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Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Christmas movie 2015 - "7 top tips to getting the present YOU want"





YES! Its time for my Christmas movie. 

This year it is a sneaky and devious one, for kids! “7 TOP TIPS TO GETTING THE PRESENT YOU WANT”

Watch above, or via this link - https://youtu.be/8Ta0JTU4K4s

This continues my tradition of making a silly little short film every year instead of sending out cards. So I hope you enjoy it. This time I roped in fellow Nelson Nutmeg folks Danny Stack & Shaune Fradley and then we totally trashed the house of Loretta Walsh (who plays Billie in Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg) so apologies to her and her parents.

Some other, lesser, highlights of the year include... 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The 7 Cornerstones to Surviving as a Writer

1 – Be in it for the long term

Writing a feature takes time. Writing a TV episode is a lot of work. Even a good short film isn’t something you can just bang out. It normally takes four or five pieces of work before a writer finds their original voice. Becoming a good writer isn’t a fast process. We’re talking about years, not months. It takes time to build your network, to get experienced at pitching, to weave excellent loglines and outlines. Whichever way you look at it, becoming a good, profitable writer in a short space of time is unlikely.

2 – It’s a small industry

The industry’s huge, right? Impenetrable and overwhelming, yes? After all, there are thousands of people constantly trying to get their break, not to mention thousands already working within the system.
In terms of finding the right people to work with, the industry thrives on referrals and recommendations. For the new writer, this means it’s important to make a good impression, no matter whom you meet or where and when you meet them. This is actually a small industry. Reputations count. 

3 – There is no “inside”

The “big break” mentality is a fallacy. It can force you to think of the industry as a ring-fenced citadel with you on the outside and “them” on the inside. They’ve got everything and you’ve got nothing – and if only they recognised your talent, they would invite you in, too.
The industry is just a collection of people trying to get by, just like you. They don’t have secret meetings about keeping people out. If you focus on individuals within the system rather than imagining a big industry citadel with a single key, you’ll be better off.

4 – Do it your way, today

Don’t spend too long comparing yourself to others. Their path to success won’t be the same as yours. Sure, pick up some tips and inspiration, but everyone’s journey is different. Everyone’s motivations come from a different heart. Everyone has their own voice.
Don’t think: “Well, Richard Curtis built his career by steps 1, 2, 3 – I will do the same.” His career grew out of his life; it was built up from his contacts, and the people he worked with strengthened it. Your life, contacts and colleagues are, and will be, different. Use what you have.

5 – Don’t wait to be invited

Too many writers wait to be invited. They seek permission to be a writer. They ask agents to let them be writers. They enter competitions to win the right to be seen as a writer. They beg producers: “Please let me write something that you can then own.”
Instead, what if all that effort was used to actually make something: to do your own work, to produce your own short film, to write something that doesn’t need a lot of money to make, to team up with other people at your level? 

6 – Life is not a meritocracy

The best people don’t always rise to the top. The best scripts don’t always win competitions. The best writer doesn’t always get the gig. Who decides what “best” means anyway? And are they the best person to do it? And on it goes.
When things go right, it’s often because of hard work and talent. But luck plays a part, too. Don’t forget that. You can learn to work harder, improve your skills, and develop new techniques. Luck is just luck, there’s not much you can do about that. It’s important to put things in perspective and stick to what matters most: your writing and your career.

7 – Think about things from the other side

Producers, execs and script editors are busy people, with constant demands on their time. If you contact them hoping to solicit a script request or get some work, then put yourself in their shoes and try to examine your approach from their point of view.
Do you have a script that’s relevant to the type of film or show they like to make? Have you researched their credits and background? Are you making a generic cold call just looking for a break? Why should the producer/exec/script editor care? What’s different about you? Why should they reply to your email or take your call? Think about what they want, and how you can respond to their needs and routine.

