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

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Year Ahead

Well, I can look back at 2007 and say I made *some* progress at this scriptwriting lark. Of course, I'm not about to tell the whole of the internet exactly what I did (and didn't manage to) do. Chances are you know anyway and even if you don't, I think an air of mystery always aids a lady (or you can decide I did nothing at all, which is your prerogative, though you'd be wrong).

But that's the thing with this scripty-stuff, right? You can make lots of in-roads but unless they break on through to the other side production-wise or worse, distribution-wise, no one ever hears about them. Or better still (not), you can have something made but because it's the type of thing that doesn't have your name listed on it (like a website, toy, CD Rom etc), people look at you funny and think you're laying claim to random stuff just in order to big yourself up. Which would be crazy, but then I think we're all probably a little crazy. I'm rambling now. I have a temperature. It's the same bug my husband has but of course he's DYING whilst I soldier on. Men.

So, my plans for 2008? The same as 2007 really. Get a TV commission. Get a script editing and/or supervising job on a film with major distribution that starts its principal photography this year. A couple of my secret projects have managed to fall off the edge of 2007 and into 2008, so I'm still not telling you about them but I'll do those too, natch. Oh and make a short film! That's a new one, one I've always *intended* to get round to but never managed. If you fancy collaborating with me on...something and live somewhere near me (Dorset would be handy, Bournemouth handier still), then get in touch. Let's rock and roll.

Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

You're Kidding Me

Yeah, yeah... We all knew I wouldn't last until the new year, I love all you gits WAAAAAAY too much (I'm a romantic: what can I say???).

Well actually, there is something I can say: thirty votes??? IS THAT ALL???

Come on.

Look on the right hand side bar people. I know you're there. I know stats go down over the holiday period, but just 7% of you were looking for porn on this blog yesterday, which *must* mean the rest of you were here looking for screenwriting stuff.

So look at the lovely loglines. Decide on your fave. And vote! Choose a winner. Don't let someone win out of sheer apathy. Make them win by pitting them against each other like dogs in cages, gnashing and ripping and gouging like the BEASTS they are. GRRRRRRRR!

You can do it.

Make your vote count.

Or else.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Oh for me?? You really shouldn't have... Here you go:

Some Christmas party games for you here.

Some Christmas music for you here (okay, okay... it's DMX vs. Tears for Fears but it ROCKS and is anyone as sick of Slade, Wizzard et al as me???).

Here's to 2008 and getting those commissions and options all sewn up so we can then retire with trophy spouses. YEAH BABY!

See you in the new year.

PS. In-between gorging yourself and causing rucks with relatives you haven't seen all year, don't forget to vote and/or give feedback in our logline comp!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Logline Contest - READ AND VOTE!

So here you are... Some lovely loglines for you to vote on in the Chrimbo Holidays! Enjoy and please do give constructive criticism where you can (if in doubt as to what constitutes "constructive", click here). I've posted as they were in the emails, no corrections etc - some are longer than 25 words. Do you disqualify them?? Well that's up to you: you're the judges people, not me!!

The poll will end on New Year's Day. GOOD LUCK EVERYBODY!


A LONG JOURNEY. A neglectful father and resentful son attempt to reconnect as they go on a wild Christmas journey in search of the mythic Christmas Tree. Annelie Widholm, Feature, Family Comedy

A LONG JOURNEY. A malicious stowaway on Santa's sleigh must prove he's good or the elves will leave him behind in a lawless village built for naughty children. Joe Cawley, Family Feature

TO THE GRAVE. In a feral future Britain an old man must travel back to his northern home town to take terrible vengeance for a long forgotten injustice. Rob Stickler, Sci Fi Action Feature

DEEP MID-WINTER. Deskbound Angus flees family Christmas enduring cancelled trains, freezing buses, hitching and hiking he reaches his now pensioner crofter schoolteacher. The hungry cows need feeding. Chip Tolson, Road Movie, Feature

A LONG JOURNEY. A shooting star on Christmas Eve inspires an orphaned reindeer to escape from a petting zoo to seek Santa at the North Pole . Sheikspear, Feature, Fantasy

A LONG JOURNEY. Are we there yet, mam? The unborn child can’t wait to be born to begin its proclamations, to the growing annoyance of the parents-to-be … Fi Benson, Dark Comedy, Short

A LONG JOURNEY. December 23rd 1943, James orders: Photograph rocket sites. To return and marry Kathy means taking risks. James’s dies, his 1943 letter arrives Christmas Eve 1993. Ghost Story; nice one tho, despite James's ditching in the channel and Kathy dying in an air raid. They - and others all return as ghosts. And on their wedding day, the stranger dressed in a Luftwaffe uniform holding the wedding car door open for Kathy and James, salutes them. Ron Shears, TV script

A LONG JOURNEY. When Oil is discovered at the North Pole, a team of evil Prospectors are hunted by a vengeful Polar Bear. Eco-Jaws with fur! An enviro”mental” horror with claws. Mike G. Zealey


THE LAST DAY OF CHRISTMAS. A discredited scientist struggles to expose a Christian fundamentalist biological terror plot before the contaminated Christmas crackers are pulled. Caroline Henry, Feature, Thriller

CRACKERS. After finding a severed finger in his cracker, Geoffrey endeavours to return it to it's owner on Christmas day, stumbling into adventure along the way. Leon Bell, Comedy-Drama, Feature

CRACKERS. A lost delivery of crack-loaded crackers? Blackmailed Santa Claus has 48 hours to find them before elfish Mr Big adds him to the naughty list. Tom Mitchell, Feature, Comedy

SANTA'S SIDEKICK. When Morgan, the dyslexic crow, gets his dream job helping poor, forgetful Santa, the world wakes up to an unusually brilliant Christmas. Anna Perera, Animation

CRACKERS. This Christmas, be careful what you pull… Two psychopathic sisters deliberately infect HIV with Christmas party one night stands. Sheikspear, Thriller, Feature

CRACKERS. One disgruntled cracker packer. One cracker with extra bang. Holly Mistletoe's going to kiss them both goodbye before the Queen's speech. Rach, Thriller, Feature

CRACKERS. After decades of watching the ice melt around his home, Santa Claus finally snaps and travels down to New York on a killing spree. A comedy “slay” ride. Mike G. Zealey

CRACKERS. When legendary Ten-pin bowler Sean le Penn’s arm is irreparably damaged in a freak cracker-pulling accident he must face the biggest challenge of his life and score a strike against the greatest foe he has ever faced, adversity. Alan Salisbury, Comedy, Feature


A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER. A workaholic TV weatherman gets more than expected when both his estranged, pregnant daughter, and the biggest storm in 50 years, show up for Christmas. Laura, Comedy Feature

WHO’S CHILD IS IT? After one hellacious Christmas eve Santa returns to the north pole where elves’ court determines who’s the father of the newborn found in his sleigh. Dennis Goldberg, Feature, Comedy

A CHILD IS BORN. A defrocked Priest regains his faith whilst trying to save the newborn Daughter of God from a Devil worshipping sect. Sheikspear, Feature, Thriller

A CHILD IS BORN. As Jose and Maria celebrate the arrival of their new baby, Saviour, a series of angels appear claiming paternity rights, including the brightest angel, Lucifer. Fi Benson, Short, Dark Comedy

GENE DELETED. Kidnapping the geneticist was the easy part. Now all she has to to do is create the ultimate weapon and free her imprisoned son. Elinor, Thriller, Feature

WORMWOOD. A suspicious young doctor takes matters into his own hands when he starts to believe that a child he helped to deliver is not human. Tom, Supernatural Thriller, Short


THE STOCKING KILLER. Christopher Mass hates Christmas. Against advice from his psychiatrist, he descends into his own tinselly hell to discover who is bumping off department store Santas. Chip Smith, Comedy Thriller, Feature

DEAD BEAT IN DAKOTA. "Christmas Eve, New York: John Lennon, desperate to recover his Muse, feverishly conjures her up - and three ghosts he must face, to win her back." Norman Revill, Feature

THE WHISPERING DARK. A man travels to an isolated village where he struggles to discover the truth about the mysterious encounter that drove his folklore-obsessed grandfather insane. Tom, Supernatural Thriller, Feature

NEMESISTER. A boy is convinced his younger sister has acquired evil superpowers so he desperately tries to stop her before she destroys the family, and herself.
Danny Stack and Sam Morrison, Family/Comedy Feature

DICKENS ON WOMEN. The story Charles Dickens never dared tell. His own. David Anderson, Historical Romance Feature.

