Tuesday, 30 November 2010

BAFTA Screenwriters' On Screenwriting Series

Picture Courtesy of BAFTA
BAFTA have recently launched a Screenwriters’ Lecture Series on their website, and to use their precise words as they describe it best:

"The result is a series of exclusive videos, clips and profiles providing a fascinating insight into the discipline and culture of screenwriting."

They asked six of the film industry’s leading Screenwriters to give their opinion on the craft, the films they have written and their career so far. These are:
The Screenwriting Channel itself is a part of BAFTA's Access-All-Areas and sits alongside The Directing Channel in its main navigation menu, which is nice to see.

The Screenwriting Channel itself has a great look, layout and functionality. But what's important is the content. So is it any good? Yes, it is great, and more than worth a look. It would be difficult for it not to entice and captivate any aspiring Screenwriter, and Screenwriter to continue on and see what the leading professionals in the field have to say.

This is a great series and emerging free website resource on BAFTA nominated and winning Screenwriters, and on Screenwriting culture itself.

Feel free to head over there now, or read on to learn more about the website and its features.

The BAFTA Screenwriters' Channel is divided into four main sections that revolve around and are powered by the Screenwriters mentioned above:

1. The Screenwriting Lecture Series - six lectures, each centre on a featured Screenwriter and appear in two separate ways. As a lecture highlights video (2-3mins), or in its entirety (35-40mins). This alone makes this a fantastic resource and opportunity to hear from six professional and successful Screenwriters working today.

2. Screenwriter Profiles - dedicated to the featured Screenwriters and offer an introduction and insight to their work and writer-self. These descriptions are short but effective and make for an enjoyable and insightful read. They are recommended reading before viewing the lecture series or an individual lecture.

3. Writers' Top Scripts - each featured Screenwriter has chosen a script that has influenced and inspired them more than any other. The section also features classic clips from the films and a short interview clip from the Screenwriter about the script.

4. Inspiration & Advice - a floating cloud and static list of Screenwriting topics and technique boxes, all when clicked on lead to a specific video clip from the lecture series and a Screenwriter talking on a specific aspect and/or technique of your choosing.

Overall, it's difficult not to appreciate its contents and to applaud BAFTA for its creation and bid to raise the profile and role of the Screenwriter and Screenwriting as an important profession, craft and culture.* It's a highly welcomed and official addition to the online world of Screenwriting, to its exploration, enjoyment and learning.

I look forward to getting through it all and seeing the new additions in the future.

"Explore. Learn. Enjoy."


*Something that Danny Stack and others have been campaigning on for years.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Unsucksessful Vampire & FiveZs. Update.

In December 2008, I posted about an interactive website that I was writing scripts for called FiveZs, and thought that I had also posted about a short animation called The Unsucksessful Vampire that I was writing the script for. But upon a look through the archives (it didn't take long), there is no such post. So I must have imagined it.

But anyway, as I never received a copy of the animation, I have recently found it on YouTube and watched it for the first time. It was made by final year students at the then titled The Arts Institute Bournemouth (now The Arts University College Bournemouth) in the class of 2009.

So after no information or hype, I proudly present:

So there it is. What did you think?

Now for some brief exposition:

The collaboration came about after replying to an advert looking for a scriptwriter to pen the narration to an animation that was currently being made. Feeling out of my depth, set on rejection, but fired up about the prospect of writing it, I applied. I used my Vampire and Book short animation scripts as an example of my work, and they did the trick.

Although, I was completely frightened and equally enthralled about the task ahead. At that time, I hadn't written a specific narration before and had no idea whether I'd be able to do it. Plus it was a great project to be involved in and I didn't want to let anyone down. But I learnt fast and managed to hold up my end of the bargain and deliver. It was such a proud achievement and challenging, fun process and one that I have learnt so much from.

Much the same follows the story of FiveZs (Interactive Media Production at Bournemouth University) and writing those scripts: replying to an advert, feeling out of my depth, highly pressured, no experience, etc... but I came through and delivered.

From my previous post on FiveZs and writing for that I wrote about writing many puzzles and designing various other levels. Although they all didn't make it into the final version because it was all much too ambitious for a looming deadline and one student working hard to create it all. But what was made of the scripts works really well and I'm proud of it. So I've decided to add it to my portfolio on my website and you can view the interactive website here. It's best to view it in full-screen (F11) if you have a small screen as the bottom section cuts off.

Besides the challenge and the pressure, I had a lot of fun writing them. So I hope you enjoy them!

