Click the Pic N' Mix - past blog posts from Bang2write (click & scroll down for articles)

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

What They *Really* Mean About Your Film...

With so many of us in the Blogosphere making our own films and pilots, I thought now was a good time to take a strictly tongue-in-cheek look at what peeps *might* say about your efforts and what they *really* mean... Enjoy! ; )
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1) "The production values are really good".

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN: "I have no idea what the story is."

2) "The story is really good."

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN: "The production values are crap."

3) "[So & So] was an interesting casting choice."

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN: "Was s/he all you could get?"

4) "The surreal aspect of the plot/arena was an intriguing addition."

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN: "WTF was *that* all about??"

5) "I thought the protagonist/antagonist/best friend/etc really stood out."

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN: "This is not necessarily a good thing by the way."

6) "Your dialogue was effective."

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN: "I didn't really notice whether it was good OR bad."

7) "The comedy aspect seemed very contemporary."

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN: "I didn't think it was very funny."

8) "It was a bold choice to do [whatever]."

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN: "If "bold" actually means 'odd and ultimately daft'."

9) "You really made the most of your budget."

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN: "I can't think of anything else to say."

10) The horror/thriller aspect was very horrifying/thrilling."

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN: I'm just hoping now you're more interested in the canapes and free wine than my feedback - I know I am!"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Guest Post: A Note On Confidence From Lisa Barrass

Think you’ll never make it as a writer? Well, you’re not alone!! But don’t worry, read on, gather your strength and embark on a journey…

The Red Planet Prize – come on, you’ve all heard about it/read about it/entered it... Or maybe not. I’d been lurking around the blogsphere reading great pieces by writers and, to be honest, I was in awe of the confidence. It left me dazed and, I have to say, very intimidated. I would read them and then slink back to the safety of anonymity – hey, don’t knock it, it’s a great place, no-one criticises you. Yep, staying right here…

Then, in an uncharacteristic act of sheer bravado, I entered the Red Planet Prize. Sent off those first ten pages in the click of a button.

God help me, what had I done?

The blogs were buzzing with it and confidence levels were high. Bloggers were talking about polishing their work, making it shine, re-writing, re-writing, editing – oh my God – what had I done? Well, for a start, none of that. Nope, in my naivety, I’d just sent ‘em what I’d got. Oh, devil may care me!!! And the more blogs I read, the more the dread took hold – the more I realised that I’d screwed up big time!! By now, I think I was fairly resigned to not getting passed that first ten page read and a massive lesson had been learnt about how to approach my work. Boy was I glad of anonymity then.

Then an email appeared, inviting me to send the rest. Me! OMG! Me? At that time I had no idea of the stats – it was only later I found out just how many didn’t get that email. Eventually, the winner was announced and it wasn’t me but I was invited to the workshop and a day with the man himself, Tony Jordan.

Even as I sat around that table the nagging doubt that I was the impostor, the one that shouldn’t be there, kept creeping over me. I looked at the other writers and I ticked off the reasons they were there and I felt absolutely sure TJ was doing the same thing and that when he got to me, we had come to the same conclusion: why is she here?

So, if you’re lurking around the blogs and you feel the same way, remember that you are not alone and do what I did. Start a blog: Google blogger accounts are free and easy to set up. Write something in it – doesn’t matter if you think you have nothing to say and no one will read it – do it for you. Be brave, comment in blogs. The blog owners don’t bite and they won’t mind. Tweet your writing thing - it’s just 140 characters, come on, you can do it! Join a couple of friendly sites such as Twelvepoint and UKwriters... Have fun!

Most of all don’t worry! You’re a great writer – and when you’re ready, you let the world know!
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MORE ABOUT LISA: Writer cunningly disguised as a museum assistant. I made the final twenty of the 2008 Red Planet Prize and am passionate about writing, Rom Coms and archaeology and one day I'm going to combine all three in a script!

Lisa's blog

Lisa on Twitter

Lisa on Facebook
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Thanks Lisa!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Guest Post: Lennie Varvarides, Making Theatre Work

My name is Lennie Varvarides, I am dyslexic, I am also a theatre writer, performance poet and a filmmaker, together with being a dreamer, or "visualiser" as I prefer to call myself. Back in 2007 it dawned on me: I cannot be the only dyslexic that loves writing and as passionate as I believed myself to be? I became even more excited by the prospect that there could be an army of dyslexic storytelling troops out there, ready to start a war of grammar and structure and linear plots. Call me a revolutionary, or an egotist, but I wanted to head up my own fleet, I had ambition, (I know in women it's dangerous), I am resilient.

