Tuesday, 30 December 2008

A Little Certain 'Vampire' and 'Book'.

I was going to start by quoting the first line from the song Gravity by Embrace but I've changed my mind. I'll just listen to it instead. However it still applies without the opening word 'honey' of course.

'Vampire' and 'Book' are two short animation scripts that were begun on Dec 2007 and June 2007 respectively, and yesterday were extremely close to being once and for all, finished. The first, I think is as good as it's ever going to be, and the second extremely close and depends on further feedback and time.

What's interesting is that both scripts on every revision and rewrite over the last year were considered final. At the start they both were initially eight pages, which I soon found out was far too long for an animated short. But with some more time away, time to review and feedback from others, another rewrite always came about; improvements were made, precious page time was reduced and the story was tighter. They are both now four pages long, which still may be too long for some shorts but I think is the right length for these stories.

The final polish was unplanned and was a spur of the moment thing while I was about to email them to someone. As I read the attachment labels, I thought 'I'll give them a read to see how they're doing' and then found after one improvement, others came and the email was held up for awhile.

With 'Vampire' it was the vampire himself who's character and development was improved and ultimately, nailed. I never realised before that his actions and reactions weren't in character, they were just typical generic reactions. But now they follow a process of development, which for an animated character may sound strange, but is needed and it works so much better. Before, his first reaction in the script was a big one. And then they were smaller and returned to being big. There was no gradual development into the big reaction and change in the character. So it was nice after all this time to realise that I had been playing some of his reactions the wrong way. They were all there but just not in the right order. The weird thing is it stood out like a sore thumb whereas before it seemed perfect. The vampire feels like a real person now and feels like the icing on the cake.


'Book' had the most dramatic change to it and had almost a page wiped out from it. This was a large portion of the opening; that I knew beforehand and an animator had said to me, was a weak area and if it didn't contribute to the overall story, then it should go. But i just couldn't bare to lose it as I loved it too much. It did add to the story as it added to the persona of the mysterious owner of the house/estate, but it was more small jokes/set ups, that really didn't advance things to much, they just made the reveal more fancy and developed. But it survived intact without those. And so I killed that little gem opening page and reworked the essential scene from all that, that leads into the predicament of the story.

It's strange that a four page animation, admittedly casually, has taken a year to get to a comfortable point of completion. The last rewrites six months ago, for me were complete and done, and i was happy. But this time 'Vampire' in particular feels like it has reached its peak destination and I couldn't be happier.

I noted in an earlier post, that a lecturer, Jan Weddup suggested before that I should offer to write for the BU animators. He gave me the nudge to start thinking in terms of short animations for possible producing. It took six months for it to work its way to action, but ended up kicking off an exciting and unexplored territory, that at first, I didn't think existed in my capacity and I wasn't worthy to tread.

The main thing I've learnt on writing animations; is the importance of screen time and detail, and the extreme compression of the two in order to deliver a satisfying pace and enriched story. That has certainly informed my writing in general as well as that learnt on character and other areas.

It's something I recommend that everyone should try because, if nothing else, it's great fun and a great way to escape.

Cheers Jan for the nudge.

Friday, 19 December 2008

ZZZZZ - The World Of Deep Sleep.

Over the last month I’ve been working with a third year Interactive Media Production student on his major project; an 'interactive first-person game narrative website'. The story is that Colour has been stolen from Deep Sleep and your goal is to return it to its former glory through varied game play and narrative sections.

The collaboration came about through an email sent out to the scriptwriters 'looking for a scriptwriter to write the scripts to an already set story'. So I initially thought that it would be a) a quick job b) a challenge for myself to distill his vision into script form and c) I would be helping this guy out. Plus d) since the summer project in the first year, I wanted to be involved on another interactive website. So I replied and heard back from him pretty soon.

The initial meeting went well and I heard the concept for the website and was intrigued and interested. The great thing was that it was a leftfield concept that I’d like to create and would want to play. From our chat I realised that the overall story was there but in step-by-step script/story detail it wasn’t as set as I thought. And so I discovered that there was room for my own ideas to feature within the project at various sections and he was happy to give me the freedom to carry that out. I was really happy because I got to be creative not only on a narrative level but on a gameplay level also. So it was the best outcome for me.

He’d had a few replies from second year scriptwriters but I was the only third year that replied to him. And upon that basis I was offered the task of writing the scripts for the project, which I happily accepted. The others though were held as standbys in case I wasn’t available to complete all the sections.

An appropriate note; would be that after the meeting I was elated on a creative level but also extremely worried because I’d never written an interactive first person game script before. I was worried that my work would fall short and I‘d let him down. But I approached it on the basis that I’m only going to write what I would enjoy playing and as my expectations are sky high, I knew that on some level I would achieve my objective.

The next meeting we spoke about one of the in-game rooms and the first script I would write. The story for the room had a character who was an obstacle and gave you riddles, in which you had to answer to receive a key. There was no specifics on the room, or the character but a generic type or anything that existed in the room that had to feature. It was just those three specific things; a character, riddles and a key. So I was able to come up with the story, dialogue, enhanced character and scenario that complimented the world of Deep Sleep; and plotting and direction that enhanced the experience from a first person point of view.

Something that's worth noting is that before when working on something that I'm unsure with or ideas in general, I would be too scared to show them to anybody in fear of embarrassment or rejection. But as I've now built up good working relationships with two scriptwriting colleagues and trust their judgement, it has given me the confidence to show them work (and now others) without much fear but the desire to find the missing elements to make it work. And I somewhat anxiously showed this 'room script' to a close colleague and he approved and said he liked it, which helped to ease my insecurities with it. Over the last six months sharing ideas and scripts has become second nature and my view is simply; 'you win some, you lose some' and try not to take any feedback, however harsh and founded to heart and take everything into consideration to make it better.

Upon meeting for the reviewing of the script I was still a little nervous and anxious that it wouldn’t be good enough and I‘d have to change parts. But I was completely ecstatic and happy with the script from my point of view as a player. But my nerves were short lived as he loved the script and said it was perfect. He said it was exactly what he wanted. He said 'he wanted it to carry a story within the room' and so was really pleased with it.

