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Friday, August 22, 2008

Normal Service Is Suspended

Because I am apparently neglecting my children and have been making them live on dust and spiderwebs whilst I devote my time to this blog, I regret to inform you that I have no choice but to suspend normal service for the next eight days.

In other words, there will be no posts until September 1st.

At the earliest.

I know that will be shocking and heartbreaking for many of you, but I assure you: you're British, you withstood rationing, the Blitz and the name change of Marathons to Snickers, you can cope. (As for my international readers, sorry but you're screwed, I wish you all the best, arf).

Please feel to talk amongst yourselves - I'm taking questions, so anything you ever wanted to know about spec scripts or scriptreading etc, leave it in the comments of this post and I will get to it ASAP the moment I get back.

See you then and Tally Ho.

Bluecat # 2: 5 Exercises To Get Inspired

Writers often contact me to ask if I have solutions to the problem of so-called Writer's Block - that supposed condition where you *can't* write. I've always been of the opinion that it's not that you can't, it's that you FEEL you can't, so addressing whatever problem is in the way of your creativity is your first stop. However I'm a script reader, not a psychologist, so I can't very well write back and say, "Do you have a problem with your childhood/parents/siblings/some bizarre phobia??" Instead I usually recommend they take time AWAY from writing, stop obsessing on it, stop worrying. I've never felt blocked as long as I've allowed myself balance, after all. Yeah, useful. Not.

Yet Gordy Hoffman has a great way of unlocking your ideas that he details in his Bluecat workshop - and it's so bonecrunchingly simple one wonders why no one has done it before. I'm going to detail the exercises one by one now. Hope they help.
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EXERCISE ONE

We all have ideas that are kernels in the back of our minds - the ones we mean to do, but never get round to. Afford yourself five minutes now to think of one of those ideas - write down ANYTHING. It doesn't matter if it's crap or if it's confused, it's not fully formed yet.

Now verbalise it: take the words from the page and say them aloud. Being British we won't like this, but do it anyway - because explaining the concept in our voices, out loud, will begin to expose its flaws and also present ideas or solutions to solve them.

Now find someone to tell your idea to. Pitch it to them *as if* it was a movie you've seen. See what questions they ask about its logic, its characters, its arena. Get into a conversation with them, start a dialogue about it. Glean from this the information you need to take your story to the next level in "fleshing it out".

EXERCISE TWO

Now we're addressing those problems our pitch revealed. What was it? A plot hole, a logistical issue? A character's believability? Meet it face on, don't skirt around it. What are the fuzzy or grey areas of your story - don't just say "I'll think of it later": think of it NOW. We're not merely thinking about it either, we're writing the solution down on paper. This doesn't mean it can't change later, but we can only find better solutions if we have a solution in the first place!

Write for five minutes minimum about the solution to your problem/s.

EXERCISE THREE

Now it's time to focus on the most difficult or challenging moment for your MAIN character - this means you need to know, definitively, who your characters are and what they want. This exercise does not necessarily need to be your protagonist, but if you are drawn to a particular character who is NOT your protagonist yet you feel is more interesting, have you put the wrong person as your lead? Think here who is leading the action, who is the obstacle. Think why this moment is difficult for them - is it emotional? Physical? Both? What stands between them and their goal? What is it they need to do? If they fail in their mission, how do we still achieve dramatic satisfaction?

Write for five minutes about that difficult moment.

EXERCISE FOUR

Our characters are like real people to us, so just like real people have an action or way of doing something that defines them, so should our characters. Our characters' real selves should be reflected in what they DO, not what they say - this does not mean everything has to be literal. You can use subtext to create the impression of one thing and mean another; a character can contradict themselves and still remain logical, because we recognise this as truthful: in reality people contradict themselves all the time (just never contradict the STORY).

Write for five minutes a scene that includes the character and their defining feature.

EXERCISE FIVE

Now we need to find our character's voice: too many specs have characters that sound the same. Find the essence of your character, give them a way of speaking that makes them stand out and the audience interested. Write a monologue that encapsulates that character's point of view, their beliefs, their problem. Make us believe that character is talking and then you will believe your character can carry (or contribute to) your story.

