Category Archives: Film

Sundance London 2012

So I’m back from the inaugural, and slightly ironically rainy, Sundance London Film Festival and have been asked by many to give my opinions of the event. So here they are in concise segments reflecting the type of questions people yelled at me.

What is Sundance London?
Understandable question as there are a lot of ‘Festivals’ around at the moment such as Cannes Film Festival, London Screenwriters’ Festival and even the original Sundance. This is actually like none of them. Sundance London is a showcase of the best films from Sundance in the US. Giving us the chance to see what is hot over in there. A lot of the films already have distribution in place and there isn’t a great pressure to sell it over here. In essence it is more of a film-lovers’ festival than a film-makers’ festival although I’ll explain later why film-makers’ can get a lot out of it too.

Wasn’t It A Bit Expensive?
Not really. It worked out at £12 a ticket, plus travel and food, but it was hosted at the O2 Arena, which is probably the nicest cinema complex I’ve ever been to. Huge HD screens (a first for me), comfortable seats, lots of leg room so you didn’t have to get up (or get trodden on) if people needed to pass. Most of the films were followed by Q&As by the directors and these were the best films from Sundance so the level was high. I enjoyed all the films I watched and have spent £9 many times on films that totally sucked before.

Now compare that to going to Sundance in the states and all the costs there? Again, it’s not the same environment but it is a good taster.

Let Me Know If It’s Worth It? 
Well it was. Particularly, for film-makers actually. First, you may never see some of these films, otherwise, as they might not get a commercial release over here. Understandble from a business point of view but you’ll miss out on some fantastic examples of innovative film-making that can inspire your own projects.

Then there are the Q&As with directors. Now, these in themselves aren’t that insightful as the audience are a mix of film-lovers and film-makers so you get quite basic questions that even you know the answer to. However, because there are less film-makers’ in each screening the directors aren’t all swamped by people afterwards. I went with my co-writer Alli Parker and having really enjoyed Nobody Walks (my film of the festival) we were able to have a lovely chat with Director and co-writer Ry Russo-Young who seemed to enjoy talking about more technical topics.

Pre-emptive question: Would you go again?
YES. And the buzz around the festival was that they were delighted with how well it was received and plan to come back. For all the points above, I think its worth it for film-makers and film-lovers alike.

My favourite two films were Nobody Walks and 2 Days in New York, both films about families and both written and directed by women. Not only is this refreshing and a reflection that the gender gap is getting smaller but these films were as much about the men as they were about the women. Hopefully, defying more stereotypes in the process.

Having said that, a special shout-out to my brothers Chris Rock who came-of-age in his acting career in 2 Days in New York as well as John Krasinski (Nobody Walks) who was the best I’ve seen him in a film to date.

Bring on Sundance London 2013!

The Horror of It All

BIG NEWS: I’m finally getting some time to write after over a year of upheaval and pretty much abandonment (bringing up my house, redecorating my son). I did some bits and bobs here and there but I feel like a footballer coming back from a long-term injury. It’s good to be back on my feet.

My main focus is to get back onto my comedy scripts but over the past few weeks all attempts of getting myself into that mindset has been thwarted by an idea that came to me about a horror film. Yeah HORROR (?!) Continue reading

Barnaby Thompson Q&A

I’ve been asked by quite a few people to give them the highlights of the insightful London Comedy Writer’s Q&A with the Head of Ealing Studios Barnaby Thompson and Head of Development Sophie Meyer. Of course nothing beats being there but I did make notes and here is a summary of the chat they had with Festival Director Chris Jones.

What type of film are Ealing Studios look for? High-concept and culturally specific films. So films like Full Monty and Four Weddings and a Funeral are prime examples of this.

Continue reading

The Production Office LIVE! Tonight

You want proof? You can’t handle the proof!

Yes, that’s me on the show that’s made by film-makers for film-makers. I reckon Chris and Judy will have something red and wearable, (literally) on their minds today. Tune in:

The Production Office LIVE! Tonight 7:30pm!

It’s the best online live show for film makers on the planet! I’m the podcast producer. That first sentence is in no way influenced by the second!

Watch it tonight: 7:30pm:

London Screenwriters’ Festival 2011 OFFER!

There’s no doubt that last year’s inaugural LSWF was a huge success. Just visit the site and see the comments. So having taken that leap of faith last year, the LSWF team are back with experience under their belts and many new and exciting developments coming your way.

Make sure you’re part of this thriving writing community by taking advantage of their pay monthly offer (ten months x £24 = your ticket!) There is no cheaper way to get a ticket, unless you sleep with David, Judy or Chris. Not altogether at once – well I don’t know, do your own pimping.