Sunday, 17 October 2010


By Cory Goodman

I was intrigued by this exactly a year ago, as I knew it was another vampire-based story and so wanted to see if it would be anything to rave about. However, after the read back then, I was distracted from completing the usual report and I guess have been distracted ever since.

Going in the first time, I was dubious and equally open-minded as to whether this would offer up anything new and enjoyable. Based on a graphic novel, and attempting to do what many fail to achieve. Did this deliver? The verdict is: it does, if you like that sort of thing.

The story centres on a mysterious Man: head shaven, tattooed face bearing a black cross, well built, solid resolve, a formidable presence, as he saves a young girl from the clutches of a menace. A man, who we learn in the Prologue is a Priest: an old warrior trained in vampire combat and whose race helped to turn the tide of the war for humans. However, today vampires are an endangered species and protected by law, and the Priests have denounced their ways and integrated back into society. That is until he learns of a rare vampire attack on the outskirts of the city, and as it's a matter personal to him, intends to resolve despite the church's strict instructions not to do so.

The screenplay was an enjoyable read, full of action, suspense, mild humour, surprises and heart. It featured entertaining characters who were nicely written, well developed, and memorable. Priest, is a fascinating character who is torn between the ways he knows and has believed in, with doing what is right and what his heart tells him. His sidekick, Hicks, the local sheriff, is a humorous and ballsy man, and offers adequate support and conflict in their unfolding mission. The screenplay was visually compelling from the outset and like its action, conveyed in simple, lush descriptive detail. Despite a few telling not showing moments and heavy camera descriptions, it read well and with an enjoyable pace. It's a world full of ambiance and suspense that should transfer well on to the screen, and as a whole, into an exciting, damn cool and engrossing experience.

The story naturally centres around faith but not essentially in being bound to an ideal and a God. But a faith in yourself and doing what is right, in spite of what you have previously believed and how you are supposed to conform. It's about courage on the road to justice, and fighting against a cunning evil that threatens to engulf the world. If God was created in the image of man, then we need to step out from underneath His shadow.

I'm interested to see how well they interpret this for the screen, and whether it will be a solid, unique, real world based, powerhouse of an effort, or one that heavily favours CGI with cliched camerawork, poorly rendered villains and the uninspiring rock anthems placed over the action. However, in spite of the odds, I do have faith.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Year Two Begins...

The passing of August marked the first year since handing in my final piece of university work, and therefore the beginning of Year Two in the big wide world. The quick passing of September (this post is somewhat overdue) clearly marked the first month into the second year.

It's quite fascinating how things and yourself can change within a twelve month period, and how you adapt under high stress from a continual pressure and expectation, not to mention intimidation by various ambitions ahead, life, the future, and everything. But my answer is: ignorance is bliss, and so is distraction. Not to mention, application.

For ignorance, I have found it easier to avoid and ignore the conversations and opinions of Joe and Joanne Public (non media related and everyday persons) regarding film education and university, screenwriting courses, film criticisms, and the "So where were you before this?" line, and the corkers, "What do you plan to do next?" or "What are you up to at the moment?", slide by the "You went to uni and you're now working here!" line, and if possible, but not probable, their 'valuable' input on your potential career and ambitions (take with a pinch of salt), and on some occasions, avoid the topic of screenwriting all together.

What's also wise and easier not to do is to butt in on a related conversation and give your opinion and/or insight just because you have one. But that is unless you find a like-minded person who you know or detect occupies the trenches with you. Then you can take cover and find solace. But even then there's still a line not to be crossed, and one if you want to be taken seriously. Otherwise it's all wasted conversation that is there to serve your own ego, to look good and nothing else. And in the end, you have accomplished nothing but being removed a little further from reality. If it's not constructive then it's not worth participating in, however tempting.

No disrespect intended to Joe and Joanne Public but when you're currently on a step at ambition's door, and don't want to think about the 100th and being categorised and judged in that respects, it disrupts the flow and confidence a little. It can be a little frustrating, although it is lessening the more it occurs. But if you ever find yourself in the same situation, just follow the golden scriptwriting rule, less is more because it truly is. Don't be too eager to show your hand. Leave them wondering and guessing. Let subtext breathe and give your own story and character power and a life of its own. If you're willing to talk too much and reveal all in the real world, then what is there left under the surface and to say in your writing?

For me, it's a simple case of I don't need reminding, as I know the deal. I just want to get on with it, and ideally, to be left alone to. I know the conflict is good for me in order to learn how to deal with it, but sometimes it would be nice to stay in the confident, peaceful, and enjoyable zone and mindset, and not have it interrupted every now and then. But after all, I am still learning.

