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

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Build It And They Will Come: Lucy V's Wager

Lots of screenwriters are fond of the Field of Dreams quote "Build It And They Will Come" - and good on 'em. I truly believe that if you keep going, no matter what, one day all will come good. I have to believe that, as it's pretty much the story of my life, not just screenwriting.

"Build it and they will come... " Is it actually 100% true?

Yes. And no.

Common sense dictates that if you keep going, something has to happen for you eventually. But by that same token, common sense also says there are no guarantees either.

So instead of wondering IF it will happen for you, consider yourself a success ALREADY.

That's what I said.

If you are writing, never mind about the sales; there are many people already jealous of your success at just getting words on the actual page. Never mind saying you *only* placed in a contest, or you've *only* got [this number of credits] or you're writing TV when you'd rather write features or novels or whatever. Creative people are put down by others in society left, right & centre; let's not put ourselves down AS WELL.

If you're writing, you're a writer. You are a success. End of. Liken screenwriting to the notion of Pascal's Wager, but instead of imagining God exists, imagine that elusive notion of "screenwriting success" exists for you instead. Let's call it Lucy V's Wager!

After all, you have absolutely nothing to lose and absolutely EVERYTHING to gain.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Frauds & Parasites! (Or Why There's ALWAYS More Than One Way Of Looking At This Scriptwriting Lark)

WRITER 1: There's this person, right. S/he's written a book/a blog and/or designed a course/put on a conference and reckons it'll help writers understand writing. WHAT A FRAUD.

WRITER 2: (quietly) Actually I read it/did it and found it quite helpful.

WRITER 1: Yeah, well, I don't so I'm gonna tell you: YOU'RE AN IDIOT.

WRITER 2: Well, that's not very nice.

WRITER 1: Sorry, you're forcing my hand. If you believe in all these formulas and whatnot for success, you're an arse.

WRITER 2: Except, I never actually said that did I? I said I thought the book/course was quite helpful. I didn't say I believed it 100%. William Goldman said no one knows anything and I get that. But I also think there are people who might have something interesting or useful to say, especially if they're actually doing what I want to do. Why is their experience not worth anything?

WRITER 1: Um, I never said that.

WRITER 2: Um, yes you did. You said they were frauds.

WRITER 1: Well ... that's all and good, but for every *sensible* person like you then, there will be HUNDREDS OF NEWBIES taken in by this crap and they will be left horribly disappointed when their work doesn't sell and they're left living in THEIR OWN SWILL.

WRITER 2: But shouldn't we be looking at our OWN work and thinking it about in our OWN way - which includes reading books and blogs and whatnot - if that's what we want to do, individually? Personally I like looking at everything I can and deciding what I think does AND doesn't work.

WRITER 1: Except it's just procrastination! It takes us away from the real stuff - ACTUAL WRITING. If it was as easy as these supposed Gurus and bloggers reckoned, we'd all be doing it, right?

WRITER 2: Well, quite a lot of us are. If there wasn't a market for it, they wouldn't write the books. Or the blogs. Or hold the courses. Right?

WRITER 1: See, you're getting it now! They're like PARASITES, sucking away at our talent! If these story guys were SO into story, they wouldn't be doing it for MONETARY GAIN.

WRITER 2: Right. 'Cos when you work in the media, you don't have mortgages or rent or childcare or food or hall rental or anything like that. And anyway, Bloggers don't get paid for the most part. They give hundreds of posts of info away for free. By the way, have you actually read or done any of these books or courses you're attacking?

WRITER 1: No. I don't need to. *I* can recognise them as THE FRAUDS THEY ARE.

WRITER 2: I give up.
----------------------------
LINKS

Dear Writer

Free e-book, Screenwriting Tips (PDF)

The Required Reading List

My interview with Yves Lavandier (part one: On Scriptwriting and part two: Script Reading, Gurus & Philosophy ), author of my personal fave book about writing, Writing Drama - buy it here.

How To Connect with Other Writer 2s (and hopefully avoid the Writer 1s)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Deviation sells to Revolver Entertainment

Just a quick post to tell you Deviation, the Thriller I've been involved in as associate producer, has sold to Revolver Entertainment.

Deviation stars Danny Dyer as Frankie, a vicious escaped convict who abducts young nurse Amber (Anna Walton) in her own car on her way home from work. It's a fantastic, dark Thriller set in one night and I feel privileged to have worked on it with the fabulous Lara Greenway and JK Amalou, not to mention the rest of the team.

This means you'll be seeing Deviation in the cinema early next year, most likely Feb/March time, so keep an eye out.

Now -- onto the next movie! Watch this space...

Deviation - IMDB

Deviation website

Deviation on Facebook

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oi, Writers No!