I am determined to find dyslexic writers, to seek out dyslexic poets, to uncover dyslexic filmmakers and I will bring them all together, united, under one festival called "Dyssing Monadys". I will use all means necessary, shamelessly marketing Dyssing Monadys on ALL social media sites because it's free and it's fast and I do not have much time.

I need theatre writers by 1 September, I need performance poets to send me their MySpace and YouTube links today, I need
filmmakers from around the world to send me their DVD, but most of all, I need the common man and woman, the civilians of the arts, to help me twitter and blog for the cause. Go forth my minions and help to discover new stories!

(more info at dyssing@makingtheatrework.com)

MORE ABOUT DYSSING MONADYS

Dyssing Monadys, the annual festival for dyslexic theatre writers, performance poets, and filmmakers, will prove Labour MP Graham Stringer and Professor Dennis Harding wrong on Monday 5 October 2009. Dyssing Monadys is part of Adult
Dyslexia Awareness Week and will be hosted at this year’s sponsor venue, The Horse, 124 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7XG.

Dyslexia can be a gift, not a ‘cruel fiction,’ as implied by Graham Stringer, the Labour MP for Blackley, Greater Manchester and msft, the engine behind the festival, believes that being diagnosed with dyslexia should no longer be an embarrassment.

Festival producer, Lennie Varvarides said, “Dyssing Monadys and other events taking place as part of Adult Dyslexia Awareness Week, will encourages dyslexic practitioners to come out of the creative closet.”

Comments by Professor Dennis Harding, (The Times, May 31, 2009), implying dyslexic people are, “...manipulating the assessment structure....,” and that dyslexia is more of a “guise for poorly performing students to get away with bad spelling and grammar", are extremely damaging.

“Although people with dyslexia learn differently and struggle with left brain activities, they are often original storytellers and I hope that Dyssing Monadys will encourage a more positive view of this learning difference.” says Lennie Varvarides.

OPPORTUNITY:

Dyssing Monadys is a new permanent fixture to the London literary and fringe scene. We are currently looking for 20 dyslexic participants to take part in the festival. Please email dyssingATmakingtheatreworkDOTcom by 1 September 2009 for more information and submission guidelines.

LINKS & CONTACT INFO

Making Theatre Work

Follow Making Theatre Work on Twitter

Being Dyslexic website and forum

EMAIL: lennieATmakingtheatreworkDOTcom
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Thanks Lennie!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Knowing It And Doing It

About five times a year I get emails from writers who hire me for no other reason it seems than to get me to tell them their script is FANTASTIC. When I [mistakenly] point out they may want to consider various things for the script's development, they get the hump - hence my writing this post, Dear Writer, many moons ago.

But that's life. It's something that has always happened - and will always happen. Besides which, one reader is one reader; no one knows anything; blah-de-blah-blah. No one agrees with that more than I do, having had enough conflicting feedback on my scripts to sink a small ship.

But it's this response which winds me up above all others:

But I KNOW about structure and character...!

I venture that 90% of the spec scripts I see - particularly MOVIE specs - have a problem with structure and/or characterisation. That's not too unusual, since many scripts I see are in their early stages. And it's not that I doubt those writers' assertions, I believe absolutely they believe they KNOW about structure and character. God knows there's enough on the 'net about both elements, they may well have read scores of articles, never mind read books on them, spoken to colleagues, etc etc etc.

But there's KNOWING it - and then there's DOING it. Two very different things... And none of us are immune if we take our eye off the ball. Here are some of my thoughts on structure and character - and why even the experienced writer needs to consider them in EVERY SINGLE DRAFT:

Accessibility. Structure is by its very nature formulaic and you're not going to catch me saying to clients they HAVE to have their turning point on page 22 or whatever for their script to be *good*. Structure is NOT a miracle cure and anyone who thinks it is, IS an actual nutter. Besides which, some of the most dull films of the last ten years have been predictable in the extreme, simply because they stick to it too rigidly.

However, looking at versions of structure (note I don't automatically say, "The Three Acts": it doesn't work for all writers) can be helpful in accessing problems with your draft, especially those moments where your narrative ends up "running on the spot", which is notoriously hard to pin down on its own. Similarly, a BRILLIANT character can sometimes outshine even the biggest problems - including a completely rubbish plot, because characters can invite emotional responses in readers in a way the more clinical structure doesn't seem to be able to in my experience. Two heads are always better than one, even if you ultimately reject what the second says, at least consider alternative interpretations. (The only caveat I would offer to that is remember what you wanted out of the story, there is such a thing as being *too accessible* as a writer).

