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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Event: Making & Raising Money Online, Sunday Jul 04 2010

Charlie Phillips has been in touch to let us all know about this event on Sunday this week (Jul 04) about funding and selling films, presented by Peter Broderick and Sandi Dubowski. I think it looks really interesting but alas can't go -- if you do, please let us know what you thought!
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

You're invited to a special presentation that I'm giving with the fabulous Sandi DuBowski on Sunday, July 4th. MAKING AND RAISING MONEY ONLINE will provide the latest tips and tricks for funding and selling your films on the web.

The Sheffield Doc/Fest and The Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation are bringing Sandi and me to London for this presentation and an intensive workshop. While the workshop has been sold out for weeks, there are still tickets available for the presentation, which can be purchased here.

This presentation is designed to help filmmakers maximize revenues, impact, and audience. Things are changing rapidly for independents. They are not only blazing new distribution trails, they are also raising money online as never before. Crowdfunding (raising money online from individual contributions) has become a viable option in the last 6 months. In addition to raising seed money and finishing funds, filmmakers are also harnessing audiences in new ways. We will spotlight the most groundbreaking success stories from around the world.

Sandi and I, Peter Broderick have separately given presentations at Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Berlin, Sydney, IDFA, HotDocs, and Rio de Janeiro. Sandi is an experienced filmmaker (Trembling Before G-d), an unparalleled networker, and The Good Pitch's point person for facilitating partnerships between filmmakers and funders (NGOs and foundations). We have consulted with hundreds of filmmakers, many of whom have won prizes at top film festivals, received critical acclaim, and built sustainable careers.

MAKING AND RAISING MONEY ONLINE will be held on Sunday the 4th of July at 2pm at the Rio Cinema (107 Kingsland High Street, E8). To purchase tickets (£15), visit their site.

Don't miss this chance to get up to speed on the very latest funding and distribution strategies. Discover how to apply these cutting-edge techniques to your projects. We hope to see you there.


Peter Broderick

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Thanks Charlie!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guest Post: Why Not Write A Novel? By Helen Smith

With my own novel still underway, now seemed a great time to hear about Helen's thoughts on novel writing. Enjoy!
Are you a writer? You’ve got a brilliant idea for a film or a TV series? You’re wondering how to get it into the hands of Hollywood film producers or senior commissioning executives at the BBC or other TV networks? Well, keep reading because I may have a solution for you, my friend.

Welcome to Lucy’s blog. I will be your guest blogger for today. I write novels, poetry, plays, screenplays and children’s books. I’m a member of the Writers’ Guild and the Society of Authors.

But that’s enough about me. Let’s get back to your brilliant idea. Imagine being able to deliver a word perfect pitch that perfectly encapsulates your artistic vision – and then imagine that you are invited to pitch for hours rather than minutes. Imagine those execs held spellbound by your story as you explore every nuance of character, every detail of the plot. They’re laughing at your jokes! They’re drooling over your dialogue!

You don’t want to pitch? You hate pitching! That’s OK. In the world we’re imagining, you don’t even have to stand up and pitch. You don’t have to write a treatment. Nobody will ask how old or how young you are. Nobody will ask if you have ever written for Doctors. Does it sound a bit far-fetched? Well, then perhaps you’ve never thought about writing a novel?

Yes, OK. Writing a novel is rather a convoluted way to get a film made. You might as well try to catch the eye of someone who walks a certain route to work each day by buying a plot of land along the route, building a house on it, creating a beautiful garden at the front – just to be able to stand there and cut a rose and offer it with a flourish as they pass by. Oh but think how gorgeous that garden might be if you tended it every day for no other reward but love.

Look at it this way – if you decide to write a novel you’ll get to use metaphors, similes, flashbacks and interior monologues. You’ll get to hone your prose and trust your instincts (there are no script editors or development executives to read and comment on your drafts). You can write crowd scenes and explosions without worrying about the budget. At the very least, you’ll get a book out of it.

Of course, when you have written it, you have to get it published. But that’s another blog post.
Helen Smith’s first two novels, Alison Wonderland and Being Light, are available in all good book shops. They have been optioned by the BBC. Her new novel, The Miracle Inspector, will be published in September 2010.

