Monthly Archives: September 2011

EIFF Network Opportunity

I’m sure everyone knows about this by now, but in case you’ve missed it:

Network offers a fantastic opportunity for screenwriters, directors and producers – individually or in teams – to develop a feature film project in collaboration with industry professionals.

Successful applicants will be invited to

  • Develop a feature project with expert, bespoke industry support.
  • Attend formal and informal events throughout the year, all over the UK.
  • Attend the Edinburgh International Film Festival as a guest delegate in 2012.
  • Access Network website with exclusive podcasts, film industry forums, discussion groups, blogs, email feedback, instant messaging, industry news, resources and film professionals.

Deadline: Friday 7th October 2011

The full details are on their website here: http://www.eiffnetwork.com/ including who can apply and how to apply and lots of other stuff to do with applying.

If you’ve got an idea for a feature project, a sample script, a CV and a few spare minutes to fill in the application form, then it’s got to be worth a punt.

Categories: Opportunity | Leave a comment

Notes

I’ve been on both ends of the script note process, both giving and receiving. Sometimes it’s a fun, helpful process and sometimes it’s excruciatingly frustrating. I’ve been trying to think about what shifts it from one state to the other and come up with a short list of expectations I have when entering into the process from either side.

This isn’t meant to be a manifesto or even an exhaustive list, it’s just a few observations about what I’ve come to expect from the other person, how I want to be treated and what I want to get out of the process both as note-receiver (writer) and note-giver (script editor, producer or director).

My expectations of a note-receiver

  1. I expect you as note-receiver to be polite and courteous at all times. I’m aware you think my notes are moronic and ruining your masterpiece and that’s fine, you are entitled to that opinion; but I don’t want to hear that from you or see it in your face.
  2. I am quite happy for you to explain the reasons why you wrote something the way you did; but I want your argument to be coherent, well-thought out and persuasive rather than angry and obstructive.
  3. I don’t want the you to tell me I’m wrong about the way the script affected me emotionally. If I stopped caring for the protagonist at the mid-point, then although it is a subjective opinion, I am representing the people who are paying you for your work and for their purposes it’s an objective opinion. Telling me I’m wrong because the protagonist’s journey is riveting isn’t going to help. Yes, it’s possible someone else would find it exciting; but I am not someone else and am unlikely to become someone else because you tell me I should be.
  4. I expect you to action all my notes; but not necessarily in the way I suggest actioning them. In fact, if I give you a suggestion for how something might work better, it is just that – a suggestion. I am more than happy for you to address it in any way you see fit; but please do address all of them. True, sometimes fixing one thing at the beginning of the script will mean a note at the end becomes irrelevant – that is addressing the note and is perfectly acceptable. Ignoring the note in the belief I’m wrong isn’t.
  5. Please don’t tell me I’m wrong because ‘that’s how they do it on Eastenders’. This isn’t Eastenders, hence the note needs addressing. Unless, of course, we are both working on Eastenders. Then and only then does your rebuttal make sense.
  6. I expect you to actually re-write your script. By re-write I mean change the meaning, structure, characters or story as appropriate. Lopping out a couple of pronouns and changing the tense of a few words is not re-writing, it’s fiddling and doesn’t solve anything. To be honest, it makes you look either belligerent or stupid. Or both.
  7. I would like you to be conversant in screenplay terminology. If I say there isn’t a third act, I don’t want to get into an argument about structure and how you don’t conform to the Hollywood rules. I want you to recognise the story doesn’t have an end and write one. The three act structure just means beginning, middle and end. Generally speaking the beginning gets you to the point, the middle is the point and the end makes the point go away. The middle is the story you want to tell, get to it as quickly as possible.
  8. Try to understand that writing isn’t a science. The notes on the second draft may contradict the notes on the first draft because the solution may not be clear and might need experimentation to find the way forward. Some of these experiments will be a dead-end. Try and think of it this way: I don’t know it’s a dead-end or I wouldn’t ask you to try it. If you knew it was a dead-end, you should have explained that to me before writing it. The fact you didn’t explain why it wouldn’t work suggests you didn’t know either. Blaming me is to equally blame yourself.
  9. Don’t slavishly follow every note. Find out what the intention of the note is, ring me if you have to, and try to work out if actioning the note actually fixes the problem or if it just papers over a crack.

