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Monday, December 19, 2016

SAINT NICKED - the Christmas short film 2016




Every year I make a seasonal short film (see the others here). The challenge remains the same - make a fun little movie as a "Christmas card" using whatever is at hand. It is more original than a card that you will throw away after twelve days - and more fun to make too.

So in this year's film...
A young girl sets out to capture Santa in order to "have a word" about this so-called naughty / nice list! And it was filmed ALL IN ONE TAKE! Crackers!

So how did we pull it off? Well, I know kids are great actors and also are fantastic at learning lines. So I wanted to push that idea to its very limit with a four minute monologue. Myself and fellow Nutmegger Danny Stack went through a few drafts of the script, moving between more sentimental ideas and more crazy slapstick ones, finally ending up in between.

We held auditions, with help of Pete and Nat, and met some awesome young actors. Izzy came out on top in terms of line-learning skills and her ideas for bringing in physical bits of business. Now, where to film it?

Luckily the crazy cats at Treehouse Digital (fresh from their hit kids short film Litterbugs) had a set kicking around in their studio. It needed a little adapting so Tom went off to the park and came back with half a bush we could put up in the set window - a bit of talc later and hey presto - its winter dudes.

Colin from Divercol had his tracking spare and didn't mind pushing a dolly up and down it a few dozen times. So it became clear we could do it all in a single moving take with a bit of practise. Shot on the Ursa mini with a 50mm Xeen lens with Radi operating and doing the lighting and big Chris on focus duties. Mark Wellman on sound who owed us a favour - or we owe him one, or something. First AD Steve was on hand as ever to keep us moving along.

There was a quick grade and music added to finish it off and there we are. We made this. All in 4K wonder - for your new tele! Enjoy! Not bad for a day's work. And remember, we all made it as an excuse to wish you a Merry Christmas.


LINKS TO YE MERRY GENTLEMEN...

Nelson Nutmeg Pictures = http://www.nelsonnutmegpictures.com
Litterbugs short film = http://www.litterbugsthemovie.com
Treehouse Digital = http://www.treehousedigital.com
Divercol = http://www.divercol.co.uk

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Podcast Episode 58: Our Adventures & Mental Health


This episode is in two halves.

In the first half we talk about how we are extending our network, who we are meeting and what preparation we do. A nuts and bolts, down to earth summary of how we are making progress as writers.

In the second half we talk about keeping strong mentally. How do you take knock backs? How can you find support? What happens when you doubt yourself? Danny talks about his own personal situation a few years ago, and how he turned that around.

We mention: 

Writers block - is it real?


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Free light leak - ghostly spooky style

Here is my latest HD light leak. As ever, available for free (and also you can watch it 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 575,000 times! And used in TV shows on NatGeo, Discovery and BBC1. As well as trailers and indie films.

This new one has a ghostly, spooky, misty kind of look. In fact it is different light streaming through ice! And there's two versions in this 1 clip.






If in your edit package you alter the speed or reverse them you can create even more different looks too.

Download here (20MB) - http://www.mediafire.com/download/0qt60iy01pa9363/Ice_2.mov

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 4K 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, September 01, 2016

Podcast Episode 57: Agent, Jean Kitson



Do you need an agent? What do they do anyway? What are YOU supposed to do anyway?
There are a lot of rumours and pieces of 'good advice' around this topic. So here we bypass all that and talk direct to Danny's agent, Jean Kitson from kitsonpress.co.uk. What she is looking for from a writer who approaches her? 

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

4K light leak wipes - free UHD download.

Here is my latest 4K light leak - or actually a set of 6 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 380,000 times! And used in TV shows on NatGeo, Discovery and BBC1. As well as trailers and indie films.

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






If in your edit package you alter the speed or reverse them you can create even more different looks too.

Download here (151MB) - http://www.mediafire.com/download/4uf0vx5yu3du3nm/4K-Light_Streak_Wipe_Warm.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...

