Friday, 15 July 2016

Capture UNLEASHED

CAPTURE has been let off the leash.

Additional edits done. Polished. Ready. Done. Beautiful, like a bucket of bees and fish.

What?

That IS beautiful.

The collar has been removed and the spooky bastard is running towards inboxes! Chaaaaarge!

That's it.

Thrilling update.

Now to edit that other script. Something to do with snakes. And stone.

Have an awesome weekend!


Thursday, 14 July 2016

Mine @ DC Shorts

Short film MINE has been accepted into the DC Shorts Film Festival 2016.

Directed and produced by Simon Berry and written by some mental bastard called David Scullion, it's a great little comedy-horror short about two pensioners, a secret exposed... and a minefield.

The lineup has not been announced yet, but the festival will be running from 8th - 18th of September in Washington DC.

When they release dates and times I'll be sure to shower this blog with information. Or perhaps you can just show up for the entire festival? I don't mind either way.


Hopefully MINE will also be accepted into a bucket-tonne of other festivals, so anyone not local to Washington DC can see it.

I'll keep you updated.

Well, I'll keep this blog updated. I won't update you by personally by phone or email. I won't come round your house and update you personally while you're sleeping or taking a bath or roasting hens or hiding in fear of the man living in your walls.

Anyway.

Expect updates.

Expect them.




Hey!

You!

Are you expecting updates? No?

THEN START EXPECTING THEM. NOW!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Capture This

CAPTURE Draft X is done.

I'm not getting all Roman numerical on you -- that's not Draft 10 but actually Draft X.

X?

Yeah, the number you use when you've forgotten how many rewrites you've done on a script...

Rewrite is a strange word too, as it suggests a certain kind of decimation. A pulling apart and restitching. In some instances it certainly is and in others it's merely editing or replacing a scene with something fresher. Sometimes it can be a 'continuity rewrite' or a character pass.

Thanks to some excellent notes from my agents, I've rewritten CAPTURE again and sent it over for final approval - dialogue changes, 'scare' changes, entire scene rewrites and a selfie moment. You know, for the kidz.

If my agent thinks this is "all good" then this beast will be splashing down in inboxes across the land. What a lovely treat for all the boys and girls. Christmas comes early, if Christmas is an ancient evil that can only be seen in photographs. Which it is.

So. Draft X done.

Now what?

Onto the edit of my 'super secret project TM'.

Draft number IV.


Thursday, 30 June 2016

Scripts Scripts Scripts Squirrels

Been a busy month.

Finished a rewrite on CAPTURE and now it's with my agent for review / notes / burning in a sacrificial pyre.

Finished an entirely new script... which is completely different to anything I've written before. Okay, it's not COMPLETELY  different -- it has words and characters and is written in Final Draft and not on the backside of an angry elephant (the other industry standard screenwriting software).

Now I need to read and edit it... and work out if it's great or an insane bag of bollocks.

Had a few meetings about DON'T MOVE: The Feature, so hopefully this terrifying beast might be moving in the right direction.

I'm also 30 pages into another script but keep getting distracted by other ideas and squirrels.


So many ideas (and squirrels)... so little time...

Right.

That's it.

Quick update done.

Onward and upwards. Or sideways. Or backwards, if you're running away from an angry elephant that you've just etched the words FADE OUT into...






Squirrel!

Monday, 27 June 2016

Last Brexit to Nowhere


The votes are in.

The people have spoken.

The world has face-palmed itself.

The United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have voted to leave the European Union. I would include Gibraltar in this but since 95% of them voted Remain, they really tried damn hard to keep us in the EU.

But we're done. Out. Gone.

And there have been instant repercussions.

David Cameron immediately resigned as Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party have imploded, Scotland have suggested a second independence referendum, the pound (temporarily) collapsed and Spain have placed a firm hand on the shoulder of Gibraltar, whispering "You're my wife now, Dave" into it's trembling ear.





There will be long-lasting repercussions for all industries, but it looks like the arts will be kneecapped and thrown into a quarry.

Our current government doesn't value the arts and if - when - the magical 350 million quid a week doesn't materialize from leaving the EU, it'll mean more cuts to plug those trade-shaped holes that're likely to explode inside the heart of the UK.

