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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The future after the UK Film Council - a podcast

Everyone is talking about what the future will be like without the UK Film Council - which has been suspended this week.

Whatever happens next, the big thing I want to see is an increase in communication, support and mentoring. To illustrate my point I will simply ask you this; when was the last time anyone phoned you from one the official film bodies to ask how you were getting on?

I know the admin around that is enormous, but also simple. And what an effect it would have. Joining people up and kick starting new projects. Just by talking. It isn't always about a lot of money. But it is about seeing your role as not being an admin department, but a supporter of every film maker.*

These are big thoughts and big questions. So it seemed like a good idea to get together with fellow writer Danny Stack to discuss it all. And if we are doing that; why not podcast it anyway? This was Danny's idea as he felt there was a hole where an intermediate-level scriptwriters podcast should be. And I think he is right.

So check it out below. 

Also in this episode: why I want to move into origami and why Danny wins the name-dropper prize.

We are thinking of doing more of these, but as with all things on-line, it is very much on a 'suck it and see' approach. Or in this case 'speak it and see'. To hear it click on the play button below.

Any future issues will be posted here and on Danny's blog. Or subscribe via iTunes so you don't miss out!

*I realise this wasn't the role of the UKFC, this is instead about starting to think about doing things differently in the future.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Scriptwriters development day

I was helping to run the "My One Word" Development Day over the weekend. 10 finalists, getting together to learn from each other and gain new insights into their 3-minute scripts.

I've been on quite a few of these things myself over the years. They range a lot in terms of quality and output. I feel that many prodcuers / competition organisers see a development day as a prize in itself. But of course, in what other industry would a day's work be seen as a prize?

However, if done right, a workshop day can be really useful. The reason is - writer's generally want to share their work, to get better and to discuss ideas. And yet too many of these days fight that natural good will. Instead, they have a series of one-way talks / lectures that go on all day. This, to me, seems so counter-intuative. This doesn't replicate at all the thinking process that a writer must go through while in development. PLUS, it doesn't reflect the fact that everyone there must be good writers already, due to the fact they are in the final.

Writing is about doing it. A development day should be about doing it too. And we tried to follow the spirit of that idea. Lots of activity, lots of sharing idea, lots of challenges.

Here are just three of the things that I picked up from the day.

  • Talking about / pitching your film must be more than simply; this happens, then this, then this. Practice with another writer, pitching back and forth, to find out what really counts in your story.
  • Film makers and writers watch a lot of films. Thousands in fact. As Gary Young said, "If I'm not writing films, I'm watching films"
  • A technique for learning structure - rewrite your favourite film, with a new angle. A great way to see how they put it together.

And a bonus quote; "Scriptwriting is like going to toilet; you just have to sit down and do it"

Monday, July 12, 2010

An animated CV - showing, not telling.

A while ago I was admiring how designer's can make some awesome CVs / resumés. The reason they can create such interesting documents is that, for them, their CV is presented as piece of design. So it impresses straight away, it shows rather than tells. An example is at the bottom of this blog post.

And, obviously, as film makers and creative people we should be able to do something similar too. What I had in mind was more than simply a showreel, a showreel shows only the final work. What was required was the content of a CV (style, interests, approach, successes, awards, work) in a moving image form.

My first effort is above. I've called it an animated resumé (it is designed for international viewers who don't use the term CV) which seemed to be a good name for what I was trying to achieve.

Check it out. If you do one too, or have one already, let me know.

I've put it on its own webpage - - which I coded myself. It's not as slick as ones that  film website experts like Steve Andrews put together, but it's enough for this pilot.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Making $1000 from my old short films.

I was initially sceptical of mDistribute. They are a distributor for short film content. Others have done this before of course, following a business model similar to how feature film distributors work.

mDistribute is different, in that it is much more of web2.0 business model. The buyers aren't the public. They are people like mobile phone companies who need, for example, 1000 comedy short films for their portal.

It's easy - you upload your films and set your own price. An interesting exercise in itself; how much is your short worth? They take 25% of the sales, which isn't too bad. Nothing to pay upfront obviously. There is a simple verification process that takes a few days, so that the site doesn't fill up with rubbish.

A lot of these kind of sites don't take off. But so far I've earned about $1000, which isn't to be sniffed at. This is mainly from Mr Vista clips - which travel well and are nice and short. A big seller, that I haven't tapped into yet, is to make really short (and loud) clips that can be used as video ringtones.

If you are interested then click on the logo at the top.