BONUS – The good news

Writing stories for any medium is the best job in the world. Before a writer comes along, there’s nothing. There’s a blank sheet of paper or, at best, some scrappy notes. When you hand over a script, there’s a world inhabited by original characters involved in dramatic and funny situations. It’s very, very cool, and it’s all thanks to the writer.

Note:

This is an extract from the recent book, UK Scriptwriters Survival Handbook which was co-authored by Danny Stack and I. These 7 cornerstones are our favourite part of the first chapter, which is why we are sharing it here.

Short cut link to Amazon = tinyurl.com/UKscripthandbook




Thursday, November 19, 2015

4K Light Leak Wipes - free to download

Here is my latest 4K light leak - or actually a set of 4 in one download!! As ever, available for free (and also you can watch it it in 4K / UHD on YouTube) via Creative Commons, details below.

I collect all my light leaks on a special page where there are MORE FREE DOWNLOADS, so bookmark it. So far, as I upload this, they have been downloaded well over 333,000 times! And used in TV shows on NatGeo, Discovery and BBC1.

This new one has is a set of four light leak wipes. All different in style, but all max out at pure white allowing for a transition or cut to occur underneath.






You can choose different speeds and reverse them to create different looks too.

Download here (166MB) - http://www.mediafire.com/watch/6y0snfac4qnnrf8/4K_LensFlareWipe.mp4

If you are using these clips for a commercial project with a budget then get in touch. I make the leaks free for non-commercial use (short films etc). Creative Commons details on the main page.

If HD leaks are of interest to you (under the same conditions) then I have loads here.

If you want to do me a favour because of all this cool stuff - that would be great too. Cheers. A few suggestions...


If you are super kind and get something out of using these then please donate a small amount via the button below...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Podcast Episode 50: James Cary, the sitcom geek!




James Cary was the creator of the radio sitcoms "Think the Unthinkable" and "Hut 33" and was lead writer on the sketch show, "Concrete Cow". For TV, he has written for "My Hero", "My Family" and "Miranda". More recently he co-wrote the BBC Three series "Bluestone 42" with Richard Hurst.

Online you can find James podcasting, blogging and tweeting as SitcomGeek. He has a book out too if you are keen to get into sitcoms called Writing That Sitcom

We talk to him about comedy, about writing material for others and about getting your own show off the ground. And also about the differences between radio and television.

And also, a special thanks from me to those people who emailed in after the previous episode with ideas and general positive vibes. We appreciate it and will be using your ideas over the coming episodes.

Some links while we are all here having a nice time:

Friday, October 16, 2015

UK SCRIPTWRITERS BOOK - ON SALE NOW

AT LAST! Its the book of the podcast - with even more great advice! Myself and Danny finally sorted it out, and its now live on Amazon for sale in time for Christmas, like the couple of mercenaries that we are! See below for our pitch video and the blurb.




Want to get out there and start earning a living as a writer? Sure, we all have dreams of selling a script for big bucks. But what can we do while we wait for that to happen? How do we give up the day job and be a working writer? That's what this book covers.


Myself and Danny Stack have been blogging for 10 years and podcasting for 5 years. And we've taken the best bits from all of that content and jammed into 226 pages of goodness. And its not just our advice, we have quotes and tips from dozens of top writers, producers and media folk from around the world. Plus a great foreword from British TV writing legend Tony Jordan (Hustle, Life on Mars)

This book gives the lowdown on...
  • How to get into TV
  • 6 writing jobs you've probably overlooked
  • Hidden opportunities that are out there right now
  • How to successfully pitch... yourself!
  • Making your own content, today - don't wait from a green light, make it happen
  • How and where to network
  • What to charge (yes, the money question tackled head on)
  • How to get an agent - or not

Monday, October 05, 2015

Podcast Episode 49: 3 things from us - and a question for you



A shorter episode this time.
We reflect on the best lessons we have learnt from the London Screenwriters Festival and urge you to come along. We'll be giving a talk once more this year. 
We also ask what you want us to cover? Let us know via ukscriptwriters@hotmail.com or via twitter or Facebook.
And then we plug three things.
1 - Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg, our debut feature film which premieres at the London Film Festival on the 10th October. 
2 - A spin off book for younger readers called "Who Needs Friends Nelson Nutmeg?" which is on Amazon now.
3 - A brand new book from us, full of our best tips ever called "The UK Scriptwriters Survival Handbook" - get it now on Amazon too.

