Category Archives: Random

London Screenwriters’ Festival 2011: The Aftermarth

It seems that quite a few of us are suffering from a huge comedown after the magnificent London Screenwriters’ Festival at the weekend. I’m only now digesting and dissecting all the emotions I’ve been through and this is my attempt at making sense of it. God help you!

For me, I think it stems from going to last year’s LSWF (2010), still very much living in a non-writing world where I knew very few writers in person and I was still solely working on my own projects. It was something that quite dramatically changed there and then and for good. I think I’m only just realising it now.

Thanks to the delegates I met and the inspiration and encouragement that the festival never fails to supply, I joined a group of delegates that, via twitter, started meeting up monthly for Script Chat drinks. This was incredibly important as it enabled me to maintain and build on a number of relationships I had started at the festival. Soon, these weren’t just other writers but collaborators, friends and some people found love (ahhh). Because twitter was at the core of this, communication with these new-found friends turned quickly from occasional to daily (writers, by definition, have A LOT of opinions and things to share!). Also, I’ve had the pleasure of working with quite a few of them on various projects.

So the difference between attending LSWF 2011 over LSWF 2010 was that I wasn’t just going to it knowing a few people that I had last met 12 months ago. I was going to it with a lot of familiar faces and friends, which is great when you want a balance between meeting new people and kicking back with friends. In fact, it was beneficial to meeting new people as “oh, you should meet…” became a popular phrase over the three days. Most of all, I realised that because I communicate with these people so regularly (and more often than a lot of my own friends) I wasn’t going to LSWF 2011 from a non-writing world any more. The connection was so much stronger and I enjoyed it even more.

So as well as missing being inspired everyday, learning priceless lessons and belonging to the asylum, I miss being around new and old friends. But you know what? I’m taking them with me and so should you.

This is really a message about the power of networking. A case-study, if you like. I hope people don’t fall into that trap of just writing a nice email to all your business card contacts only to exchange shorter and shorter emails until they fizzle out. See if they are on twitter, Skype or live nearby. Getting a group together is even better, there’s less pressure on individual relationships as you can just mingle. I don’t live in London but still come in just for Script Chat. Also, the LSWF Ning network is made for keeping in touch. It’s your delegates-only Facebook.

Whatever the case, try and find an informal way of staying in touch regularly. Make it part of the world you want to live in.

There will be more semi-delusional posts from me in the coming days, so thanks for reading.

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

Confession: I Failed…

Hello, my name’s Anton and I failed. This is an open confession disguised as a big kick up the butt for me to sort out my writing. BBC’s great initiative Laughing Stock closes this week and I won’t be sending anything in despite it being exactly the sort of opportunity I should be taking.

I have no real excuse, I knew about it from late last year. I had three pilots in various states of completion and I chose one early. I started working on it and then I allowed myself to get absorbed by other things instead of working my socks off. Even going into last weekend I had a plan to get it done but a bout of flu and a family visit put paid to that. But it shouldn’t have because I should have done the work earlier. I really let myself done.

However, it’s taught me a BIG lesson. My perception of time and balance of work and writing is way out of sync. I used to be able to do a full day of work and a couple of hours writing in the evening but not any more. Age and the energies of being a new Dad have seen the back of that.

So I’m making big changes. I found I can do a few hours of work in the evenings no problem, so I’m going to swap a couple of hours of writing into my working day. And my punishment is to finish all three pilots before working on any new specs. Two of them have to be done by the end of March.

I will allow myself to work on a radio play that might suit the stage having had a very positive discussion about it. I’ll also try and get something on BBC Radio’s Newsjack to get some credits for 2011.

This failure has hit home more than any other. I don’t want to be seven years down the line and still making the same mistakes and excuses. I don’t even want to be seven days down the line and feeling that. So this post is also a statement of intent.

I believe anyone can change. Just don’t say ‘starting from tomorrow/next week etc.’ Start from NOW. Now I am an organised writer. It’s up to me to keep that title.

Being Productive

So part of my becoming-a-writer strategy is  to get more involved with people and projects related to the industry. If you haven’t seen the Production Office then you must go and see it now!

Production Office

Is that big enough for you?

It’s also free on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-production-office/id378311898

Oh and that’s where I come in. I helped set that up for them.

It’s presented by Oscar-nominated Chris Jones and brilliant Producer Judy Goldberg and is all about industry people and stories, particularly success and breaking-in stories. Not just for writers, but all areas as filmmaking as in today’s climate you do need to be more active and have knowledge and experience of these other roles.

I’m very happy to be involved in a very small way. It helps get your name out there and my passion is to make films, not only write, so I’m trying to not restrict my skillset to just writing.

Out of Focus

My brain is as much my enemy as my friend when it comes writing (and probably life!).

For example, when I know I should be writing a particular sitcom script, it will start saying ‘Ooh, by the way, I’ve got a good idea for that OTHER sitcom script you’ve got but are not working on today,’ or ‘Hey, how about this for a NEW sitcom pilot…’ or even ‘FILM! I’ve got an idea for a film!’

Yeah, thanks. I really need you to be thinking about other projects when I’ve set my self targets and deadlines for this sitcom that you had a great idea for whilst trying to write topical sketches an hour before deadline!

I thought I had some sort of compromise for this as I’m trying to work on both sitcom and film ideas in preparation for the Cheltenham Screenwriter’s Festival. That was until this morning when I heard ‘Oh my God, I have an amazing idea for a play.’

Bloggers Block

What to write about on here now? I’m preparing for the Screenwriters Festival in Cheltenham and working through my planned scripts. By the way, I dropped a planned rewrite of a pilot I had drafted a while back so I’m down to two pilots a feature treatment and its first ten pages. I might lose more as the sands of time leak on. In fact I’m pretty sure I will.