Yet again this week I came across the lament, "Oh I had this great idea... But then it turns out it's quite similar to [this other thing] that's already been done. Oh no. This means I can't write it anymore. Oh boooo hoooo...."

Yes, I'm looking at YOU, Dodgyjammer!!! : P

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU PEOPLE:

1) It's execution that counts.

2) Originality is overrated.

3) It's all been done anyway.

And don't tell me "it's different for TV/Film/Web series..." - whatever! All start with a PREMISE. And yes, the same premises get recycled OVER AND OVER AGAIN: "the same but different"! It's not just what the Execs want, but the AUDIENCE TOO. Why try and reinvent the wheel?? Why not make YOUR VERSION the BEST EVER instead!?

Now go and sit on the naughty step.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Meeting People: Agents, Producers & Directors, Other Writers

So, with London Screenwriters Festival round the corner (83% of tickets sold if you haven't bought one already, HURRY!), the focus turns to networking and pitching and "first impressions count" ... Here's my strictly tongue-in-cheek look at how NOT to appear when meeting people for the first time. (Please note I'm just as likely to have BEEN the weirdoes in these scenarios as been on the receiving end, so learn from MY mistakes!):

MEETING AGENTS

WRITER: (thinks) Oooooh, there's an agent I want to read my script. (talks) Hi Mr/Ms Agent, how lovely to meet you.

MR/MS AGENT: Hello, writer.

WRITER: Read my script.

MR/MS AGENT: Um, well, I'm not really taking on any new clients right now...

WRITER: That's not what you said on Twitter.

MR/MS AGENT: Really?

WRITER: Yep. You were talking about reading loads of great scripts... You said in a tweet to @someoneIvenevermetinreallife on July 14th at 3:14pm. I think it was a Thursday.

MR/MS AGENT: Well I might have done, though I probably meant from my *existing* clients...

WRITER: So, what you're saying is you won't read my script?

MR/MS AGENT: Well I never said that exactly...

WRITER: Great! What's your email address?

MEETING PRODUCERS & DIRECTORS

WRITER: (thinks) Oooooh there's that director or producer of that MASSIVE *thing*... (talks) Hi Director/Producer, I loved your massive *thing* that was everywhere [LVH: ooooh matron]

DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

WRITER: Though I thought it would have been better if [this has had happened] in the story instead.

DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Okay. Thanks for your feedback.

WRITER: And if you'd cast [this actor] instead. And hadn't had "a film by..." in the title sequence. 'Cos after all it's the writer's project as well, right?

DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Right. Except I wrote it as well.

WRITER: [frozen smile, hoping s/he can get away with it] .... Aaaaaanyway: can I send my script in?

DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Sorry, we're not accepting submissions right now, our slate's full.

[A new producer appears from the sidelines]

NEW PRODUCER: Ahem... I'll take a look at your script?

WRITER: Who are you? What are your credits?

NEW PRODUCER: Well I'm working on them... Perhaps we can collaborate?

WRITER: Well, are you going to pay me any money for that?

NEW PRODUCER: Well, no... I don't have any. But I wouldn't get paid either. But we could create something together and get our first credits?

WRITER: Not the point. You're trying to devalue me and what I do. Get lost.

[New Producer skulks off]

WRITER: Pfffft, Chancer.

MEETING OTHER WRITERS

WRITER: (thinks) Oooooh there's that writer whose blog or Twitter feed I read... (talks) Hi Tweeting/Blogging Writer.

TWEETING/BLOGGING WRITER: Hi! Who are you?

WRITER: Oh yeah, silly me - I know you but you don't know me! I'm @thatothertweetingbloggingwriter. I don't have photos online in case my Ex/bullies from school/aliens from Mars see me.

TWEETING/BLOGGING WRITER: Oh yes. I enjoyed your tweets/posts about [your project], how is that going?

WRITER: Terrible! No one wants to know. I'm SO DEPRESSED.

TWEETING/BLOGGING WRITER: Oh dear, sorry to hear that.

WRITER: Not your fault, it's the producers. And the script readers. And the agents. They're all combined in some kind of secret cabal to keep ME out.

TWEETING/BLOGGING WRITER: Have you tried altering the platform you're using to deliver the story - like looking to the graphic novel market?

WRITER: But I don't want to write graphic novels. I want to write movies.

TWEETING/BLOGGING WRITER: Well have you thought about making it yourself?

WRITER: If I wanted to be a producer, I'd be a producer. I'm a writer. I don't want to dilute my talent.

TWEETING/BLOGGING WRITER: Well there are lots of ways to diversify...

WRITER: You've got an agent, haven't you?

TWEETING/BLOGGING WRITER: Um, yes.

WRITER: Can you refer me?