UK scriptwriters survival handbook

Monday, August 31, 2015

Free 4K Light Effect or Lens Flare or Light Leak - for compositors and editors

Here is my latest 4K light leak - available for free download (and also you can watch it it in 4K / UHD on YouTube). Its available for Creative Commons use, details below.

I collect all my light leaks on a special page where there are MORE FREE DOWNLOADS, so bookmark it. So far, as I upload this, they have been downloaded 332,000 times!

This new one has colourful refracted light, ideal for transitions or compositing over scenes where light would appear to bounce into the lens - some have a rainbow spill. Useful for promos, music vids, logos, trailers - any kind of funky editing. Check it out yourself and see what I mean...






There's many different light effects in this one download, meaning you can choose different speeds and different looks and aren't going to be repeating the same effect over and over in your timeline. Speed the whole thing up for a trippy effect.

Download here (177MB) - http://www.mediafire.com/watch/76q1m0irk019pg6/

If you are using these clips for a commercial project with a budget then get in touch. I make the leaks free for non-commercial use (short films etc). Creative Commons details on the main page.

If HD leaks are of interest to you (under the same conditions) then I have loads here.

If you want to do me a favour because of all this cool stuff - that would be great too. Cheers. A few suggestions...


If you are super kind and get something out of using these then please donate a small amount via the button below...

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Podcast Episode 48: Interview with Mark Stay



The podcast is 5 years old!

And to celebrate I bunked off. Instead Danny goes solo and interviews Mark Stay, screenwriter of UK family film Robot Overlords, and more! Recorded via Skype, so apologies for less than ideal sound. 

Follow Mark on Twitter: @markstay


Sunday, July 05, 2015

Podcast Episode 47: Interview with Roland Moore





This episode we are at the Children's Media Conference (CMC) and meet up with Roland Moore. Roland has written for Rastamouse and Peter Rabbit for children but also created the daytime drama Land Girls. Now he has a feature on the way - "2:hrs" - and we talk to him about writing for different genres and how he developed his career.

More about Roland - http://www.rolandmoore.tv
More about 2:hrs - https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/2-hrs#/story

Sunday, June 07, 2015

4K / UHD Light Leak Pulse - Free download

Here is my latest 4K light leak - available for free download (and also you can watch it it in 4K / UHD on YouTube). Its up for Creative Commons use, details below.

I collect all my light leaks on a special page where there are MORE FREE DOWNLOADS, so bookmark it. This one has rapid light pulses of light, ideal for transitions. They almost have a film burn feel about them and some have a rainbow spill. Check it out yourself and see what I mean...






There's many different pulses in this one download, meaning you can choose different speeds and different looks and aren't going to be repeating the same effect over and over in your timeline.

Download here (174MB) - http://www.mediafire.com/?dzjvnuykmz85s9s

If you are using these clips for a commercial project with a budget then get in touch. I make the leaks free for non-commercial use (short films etc). Creative Commons details on the main page.

If HD leaks are of interest to you (under the same conditions) then I have loads here.

If you want to do me a favour because of all this cool stuff - that would be great too. Cheers. A few suggestions...


If you are super kind and get something out of using these then please donate a small amount via the button below...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Podcast Episode 46; Chris Chibnall






Watch out listeners! Its a super long episode as we finally managed to get hold of UK writing legend Chris Chibnall. Creator and writer of Broadchurch he also was show runner for Torchwood and has written for Doctor Who and Life on Mars. As it is a big lengthy here are some timings if you want to navigate to certain areas...