And the important thing with that, I believe, is the fact that I know my place within the world of all this, I know my level, where I want to go, and have an idea how to get there. I'm not trying to be someone I'm not. I'm trying to be someone I know I can be.

What also, and just as crucially paved the way for change over the last year, is having the freedom to do, and the doing, which I term, distraction. And that's to get some paid work, structure, and responsibility, earn money, treat yourself, develop relationships, practice the arts of what you love, find new interests, meet new people, have new experiences, all to learn new things, have fun, develop personally, to widen your experience, and broaden your horizons. To live basically.

The third and just as important, is application, to keep reading, writing, watching and analysing, to develop professionally, set provisional goals, learn self-discipline and the ways of your mind, get involved with other writers and learn from them and their work, make and develop contacts, read scriptwriting blogs and leave supportive and constructive comments, create your own related-blog or write relevant online articles, and if possible, apply for work experience, help out on short films, make short films, etc. All one step at a time and of course, with vigour.

Everything in ignorance and distraction informs application. All that you do, every encounter, decision, observation, or new experience, has the power to change you and develop your writing and professional self. Every strand of your life is more important than you may realise. Everyday and every moment is an opportunity to be had, and further knowledge and perspective to be gained, to move you forward to where you want to go and to help you do it. Keep that in mind and even more so on a negative day or moment, because there's still something to learn, a new experience to be had, and ultimately, if reacted to positively, an opportunity to develop.

Inevitably it brings me back to the old chestnut of university, as it was home for awhile and quite a profound experience, and one naturally, has taken time to process and move on from. Essentially it was a place that appeared to be selling dreams in respects to screenwriting, a tin box (and an expensive one) that packed you in rather tightly, and one where the everyday reality was lost, until you leave that is. Then you slowly apply what you learnt there (and/or acquire what you didn't learn there) to real everyday living. To correct the off-set in balance and restore equilibrium. As well as apply what you learnt about the craft of screenwriting to a new era of writing, and discover new lessons and insights as each project passes. To ultimatley keep a healthy momentum of output, learning, enjoyment, and a steady increase in confidence.

But fundamentally, a university screenwriting degree isn't a means to an end and reaching a dream. It's a means to a beginning and that dream transforming into an ambition. It's a start that I feel glad to have taken and look back proudly having made the right choice.

So generally that's how I've coped this last year and have been enjoying the post-university freedom and dealing with its pressure and external expectations. But importantly and key, striving to do that in a patient, constructive, and positive way.

One of the major things realised and accepted, is that everything takes time. No matter how large or small. Even the smallest achievement takes effort and time to conquer. But it's about doing what you can realistically achieve and not trying to do too much and being overwhelmed, and potentially underachieve. That leads to putting your ambitions and projects into perspective and into steps. Then it's a process of taking each step as they come. Whether you start now or later on. But as long as you stick at it, remain patient, optimistic and enjoy it, then you can't go wrong.

All this may sound strict and by the book but it's really not. When you're having fun, being engaged, challenged, and enjoying every aspect, it doesn't feel like a chore or set rules to be followed. Once habit kicks in. It's living. And it's an infinite education. That's the beauty of it.

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

- Gandhi

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Graham Lineham on Writing Comedy

Upon heading to the next episode of The IT Crowd Series 4 on 4OD, I found this gem of a video from Graham Lineham on screenwriting and in particular, writing comedy. It's a nice short piece with some essential information that touches on matters like, what mistakes new writers make, how to avoid writing a bad script, inspiration for situation comedy, his own influences, the advantage of deadlines and pressure, and why the Duel screenplay is the first point of education for aspiring screenwriters. 

It's a great video for beginners and ones that fans will also enjoy for its brief insight into classic moments of hit comedy shows Seinfeld, Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd.

You can watch the video here.

You can read Duel here. (Shift + Control + H to scroll read)

If you would like more (and more, and more) on Graham Lineham and his advice on writing for comedy, then take the rest of the week off from work, or if you're unemployed, you can be thankful just this once, and head over to Writing For Performance and to The Graham Lineham Interviews.

Thanks Robin!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Origin Short Film Premiere

Origin is a short film written and directed by Danny Stack. It has been a year in the making and received its premiere screening on Wednesday at Working Title Films' cinema. I was one of the lucky ones who attended the memorable evening and thoroughly enjoyed it.

My first visit to Working Title was a unique one, as upon entering the modern style building, I was told to take the lift on my right, and to the basement. 'The cinema is in the basement,' was my first thought, 'how cool is that.'

