Monthly Archives: April 2012

Strippers vs. Werewolves – in cinemas now!

Written by Pat Higgins (and, to a lesser extent, me), directed by Jonathan Glendening and produced by Jonathan Sothcott and Simon Phillips – one or all of us is to thank/blame for Strippers vs. Werewolves hitting the big screen near you right now.

Unless you’re reading this at three in the morning, in which case it probably isn’t on right now. But later on, maybe?

Unless you’re reading this in the future, in which case – you missed it. Sorry.

Strippers vs. Werewolves!

Starring Adele Silva, Ali Bastian, Sarah Douglas, Billy Murray, Robert Englund, Coralie Rose, Lysette Anthony, Steven Berkoff, Alan Ford, Barbara Nedeljakova, Lucy Pinder, Martin Compston and Martin Kemp and some other people!

The trailer looks almost exactly like this:

What’s it about?

Don’t ask stupid fucking questions.

Strippers vs. Werewolves – out now!

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Categories: Strippers vs. Werewolves | 2 Comments

Strippers vs Werewolves – the première

I got some new glasses yesterday. Thing is, statistically, I don’t wear glasses.

I mean, obviously I do wear glasses, but so infrequently I might as well not bother.

In fact, I only wear them for driving in the dark or going to the cinema; so when I picked my new pair up yesterday I needed to find an activity which involved doing both.

Thing is, what involves going to the cinema and driving in the dark?

Hmm …

Oh, yeah!

Something like this would be perfect:

And so, with no further ado beyond some lunch, some shopping, a cup of tea and a bit of a sit down, Mandy and I got dolled up in our finest:

… and set off for London Town.

I, um, didn’t take a photo of us. Suffice it to say, Mandy looked awesome and hot and awesome. I was considerably less so, being ginger; but did my best.

Ooh, one of her shoes looked like this!

The other one looked kind of the same, but opposite.

And lo, on the twenty-fourth day of the fourth month of the last year according to wacko conspiracy-theorists, we did arrive at the Apollo Piccadilly Circus:

I, um, forgot to take a picture of that too. Hang on, I’ll see if there’s one on the internet …

It’s kind of almost exactly like that, only with lots of photographers outside and boards and posters all over the place saying it was the Strippers vs. Werewolves première. It was really exciting, I wish I’d taken a photo of it now.

As we walked in, the press took these photos of Mandy and I:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh. Looks like they forgot to take photos too. Which is weird because I did do the production re-writes of Pat Higgins‘, frankly, awesome script and am therefore of no consequence whatsoever.

Bloody press, eh? No wonder they’re in so much trouble over phone-hacking if they can’t even take a few photos of celebrities such as myself. I feel sorry for them when they have to tell their editor later on (who is doubtlessly a very angry, cigar smoking man with a flat top) that they completely failed to get photos of any–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh.

I see, that’s how it is, is it?

Well, I bet these so called ‘photographers’ didn’t get this shot:

Because if they did it would probably be better framed and not on an odd angle and maybe more in focus.

By the way, The Daily Mail described Lucy Pinder’s outfit as “drab”; which I can only assume is idiot-journo-speak for “didn’t have her tits out” or “dressed completely appropriately for the occasion” because I think she looked stunning.

And then the movie started! The moment I’d been waiting for! The moment when I could wear my new specs!

To preserve the sense of occasion, I recorded the whole film on my phone for you to watch here:

Oh, don’t know what happened there.

Never mind, you can watch it on Friday in the cinema or catch it on BluRay or DVD from May 7th.

The showing was a complete success – my specs worked perfectly; and after tucking them away and being gleefully hugged by one of these ladies:

… Mandy and I slipped off to the after party which was here:

Yeah, I forgot to take a photo of that too.

To be fair, the Zoo ladies were blocking the entrance and drawing a massive amount of attention, so we had to wait until they’d finished and we could slip in quietly. I didn’t want to upstage them:

The Penthouse is a pretty spunky place (if you’d seen the website I just got the above image from, you’d feel sick typing that sentence). I completely failed to take photos of either the view or the interior; but luckily @louisabradshaw took this one of the view:

Which I stole, sorry! And the interior looked like this:

Only, without the tables and the girl and … well, it’s the same room; but it didn’t really look anything like that.

We got some free sausages though! Did I mention the sausages? They were free and they were sausages.

I ate lots.

Because they were free.

Then we chatted to some people, had some free drinks and some more free sausages.