Write this monologue for five minutes, get lost in the character.
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So there you have it: in less than an hour, you can generate a wealth of material that can help you form the basis of a draft. What I particularly like about this approach is not only its simplicity, but the fact that it places character at the heart of screenwriting whilst still impressing the importance of plot which can sometimes be forgotten. After all, protagonists should DRIVE stories, not just have stuff happen *to* them without logic. Nothing more dull for a script reader than ploughing through a draft in which a protagonist meanders from event to event, because no matter how great the protagonist is, if we don't know why they're doing stuff, we're just not going to be engaged.

Enjoy your ideas!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bluecat London Workshop, August 16th 08: Gordy Hoffman

As mentioned in the previous post, I was unforutnately unable to get to the second day of this workshop since I woke up with a throat that felt shredded by a panther's claws and a head that felt like it had been hit by a hammer. However, despite this Gordy Hoffman imparted so much wisdom on that first day I have plenty to tell you. So chew on this!
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Gurus, Formulas & Storytelling. Gordy started the day by telling us that he didn't really believe in formulas, because any formula can be made to fit any movie. He mentioned that Michael's Hauge's Writing Screenplays That Sell is the only screenwriting book he's read and also insisted that we all know to tell a story. A child knows what a beginning, middle and end is - we just may not tell that story very well! But craft is a learned skill, we can hone it; we all have the potential to create - so if you're having a crisis of confidence right now (or at any time) about your ability as a writer, I think that's well worth remembering. My little girl makes stories up and she's two; in a couple of years those stories will make sense. If yours doesn't right now, it will.

Script Reading, Filmmaking and Distribution. Gordy told us that he started the Bluecat Screenwriting Competition when he moved to LA a little over ten years ago and "accidentally" learnt alot about actual screenwriting from reading and judging the contest, especially because problems and issues in scripts are SO consistent. I can relate to that totally - reading scripts has taught me more than the whole three years I studied screenwriting at university, without question. He told us about his films Love Liza and A Coat of Snow and the inspiration behind them; he also mentioned that his desire for realism in casting unknowns for the latter proved "disastrous for distribution", which I thought was particularly interesting. Story it seems is not pull enough: it's recognisable faces too as far as distributors are concerned.

Clarity. Gordy talked about the importance of creating mystery, not confusion: often writers are so concerned about the mystery element of their story, yet in doing so the only question they get the reader asking is "What the hell is going on?" You need clarity in your screenplay, you can't just "explain later" - this means the reader will lose interest, we need to know what's going on a piece at a time. You can't just ask a plethora of questions and leave all the juicy stuff until the last minute.

Conflict And Truth. Jeopardy, drama and feeling able to root for characters are all at the foundations of a good screenplay. We all go through conflict in our own lives, so we want to see characters going through something difficult (or not) and getting out the other side so we can find purpose and meaning in our own lives and the events and situations we find ourselves a part of. In movies, we want a reflection of that shared experience of being a human being on planet Earth and to recognise that experience within the film - truthfulness then is a very important part of this, enabling audience members to identify with the story. We become less interested when things are not plausible emotionally, so keep truth right at the heart of your story - your hero can do crazy, mad things if he's doing it for a specific, truthful reason. We WANT to believe in the positives - love, redemption, family.

Being Personal. Gordy asserted that we all must be personal with our work, but we also need to recongise where we need to stop too: ask yourself, "Is this just interesting TO ME? Where is the larger idea? Is it big enough?" If this story is TOO personal, too small, can you as the writer go beyond that idea, find something more, make it more universal. Gordy also said that sometimes, you just have to let certain ideas go - they won't work, no matter what you do: if you have to argue with YOURSELF, then something's wrong with that idea. Life's too short! What's more, if you get rid of that duff idea that's not working, you create space for new, better ideas!