CONFRONTATIONS AND REVELATIONS. After getting married over Thanksgiving weekend, a rich CEO learns that his new wife is a single mother of three. Robert Hogan, Comedy, Feature

NAILED. An adulterous trophy wife believes she's in the clear when she meets her blackmailer's demands, only to discover there's a far higher price to pay. Alexandra Denye, Short, Thriller

CONFRONTATIONS AND REVELATIONS. A young Priest descended from Christ’s bloodline confronts Satan via a coded passage in the book of Revelations. Sheikspear, Feature, Horror

SECRET CHRISTMAS. Christmas is dead. The renegade celebrants imprisoned. But Grace Goodyear stubbornly ‘believes’; soon she’s ‘Most Wanted’ and accidental rebel leader. The fight for Christmas begins... Andrew Bernhardt, Family Feature

LAST TANGO IN RUSHOLME. A group of amateur ballroom dancers fight to save their practice hall from the clutches of anunscrupulous developer at Christmas. Pete Spencer, Comedy-Drama, Feature

HOPES AND FEARS. When an escaped psychiatric prisoner takes refuge in a dentist’s office on Christmas Eve, his hostages are forced to confront their own hopes and fears. David Bishop, TV Drama


STARLIGHT. A stranded, self-obsessed movie actress rediscovers her lost values when she reluctantly agrees to star in small town’s Christmas pageant. Sheikspear, Rom-Com, Feature

STARLIGHT. It’s Christmas Eve. Goldie, Frank and Myrtle, insurance agents specialising in victim compensation, see a bright light shining to the East. They follow it … Fi Benson, Dark Comedy, Short

STARLIGHT. Night time burns on Twinkle and the fuzzybeams have eaten all the starblock. So Bunny Carrot-top's gonna make the Candyfloss Run to save their skin. Rach, Sci Fi Animation Short


Sorry guys, couldn't decide where these went and you didn't tell me! :)

SANTA'S SACK. When a depressed Santa and Mrs Claus face sexual dysfunction difficulties they turn to renowned LA plastic surgeon, Dr Biggar Knobs, to help out Santa and save Xmas. Will Santa get his hole in time to pop down some chimneys? The marvellous Dublin Dave aka DD, Short Film

UNTITLED. Santa has traveled a million miles to deliver your gifts this Christmas. He just wishes he'd remembered his trousers. Dom

Thanks to the prolific Bang2writer Chris Younger for the following:

SANTA'S SWEATSHOP. Elves make all the toys, right? WRONG! Every year Santa stops time, kidnaps all the naughty children and forces them to work in his sweatshop making all the toys for Christmas, and some Nike trainers to give Santa some drinking money. Not a comedy. Santa could be Chris Walken or Anthony Hopkins.

SAINT NICKED. While on a secret drinking spree, Santa is arrested for drunk and disorderly and assaulting a police officer. When he can't prove who he is, he's sent to Guantanamo bay as a terror suspect. Hilarity does not ensue! Think Midnight Express meets Miracle on 34th street.

NORTH POLE DANCER (An educational drama). A stripper stows away aboard Santa's sleigh and taken back to the pole. There she teaches the elves how to pole dance and makes them realize that Christmas doesn't have to be wholesome, it can be sleazy too!
Alternatively, change stripper to prostitute and call it "Ho! Ho! Ho!". ;-)

NORTH POLE NIGHTS. David Hasslehoff is Santa! While the elves make presents, Santa solves crime with the aid of his ex-alcoholic sidekick Rudolph. Is someone stealing all the ice or is global warming for real? A buddy comedy.

THE NIGHT THE REINDEER DIED. Terrorists invade the north pole, massacre the reindeer, behead the elves and hold Santa as a hostage. Who can save Christmas? Van Damme? Seagal? Chuck? Britney? Rooney?


As you will see, quite a few didn't specify a title or used the theme-as-title, so watch out when you're voting that you vote for the RIGHT one! ; )

More Updates For The List of Wonder

I've been promising some updates for a while now and with so many interesting articles out there, it's hard to remember where they all are, let alone catalogue them! Here are the best of the best in the last three or four months as a Xmas present:

For My Beloved "Structure" section:


For the "Misc" section:

LOCATIONS AND ARENA BY MYSTERY MAN ON FILM Thanks to Lianne for sending me the link to this one and thanks to her once again, for we have:


For the "Scene Description" section:


For the "Character" section:


NEW SECTION: Storytelling Techniques!


Haven't read them?? Do it, do it now! *Said Arnie-style* Cheers guys, you are ledges.

If you have any favourite links from out in, share 'em with us! Particulalry interested in developing the new section, looking for some good stuff on flashback and INTERCUT.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Adaptation: Mead Kerr Class

Many Bloggers and Bang2writers took a Mead Kerr Class with me in the last year, either in London or Edinburgh. I think these courses and Mead Kerr are great 'cos unlike so many screenwriting classes, they're not telling you what you already know for about three billion pounds; instead it's about sharing information, identifying elements you need to work on (and not just craft either) and networking. In short, I can't recommend them highly enough so when Adrian told me he's got a new class for the new year, I said I'd post info. I even hope to go to this class too once I've sorted my finances out in January, so with a bit of luck I'll see you there! Book now. You won't regret it.

Hi All,

Last week the highly respected industry publication Screen International reported that the film industry is going through an adaptation frenzy,

"A reasonable estimate is that adaptations make up around 80% of the projects currently being made."

It isn't just the best selling authors who have their work snapped up and turned into a movie franchise. A quick scan of the widely varying sources of material that have made it to the screen brings up -

The Baghdad Blogger, from blog to book to forthcoming movie

Beowulf, from ancient poem to movie

Secret Diary of a Call Girl, from blog to book to TV series, "Secret Diary of a Call Girl".

Jane Austen's Emma from book to teen movie "Clueless".

Les Liaisons Dangereuses, from novel to play to many movies including "Cruel Intentions", "Dangerous Liaisons" and "Valmont".

Ghost World, from comic to movie.

No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, from book to forthcoming movie

The Watergate tapes, from newspaper article to movie "All The President's Men"

By now I'm sure you are getting the message; clever re-imaginings of well known tales, strange or controversial blogs, news stories etc, are far more likely to get made than an original screenplay by an unknown writer. You need to understand the art and business of adaptation. But where do you start? How do you find the material or get hired to adapt someone else's writing?

Fortunately we have done all the hard work for you. Mead Kerr have created THE ART AND BUSINESS OF ADAPTATION. This unique two-day course provides a clear and practical guide to the creative, legal and business aspects of adapting material for the screen.

Here's what people have said about our most recent class -

This week's Screen Lab was motivating, energizing and of immense practical use. I'm impressed by the techniques we learned, by the quality of advice offered, the clarity of its delivery and the ways in which you enabled us to really get a broad view of all the elements that go into developing the craft of screenwriting. Best wishes, Shelagh Young

Thanks a million for three amazing days, I'm still buzzing from all the information and tuition. Regards, Jim Sullivan

ScreenLab proved to be a great experience – enlightening, inspiring accessible and practical! Your enthusiasm was infectious and the guests who came along (especially the actors) were fantastic. Mandy Lee

It was a terrific seminar. I took away so much from the three days, most importantly the belief that making it in this particular industry was in my hands. Warm Regards, Michael


THE ART AND BUSINESS OF ADAPTATION will provide you with all the tools you need to find and adapt work for the screen. Guest speakers ranging from screenwriters, novelists, producers and publishers will share their experience of finding, optioning, writing and selling work. Just a few of the areas we will cover are -

1. The Author -

When is your book, article or blog suitable for adaptation?

How can you publicise your work to the film and TV industry?

Selling the film and TV rights to your work.

Adapting your own work for the screen.

2. The Producer -

When is a book, article or blog suitable for adaptation?

Finding material for adaptation and establishing relationships with authors, journalists, agents and publicists.

Negotiating the film and TV rights.

Hiring the screenwriter.

3. The Screenwriter -

Creating a pitch for the job and your take on the work.

The adaptation process - finding the screenplay within the material.

Working with the producer and originator of the work.

And much, much more!

This is a brand new course and as always we will be providing the most up to date, career building advice, a relaxed and friendly networking opportunity and excellent speakers and panel members.

If you have not already attended one of our courses do some research by googling the tutor Adrian Mead and also check out the testimonials on our website or alternatively, Bang2writers can search "Adrian Mead" and/or "Mead Kerr" on this very blog or click on the links on the "Top 25" on the right hand side bar.

Having done both of these classes I came away fired up and probably bored my friends rigid as I couldn't stop raving about it for weeks! I can't recommend this enough!" Jane Walker

Think about that statement from Screen International,

"...adaptations make up around 80% of the projects currently being made."

Faced with these kinds of statistics it is obvious that if you want a career as a screenwriter you need to do this course.