Helen's Blog

Follow Helen on Twitter

Thanks Helen!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Screenplay Tips # 5: Dialogue

There's always too much dialogue in spec scripts. If characters are not what they say, but what they do - then guess what, the average character in the average spec simply isn't doing enough.

Of course, many writers attempt to give themselves "get out of jail free" cards when it comes to dialogue. The classics I hear most often are:

1) "This script is for television."

2) "Sitcoms are dialogue-led."

3) "This script is for children."

4) "This script needs a lot of exposition because it's a police procedural/medical series."

5) "This feature is a drama."

So let's take a look at each of them.

1) Television has more dialogue than film, sure. But there aren't many of you out there writing spec soaps -- I get roughly 2 or 3 of those a year at most. Most writers wanting to write for television have spec returning drama series as a sample instead and have exchange after exchange of dialogue, paying TOO MUCH off within it, as if this is the *norm*. It's not. Check out the likes of Spooks, Torchwood, Dr Who, Hustle -- all are known for strong visuals AS WELL AS dialogue. Oh, and enigmatic frontmen who "do" plenty - more than they "say", I would argue.

2) Sitcoms are very much about dialogue, but they're not just about *funny lines*. The sitcoms I read most often could be just gag after gag, concentrating so much on the comedy aspect, the actual situation part is forgotten. What's more, if you watch any of the *great* sitcoms you'll see it's not just about spoken jokes either, but other devices such as reported character, visual gags, farce, structural set ups and pay offs and even a dose of pathos in some of them. So yet again, whilst sitcom MIGHT be "dialogue-led", it's not quite as dialogue-led as you might think... Which is why it's so hard to write.

3) No, no, no... The idea that children need more dialogue than an adult is WRONG. Children growing up now are more media literate than any child of any generation before. They don't need extended chunks of explanation, in fact they're more likely to find THAT confusing! Because to the average kid - especially those under approx 12 - "what you see is what you get", but crucially they're instinctively decoding the layers as well, they *know* there are secret messages. The next generation is all about the visual, don't underestimate that for one second.

4) Police procedurals and medical dramas do need a lot of exposition, sure. But if that exposition is STANDING IN for the actual drama - the *doing*, if you like - then you have a problem, end of.

5) Drama features indulge in the "ordinary" and/or "plausible" and can not only be forgiven for having more dialogue than the genre film, it's ENCOURAGED. But to do this, the dialogue has got to ROCK. Too many writers believe writing a drama means they can write the kind of dialogue THEY might say in REAL LIFE, the type that doesn't really go anywhere or add anything. Actually, in the drama features, its dialogue has to perform the same function as in ALL OTHER scripts: push the story forward, reveal character. Or it needs to be cut.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Course - "Rewrite" With Mead Kerr & Phillip Shelley, Edinburgh

As we all know, writing is rewriting -- so this course looks great for anyone struggling with theirs! If you go, let me know how you get on.

No doubt you've heard that getting work in the film and TV industry is a case of, “Not what you know, but who you know.”

Guess what?

It’s true. Talent will get you so far but relationships are where the business gets done.

Getting someone interested in your work is only the start of the process. This information packed one day course is your chance to learn from successful Writers, Script Editors and Producers about what happens next.

The course is hosted by Adrian Mead and Clare Kerr of Mead Kerr and we are very pleased to welcome Philip Shelley as the lead speaker and tutor.

Philip Shelley is one of the UK’s most experienced Script Consultants and Editors and has worked as a Script Editor and Producer in TV drama and film for 15 years. He has script edited numerous projects including A Good Murder, Waking The Dead, Inspector Morse, Kavanagh QC and many more.

During this info-packed day Philip, Adrian Mead and a panel of Writers and Producers will explore:

• What can Script Editors do for Writers
• Handling rewrites – fighting your corner without falling out.
• “It’s not what you know…” Relationships that get you work.

VENUE: St Columba's-by-the-castle
14 Johnston Terrace
Edinburgh EH1 2PW

FEE: £85.00 (includes lunch and refreshments)
DATE: Saturday Oct 2nd 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Screenplay Tips # 4: Scene Description

It all comes down to this:

I have never seen a screenplay that has benefited from MORE scene description.

