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Monday, November 28, 2011

How to stand out in a crowded market

A lot of writers fall into two camps...

Those that have a specialism (a certain genre perhaps) and do that repeatedly and are well known for it. But they perhaps worry that if circumstances change they will be left behind when the world moves on from that genre.

Then there are those who are 'jack of all trades', who do a bit of this and a bit of that. They worry that without a clearer proposition no one knows exactly what they do and why they should be employed.

I am currently making a video for Skillset and was interviewing Matt Locke from Storythings. He mentioned in passing the idea of having a "T shape" proposition.

With a T shape, you have the depth of a specialism combined with the breadth of a wider way of working. They aren't in conflict, they work together. This resonated with me a lot. Although I am a "writer for the Google generation" I also get involved in other projects - as far ranging as ideas such as the Reel Change. But it all comes back to writing, to characters, to storytelling.

Thinking about that in this T-shape way really helped so I put together the graphic above to help clarify my thinking so far.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Podcast 15: The London Screenwriters' Festival round up

In this episode - myself and Danny Stack get our teeth into the Screenwriters' Festival. What and who stood out for us? In detail...

Danny also mentions a memo sent to writers of The Unit. Read it here.
And if you get a chance, a vote for us at the podcast awards will be appreciated.

Or find us on our Facebook page!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Best scriptwriting advice ever

My recent posts have been about trying to reduce the amount of dialogue in a feature film script (as inspired by Alexander MacKendrick) combined with making sure that the dialogue really counts for something when you use it. This forms the basis of my current draft of Friend Request.

Chris Jones is of a like mind too it seems. On his blog he had some scans of the original Alexander MacKendrick cards. These are cards he used himself to teach his students.

I've joined them together in a funky PDF you can download and print easily, preferably A3 size.

Together I think they form some of the best advice for scriptwriters writing for the big screen. I also talked more about this and why I feel it works for writers moving from TV to cinema in the latest podcast with Danny Stack.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

This poster / download is a follow up to my recent post on the power of visual words.

This time it is focused on the original idea of speechmaking as outlined by the gang from Creativity Works - as opposed to my own interpretation of its use within dialogue. Who knows, I may do a dialogue version sometime soon.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Best business card for a scriptwriter - 2011

Its almost a tradition now! This year, as last year (and many previous years now) I was on the look out for interesting business cards at the London Screenwriters Festival.

The big news is... LESS CARDS. I think a lot of people rely on the power of LinkedIn to connect up later. But I think this misses the point - half the time you can't remember the name of the other person to even look them up.

It does perhaps mean the job of a card has changed. It maybe doesn't need to carry all the different contact details it once used to - maybe your name and twitter (or linkedin account etc) is enough. So instead it should be about making sure you are remembered. Seems easy, but it isn't.

As such, the images below are mostly from the reverse of the card. The front, with contact details on, is mostly redudant as I mentioned above. The reverse is where it is at baby!

Here are some of my highlights...

Janice Day took the idea of 'blank space' and used it to her advantage. But she admitted she stole that idea from me.

Rosie Claverton's word cloud was striking. But this layout is perhaps becoming slightly over used - so don't go for this next year!

Liz wrote a little scene in courier font, which worked well.

But so did Andrew James Carter. Who probably did it better, but only because you read it later when you get home. And in fact Andrew was mentioned last year so is rapidly becoming king of the cards!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Images not words

The London Screenwriter's Festival has only just finished. For me, one of the most important times is straight away afterwards. Now. What tips, techniques and lessons have you picked up that you can use immediately?

For me, it was an idea passed on by film historian Paul Cronin from his research into the work of Alexander MacKendrick, including The Ladykillers.

His advice was insanely simple. It was obvious. We all knew it. Yet we all forget it. Cinema is a visual way to tell stories. As such, a non-verbal shot should take precedence over dialogue.

In fact, he showed 3 minutes of the LadyKillers with the sound faded down to demonstrate that the dialogue isn't really needed in order to understand 80-90% of the story and characters. Now that is a great way to measure your script as you do a redraft.

With my own script (Friend Request) that I am currently redrafting I need to get the page count down from about 107 to more like 95. I'm partially funding this script myself so this isn't an empty exercise, cutting this time down will save money.

Already I have found places where whole portions of dialogue can be replaced by looks, by action and by   the use of symbolic props. Fantastic. It's shorter and it's more cinematic.