Then I was greeted by Danny himself (photo is clearly at the end of the night) and felt very welcomed which calmed the nerves somewhat. This was my first meeting with Danny but it felt like we had met before as his casual and welcoming approach felt familiar and was reassuring. Then the next minute I was at the bar with a drink. I couldn't complain.

Then quite soon we were taken into the theatre to view the film. The exhibition room was impressive with four or five rows of large comfy chairs, and noticeably along the middle row next to each seat was a conference phone. I couldn't help but think that Richard Curtis must have sat in this room and watched various in progress Working Title Films' pictures and final cuts, and held debated on various changes and relevant matters. It was great.

The film began, and from the outset and woods establishing shot, it was obvious that this wasn't going to be a stable and comfortable viewing. It's atmosphere and tone was haunting and suspenseful. The performances were moving and quite unsettling at times due to the nature of the story.

The production values and special make up effects were impressive. The latter, subtly enhanced as the film progressed, never over done, which I felt was important, as theoretically there's more of this to come. So why give up all the goods early on?

There was some really nice shots and camerawork, especially within the confines of the house and hospital ward, as well as the pull focus ground close up as we enter the woods. The world and its characters felt real and believable. I was engrossed throughout. Its score was unsettling and left me on edge, and worked nicely in harmony with the visuals playing on the unknown and building suspense.

As it ended and faded out, I was left with the feeling that I wanted more, and in that respects the film was and is a complete success. I would easily pay to see the feature. I didn't want to leave the world, I wanted more. I cared about the characters, which is the most important thing. Let's hope many more people feel the same way.

Danny documented the Origin filmmaking process through a collection of short video diaries which can be found here.

A highlight of the evening was meeting Stuart Conran (far left) who did the special make up effects on this film and also worked on Shaun of the Dead, Saving Private Ryan, Doomsday, and even Hellrazor II. He was really cool.

(Photograph note: What a shame I blinked, *embarrassing* - an otherwise great photo).
The Cast & Crew:

Next, the film will do the rounds on the film festival circuit where I hope it will do well because it really deserves to. It's a great achievement and testament to everyone on worked on it.

Good luck!

Photos courtesy of Danny Stack and "Theatre" photo courtesy of @jasonarnopp

Monday, 19 July 2010


Written by James Simpson.

This one was a last minute choice for a read and impulsively favoured over three high profile screenplays, as I ended up craving something completely unknown. So going in with no clue, hopeful expectations, and a hint of the action, crime and thriller genres within the title. Did this unknown script deliver? The verdict is: Without question.

The story takes place in Detroit and centres on Tyler "Ty" Hackett, 27, who lives with his girlfriend and abandoned younger brother Jimmy. Whilst running two jobs and barely able to make ends meat, Ty realises he's not providing enough for his brother and their relationship is becoming even more dysfunctional. His girlfriend, on the other hand, is happy that they are spending Christmas together and isn't bothered by a lack of money, or currently, a lack of electricity. But this doesn't sit well with him and at the end of a day's work as a security guard (transporting money), he is given a way out and proposition by his veteran co-workers, which would see him walk away with a share of the contents of their next cash pick-up.

The screenplay was a heartfelt, suspenseful and exciting read. It's a lesson in the power of simplicity; a simple premise and set up, and its enhancement by housing believable and motivated characters, and a dramatic plot that fuses them so well together.

The main character of Ty was sympathetic from the start due to him being the underdog and struggling to help support his girlfriend, brother and himself. A man who's got it bad, but hasn't let it change him, not yet, at least. The supporting characters, work colleagues and especially, the antagonist, who was terrific, were nicely written; individual voices, believable, and one or two characters; dislikeable and pretty scary stuff at times, but in a good entertaining way. They all followed their own paths and motivation, and were consistent within that which made for a far more complex, exciting and suspenseful read.

Once the premise and character-choice came to fruition, everything was up in the air at all times and you didn't know what was going to happen next. The script's pace is relentless and is one of the fastest set ups and progressions of a story I've read so far. It was gripping, eventful and resourceful stuff. It won't make the most profound or dramatic film of the last ten years, but it was a great, suspenseful, action-roller coaster read, and one with heart.

The story is simply about being happy with your "lot" in life, not necessarily with the hand you've been dealt but the people and family around you. Life isn't about money, riches, or living comfortably or extravagantly; it's about family, the small things, and making the best out of what you have.

Naturally I'm looking forward to the film, as this has great screen potential and could be a pretty awesome film. It's nothing groundbreaking, just a great, suspenseful story/character action-situation, told well. Fingers crossed...

Monday, 21 June 2010


Written by Pamela Pettler.