Good scene description pushes the story forward and/or reveals character - in as few words as possible. Scene description is not just about DESCRIBING, it's about doing - because scene description is scene action.

That's just the way it is.

So remember the whole "less is more" thing? However you write it in the first draft, cut it by HALF in the second draft. At least. And make sure every word of scene description in subsequent drafts is performing a proper function, or cut it. And for God's sake, check your spelling and grammar. Oh - and kill those widows.

Make every single word count.
Scene description has its own section in The Required Reading List. Bookmark it today!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The London Screenwriters' Festival: BUY TICKETS ONLINE NOW

Okay, okay it's now called The London Screenwriters Festival instead of Script Plus... But never mind that, because TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW!!

Tickets are priced £299 for the three day event BUT for the next 24 hours you can get a discount of £37 AND pay absolutely no VAT either! Bargainous... Except that's not all: the first FIFTY delegates who buy tickets get a free screenwriting course AS WELL. Plus there's loads of other great stuff announced too, check out the website.

You want one? You get a ticket right here! Check out the right hand side-bar of this blog and enter the discount code BANG2WRITE, then click to buy. Alternatively you can buy other places too, including Chris Jones' Blog and the official website. More to follow.

Follow The London Screenwriters' Festival on Twitter for more updates!

If you can't buy your ticket right now, sign up for the newsletter.

Don't miss out... See you there!!

Screenplay Tips # 3: Montages

Fact: most montages in spec screenplays are dull, predictable and/or unnecessary. That's why they get a bad name as a storytelling device. End of.

Montages I see most often are changing rooms, characters cooking some kind of sumptious meal or changing seasons (usually through a window) or urban development across a city on the horizon. In other words, the spec writer is simply trying to hammer home a mood or passing of time, without actually fitting it into the context of the overarching story. Yes of course sometimes it *can* work, but like so many things in this screenwriting malarkey, sooooooo often it doesn't. With so many montages, you could literally highlight them, cut them and the next reader would never even know it had been there! Scary thought, because this basically means there's a chunk of your screenplay that is COMPLETELY INEFFECTIVE.

A good montage PUSHES THE STORY FORWARD and contributes to the story as a whole. The "let's prepare to fight" montage is a staple of horror and thriller: after a panicking and fleeing in the first half, the protagonist and friends will take stock and gather their resolve/weapons for the second half where they kick ass. In comedy, a character (usually the protagonist, but not always) may go through a number of trials and tribulations somewhere in the narrative (usually the first half) that marks them out as a loser or in need of help in some way. Detectives and investigative reporters may follow a montage of leads that go nowhere in other stories/genres and so it goes on.

In other words then, MAKE YOUR MONTAGE COUNT. If you find yourself saying, "there needs to be a montage here because I need to signify the passing of time [for whatever reason]" ask yourself if it's because you're obsessing over timeframe too much:

- Yes, in reality certain things take a certain amount of time... Even a mega whirlwind romance takes several weeks before marriage is considered without being WEIRD, but do you really need to have a montage about said couple having a wonderful time together when drama is about conflict?

- Then there are the obvious things that cannot be changed: pregnancy takes nine months, that's a fact. But do you REALLY need to have a montage at the midpoint for no other reason than to ensure your pregnant protagonist goes from her first to third trimester? Really?!

It is important to remember a screenplay is NOT reality, but a representation of it. I've seen many great films in which passing of time is signified without the use of boring montage that does nothing but pass time. Think of American Psycho: it jumps from Christmas to Easter - three whole months at least - *just like that*. Did you even notice?

I bet you didn't.

So think of montages less about PASSING TIME and more about ADDING TO STORY.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Scriptwriting Festival - ScriptPlus, 29-30th Oct 2010

I've received some more info from those *mysterious* bods at the new scriptwriting festival, taking place this October, 29-30th. I feel a little like Hansel or Gretal, picking up various crumbs on the way to the gingerbread house!