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Podcast Episode 56: Indie writing and directing


A lot of scriptwriters move into being a writer-director.

This has it's own challenges when it comes to developing a script. Here we talk to two old friends of ours, Dan Pringle and Suki Singh about the journey with there respective movies.

Dan's is an elevated horror / gory drama called K-Shop - out now on DVD http://amzn.to/2aSpAov and also via Amazon Prime http://amzn.to/2b5h2b1

Suki's is a psychological noir called Emulsion. He has a special edition available direct. http://www.emulsion.tv

I think what I took away from this podcast was the fact that you can still learn so much from other film makers, even if they work in other genres to you.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

4 NETWORKING TIPS - for better conversations.


"I hate networking. I don't know what to do" 
This is a common thing you hear writers say. But actually it's a common thing to hear anyone in business say. I can't tell you, in an online post like this one, what to say. It has to be your words, about you. But I can give you four tips on how to say it and what your approach to people should be like.

1 – Be normal

Take a step back and think: How do I communicate with someone else at a human level, just two professionals discussing a project? Not as a crazed, passionate, self- obsessed writer trying to impose themselves on someone they see as a walking pile of cash! If you are thinking; "how can I get them to do x" then you are already on the wrong path.

2 – Dialogue, not monologue 

Your conversations with anyone in the industry should be just that, conversations. You should be listening as much as you are talking, showing an interest in their projects as well as expounding the benefits of yours.

3 – Talk slower

The ideas you’re outlining are well known to you, so you talk through them fast. This could be coupled with the desire to just get the damn thing said quickly. This is akin to the man who decides to drive home at top speed because his brakes are broken. Slower means you look more confident and you are less likely to trip over your tongue and come across like a gabbling fool. So, yeah, slow it down.

4 – Listen, really listen

Listen to what the other person says. And that means really listen. Not listen out for the things that you want to hear and ignore the rest of it. Listen to tone and watch body language, too.


Note: This is an extract from our book, the UK Scriptwriters Survival Handbook which I co-wrote with Danny Stack. This has been one of the more popular sections, hence why I'm sharing it here. Give it a go!


Sunday, May 01, 2016

Podcast Episode 55: Mustapha Kseibati



We often get asked to feature up and coming writers and film makers in our podcast. Why? Because while it is great to hear from some of the top people in the biz, if you are a beginner to scriptwriting it can seem a million miles away from where you are now.

Mustapha Kseibati is on the way up in his career right now! He's done some top notch shorts (starring Benedit Wong and Kayvan Novak) after starting out in the music video world. It took him years of being runner and edit assistant first. So his route is one of hard graft and taking opportunities when he could - and a few gambles. But he can tell it in his own words.

Here is my own personal favourite of his. A dark comedy short with a touch of Tarantino - http://www.mustaphakseibati.com/painkiller.html

Or indeed you can watch more of his films here - http://www.mustaphakseibati.com

Painkiller short film

Monday, April 11, 2016

Podcast Episode 54: Will Smith



You may see Will Smith's photo and know you've seen him somewhere.

He's acted in the Thick Of It, Paddington and with 'Harry and Paul'. But in this podcast episode we delve, of course, into his career as a writer.

Writing on Time Trumpet, Veep, Omid Djalili as well as for The Thick Of It too. How did he get started? And how did that all lead to his latest project, a non-comedy novel called "Mainlander"?

This episode has a guest interviewer, Jan Caston from Nelson Nutmeg Pictures, as she managed to bump into Will in Jersey and nabbed him!

will smith writer



Sunday, March 27, 2016

How we got our feature on the big screen via 'cinema on demand'

Just to set the scene for new readers. I co-directed and co-produced a micro-budget children's feature film called "Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg?" alongside my colleague Danny Stack (we do a podcast together and have written a book on scriptwriting). The film was made as a home-entertainment release, for a family to watch together or to amuse the kids. Here's the website and the IMDB page.