That means even LESS money for the arts. Less subsidies. Less grants. Less schemes. Less opportunities.

These Screen Daily and Guardian articles probably explains it perfectly:


Now, this probably doesn't bother Joe Workman in Sunderland, who doesn't give half a monkey's fuck if it's suddenly 200% harder for me to get a feature film funded or if a local theatre in Newham is forced to close down because their EU grant is gone.

Joe Workman may not care, but I do. This was my future and it's been made even harder. Much harder. Impossibly harder.

I'm worried for my friends. My family. My colleagues. For film and TV and theatre and opera and all the other glorious bits of our culture that are likely to be slowly decimated by this decision.

I never get political on my blog, but I had to write something about this. Anything. This is a monumental change that could destroy the trajectory of some people's lives.

I hope I'm wrong in this. I hope the arts can expect a gigantic injection of cash from a culture-loving government and suddenly we're flush with film funds and arts grants and reinvigorated fringe theatres...

...but it's doubtful.

It's worrying.

Only time will tell, I suppose, but I wanted to make it clear on this Blog for future reference.

I voted Remain.

Democracy and England and Wales decided otherwise, and I can accept that. I have to. We all have to. But now we've leapt into the unknown, I just hope there's money at the bottom of that dark pit... and not razor blades and salt.

Good luck UK.

Good luck to the EU.

Good luck everyone.

Into darkness we go.

Let's see where we land.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Don't Move x 1,000,000

DON'T MOVE has hit 1 MILLION hits.

That's right. Over 1,000,000 people have viewed the demented and terrifying madness of Don't Move in YouTube alone.

Combined with Vimeo that's over 1,160,000 views.

Not bad for a little 2013 short film made in rural England.

It has garnered awards, praise, mild confusion (how does someone trip over a SHOE?!), huge love, disgust and launched a feature script that's circulating Hollywood and the UK film industry (like a hawk!).

Thanks to Bloody Cuts for making my mad script a reality.

Anyway, this evil bastard still has legs and clearly ain't dead yet.

More on this in the future!

Oh, and if you haven't checked out Bloody Cuts' latest masterpiece THE BIRCH then you HAVE TO.

NOW.

Seriously. Drop everything and watch it. Everything. Including your baby and that strange vial of glowing green liquid...

That's also in the 1 million club and it's only been out for a month!

Watch and enjoy --

http://www.blumhouse.com/2016/06/14/check-out-the-creepy-new-short-film-the-birch/

Friday, 27 May 2016

Introductions and Unfilmables

 Sexism is bad. A statement so bleedingly obvious it feels comical to write it...

...but I have to.

Why?

In 2016 producer Ross Putnam had the sharp idea of noting sexist character introductions in scripts he read and then posted them on Twitter (under @femscriptintros).

By sexist I don't mean an intro reads like "JANE stands in the kitchen like the good house wife all women should aspire to be".

I mean they mention the physical beauty of any female character as a primary feature. Sometimes the only feature, as if beauty counts as personality somehow.

There's a great (Blog-distracting) Variety article about this here ---> VARIETY ARTICLE

Saddening, right?

Well, we all do it. Or have done it. Or could do it. I know I'm much more careful about character descriptions than I used to be, but it's a deliberate thing I actively do.

It's a thing that scriptwriters need to be conscious of otherwise it'll just be splurged out lazily with "JANE is a gorgeous blonde in fuck-me shoes" or "LARRY is a super-toned hunk with a smile that melts knickers".

I use character description to give the 'essence' of a character (to get all new-age on you) in order to give a flavour what they look like or seem.

Essence?!

Yeah, like "JANE looks like a punk-rock art teacher" or "JAMES is a clown in a dinner suit; uncomfortable and rare".

Okay, so those are fucking terrible examples, but you get the idea!

There are times when describing beauty is completely necessary in a character introduction, if their looks affect the scene or characters within in...

...but if you need your protagonist to have a "love at first sight" moment with someone (for example) you don't actually need to mention she's “as beautiful as a sunset orgasm”.

I think the reader can work that out themselves (and beauty is subjective).