Simplicity. Movies by their very nature are simplistic. They have to be; they only have roughly 1.5 - 2 hours to get across a wealth of information across, including those characters' motivations, arena, dialogue, etc etc. Yet writers struggle to keep their stories simple as a general rule; many fight an inner demon that cajoles them into making events as CONVOLUTED AS POSSIBLE in their feature specs, especially the "newer" writers - and yes, I did too when I first started.

Breaking movie stories down then into two areas - structure and character - can be a godsend; it literally shines a light on where the plot gets crowded, either with different multiple story strands or a mer de noms character-wise (sometimes early drafts have both). No one is saying you can't be clever with ANY story, but these things need building up from the bottom, one layer on top of another, draft on draft. Shove all your ideas in the melting pot from the start - well, it can be a recipe for disaster.

Characters Need Role functions. Lots of writers get hot under the collar when a reader says their characterisation needs work, even nicely. Instead said writer will insist they tried hard to differentiate each of their characters, gave them different ways of speaking, made them different colours, genders, races... And so it goes on.

Whilst all that is a good starting point, characterisation doesn't stop with differentiation on a surface level, whether it's skin colour or accent. You could have a plethora of people ALL THE "SAME" on a surface level, yet pull off wildly differentiated characters. Role function is something writers seem to consistently forget about - how other characters HELP or HINDER the protagonist in achieving their goal (or not). Similarly, those same characters need to GIVE something to the narrative, keep it running, else why are they there? They need to earn their keep and if they don't, you need to shove their sorry arses out on the street.

Reader Proofing. If your reader does not understand your story or your characters' motivations, of course there is a chance s/he might be a nutter and you've been wildly misunderstood. There may even be the point s/he may be some kid on work experience or is just hung up on some screenwriting mantra which doesn't help anyone: I will never forget the time one reader blithely asked me, "Have you thought about using The Three Acts?" Um, just a bit!!!

But generally speaking, what is the complete nutter ratio on script readers do you think? Having orbited the script reading circuit for approximately 7 years, I would hazard in my completely non-scientific way (which is basically just looking at my rejection letters and emails in prep for this post!), it's about 6: 1. So for every nutter you get, I reckon there's about 6 that are *okay* or above.

But hey: don't take MY word for it - GET LOTS AND LOTS of feedback yourself and see what kind of suggestions you get and form your own ratio. It's not an exact science and depends wholly not only on WHOM you approach, but sometimes WHEN, too. I have two letters on the same script from the same reader at the same company, four years apart. Very interesting what she says... And how she changes her mind, even though the script didn't change at all, bar the title.

No Humility. This seems to happen with dramas the most and has actually happened to me in the past when writing myself. Sometimes, you get so *obsessed* with a character and/or story, you tie yourself up in knots to the point you don't communicate anything much at all. Structure will meander, there might be some nice character "moments", but that will be it. Instead the script willl seem dreamy, maybe even a bit weird and your reader will end up wondering what in the name of bloody hell you're going on about.

However, go back to basics, FORCE yourself to re-examine the story and more importantly WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE AND /OR COMMUNICATE and voila: the waters will become less muddy. But because a writer says they *already know* about structure and character and have supposedly surpassed the basics, they close off this avenue to themselves.

Finally:

We're always learning, no matter how many articles and books we've read or even scripts we've written. In a business of collaboration, where there are no "rules", if you start believing you know what you're doing *no matter what* anyone else in the universe says, THAT'S the moment you stop.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My VM Short Bet To Win: THREE LITTLE WORDS

Before I begin, let me tell you a story. Rewind five years or so and I'd been going out with Hub for a while; we were enjoying a rare evening in the pub, we'd had a few jars and I suddenly blurted out:

ME: So. Do you love me or what?

Hub goes pale and splutters:

HUB: Define "love".

ME: You know, spending the rest of your life together, that sort of thing.

HUB: Oh. Yeah, I suppose.

ME: You "suppose"?

HUB: No, I mean I do.

ME: Wow, that's romantic.

Hub drains the last of Guinness, says hoping it will be the end of the matter:

HUB: I really do?

(You can imagine what the rest of the night turned out like).

But, anyway: this is PRECISELY what I love about THREE LITTLE WORDS, finalist on Virgin Media Shorts, written by Dean Lines and Ray Bogdanovich and directed by Ed Lilly. I don't believe there's a woman ALIVE who hasn't had her hopes and dreams of being *swept off her feet* dashed by the feckless efforts of the male in her life. It's the cross we bear, girls: society tells us a handsome prince will arrive for us one day... But when he does it turns out he hasn't even thought about *lurve*: instead, it turns out his "happy ending" involves copious amounts of alcohol and sex - which, though fun for a bit, hardly adds up to FOREVER (perhaps starting off at this mega different footing is why 50% of marriages are DOOMED?! Lol).