I was extremely happy and looking forward to writing the next room, which had the same three obstacle/goal elements as the previous; a) three characters, b) puzzles and c) collect a parchment. And it was up to me to create the story scenario, dialogue and interaction within the room and narrative. The review meeting for this script was a good one also as he was happy with it which was reassuring as I wasn’t a hundred percent happy with it, unlike the previous. I was about ninety percent happy with it. He shared the same reservations about the gameplay and wasn’t satisfied that the puzzles and lead into them was the best it could be. But he said as that was his area he would figure that out.

Recently I’ve completed an intro to the first chapter and an outro, which consist of meeting a character and receiving your task; and returning to the character to return what he asked you to get. They total two pages in length and follow the premise and conclusion of the story for that chapter. He was really happy with those and didn’t need any changes to be made.

I’ve also completed the third room script for the first chapter of which the previous two room scripts are a part of. The room was more involved on the gameplay and less on dialogue and character action, and so was the shorter and less free creatively than the other two. But enjoyable nonetheless. Again, he was happy with the script apart from one line of dialogue which needs to be changed.

At the moment Chapter Two requires a few small video and dialogue sections to be written. The entire chapter is based around a specific interactive format with set stories and so only requires character dialogue. I hope to have that completed within a day or two. Then work on Chapter Three will begin. I have a rough idea of what’s required but I‘m awaiting the overview. There is a fourth and final conclusive chapter of which I have no info about as I don‘t think it‘s been decided yet. So I don’t know what to expect there. But it must include a closing video to round up the main characters story and the experience.

Overall things are going well with this although time is pressing as the shoot is schedule for the 5th of Jan. But looking back I did hesitate about this advertisement and job because I had no experience or confidence in carrying it out effectively. But somehow, I just thought that it can't hurt to see what it's all about and so 'nothing ventured nothing gained.'

An important note and testament is that as much as I like the scripts I wrote (with room one being my favourite) I’m not possessive of them. I’m happy if anything is changed because I’ve done my part and I respect that it‘s somebody else‘s project and that I was just there to help provide the best scripts I could.

Overall, the project has been a really challenging and highly rewarding experience, even at the half-way stage. It’s been a nice experience and I hope that ZZZZZ can be realised to its full potential.

And I can’t wait to play it.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Synecdoche, New York

By Charlie Kaufman.

It's the first Kaufman screenplay I've read and I'm in complete awe and respect of the man. I was already aware of his reputation and unique way of story telling so I knew what I had let myself in for. But I was pleasently surprised and pleasently not confused. The verdict is: 'Wow.' I really loved this and wish I could go back and read it again for the first time.

It's an epic at 157 pages long and spans at least tweny years in the life of Caden Cotard as he attempts to put together his next play (which calls for a large set of New York City) and his relationships with a number of women.

The script went by in what seemed like two seconds and I loved both of them. As a whole it reminded me of the play 'Death of a Salesman' and I've found myself adopting the same fondness for it. Caden, the main character is the embodiment of Willie Lowman and his quest for self-fullfilment and happiness. The story offers a sad and moving view on aging and the desperate quest for love and finding a home for oneself. We move through life at such a pace making brief connections with people and by the time you realise what or who you want; your whole life has passed you by.

The screenplay is incredible in every way and portrays realistic characters who jump off the page and come to life. The story carries a great blend of black humour and drama and one that carries tragic undertones. It was a truly unique experience and really inspiring. Its made a big impact on me and I'm sure like 'Death of a Salesman' it will follow me around for the rest of my life.

Charlie Kaufman is also directing the film, which will be his first. So I'm confident that the film will do justice to the version in my head.

I just can't wait to see it.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Lars And The Real Girl

By Nancy Oliver.

Every time I read a professional screenplay more than often I'm amazed and naturally inspired. But in the case of Lars And The Real Girl, the word is: 'Stunned.'

I've never read a more tragic, moving, funny and original screenplay in my life, and I can't imagine one ever coming close.

I don't think I could distil its essence or summarise its greatness in anyway, so I won't try to. But what I love about it, is - its simplicity and subtlety.

It's such a welcome to have a screenplay that when it begins, doesn't reply on masses of dialogue, description or action, and doesn't try to go out of its way to hit you in the face and hook you in with natural and obvious 'set ups' of characters and events.

The genius of the opening of Lars is in its subtlety and intrigue. Mystery may be more appropriate. It kept you wanting to know more about the main character and his situation, and ultimately, what the story is all about. It was nice that it isn't heavy on dialogue either (or action for that matter) and is the better for it. The characters were vivid and believable and you really felt like you were in the story with them. It's hard to explain its greatness, but moving on...

The story is potentially kind of strange but like the characters in the story they play along with the situation, ultimately to help Lars and in return we as the reader also take on that responsibility by reading on.

There are good people out there...

...and we're reminded of that. It's really nice to see and on however we viewed the story, we are potentially, a good person and we're reminded of that too.

I don't know anything about the author, Nancy Oliver at the moment, or if this is her first screenplay or not. At a guess i'd say it is. But only because the screenplay appears to have been written on a typewriter (or some free script-ware) and strays a little from the conventional professional screenplay format. But somehow it works to its advantage and adds to its charm, which I think is remarkable.

The opening section is one of the most amazing I've read and partly because of the moment the author chose to enter on in the story. We weren't given the 'usual' and 'obvious' characters that were simply set up as their function in the story and a major 'event' or 'indication' to the story. It felt like we were mid-way into something and therefore were a little out of sync. This made it all the more realistic and intriging because you want to catch up and know what's going on. But once you get the smallest indication or info on the situation and Lars, you just know that 'this is it.' There's no putting this thing down and it's going to be unlike a journey you've ever had. And by the end, you won't be the same person as when you first picked up the screenplay.

That's how it felt to me, anyway. And you can't ask for a better experience than that.