DATE: Sat 15 - Sun 16th March
VENUE: EDINBURGH city centre (TBC)
COST: £120 incl VAT and Lunch


To request a booking form or further information send us an e-mail, more testimonials can be seen at our website.

Wishing you all a happy time over the Christmas holiday and stellar success in the New Year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kill Dave

I have many Daves and Davids in my life. It's my husband's name, my sister's boyfriend's name, a very good friend's partner's name, my son's father's name. I have a huge array of Davids and Daves as clients through Bang2write, many of my contacts are called Dave and a multitude of them pop up on this blog.

In short, I am beset with them.

But now, it seems, there is a solution. My young son, just nine years old, got told off by his stepfather and typed "kill Dave" into Google. And came up with this.

So: all the Daves and Davids - watch your backs. We have plenty of inspiration to draw from if you p*** us off... ; )

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's Getting Drafty

Ever have one of those specs that just won't behave? It's like an eel slipping around in your grasp or a recalcitrant kitten that won't stop scratching the back of the sofa. I've done six drafts in nine months of one particular little b****** yet still it refuses to BEHAVE. A whip in the form of another reader however has given it a lashing, but ultimately it is I who must step up and take control. Only I'm too busy. Damn it! But Christmas presents will not wrap themselves and I still have a veritable pile of scripts to plough through before I close down for a week over Christmas. Oh and then there's the ironing and the small matter of feeding the family etc before they go feral. Which is a scenario coming closer by the day it would seem as my one year old BIT my nine year old approximately one hour ago like some savage yappy-type dog. Kids. Gotta love 'em, since you can't post 'em to Glasgow.

People have been emailing asking when I'll be posting the loglines. Probably saturday or sunday - I won't be updating over Christmas, so it seems the perfect chance for people to view and vote on the loglines in-between sulking 'cos of family feuds and getting the wrong present. We can work out who the winner is when I get back.

Talking of which, it seems I will be returning on January 2nd to a waiting list of people who want coverage! Okay, when I say "waiting list", it's three people with the foresight to know they will be working on their scripts over the hols - so it makes sense to set themselves a deadline and get some feedback in January. Very enterprising! If you want to reserve a place in my queue too, by all means go ahead. January is always a plethora of credit card and tax bills for me, so I will be reading everything I can. If you want more information about my reading first though including recommendations and a link to a post about my feedback from the Chipmeister, click here. Cheers Guys - for now...

Digital Future Conference - Afternoon Sessions

Apologies it's taken so long to post about ALL the conference sessions; I've been besieged with problems the last week or so, from a dead PC to leaving my notes at my Mum's house in Devon! But here you go Riboflavin, I know you're chomping at the bit to hear about the rest of it... Enjoy the rest of you as well! ; )

Lunch was a quiet affair, though I got the opportunity to meet several other "media types" in the throng, including someone from Screen Yorkshire (I shamelessly pimped my script reading ass, natch) and another person writing up the event, this time for Scriptwriter Magazine.

Next came probably the most lively and interactive session of the day: the subject? Piracy. I've never been one for downloads, legal or otherwise, but several audience members were whipped up into quite a frenzy and not for the reason I had expected. Jonny Reckless (who sounds like a pirate, doesn't he?) of Macrovision and a lady from FACT (whose name I wrote down but my handwriting is illegible here) presented a very good case for piracy (or what they preferred to call "copyright theft") being wrong and as a potential filmmaker I couldn't help but agree: being able to nick stuff surely brings down the content's value? Lots of people in the audience disagreed. Very strongly! I heard all kinds of opinions on the subject voiced, but I thought it was neatly encapsulated by Kirk of Team Rubber, whom I had the opportunity to talk to afterwards. He said that of course "stealing is wrong" - except when you're stealing from THE MAN. The Man being the guy of course who sets the odds in his favour - like CD companies, big film distributors and so on. As I understood it, then of sorts it becomes a matter of honour almost, a Robin Hood kind of scenario: people are being priced out of information in effect, reflecting the notion of Baudrillard's "info poor" - is it piracy then? In addition, both representatives posited the difference between "copying" and "cloning": now we're going digital, quality is not always lost so rather than copying artefacts, we're actually reproducing them - there is no difference between the legal and illegal version, in stark contrast to the days of pirate video when the differences were obvious. Again, something I had never thought of before. A very interesting session, probably my favourite of the afternoon.

We were also treated to a case study of how the Netherlands approach distribution etc and they seem well ahead of us in terms of digital and have more of an idea of how this will affect independent cinema: Gerben Kuipers of Cinemec, a venue much like The Watershed, told us of how he went up against the big corporates by providing Ladie's nights, themes nights etc in his cinema and making it less of a building to go and watch films than a "cultural lifestyle". I really liked this idea; though we have places like The Watershed, The Poole Lighthouse or The Phoenix in Exeter, I think more emphasis should go on these venues as promoting not just film, but culture too. I think it's a shame that cinema *seems* to be falling foul of the "instant gratification" idea - give the people what they want, not what they need - so the great history of film AND cinema falls by the wayside.

Pete Buckingham of the UK Film Council was next and though he was supposed to talk about distribution, he talked a lot about Amazon and its e-book reader Kindle, something I had never heard of before but have been reading about since and you can see here. Basically it seemed to form a metaphor for the film industry "keeping up" with technology, yet not falling foul of some of the restrictions and constraints levvied at the Kindle. Though I could be, and probably am, completely wrong! As mentioned in the previous article, some of my understanding of this sort thing is nothing short of basic.

Finally then, we were treated to a digital distribution legal masterclass courtesy of
Anna Keeling of legal experts Osborne Clarke. This really was a revelation: I had no idea that contracts had to be SO specific on what constitutes "on demand viewing" for example. It really is a minefield - get it wrong and it seems you could lose the licence for your content's distribution. Anna presented a selection of slides and really broke it down for us, which was great. I just wish it had been earlier in the day, since a lot of us were flagging by this point and it was a lot of information - but perhaps scheduling just wouldn't allow it.

So that's the day itself: as requested I will be returning to some of the issues of digital and what it means for us as writers in the new year. No doubt it will be half-assed I'm afraid, I'm still learning myself, but hopefully we can find some more techy people out there in to help us out on the road to understanding. I for one think this is fascinating though and look forward to exploring the notions further both on this blog and in my professional life. Thanks South West Screen!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Logline Comp - Reminder

Hey all, just to say you've got until Monday to get those loglines in... Only had about 10 so far, so don't give those who've entered a free run, get yours in TODAY! ; )

Here's what you need to do:

1) Compose a logline of 25 words or less (no excuses!) (Please note - no synopses this time).

2) Pick ONE of the following 5 Christmassy-type themes as the "focus" or backdrop of your pitch:

i) A long journey
ii) Crackers
iii) A child is born
iv) Confrontations and Revelations
v) Starlight

Your pitch can be for a feature, TV series, short - whatever. It's up to you! But let me know.

3) Send your pitch to me on the usual address Bang2write"at"aol"dot"com BUT please do the following:

i) include the word LOGLINE in capitals in your email subject heading
ii) Please put your name (or nickname if you prefer), genre, format (feature/short, etc) AND theme responded to with your pitch in the email itself.
iii) You can leave a logline in the comments section of this post if you like, but remember to leave a link or your contact details.

There's even PRIZES this time! Original contest post and full details here.

Come on, what have you got to lose???

UPDATE 16/12: I'm like, well-busy this week, man. Forget tomorrow's deadline, you can have until Wednesday 19th Dec, I'll post 'em on Thursday, maybe even Friday. Am I great? Of course. Will I get more loglines this way? Let's hope so, or I'LL KILL YOU ALL VIA THE MEDIUM OF THE INTERNET. I didn't just learn about podcasting and IPTV at that conference last week you know... ; )

Friday, December 14, 2007

Film, the Digital Future - The Morning Sessions

First off, apologies for not getting this lot up on Wednesday - a dead PC and multiple domestic crises pertaining to Christmas got in the way. But here you go!

The conference was moderated by Nick Roddick of Split Screen, a Brighton-based publishing and consultancy company. He opened with the notion that it is not a "digital future" so much as a "digital present" and this really resonated with me: I have spent so long producing simply words on a page that I have not really given much thought to the changing face of production. Just how will we be affected as writers and how will this change turn out? The bad news is, no one really seems to know; the good news is, there are plenty of people out there with interesting ideas and business models to help digital production really establish itself in the UK and thanks to the internet - *beyond*.