Story by Shane Acker.

This one has been on my to-watch list for quite sometime, but at the last minute became my next read and strangely, first animation screenplay. Captivated by its trailer and visuals a year or so ago, as well as the powerhouse of talent behind it, it was a highly attractive premise and film to see. However, all details other than an unclear focus on the main character's look and its setting had been lost with time. So I went in happily with a clear head on this. But did it deliver to its potential? The verdict is: Absolutely!

The story centres on a newly created Ragdoll (a unique hybrid of disparate parts), as he comes to life and enters a world recently left in ruins by war and no longer with humans. Void of a voice box and understanding, he meets another ragdoll like himself, but one with older and more primitive features, who advocates himself as a friend. But soon the Ragdoll comes face to face with the horror that stalks the wasteland and finds himself separated from this companion and only friend.

The screenplay was an enjoyable, somewhat profound, and exciting on-the-edge read. It appears in headed sequences with various other shooting script style cues, which gives insight into the feature animation process (where primarily different teams of computer animators create a separate sequence of the script at the same time). It also features heavy cues to dialogue delivery, which aids voice/emotional performance and subsequently facial animation.

The main character is intriguing and sympathetic from the outset and exhibits human characteristics, predominantly; a likeable strong will to survive and motivation to do the right thing. The other characters are exceptionally written and portrayed as emotionally complex individuals with their own motivation, flaws and unique character traits. They are an interesting band of characters who could easily be realistic live-action characters and were a pleasure to read.

Its world and description was rich and vivid, and brought to life the atmosphere and carnage of post war. It carried a fleeting place with each moment and encounter propelling the story forward via new information and/or character development. There was never a dull moment and it was over far too soon. However, as a whole, the story and its characters followed an interesting and entertaining development arc that led to a satisfying and exciting conclusion. It ended as well as it began. Quality throughout.

The story is primarily about courage within an unknown and unstable environment and the importance of following your heart and embracing your right for survival and understanding. Not retreating to the shadows against a larger and more powerful foe to live in fear.

Under the surface, it's ultimately a message about war, and a strong indication to a future point in time when our advanced technology and machines of war will outgrow us. A time where instead of creating weapons to fight an enemy, we are creating them to inadvertently become our successors and carry out our own extinction. But ideally within that in some capacity, the human soul and its spirit will endure, and hopefully thrive.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this now and can't believe it's taken me so long to get around to it. I'm even more excited as it will be viewed on my new HD LCD television. There is a God!

You can read 9 here.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Travels With Michael Crichton

One of the perks of working where I do is that you can find gems like this. When I say, one of the perks, I mean, the only perk of working where I do, and it's a two-fold perk. You can not only discover some interesting books, but can purchase a great number of selected ones for peanuts.

Travels by Michael Crichton is one such book.

One brief look at the back cover told me I was in for a great journey. But what got my attention was that this wasn't a fictional book and one of his many. It was based on his early life at medical school and early travels, and most importantly before Jurassic Park, ER, and becoming a household name and subsequent legend. I knew practically nothing about him, and the chance for a self-reflective account of himself and travels before he became who he was to become was too good to pass on. At the time, I was looking for something real and inspirational, and was certain that I had found it. A new idol beckoned...

Initially published in 1988 by Pan Books/Macmillan London Limited, the 1994 edition's back cover is re-printed here for your viewing and interest only:

A personal odyssey to the limits of the earth and the frontiers of the self.

At the age of thirty, Michael Crichton appeared to have everything; a Harvard medical degree, a wife, lots of money and a Hollywood reputation as a film director and writer. But it wasn't enough.

Spiritually dissatisfied with money and fame, and fuelled by a powerful need to see, hear and feel for himself, Michael Crichton embarked on a series of epic travels to some of the remotest places on earth.

Off Tahiti, he dived through a cloud of sharks. In the remote highlands of New Guinea, he moved among the painted tribesmen who live in a state of perpetual warfare. On the border of Zaire, he saw a threatened silverback gorilla cradling its infant in the palm of one huge hand. At midnight in Africa, he came eye to eye with an elephant. In the American desert, he crossed into new realms of psychic experience.

Michael Crichton's Travels carried him into diverse and compelling new worlds. As he circled the globe, seeking out different ways of living, the master of psychological thrillers illuminated his own journey towards his inner self.

I knew it was fate and couldn't suppress that deep electric feeling that I was holding something pretty special. I'm sure you know that feeling. So I did the *secret business* of checking the book through the computer system and luckily for me it wasn't accepted for public sale, which meant that I practically owned the book and could purchase it when I clocked off. Bonus. It was either that or throwing it away to be recycled. The latter was clearly not an option.