Free! They were free!

There were other canapé things there too, but the sausages really stuck in my mind. And my teeth.

At the end of the night, just as the clock struck midnight, my dress turned back into rags and I fled the scene leaving behind one glass … no wait, that wasn’t me.

At the end of the night, we went home on the train (which took forever) and then I got to wear my glasses again driving home:

You can choose to believe that’s a missing photo of the train, my glasses, me driving home or my house. Knock yourself out, I didn’t take photos of none of them.

In fact, the only worthwhile photo I took all night was this one:

And that, to me, is worth all the free sausages you can eat.

Just not all I can eat, because I’m a greedy bastard.

Categories: Sad Bastard, Strippers vs. Werewolves | 9 Comments

Script format: how and WHY (introduction)

There are millions of websites, books, seminars and gobshites telling you how to format a script.

Millions.

Or possibly just thousands.

In this modern age (which will be old fashioned by tomorrow morning) there is no excuse for not knowing how a script is formatted. Even if you don’t know, there are programs which will do it for you.Turning in a badly formatted script is almost harder than turning in a well formatted one … and yet it still happens.

Recently, during my duties on Persona, I’ve received some very odd scripts. To be fair, most of them are perfectly fine; a couple differ from the norm in subtle, but unimportant ways (because a lot of it doesn’t really matter); but there are a few which are so badly formatted as to be unusable.

I was wondering why anyone would turn in a script like that, when I had a thought:

Maybe these people don’t know why scripts are formatted in a specific way.

Perhaps they don’t know why dialogue is left aligned and not centred or why action blocks shouldn’t be longer than four lines at a time or why mini-slugs are great in a spec script but not so wonderful in a shooting script?

Maybe that information isn’t out there?

It is, I’ve fucking seen it; but I thought I’d collate as much as I can into one place so when I get really, really fucking angry after spending four fucking hours retyping and reformatting someone’s jumbled pile of nonsensical words into a script we can actually shoot and schedule from and that person turns in the next draft with ALL THE SAME FUCKING MISTAKES, instead of writing an email full of swear words and threatening to eat his stupid fucking fingers, I can just send them this link.

But before I get into all the specific nuts and bolts, I thought I’d have a general ramble:

WHY IS SCRIPT FORMAT IMPORTANT?

I was at a friend’s house the other day, a director who’d been given a script to read … but had left it sitting on a shelf for nearly a year.

Why?

Rudeness? Laziness? Absentmindedness?

No. Because he knew it was going to be shit, just by looking at it.

How?

Well, because it was 170 pages long, unbound, had the title and ‘written by’ on page one, was covered in copyright symbols, credited other people who’d read it but not written it and had an action block which took up nearly half of the page.

In other words, it was badly formatted.

The script failed the first impressions test and didn’t get read for nearly a year. Eventually, of course, he did get round to reading it (when he’d run out of paint to watch dry) and discovered it was exactly as bad as he suspected it would be,

Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a format Nazi.

He wasn’t measuring margins or complaining because the writer used the wrong separator on the slugline; but at a glance he (and I) could tell the script would be awful because it was obvious the writer didn’t understand format. And when someone doesn’t understand format, there’s a very strong possibility they don’t know how to write.

Some of you now will be screaming something along the lines of DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER.

And you can fuck right off.

You absolutely should judge a book by its cover because there are millions of books and if you don’t whittle them down to a manageable pile, you will have to read an awful lot of shit to find one you like. There are some very clever people paid good money to design book covers which will appeal to the kind of people who will enjoy that kind of book.

True, they sometimes get it wrong. They sometimes lie and clad a book in inappropriate cover to fool people into thinking it’s  as good a book as the last bestseller in the same genre. I get it, it’s a bad analogy; but what is true is this:

FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT

Script format is the suit your script wears to its job interview. If the script isn’t wearing its suit, if it’s not formatted properly then it immediately screams one of two things:

  1. The writer doesn’t know how a script is formatted.
  2. The writer doesn’t care how a script is formatted.

Neither of those things is good. Let’s examine them:

  1. The writer doesn’t know how a script is formatted.

I’ve heard people say things in defence of this like: “Maybe it’s the writer’s first script?”

Possibly. But does that make it acceptable?

What you’re actually saying there is the writer, completely new to the game, hasn’t bothered to do the bare minimum of research needed to determine how a script is formatted. They haven’t read any scripts, they haven’t read up on what they’re supposed to be doing or how they’re supposed to be doing it – they’ve just slapped some words down on paper.