In the morning the first of the sessions were devoted to marketing and Simon Oakes of legendary horror prodco Hammer and Helen Brunsdon and Robin Gladman of the fab Aardman had positive things to say about the transition to digital. Simon was particularly vocal, believing the internet is not a threat to the industry but an "effective marketing tool": this is backed up by Hammer's recent jaunt into MySpace with its own mini series due to be launched in March 2008 called Beyond The Rave. Helen and Robin agreed; their jobs at Aardman basically involve seeking and raising finance for new programming and they believe all the different platforms out there - like the internet, but let's not forget good ol' mobiles - will really offer new avenues for filmmakers to get their stuff "out there". They did have a sage warning for those who believe the internet is a dead cert however: the public don't like to be manipulated; if you're putting your stuff on the 'net for no other reason than you're trying to make your first million, you won't get very far. Internet distribution is not the easy way, it's just as hard as the traditional routes in terms of connecting with audiences, "increasingly savvy users will find you out".

We were joined next by Grace Carley of All Industry Marketing and Teun Hilte of Content Republic: Teun Hilte explained that Content Republic is all about "the unlocking oh the value of film online" and that this does not refer only to the actual film, but extras like Teasers, Trailers, "makings of" etc. Grace Carley's outfit then is more about promoting the cinema experience rather than film itself and this was an interesting pairing, for in some respects they were diametrically opposed about their views of film and its digitalisation, though Grace later conceded that approximately 58% of people decide to watch a film in the cinema from its trailer, so she could see the value in putting trailers on the internet in order to get people into the cinema. Teun believes that we can learn from people's behaviour online marketing-wise; perhaps seeing what users click on can actually in theory help customise film online's content? He also made the point that there is a section of society who just will not go to the cinema: they exist almost exclusively online, should we not cater for them? Grace agreed, we should and Nick Roddick made the point that Cinema nearly died with the advent of home video until they "joined forces": is it not time for Cinema and Internet to do the same?

The next session was devoted to distribution and this is where my notes get a little hazy I'm afraid since there was a LOT of technical jargon I simply didn't understand - what with encoding and whatnot. However I can tell you the first session brought us Phillip Schluter from Content Lizenz Agentur (CLA) and Michel Peters from Content Republic (CLA's function is very similar to Content Republic's, as outlined in the previous paragraph) and Alfred Chubb from Arts Alliance Media. Much was made in this session about the fact that the indie distribution market is incredibly fragmented in comparison to the studios' market which tends to give them global rights. I did a bit about distribution at university, so I think I followed and it boils down to the fact that we've got all these territories (Asia, Europe, The States, etc) and the "little man" is kept from accessing them in the same way as a big studio like, say, Paramount. Paramount can go and put one of their big releases on iTune for example; an indie can't on the basis that they won't have rights across all the territories. In short, it's a minefield - yet outfits like CLA and Content Republic can help with this, using the internet to the indie's best advantage, so again this session was all about the positives of the digital situation. Apparently there are different portals like MySpace, Facebook etc are global and not subject to the same boundaries as "closed networks" like AOL, BT etc so you can distribute your indie film through them instead. One tip that was offered was the idea of promoting your movie through the portal by giving them something exclusive like stills, making of featurettes, etc so they can differentiate from their competitors in terms of pimping your movie - yet you still retain a non-exclusive deal.

The next session was all about exhibition and we were joined by Marc John of City Screen aka Picture House, Mark Cosgrove of The Watershed and Alex Stolz of The UK Film Council. This section was all about digital screens for cinemas; Alex reckons there's still only about 240 digital cinema screens in the whole of the UK. The idea put forward here mostly was screen space is valuable, it has to be a viable film supported by (and this was the most interesting bit I thought) a "proper" marketing scheme: they were all quite insistent that this means the "floodgates of crap" are not about to open. Mark Cosgrove was keen to stress the difference between being a lone independent like his venture The Watershed and corporate independents like Picturehouse and Marc John believed that diversification was what was needed - and showed us some clips of how Picture House is doing that, showing rock concerts on the big screen with satellite link ups for Q&As with the stars as one example of this.

That's it for the morning sessions... Lots more to report on, but I'll write about the afternoon sessions as soon as I can. I think I will also go into more detail on a few of the interesting elements that came up and explore them from a writer's POV, what do you think? Let me know.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Fond Farewell

R.I.P Lucy's PC

May 2003 - Dec 2007

May we all remember our faithful brother/sister HP 42.4UK, who had only 256 MB of RAM but an even bigger heart for it put up with Lucy for hundreds of hours. A moment's silence, please.

ENOUGH OF THAT: have a shiny new laptop. My trasnformation into cyber Geek is near complete. All I need now is braces.

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Monday, December 10, 2007

See You There!

Are you going to the South West Screen "Film: The Digital Future" conference tomorrow in Bristol? If so, drop me a line! I'd like to meet as many likeminded scribes, bloggers, readers and whatnot as possible while I'm there. Alternatively, look out for me: you can't miss me, I'll be the short brunette girl in a silver dress. Really. What? It's CHRISTMAS.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Keep It Simple

The scripts that pass through my door or desktop often share one thing in common: they're not simple enough. As I've said here, here, here and here, so often stories have so many threads it's hard to know exactly what is going on as it is difficult to see which is the "main" one. It's not something that features suffer from exclusively either; often TV pilots have a similar issue and I've even seen short films with it too on the page and on-screen.

So how can we prevent ourselves from overloading a script with too much plot? By keeping it simple. It's very tempting to shove in as much as possible but it's worth remembering that too many threads quite literally spoil the movie (or whatever it is). For one thing, readers (and thus audiences) like to invest in the story as a journey: that journey needs to be smooth. If you're stopping and starting every five minutes (ie. looking back to check who's who, who's done what to whom etc), it can get confusing.

This is not to say that screenplays *should* only have the one character and the one character's journey exclusively like Duel for example, but one should ideally be dominant over the others. A reader likes to be able to pick out the protagonist early on, be confident that is whose this story is with the other threads connecting with that dominant arc. That's not to say ensemble pieces can't work, they absolutely can - I LOVE a good ensemble drama, but I believe it's best to nail down the single protagonist before you branch out to those more difficult ways of writing (and ensembles can be a bitch!). Judging by the amount of times I've written "I wasn't sure whose story this was..." I would venture that it's an idea to study what makes *good* plotting and character in greater detail.

But how? Features are a taunting task for the beginning script student and we all know that shorts can be horribly pretentious and muddled (though many aren't and are quite brilliant I might add, so don't go getting any knickers in a twist). But knowing where to start can be as big a job as deconstructing the narratives themselves in order to learn from them.

My solution? Pop videos. Not those pop videos showing scantily clad ladies and/or shirtless males singing and dancing in different costumes in different studios either. They're very nice and as far as set dressing and whatnot goes, undoubtledly a revelation. However they don't have a narrative in the traditional sense of a beginning, middle and end, the type that could show us, in a small way, how best to go about doing our narratives in a big way.

However, plenty of pop videos do have narratives, as I show below. Few are longer than approximately seven or eight minutes, yet they tell an entire story - from beginning to middle to end. Some have diegetic sound as well as the non-diegetic sound from the song; some songs are by their very nature stories, whilst in others the narrative applied to the video cannot be applied to the song as well.

Whatever the case however, I think it's a great exercise to learn how "simple is best": plots can have multiple threads, no one wants a sterile and dull script thanks. But do you know what your main narrative is? Do you know whose story this is? Why is that person pursuing the events they are and if they aren't pursuing anything, then why is this film about them? And think of how many threads you have and how they support that main narrative. If you're unsure how any of this applies to your own script, there's a good chance your script *may* have gone off at a tangent - because it's those types of question a reader will demand of your script. If it can't answer then, maybe it can't deliver in terms of dramatic satisfaction? Not a good thought.

Here's some great videos from the 1980s to now that I think are great representations of "simple" narratives:

Last Christmas, Wham. A man has to spend Christmas with his ex-girlfriend who is now going out with his best friend.

I love Wham but absolutely loathe this song - makes me want to rip my ears off each time I hear it - proving perhaps you don't have to like the song to appreciate the video. I recall watching this as a child and noticing the narrative: I had never seen a pop video with one before and videos were really taking off courtesy of the birth of MTV a few years' before. What I like about this one is it fits the song and tells the story in a very obvious way whilst still paying attention to other minor threads, like the fact that George Michael's loyalties are torn between his ex, his best friend and his own new girlfriend (yes, yes, I know...).

Take On Me, Aha. A lonely woman is pulled into a comic book and finds her hero.

Probably my all-time favourite: I had expected this to date but the line drawings are so fantastic that the animation is still fabulous as far as I'm concerned. Again a nice simple story. What it has to do with the song is a little tenuous and why slamming yourself into a door frame makes you real I have no idea, but Morton Hackett's all sweaty and gorgeous at the end so who cares?