  • 02:00 - Broadchurch was my first ever spec script 
  • 14:00 - Landing a 4 season TV series early on 
  • 22:00 - My first 'short' and how it happened. Watch it below!
  • 31:00 - Changing fortunes of TV and moving between genres 
  • 43:00 - Life on Mars and Torchwood 
  • 54:00 - Law and Order 
  • 1:01:00 - Broadchurch 
  • 1:11:00 - Broadchurch Series 2 
  • 1:21:00 - Broadchurch Series 3! 
  • 1:23:00 - Structure and craft

MORE PODCASTS:

Or heck - go here to subscribe to ALL podcasts episodes via iTunes










Monday, March 30, 2015

4K free light leak - Light Pulses

Here is my fourth 4K light leak - available for free download (and also you can watch it it in 4K / UHD on YouTube). Its up for Creative Commons use, details below.

I collect all my light leaks on a special page, so bookmark it. This one is a bit different, with fast pulses of light, ideal for transitions. Check it out...






There's many different sweeps in this one download, meaning you can choose different speeds and different looks and aren't going to be repeating the same effect over and over in your timeline.

Download here (129MB) - http://www.mediafire.com/watch/6zd6q8uonyscutj/4K_Light_Pulse.mp4

If you are using these clips for a commercial project with a budget then get in touch. I make the leaks free for non-commercial use (short films etc). Creative Commons details on the main page.

If HD leaks are of interest to you (under the same conditions) then I have loads here.

If you want to do me a favour because of all this cool stuff - that would be great too. Cheers. A few suggestions...


If you are super kind and get something out of using these then please donate a small amount via the button below...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Top 5 things I've discovered about promoting a low budget children's film

The teaser trailer for my forthcoming family feature film, Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg, went live recently. Have a look below. I've made the film alongside my podcast colleague Danny Stack as well as many great acting and crew professionals who happen to live locally. Here's the full IMDB info.



Currently we are deep in post-production. But it is important that the film continues to be seen out there in the big wide world and remains visible. When you have your head down, buried in the edit, it is easy to go silent, to disappear into a black hole. This can be a mistake. In many ways the industry determines a film's value by how many people would want to see it and how easy it will be to convince 'normal punters' to check it out. Being silent about your film could actually lessen its chances of being seen.

Some things we want to achieve when we release things like the teaser are:

  • let film goers know about the film and begin to build an audience
  • keep the film visible and in the mind of the industry so they are considering it and thinking about it
  • experiment a little - try some things out in terms of different ways of explaining the film to see what works and what doesn't


It is going quite well and when we are out and about it seems many people in the children's film and TV world have heard of it somehow. This is great, as this project has grown from a standing start. It is a debut feature, not based on a book and existing property and we are doing in all in a low budget way.

Here's five lessons I've learnt while trying out many different promo ideas. These may work for you too. Of course, the best way to build interest is to make a film that is good and that people want to see. But even then, that actually isn't enough these days.

One: Keep things coming

Keeping a drip feed of info and material has to be the number one recommendation. Some say it should be a regular, fixed time every week. I'm not so sure about that. But definitely having new things appearing on a weekly / fortnightly basis is both a good idea and achievable. That way, if people come back after a month or two they will see lots of new things. This makes the film seem alive and vibrant. It feels like a living entity, not a dull product.

Two: Realise its a long haul

Almost the opposite of above. Not everyone is online all the time. It can be tempting to keep slamming new things up all the time. Make sure that all the avenues of communication (twitter, Facebook etc) are accessible for new visitors. It is easy to forget that for some people you new post will be the first thing they read about your film. Does it make sense for these noobs?

Three: Variety of material

Some people like images, some people like clips, some like behind the scenes info. Keep mixing up the material you are uploading.

Four: Go direct

In the social age it can be easy to think that simply uploading stuff is enough. And sometimes, it can be, but often it isn't. Take your message out there yourself. Send it to Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, SubReddits and so on. And don't forget about forums and other publications. As we have Bonnie Wright in our film (Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter films) we've been in touch with some of the online groups that love those films. They've featured us, helping us reach a new but loyal audience.