Is that a good thing?

Yes, they might be a genius. It’s possible they can write an amazing story right out of the gate.

But it’s unlikely.

Writing is a craft.

Scriptwriting is a very technical craft. You need to understand all the tricks of the normal storytelling trade, plus be able to write a technical document which can be passed around several different departments. Every single person who reads a script is looking for different information to help them do their job … if that information isn’t there, they can’t do their jobs.

Yes, their story could be an amazing piece of genius which can be retrofitted with format by someone with less talent … it could be.

But, statistically, it probably isn’t.

You’ve got to understand the odds here. As close to all as makes no difference of badly formatted scripts are badly written as well. How many times do you think someone has to make the same mistake before they realise it’s just not worth the effort?

Yes, most well formatted scripts  are awful as well; but at least they’re easy to read.

Put it this way – I’m going to give you a hundred books to read. In that pile there may or may not be one good book. There probably won’t be, but there might be. Not great, not amazing, but good.

Some of those books are recognisably books with writing and covers and words in a language you can understand. Some of them have one letter to a page and are nine-hundred thousand words long.

Which ones are more likely to contain the good, but probably not great, story?

And would you actually make the effort to read the one-letter-to-a-page books?

If you said yes, you’re  a liar. Or have too much time on your hands. Or both.

Not knowing how a script should be formatted shows a lack of interest in your own career. You haven’t bothered to do any research for the job so probably aren’t that serious. If it’s your first script, it’s probably shit. Mine was. So was the first of nearly every other working writer I’ve spoken to.

Saying you shouldn’t judge a script on its format because it might be the writer’s first script is like saying you’re wrong to not buy a car with square wheels because it’s the first car the designer drew. Not experienced to format a script = (probably) not experienced enough to write a decent script.

Probably.

2.  The writer doesn’t care how a script is formatted.

The writer’s a renegade! He breaks rules! He knows what you expect of him, he knows what will make your life easier … and he doesn’t give a shit! He’s deliberately throwing out the rule book to make you work harder! Not for him the easily understandable format which has evolved slowly over time to ensure a consistent read. He’s throwing out the old and doing it his own damn way!

In other words, he’s a cunt.

Think about it. This is a writer who’s learnt the rules and decided they’re not for him. He doesn’t want to wear a suit to the interview because FUCK YOU, THAT’S WHY!

Is this a writer you want to work with? Is this someone you want to spend years working alongside to hammer the script into shape? Someone who doesn’t even want to make the script easy for you to read? Is that person likely to take criticism well?

Given everyone you want to read your script also reads a lot of other scripts, surely if you apply the minimum amount of thought you’ll realise you work on the format so they don’t have to. Because when a script’s format is all over the place, when things aren’t on the page in exactly the same places as they were in the past thousand scripts … it’s really fucking difficult to read.

That’s before the reader gets to the actual content – you’re making them struggle with the actual reading.

Fucking knock it off.

Right, I’m going to stop now because this has gone on long enough. Next time I’ll ramble on about the specific elements of a script and why they are like they are.

The key point to remember though, is scripts are not just stories, they are technical documents. Blueprints, if you like, and conform to certain conventions to make it not just easier for everyone to read, but actually possible for a wide range of people to make a film from it.

A writer who doesn’t know, or refuses to stick to, the conventions is like a composer who writes concertos in their own shorthand as opposed to the standard musical notation – how the fuck is anyone supposed to understand it?

Categories: Industry Musings, Someone Else's Way | 10 Comments

Likeability

The protagonist isn’t likeable enough – one of the worst notes in history.

Not because it isn’t true; but rather, frequently, the note-giver doesn’t know what it means. They certainly aren’t saying what they mean.

It’s a phrase which gets bandied around a lot and it’s just not true. I don’t think you need to like the protagonist, I think you just need to understand them.

Understanding comes from either empathy or sympathy or perhaps from a third word I’ve not come across in my sheltered upbringing. In retrospect, I wish I’d read more literature and watched less Knightrider.

No, fuck that, Knightrider’s ace.

A protagonist can be rude, abusive and downright unpleasant to the people around him … but if you’ve ever even remotely felt like shouting at someone’s disabled granny for being a moron (because, surprisingly, people with disabilities are people too and can be just as stupid as people without disabilities), then you understand them.