Like A Prayer, Madonna. A woman saves her lover from prison when he is accused of a crime he didn't do.

I think this video is extraordinarily crass and somewhat vulgar but you can't deny its visual power or the story in it. Convulted in the extreme - a black Jesus! Non-linearity! A curtain call at the end! - it nevertheless loses sight of the main issue for Madonna's character: should she bow to the sleazy looking knife guy and not say anything, or tell the police the black guy is not responsible for the woman in the alleyway's death?

I Will Do Anything For Love (but I Won't Do That), Meatloaf. A lonely, ugly man laments the fact he will never be close to the beautiful woman he loves, only to discover is his love is not unrequited after all.

Much like Madonna's video this is less pop video and more pantomime: after Michael Jackson's celebrated 1 million pound "Black or White" video it seems pop video makers in the nineties really wanted to outdo each other. However despite its pomp this is a simple re-telling of "Beauty and The Beast" with a flying chaise longue and very effective it is too.

Because of You, Kelly Clarkson. A woman in an unhappy relationship remembers watching her parents' similarly stormy marriage and realises she is repeating history for her own daughter.

I'm not a fan of Kelly Clarkson so don't know if this song fits its video - its lyrics are ambiguous as to whether she is talking about her own parents or an ex-boyfriend as she lambasts someone for making her who she is. Whatever the case, this video is a moving account of one woman's realisation that she has to stop what she's doing.

What Goes Around, Justin Timberlake. A man discovers his girlfriend is cheating on him, a revealtion that leads to one of their deaths.

From the same team as the fabulous Alpha Dog which Timberlake starred in, this was bound to be good. I was really surprised by how good an actor JT was when I watched Alpha Dog and bar a few dodgy script moments in the video itself, I think this really shines as a great piece. Like Aha's video something weird happens at the end (I won't spoil it for you if you haven't watched it), but it still works because of the "dreamscape" that is offered up to us with the sumptuous 1920-style arena that swiftly brings us from a dream to a nightmare. Nice.


Any faves?

Last Chance

I've worked the last two Christmases in a row thanks to poor planning on my part and have decided that I never want to read scripts in-between wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, eating cold turkey on Boxing Day and throwing up courtesy of a hangover on New Year's Day!

So: if you're needing something read and want it before Christmas, this is your last chance guys, because I will be taking a bit of time off in-between December 24th and New Year's Day - AND I CAN'T WAIT. I'm about to finish a stupendous backlog of scripts at the beginning of this next week and can fit you in before Santa slides his wide ass down your chimney - as long as you book NOW, in the next ten days (Dec 9th - Dec 19th) so I can turn the last ones in the queue around in time for my holiday.

All you need to do: send me your short script, feature, treatment etc, via email between those dates above and I will log it in so you can reserve a place in the queue. Then I will send you an invoice via PayPal when we're ready to proceed. If you don't have PayPal let me know and we can discuss other options no problem.


All clients coming through the blog get a minimum of ten per cent off the prices listed here.

If you need a recommendation before you part with your hard-earned cash, click here and scroll down for ten!

If you have a short film script, a proposal or any specific requirements/worries about your script and aren't sure what you need, email me on Bang2write"at"aol"dot"com and we can discuss it first so you get the best deal.

If you're worried that I'm one of those vitriolic readers, I can assure you I'm really not but check out what Chip says here at the bottom of the comments of this post just in case.


Friday, December 07, 2007

A Little Something For The Weekend

It's been a tough week this week for various reasons and of course strike news has not been great with the insult offer and not much else going on, though it appears complete deadlock has been avoided as yet. Hang on in there guys... Easy for me to say of course, I'm not the one with zero money coming in. Still thinking of you though and wishing you the very best of luck.

So, to keep you smiling, here is a completely unrelated video that is the daftest six minutes of dancing that I have ever seen... I'm in awe of how he remembers all those routines! Some of my fave songs in there too: I am the modern man... Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!!! WOOO!

Thanks to the lovely Natalie for the heads-up on this one. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I Am A Bad Mother

So my son has a school trip today to a castle that is stuck in a time warp of Tudor Times - some rich Toff has worked out that to keep his giant gaff running he needs to charge schools huge piles of moolah to watch people in skirts make stuff like mead and salted meat. And good luck to him/her/them: free enterprise is a good thing and bringing history alive is wicked; I still recall visiting a real working monstery as a child and nicking bits of the mosaic floor when my teacher wasn't looking. Still have that bit of mosaic too in my jewellery box, think it might be the toe of Jesus Christ.

But anyway. Why you're really reading: I am a bad mother because my son was supposed to go in Tudor costume on this trip. I forgot all about it. This morning I constructed a makeshift Tudor costume consisting of his school shirt, a pair of ragged jogging bottoms, a large eighties-style belt, one of his stepfather's ties cut and frayed at the edges and a frilly waistcoat of mine, complete with a cardboard sign reading WILL WORK FOR FOOD so he could go as a Tudor urchin.

Oh dear. Why do I get the feeling he'll be telling this to a psychiatrist in twenty years or worse, selling an autobiography about being horribly neglected as a child?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Best. Feedback. Ever.

From the ridiculous to the sublime:

"You strike me as someone who has a bizarre view of sex if people turn into werewolves and kill each other during and/or soon after the act: what are you, a preying mantis? However you also strike me as someone who has a lot more sex than me and for that I am wholly jealous."

If only this person was in a position (arf) to make one of my scripts, hey?


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Christmas Logline Competition

Long term readers will remember the just-for-fun logline and synopsis competition this blog had back in July as a knee-jerk reaction to so many of us in the Scribosphere trying - and not making it - into The Screenwriters' Festival Fever Pitch Comp. Scribes and Bloggers voted in a poll for their favourites and even offered feedback to one another, so it was both great fun and useful. Check out the entries here and the winners here.

Many people asked in the comments and emailed me to set up a new competition though and I'm pleased to announce the second Bang2write Logline Comp!

Rather than just recycle pitches from last time however, I thought we could do something a bit more radical and write loglines based on some given themes... Hopefully this will pull a few more writers into the fray too, since quite a few emailed from last time saying they didn't feel they could enter their spec pitches as they weren't "polished enough".

This way then everyone's in the same boat and one thing Scribes always need IMHO is more practice on those pesky loglines and what makes a "decent" hook. As before I will create a poll within this blog so readers can vote for their favourite, rather than me, so it will be completely democratic. I'm hoping too we will all be able to offer each other pointers on constructing intriguing loglines too. The best news til last though - WE HAVE PRIZES!

The lovely Liz at Moviescope Magazine is offering a subscription to the lucky winner of this contest. For those of you who haven't read Moviescope yet, it's a bi-monthly magazine devoted to filmmaking and movies from an insider's point of view and is well worth a look, so I think this is a great prize. Thanks Liz!

Chris Soth of Million Dollar Screenwriting has been kind enough to donate one of his eBooks to the lucky winner too and even better, promises ALL ENTRANTS a free month on Hollywood By Phone, his subscription service that connects scribes to top producers and writers and just recently, the captains of the WGA Strike. Subscribers can get MP3s of the conversations if they prefer and even transcripts, so you needn't miss out even if time difference in locations is an issue. Let me know if you want in on this deal when you send your pitch to me. Thanks Chris!

So, here's what you need to do to enter:

1) Compose a logline of 25 words or less (no excuses!) (Please note - no synopses this time).

2) Pick ONE of the following 5 Christmassy-type themes as the "focus" or backdrop of your pitch:

i) A long journey
ii) Crackers
iii) A child is born
iv) Confrontations and Revelations
v) Starlight

Your pitch can be for a feature, TV series, short - whatever. It's up to you! But let me know.

3) Send your pitch to me on the usual address Bang2write"at"aol"dot"com BUT please do the following:

i) include the word LOGLINE in capitals in your email subject heading
ii) Please put your name (or nickname if you prefer), genre, format (feature/short, etc) AND theme responded to with your pitch in the email itself.
iii) Or do the same as above but in the comments section of THIS post, no other.

I will of course try and respond to all entrants to let you know your pitches arrive safefully but it *does* depend how many I receive - it's just me on the end of the line! : )

Sorry if it seems a bit anally retentive but I had a total 'mare admin-wise last time. I'm not going to disqualify anyone for not putting "LOGLINE" in the subject heading, it's just so I can call them all up in my filing system - if you don't do it, there is a chance you could get lost in my virtual filing cabinet, so you have been warned! Similarly, I will be putting all the loglines up according to theme and if you don't tell me which it is (or what your genre is), I might have to guess since chances are I'm not going to have time to ask you as I'm mega-busy over next couple of weeks.