A few comments on format: (And note: I'm not mocking it.)

In some instances, the rule 'show don't tell' - was broken quite a few times. But it actually read better and I can't imagine the screenplay without them now. The experience just wouldn't be the same.

I won't ruin any of the story, but some of my favoures of format simplicity and potential errors, are: in the opening when establishing a house and a garage. The house or garage wasn't described at all and the word 'Establishing' was in place of the description, on both consecutive occasions. At first I thought, 'What? Can you do that?' I guess it wasn't a specific type of house or anything. Just what you saw.

Not knowing Lars' age first of when he's introduced was an unconventional moment and for me, I became a little frustrated because I wanted to be able to visualise him. I had a rough idea of his age and it soon became apparent. But while I was wondering and partly frustrated at not knowing his age- I was still reading on and was even more intrigued. Then when I got it I was thankful, which was a nice device, if intended.

Another format favourite is later on with another slug line of a house later and in the description one word sat in front of a line of white space: 'Rain.'

But I've got nothing bad to say about this screenplay and I'm in complete awe and admiration for its writer. I can't wait to read the follow-up and hope that it's as every bit as different and incredible as Lars And The Real Girl.

But first things first: I have to see the film!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Life After Requiem.

Its been a few weeks now since I sent Requiem off to the Emmy script competition... and I did accidentally but completely compulsively read my script back... and I found a few typos, a word missing from the dialogue, and an extra word in an action line. Yeah rather annoying as I was really pleased with it and syked up about sending it in. Plus i put the date on the front cover, which i recently found out you're not supposed to do.

So, ok.

I also know that Requiem may not be completely what they're looking for. But like it was for the assignment, it was a complete gamble and looking back, with some shocking errors in that version, I still received a very good grade. So I'm not taking the competition to to heart. Not anymore.

But overall, it just makes me want to do better and be as close to perfect next time. So I'm not bothered about it all now, not even dreaming on the off chance they'll overlook the mistakes. But the most important thing is that i've got my script to the best point possible at the moment, and so the future is with the script and not the competition.

Although that's not completely true... the statement is right but not together. The script is the future but the competition with a different script, is also the future.

As I'm already thinking to next year's entry and writing a script that's more catered to their criteria and centred around what they're looking for and what I think would impress them. And I didn't have to look far, as its a script I already have planned out.

Its a story I came up with after ditching Requiem last August. I worked on a new one hour drama for a month and managed to write a scene breakdown. It actually topped Requiem in terms of character drama and tragic circumstance. The Requiem at the time that is - but even now it still has the potential to rocket past it. But the main thing is that it's more commercial and I'm sure what the Emmy panel are looking for and will be impressed by. But the story also goes beyond that and hopefully will deliver more than expected. I think it may just be the perfect formula, it may be the wrong way to think about it but its certainly a great contender for next year.

So other than my university assignments and developing two awesome tv shows, that will be the main script i'll be working on. It doesn't actually give me much time but i'm going to give it some time this summer and see how far I get with it. There's also about a month or so before I finish university next year and the competition deadline. So that time may prove very useful.

'You have to believe that life is more than the sum of its parts kiddo.'

-The Untited States Of Leland

Friday, 25 July 2008

That Novice Feeling...

If it’s true that it takes an average ten years to carve out a career in screenwriting then next June when I graduate from university, will officially mark the beginning of year one.

A scary! and exciting thought!

I think I’m going go and lie down for a bit...

(cue tumble weed)

Time passing...

Ok I’m back.

Hopefully the following are some familiar feelings with some of you and are just a part of developing and things I’ll grow out of:

‘Time is running out.’

‘I’m taking on too much and looking for that overnight success.’

‘I’m trying too hard to succeed and then being disheartened even though my goals were unrealistic in the first place.’

‘I’m constantly worried that a similar idea will be released and kill my babies. So everything needs to be written straight away!’

‘I pile on loads of unnecessary pressure and as a result question my ability and staying power.’

‘I constantly put myself down by others apparent confidence because of my lack of.’

What I should be thinking is:

‘I’m not superman and need to relax!! It’s for the long term and so enjoy it.’

‘I need to do more writing than worrying.’

‘Being negative will get me nowhere.’

I’m hungry for this and often worry I won’t be tough enough in the long run. So I feel like if it doesn’t happen soon then it won’t happen. So I’m trying to do everything.

Being at university adds to that pressure and the desire is transformed into a sudden need to succeed and quick!! The course from the outside is seen as a quick way into the industry and being a great writer. But for most they’re forgetting the all important journey of learning and how high those expectations of you really are. And for me being around that denial and negative attitude slowly had me thinking the same thing and not truly understanding how hard it really is to succeed and how good you really have to be.

I just need to chill out about it all and find some solid ground to sit down on and build those steps one by one.

Oh that novice feeling…

Knowing when to stop talking :) and saying goodbye to that quick solution and secret door in. Amongst other things...

It’s going to be a long ride and I’m in.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Requiem. The Sir Peter Ustinov Rewrite.

I've just finished a very successful rewrite of Requiem and I'm buzzing a little bit. I received a disappointing 65% for the assignment a few days ago and despite not having my feedback i embarked on a rewrite. I knew why i received a lower than expected grade and what needed to be improved so I wasn't going into it blindly. The reason for the rewrite was to enter it into this year's Emmy script competition. The Peter Ustinov Award to be precised.

The deadline was yesterday and I only knew my mark four days ago. So the pressure was on and without a doubt it helped.

The entire rewriting process was incredible and especially for a script that I thought was near-enough locked down. I was surprised that it wasn't as tight and finalised as I thought. So it was a pleasure to be able to not only fully realise my vision to the page but to even go beyond that. Links and opportunities that I never considered before came out of nowhere. Clarity of action and descriptions improved four-fold. The most heartbreaking but subsequently rewarding part was in getting scenes to flow page by page and that's getting them to end at the end of a page or half-way through and not have little bits hanging over. A few scenes were extended due to this and ended up becoming real gems and adding to the overall script in ways that I couldn't have imagined. It's incredible. I can't wait for future rewrites if this is anything to go by.

