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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Podcast Episode 20: Mailbag

This podcast, myself and Danny Stack delve into your questions and answer as best we could!

A few links we mentioned:
Nicholl Fellowship
Peter Ustinov Award
BBC Writers Room
Danny's short film award
My POV feature
My past blog posts on writing for games

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How to be creative and think of new ideas

If you suffer from "writer's block" or feel that you are too busy doing stuff right now to think of new ideas then you will like this early 90's video with John Cleese.

In it he looks at how to get yourself in a zone where you are open to ideas. To paraphrase his 5 steps...

1 - Space. Cut yourself away from the emails and phones.
2 - Time. Give yourself time to ponder the issue - an hour and a half is best.
3 - Time again. Do this on a regular basis.
4 - Confidence. This must be a risk free environment. So expect to go down dead ends and make 'mistakes'. It is all part of the process. It is close to how kids play; freeform and willing to go in any direction.
5 - Humour. Have a laugh. Jokes often come from joining two different meanings and forcing the brain to make new connections. This is the same for new ideas. Working together can help - but pick good 'play mates' who are up for this way of working too.

Good stuff. And balanced out by his call to not do this all the time. You need hard graft too.

Lastly, there was one phrase in there that I liked was the "Intermediate Impossible". Most of the time we work through a problem where each stage of thinking is solid, it makes sense. But we should challenge that methodology. Sometimes you can leap frog to a better idea by having a stage that doesn't stand up on it's own. It is too crazy. But it helps you get where you need to go.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Using story techniques for documentary

I've been helping out on the edit of a long-form trailer for a TV documentary. It is a fun piece, layered on top of a topical issue. I can say no more here as the trailer is being created in order to win further funding from broadcasters.

Being a factual piece you may imagine there is nothing to bring from the storytelling craft to these projects. But there is. It is still a story, it is just a real story with real people. So while you can't get involved in the finer points of dialogue (this is not a Made In Chelsea style affair) you can bring many elements of story structure into play.

We worked on ensuring our trailer had these, very familiar, elements to them...

  • Who are the heroes?
  • What is their world?
  • What adventure have they been called on?
  • What barriers are getting in their way?
  • Who is the villain? (the villain can be circumstance / external forces)
  • Will they overcome the barriers and defeat the villain?
  • What in their characters helps them succeed? (or is it working together?)
  • Will the world be changed after? Or for whom? For everyone?

Not that squeezing all that in is easy of course. But it acts as a guide when you get stuck. And helps you overcome those editing barriers and continue your story journey. (sorry!)

Monday, April 09, 2012

Writing and directing POV

It has been a week since we shot the short film "Everyone's Alright With This". Just to recap, it is a POV based short film - it is all told from the main character's point of view.

In these two 'behind the scenes' clips Natalie Barthel, the writer, and I talk about working with this unusual method.

I sat down with the producers today, Adam and Dan from Whitelantern, to look over some of the footage. We really pushed ourselves with this short, in terms of scope and scale and technical challenges. The short is probably more complex than any scene in the feature, Friend Request, that it is building up to. So we have pulled out a few lessons to move forward with, both artistically and technically. But fundamentally it still remains an intriguing technique for a feature. And intriguing = cool.