DEADLINE: Monday 17th December, Midday.

Looking forward to receiving your pitches!

10 On TV Drama: Sacrificing Fact For Drama


History presents us Scribes with many stories that we can exploit, but it also presents us with a dilemma: just how true should a true story be? I've already discussed this notion from a philosophical standpoint here on the blog, but when it comes to historical drama on the telly, we've been shown, countless times, that it's story and not fact we should stick to.

Period drama is big business as far as TV Drama goes and post-90s in particular prodcos and institutions like The Beeb have been striking out beyond the "safe", tried-and-tested adaptations of authors like Dickens, Austen and Bronte. And thank f*** for that. Don't get me wrong, I love the Classics, but there's only so much I can take of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre or Dickens' more dubious back catalogue like Martin freakin' Chuzzlewit.

So what have we been treated to, post millenium? Well, events, arenas and even royalty have been given period drama's new "look" - we're encouraged not to look into the past with rose-coloured spectacles and a Jonathan Dimbleby-style narration, but to see these stories in all their glory in a more Hollywoodised big budget blockbuster way. We have big set pieces, stunts, controversy, sex, violence, gore and more.

And you know what? I bloody love it! No doubt it's because I am a product of the MTV-style generation and purists will say my culture is considerably lower brow than theirs, but as far as I am concerned stories are stories and history is home the biggest stories of all: those things that go down in history then as being "memorable" deserve to have the works thrown at them.

As for facts... No thanks. Now I love history; I loved it even at school where the National Curriculum goes out of its way to spoil it for UK kids by making them study WW2 for five consecutive years (accounting perhaps for some young people's "meh" attitude to our great nation and the immense sacrifices made for us, but that's a soap box moment for another time).

History might have drama, but that does not mean you should always have fidelity in my view: we say the same about how stories play out structurally after all. And what is "fact" in History? Usually History is entirely androcentric (male orientated) and often we are relying only on eye witness accounts, diaries, old pictures or government statements anyway. Hardly what one would call reliable... How can you have facts when everyone sees the world differently in any case? Thus you cannot have "true" fidelity as far as I am concerned. But anyway... Here are some of my favourite Historical-based dramas of the past few years and what I liked about them.


What I liked: Jeopardy

What I thought was really strong about Krakatoa was the sense of foreboding before the eruption in particular: the tension in the air was as thick as the smoke that belched out of the volcano afterwards. Similarly, the protagonist's desperate urge to reach his family as the water came in was fanastic and as they tied themselves to trees in order not to get swept away, not only was this Hollywood-standard stunt andflood work, there was a sense of what *could* have happened in Thailand in the Tsunami which was very poignant. In short, we got a real sense of the jeopardy but also this very human moment that all of us can relate to despite the fact none of us are likely to have gone through something so huge.


What I liked:

I wasn't expecting to like this 4-parter since I had enjoyed the Cate Blanchett movie, but I was pleasantly surprised. The Elizabeth played out here seemed more vengeful, jealous and suspicious and this was reflected well by the environment of the court. Everywhere eyes were upon her and the traitors she was sure were in her midst: the corridors of her castle were labyrinthine but rather than being opulent, everything seemed that the closer you look, the more dirty and sordid it became.


What I liked: Characterisation

I was surprised to hear at the end of the first series that there would be another as I was unsure they could take it any further... I was to eat my words. What worked brilliantly about Rome was its characters that were bigger, more outrageous than any period drama I'd ever seen before. Titus Pullo for example was brilliant: when faced with certain death after being washed up on an island with friend Lucius he declares, ever-optimistic: "I didn't think I'd die like this... Be nice to see my mother again though." Nothing ever fazed him. Similarly Attya was a Lady Macbeth of such extreme measure that she is hoist by her own petard at getting son Octavius the crown to Rome. Though there were many threads to this drama, they all came together so well that confusion never troubled the viewer. Truly fabulous.

Any fave historical dramas? Any that you hate? Over to you...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

South West Screen Conference: Film, The Digital Future

Like a lot of you out in, I believe that being "up to date" with the changing face of film production will ensure my writing has more opportunities to "get out there": in addition, the idea of making a film myself is really growing on me and is certainly on my "To Do" list in the future and digital production is becoming a much more accessible way of making films.

That's why I'll be at this conference held by SW Screen at Watershed, Bristol, in just under two weeks. They have an impressive array of guest speakers including the UK Film Council and Hammer Films and a comprehensive look at how us writers can really turn this technological change to our advantage. I know very little about digital production, let alone digital distribution, the territories involved or the impact of piracy, so I will be all-ears.

I'll be writing a detailed account of the conference for this blog for those of you who can't make it, but if you can, I'll see you there! Email me...


Tuesday 11 December 2007, Watershed, Bristol, UK

A one-day film conference presented by South West Screen. Full details including an itinery of the conference here.


Booking: +44 (0)117 927 5100 or click here.

'Film: The Digital Future' will bring a pool of experts to the region to explain how best to embrace and exploit the ongoing digital developments within the production, distribution, exhibition and marketing sectors.

Following on from 'Funding your Feature', the informative South West Screen film finance conference of March 2007, 'Film: The Digital Future' promises to be both compelling and entertaining, and of course immensely informative.

Speakers confirmed from companies / organisations including the UK Film Council, Arts Alliance, Content Republic, City Screen and Hammer Films. Quite simply, there is no better way to get the lowdown on the changing landscape of digital film. For a full itinery of the day, click here.

Places are £50 including lunch
To book contact Watershed box office on +44 (0)117 927 5100 or click here.

NOTE: You do not have to live in the South West to access this conference - it's (and I quote, courtesy of the lovely Becky at SW Screen) the "more the merrier"!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Virtual Solidarity: Good Luck WGA

Well, the Bournemouth rally came to nothing sadly but thanks to all the writers who took the time to email me and express their solidarity and best wishes for the WGA.

I did have a picture of me and the wee girl demonstrating our solidarity but sadly the bloody lead thingy that will send it from my hubby's phone to the PC has gone bloody AWOL! I blame the boy since he was seen with the lead last. I tortured him by tying him to a chair last night and putting his favourite jelly hamburger sweets just out of reach but he's tougher than me and wouldn't give up the lead's location. They train 'em well these days. I will break his spirit later with multiple bowls of ice cream on the top shelf in the kitchen, but until then, here's that WGA strike logo again:

So anyway: thanks WGA for standing up for us writers... I know a pic on a blog can't make loads of difference, but multiple pictures CAN show the AMPTP how seriously we're taking this worldwide... If your blog or website hasn't got one of these logos yet, right click on mine and then scroll down to "save picture as": if I can do it as the biggest techno-hoper ever, anyone can! Show your support!!

I hope the WGA knows we're all thinking of it - and not just me, but Piers and James who will be demonstrating in London today; Jill who will be demonstrating in Canada ... LATER: here's a pic of Jill!

Thanks also to Arnie who will be out at Sydney as well as other virtual peeps up for the strike like moi: the marvellous DD, English Dave, Darren aka Eat My Shorts and twin bro Mike, Danny, Paul, Eleanor, the curiously named Riboflavin and the Chipmeister as well as everyone on the Facebook Virtual Picket Line (more details here)... If you have a pic of yourself or a WGA Strike sign on your blog, website, profile, feel free to link to it in the comments section or even just send me an email I'll namecheck you here. Let's show the WGA we're thinking of them.

UPDATES: More solidarity from Jason, Martin, Robin, Jon, Lianne, Elinor, Helen, Oli, Far Away, Potdoll, Sheikspear and Tom. Nice one. Let's have some more and stretch it across the whole Scribosphere! Be sure to send me your link by the end of today.

FURTHER UPDATE: Here is the WGGB's coverage of their demo in London today. Here's Elinor's. Here's James Moran's experience of the London demo as well.


WGA Strike Blog

Pencil Protest

"Bring TV Back" Letter Writing Campaign

Fans 4 Writers

DON'T FORGET: if you're on Facebook, you can demonstrate your virtual solidarity there too.


You CAN make a difference... So lend your support.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Coming To A Town Near You

The lovely Jill Golick has information about six rallies planned as part of the International Day of Solidarity in support of the WGA strike. All of these events will take place on Wednesday November 28th, 2007.

In London:

12 noon outside the Trades Union Congress HQ in Great Russell Street in Central London. Piers will be there.
UPDATE: So will James!

In Toronto:

From 10am to 12pm, The Sony Centre (formerly the Hummingbird Centre)
@ the corner of Yonge and Front Street.

In Montreal:

10:30am to noon, meet at the SARTEC offices (1229, rue Panet in Montreal - between René-Lévesque and Ste-Catherine).