The Emmy Competition;

I'm not completely sure if Requiem is suitable enough for the 'family audience' criteria or even what they're looking for. It's no run-of-the-mill script and I've even surprised myself with it so I'm not entering it half-heartily. At first I was excited at the script being entered and still am. But I thought the odds are stacked against me so I shouldn't get my hopes up. But the most important thing is that no matter what I'm proud as hell of my script and I'm looking forward to other people reading it and telling me what they thought and how the experience was for them.

'It's these scripts, characters and stories that give life to us...not the other way around.'

- Robert Yates (Giving Life. Post)

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

I'm Writing A Play.

What the hell?

About a month back I came up with this modern day fairy tale which in an insane world somehow hasn't been done before. It has to exist and I'm sure it does (although I hope it doesn't) but I've never seen anything like it. So I'm going to write it.

The idea at the time was seen as either a one-off television drama; reality-based with this magical element or an illustrated children's book, which would be perfect also. But after speaking to a colleague he helped to reinforce the story's themes and essence and we came to the conclusion that a play would be the best and most suitable way to tell the story.

I've never written a play before and have read only a few (Death of a Salesman, This Is Our Youth, Hedda Gabler and The Importance Of Being Ernest) and have always thought 'it would be cool to write one someday' but without really wanting to or being able to.

For a long time my passion for film was insanely high and so interest or ambition in anything else never stood a chance. But over the last few years I've begun to branch out into territories I never thought I'd be equally interested in or even have anything original or appropriate for. Like television, which is now my main market; then short animations; comics and children's books, which like plays are in the background and are just waiting for their big bang.

I think what also has to do with branching out is down to me being realistic with my film ambitions as the television market is much larger in terms of opportunity and likelihood than UK film. And I know I can forget TV and film in America. However, anything is possible. But first thing's first.

The play. Not literally. It's on the board and will developed as usual. But I don't want to rush it as there's no need.

My ambition for this is to send it to local theatre groups to get some professional feedback and hopefully interest. I will also send it to John Foster, a lecturer at university who has relevant skill and experience in the area. There's also a colleague on my year who has an interest and background in plays and theatre.

All I need to do now is to just keep making progress with it and hopefully it's the start of something good.

Monday, 7 July 2008


I always feel weird when doing these blog entries because with some posts I feel that no one really cares what I'm doing or what it may seem like I'm bragging about. But I figure blogs are an online diary so it's more like talking to yourself than anyone specific or wanting attention or gratification. So for any readers keep the latter point in mind.

For instance, If I say a recent idea I have is incredible, unique, genius or the best thing since a knife that toasts as it slices (which I'll invent one day), its being said to myself. Its thinking and reflecting out loud so its always going to sound different to other people.

You've probably guessed by now that I have a complex with being misunderstood or misinterpreted - hence the disclaimer. So excuse the post. Although I'm sure no ones reading my blog as its a little remote so it does render this post useless. And yes there's another complex there.


Sunday, 29 June 2008

Writing Short Animations. Pt3.

It's strange looking back to before starting on these because at the time my attitude was 'it's never gonna happen' and 'I'm never gonna think of any good ideas lets alone write them.' But I feel like the creative door is most definitely open and I'm constantly thinking and seeing things in terms of animations and possibilities in everything. It's surreal because it feels natural and like its always been that way.

George Mcfly said it right: 'If you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything.'

Where I'm at now is in rewrites of Book, Salesman, Vampire and Deadline. The two with the most potential and are in the best shape at the moment are Book and Vampire. Book's potential is with a company like Ardman who are a little leftfield and would appreciate the story's twisted irony. Vampire has big potential within a short or feature animation with a company who produce Pixar/Blue Sky-esque animations.

An animation lecturer at the university read Vampire and recommended it as a good and achievable short for the first year animators. I was surprised with his response and will definitely follow it up. That would be the internal monologue version as I think characters talking/lip syncing would be too advanced at that stage. Plus I've yet to replace the internal monologue with real time dialogue. So that's something to aim and look forward to.

Otherwise, the future is in getting those current four scripts written to their best and developing the new batch. Not to mention thinking more in terms of smaller and simpler situations for future ideas.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Back Home. The Summer. Pt.1

I've been home for two weeks now and things aren't progressing as well as I thought they would. I have lots to do and can't wait to do it all. But i'm in a weird limbo due to still not having the full six weeks for the placement.

Plus we still don't have our last assignment results and I'm waiting for four assignment marks. Two, I know are going to be pretty low (worringly low), which are essays and the the other two I think will be high, which are my one hour drama and professional studies. The one hour drama mark is the only one really i'm waiting for. It's the best script i've written and whatever the mark is destined to have a big impact.

I'm still applying to companies for placements. It's insane how many companies there actually are especially the smaller and obscure ones that you can only find on certain searches. Some of them are very impressive for their quality and output and some of them are about thirty-minutes from where i live. Most of them are factual production companies but work experience is work experience and i'd be happy to work there. So fingers are crossed for one of those.

I have about ten different covering letters which include general, script reading, runner, animation studios, factual and company specific ones and i'm beginning to lose track of them. It's also annoying how every time after I send a CV and Covering Letter out I get an idea on how to improve it.

I also need to sort out some system of getting a hold on motivation and getting things done throughout the summer and to regular deadlines. The plan, workwise for the summer is to make progress with the third year work. But mainly completing WWII Drama and Dark Comedy treatments. Continuing with the production log for WWII Drama plus research for it going to the location and all that. I aim to have a good draft of Steph's minor project also. Plus other scripts and animations that were started awhile ago.

I think the main thing is to try and not to do too much like last summer. I planned to do a whole lot at the beginning and it all seemed like it was going to happen. But like i mentioned before; mood, lack of motivation and external factors got in the way. Although, a nice pilot script was written so some good did come out of it. But hopefully this summer i can keep the momentum and confidence going through to the new term so I can get everything done.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

The Looking Glass.

