film for people who want to do something pro-active in the recession. They want a story about it. And they want to be a part of it.

The proposal is simple. £100 buys you a share in the success of the film - a stake in it if you like. Similar to how Danny Stack funded his short film but on a bigger scale as its a feature. But because its a feature it actually has a market value and a good shot at getting some money back. And hopefully a profit for us all.

What else are you going to invest in? Houses? Stock market? You may as well invest in what you believe in - so you feel better and have some damn fun. Something we all need.

More on this approach to come obviously.

For now - here is the new website. And here is the official shares prospectus as a pdf.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Curve Balls

When I was looking for a picture for my last post I found this guide to pitching - as in how to 'pitch' a baseball! All part of the fun of google / our love of odd terms.

That got me thinking about how our pitch is like their pitch.

So as you can see I brought the two together above - just for fun. Which story are you 'pitching'?

In all seriousness of course this tie in with ideas like The Story Graph - which allows to pitch the emotional journey and throw curve balls to the audience.

Okay, enough puns already!

Monday, June 15, 2009

How to Practise Pitches

Not that kind of 'pitch' of course!

But instead, how do you practise your film / TV pitch? We all know that practise is a good idea. But how? Here is a technique I picked from the Scriptmarket.

Firstly think of how we measure a good pitch? That isn't the same as what makes a good pitch. There are all sorts of methods and techniques people use to put together their pitch. But how often do we think about what the pitch is supposed to do? What is its job? Only if we understand what is supposed to do - can we decide if ours will do it - or not!

The pitch has to be 'pass-on-able'

That is, the person you tell it to, has to tell other people the same thing. Simple as that. It must be retainable and a repeatable. Simple, but hard to test. Unless you use this pitch exercise.

1 - You get together with a scriptwriting chum
2 - You tell them your pitch
3 - They tell you yours
4 - You check that each one takes no more than 2 mins
5 - Then you repeat the other persons pitch back to them - and they repeat yours back to you
6 - You see if they are repeated accurately. Was the important elements in there? Were incorrect elements added? Were important things missed out?
7 - Rework as necessary. But you can't try it again with the same person for obvious reasons. So find a new chum!

The clever part of this exercise is that you actually checks if the pitch works. It doesn't matter how clever you think it is. If the other person can't remember it and repeat it - it doesn't work. Redo it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

UK Film Council development fund - the real facts!

Now don't be scared. It's only a chart! But you may need to click on it to see the detail.

If you are thinking of going in for the UK Film Council development fund these are the figures you should be aware of.

In many ways this is a great fund to have in the UK. They have a special sub-fund just for 'first timers' and you can get up to £25,000 to help develop your feature!

But maybe, if you are like me, you wonder what are the odds of getting through as a first-timer. Here are the approx stats as gleaned from the recent ScriptMarket event. These figures are for the first feature fund.

It adds up to over 1000 applications a year. The big blue part being those that then get rejected straight away. The top yellow bit is the 25 or so that actually get awarded money. The green dot on top may not even be visible but this is the 0.3% that get through to actually being made in some form or other, even as a TV movie.

So tough odds. But worth a go. It takes little to apply in terms of work. But remember, you just get one go with that project and it needs to beat a lot of competition to get to the peak!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Seems like a nice day to make a film...

Above is a recent episode of Mr Vista which illustrates the point of being able to go 'off script' sometimes. The original story featured Mr Vista trying to hold back the tide on a sunny day. It was clear as soon as we arrived that a rewrite was needed. Plus the weather was so bad we couldn't literally stay out in it for more than about 15 minutes.

Luckily we are all fans of films like Mr Hulot's Holiday (Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot) by Jacques Tati. So we could pick something up and go with it - using it as a shortcut. For me, it goes to illustrate yet again the importance of understanding the themes and characters of a piece completely. PLUS always having the right people there. Get those right and anything can be overcome.

Extra points to actor Jonathan Rhodes for just going for it and doing silly stuff while we tried to hide in our coats.

Links to Mr Hulot's Holiday on IMDB and on Amazon.