In Dublin:

3:00 pm, Guild Office, Art House, Curved Street, Temple Bar (According to the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Blog)

In Paris:

à 16 heures précises sur l’esplanade du Trocadéro(According to the UGS website )

In Sydney:

4.30pm, Sydney Square, Sydney Town Hall, George Street (meet from 4.15pm)

In Brisbane:

5.00-5.30pm, Queen’s Gardens, cnr. Elizabeth and George Sts, Brisbane

In Perth:

5.15pm to 6.00pm Entry Forecourt, Perth Railway Station, Wellington St, opposite Forrest Place.

Australian meets from AWG site. RSVP: Please email with “Solidarity” in the subject header


Don't forget I'm wanting to get some writers together in Bournemouth and have NOT HEARD FROM ANYONE YET! This is very disappointing. Don't make me demonstrate in my bedroom with just the PC, Lilirose and Crampon-Fred for company. Come on SW Writers!

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Ninja Has The Answers!

The esteemed Ninja gives us our American writer cousins a few tips on how to negotiate in the strike. Thanks to Piers for the link.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Nov 28th: Day of Solidarity

As some of you may know, next Wednesday is the official day of solidarity for striking writers and the day we can demonstrate our support for the WGA.

I'm hearing quite a lot from the Writers Guild of Canada courtesy of the marvellous Jill Golick over their plans to demonstrate in Montreal and Toronto, but ironically I have heard absolutely zilch about The WGGB's plans to mark this day. Anyone heard anything? What are they doing?

Presumably the day will be marked in London but sadly I will be unable to attend (if it is indeed going on) since I have no childcare on a Wednesday. However, this did get me thinking: there are plenty of scribes and wannabe scribes in the South West, why not stage our own mini-demo here in lovely Bournemouth*? We could stand out in The Square in the freezing cold for a bit, wave some placards about and take photos for this blog I thought to show our friends in the WGA that we do actually give a S***. People like moi who have kids, bring them along too. We should also give out some leaflets about why we're doing it. And bail money in case of the pi--police.

Interested parties leave comments please or email me on the usual address so we can arrange times etc. Novelists, journos, short story writers, students etc welcome as well as screenwriters.

*You don't *have* to live in or around Bournemouth to come to the demo by the way, but might help if you have somewhere to stay if you don't live here since it's getting quite nippy.

UPDATE: Here's a thought for all those out in who either don't live in the South West or can't get time off work etc - why not get a picture like the one I've just uploaded here and take a picture of yourself with it and send it to me... I will upload it on this site as a symbol of VIRTUAL solidarity. (I know some of you don't like showing your faces on the tinternet, so just take a pic of your hands or something with the sign). COME ON!

How Did My Cats Get On You Tube?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Note To Spammers

Dear Mr. Spam Man,

Thanks for letting me win the lottery three times a week average. I don't deal in Euros, Dollars or Yen though, so I'd appreciate it if you could actually just send me my winnings for the draw that I actually didn't enter in a suitcase or bag marked "SWAG" in Pounds Sterling. Ta.

Cheers also to the lovely fellows with unpronouncable names who say that because I am "obviously" a good Christian, they can trust me to look after their squillions of pounds whilst they run away from oppressive regimes and gain asylum in the UK. Whilst I would be more than happy normally to accomodate your money, unfortunately I have way too much of my own because of the lottery winnings that are coming, so my account is actually full up. What do you know!

And finally, to all the others, I don't want to look at your dubious You Tube link and nor do I have a "dragon" that needs to be harder. In fact my dragon Terry went to anger management classes only last year and is over all his behavioural issues now (what?). But ta anyway.

Much love and f@*! off,

Your spam recipient x

Monday, November 19, 2007

10 On TV Drama #4: Cops N' Docs, Pt 2 - Dashing Docs and Naughty Nurses


Carrying on with our "Cops N' Docs" theme, I am going to investigate a long-running medical drama that I have watched from the start: Holby City. What makes it work, what brings the audiences back, week on, week out? Let's take a look...


LOGLINE: The everyday lives, professional and personal, of the doctors, nurses and patients who find themselves, for various reasons, in the wards of the frenetic cardiac unit of Holby City General Hospital.

Casualty began back in the eighties and whilst I have also watched this from the start, unusually I consider its "spin-off" Holby City far superior. There are many reasons why, but the short version is I like its characters better. Casualty, whilst very dramatic with its accident re-enactments (some incredibly daring and others, plain weird - I'll never forget the woman playing squash with a wooden racket that splinters and gets stuck in her neck), just doesn't do it for me in the same way.

Perhaps it's because there are so many great characters, past and present, to choose from? As far as Doctors go there has been the megalomanic consultant Anton Meyer who wants his underlings to worship him like a God; the arrogant Nick Jordan who believes his own publicity to the detriment of his patients; the exhuberant and (frustrated) maternal Lola Griffin, ex-wife of consultant Ric Griffin, a doctor with a gambling problem and the weight of the world on his shoulders; the unstoppable Abra, weak to the core emotionally yet wanting to save the Third World through any means possible including illegal; Owen, an obstetrician who loves women but leaves them at the drop of a hat; the repressed Joseph Byrne who will always be in the shadow of his surgeon father; Jac, who will do anything if it means she will make it to the top; Elliot, a gifted surgeon yet impossibly scatty; Diane, a brilliant surgeon who consistently puts her emotional happiness in the hands of fickle and irresponsible men; Sam, a womaniser who just wants to be loved and my two absolute favourites of all time, the lovable rogue consultant Dan Clifford (just departed) and the irrascible and tenacious Connie Beauchamp who is not only fantastic at her job, she ensures anyone who crosses her pays. Forever. This includes Sam, who fathered her new daughter Grace after a one night stand. I'd almost say "poor guy", but he's such a muppet let's not. Go Connie!

Yet Holby City is not just about its doctors, but its nurses too and I think it's this that separates it from other medical dramas. Whilst others do obviously have nurse characters, most of the time they *seem* more secondary, "it's the doctors that are important really", yet in Holby City they have picked up on this conflict and exploited it to the full. Doctors look down on nurses; nurses resent doctors. Doctors might "save" the patient, yet without the nurses' help they would get nowhere and we are reminded of this over and over again, from MRSA storylines through to doctors dumping their babies for the day on already put-upon nursing staff.

And the nurses are every bit as colourful as the doctors in Holby City, with even an entire family amongst the nursing staff ranks: The Williams Family. Chrissie is the matron of Darwin Ward and it wasn't long before she was joined by her mother Tricia (who very unhelpfully went out with Chrissie's Ex Owen). About a year after that Tricia's estranged husband Mark turned up out of the blue wanting to reconcile with both women which went quite well until Chrissie's grandfather saught the same... It came out that Chrissie's father Mark was really her brother, for Chrissie's grandfather raped Tricia after her engagement party to Mark some thirty years beforehand.

Tricia was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer which she *almost* beat, but unfortunately she died in a car accident setting off on her honeymoon with Mark; he was later charged with drunk driving having been over the limit at the time. Mark is now a cocaine addict, something only Scatty Elliot knows about as he has a son, James, addicted to heroin who turns up from time to time looking to score at the hospital. Mark is desperate to keep his addiction from Chrissie a secret and has almost given himself away on several occasions. Other nurses of note include the irrepressible Donna who is the epitome of the OPPOSITE of the caring profession, Jess, Eric's daughter who is dogged by bad luck and even accused of harming her own baby and Kelly, a nurse about five years ago who was an obvious comment on the case of Beverley Allit.

Holby City was originally only about its cardio-thorassic ward but in recent years has opened up to include General Surgery it seems which I believe is called Keller Ward. This means sometimes cases are transferred up from "downstairs" (Casualty) so we get an opportunity to follow on storylines from the other show. At Christmas we are usually treated to a "Casualty @ Holby City" Special which basically means the characters from both shows are put together in some kind of life-altering event/accident. It also means there will some sort of annual cull of characters: in recent years we've said goodbye to Ellen, who was knocked over and killed outside the Casualty dept by a motorbike in front of ex-Partner Harry who then had to try and save her in vain; Paramedic Woody was killed by inhaling chlorine trying to save a baby from a car accident; paedrician Jim saved pregnant midwife Rosie by letting himself fall from unstable scaffolding after a juggernaut crashed right into the Holby City building and practically demolished it. All this in addition to characters getting stabbed, run over, poisoned and beaten up on the regular shows. Holby General is positively the most dangerous place to work ON EARTH.