At some point in the first year, I realised I needed to let go of those big dreams of feature films and Hollywood and be realistic. So they went. Even television is ridiculously difficult to break into and has a lot more to do with luck than talent. It's a much closer dreamland and more possible than film. But something that concerns me is that i don't know if i'm being realistic enough. After all, part of being a writer is being a dreamer.

Through this year I've tried to be as realistic as possible and by the last term felt like my feet where on the ground. But even now i don't think they really are. Clearly it helps to have that dream horizon in your minds eye but how much is it really clouding my vision? That's what worries me. It is a extremely competitive industry and is 'survival of the fittest.' I'm not optimistic by nature, so this is a new thing for me and I know adapting isn't going to be easy.

I see two areas where my near future lies within television; realistically and where I want to be. They are still a giant leap to a very, very far away place but it does help to look at it in a different way and by breaking it down into achievable steps. The best thing I can do now and aim for, is the next step from my current position.

The two areas of interest and where my near future (and hopefully future will contain) lies in: (order)

Television; soaps, one-off dramas, high-concept genre series, and Animation; shorts and serial.

The second is more competitive and difficult to get into. Its a very specific market and therefore is more closed off to newcomers. So that will naturally take a backseat.

The third interest, independent UK feature films is a much larger step and one that will be more achievable after being established in the industry and supporting various credits and contacts.

The mode of approach is to target the main area; television and the sub-areas (companies/genres) within that:


1. Find out who is producing what, what have they done, companies and producers attitudes and ethics, how they commission projects, what they're looking to make, who has the power, who to approach etc.

2. Find out the history/conventions of your chosen subjects/genre and know them inside out.

3. Find potential ways into the market i.e Graduate schemes, BBC Talent and C4 Talent etc. Shows open to submissions i.e Doctors. Voluntary/low paid work i.e. runner.

4. Keep writing and regularly as possible (with strict personal deadlines).

5. Keep watching television - analyze shows and past/current trends. Looking for and spotting an unexplored niche or new way of doing something.

5. Enter scriptwriting competitions and gain recognition for your writing.

6. Keep in touch with television student contacts and offer your services for any potential short student films they may make.

It does seems simple and straightforward when spelt out. But at times it'll be akin to hell i'm sure and that's when the so-called virtues will come into play.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Placement. Update.

There's still no word on the placements from Goodfilms or Carnival Figures. I've rang them and left messages. Alex at Carnival Figures has said he will get back to me but is still really busy.

I asked our a contact our group used for professional studies about possible script reading work experience and he said he'd get back to me, which his cool.

And another hope.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Non-Linear Narratives Essay. A Postscript.

This essay was different to my previous ones as I took the proper approach and started reading and gathering quotes before starting the essay, instead looking for quotes to fit what I‘ve written.

Another good thing, is that whilst researching I think I’ve found my dissertation topic and question, which is really cool. I did far more reading than I‘ve done before, which is an improvement from last year. I also gathered more quotes than needed for the actual essay, which will form as material for my the dissertation. I gathered thirty pages of quotes and used about two for my essay, which I'm really pleased with.

But now I'm thinking maybe it wasn't such a great idea as the main problem with the essay, was that I didn’t actually start it until close to the deadline. So there wasn’t any time for revisions and I'm sure it will affect my mark. It's a shame because I put so much into the research and gathered great material for a well structured argument.

But part of the skill of writing essays is finding that balance between research and writing. So that's something I need to work on in the future.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

The Post-Uni Book?

This may just be another dream or something that I've yet to realise isn't a good idea or won't work. But at the moment, I'm liking it.

I have this concept idea for a humorous self-help book, which could potentially lead into a tangent series. I've checked the market and it hasn't already been done, which is a good sign and encouraging. I've yet to check what's on the way in terms of the genre, if there's a way to do that.

I hope to start writing and researching as soon as possible and keep it in the background like a diary. So hopefully when I finish university, I'll have enough to sort out the beginnings of and put together some kind of book.

Its catered for a specific type of reader and most definitely not for all. A sense of humour would help but a slanted one would be even better. I'm not even sure what a slanted sense of humour means!! Just not your cliched generic type. Its a 'glass is half-empty, laugh-at-ourselves-at-an-attempt-to-make-it-half-full' kind of book.

Its pretty exciting because its something I never thought i'd be interested in doing and I think its a great opportunity. But to be truthful, it's going to take awhile to pluck up the courage to actually tell anyone about it. :)

So in the meantime, I'll keep praying that my sense of humour isn't so unique that its truly one-of-a-kind.

I know someone up there is watching me. I just hope its the big man and not paranoia.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Professional Studies. Presentation.

The presentation went really well, apart from the clips not loading. But everyone did a good job and I think we set a good marker being the first.

The real achievement, for me, like in the summer project last year, was managing to overcome my nerves and insecurities to put forward a 'hypothetical pitch,' which was chosen. And also, like in the Mulholland Drive presentation months before, to not pass out during the presentation and effectively communicate material to the class.

I don’t know how I presented the pitch in the presentation, but somehow I did and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. I'm beginning to learn that the fear of something is far greater than actually doing it. Part of the reason was also because I believed it was a good series and wanted people to hear it. So that took some of the worry away, which helped. I also rehearsed the speech quite a bit, unlike the Mulholland Drive presentation, which went well, but I was writing it up until the actual presentation. I’m really impressed with the other guys who did a great job on the day.

However, working in a group; I’d be the first to say that 'tolerance' is one of the greatest under-practiced words in human history. But there is a line to be drawn. Sometimes you do have to be cruel to be kind and even when working with friends. Normally I’d be happy to just stay quiet and get along to please everyone. But I’ve grown tired of doing that. But even though i was working with friends it still seemed to come easier than I thought. Things were going really well and one member was negative about it all and inadvertly insulting our work. So I spoke out about it and made it clear its the wrong attitude and its getting to me. In the end it didn’t have much of an effect but at least I spoke my mind, so it’s a start.