Authenticity. Sometimes a writer will be afraid of their own idea, because it's painful to revisit that experience; they will want to write about their pain, but they are afraid of returning to it. So move the pain from your OWN story and put it into another. You can be authentic without being autobiographical.(I particularly identified with this, since I wrote a script about an experience of mine when I was younger and several readers have sympathised with me, sure the horrible things in it actually happened to me. They didn't. What was true though was the "essence" of the story, not the events. For one thing, if it was true I'd be in prison right now for murdering one of my close family!).

The Farther You Go. Stories that are the most interesting are those that travel the furthest in terms of the character's journey. If a character goes from dishonest to honest for example, that's far more interesting than a character who goes from a *little bit* shady to something similar. Whilst this might seem obvious, characters changing over the course of a narrative is one of the aspects I see happening the LEAST in scripts I see, so I think this is definitely worth some serious thought when planning our drafts.

You Are Your Own Instrument. Other crafts have specific tools - but all we have is ourselves. Therefore if we really care about our writing and about the story we are telling, we can inspire others to care too.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bluecat, Birthday Bleeurgh & Sea Monkey Massacres

So I went to Gordy Hoffman's Bluecat Workshop at the weekend - many notes to follow later this week, despite the fact that at approximately 3pm I suddenly got the DREADED LURGEE and starting sneezing like some kind of Snuffelufagas. (Very attractive: I blame Kevin Lehane, personally - he was looking dodgy if you ask me; I'm sure he brought some Irish germs with him). But anyway, even though I attended only the Saturday (it was a two day thing), it was very informative and fun. And Gordy's a great guy. But hell, you knew that.

The fact that I have a horrible cold means I am ill on my birthday - today! How wrong is that? Even more wrong: there's just one last year of my twenties left now, *sigh*. Then I'll be as doomed as the rest of 90% of you bloggers out there, just waiting to die... What do you do to cope? I'm thinking about learning to knit, I was given the slippers today FFS. More worrying was the fact I put them on and said, "Aaaah, that feels nice..." Yikes.

And finally: I returned from London yesterday to discover there has been a MASSACRE at my house - Crampon-Fred, the cat, has been drinking sea monkeys right out of their bowl (the boy hadn't put the lid back on). Noooooooooooooooo... Both kids were suitably freaked out, though more freaky was the girl's idea that we could simply cut open said cat and retrieve them. She is her father's daughter.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Be Your Own Biggest Fan... But Know What You're Doing Too

As human beings we measure ourselves and others by success or condition. It makes sense to us psychologically: we like to pigeon hole things, create a sense of order in an otherwise somewhat random world. Yet so often we make arbitrary assumptions about ourselves or other people based on what they have - or don't have. It's crazy when you think of it: why isn't he married? (Because he's unlovable). Why is she married? (Because she's a doormat). Why does he work in a bar? (Because he's lazy). Why didn't she go to university? (Because she's stupid). Though we are all guilty of doing this, if challenged (even by just ourselves), we can accept readily that it's a load of a guff and we move on from that daft assumption... To another one. But it's progress of a kind, at least.

Writers on the other hand will often judge themselves by these harsh standards - and stand by them no matter what anyone says or does. Rejections are justly deserved; options, placements in contests, meetings with agents and producers are nothing much - you heard people saying that? "Well I have a meeting/placement/whatever..." BUT IT WON'T COME TO ANYTHING. In fact, us writerly lot are so self deprecating that I've heard AWARD AWINNING SCREENWRITERS say they are "only" a writer - "My wife is the real hero," one said to me once, "She's a teacher." I said to him: "I'm a writer AND a teacher - does that mean I'm half crap and half not?" The writer in question had had several Jacks and coke, so pondered for a moment and said, simply: "Yes."