TWEETING/BLOGGING WRITER: But I haven't read any of your work.

WRITER: So I'll send you a script. What's your email address?

TWEETING/BLOGGING WRITER: Well, I'm quite busy with my *own* work...

WRITER: So you won't help me? That's typical of this industry. No one will help ANYONE.

[Writer stalks off in a huff, leaving Tweeting/Blogging Writer]

TWEETING/BLOGGING WRITER: Blimey...

... FADE OUT

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

4 Nights In August Script Challenge - SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED!

There has been major deliberation going on here at LSF Towers - not to mention some screaming, crying and general fisticuffs as to WHO goes through from the longlist to the coveted shortlist of The 4 Nights In August  Screenplay Challenge.

As with the creation of the longlist, yet MORE hard decisions had to be made.  However due to the quality of the entries we were not able to whittle it down to  the final 5 as expected, so instead we have a final 12!

Without further ado then and in alphabetical order ONLY:

BIRTHDAY by Michelle Golder

BURNING BOOKS by Steve Irwin

EVERYTHING YOU NEED by Dave Turner

FATHER TO THE MAN by Liz Holliday

FOUR DAYS ERE THE FESTIVAL OF DEACON LAURENCE IN AUGUSTUS by Sara Atiiyan

I WITNESS by Gareth Turpie

IN HEAD by Jamie Wolpert

LOST & FOUND by Mikey Jackson

RIOTERS AT THE GATES by Jon Cronin & Anna Carmichael

THE GAME by Terence Barry

WHY? by Milethia Thomas

YOU by Dominic Brancaleone

What's great about this shortlist is that each entry is very different in its own way, presenting very intricate stories that reflect the complex issues behind the riots. We have entries here full of light and shade; nostalgia; even comedy. The styles of storytelling too are very different, with dialogue and non-dialogue scripts; talking heads and even almost "war reporting" cinema-verite styles to name a few. Several have no human or animal characters in whatsoever.

The longlisted entrants who did not get through to the shortlist this time however must not despair - they placed in the top 16% of the contest, no mean feat at all when we had so many entries. And they have no idea how close to fisticuffs Team LSF REALLY came...

Don't forget you can see inside the spec pile as a whole for the contest, here. And here's a blog about coping with rejection for anyone who needs it. And stay away from windows for at least 24 hours! ; )

NEXT ANNOUNCEMENT: The Winner!!! Coming VERY soon... Watch this space.

Psssst...

... Want to see what the inside of a contest script pile looks like?

Then check out the insider info I posted on The London Screenwriters Festival blog yesterday.

From format and feasibility, to character and story, there's some quality overall info on the entries as a whole - so if you're wondering why your entry didn't make it through or just want to see what a job it is for readers sorting scripts and why, then go over there now!

Check it out here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Coping With Rejection

Since I rejected 170+ people yesterday for The 4 Nights in August competition, I thought those non-longlisted entrants would like to know whether rejectors ever feel guilt.

Yes, this one does.

I've rejected A LOT of people over the years. I joke sometimes that's why I never get very far in contests myself: it's scriptwriting karma, if you will. Way I figure it, if you write "Pass" enough times on coverage and add up enough low scores or percentages, it's bound to bite you in the ass in an industry that does, in part, rely on luck.

And I'm very conscious these are people's DREAMS I'm essentially treading on, whether I like it or not. As a writer myself, I've been rejected more times than I care to count. I know it stings. Hurts, even. I have received rejections that have had me sobbing inconsolably. Really. And not because the person who's rejected me has been vitriolic either, but because I happened to want that opportunity SO MUCH and to have it taken away, when I've worked so hard, seems unbearable.

I totally get it.

So every time I work on a contest or an initiative, I always try and let EVERYONE know, successful or not (email failure notice allowing, there's always some!). Though some people have told me over the years they couldn't care less whether they were "close" or not - or that sometimes it's WORSE to know - the resounding majority of writers are happy to at least hear the outcome, even if they jokingly call it a FFOF or a FO@5.

But here's something else people might be interested to know:

When I first started, sorting scripts was EASY. This is what we did - first we got rid of the scripts that didn't look like scripts, the ones in non-industry standard format. Secondly, we got rid of the scripts that made no sense. Thirdly, we got rid of the scripts with characters we'd seen before, had confusing motivations, indiscernible goals and/or were just plain non-empathetic for any reason.

But it's HARDER now. It really is.

For one thing, most scripts LOOK like scripts, since most are industry standard format. Secondly, far LESS scripts make no sense whatsoever. Thirdly, generally characters - whilst admittedly still sometimes non-empathetic or familiar - usually appear to know what they are doing and why, at least for *most* of the script.