Five: REALLY understand your audience and who they are

This can be harder than you think. We took a step back to refocus our online activity this year. Who is our audience? Well the film is aimed at 6-10 year olds. And most of our materials should appeal to this age group. But are we currently aiming our materials at this age group? No, we are not. This age range is a tricky group to reach as they are limited in their online exposure and advertising directly would be costly. In fact, our target audience is the industry - sales people and distributors. We need them to be aware of the film. Now, that may mean a lot of our posts are designed for an age group of 6-10. That is to show how we are reaching out to this group and the film's potential to do so. We don't expect many 6-10 year olds on Facebook (as it is for 13+ officially anyway). In short - we make kids stuff to show to grown ups!

So, what's next:

I'm thinking of mixing things up again and doing a technical behind the scenes piece about the edit workflow! Keep an eye out for it!

Friday, March 06, 2015

Podcast Episode 45: Interview with KAJAKI writer Tom Williams




Its the latest episode of the UK Scriptwriters Podcast - out now!

This episode I speak to Tom Williams, writer of the BAFTA nominated British film, Kajaki. It is a great film, very tight and very tense. Here's the pitch and trailer...

Kajaki Dam 2006. A company of young British soldiers encounter an unexpected, terrifying enemy. A dried-out river bed, and under every step the possibility of an anti-personnel mine. A mine that could cost you your leg - or your life.


I asked Tom about how to adapt a real life story for the screen as well as the pros and cons of working with people from the real event.

Apologies for sound quality - it was recorded via Skype, and I was so worried about getting Tom's levels right, I like mine slide. But I think you'll find it worth struggling through.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Free 4K Sparkle Lightleak / Optical Effect

Here is my third 4K light leak - available for free download (and also you can watch it it in 4K / UHD on YouTube)

This, along with the rest, will all be collected on a special page, so bookmark it. This one is a bit different, with a rainbow diffraction / sparkly feel to it - perhaps like an old 70s optical effect from a movie. Check it out...





You can use it as a background - or more likely, composite over footage. I have seen a few editors combine this with the other leaks to give them an extra special look.

Download here (175MB) - http://mfi.re/watch/9vnxlw575c4w2yj/4K_RainbowSparkle.mp4

If you are using these clips for a commercial project with a budget then get in touch. I make the leaks free for non-commercial use (short films etc). Creative Commons details on the main page.

If HD leaks are of interest to you (under the same conditions) then I have loads here.

If you want to do me a favour because of all this cool stuff - that would be great too. Cheers. A few suggestions...


If you are super kind and get something out of using these then please donate a small amount via the button below...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Podcast Episode 44: The UK Scriptwriters Survival Guide



In this new podcast episode myself and Danny Stack talk about our new book we've just finished writing. It will be out soon and sums up just about EVERYTHING in the podcast SO FAR in many ways. It's basic question is; how can you earn a living as a writer? This book, the UK Scriptwriters Survival Guide, isn't about how to write, its about how to be a writer!

In this episode we discuss our favourite parts of the book and our top advice - as well as how to overcome knock backs to your career - how do you survive and thrive?

More about the book soon, when its released. Podcast listeners will of course get a special price. In the meantime, here's an extract from the introduction, so you know what it is about...
This guide is less about the craft of scriptwriting and more about being a scriptwriter, a working scriptwriter. A writer who earns a crust day-to-day. A writer who pays the rent AND still finds time to work on new ideas, and that next amazing spec script.
We’ve all got books on our shelves already about the craft of being a writer and the different techniques and structures you may use. We don’t cover those.
There’s also looks of books about rare occurrences of someone selling it big. This book is about being part of the hard working majority, not a one-off fluke. If you picked up a book about investing your money, you’d be rightly disappointed if the advice inside was “win the lottery”. There will be no ‘sell a script for a million dollars on your first go’ nonsense here. This book is about long term success through graft.