We made it for very little via a Kickstarter and some small investments, so had modest ambitions for it. But we knew there was a definite gap in the market for live-action kids movies. The figures don't add up to make such a niche movie for a large Hollywood budget, the demand just isn't there. But to make a low budget movie in this genre could offer some good returns.  Plus we love kids' movies, so we went for it.

We cast Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter movies) to give it a bit of class and we got some expert advice from film director Nigel Cole and sitcom writer James Cary. So it all turned out good.

The unexpected part was the world premiere of the film being at the BFI London Film Festival. This went really well, especially for a film edited and graded at home on Premiere. We had never really thought there would be a big screen opportunity. And our conversations with the industry continued to confirm that understanding. People just won't go out to the cinema in large numbers to see a film that they haven't really heard of that is just for kids. BUT, while large numbers may not do it, quite a few will. Not enough for a big release across hundreds of the screens, but still a healthy number.

So we are doing a small release ourselves and via OurScreen. Here's the trailer for it.



So here's how we created our own small release. 

Firstly, Danny emailed all the local independent cinemas in our area. We felt that as the film is all shot in Dorset, we could build on that as a marketing angle, getting on the local BBC radio and local papers. Obviously we did a lot of social media work and also got the film listed on the various "what's on" websites.

So via emailing the independent locally ourselves that got us a screening at Exeter and Poole Lighthouse and hopefully Bridport. These would be a simple profit split basis.

To get into the larger chains is trickier. But OurScreen helped us out on that. They are a 'cinema on demand' outfit. Why is this necessary? Well the reason that cinemas don't want to book smaller films is that they can't be sure there is sufficient demand. They could end up with only a few people in a screen. That screen could be showing a blockbuster instead and be fuller and more profitable. We could personally try and convince the cinemas that we have some demand, but why should they believe us?

This is where OurScreen helps. They provisionally book the screen. Then people provisionally book tickets via OurScreen for the screening. Once a pre-agreed minimum has been booked (usually about 20-30 tickets) then the screening is finalised. The cinema has the proof that demand is there and has some bookings already in place. It's a good system. We have 6 screenings on OurScreen so far, but we could ramp up more depending on how it goes.

A final note about certification. To screen a film in the UK you need a rating (U, PG, 15, 18 etc). The normal way to do this is to get a BBFC certificate. But this costs money - which probably isn't worth the investment for a few screenings. You will need to get a different one for a DVD release anyway. However, you can get one from the local council (of the screening venue) for free or a low cost normally. Every set up is different so its a pain. BUT, if it is only a few councils then its not a major issue. Our release is only in a small patch so we went that route.

So that's how we are doing it. Watch this space for how it goes. So far, the tickets are selling about to plan.

Nelson Nutmeg in cinemas

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Podcast Episode 53: our LIVE podcast



We did a special LIVE version of the podcast on TwitCast and Periscope. This is an archive of that. So when you hear us answering questions, these are comments and notes sent in via that those apps.


It was good fun to do, to have the banter! Let us know if you want more.

FACEBOOK PAGE = https://www.facebook.com/ukscriptwriterspodcast/

TWITTER = https://twitter.com/UKscriptwriters
iTUNES =  itpc://ukscriptwriters.podomatic.com/rss2.xml



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Our first ever... LIVE PODCAST!


LIVE PODCAST INFO:
Date - Monday 29th Feb (TODAY!!!!)
Time - 8PM (UK time / GMT - see below for international times*)
Watch and join in via TwitCastLive (this will be a holding page until its live) - http://twitcasting.tv/ukscriptwriters/
Watch and join in via Periscope - we will put the link up on our twitter when its live.

We thought this discussion could be useful for those starting out, on the way up or stuck in a rut. Between us we have a BAFTA nomination, a few awards and had lots of of stuff on the tele and we made a feature film between us which premiered at the BFI London Film Festival.