But it's not just the great premise which marks this short out. Three Little Words achieves A LOT in a very short amount of time. The hysterical girlfriend. The commitment-phobe bloke. The philosopher best mate. The contemptuous ex. All rolled up in a neat, well-structured package, appealing to audiences on the basis of the universal problem both men AND women have: we don't understand each other AT ALL, crucially without becoming a mere sketch, as so many short shorts can.

What's more, it's funny. The dialogue is crisp, believable and wry. Characters, though larger than life, are well differentiated and don't succumb to broadly-drawn stereotypes, again quite a feat for such a short short. My favourite? Gotta be the best mate. He advises his friend on what to do - surprisingly insightfully, in fact - rolling it off with a well-known ad catchphrase. Genius. Coupled with some excellent non-diegetic "cartoon-like" sound, the tone is set perfectly.

But don't take my word for it. Watch it.

And vote for it here.

You know you want to.

Dean Lines is on Twitter - follow him!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blame It On The Reader?

The Stackmeister often says it best and this is how the system works when you send your baby off:

- You send a script to exec/producer/prod co.
- It's received and logged.
- A reader gives it a once-over.
- The reader writes a script report.
- Exec/producer reads the report.
- A rejection is sent in the post, with thanks.

[From "Gimmick Submissions"]

It might to be a trifle depressing, but it's a fact: you'll get rejected far more than you will ever get accepted. What's more, this will never change. Even Tony Jordan, Quentin Tarantino, *insert big name screenwriter here* gets rejected. No one gets the automatic green light, barring those lucky people who have SO MUCH of their own money they can afford to write a script on the back of a thoroughbred pony and make it whilst stirring their coffee with their silver spoon.

Lots of writers have trouble getting read. It can seem like an impossible hill to climb and it's very easy to focus on this notion:

"I need an agent to get read (at that place). I can't get to that place without an agent... But agents won't take me, so I can't start my career"

I can't tell you the amount of times I've heard this personally from writers or seen it lamented on message boards, forums and the like. I always smile when I hear/see it too, because I know those writers are simply blaming their own misfortune on something that isn't their fault. And maybe that's a good idea - after all, if it's not THEIR fault, it's the reader's and therefore it doesn't matter how good the script is, they were doomed from the start. They are, in a sense, protecting themselves and their own feelings of self esteem/worth and no one can deny THAT'S a bad idea, especially in this business when rejection is so rife (take it all personally and you really ARE doomed).

But it's not true. You CAN get read without an agent, sometimes even by places that insist "no unsolicited material". Hell, you can get MADE without an agent. You can do whatever the hell you want, when you want, how you want, as I outline in this post, "I've Written A Script. Now What?".

There are no rules here. Some of the most successful writers I know don't have an agent; some of the least successful I know (in terms of monetary gain, I might add), DO. Writers seem to be twigging this more and more, perhaps because of the blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc, so instead you might hear:

"Readers only want to please their bosses, that's why I can't get ahead."

Really? How likely is that I wonder... I read for various "bosses" at funding initiatives at the moment and guess what: I've only actually met one of them in "real life". ONE. Out of four. In my entire reading life, I've spent hundreds (if not thousands) of hours on reports and reading said scripts, yet I've perhaps spent five or six hours TOTAL in the company of the various people I've read for, barring the first literary agent I ever worked for. REALLY. Most script readers are freelancers - or people that work in the office that have other jobs as well as reading the scripts (often making the coffee, taking minutes, etc - again, they'll spend very little time with the Boss).

So, what's more likely: that the reader judges the script right there on the page in front of them, or skims it and writes something they *think* their boss *might* want to hear (despite having spent very little time with them, if at all)?

Gotta be the former, surely.

Readers spend perhaps two hours with your script. Sometimes, you WILL get your report and think the Reader is mental - God knows I've had enough of those myself - but guess what: your work will not appeal to everyone in the known universe, no matter how good it is, the same way it wouldn't if it was ACTUALLY MADE. There are loads of films and TV in the world viewers hate, yet we can conveniently forget this when we get a script back with a rejection letter and/or negative feedback.

But in this biz, if you consistently can't get read, it's not wise to blame it on the Reader. If you get script after script back, unread, just a "with compliments" slip with it, you're doing *something* that doesn't work. Readers WANT to find good stories, they want to be hooked by good characters, they want to be engaged by your arena, entertained by your sparkling dialogue. If you can't do that - at all, anywhere - then you need to ask yourself WHY. What are you doing in your storytelling that is "out of step" with expectation? Because there ARE certain expectations of how stories work, even if there are no "rules". It's definitely worth thinking about.

