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Friday, March 26, 2010

A new pitching and brainstorming tool

At a recent lecture I gave at OCR everyone was talking about a new way to present ideas. It is online and called Prezi.

What excited me about this idea was how it combined elements of mind mapping (as used in something like Mindmeister) with a Powerpoint style presentation tool.

It may not suit every project or person but definitely one to be aware of. The flow of the graphics sits better with a flow of a story. The problem with any form of card pitching (which is how I currently work) is that you often descend into "then this happens, then this, then this".

It is free to use - but you can upgrade for extra features. The free version would be more than suitable for most of us.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New thoughts on 'rules'

A lot of talk in games creation goes on deciding the gameplay rules - what are the rules of the game? Seems obvious, but even I am surprised at how this is gone over again and again. What exactly is needed to earn the big gun etc etc.

But the reason for all this hard work is - it is really hard to change later. You can't say things work one way and then later on say they work another way when you update the game. Players would go crazy!

This 'going crazy' vision made me think about stories and scripts. I think perhaps we don't consider 'the rules' of our worlds enough. They tend to be made up as we go. Get it wrong and your audience will be as pissed off as those angry games players. Some of things you may hear / have heard / have shouted yourself would be...
  • Hang on, I thought superherodude couldn't do that, and now he can!
  • Where the hell did that come from?
  • She would never have said that.
  • I thought an alien was hard to kill and now there are 100s of them and they are being killed easily.

You get the idea. This kind of overlaps with the 'contract with the audience'. But the 'contract' is more about the emotional experience / money for a cinema ticket trade. Complaints around that are more of the...

  • I've watched 26 episodes of this stupid show and it hasn't even tied up the loose ends properly

So 'world rules' are definitely worth thinking about at a conscience level.

I would say that it is worth getting right at the start, but we all know development doesn't work like that. But it is certainly worth doing a script pass on though and considering fully.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Creative Gravity - new version

I finally got around to creating a special version of the Gravity animation just for writers and creative people.

This brings the project full circle. The Gravity idea was created as a part of a set of training materials for people involved in sales, especially financial sales. However, I used the ideas I had seen successful freelance writers use as the basis.

But the media / creative markets are very different from the financial sales market. Financial sales has the pressure of making repeat sales day in, day out - which can lead to a kind of short-termism. Writers on the other hand are always concerned with their good repuatation and throwing their net wide. The Gravity animation was a way of showing the benefits of this longer term approach in a graphical way.

Now I've reworked it back to the creative industries in this new version. Check it out. But also remember that we could learn a lot from the financial guys about actually remembering to ask for the work and being a bit more pushy.

What the video doesn't cover is HOW to raise your gravity because this is unique to each person. Here is an ideas list to kick you off.

  • Put yourself forward to help out anyone with their projects
  • Be a volunteer
  • Be a script judge
  • Be online - blogs / twitter etc
  • Share what works - be open, that's what draws people to you
  • Don't be afraid to network - set a target of meeting 5 new people at every event
  • Give something practical away when you meet people so they keep it and remember you*
  • Be a mentor
  • Be a mentee
  • Give talks / conferences
  • Keep in touch with people actively - use a diary, don't just think about doing it
  • Think about the one thing you do differently - what sets you apart from other writers?
  • Make sure you can explain the one thing easily - in a film poster manner!
  • Do it often.

I know you may not like all this talk about Creative Gravity and reputation, which then strays into marketing and branding. However, it is crucial to realise - you already have a reputation - you already have Gravity - so it makes sense if you try to steer it and guide it.

* I often hand out copies of the Scriptwriter's Life diagram.
Music by Titas Petrikas.

Monday, March 01, 2010


AudioBoo is a online service which is kind of an audio version of twitter; a quick way to upload and share your audio messages.

Steve Keevil has taken it and turned it into a platform for super short-radio plays in a series he calls 'iPhone monologues'.

He asked me to take part - and I did. Here is the result. It has a kind of lo-fi quality due to being recorded via an iPhone but that is part of the experience. In fact, in the future, I think this could go further by doing the recording on location somewhere suitable.

Here is the script, for reference.

This is fun - isn’t it. I know you think so too because I can hear you screaming wildly. Screaming through pure enjoyment. At least I think it is that kind of screaming. It is hard to hear you properly when you are in that car boot.

‘Thou Shalt Not Kidnap’ isn’t one of the Ten Commandments. So does that mean God thinks it is okay then? I think, on balance, that the Almighty would come out against it.

Indeed. It is wrong to kidnap people. That is why I had to escape from you and put you in the boot. You have face justice for what you did to me. I am bringing you in.

But then was it kidnapping seeing as how you are the police? I guess you would call it ‘arresting me’. Damn. This good and evil thing isn’t as clear cut as the bible would have me believe.

Maybe I’ll just crash, kill us and let God sought it out. You okay with that? Takes it out of our hands altogether.

But I changed my mind. And I watch the car burn and I think two things. One, that watching a fire is just as fun as driving fast. And two, I wish I believed in God.