There's been a lot online recently about writers "not meaning shit" in the industry: whilst there have been many voices chiming in on the unfairness of it all, very few threads that I have seen have addressed WHY this is. Julian Friedman made the good point on Shooting People's screenwriters' bulletin a couple of weeks' back that not enough writers network properly or know enough about the industry to be taken seriously by it (hence them being in such low regard) - yet it seemed to me people were so busy moaning their lot that no one seemed to stop and say: "Actually, if I was at ANOTHER place of work and could only do HALF my work (ie. the bit I like, ignoring the bits I don't like or don't understand), wouldn't I be considered the crappest employee there?" After all, just as screenwriting is only part of the filmmaking business, only part of screenwriting is the actual writing. A screenwriter should be able to network, be able to set him or herself goals, be able to understand contracts, know what's happening in the industry, be able to liaise with agents, producers, give and take constructive criticism, take decent meetings. You can't just shut yourself away in a room and emerge with a masterpiece, we all know that - but once a writer has that masterpiece and believes in it, it would seem it's expected that all the other pieces somehow slot into place.

They don't.

So if writers are treated like shit in this industry (and they can be), ask yourself why: is it because there's a secret evil cabal of producers, agents and the like plotting the downfall of the poor, innocent writer?

Or is it because the writer does not value what they do enough?

So next time you've "just" got through the first round of the BSSC or "only" met with an agent or producer to discuss your idea or script, realise that you are underselling yourself and your talent and your ability. Realise that you can take the power back: you don't like producers? So produce and/or direct your short yourself. It's not the same because you are a hybrid, the hallowed writer-producer or writer-director, we're not the same as THE OTHERS (if that helps). Read all the blogs, find out what's going on, join the useful places, discard those that aren't useful (but find out why, don't rely on hearsay). Find out more about legal stuff. But most of all, don't be afraid to shake people's hands and say, "I'm a writer." instead of "I'm just a writer." or "I'm only the writer." If people ask your ideas or opinions, there's no need to be abrasive - but there's no need to apologise either. Realise you can't climb every rung of the ladder at once. Some days it will be three or four up; other times it will seem like you're taking monster steps back. Other times - and these are the worst I feel - you stay in the same place, with nothing on the horizon. But give it time. Things will move eventually, it's the law of the universe if nothing else.

So: be your own biggest fan, give yourself time and know what you're doing because THAT'S when it all slots into place. Eventually ; )

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Future Of Feature Film Funding?

My Dad got a letter from Carnaby International Films Plc recently. Given that my Dad is a retired jewellery maker, this was more than a little surprising since he knows absolute zilch about filmmaking, though I suppose he must have ended up on some sort of mailing list from something or other. Since they're sending out letters to random people like my Dad whom they've never contacted before, I can only suppose they won't mind me reproducing the letter here:

Dear Lucy's Dad (arf),

Carnaby, named by Screen Finance magazine as one of the UK's most prolific film production companies and the producers of last year's cinema release Rise of the Foot Soldier, is pleased to present you with an investment offer. This is your chance of getting involved in the British Film Industry.

Our next feature film, The Long Weekend, is the original brainchild of BAFTA-nominated writer and winner of the famous Raindance Festival's Best UK Feature Film director Julian Gilbey. After the success of Julian's previous films, Rise of the Foot Soldier and Rolling With The Nines, Carnaby has kep together many of the same excellent UK-based production team, including Julian's brother William Gilbey as Editor.

Drawing on such successful classics in the same genre as Deliverance, Wolf Creek and The Descent, The Long Weekend follows the fortunes of young couple Imogen and Tyler as they head to the Rocky Mountains for a weekend fishing trip in a final attempt to salvage their relationship. Everything is going well until they bump into a group of friendly deer hunters, who invite them to join them around a campfire for a drink. As dawn breaks the next morning, the terrible consequences of the previous night's excesses sink in. Imogen flees into the mountains and the hunters soon feel they have no choice but to follow.

Investors will have the opportunity to visit the set and even participate as supporting cast on one or more of the filming days, as well as being invited to the various social events surrounding the production. These may include a Grand Ball and a Gala Screening in the West End of London with the stars of The Long Weekend and other film and television celebrities.