One of the things that struck me most about the book and Michael's life was that what I lightly assumed about him from his success and work, was the complete opposite of its reality. We all have our preconceptions of what we think it must be like to be successful, talented and rich, and how these people make it to those places and make their fortune and fame. So I was pleasantly surprised when I was corrected on my initial thoughts and a valuable lesson was reinforced in the process. But also, I learnt a lot from one of the most talented and successful novelists of our time; and a complete down-to-earth guy who experienced the same problems and issues as us, had the same questions, and strived for answers through journeys of the body and mind, to ultimately be the best person that he could be.

"Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am."

- Michael Crichton

*unfortunately - minor spoilers ahead*

I'm not a fan of spoilers as you may have realised from the next-to-zero spoiler nature of this blog, but one or two minors are necessary here to illustrate my point and insight, and hopefully entice new readers to the book.

Some highlights and fascinations of reading include; although Michael has a Harvard medical degree, he in fact didn't like studying medicine and didn't attempt to quit just once... another thing that didn't occur just once in his quest for new experience and knowledge, led to more than one near death experience... he paid for his medical education by writing thriller novels under alias names... in 1979, he wrote and directed a film based on one of his novels and starred Sean Connery... one of the aspects of being a doctor that he disliked at the time, was the separation between patient and person, the fact that people weren't treated like people, which naturally inspired and became the basis for the creation of television series ER.

I honestly didn't want the book to end and couldn't picture my life without Michael's honest and down-to-earth voice running through my mind, illuminating my own journey and offering inspiration to reach my ambitions and to be the best person that I can be. A re-read is definitely on the cards for the future.

Now onto Michael's back catalogue... where to start?

We all live every day in virtual environments, defined by our ideas.”

- Michael Crichton

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Up In The Air

By Jason Reitman.

Based on the novel by Walter Kirn.

This one has been on my 'to-read' list for some time and at last, it has been read, or rather, experienced. I wanted to see the film after seeing its captivating teaser trailer some months back, but I knew I would read it before seeing it. So I wasn't going in with a clean and fresh perspective on this. But despite the baggage left over from the trailer, did it deliver to its expected and hopeful, high? The verdict is: Bing! or rather, yes, it did.

The story centres on Ryan Bingham, a middle aged man, and retrenchment consultant, who lives out of a suitcase as he travels the U.S. to consult, or rather, to fire people on behalf of the companies themselves. His life is spiced up when he meets a woman, Alex, and constant high flyer like himself, and life seems that much brighter when grounded. But then, his boss hires Natalie, a young, ambitious woman, who wants to change the nature of the consulting they do and therefore the nature of Ryan's job. As a result of Ryan's protest, she accompanies him on his work travels in order to understand the job first-hand.

The screenplay was an enjoyable, thoughtful, amusing, and moving experience. The writer also directed the film, so there is a shooting script style adopted here with an awareness and direction to the camera. (This is a Hollywood writer/director and the exception). The main character of Ryan was compelling from the start, and his portrayal; effective, consistent and believable throughout. The secondary characters of Alex, Natalie, Ryan's sisters and boss, offered a nice mix of flair, conflict, humour and drama to the uneventful and dull routine of Ryan's job and life. They were effectively written and illuminated his own character in crucial ways and some in steps to self-development. The script flows nicely and much like Ryan's suitcase, is minimalist and sparse, but make for a pacey and direct read. It's a layered read and true to life, and unlike most Hollywood films doesn't offer any absolutes or sugar-coat its content and subsequently, the nature of life, and is all the better for it.

The story is about life and being an individual. It's about pursuing an ambition, whatever that may be, reaching a goal, making a connection with someone, or yourself, settling down or being constantly on the move. There is no right way to live. Just whichever way you are comfortable with. But there are no guarantees. Life is always up in the air.

I cannot wait to see this film and I'm hopeful that it will hold up to my expectations. Although, I will wait a few months as I don't want to go in too soon and have an average and unsurprising experience. Amnesia has to kick in first, which won't take long, then I can jump right in!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Watch Post #2.

Life of Pi is an incredible and highly unique novel. Its challenging film adaptation will hopefully come to fruition in 2012... [-]

Excitement and intrigue rises as Norwich's own, Alan Partridge gets his own film... [-]

Another bittersweet re-watch of Firefly has proved once again it's one of the most well crafted and enjoyable tv series... [-]

The Dark Knight returns for a third and goes up against the Spider-Man reboot, amongst others... [-]

How To Train Your Dragon 3D is a very enjoyable and loveable film, and very profitable as its sequel is given the go-ahead... [-]

J.J. Abrams hands back Stephen King's The Dark Tower rights and may end up in the hands of Ron Howard... [-]

Sunday, 18 April 2010

What We Take For Granted.