Nevertheless, everything came together in the end and, overall it was a great experience.

Thank You Douglas Adams.

First and foremost.

For the best piece of advice in history.

'Don't panic.'

In the six days before the deadline (two prep and four writing) I managed to write my episode drama and recieved a grade first for it. Instinctively, I knew it was the best script I'd written so it's nice to have that pay off. I had been thinking about it for about a week before starting and just let the script naturally form in my head. But the main thing was although i was running out of time, I didn't actually want to rush it. It came in its own way, as I believe it was meant to.

However, a brief note:

The reason the script was started that close to the hand in was due to problems with writing my original episode. But through advice, the way forward was to make a decision and that decision turned out to be to scrap the current script. It wasn't a case of it being left to the last minute. The original episode was in fact my personal favourite, and was overloaded with serial elements; some contradictory, which got in the way and I was trying so hard to make it all work.

Part of the 'Don't Panic' mantra was also down to trusting and having confidence in myself, which at the time I knew I was putting to the test. It was very close and could have gone horribly wrong. I had told myself from the start that 'I am going to write the best episode possible.' And I loved the characters and grew to love free-running as our sport, so that helped.

One of the strong points of the script and my favourite was in subverting the Jackson character, who from the series bible was penned as an antagonist (in the pilot) and formed as a negative journalist. Instead of him being the typical bad guy of the episode he begins as a good guy and is torn between work and his family. But he ultimately compromises due to being faced with losing both.

The inspiration for his character/story to feature as the joint main story came after watching Zodiac - and i got pretty obsessed with wanting to tell a story from a journalists point of view. So when the chance came up I knew I wasn't going to play it straight or in a cliched way. It was going to be an original and moving exploration of what made this guy eventually turn into a bad guy. Ultimately, it was the love and obligation he had for his family - and as the marking lecturer stated in her analysis - 'It confronted us with the complexities of his situation and human nature; life is not straightforward, black and white.' Which was a nice way to put it.

It was the greatest experience and most fun i've had writing a script and it came with the greatest reward. I couldn't ask for more than that. One of the most amazing things was that the characters pretty much wrote themselves, which is a testament to our group who collectively created them.

I think when you miss characters who feel like real people and a world that you felt apart of - it tells you individually and as a group that you did a good job.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Collaborating With Scriptwriters.

There was a time when I was all for collaborating (outside uni work) with other writers and it was something that I was extremely interested in and couldn't wait to do.

In the end I did get my chance and at the time it went really well and was the greatest thing. But without sounding cruel, the problem wasn't the story or its execution, it was actually really good and had a lot of potential, but the mistake was jumping into a partnership with someone I didn't really know. I don't say that in a regretful or backstabbing way; I mean generally we didn't actually know each other, and due to that a few months later the project pretty much collapsed without really knowing why it did.

In a collaboration you look for that quick story; you feed off each other and things get moving pretty quickly, and the work is essentially divided. However, both feel like they're not providing enough and are holding all the worry, which is probably where many partnerships breakdown due to a lack of communication. And to be honest, I had actually provided little early on, to the concept and characters, and didn't feel too great about it - and often thought if I was actually needed. And so I wanted to make up for it and in the end I think I did. It worked for me as I felt as I had contributed enough but overall it didn't do things any good.

I learnt a great deal overall on the project and actually learnt more about writing than in my whole first year at university (aided with Genesis; the Heroes pilot script), so i have no regrets at all about it. Its just the way it goes sometimes.

So I guess, the best advice when looking or embarking on co-writing something, is to know the person beforehand, know where you and the project stand, maybe even state it outright and agree on working terms, if all should go well.

Also, pick something that has the potential to be sold in this country within a targeted area, unless you're happy with writing for fun and just further experience at writing.

For now, I'm dubious about working with other people and won't rush into anything without further consideration. But as a writer, I think I should first develop my own skills, work ethics and portfolio and just see what comes along.

The best things are the unexpected, so who knows.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Placement. Update.

I’ve done the dreaded deed of ringing up the companies and the list has now shrunk to two companies; Goodfilms and Carnival Figures. Alex Dawson at Carnival Figures said he’d read my script and get back to me. Goodfilms who I’m hoping for a runner position said they’d get back to me.

It’s progress.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Placement. Too Little Too Late?

I put aside today to get started on finding a placement. I just hope its not too late. I’ve been looking for companies specifically in London and who are from three different potential backgrounds and what I’d like to do.

I created three different CV’s to cover the different specialist areas; general, animation and script reading. I’ve emailed them with cover letters and relevant sample work. I plan to follow up with the dreaded phone calls in about a week‘s time.

The list are;

Avalon Television, Runner/Assistant/Technical
Avalon Motion Picture, Runner/Assistant/Technical
Blake Friedman, Assistant/Reports
Carnival Figures, Animation Studios
Contender Entertainment Group, Assistant
Goodfilms, Runner/Technical
Linda Selfert Management, Script Reading/Assistant
London Script Consultancy, Script Reading
Pinewood Studios, Runner
The Script Factory, Script Reading
Universal Pictures, Runner
Weeble Films, Runner/Technical

In hindsight, I wished I’d done this a lot earlier. It’s cutting it too fine but things happen the way they do and nothing can be done about it. So hopefully having partially left it this late something good will come out of it.

I hope.

Monday, 5 May 2008

The First And Last Priority.

We had a workshop today for our one hour dramas. In my case Requiem. I planned not to bring anything in because I didn’t have any completed pages. But I desperately wanted to so I worked all night till about two in the morning to fill in the holes in the first fifteen pages. (I always leave interior descriptions till last because I think it’s best to put your energy into the actual scenes; action and dialogue instead of wasting it on describing rooms.) The first five pages were read out and I received two major suggestions that has helped to change the course and overall quality of Requiem, which I’m really pleased about. This just makes me want to present stuff to people more often because sometimes there will be some good feedback and in this case its ripple effect has made Requiem a much more credible and together story.