2011 Starts Now… well for me

Happy New Year! (a bit late I know but I’ve been away) So 2011 is nice and new and shiny and my ambition is, as usual, at a unmerited high. Time for some outrageous predictions of how I’m going to have a break through year writing followed by a post in September telling you how it all went Andy Gray.

First big decision, for the next month or so, is to DROP ALL FILM PROJECTS. What? Am I crazy (need you ask?)? Drop the area of writing I’m most interested in? Yes, and the main reason for this comes from external deadlines. You gotta love them. They are much better than the ones you can make for yourselves and then fling across the room when you feel like it/daily.

So I also like writing sketches, one-liners and sitcom. They’re also good for credits and in February the topical news sketch show Newsjack is returning on the radio. I’ve had success on this show before and even got invited to a special workshop at the BBC (I do rock the party that rocks the party). It’s great to sharpen the old comedy tools, a nice credit for 2011 and will help get myself back in the writing game. I’ll be trying to get something broadcast on that.

Then at the end of February there is the BBC’s Laughing Stock opportunity. Obviously a massive long shot but I have three sitcom scripts waiting to be polished and sent out and I intend to use this opportunity as a catalyst to finishing one of them and maybe all of them (so just one then). At least I’ll hope to have something to send out from the sitcom draw.

I have made a pact with myself (hah! like they’re worth shit) to finish two comedy pilots before going back into film. But once back in, I’m staying in. I’ve been honest with myself and dropped one project that had a producer attached because I simply wasn’t passionate enough about it – even though it was all my creation. It’s sad but I’ve gone through my list of sixty loglines and found three or four that I’m really passionate about at the moment. Still too many, but better than sixty!

And my big decision about Film is to read the ten or so comedy scripts I’ve been planning to before writing. These scripts are all so different that I feel I won’t end up repeating the tone or style of any of them. It’s a great lesson in film making and also inspirational.

So that’s it for now. Let’s all laugh at this post in the summer. More news on other projects I’m attached to coming very soon…

The Social Network

So I saw a preview of this the other day and thought I’d make a few points that stopped a decent film from being a great film. Like, I said, it’s a decent movie and a very interesting story of how Facebook (something that most gravitate to hourly) was developed in a student bedroom and the break-up of the friends who created it.

The first major problem is pretty much inherent to nearly all movies that are based so closely on real life events. Reality usually doesn’t naturally fit into a movie structure. Continue reading

London Screenwriters’ Festival Discount

Discount codeSo! We were one of the first blogs to announce the launch of the London Screenwriters’ Festival, now let’s be one of the first to point you in the direction of the all important What’s On page!

Yes, Tony Jordan. Yes, Tim Bevan. Yes, a shed load more!!!

Look at these names and look at these events! Having seen and spoken to the festival organisers you won’t believe how much work they have put into making this the best festival on screenwriting there has probably ever been.

Remember, these are changing and challenging times for all film-makers. New strategies have to be formed and new funding opportunities have to be sought. It’s so important to find the best ways to break into and stay part of the film-industry. This is a huge focus of the festival.

What’s more, the discount code of: comedy is still available if you want to get a £37 discount. Remember, currently, the RRP of £299 doesn’t include VAT, but if you leave it too late it will do (tax rules). Take advantage of this tax break. You have no reason to not do so!

What’s on Page

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Well, I’m a sucker for a preview screening – especially when it’s free! And in honesty, that was the only reason I went to this, ok, and the fact that my friend and I are big Edgar Wright (and Simon Pegg/Spaced etc) fans. I knew the basic plot: a guy has to fight off the seven evil ex’s of his new girlfriend. I knew it starred Michael Cera – and that’s it. Hadn’t even seen a trailer, never read the comic. My expectations were medium.

So what did I think? Well, I genuinely can’t remember the last time I watched a film that totally blew me away. Maybe since ET, Star Wars, Pulp Fiction days. It wasn’t anything special about the plot or the acting, it was the sharpness of the script and directing. Edgar Wright went to town on this and executed something truly remarkable. The scenes were packed with originality, references, great cut-aways. It was just a lesson in great film-making. It made me want to tear-up my comedy scripts and start them again, having seen the bar set so high.

Seriously, go see this film. I’ve never bought a Blu-ray in my life but will be making an exception just for the commentary and to watch it again. Edgar Wright is a genius.

Oh and the screenplay of this that is floating around the internet is currently the pre-Edgar draft. It’s close, but no guitar!