I’m a Writer!

I’ve been a writer for a few years now but I’ve also thrown in the options of director, actor and everything in between. Looking at it though, writing is the thing I’ve done most of – not that you’d know it from reading this blog post so far 🙂

In addition to writing this monthly blog (and others) plus a number of scripts, I belong to a couple of writing groups where we contribute to each other’s projects. Writing is a great lifestyle but doesn’t pay very well until you become established, hopefully while still alive and able to enjoy it, e.g. J K Rowling.

However, after four years of writing, making or producing student films, I realised that they were all kind-of ‘samey’ and plagiarised (mostly unwittingly) – I think we all need to read more and watch less (this includes me).

I’ve probably posted before that Hollywood churns out mostly formulaic films that appeal to the masses who just want a night out (or a night in) with their friends or family. These are the film equivalent of the old ‘Mills & Boon’ books that grannies used to enjoy.

My favourite writing projects are gritty scripts with subtle humour. It’s satisfying – but really difficult – to have twists in the story. The problem is that all stories have been told and writers just have to find new and interesting ways to tell them. Maybe this is why my recent reading has focussed on biographies and memoirs of real people.

The really great thing about being a writer is that you can also be a reader and call it research! And no, I don’t use an old typewriter like the one in featured above, even though they look really cool and I’d love to get one! I use Celtx on a MacBook for scripts.

 

Building the Tamara Team

Update: The film company like the script and I’ve also sent them a Visual Narrative. They have asked me along for a meeting with a ‘bigger cheese’ to discuss working with experienced professionals. These may include a writer and director who will mentor my less experienced small team. Critically, we have secured an adequate budget.

I’ve been reworking the script and have created visuals for the characters and for the scene where the story is set.

We have, potentially, a couple of actors in mind who are known to us. Watch for an update next month.


Meanwhile… if any actors are interested (for a very modest fee) and available for a couple of days in the London area (timescale as yet unknown), the role descriptions are below!

  • Male, mid-40s to mid-50s, London accent
  • Male, late-20s to mid-30s, London accent
  • Female, over-50 (non-speaking)
  • Female, over-60 (non-speaking)
  • Male, mature, for voice-over (think John Motson)

Cheers!

Writing Time

I read somewhere that a screenplay should be 80 – 120 pages and will typically take about three months to complete a reasonable first draft. Add on another month for improvements and rewrites.

Of course, professionals writing for a TV company often have less than a week per episode but I’m a long way from that level! I have managed 8 pages for my short film – it was about a page longer but now it’s better quality. Based on the guidelines I was taught, 8 pages = 8 minutes of screen time.

  • According to Sundance: “a film that’s less than ten minutes has double the chances of being programmed” – so that’s good.
  • According to Hollyshorts; “You might find yourself in more festivals if you make a 5 minute short versus a 15 minute one” – also good.

And there’s some interesting stuff in this blog post from the New York Film Academy.


Meanwhile, I’ve progressed from the initial script approval to being asked to prepare a presentation for a pitch to investors and actors. I need to consider a time era and include a wish list of who I’d like to see perform the various roles.

It’s starting to get interesting!

Just when you think it’s all over…

Hooray, Hurrah… school’s out!!! As we attended our final day at the London Film Academy, I was invited back to develop one of my scripts and produce a short film of “Waiting for Tamara“, together with Ron Zlatkin as director.

The Academy offered to provide support in terms of equipment and facilities and suggested that some of their current students would be willing to volunteer as crew members as it’s a great opportunity for them. We are now working on finding a budget to cover other costs, such as location, cast and general expenses during the shoot.


Shout-out to Agents, Actors and Angels…
If you are able to support this project by donating your time or funding, please contact me by leaving a comment (comments are not public unless I approve them so you can leave your details). The deadline is approximately end of 2016 as we hope to start shooting in January.


I still have to assemble a few cuts from the films I’ve contributed to whilst attending the LFA and will be editing them into a new showreel of my recent work, reflecting various skills I’ve acquired in writing, directing and editing.

Meanwhile, the London Showcase will be held in November at the British Film Institute (BFI), where those of us who have passed will be presented with our diplomas. I achieved three merits, including scriptwriting and directing.

Onwards and Upwards!

Script: Regret

Excerpt from script written for an assignment at Lincoln University.

INT. KITCHEN. DAY.

A MAN (Name TBD) is keeping busy, back to camera, talking to a character who is off screen.

MAN
(Laughing slightly at his own story)
So then Connor said that he’d look into it if he had the time, not knowing that Edward had already done it! And he…

MAN2
(Exasperatedly)
Oh my God, shut up, I already know.

MAN
Sorry?

MAN2
You’ve told me the story before.

MAN
Oh. Sorry. My mind must be going.
(Slight laugh)

 MAN2
Quite a few times, actually.

 MAN
Yeah, alright…

Man continues to work, reaching for some tea. He reaches into his pocket and gets out a stress relief ball and starts squeezing it.

MAN
(Mumbling to himself)

Most people would just smile and nod politely but NOOOO, “My time is precious, stop telling me the same stuff over and over again and shut up.” Not even a simple “Sorry, I think you’ve told me this before.” No “This rings a bell.” Just plain and simple, “Shut up, I don’t give a damn. Stop talking right now and make my damned tea!”! how courteous. How kind. How… how.. expected.

 MAN2
Two sugars.

Man continues to make the drink, his anger more apparent as he slams cupboards and mugs.

MAN
(Still mumbling to himself)
“And of course he’s SO dumb, he won’t be able to remember a simple tea request, I think I’ll remind him! What was that? You DO remember how to make the drink you make for me at least twice a day because I’m too damned lazy? INCREDIBLE! Who knew your tiny mind was capable of such incredible feats!? Do you know how to breathe as well? You do?! MARVELOUS!!”

That’s all I’m revealing for now folks… I may make this into a short film one day!