To find out more about this opportunity, please fill out the request card and we will send you a prospectus. We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Carnaby International Films Plc.
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My Dad had put the request card somewhere inaccessible, but I wouldn't have minded filling it in to see what these guys have planned - and also how much you need to invest to be included as they outline in the letter. Thousands? Hundreds? Could you put in as little as £25 maybe? I've heard of sites that promote and make indie films like this before - but that makes more sense to me, since presumably those people who will find them will be interested in indie film: they'll follow links and banners from other sites, or Google word combos to do with the subject matter of making indie film in the first place. This approach by letter seems a much more "hit and miss" affair to me, since presumably many letters will reach people like my Dad who simply aren't interested, no matter how good the prospect is.

What about you lot out in www.land anyway? Is the above letter enough to make you want to invest? If you were going to invest in a film, what would swing it for you: story? Business Model? The fact it has distribution? Do you think this sort of thing is the future of indie filmmaking? Over to you...

Monday, August 11, 2008

If You Don't Buy This... YOU'RE UGLY

That's right my friends... the new issue of Moviescope is out and contains a supreme focus on hallowed Ugly One HELLBOY II, not to mention a plethora of other scriptwriting and moviemaking goodness including a look at plotting and character by some sort of script reader type from the Sarf of England or summat - oh goodness, that'll be ME!

When the lovely Liz and Eric asked me to write something for Moviescope, I was LIKE WELL THRILLED, INNIT. Moviescope is a great magazine so the chance to appear on its lovely, glossy, strokable pages (I've said too much!) was too good to miss. My article can be found in the craft section alongside the ledge that is Bill Martell >BURBLE<.

So if you're not sure, I've posted the table of contents below so you can see what you're getting for your moolah - but don't just take my word for it, you can email lovely Liz for a FREE sample copy of a previous issue: LizHobbs"at"movieScopeMag"dot"com.

Take a look:

THIS ISSUE'S CONTENTS....

>>IN FOCUS<<

HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY

Guillermo del Toro: Man, Myth, and Monsters

He is not of our world. He is from another place where fairies are real, where monsters roam free and the dark denizens of the underworld dwell and thrive. We could be talking about Hellboy, the stump-horned, cat-loving, gun-toting hero of comic books and movies. Or we could be talking about writer/director Guillermo del Toro. The Oscar®-winning director of PAN’S LABYRINTH stalks the pages of movieScope once again with an exclusive interview about his latest film and his love of fables, film and the fantastic. And as if that’s not enough, he gives us the latest scoop on his plans for his next project, THE HOBBIT.

By Rick Drew

>>INSIDER’S P.O.V.<<

DISTRIBUTION
Hooray for Hoodywood!
Does the amazing box-office success of ADULTHOOD augur the dawn of a vital new popular British cinema or merely a return to the largely forgotten B-movie byways of the 1960s and 1970s?

By Mick Southworth & Martin McCabe

DIRECTING
How to Ruin a Script
The sometimes uneasy truce between the writer and the director doesn’t necessarily have to end in war. Ron Oliver discusses how it can work on the emotional Gaza Strip of filmmaking.

By Ron Oliver

ACTING FOR THE CAMERA
Selma Blair
Modest, Versatile and on Fire!
Cast often and internationally, actor Selma Blair is surprised to have a successful career to which most actors can only aspire.

By Colleen Patrick

WRITING
Writing and Rocking in the Rockies
The Annual Banff World Television Festival
For many writers and producers, the end of the TV rainbow is nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies at the Banff World Television Festival.

By Rick Drew

PRODUCING
Going Indie… Again!
Richard Perello examines the pros and cons of independent versus studio production, as he and Broken Lizard finalise their latest feature, THE SLAMMIN’ SALMON.

By Richard Perello

DV FILMMAKING
That’s no Moon; it’s a Styrofoam Lunch Container
How to build, light and composite your way to a low-budget sci-fi epic that will make your nerd friends lose control of their bodily functions.

By James & Robert Dastoli

>>CASE STUDIES<<

Breakthrough Brits
Britain’s got talent, all right. But a high-end honour programme created by the UKFC suggests that it’s the US that will make better use of it.

By Liz Hobbs

Rob Cohen Redefines THE MUMMY
Taking time out of his crazy post-production, director Rob Cohen talks about redefining THE MUMMY franchise in the latest incarnation, TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR.