What's NOT worth thinking about however: sometimes other WRITERS won't be charitable and say things like: "S/he's had nothing made, s/he must be crap", "s/he keeps getting rejected from [this initiative/company/whatever], s/he must be crap" or EVEN, "s/he hasn't had anything made that's done well/is any good, s/he must be crap." This is utter, utter dross. Don't even worry about these people. Chances are they are just jealous, cynical wretches who feel frustrated about their own chances and are making themselves feel better by running down other people.

What's important is the story and how you tell it. Tell it well and people WILL get on board with you, even if that means the script you love ends up in a drawer and you end up on working on other stuff. Tell it badly and all the wailing and gnashing of teeth makes no difference; your script still ends up in the drawer. Might seem like the same outcome, but there is no "other stuff" to work on. Nuff sed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Scriptwriting Contest is GO

I'm very proud to be reading for Sequel to Cannes' first ever short scriptwriting contest... All the details on the website are now live, RIGHT NOW!

So... What you waiting for?? Go there, STAT.

UPDATE:
Please note, you need to register on the site to access the "downloads" section where you can get a PDF of the application form and so on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All Aboard: The Night Train

So I was in London yesterday and made the really stupid mistake of wearing 5 inch heels when I knew full well I was going to be walking EVERYWHERE. But even that wasn't the extent of madness that ensued, even though I did fall off them in Oxford Street and stumbled right into the arms of a rather gorgeous Eastern European on the phone (it's true, I didn't do it on purpose... Honest!!!).

Fast forward all the meetings - they went well, thanks and THIS time I managed not to poke Julian Friedmann's eye out with a chopstick - and to the evening, where I had a few drinks with the fabulous Bride of Christ Elinor and generally put the world to rights, as laydeez are wont to do. We were *supposed* to meet the ill-time-keeping Jared too, so I told him 5 knowing he should be there around seven... Only seven comes and goes and he's still not there. He's texting and calling though, saying he'll be there *any minute*, JUST STAY RIGHT THERE. So we wait a bit and wait a bit more, but 9 o'clock comes and goes and I say to Elinor: Sod it, let's go.

So we do and Elinor trots off into the bright lights and I get a phone call LITERALLY AROUND THE CORNER from the pub that goes like this:

JARED: Where are you? I'm HERE

ME: I'm going home!

JARED: You can't, I'm here! I'm RIGHT OUTSIDE THE PUB

By this point I've walked back towards the pub.

ME: You're not.

JARED: I bloody am! I'm locking up my bike. Be with you in ONE SECOND.

So I go back into pub, order us both a pint.... No Jared. Phone rings:

JARED: Where the hell are you?

ME: I'm in the pub.

JARED: I'm walking up and down the pub, you're not here.

I look around - place is deserted but for a few drunken teens in the corner showing each other nudey pics on mobiles and guffawing. Has Jared slipped into a parallel dimension. OH MY GOD.

JARED: Hang on... I don't think I'm in the right Coach and Horses.

ME: There is only one Coach and Horses in Soho!

JARED: Then where the hell am I?

ME: I don't know.

JARED: I"ll be with you in TEN MINUTES.

So anyway, Jared finally joins me and even though I tell him I can only stay for ONE drink, it becomes about 3 and then I have about ten minutes to catch the eleven o' clock train back to Bournemouth... I end up running barefoot through Waterloo up the escalators and through the main bit to platform 8 (where the Bournemouth train always seems to be). Whistle is going, a guard's waving his arm and I'm yelling: "STOP THE TRAIN!" like in the movies... Somewhere in my exhausted (ahem) brain I think I can make it. Guard yells: "Don't you dare!" and peels after me, grabs me round the waist and hoists me away from the closed doors. He then TELLS ME OFF as the train continues to chug away. "Get the midnight train you daft mare," is his last advice to me, but all I can think of is The Midnight Meat Train. Yikes! (Yes, I watch too many movies, I KNOW). So to prepare for bloody death I decide to go to Burger King and meet a charming solicitor who gives me his number which I think is marvellous (you never know when you need legal advice or someone to represent you over *misunderstandings*) until I remember I'm a bit married and he probably gave it to me with less legal and more saucy intentions. Whoops.