Anyway, hot out of my inbox, literally seconds ago:

PitchPlusFest All delegates will be invited to take part in the PitchPlusFest where everyone will be randomly grouped into groups of 10 and each person will be give 5 minutes to PITCH their screenplay. The top two winners from each group of 10 will advance to the next round until a FINAL winner of the PitchPlusFest is chosen. The winner will receive the cost of their ticket back.

I think this sounds great fun - and great practice, too. For anyone who has done very little pitching to actual prodcos, agents, producers, etc you need to GRAB chances like this whenever you can... And those that have, well you can NEVER do too much pitching I always say.

And for those of you that missed it on Twitter yesterday (or the image at the top of this post!), the name of the festival is ScriptPlus - or rather, @scriptplusfest on Twitter. Apparently, the "plus" part relates to everything that comes hand in hand with writers, like directors, producers and our other filmmaking colleagues. The website is coming soon, too. Can't wait!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bang2write Reviewed!

The Bang2write Script Reading Service has been reviewed in The Creative Screenwriting report on Script Analysts & Consultants (as reviewed by actual screenwriters!).

The report details a survey put out to writers on their experiences with readers like myself - asking them to detail their thoughts on how a reader deals with such craft issues as plot, dialogue, characters, etc as well as other questions, such as "Did The Analyst Respect Your Vision?". I'm pleased to say survey participants coming through Bang2write reported very favourable results, meaning I scored 4.67 out of 5!

Thank you so much if you took the time to fill in the survey, it's very much appreciated. And many thanks to the fabulous Zac Sanford, who gave me the heads up about the report.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A New Scriptwriting Festival -- MORE DETAILS

So, like I posted last week -- despite there being no SWF10, there WILL be an event for all writers to go to this year! Here's some more details for you...

WHERE: London

WHEN: Last weekend of October 2010 (Friday to Sunday)

There's going to be loads of great stuff going on -- I'm JUST ITCHING to tell you more -- but if I do I know they'll send those scary monkeys outta The Wizard of Oz after me so that's your lot for now!

The Big Announcement will be after Chris Jones' show, The Production Office, next Thursday (June 17th). Tickets will be on sale after that date, too.

So keep your diary free and I'll see you there!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Screenplay Tips # 2: Reversals

One thing I hardly ever see in spec screenplays - TV or features - is a reversal. Some writers believe reversals only have a place in horrors or thrillers; other writers sometimes confess they're not really sure what a reversal is, suggesting instead they must be an "American thing"... Yet neither of these assertions are true.

Here is a good definition of a reversal:

A place in the plot where a character achieves the opposite of his aim, resulting in a change from good fortune to bad fortune.

From Screenwriting Info's Glossary of Screenwriting Terms

The operative words there? "The opposite of his (or HER, ahem) aim". In other words, take the reader (or audience) into a scene thinking something is going to happen (usually via the protagonist, but not always) and then CHANGE THAT EXPECTATION - or reverse it!

Obviously thrillers and horrors have the most *obvious* reversals, because this idea of going from "good fortune to bad fortune" is often literally LIFE OR DEATH. In Die Hard, John McClane comes across Klaus in the top floors of the building - and Klaus doesn't have his gun (reversal #1). We THINK John McClane will bust Klaus right away, but instead he accepts Klaus' claim he is a renegade hostage too and EVEN GIVES HIM A GUN (reversal # 2). That's it now... Klaus is going to shoot McClane. Shit! But oh no -- McClane had already busted him previously because he HASN'T LOADED THE GUN... A TRIPLE whammy of reversals. Nice!

But all other genres can have reversals too, even dramas -- in fact, they SHOULD, it keeps readers/audiences on their toes. The more you can SURPRISE a reader or viewer, the more they will think of your story FAVOURABLY. Consider all your favourite movies and TV -- have they used reversals? And if so, how?


All About Reversals - Associated Content - some great stuff here

17 Reversal Ideas (PDF) by Sherri Sheridan - handy & short printable guide, put it on your wall!

Reversals R Us by Your Screenplay Sucks - an interesting real life anecdote that ends by asking, "If this was in a movie, would you believe it?"

Friday, June 04, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: All Writers Shall Go To The Ball!!!!