By Athos Kyrus

Nolan, Bale and THE DARK KNIGHT
Director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale talk about Heath Ledger, Gotham and shooting what looks to be the best blockbuster of the year, THE DARK KNIGHT.

By Will Lawrence

Seeing RED
“RED is going to change everything.” This bold statement by Steven Soderbergh heralding the arrival of the RED ONE™ camera was seen by some as prophetic, by others as hype. We finally got the chance to test it ourselves.

By Stephen Webb

Frank Spotnitz wants to Believe
Writer/producer Frank Spotnitz talks about The X-Files series, the forthcoming movie THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE and being blamed for 9/11.

By Chris Patmore

Doug Jones
The Masks that Reveal
The masks of the Greek god Dionysos are said to reveal as much as they conceal and this truism seems particularly apt with regard to the career of Doug Jones, who recreates the role of Abe Sapien in HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY.

By Michael Guillén

FAINTHEART
Unleashing Hell… Weather Permitting
Screenwriter David Lemon recalls how his first feature, FAINTHEART, made it from script to screen with a little help from MySpace and a horde of part-time Vikings.

By David Lemon

>>GLOBAL FOCUS<<

THE POPE’S TOILET
Oscar®-nominated Uruguayan cinematographer César Charlone talks lavvies, knickers, psychoanalysis and his first feature: the award-winning EL BAÑO DEL PAPA (THE POPE’S TOILET).

By Adam Thursby

Santosh Sivan’s Visual Language
The multi award-winning Indian cinematographer talks about his latest film, BEFORE THE RAINS—a period drama and his first English language film as director.

By Chris Patmore

>>CRAFT<<

A Cast of Tens
Limiting the speaking roles and extras in your script is one of the most important elements in selling a script to a budget-conscious producer.

By William C. Martell

Lost the Plot?
Structure is put under the microscope when a professional script reader examines why writers should be paying just as much attention to plot as character.

By ME!!!!
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Glory, glory hallelujah: I am in the same section as WILLIAM C. MARTELL! After his fabulous 16 Steps To Better Scene Description, he is like a GOD to me.

I need a lie down. No doubt I will read my lovely copy of Moviescope whilst doing so. Buy it! Buy it now!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Script Mistake # 5: The Journey

So here we are again... Structure. Oh, come on. You must have known THIS was coming (oo er). I've already written about fatty dialogue, don't care characters, murkiness and abrupt genre/tone change. It was only a matter of time! ; )

There are many ways bad structure can screw up a script. I've covered most of them on here, but the one I see time and time again is meandering structure. In other words, characters do one thing... Or another thing... Or another... For seemingly no particular reason, at least at first; sometimes for no apparent reason at all. This means that often it's hard to invest in the protagonist's journey. Great phrase that, isn't it? Very script readery. Let me spell it out what it means in plain English:

You have a mate and s/he comes round a lot for a cup of tea. You haven't seen them for a while and you're pleased to see them at first... But slowly and surely things change. They keep harping on about things that have happened in their life, but they don't bother to really clarify their story - they reference people you don't know and ignore your questions as they listen to the sound of their own voice. They don't set up things and they don't pay them off. They talk about one event... Then another... Then another... With no apparent connection. Before long you're bored - you don't know what's going on, because they haven't involved you in what they're saying. You end up tuning out, despite your best efforts to make sense of it. See? You can't invest in their JOURNEY.

Often meandering structure will come hand in hand with a passive protagonist: in other words, a protagonist that events happen TO. Now don't get me wrong: sometimes a protagonist won't be in direct charge of what happens to them, especially in comedy - and there IS more than one way to skin a cat or write a script. What's wrong with having a secondary character pull the strings of your protagoinist? But this can only go so far: at some point your protagonist is going to have to step up and do something. Even a passive protagonist has to make some sort of decision, have some sort of idea of what they're doing - else why are we watching them? What is interesting about them? What is it about their lives that makes us want to - you guessed it - invest in their journey?