So I FINALLY get on the midnight meat train but Vinnie Jones is nowhere in sight so I figure I'm safe... I blink and fall asleep for about forty minutes and wake up on THE GHOST TRAIN - and worst of all, it's in Basingstoke. Everyone literally vanishes... Perhaps Vinnie is on board after all? But then a guy in a neon jacket appears and tells me to get off, there's a replacement bus service between there and Winchester. So I trail off and he escorts me to the bus and yells to his mate driving: "STRAGGLER FOR YOU!" in front of EVERYONE. Le Sigh. The bus is of course freezing and I discover my iPod has a suspicious amount of Ibiza Anthems on it considering I only got it last week and can't stand them - the boy spawn has undoubtedly been tinkering with it. So during the freezing bus journey I decided to see if Encore En Fois keeps you more warm than the likes of David Bowie. Result: no effing difference.

Back on the train at Winchester a mad female guard who's obviously getting home for the night keeps trying to talk to me, but by this point my brain is melted and I HAVE NO IDEA what she's on about. I just nod and smile and she keeps talking. Is this what it's like to be me?? I wonder, Ever talking and people just nodding?? She gets off at Christchurch and I'm left alone for a blissful ten minutes until some mad man storms through with an wide-eyed eight year old boy chanting, presumably something to do with some kind of sport. Said kid offers me a crisp, I say no thanks, as I'm on a diet: "Why bother?" he says, "If you're fat, you're fat." Marvellous. I finally get home just before 3am to find I have no keys and my Husband having an apoplexy - I said I'd be back at half eleven! My phone ran out of charge, I reply weakly - like a chastised teen. Double whoops. It's all material though, right?

So that was my tuesday. How was yours?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

NEWS JUST IN: Screenwriting Success is MINE, ALL MINE >mwahahahahahahahahahah<

That's right. I have it IN THE BAG. And all I had to do was get knocked up underage and be the black sheep of the family, I knew it all had a purpose... Read and learn my friends!

We're driving in the car at the weekend and Alf, my eleven year old, suddenly asks:

ALF: What happened to Holby Blue?

ME: I dunno. There were two seasons... Maybe there'll be a third?

ALF: Nope, there would've been one by now. I've been waiting.

ME: You watch Holby Blue?

ALF: I love Holby Blue!

ME: Okaaaaaaay...

A pause a moment as Hub and I look at each other - WTF? - as Alf blissfully rearranges his converse laces, oblivious. Then:

ALF: D'ya reckon there'll be a Holby Red, like with fire engines?

HUB: They'd be mad not to.

ALF: Right - but then they'd have to have Holby Green.

ME: What would that be?

ALF: (Rolls his eyes) Vets, of course.

ME: Of course.

HUB: I'm seeing a franchise opportunity here.

ALF: Dave, it IS one already!

HUB: (Suitably chastised) Right.

ALF: *Anyway* - we'd need Holby Brown, too.

ME: Sewerage workers??

ALF: No way! FARMERS.

ME: Oh yeah.

ALF: And then, of course - Holby Pink.

ME: (Timid) Pink?

ALF: Fashion! Obviously.

ME: You do know Holby doesn't exist, don't you?

ALF: Mother. I'm eleven years old. Not three.

ME: Right. Sorry.

Tony Jordan, eat your heart out - though for the right fee Alf is AVAILABLE. It's the school holidays too, there aren't any child labour laws regarding coming up with TV concepts and series bibles... Is there?!?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

SLASH - Cast & Crew Call

Very exciting stuff going on here at Bang2write Towers - Schuman and I have FINALLY set a date for filming our five minute horror spoof, SLASH. We had hoped to film the end of Aug, but we're now the end of Sept, so all things considered we're not too far behind schedule... I CAN'T WAIT. This will be my second stint as a producer ever and I've got high hopes, think we have a strong script and Schuman has some fab ideas as ever for the look of the film. If you want to be involved too - please take a look at the opportunities available for cast and crew and get in touch!

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PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING:

This is a DIY short, we have NO funding from our local screen agency etc, so we can't offer money - sorry. Everything we collected for the Slash fund will be going directly back into the production (like wardroble/blood etc noted below) and the shortfall will be coming out of mine and Schu's pockets (or more likely, credit cards! Yikes!). What we can offer is food/drink on the shoot, DVD of final film and our undying devotion and respect.

SHOOT: Saturday, Sept 26th (It will be a day AND night shoot, so if you're busy on Sun 27th, this is not for you, it's gonna be a LONG day! : )

AUDITIONS: Saturday, Sept 12th (London)

Also: our insurance does not permit us to have anyone under the age of 18 on our set, whether cast or crew. Sorry!

PLEASE APPLY TO ME ONLY, Lucy, Bang2write"AT"aol"DOT"com - and put SLASH CAST or SLASH CREW in the subject line, else I may lose you in my giant inbox!!