You can ask questions and join our debate via either of those, or tweet us at @ukscriptwriters. See you there!

About our podcast in general...

As you probably know, I co-host the UK Scriptwriters Podcast alongside Danny Stack. And have done so for over five years and for over 50 episodes. We talk about all things scriptwriting, but mainly focus on the working and business side, more so than go over script tips or structure, which is already catered for elsewhere. AKA, we talk about how to get paid!

Something we started to do a couple of years ago was to interview writers and other people from the media world - whether they be new or super experienced. How did they start? What's their advice? What's the future hold for them? My personal top five favourites are...
But of course you may get more out of one of the many others. Here's the podcast homepage. And now we've decided to do something else new. A live podcast / vodcast where we will be discussing the life of a working writer, as it is today.



*International times...
  • 8PM UK Time
  • 3PM Eastern USA
  • 2PM Central USA
  • 1PM Mountain Time USA
  • Midday Pacific Time USA
  • 8AM - New Zealand
  • Way too early you POMs, I'll catch it via a podcast download later - Australia



Saturday, January 30, 2016

Podcast shortlisted for the 2016 Blog Awards


Good news - The UK Scriptwriters Podcast has been shortlisted in the Podcast / Vlogger category of the 2016 UK Blog Awards.

Which is really just an excuse to listen to some classic podcasts from the past! You know it.






Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Podcast Episode 52: Tony Jordan



In this special podcast Danny Stack and I talk to UK TV writing legend, Tony Jordan. WATCH OUT FOR THE BAD LANGUAGE if that's not your bag as Tony has some strong views on how TV works or rather doesn't always work!





In the podcast we talk about:

  • Being a writer / producer and taking control of your own career
  • The Red Planet prize and why he continues to support it
  • His writing method - which is unusual!
  • Life on Mars, Dickensian and Moving Wallpaper.
There's still time to enter the Red Planet Prize (just about) here -  http://www.redplanetpictures.co.uk/the-red-planet-prize

Tony also wrote the foreword for our book, which is out now via Amazon.

Any issues - click on the pic below to go to the homepage of the podcast.

Tony Jordan Red Planet

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Podcast Episode 51: From fan to writer, Mad Max:Fury Road



In this special podcast Danny Stack and I talk to one of the co-writers of Mad Max: Fury Road - Brendan McCarthy. Brendan is not your typical writer, which is why what he said totally resonated with me. He is an artist and designer too. He tells stories through pictures - which is what films, especially action films, should be. So I would describe him as a 'visual storytelling' expert and advocate.

*SPOILERS*
Do not listen to this podcast if you have not seen the new Mad Max and you intent to soon. Brendan is open about talking about the whole of the story and the process, including the conclusion and third act. 




Here's the trailer to remind you of the film and its powerful imagery:



In the podcast we talk about:

  • How Brendan moved from being a fan of the early Mad Max films into working on the new one
  • Why Fury Road took 17 years to make
  • What happened when Mel Gibson was no longer attached and how that effects the story
  • The 'weight' that actors bring to the story
  • How working on comics and design fed into films
  • How he doesn't fit into a convenient box meaning some people struggle on how to 'sell him'


And we also talked about the role of women in the film, which has caused some discussion on line. Here's a short featurette that explores that more.




If you want to find out more about Brendan then here's his page - http://artbrendan.com
And here's another interview he did recently, text based!

Any issues - click on the pic below to go to the homepage of the podcast.


Monday, January 04, 2016

4K feature film edit workflow - how to edit 4K in Premiere via proxies

Last year I edited a feature film, all shot on BMPC4K, in ProRes HQ. It's called Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? and you can see more, including the trailer, at www.nelsonnutmeg.com

So with that set, there was a lot of footage to store. Also, to share the workload and speed things up we had 3 editors. This caused a bit of pondering about how to do it. I talk about our solution here...


This is just our method, based on the experiences of other film makers we know. Would be good if people had other methods they think are better! If so, share in the comments!