Journeys have starts, they have middles, they have ends. They have to, just as they have someone kicking it all off - whether it is your protagonist or your antagonist. Your screenplay is the same, whether you believe in The Three Acts, The 22 Steps, The Min Movie Method or anything else you care to mention. The difference is how you play it - and you must decide HOW to play it. Else your script will meander.

But end of the day, who says a writer *has* to do this or that or the other on pain of death?! Not me. You can of course do whatever you want, The Script Police are not exactly going to knock down your door - but it is handy to know the difference between changing or challenging the so-called rules and making a classic script mistake.

That's not to say of course they won't happen anyway by the time you get to production... Any worst produced cases in your view of these five mistakes? Over to you....

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Response From Kaos Films

There's been some talk on here and on Shooting People about the upcoming British Screenplay Competition - namely whether it's worth the entry fee, but also whether the winning writer will be paid and if the prize of a produced credit will really happen.

In the interests of fairness then, I asked Kaos whether they would like to respond. Here's an email from their rep, Olivia:

"No matter what we say there are going to be people out there being cynical and calling it “just another scam” and nothing we do will ever change their minds. Let me point you to our judges namely Kenneth Branagh, Michael Grade, Sir Alan Parker, Nik Powell, Natascha Wharton and Stephen Woolley just to name a few. If we are running a scam why are these good people involved with us.

Now look at our sponsors – Avid, ilab, Kodak, Panavision, Pinewood Studios and Working Title Films. If we were not genuine would these people have anything to do with us?

If we didn’t deliver do you really think that our judges and sponsors would continue to support us? The BSSC is now in its eighth year and for eight years we have enjoyed fantastic support from the industry. Ask yourself why?

I do hope you people will enter the BFSC. It really is offering a chance of a life time unlike any other competition."

Thanks Olivia! Want to enter? More info here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Don't Forget BlueCat

The BlueCat semi-finalists have been announced - there were a couple of Bang2writers in the previous round, so if anyone else from the UK has made it to this next one, let us know, 'cos we're always interested in hearing about contest placements success stories*.

It's a good time too to mention that the BlueCat Workshops start in London next week! I won't be there during the week, but will be present at Gordy's weekend workshop - so be sure to come and say hello. I'm the brunette with the red carnation.**

If you haven't decided or don't know anything about the workshops, then here's more info!!!

See you there.

* Talking of contest placements, pop over to Elinor's and say congrats: all THREE of her BSSC scripts have made it through the first round, though frankly I have to say she's clearly a greedy guts there ; )

** Or not. But you will recognise me by the fact I'm a brunette and very short with apparently "an impossibly loud voice".

Friday, August 01, 2008

Script Reading at The BFSC

I know many of you have been interested in the new British Feature Screenplay Competition, the sibling of the well established British Short Screenplay Competition (BSSC). What's unique about the Feature Competition is that it guarantees the winning feature will get made, which is pretty impressive by anyone's standards.

But the sticking point with some of you who've emailed me then is the entry fee: the early deadline fee is £65, with the late entry fee a whopping £85. That's a lot by anyone's standards - for some of you, the best part of a week's pay. For Americans in particular, it's even more with the exchange rate the way it is at present.

One common concern I've heard from is that they'll pay this large entry fee, only to have just ten pages of their baby read. This intrigued me, so I wrote to Kaos Films who run the competition via their website and I can tell you that competition co-ordinator Olivia Trollope has been in touch with her assurance that every script should be read ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Yes, you got that... NOT just the first ten pages -every single page of your script. Her email follows below.

Finally then, only you can decide whether the chance of a production deal is worth the entry fee - but that's the same in all contests as far as I'm concerned. Good luck if you give it a go!

Dear Lucy,

Thank you for your interest in the British Feature Screenplay Competition and your inquiry.

We pay a lot of money to our readers to read the whole script and we will be extremely unhappy if we find that it is not happening.

I hope that allays your concerns and if you have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Thank you for your support.

Kind regards,

Olivia
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Thanks Olivia!

Interested in the contest? More information here.