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TALENT

We are looking for TWO actors this time for the parts of:

TOM - a student, "normal", middle-class, non-rebellious type - not the kind to have loads of piercings, tattoos, etc.

KIMBERLEY - also a student, high maintenance, takes care of herself, probably has fantastic nails and makeup even in the middle of a wood.

NB. Tom and Kimberley are boyfriend/girlfriend, but there's no snogging involved! ; ) Both do a lot of running around and there's a fight scene. Playing ages approximately 18 - 23, but this is a rough approx - *can* be older, no younger. Thanks.
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CREW

We are looking for the following crew:

GAFFER

RUNNER # 1 - big fella needed for this one, sorry grrlz. You will literally be running with Schuman the director to make sure he doesn't fall over with the camera and if he DOES trip and falls on you, he WILL squish you if you're a wee girl or chap!

RUNNER # 2 - male or female. Driving licence/own car definite advantages cos neither Schu or I drive!!!

WARDROBE - *some* money available for costumes thanks to our wonderful Slash fund contributors

MAKE UP - must have own kit, but we have money for BLOOD
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MISCELLANEOUS

If anyone has or knows anyone who has a generator we can hire, please get in touch cos not even sure where to start on that bar simply opening yellow pages!

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Please feel free to pass these details on to anyone you think will be interested in the above.

Monday, August 03, 2009

NEW SHORT SCRIPTWRITING CONTEST!!!

UPDATE: The Competition page is not live yet - goes up next Monday (Aug 10th)

As you know, Sequel to Cannes, the premier networking event in the SW was last week. Organised by the luscious Rosie Jones, the event brings together filmmaking and writing talent with the likes of Southwest Screen, The UK Writers' Guild, funding initiatives and other likeminded peeps. It really is worth going to - or its elder sister, Prequel to Cannes. Join the Facebook group here to be kept in the loop about these two fab events.

Best of all, it now has its own short scriptwriting contest. Check out all the info below - including that top jury! I never let an opportunity slide either, so I will be involved as the contest's script reader and best of all, YOU GET FEEDBACK. That's right my friends - Rosie has listened to the common complaint re: contests - *no feedback* - so every entry WILL receive it. What's even better, Level Film will be sifting through the entries to see if they like any (not necessarily JUST the winners!) so you've a chance of getting your short made too. How ace is that?

What's more, those of you coming to/interested in my How To Be A Script Reader course in September may be interested to know Rosie is coming too, where she will share some insights on this fantastic opportunity! Read on...
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ABOUT THE CONTEST: The Sequel to Cannes Short Film Script Competition will be live from Monday, 10th August and full terms and conditions, script criteria and the entry form will be available by logging onto www.sequeltocannes.biz. The Closing date is 30th October, 2009, the first round of ten shortlisted entrants will be announced prior to Christmas, followed by a further shortlist of six candidates in January; the top three winners will be announced on 14th February, 2010.

The Script Jury:

Rosie Jones (administrator)

Jeremy Paul (Patron)

Danny Stack (Writer)

Tim Clague (Director/Writer)

John Foster (Writer/Lecturer)

Level Films (Second Read)

ABOUT ROSIE: Rosie also delivers creative writing workshops, full consultation on appropriate recruitment processes for the creative industries as well as writing features and articles for national magazines. In her spare time she continues to decorate her home, mow the lawn and entertain friends and family. Cuisine is one of Rosie's passions and she is currently in the final stages of development of her cookbook, as well as working on editing her latest scripts: two Rom-Com films and her costume drama feature, 'Repentance'.
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What are you waiting for?! Get writing...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Character Role Functions # 1: Male Lead

Music can be a very helpful inspiration to scribes when writing. I have been known to drive my family mad in fact with a particular signature tune, like this one when I was writing Eclipse: I had the song on repeat for weeks, maybe even months. Now, well over a year since I finished, Hub has banned that song from the car, the house -- anywhere he'll hear it, basically.

Very often when I'm reading scripts, characters will sort of "blend together": writers are often shocked to hear this response from me, especially as they will feel they have tried hard to make their characters"sound different". For me though, characters are not *just* dialogue and sounding different; they ARE different from each other. They should have very specific wants and needs - sometimes fitting in with the theme of the story, sometimes not, depending on their role - that MAKE THEM and thus push the story forward.

Here are my thoughts then on how characters have role FUNCTIONS that help or hinder the narrative's drive forward, using music to illustrate my points.