Another day, another killer virus.

Although, this time thankfully, I was somewhat prepared. Some stuff was lost but the main stuff was recovered due to previous back up.

So I'm calm and embracing the change.

Time to upgrade to paid virus protection? You bet.


Well naturally, it will go under that banner as it makes more sense than to worry about the losses and to focus on what I do have and what will come into being.

Although, it was time to let go and lose some old projects, which I had an inkling were out of time and were holding me back. Ultimately, it was another wake up call for even stricter rules on backing up files and choosing suitable future projects for a specific purpose.

One of the projects lost in the fire that readers may be familiar with was fictional blog Black Sands, which was an interesting story and challenge but ultimately had no purpose than to entertain and to learn from. It had no future place and would have taken time away from the important projects and things I should be writing that are potentially leading somewhere. And of course, are commercial entities. Although, in hindsight it would have made a cool videogame.

Something that I did take for granted was the dual health of my laptop and myself, and how we are fundamentally connected and ultimately form as a whole organism. As I can't function without it. When it was ill I became the same because I was unable to continue my usual routine of writing (and reading scripts) and the enjoyment and challenge that that brings. Not to mention I was in a dead zone with no progress being made and I didn't like that. Also, not being connected to the internet, who could handle that?

In turn, taking the health and safety of our computers for granted brings me onto a larger entity that we often take for granted, not so much our own health, which is important but I was thinking more along the lines of that undervalued beauty of time. Maybe not an actual entity itself but one we live by. Its realisation comes into view when practically all of it goes on a nine to five job, friends, family and other responsibilities. So comes the moment when you realise that you cannot bend time to suit your own needs, and are indeed mortal and won't live forever.

In total, the time spent on our day jobs, sleeping, travelling, friends, family and on other activities leaves little time for those things like writing that we want to overindulge in and accomplish. But do we always use what time is there for the taking?

Each day we are a step closer to the inevitable but we still tend to put things off. An hour or an evening there, a weekend here. Like money, time is precious and is even easier to waste. However, wasting time is worse than throwing your hard-earned money down the drain because you can always earn more money, but you cannot get back time.

When the hourglass is full, it's full, and it can only be turned upright so many times. Taking responsibility for and having an appreciation of time is one of the most important screenwriting lessons to learn, as it'll be difficult to get anywhere without it. As it's all about practice, preparation, and patience. Not to mention perseverance. But with being prepared comes confidence, and with confidence comes the ability to seize an opportunity or to create one. As a lot of serious writers will say, there is no overnight trick or magic that will take you from one place to overnight success. It's about hard work and putting the time in, but most of all, it's about the journey.

With money, like time, the beauty is in knowing how to use it. As both of them can add up to a greater sum when valued in moderation over time. So why not take it easy and shed the worry of being in a rush or not being good enough.

Everything takes time. So enjoy it.

Naturally, with backing up your files it doesn't become an issue until it happens to you. But for those who have not considered an online back up source. This one is excellent and free for a lite account, and saved my behind: http://www.box.net/. Just upload the main files for now. You'll thank me later. Alternatively, go to Writing for Performance and read the info there on backing up your files and keeping your computer (and therefore yourself) in good health.

Now onwards to the shop for that external hard drive!

"What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure."

- Samuel Johnson

Sunday, 21 February 2010

An Education

By Nick Hornby.

Adapted from the article 'An Education' by Lynn Barber.

I stumbled upon this with the intention of reading something else and remembered seeing its trailer a few months back. It was one that I fell in love with and in particular, its style, setting, youth romance and its coming of age story. And so inevitably, the former and weaker feelings gave way to the more pressing and stronger. It was written by About a Boy, High Fidelity and Fever Pitch best-selling author, Nick Hornby, and with that the expectations rose considerably, but in the least, I assumed that I was in good hands. But did it deliver? The verdict is: Oui, bien sûr il a fait, otherwise, Yes, of course it did.

The story takes place in a suburb of London in 1962 and centres on an straight-headed schoolgirl, Jenny, who with her father's ambitions for her is heading for a life at Oxford University. But then, one rainy day she is offered a lift home from a young gentleman, who in realisation of this strange situation, offers her cello a lift home to spare any water damage. But then she gets in and meets him; David, who will show her a world that schoolgirl dreams are made of.

