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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…

2010: Most Amazing Year Ever

I’ve never been busier yet I’ve hardly written anything. How the hell could this be a good year? Well becoming a father eclipses everything. I won’t go into that as any parent will know what I’m talking about and anyone who isn’t should only appreciate it when/if it happens to them.

The one thing I’ll say about it is that nothing has focused my mind more (as well as mashed it up). I’ve done a lot of adjusting and had to catch up with a lot of work, but I’ve also made some big decisions that I hope will give my writing a real chance.

Having mixed writing and work by developing the London Screenwriters’ Festival website, I hope to do more work in the film-making world in 2011. I’ve also got together a team of website developers to help ease the workload and help take on more work that makes everyone happy. With this extra time I’ll write more. But not only that, I’ve done a grid (inspired by Chris Jones here) that has helped me choose what projects I should be working on first.

The biggest lessons I’ve learned from 2010 is 1) to write what you are most passionate about, not what you think others are or things you have a slight interest in. 2) write with confidence. Find it somehow, make it up, fool yourself into cockiness. If you don’t write confidentially, it won’t read confidentially. You’ll lose hope and the cycle continues downwards.

So now to plan 2011…

What’s Next?

So the London Screenwriters’s Festival 2010 is over , knowledge has been absorbed, contacts have been formed, so what is next for this writer?

No seriously, I’m asking you. Answers on a postcard… bye.

Ok, ok. The truth is I learned A LOT from the sessions at the festival and my next step is to assess the projects I’ve got on the go and see if they fit with the distribution tips I picked up in London.

Then I need to finish off the scripts I have in various stages of development (if they still fit the distribution matrix). I need completed samples/spec scripts not three or four first drafts of a good idea.

I have too many ideas and get too passionate about them, dropping projects instantly just to get started ‘on the one’. Of course every new idea is the best ever. Mainly because it exists in such a small form: an idea. You haven’t got into the mess of plotting, structure, characters or (the most damaging aspect) writing the bastard thing. First drafts do suck, not all of it, but a lot of it. And it makes your genius idea very, very mortal. It’s a lot easier to move on to a fresh new idea. DON’T DO IT!

I also had a meeting about a ‘dream writing job’ last week. Unfortunately, that bubble has been burst. The director, who has written the script, wasn’t interested in someone clearing up a far too messy, unfocused and busy script. He wanted a jokes-smith to heighten the comedy. We had completely different visions for the script. A shame but I wish the project well.

On the upside, I’m free to crack on with my scripts so good day!

London Screenwriters’ Festival 2010. Done.

I’ve held off writing this post as I’m still trying to digest what the hell just happened for four days in London. Like many, I’m still feeling a magical buzz from being part of a new, exciting and talented community.

So how to tell this story? I’ve decided not to go all Memento on your ass and do it back to front with flashbacks and tattoos. So let’s just try and start at the beginning shall we?

Even before the festival I had a great meeting with a rising comedy actress and agent who are putting together a stand-up/sketch recording to pitch to the channels. It’s all very promising and I liked their ideas and they liked mine so: exciting!

Then off to the pre-festival drinks in a bar that was… yeah, can’t describe it. A throwback? It certainly had character and characters! There was also a launch going on for a book called Looking At Uranus. Although it was announced the author couldn’t make it because they had gout. It was going to be that sort of night! Anyway, I met some ‘very interesting’ people and it was a nice way to ease into the networking.

I was going to do a day-by-day break down but they’ve all merged into one fantasy-like dream. I’m not even sure some memories happened. Did we have a hot-tub? Anyway, the Skype chat with John August was definitely one of the highlights of day one. I think most people I spoke to had a different favourite session of the weekend, which is a good sign of a festival with something for every one.

To be honest, I didn’t go to a bad session. Other highlights were Distribution in the UK, What the Buyers Want and Writing for the USA and European markets. All very specific and brutally honest.

Of course, what made this event extra special for me were the people I met. A lot of whom I hope to build strong relationships with on both a work and social level. It was all very inspiring and I can see the creative cogs starting to turn with more vigour as the days went by. After all, it can be a lonely place being a writer. I feel the buzz is partly down to being in a world full of other writers. And I thank everyone that I met for their time and company.

So what next? Well, I’m working on keeping those relationships going and a master plan, based on what I have learned over the weekend. The main thing will be to finish my existing projects. There is a lot to gain from having many samples of work. There are also some doors I need to shoulder charge but more as an Arnie rather than a Pee-wee.

So to completely bastardise  Vogler, I feel like I returned from the special world to the ordinary world with the elixir. Although, of course, this is the start of a new movie not the end. OK, let’s just call it a multi-million dollar franchise, shall we? Excellent.

Networking at the London Screenwriters’ Festival

We are just days away from the hugely anticipated London Screenwriters’ Festival and people have been putting together some great guides on how to make the best of the event.

There will be some great and insightful events this weekend, the timing couldn’t be better with the future of film-making being a hot-topic at the moment. But one of the key components to having a successful festival really is your attitude to networking. Continue reading

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

Creating Good Characters

I’ve not agreed with everything in Writing Drama or any book on writing -because, you know, I rock the party that rocks the party (OK, I’m not sure I know what that even means) – but one area that resonates with me is the pages on character creation.

This is a subject that is absolutely crucial to get right in any script, and there are 101 theories (maybe even 102) about the process of creating your characters. A lot of which go down the ‘write a CV’ or ‘answer 50 questions’ route which I found more destructive than constructive. I found myself giving random answers to these and coming up with characters that were even more disjointed. If you follow the analogy that your character’s core is the skeleton and the flesh are his characteristics then my character’s often felt like they had been blown to pieces in a bomb attack.

The approach I find a lot more helpful is one that simplifies a character’s core by asking just a few questions:
What is his/her objective (not plural!)?
What is his/her internal obstacles (flaw)?
What is his/her external obstacles (layers)?
How does he/her react to different people (we don’t act the same infront of everyone. Add’s more layers)?

This approach allowed me to get a handle on my characters a lot quicker than anything else. And of course you can go back to your 50 questions with this in mind and tailor your answers better, even adding metaphors based on this. (Oooh…)

Networking at the London Screenwriters’ Festival

Not long to go before the London Screenwriters’ festival and tickets are running out fast! Make sure you get yours or you will miss out on the screenwriting event of the year.

For those already going here is a nice article about networking: click here