THE FLYING DOCTORS (1986 - 1991, 9 Seasons) The chronicles of the Royal Flying Doctors Service in the Australian Outback, that covers distances too far and remote by conventional roads.
I remember watching this as a child and loving it: the funniest thing is, the actor Peter O'Brien (who was also in Neighbours incidentally) has since turned up as a doctor not only in Cardiac Arrest (below), but Casualty, Holby City's predecessor. Just like Ken Stott plays world weary policeman, this Ozzie Actor will play doctors... Even if that means emigrating.

CHICAGO HOPE (1994 - 2000, 6 Seasons) The lives and trials of the staff of a major hospital in Chicago.
I was surprised to see this had six seasons, since I was pretty sure I only watched one - I recall it being on quite late, perhaps they moved it even further back on the schedule. Certainly I recall the newspapers saying it was "too like ER" but I thought its focus was entirely different and actually extremely good.

CARDIAC ARREST (1994 - 1996, 3 Seasons) A visceral, wryly humorous look at the NHS in the 1990s.
I absolutely loved this and rued the day it went off-air, though thinking about it, that was probably what it needed else it might have "gone soft": hard-hitting, dark, funny, it spared no punches. Brilliant.

BODIES (2004 - 2006, 2 Seasons) A young English surgeon discovers his obstetrician Boss is not quite the living up to his Hippocratic oath.
From the writer of Cardiac Arrest, this was bound to be good, but perhaps was a little over-ambitious in its second series (ordering ten episodes instead of the usual six) which *might* have accounted for why people stopped watching.

ER (1994 - PRESENT)The work and lives of a group of emergency room doctors in Chicago.
I loved this when it first started and of course it's famous as a series for launching the career of George Clooney. I found him captivating as Dr. Doug Ross and there were some great storylines that really stuck in my mind, such as the death of Dr. Mark Greene from a brain tumour and arrogant consultant Romano's emasculation as a surgeon when he loses his arm in a freak accident with a helicopter. Magic.

HOUSE (2004 - PRESENT) An antisocial maverick doctor who specializes in diagnostic medicine does whatever it takes to solve puzzling cases that come his way using his crack team of doctors and his wits.
I love to hate this: its storylines are for the most part ridiculous (oh, you *could* have cancer? Let's irradiate you before we find out for sure!), yet there's something mesmerising about it, probably its wonderfully acerbic character observations courtesy of House himself.

SILENT WITNESS (1996 - PRESENT) The activities of a Home office pathology team.
I liked this better when Sam Ryan was at the helm, but nevertheless this is good solid drama, if a little unbelievable. But who's to let truth get in the way of a good yarn, hey?

What's your fave medical drama and why? Discuss...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

SPECIAL OFFER: 20% Off for Blog Readers on Script Reading

Need some feedback on your feature, TV Pilot or similar?

DEVELOPMENT NOTES - normally £45, to my lovely Blog Readers £36. For this you'll get a logline and about 6 pages of notes, tackling any issues your draft may have in-depth, like structure, character, exposition, with suggestions for development in further drafts. Useful for those drafts where the writer is still developing the story and/or certain elements, or those pieces where the writer is unsure what to do re: conflicting feedback or similar.

OVERVIEW REPORTS - normally £35, to my lovely Blog Readers £28. For this you get a logline plus sections on Story, Characters, Dialogue, Arena and "Miscellaneous" (ie. format). Useful for those more polished pieces where the writer wants a "trial run" before sending off to competitions, agents, prodcos, etc.

I believe the art of good feedback is offering ideas as a "platform": you're the writer, you're the one who knows your story best - I'm here to help, not get you to agree with me... I'm not one of those vitriolic readers you hear horror stories about. Equally, I'm not one of those that'll tell you everything's "great" and leave you wondering why you bothered when you could've got your Mum to read it for free. I'll treat your script with respect whilst still addressing any issues it may have and offer concise, straight-forward suggestions to tackle them.

Want a recommendation before you spend your hard-earned cash on coverage? Here you go.

This offer is valid between Friday 23rd and Friday 30th of November ONLY - but send your script now to reserve your place, my lists fill up fast!! No need to pay until I send you an invoice through Paypal and we're ready to proceed! It's as easy as that.

Look forward to reading your work!

PS. Don't want Development Notes or an Overview Report? Perhaps you have a short film that needs looking at, a competition entry, treatment, proposal or short story? Then email me... If it's scriptwriting-related, I'm sure I can help - and you can still have 20% off!

PPS. Not quite finished on your draft yet, but want to take advantage of this offer? Then email me and I'll reserve you a place and you can still have 20% off as long as you utilise my service within four weeks, no worries.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Colour Me Bad

This is a true story. I went to school with a girl I will call Mary. Mary was mixed heritage in a school almost entirely white (that's Devon for you): her absent father was black and her abusive mother and stepfather were white. At school other pupils called Mary "black" and at home she was the "nig-nog" stepdaughter. Growing up in such environment then it is not surprising Mary fell foul of a self-fulfilling prophecy; always the outsider, ostracised by her peers bar a select few and reminded daily what a nuisance she was at home, it was not long before Mary fell into a cycle of crime and drugs to gain (negative) attention and by the age of seventeen she was in a young offenders' institute serving a short stint for burglary.

I suppose I was friends with this girl because I too felt like an outsider growing up; we were both bullied, her for her skin colour and me because I had that stamp of someone who did not quite "fit in" and refused to see why she should try. It ended happily for both us by the way; as you know I left the trials of school behind and Mary had a similarly happy result. Sent away from Devon because of a lack of facilities for female juveniles, she ended up in a unit with other black and mixed heritage women and discovered, for the first time, that others felt as ostracised by our society as her: it wasn't just her. In the unit she studied, did a few exams and when she was let out, she became a cobbler of all things and set up her own business, which she does very well at.

But what is this story doing on the pages of a screenwriting blog? It seems to me that we are encouraged to see colour as something that is seen to "define" us - Asian Film, Black Film, Asian Women in Film, Japanese Horror are all tags we see on a daily basis online, at film festivals, on DVD boxes. Yet where is the definition if we are white? There is none. It is just, simply, "Film". It would appear that no definition is needed.

But what does this mean? Well first off, it would appear that defining people on the basis of colour *can* be a bad thing... Mary would testify to that: "she was a problem because she was an outsider and she was an outsider because of her colour" is a foul way to pigeon-hole someone, especially so young. But defining people because of their colour can also be a good thing: how can pride in your heritage and its achievements be a bad thing? Well, if you're celebrating the heritage of Nazi Germany (or similar - Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Serbia etc) and its "achievement" in oppressing and destroying entire races of course. There's a flipside to everything, it seems.

But this is why giving your characters a colour in your script *can* be a mine field. It's come up on here before: should we specify if someone is black, asian, white etc? Does it matter? And crucially, are you being racist if you do/do not do this??

Lots of writers say casting should be "colour blind" and I am one of them. Who knows whether this script will ever be made anyway and if it is, huge changes will be made according to what and who is available at the time. One of my Bang2writers made the assertion that we should write with a particular actor in mind and if that actor is then black, you should specify that character is also black but this doesn't work for me just on the basis of maths: specs spend such a long time in development that by the time it goes into production who's to say if that actor will even still have a career?

Of course, sometimes colour pays off in a story. If you're writing about say, Neo Nazism, then it helps to have some black characters for the sense of conflict. But often the casting choices we make as writers are obvious - names can give a huge sense of what colour a character is, as can ways of speaking and the actions they make.

Which leads us onto another rub. Black characters are so often negative role models. For every Will Smith in Pursuit of Happyness, there are legions of drug dealers, gun runners and ill-educated black characters, whether it's TV or film. And let's not forget the oooh-let's-do-the opposite and be 100% POSITIVE. Someone said to me once, "It's either/or : on telly we're on the street selling drugs or we're the bloody captains of the police force!"

Your thoughts?

Do Your Bit For The Strike: Letter Writing Campaign

Well done to Eleanor for spotting this blog promoting a letter writing campaign to help our American cousins in the current strike.

The blog has a list of addresses for all the CEOs from major studios and/or programmes, so this is a great way to do your bit and express your disdain for the current situation. And please don't tell me letters don't make any difference... Apathy makes even LESS difference my friends.

And don't tell me either you don't have time to write a letter... This blog has a handy template for you to use and even if you only manage to send one to your favourite show, then it's still one more for progress and one more in the eye for those who are trying to diddle the writers.

If the thought of American writers losing out doesn't bother you, then think on this as the eloquent DD points out on James Moran's blog: if the WGA loses, then us Brits have something to worry about - what's to stop all the networks and prodcos in the UK from going after OUR internet and DVD deals and insisting we write stuff for no royalties too? Scary thought, huh? Then do your bit now. I will be starting with CSI, obviously.

Check out the letter writing blog here.