My expectations of a note-giver

  1. I want to be treated courteously. I expect you as note-giver to be polite and professional at all times. You can swear, you can make fun of the script or me when it’s appropriate; but you shouldn’t be rude or offensive.
  2. Please don’t tell me what to write. By all means make suggestions, suggest as many things as you want; but understand I probably won’t use any of them and will find my own way. Telling me exactly what to write, word for word, and getting angry when I don’t use your words isn’t helpful.
  3. Try to be honest with your notes. Bullshitting me or dancing around the point doesn’t help anyone.
  4. I don’t want to copy verbatim the thing you saw in Eastenders last night. A lot of people saw last night’s Eastenders and none of them will think that particular line, scene or sequence is cool the second time round.
  5. If there are several people reading and commenting on the script, please nominate one person to collate and deliver them. I don’t want to receive three sets of contradictory notes; especially if the producer is telling me to ignore the director because he’s a dick.
  6. Try to use screenplay terminology when describing what needs changing. Terms like protagonist, acts, mid-point, inciting incident, theme … I understand what these things are and can address them. ‘The bit where it goes wobbly’ isn’t a helpful term and makes things needlessly difficult. Page numbers are helpful too; but only if you haven’t got your printer settings set to something odd like A5 when using Final Draft.
  7. If possible, actually watch (and maybe understand?) the films you’re trying to get me to rip off. Telling me the characters should ‘just talk about nothing like they do in Pulp Fiction’ only serves to tell me you completely missed the point of the scene you’re referring to.
  8. Try and remember what notes you gave me last time. If I action something, don’t complain because I changed it. I understand sometimes a note doesn’t work in practice; it’s okay – we can change it back or find another way.
  9. Don’t get annoyed if I don’t immediately understand what a note means. There’s a very good chance we’re perceiving the script or character in a different way to each other. If that’s the case, a brief discussion will save weeks of fruitless tug of war.

Basically, don’t be a dick and try to understand we’re both trying to make the film as best it can be. Yes there are people who don’t know how to do their job and the process will be annoying and just shit; but try to presume competency in the other party until proven otherwise.

In fact, even when proven otherwise, assume there’s some piece of information you’re lacking before going all shouty.

Do you know what? I’ve just remembered Sam Bain wrote something very similar in his one and only blog post which is … hang on … here: http://sambaintv.blogspot.com/

Bugger.

His version is better and shorter too.

I had the sneaking feeling as I was ploughing through this that if all felt weirdly familiar. Now I don’t know whether to bother posting this or not. It’s slightly different, but generally covers a lot of the same ground … Oh fuck it, post and be damned.

Categories: Industry Musings, My Way, Random Witterings | 2 Comments

Persona re-launch

Persona, the daily 2-3 minute continuing drama series created exclusively for smart phones, re-launches on Monday the 26th of September.

Which is, fuck me, next Monday!

It’s September? Nearly October? Which is nearly Christmas? Which is nearly next year? How?

I’m sure I should remember more of the year than I do.

Regardless, Persona is re-launching. The app is free to download, as is all the daily content. All you have to do is swivel your eyeballs in the general direction of your phone and you get a daily dose of soapy goodness.

 

In the run up to the re-launch, someone somewhere has decided to roam the streets hassling passers-by and forcing them to say nice things about something they haven’t seen yet.

Like this:

and this:

Despite repeatedly refusing to be involved, I’m still somehow the Lead Writer and having to deal with writers far more talented than me. It’s humiliating, it really is. Every time they turn in a script, my self-esteem sinks a little lower. I don’t like being exposed to quality, it’s very upsetting.

But there you go: Persona, re-launching next Monday. Download the app at some point and then tell all your friends. Or don’t, just watch it on your own and it can be your dirty little secret.

Categories: Persona, Progress | Leave a comment

Lift every stone

If you’re an unproduced (or a seldom produced, currently between assignments) scriptwriter – are you doing everything you can to get work?

I know a lot of you have no credits (yet) and are writing spec scripts of (possibly) outstanding quality; but are struggling to find a producer willing to option/produce said scripts.

My question is: is that your only approach?

Is that all you’re doing? Writing your material in the hope of selling it to someone?

Or are you trying to get paid work elsewhere? Basically, how many baskets are those eggs in? If your CV has nothing on it (training doesn’t count. No amount courses from a weekend seminar to a four year degree count as much as one produced film credit) then on paper you have no experience.

Yes, your spec script should be stand apart from your CV. If it’s good, it’s good – end of story.

But … how many people are willing to read your script? How many people secretly IMDb you before deciding whether or not it’s worth agreeing to waste valuable time reading something you’re trying to flog to them?

Even a CV full of bad films shows you’ve got experience collaborating with others and there must have been some interesting spark to your work to attract that cast and the money before it ended up being ruined during production. So what are you doing, in tandem to writing spec scripts for the over-crowded spec market, to get stuff on your CV to show you’ve got experience of working with producers, directors, actors, budgets, deadlines, genre constraints and all the other obstacles you have to negotiate in order to turn a script into a film?

Have you, for example, applied for every job on Mandy.com?

Take a look at today’s listings: http://mandy.com/1/jobs2.cfm?terr=wld&skill=scr&paid=no (if you’re looking at this tomorrow or next month, you’re probably looking at different jobs to the ones we’re looking at today). There are six paid jobs at the top of that list.

Six.