The story of Requiem and it’s main storylines have been set for a long time as I’ve stated before. And at first with the comments I did think that two major flaws have been uncovered and now the script’s ruined. There was a little panic for about an hour or so. But I just found a way to adapt what was said and let my protective guard down and compromise. I did happen to lose a lot of my favourite things from the new changes. I know it’s ‘the way of a script’ but I had already lost a lot of what I thought were my ‘favourite’ things in order to improve the script. But for a moment I thought these current favourite things were the foundations of the script. They were and they weren’t. It’s just that I didn’t have the right balance of things and looking back it doesn‘t work. So I adapted and worked the feedback into the script to create a much better introduction/brief glimpse into the main character’s life/mind and overall creditability to the story.

One of the comments was with Logan being an artist. He plays piano also and is gifted at that. But the suggestion was that being a gifted pianist instead of a painter has more credibility; pressure-wise within the family and society. It also creates an interesting mix with his painting as it shows his inner feelings and piano his outer so-called ‘act’ persona.

But the main thing I learnt was about getting too personal and allowing it hold a script back. From the beginning, I always knew that this script was different and I was prepared to be a little stubborn in some cases to keep certain things in and as a result receive a lower mark. But that’s all now changed of course. It’s the first time I’ve had that kind of attitude with a script as this story was different (personally) but its now become the last. I'm glad I realized it in time and a few alterations were made, which overall made the script a lot better. Less is always more and everything doesn't always need spelling out; that's what subtext is for.

The story and characters are always first. Not me.

‘The happy people are failures because they are on such good terms with themselves they don’t give a damn.’

-Agatha Christie

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Espresso. Update.

I pitched the idea with a treatment. She said she liked some bits and wasn't so keen on others - which was in fact more than i had hoped for. I i sent it on the off chance she'd have time to read it and maybe like it or for it to spark off a separate idea.

So the story, has one major element missing now, which in fact is all the better for it and i'm glad she was honest about what she didn't like. I was also upfront about her honesty and made it clear i wouldn't take it personally. I just said 'I want you to pick out what you like and then we can adapt it to what you want.' After all, it is her film and ultimately i'm just working towards helping her to achieve it and in the best possible way.

What's gone is the 'case of mistaken identity' part, which is more suitable for a longer film. Its more simpler now and works a lot better for this type of story and its length.

Originally, I liked the idea of it being filmed in the French language, as its what inspired it. So it was a nice coincidence when it was suggested about filming it in a foreign language. In the end, Spanish was agreed as the most suitable, as it fits the characters and the story better. Overall, its much sexier than French or any other language.

The producer/director is looking for outside funding as her ambition is to shoot it in abroad, which would give the film a real authenticity and be pretty amazing.

I'm really happy that i'm getting to write this and that the gamble paid off - it's going to be really cool and its a big challenge as romance in cafes isn't my usual gig; in both senses of the word.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Captain Malcolm Reynolds.

I researched many role models for my Media Theory Essay but one has stuck with me ever since and especially one piece of advice a fan wrote about him. The person in question is Captain Malcolm Reynolds from television series Firefly. Subconsciously he’s always been a role model to me. But I didn’t realise how much until I started reading what fans were saying about him. And one in particular got to me and I don’t think I’ll ever shake the influence:

‘Mal’s real strength is emotional, not physical … You keep going, and you don’t let the horrendous, soul-crushing things of the past get to you.’

The same can be said for Zoe Washbourne. I never consciously thought how much of a female role model she really is. Its insane. The same goes for all Joss Whedon’s characters.

Something that I realised even more from another fan message was that people like characters with flaws. They like characters with good and bad attributes. This then forces them to identify the positive and negative in characters and adapt the positive to their own lives.

So from now on every character I create with have at least one obvious flaw and setback to their personality.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Mulholland Drive. Presentation. A Reflection.

The presentation went very well and the project as a whole resulted in a major change in my development and confidence. It goes back to the summer project last year where nerves and fear almost got the better of me when pitching an idea. The idea then turned out to be our project and it got made. And again, I overcame that fear of pitching through confidence and a passion in what I’m talking about. My idea and brief campaign to use Mulholland Drive paid off, and somehow I also got over my phobia of presentations and didn’t do a bad job. The fact that we were presenting something new (an explanation of what some say is an indecipherable narrative) that people hadn’t figured out or fully understood, helped to give me confidence because I knew people would be interested.

At first I was really anxious about bringing Mulholland Drive up as at the time I didn’t have a clear grasp on the story and what it was actually about. But it was a challenged and so I was determined to deliver what we had set out to do; and that was to explain the narratives that run through the film and essentially explain what the story actually is. And so I watched the film twice before the presentation; once the evening of pitching MD and again the next morning. And it started to become clear. I did a little research on the Internet to see what people were saying about the film and what it meant to them. I wrote down a narratives timeline as they run through the film and a chronological order of events, as I saw them. I then watched the film the night before the presentation just to clarify my conclusion and to spot any missed information.

Overall, I’m really chuffed with how it happened and somehow managing to keep it together during the presentation, which even now feels surreal that its happened and went well. It just goes to show that anything is possible and that the fear of something is far greater than actually doing it.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Resh Samauroo's Workshops.

I’ve been meaning to attend these workshops for awhile but have been occupied with work every time they are on. But I have managed to go to the last two, and I actually wish I attended right from the start. They are great sessions and far better than what I had expected.

An element of the workshop is for people to present an idea or script, that they are currently having problems with and through Resh’s personal advice and the group environment the aim is to help the person overcome it. And if they don’t within the session they certainly have enough to think about afterwards to potentially achieve it.

Through the workshops and post-workshop chats Resh has helped build my confidence as a writer and as a person. A few of the areas that hold equal importance are; communicating a pitch effectively, overcoming shyness and insecurities to put your self out there, and learning to sell yourself through your strengths.

This reality check of industry standards has made me re-evaluate my own attitude and approach to being a writer and being confident in all the aspects that that entails.