A protagonist who wants to kill the world because the world killed his dog – I understand that (sort of, okay so it makes no fucking sense; but you know what I mean). I may not agree with it, I may not like it; but I get it. So long as he’s funny or clever or good at what he does – I’ll keep watching.

When no one has any idea what a protagonist wants, he doesn’t display any skills anyone values and he’s unpleasant along with it … that’s when you get the note: make him more likeable.

I’m pretty certain the note-giver doesn’t want to see him giving money to charity or rescuing a kitten from an alligator, they just want to understand him a bit better.

I think they just want to know why he’s behaving like this and how they can relate that to one of their own experiences.

Having said that … sometimes they do mean they want to see pet fondling and goofy smiles. Not because that’s what they think, but because that’s what they think they’re supposed to think. Problem is, a lot of the people giving notes have read the same misinformation (or bullshit, if you prefer) that you and I have. Only they’ve believed it. Which is the problem with bullshit and why it should be stamped out wherever possible.

Unless I’m spouting it, in which case you should nod and smile politely … because it will make you more likeable.

Categories: Random Witterings | 5 Comments

Once in a lifetime

If you’re an unproduced writer, or a writer somewhere on the fringes, chances are you’re looking at an opportunity right now and have named it your BIG BREAK. This is it! This is the one which is going to catapult you into the big time, if this one goes wrong you’ve missed out, lost the ‘game of write’ and will never, ever be allowed into ‘the club’.

You know ‘the club’, the one everyone’s trying to break into? The one where you no longer have to write stuff no one appreciates, no longer have to network or pitch or claw, fight and maim to get a commission?

That’s right, the one which doesn’t exist.

Your BIG BREAK is probably a competition, or a trial script for a show, or a well-known director or producer who’s agreed to read your script, maybe it’s an open script call on a production company’s website? The point is, this is THE ONE! You’ve got a limited amount of time to get your script in order or the opportunity will be gone forever.

Fuck the family, fuck the day job, fuck sleep – if this script isn’t finished in time, your fledgling career is over!

Except, it’s not. Not really.

Just look at that list again:

  1. a competition
  2. a trial script for a show
  3. a well-known director or producer who’s agreed to read your script
  4. an open script call on a production company’s website

That’s four once-in-a-lifetime opportunities off the top of my head. You see, thing about once-in-a-lifetime opportunities is there’s tons of the buggers. They happen pretty much every day. Competitions are frequently annual … and there’s thousands of them, some shows will always take trial scripts and directors/producers/companies will always need new material.

If your script isn’t finished in time for this competition – don’t enter. If your script isn’t good enough yet, don’t give it to Mr Famous Director because you happened to sit next to him on the train.

Yes, there are tens of success stories from people who got their work produced on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; but there are thousands more who sent in a script they’d rushed to finish and didn’t get any further.

The successes may have failed a dozen once-in-a-lifetime opportunities before they found the one which made them.

Similarly, the failures will have many, many more opportunities in the future. Opportunity is always there – always. The worst thing you can do (barring breaking into someone’s house armed with electrodes and bad thoughts) is to send anyone a script you’ve completed in a sloppy rush.

“But Mr Famous Director wants to read it now! He’s leaving town in two days!”

Yeah? So what?

He’ll either come back or he won’t. Giving him a shitty, unfinished script isn’t going to help, is it? If he doesn’t come back, there are lots of famous directors – if the script’s good enough, one of them will take it.

Quality will out, shoving shit in an envelope in a blind panic won’t.

If you’re stressed and panicked, chances are you’re not doing your best work anyway – relax. Let this competition go, you can enter next year.

Prodco taking open submissions? They’re doing it once, they’ll do it again. If they don’t and your idea is good enough, email them in a year’s time (when it’s actually finished) and ask them nicely if they’ll read it. They probably will and you’ll have the added bonus of not being one more script in the massive open-submission slush pile.

There is no such thing as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you won’t know your BIG BREAK until after the fact. This is a race with no defined finish line and is purely against yourself – run it at your own pace, one you can sustain for years if need be. Singling one opportunity out as your ONLY CHANCE FOR SUCCESS is just silly – you’re putting too much pressure on yourself, relax.

I’m not saying don’t take every opportunity you can find, I’m just saying you need to get the egg/basket ratio right.

Don’t send anything out until it’s ready. Not ever. Your big break is out there somewhere, but it’ll choose you, not the other way around.

Categories: Opportunity, Random Witterings, Writing and life | 9 Comments

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