I mean, the casting director isn't going to hire an "ugly person" (subjective!!!) because you didn't write the word "beautiful" in the script! You may've noticed that a couple of Hollywood films feature a somewhat heightened version of beauty in their lead characters…

Ross Putnam highlighting these careless and / or sexist introductions is not the first time horrible sexism has been pointed towards women in scripts / film.

Others have also been doing a fine job of shining a light on the truly repugnant casting calls / descriptions of females in this insane industry - but in relation to casting and not scriptwriting itself (I mean, if I went into how sexist the film  / TV industry is in general I'd be writing forever...).

There's a number out there, but the ones I knew of (and Variety also mentioned) are:


Worth checking out.


Honestly, some of these would be hilarious if it wasn't so fucking tragic.


UNFILMABLE INTROS

The other thing that infuriates me about character introductions are "unfilmables".

Take this intro from a Blacklist 2014 script:

JANE is a beautiful 17 year old ballet instructor and fights to get extra money. Super smart but super naive, she plans on going to the American Ballet Company and wants to marry Andy and have two and a half children.

How the hell can we know this from literally just seeing her?!

Does she have an "I'm a ballet instructor" badge on her chest and a baseball cap with her entire plan written on it in convenient bullet points?


Even the super smart and super naive statement is unfilmable at this stage. How can an actress act that? How can a viewer gain that from her literally walking into the scene?*

* Incidentally, we had previously seen Jane in the script… when she was beating the living shit out of another woman in a dirt field. Because that definitely suggests "intelligent and naive".

This kind of description is literally cheating and infuriating to some readers, me included.

I want to experience a script like you'd experience the final film if you watched it in the cinema; same pace, same emotional impact and same reveals.

This kind of character intro cheats us. The final audience will not know this information until later - or not at all! - so it's confusing as to why the reader should learn this at such an early stage.

It either shows a lack of confidence in providing this information within the action and dialogue or - worse - it's just plain lazy.

Okay, so I imagine you're now thinking "But this dude got on the fucking BLACKLIST with this script! That means I SHOULD write unfilmables and introduce all women as beautiful!".

No.

No no no no no.

Your script is a calling card. His card has been called. He is being championed by producers or agents or managers. This may be his sixth professional script. This may be a rough draft smacked out early to attract a star.

Your script - more than likely - is wanting an audience. It wants to be read. It wants respect. It wants to be passed around. It wants someone to champion it.

Thing is, this unfilmable nonsense might turn off only one reader... but that reader might've been the gateway to production. It might be a producer who loathes that kind of thing. It might even be a director who finds that sort of detail patronizing and unprofessional. It might be a barrier to a career in screenwriting.

It also might not matter.

But I think it does.

Much like the atrocious and lazy descriptions of female characters in some screenplays ("JANE is in her 30's but surprisingly pretty"), the unfilmable character intro is equally repugnant.

Okay, so some intros can afford to have a smattering of unfilmability about them. For example:

"JANE is a thirty-something whirlwind of fun. Chaos unleashed and loving life"

This is fine unless she acts contrary to this, meandering solemnly into the room like a moribund sloth. She needs to live up to the description immediately otherwise it's cheating again. Or lying. Or just plain stupid.


TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY

I'm wrong.

I'm sure of it. I'm sure someone can pull out an example of a phenomenal script with a sexist and unfilmable introduction.

Probably a few. Probably award-winning ones by phenomenal writers I adore. Probably some of my favourite films ever. Probably some scripts written by me.

Yep.

Definitely.

There will be exceptions. There always is.


But I'm still trying to bang down the door of an increasingly-tougher fortress. The portcullis is open, but I'm still battering the gate, hoping to be let in.

I want my scripts to have nothing that could stop an investor or a producer or a reader or a PERSON from reading it. I also don’t want to be sexist because… duh.

Sexism is bad, remember?

I think lessons can be learned from what Ross Putnam and co. have discovered and it's up to writers to address it. Because if we don’t, who will?

Right.

That's it.

Rant over.

I'm off to meet my friend Jane (45), who is a beautiful mother-of-two who used to be a judo instructor and is now a firefighter in Thurrock. She is proper sexy, despite her age. And loves meerkats.

Yeah. 

Film that.