Now, sorting contests is HARD. Readers have to make some really tough choices in who should go through. Sometimes there is quite literally a hair's breadth between who DOES go through and who DOESN'T. It's as simple as that. I've even seen names AND SCRIPTS I recognise do BRILLIANTLY in one contest and yet not even place in another - and this happens all the time. It's even happened to MY scripts.

So next time you get rejected, don't obsess over not winning or placing. It really is the taking part that counts. Honest!

LINKS

Industry Format Ref Guide (PDF)

Resources and articles on character & structure

Monday, October 03, 2011

#scriptchat 4 Nights In August: Longlisted Entries Announced!

So we had a whopping 241 entries for the London Screenwriters Festival Four Nights In August Competition! To say we were surprised is an understatement. Traditionally, script calls with very specific and difficult briefs like ours usually attract a small amount of entries and our readers initially predicted 50 – 60 entries, yet we received well in excess of this with a WEEK to go before the deadline. Amazing!

As ever, we’ll give you a look inside the spec pile, but first we will announce the top placing entries and their writers. All of the scripts below made it through the first round, gaining a second read. In NO particular order then:

BROOM by Dan Rogers

YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY by Debbie Moon

CHOICE by Gavin Harrison

SHATTERED by Lewis Swift

LOST AND FOUND by Mikey Jackson

OLD NEWS by Nicholas Buss

THE CHOICE by Kristi Barnett

AMY By Louisa Fielden

BURNING BOOKS by Steve Irwin

IN HEAD by Jamie Wolpert

KALAMATA by Hugh Prior

YOU by Dominic Brancaleone

PIRANHA by Kevin Pacey

SPLIT by Alexander Roy

HANNAH & GEORGE by Chip Tolson

FRACTURED by Lynne O’ Sullivan

BIRTHDAY by Michelle Golder

KIDS LIKE US by Martin Thelwell

WASTE by Bev Prosser

WORD ON THE STREET by Christian Hayes

OPPORTUNITY NOX by Stephen Atherton & Ian Gilbertson

WHY? By Milethia Thomas

EVERYTHING YOU NEED by Dave Turner

AFTERSHOCK by Christina Tring

BULLSEYE by Tom Kwei

CONSEQUENCE by Anne Marie Fry

4 NIGHTS IN AUGUST by Mark Hodges

FATHER TO THE MAN by Liz Holliday

THE ARROGANCE OF YOUTH by Sheila McGill

CAUSE & EFFECT by Jordan Sheehy

THEM & US by Daniel Hill

TWO FACES by Joseph Ackroyd

THE FLAME OF MY ANGER by Bella Nova

THE GAME by Terence Barry

RIOTERS AT THE GATES by Jon Cronin & Anna Carmichael

CHOCOLATE by Lizzie Mason

I WITNESS by Gareth Turpie

HOME INVASION by Christopher Bevan

FOUR DAYS ERE THE FESTIVAL OF DEACON LAWRENCE IN AUGUSTUS by Sara Atayiian

Please don’t be despondent if your script didn’t make it through the first round. As ever, there were some hard decisions to be made – I know competition readers always say that, but that’s ‘cos it’s TRUE!

But don’t take my word for it, here’s some “insider info” from our readers about scripts that did not make it past the first round, yet they still loved:

Asib Akram, YESTERDAY’S NEWS. Our reader said, “I would have loved to have put this one through, but the petrol bombs just made it infeasible for the second phase of the contest, the filmmaking challenge.”

Karena Marie Satchwell, AMATEURS. Our reader said, “Brilliantly executed dialogue, the transitions from character to character were fab - but with so much smashing of property, it was just unsuitable for the filmmaking challenge.”

J Mockridge, OUTSIDE LOOKING IN. Our reader said, “A great idea with an interesting twist, but I was unsure of how it could be “translated” by MANY filmmaking teams without making an essentially identical film each time.”

Nikki Edwards, FRAGMENTS. Our reader said, "This one stood out for its simple yet effective structure... However this script scored low in feasibility too due to the need to break into a car AND break a shop window. Much of the first half of the script would have needed to be modified by filmmakers."

Christopher Schiller, STAY HOME, STAY SAFE & Harry Loney, TOCK. Our reader said, "They both fell down on feasibility, but they both stood out for me because I really enjoyed them." (Sometimes it really is as simple as that).

These are just a handful of the great scripts we received – and perhaps already you may see why your entry did not make it past the first round, as “feasibility” for no-budget filmmaking teams was key to ensure scripts progressed … If not however, don’t worry: I will be composing an in-depth “look in the spec pile” as usual later in the week, so keep your eyes peeled!

Team LSF are working very hard now to whittle down the longlisted entries into a shortlist and our next announcement is just days away. Good luck!