I dunno, after not blogging for ages (well ages for me), I bring 2 posts in ONE day...

Depressed there is no SWF this year? FEAR NOT.

I have it on VERY good authority there WILL be a new festival running this year, not just for writers but for all their filmmaking contemporaries too!

It sounds really cool and there's loads of stuff being planned and I wish I could say more because I may just EXPLODE -- but no! You must wait until the website launch (they'll beat me otherwise - 100% factoid).


Not long now...

I'll Kill You All And Then I'll Eat Your Livers

Some days are just like that.

Suck it up.

Then write about it.

Remember though: revenge is a dish best served cold. Not livers though - serve 'em up hot with onions. Alternatively, buy a cute, cuddly plush liver here. You know it makes sense.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Guest Post: What Will The Scary Script Editor Ask Me? by Pippa Best

To say I'm busy at the moment is UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR, but there will plenty of exciting news from Bang2write Towers in the near future... In the meantime I'd like to leave you in the very capable hands of Script Consultant Pippa Best, who is discussing the power of the right question. Enjoy!
I think the most exciting part of my job is finding the right questions to ask writers, and then going on to discover the answers together.

My questions aren’t trying to catch you out, test you, or scare you. Instead, the right question can prompt a new idea (of staggering genius, hopefully) or a clever solution to an impossible problem. It can help you discover a fresh perspective on your work that helps you move forward.

(And just so you know, the right question is NEVER going to be "what on earth possessed you to think anyone would want to read this abomination…?")

A good editor won’t say, “No one will know what the hell’s going on in scene 12, your characters are talking rubbish here”. We assume the writer knows what’s going on (consciously or otherwise) and that’s our starting point. If we don’t understand what the characters are saying, we need to find out why.

We’re more likely to say “In scene 12, what do you want the audience to understand about these characters’ relationship, and how can we hone that further?” We might reflect our interpretation back to the writer too, “The dialogue implied this was their first meeting, but the action hinted at some previous physical intimacy – did you want the audience to think they’re secretly shagging?”

Comparing my interpretation of a scene with the writer’s original intention always prompts useful questions. And equally often, that discussion takes us somewhere neither of us expected.

Questions are softer and much more useful than statements or opinions. They prompt discussion. They start from the basis that the writer knows more than the editor about this story. The editor may be perceptive, with a Mary Poppins’ bag of theory and story tricks, but we know that the writer has the answers – and it’s our job to help them find them.

So where do we find these pertinent questions? Well, firstly, we take as much time as it needs to read a screenplay carefully, (that’s at least twice…)

The first read, I experience it as a film - I ‘see’ it. Afterwards, I capture my instinctive responses. I analyse this - what I understood, where I cried, laughed, what I felt about that character. I start to think about the questions I’m left with.

The second read, I try to interpret the writer’s intentions, and monitor my interpretations of every little action, word or image. I note down queries as I go. Why does that character do that then? Why do we shift perspective there? What happens to that story-line or character journey?

In addition to these specific questions, there are some questions that come up again and again – here are a few of those for you to ponder:

• What does your lead character want (externally) and need (internally) - and how does the audience come to understand that?

• What do you want the audience to feel at the end of this scene/sequence/film?

• What message/idea/question do you want your audience to take away from this film?

• What most interests you about that character? How can we share that with the audience?

• What’s stopping that character from getting what they want, and how does facing that obstacle change them?

• How can that moment become more visual?

Ask yourself how these questions might apply to your screenplay. Do you know all the answers? Would your audience? How…?

It’s your screenplay, not the editor’s. We don’t know the answers to our questions. All we can do is share our experience and our big bag of story tools as we chip away at the question together. Most of all, we want an inspiring conversation that will help you to find the answers yourself.

So what will that nice editor ask you about your story?
Pippa Best’s short course, Screenwriting Story Workout: For Writers and Developers takes place from 12 – 16 July in Falmouth, Cornwall.

The Story Workout offers 2 programmes – one for writers and one for those who work with them (editors, producers, developers): inspiring, focused development of your skills and knowledge, active work on individual projects, and professional guidance from industry tutors. For more information, visit University College Falmouth or Pippa's own website.