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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Selling a complex structure. By Simon Beaufoy

As you will all know I'm a big fan of using unusual and intriguing structures for more stories. This can cause concern in some readers / producers / agents / experts. And I can understand that concern. The question that is raised is; 'will the audience follow this'.

So I was very interested in what Slumdog Millionaire scriptwriter Simon Beaufoy said, that he had the same concern. Particularly around the flashback structure.

His overall message was; "Don't underestimate the audience. They can follow complex structured better than you think." There was in fact some test screenings that specifically tested whether people could follow the plot. They could, of course.
However he did need to take a step back from his original structure of the questions being a different order that caused us to jump back and forward in time.

So what do we take from that? Be bold. But not stupid maybe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pitch and Pins. (or how to make a pitch competition work for you)

I just came joint second in a big pitching event at the Screenwriters Festival (UK). Which is good going. 10 fellow pitchers pitching to a big crowd and a panel of experts - selected from about 2000 entries.

But, to me, the big benefit to doing your pitch in this fashion (in this economic climate) is not that it will be instantly snapped up but that is part of the process of raising your visibility.

In the spirit of that I made, wore and handed out these badges leading up to the pitch. They are a big tongue in cheek obviously, a bit silly, a bit bold - perfect for this audience. And well done to Kai who wore his none stop.

Essentially these pitching competitions are marketing exercises. So get on board and plan your marketing also. Next year badges won't work. So bring your helium balloons! Just don't forget to actually work on your pitch too!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Working with Hollywood. By a Hollywood writer.

Two great quotes from Doug Chamberlin
He is was the writer of Toy Story 2.

"Contacts get you in. But talent will keep you in"

"Execs like to think that writing is somehow magic. They don't want to know what's in the sausage"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Screenwriters Festival

Very quick message to say I'll be at the Screenwriter's Festival - see you there I hope. If you want to get in touch, you know the normal ways.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Speechwriting Conference

I hope you are all looking forward to the Screenwriters Festival coming up. However I was asked to make a short film about the first ever UK Speechwriters Conference. You can see the final product above.

Some interesting things came out if - which I will share with you here.

Not because may have to make a speech, but because you may have to write a monologue or powerful words in your scripts. I'm thinking here of anything from The Great Dictator to the cheesy bit from Independence Day - or even the voice over from Red in Shawshank Redemption.

These came from Professor Max Atkinson - speech guru - although he may not like that term! He analysed every applause at a political conference that lasted over 8 seconds (the average amount) to see what really worked and got the audience going.

One: Contrast, starting a negative. Best example - Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country Simple to emulate too. As in - You turn back if you want to, the lady's not for turning.

Two: Puzzle, pause, solution. Starting with something that doesn't make sense to get the audience's attention - then offering a captivating solution. What we, in script terms, would call a kind of reveal. This is the kind of technique that can the slightly annoying polite laughter to a conference crowd.

Three: Rule of three. We all know this one anyway. Putting things in threes to make a point Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The longest point normally goes last. An interesting experiment is to try and break this rule in conversation and see what happens. Say two things and people will wait for a third - until you have to say 'and so on'. Say four things and people will interrupt after three. Good laughs.

Four: Combinations of above. Using one that once at a time increased the duration of applause still further.