The screenplay was a charming, nostalgic and enjoyable read. Although, some scene descriptions were overwritten in a few places and there were some moments of telling not showing, which was to be expected and easily forgiven. The main characters of Jenny and David were full of life and charm. They felt like real people and exhibited realistic dialogue, emotional depth and development. Much can be said of the secondary characters, most notably; Jenny's parents, school girlfriends and Miss Stubbs, who were well written and the former two, amusing company at times. It carried a nice fleeting pace mirroring the whirlwind of change and romance in Jenny's life, which works well as we witness snippets of moments and events in a much deeper and longer affair. Everything felt just right and natural within the world, its characters and the story. Its adaptation felt alive and complete.

The screenplay encapulates the folly of youth and demonstrates its fragile nature when placed in an adult world. It's about coming of age and the realisation that what you want isn't what you need. Growing up too fast has its price.

Naturally, I'm looking forward to seeing the film and will double-check whether it resides on the top of my LoveFilm rental list. It may even be worth a rare straight-to-buy, if the price is right.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Trailer Watch: Inception.

What an awesome trailer and interesting film:

The film opens in USA on July 16th 2010.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Frozen River

By Courtney Hunt.

I decided to read this one after realising that I had the script to a film I recently added to my LoveFilm rental list. The film sounded good and was rated well, so I thought i'd go for it. But like most of the rental picks, I had forgotten what it was all about. So I went blindly into this one and with the usual deep desire and hope it would be good and inspiring. But did it deliver? The verdict is: it does, again, and again.

The story centres on a downtrodden mother, Ray, in her late-thirties, who lives with her two boys in a trailer park in Massena, New York. The father of the children has recently taken off with their savings to pursue his gambling addiction. But with Christmas approaching, rental bills to pay, food to put on the table and the remaining cost of a new larger trailer home, she finds herself in a desperate struggle to find the money before she loses everything.

The script was a compelling, moving and humbling read. Its main character jumped off the page from the outset and carried such empathy that you wanted to break the fourth wall, reach out and help her. The supporting characters were exceptionally written and carried relevant conflict, development and understanding. It moves at a somewhat fast pace, which mirrors the erratic heartbeat and mind state of the main character, as she delves deeper into a situation that's out of her control (but one that ultimately compels her). But despite the stark reality of the situation there is a subtle sense of humour that blends well with the pressing and dramatic matters of the story, and together offers a unique experience.

The story is about the lengths a mother will go to protect and take care of her children and how the line between right and wrong blurs when the well-being of your most dearest are at stake. It's about the pursuit of a better life and through means that attempt to justify the end. Desperate people do desperate things.

I am very much looking forward to the film and have faith that the material would attract those filmmakers who are only interested in being faithful to the script and its journey.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

A Paid Writer.

Yep, it's true.

And I can say that with great conviction and truth.

However, the statement does belong in the flimsy box of little white lies. As the money isn't from being a writer. I just finally have a regular job, that's all, and one that I get paid for. So, effectively, I am a paid writer!

I feel even more confident already.

I think, a 'funded writer,' is more appropriate, as 'paid writer,' could decieve a few into reading a post that has nothing to do with being paid for a commission.

However, an added bonus, besides less free time to ponder the pressure of wanting to be a real paid writer, and having money, is that the job is in an internet book store, and so i'm working with at least a few thousand books a day that pass through my vision. So in my current situation, it's the ideal job really, as it stimulates my mind whilst working and i'm constantly on the creative conveyer belt. I couldn't ask for more than that and in a time where I would have been lucky to just get any job.

But now there's less time in the day for writing, which gives rise to an even greater appreciation of the time I do have. This routine, and no choice of when I write, is what I hope will get me into a great routine and go full speed on my TV Drama Spec and The Screenwriting Craft. As well as, sister blog, Black Sands, if I am able to recover it from its descent into madness and confusion that is the mass of ideas and ambitious storytelling it has become. Maybe it was a little ambitious? - Obviously, but it's a challenge and one i'm not giving up on. However, I do hope to achieve more than one post this year!

Anyway, being a writer and getting a regular flow of money is living the dream, right?

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Watch Post #1.

Avatar has made $1.1bn in 21 days... [-]

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is a very entertaining and accomplished film... [-]

Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol is an exciting read and a worthy follow up to The Da Vinci Code... [-]

Richard Laymon's The Travelling Vampire Show is being adapted into a film... [-]

Moon is one of the most unique and moving films I have ever seen... [-]

Channel 4's Catastrophe documentary series has got me appreciating life more... [-]