The sessions success and Resh’s own, offer an inspirational and productive environment in which everyone goes away more wiser and confident than when they walked in, and you can’t ask for more than that.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Media And Identity. Role Models Essay. [A Reflection]

The research was begun early, which is unusual for me and resulted in some great quotes and a nicely structure argument. I had an idea of the structure of the argument and its conclusion, early on, which helped me to write a rough template draft. I gave myself a few days break from that point and just let the research/quotes form in my head. And when it was time to start collating it, the essay and what I was going to use was pretty much formed by itself.

However, all this sounds like it was a success but its actually the opposite. Due to picking a question, which in my mind had extremely limited theory coverage in books, and so I almost solely quoted from websites. But that wasn’t the problem; Wikipedia was. I thought using it to identify television show descriptions and clarify a few facts would be ok, but it wasn’t and my mark reflected that.

I learnt my lesson there.

‘Wikipedia no longer exists.’

Mark: Worst Mark Ever.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Glowfrog Studios.

After a few weeks writing and perfecting my CV and specific company cover letter, I've sent my first one out. Its to Glowfrog Studios. They're an animation studio who make shorts, commercials, various cgi for documentaries and have recently branched out into feature animations. I sent a sample short animation script 'The Day I Met A Vampire' in the hope of further convincing them to take me on. It's a long shot but would be incredible.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The 'Not' Bournemouth Writers Circle.

Recently I’ve been attending the Bournemouth university writers group. I’ve been to the last two and have found them very useful. It’s a great session and I highly recommend it. It replies on participation, to state the obvious but is really rewarding whether offering material or giving feedback.

The sessions have made me realise a few things and have given me a much needed confidence boost. But not only in some ideas/scripts, but in communicating effectively to a group and individually. Its helped me over come a once major fear and potential embarrassment of opening up about my ideas and secondly, the fear of talking in front of a group. I don’t have the clearest voice and often talk fast and it probably sounds like mumbling. But I’ve become more comfortable offering up ideas/scripts and feedback in front of a group, which is a major step for me.

I do plan to attend as often as I can and to bring something each time. It would also be nice to carry on the group next year as its organizer will have graduated.

Next week I plan to have an outline or treatment for WWII Drama, my feature script for the third year, if I have time.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Giving Life.

A strange thing occurred the other day. I’ve been slightly aware of it before but it's never been as strong as this.

A writer creates characters (to an extent) and creates or portrayals the world they live in. So we give life essentially. But I’ve never had the realisation that it's actually the other way around. Its these scripts, characters and stories that give life to us. It may sound strange but it's true.

It's down to my upcoming war drama feature script for my major in the third year.

It feels good to say that because I know it's true and that’s part of my theory. The script is set during the Second World War and is further from anything I’ve ever written or would attempt to think of writing. But somehow I am. It demands an amount of research that I don’t even want to think about. But at the same time I’m excited about it because it’s a challenge.

I’ve never had this kind of feeling with a script before. I’ve had big feelings but this is the strongest and it's hard to explain. It just feels more right than anything. My instincts tell me that this story is something special and the challenge I’ve set myself up for is without a doubt worth it.

This script has given me more confidence than anything and it seems to be sticking, which is good. For the first time in a while I’m actually happy to be at university and all the things I worried about before and that got me down have just disappeared. I’m now thinking forwards and about making progress instead of the opposite, which is rather cool.

'The writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master- something that at time strangely wills and works for itself.'

-Charlotte Bronte

Saturday, 1 March 2008


The other day I asked a friend on television production whether or not she had an idea for her major production yet. I’ve asked a few this same question because the bottom line is ‘I want to write it.’ So I asked and she didn’t have an idea yet. She then joked ‘Write me something and I’ll see.’ I said ‘Ok. I have something already in mind.’

I had been working on an idea for awhile with the specific intention (and hope) it would become somebody’s major production. There’s no saying that she’ll like it but at least she’ll read it, or possibly recommend it to someone else or even ask for something more specific.

It’s called Espresso and is essentially:

‘A case of mistaken identity leads to a romantic meeting.’

The short film was inspired by all the charm and romance of those French films that have scenes in cafes where two people meet and instantly fall in love. And even so I originally wanted it to be filmed like a foreign language film and have English subtitles. I knew from the beginning that if i got it right it would make a great short film. But at the time I didn’t have a clue or thought that I’d be able to pull it off. But now the story is looking good and I’ve got even more drive to complete it. So I’m pretty chuffed that its going to be finished and even if its not suitable then I can just keep passing it around.

‘The universe is made of stories, not of atoms’

-Muriel Reskner

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

A World War II Drama.

The genre of a feature script contender for my third year. It's further from anything I’ve written or thought I’d ever be interested in writing. The only reason being, I don’t think I’m good enough.

At first I was intimidated at writing a war piece because I didn’t think I’d be able to achieve it. It would take a lot of research and the quality and level of detail would need to be perfect. But then I thought the backdrop of the war does bring a nice contrast and unusual twist to this type of story. Not to mention the story itself, which is really moving and hopefully an original side to the war.

I’ve had the title and a story idea for years. But it was an idea that I knew would have its time 'much later' when i actually had a career rather than 'much sooner' when i don't.

Initially it was a novel idea with a brief description but a year or two later it turned into a film. That story idea was only a page which consisted of a few characters and the main character's story development. That still stands but the setting has been shifted from the present day to the past and actually during the war.

This idea is a significant development in my writing and attitude as a writer and has opened my mind to many possibilities in terms of genre and setting. Before I limited myself to a few specific genres and was mainly interesting in contemporary dramas about people. They were the scripts I would be comfortable with writing and didn't look in the direction of the others because they were far from what I thought I wanted to tell or could tell. But at the core the same always remains; people and their dramas. So it doesn't matter where its set or under what context. It's still about people and what its like to be human. But the challenge in a script shouldn't just be in the emotional story but also in its arena and setting and how that's used to enhance the story and its characters.

Overall, this script has taught me to avoid what is repetitive and easy in a story and go for the challenge and originality in every script.

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