The Romantic. I Feel You - Depeche Mode. Key words: "This is the dawning of our love." Very often in the scripts I read, males have very few romantic inclinations at all - even in romcoms or actual romances. It seems to be felt romance is something a woman does and strives for, netting in a bloke who perhaps let his guard down at the wrong moment! On the flipside, in specs it seems to be nearly always women who are driven crazy, Glenn Close-style from Fatal Attraction, in horrors and thrillers. What's interesting then about this song and its words is it could be taken *either* way: depending on your viewpoint, the singer's romantic - OR THE BIGGEST STALKER IN THE WORLD. It's a thin line.

The Realist. The Scientist - Coldplay. Key words: "No one said it was easy... No one said it would be so hard." Yeah, yeah, we all hate Coldplay. Now that's over with, what's interesting about this song is it flags up the notion it SHOULDN'T be easy for ANY character in ANY film of whatever genre to get what s/he wants or needs. Yet so often characters in specs don't have to work that hard to achieve their goal and as a result, we just can't get on board with their journey. And characters' lives in specs ARE journeys. Similarly, as a specific role function, the Realist is one of the most under-used characters I see - even in horrors and thrillers. *The One Who Knows They Are Totally Screwed* is a fantastic character for raising tension and creating conflict within the main narrative, even if they aren't the main antagonist.

The Father. "Cats In The Cradle" - Ugly Kid Joe/Harry Chapin. Key words: "You know I'm gonna be like you". A character does not have to be an actual father; sometimes he is a father figure instead, but very often the Fathers I read in specs get on either fantastically well with their kids - or they are entirely absent from their lives. But there is a middle ground. Fatherhood - whether symbolic or not - is a minefield every bit as much as Motherhood, yet scribes consistently seem to miss this opportunity. Similarly, parenthood is a bittersweet experience: the many, many ups and downs can be what MAKES and BREAKS a person (hence many parents' somewhat smug belief those childless people *just don't get it*), yet there is often a very simple line drawn in the sand between parents and their offspring in specs: they get on or they, um, don't. What I like about this song then is it shows how complicated these relationships can be.

The Love Rat. Wherever I Lay My Hat, That's My Home - Paul Young/Marvin Gay. Key words: "Save your tears, 'cos I'm not worth it, you see". Whether we laydeez like to admit it or not, we've all shed bucketloads of tears over men, often 'cos of their seeming lack of regard or remorse at the end of a relationship. Perhaps we have even been raised by bitter mothers who have experienced something similar before us, so we've come to expect it - yet are still shocked by the reality, especially the fact so many men seem to have no understanding of what they've done, so this whole "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" has sprung up to explain it, as if we really ARE from separate planets, which of course is pure nonsense. But that's the stereotype: sometimes love rats and rogues DO have self knowledge, DO have remorse, but STILL can't help themselves, 'cos they're too screwed up by life to do otherwise - and those, not the *bastards* are the more interesting characters.

The Beholden. Magdalena - Perfect Circle. Key words: "I'd sell my soul, my self esteem, a dollar at a time". Women are so often VICTIMS in specs - to men, to work, to parents, to life in general, yet how often do we see a man put in their place? Not often. Yet men are screwed over by all these things just as much as women - and if suicide rates in young men in particular are anything to go by, they feel pushed right over the edge by them. In the rock/metal world, men often sing of feeling close to the edge and consumed by these problems, yet there seems little in movie/TV world to reflect this reality. There's a wealth of material to be mined in this character, yet I see it in specs so infrequently I do have to wonder why.

The Addict. Happiness In Slavery - Nine Inch Nails. Key words: "Slave screams: he knows what he wants." Again, another wildly under-used character in specs. The man with the addictive personality can destroy the world around him: listen to the stories from people around you, remembering husbands, boyfriends, fathers who failed to "measure up" because they put a vice ahead of real life. Men who gamble their mortgage away. Men who drink their families away. Men who MURDER their families. Yes, women do this too (perhaps not the last one so much), but which has more truth? And how can you use this to create the most conflict in your spec? About four or five years ago I would see The Addict in Ken Loach-style dramas, but recently he's disappeared altogether, even in that genre. And I think it's a shame.

The Criminal Mind/ Sadist. The Future - Leonard Cohen. Key words: "When they said, "repent", I wondered what they meant?" Obviously this character turns up a lot in specs, usually as the antagonist, but he's often what I would call a "comic book villain". He will state his intentions to anyone who will listen and usually delight in how evil he is and/or how pathetic everyone else is. Yet bad guys DON'T KNOW they are the bad guys! That's why I love the words here - the complete bewilderment of the singer is a great reminder of the notion bad guys are always the good guys in their own minds. Of course, the challenge there is finding a way to represent this without being *on the nose*.

Used any of the above in your own work? What other roles have you used/read in specs? Did they appeal to you - or not?

Over to you...