I’ve got meetings with agents and producers for only three minutes each and I’m terrified that three minutes will be too long! OK, so better focus. I’ve also got to get some business cards and a website (lets call it a web page for accuracy) ready. So the question shouldn’t be what to write on here now, it should be why am I writing here now???

Funny old day

Yesterday, I tried and failed to get back into the full swing of writing again after a couple of weeks away. Well, away from actual writing that is as I was doing research and outlining on other projects. It was horrible. I genuine thought I had lost what little ability I thought I had before the break. Nothing was coming out, nothing was funny (and yes, I’m working on a comedy). I got depressed and nearly stalled my car on the way to Sainsbury’s – that’s how bad it got.

Today I woke-up (this post is proof) and suddenly things are flowing again, I even made myself laugh. Of course the trick is to make other people laugh but the main thing is I’m back on it. The thought of ‘shit, I’ve rearranged my whole life to be a writer. What the hell am I going to do now that I KNOW I can’t do it?’ is put off for another day. Probably until tomorrow. Perseverance and a decent sleep work wonders.

I also watched Margot at the Wedding yesterday and had one of those WTF? moments. In fact I had a few during the film and more after. There was no wedding and it was quite gripping but it was like you’d just started watching the film half way through and then left before the ending. At bit like this post minus the ‘gripping’ bit.

Who The F*** Are You?

It seems like an age since I last posted and that’s probably because it is, as I have been in those United States of that America for almost two weeks. All holiday, no work or writing. Very nice thanks, nice weather, nice food, nice Jet-lag. Blah. So I thought I’d warm my way back into your hearts with a rant.

Whilst sitting in the Rockefeller Tower sipping Champagne cocktails I was mildly furious, absolutely mildly furious, to see more of these ‘writing opportunities’ that tell you vaguely what they want (but not always) but nothing, NOTHING, about themselves. I nearly choked on my medium-rare Sirloin with the rage I was most definitely not in.

The ad usually goes something like this:

CASE STUDY A

Hi. We’re interested in new writers for our projects, please send us some samples of your work to: wearesoprofessionalthatwedonthaveacompanyemailaddress@gmail.com

The reply they are obviously expecting to this is:

Dear fucking amazing people, thank you for gracing my world with your fuck-me-this-tastes-like-smack offer. I’ve been waiting for an offer like this since I started writing with my own shit. I don’t care who you are as I’m so desperate for exposure that I practise flashing in Toys R Us. Attached is my best writing samples along with a video of me wanking to your advert.

OR…

CASE STUDY B

Hi. I’ve been trying to write for a while but struggle with creating characters, plot and stories. So I’m looking for a writer to collaborate with. Please send me some samples of your work so I can see if we match.

Again the reply they are expecting is:

Oh my God! Sorry for replying so late but I’ve just come back from A&E because, upon reading your ad, I suddenly blew enough spunk to propel a fucking rocket ship into space. You say you don’t have any of the basic writing skills to actually write? Well that’s ok. I’ve got shitloads of time to waste and I totally believe you must have some hidden fucking genius inside you and I’d be anal-rimmingly honoured to do all the work for you so long as I can sniff your balls on a fortnightly basis. I’ve attached my best work, I hope it matches  enough for you to cock-slap your name all over it. I’ve also attached a video of me wanking to Cheaper By The Dozen so you can blackmail me too.

So I guess my point is: think about the writer, you know, the person you are trying to ‘attract’. WHY should they reply to you? WHAT’S in it for them? If you don’t put any of these things in your ad then any decent writer won’t look at you again. Instead you’ll get the desperate ‘writers’ that reply with the above (they have never worked for me – yet).

And the WHY and the WHAT doesn’t have to be the promise of bag loads of money (although that is one way) it can just be the courtesy of telling us about your projects, vision, resources, portfolio. Think not what we can do for you, but what you can do for us, too. That’s what we are looking for… that and a cure for inapproriate sexual references.

May Contains Nuts on ITV!

This week a dream came true when I was watching Benidorm (that wasn’t my dream) and during the adverts I finally got to hear ITV promote May Contain Nuts, the show I created and co-wrote. It was jubilation in my living room, only slightly soured by the fact that this wasn’t actually the same May Contain Nuts that I created and co-wrote.

It was a comedy-drama that had nothing to do with me, but I’m probably just being pandantic. The celebrations continue. I’m now writing my new sketch show called The News at Ten. I can almost hear it now…

Subliminal Subliminal

The week shot by with not much actually writing words but lots of plotting and planning. I’m working on a script that I’m on the 3rd/4th write-through on and its time to add extra layers to the scenes such as symbolism and subliminal shots. This is something the experienced writer might do quite early on in their script but I’m fairly new to the 30 min+ world so I had left it until now.

I needn’t have bothered though. By some freak coincidence the quirks I had given certain characters were prefect symbols or metaphors of their stories. So, basically, I had been subliminally putting in subliminal messages and symbols in my script all along (!?)

I’m writing subliminal a lot because I have trouble saying it, and this thing has spell check. In fact, I don’t think I’ve actually spelt it correctly in this piece without requiring spell check. That’s just how I roll. (I spelt spell check wrong too – it isn’t one word.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to buy a car which is exciting, scary and depressing all at the same time. A bit like getting married. This weekend I’m looking forward to watching (friend of the blog) Chris Regan’s Ten Dead Men, which I now own on DVD. (Subliminal linkage alert).

The sketch show is still getting good reviews and interest and I’m preparing to write for another BBC radio sketch show in the next few weeks.

Subliminal.