Possibly six idiots who can’t afford to pay anyone; but you don’t know unless you apply. Even the unpaid work is worth applying for sometimes. You don’t know who these people are or where they may be in a year’s time. It’s got to be worth sending them an email and a sample script, right?

I mean, come on, if no one is nibbling at your spec scripts then what have you got to lose? At the very least, you’ll have learnt how to spot a no hoper from their adverts, which is invaluable in itself.

Working for someone is great motivation and training for your burgeoning career. If you’re not getting anywhere and you’re seeing more closed doors than open ones, ask yourself this question: am I knocking on all the doors?

Don’t limit yourself in the beginning. If one approach isn’t yielding fruit, diversify. Try everything, you have nothing to lose.

Categories: Opportunity | 1 Comment

Catch up calls

If there’s one part of the job I hate (and there isn’t really, hate’s a very strong word for something which is generally much fun) it’s the catch up calls; those quick calls from the producer to see how the script’s coming along.

You know the ones: “Hi, how’s it going? Did you see ‘Program X’ last night? Wasn’t it shit/good? How did the thing you were doing the other night go? Uh-huh, yeah; and how are you getting on with the script?”

Subtext being: “Is it done? I need it now! I don’t believe you’re doing anything, I think you’re just sitting around in your pants eating Doritos and masturbating to reruns of Cash in the Attic. Don’t you understand how urgent this is? How long does it take to put the fucking words on the fucking paper? I told you what to write, for fuck’s sake! Where’s my fucking script?”

Which is ridiculous. Everyone knows 9 out 10 writers prefer to eat popcorn whilst masturbating to reruns of Cash in the Attic. You could take your eye* out with a Doritos point if you’re not paying attention.

“Is it done?”

Stupidest fucking question since “Are we there yet?” Yes, yes we are. I’m just driving round in circles now in the vain hope you’ll throw up on me.

“Is it done?” Yeah, I finished months ago. I haven’t sent the script because I’ve been using it to prop up the wobbly table.

Look, this is really simple: if the script was done, you’d have it in your hands. Look at your hands, do it now. DO IT! Is there a script there? No? Then it’s not fucking done, is it?

The stupid bit is, I know once I hand the script over you won’t read it for weeks. I fucking know that, that’s what you always do when I send you a script. Every time I ring up to casually enquire if you’ve read it; you know:

“Hi, how’s it going? Did you see ‘Program X’ last night? Wasn’t it shit/good? How did the thing you were doing the other night go? Uh-huh, yeah. Oh, have you had a chance to read the script yet?”

Oh wait …

Maybe there’s two sides to this story? Maybe that explains why you’re always out of breath when I ring you between 11.45 and 12.15, you Doritos munching self-lover you?

Patience. There’s not enough of it to go round.

——————————————————————————————————-

* You may choose to imagine something filthy and extremely painful here, if it so pleases you.

Categories: Random Witterings, Rants | 1 Comment

Strippers vs. Werewolves – the story so far

Or, “How I spent my Summer”


So there’s this film called Strippers vs. Werewolves and it’s about Strippers and Werewolves who don’t really like each other – you with me so far? It’s a little cared about fact, but I was fortunate enough to do the production re-writes on Pat Higgins‘ frankly awesome script.

The film was filmed as occasionally happens … and then I didn’t really say anything about it for ages.

Sorry.

So now we’re in this situation where some of you have seen a rough trailer at Fright Fest and hopefully enjoyed it and there are all sorts of mentions of it all over the place … except here.

Now’s the time to get up to speed.

Directed by Jonathan Glendening (nice chap), the film stars Adele Silva, Ali Bastian, Sarah Douglas, Robert Englund, Martin Kemp, Billy Murray, Barbara Nedeljakova, Steven Berkoff, Alan Ford, Lysette Anthony, Coralie Rose, Martin Compston, Nick Nevern, Marc Baylis, Charlie Bond, Lucy Pinder, and even Billy Chainsaw.

It looks a little bit like this:

And people have been saying stuff about it like this:

Blogomatic3000 – Robert Englund

Daily Star – Ali Bastian

The Scotsman – Martin Compston

Daily Record – Martin Compston again

The Hollywood News – Billy Murray

Dread Central – Exclusive Pics

BTVision – Adele Silva

Nuts Magazine – Lucy Pinder

Shock Till You Drop – general movie goodness

Scream Magazine – on set

Bizarre Magazine has a lovely four page article on the movie this month (page 84, in case you were wondering).

And here’s Ali Bastian talking briefly about it at the Cowboys & Aliens premiere:

And here’s The Film First Show doing an on set report:

And that’s about it for now.

Obviously, I expect every single one of you to read each and every link above; because there will be a quiz next time we meet and woe betide anyone who can’t remember every single detail of every single article.

Hopefully, soon, I’ll be able to show you the trailer … which makes me go all tingly just thinking about it.

Categories: Publicity, Strippers vs. Werewolves | 10 Comments

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