Sunday, 2 May 2010

BSSC 2010

The British Short Screenplay Competition is now accepting submissions. The early deadline is Monday 31st May and the final deadline Monday 5th July. The winner of The British Short Screenplay Competition will have their screenplay produced by Kaos Films.

It seems like only yeaterday the last one closed! I've got to the semi finals 3 times out of the last 4 years, so time for one more push!

Anyone else entering this year?

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Thursday, 17 December 2009


Euroscript Screen Story Competition 2010

Deadline: midnight 31st March 2010

Now in its 16th year, the Euroscript Screen Story Competition 2010 is an opportunity for screenwriters to develop their scripts to a high, marketable standard through an intensive, creative and focused script development programme.
1st PrizeThe winning writer will receive one-on-one professional guidance to develop his/her screen story from treatment or first draft.

DEADLINE: 31st March 2010

FEE TO ENTER: £35 per treatment.
Submissions for next year's Digital Shorts now open!

Digital Shorts is the South West region’s key development and production initiative for new and emerging filmmakers.This year, we’re looking to commission 4 films, with running times of no more than 10 minutes, at budgets of between £10,000 - £15,000. All themes, styles and subjects will be considered including animation and documentary.

The commissioned films will be drawn from a ‘development pool’ of 8 projects/ filmmaking teams who’ll be supported through an intense 8-week development phase. Working with a professional development executive, producers and other collaborators, you’ll advance your chosen project to the point at which it can be ‘greenlit’ into production through the programme.The 4 greenlit films will go into production over Summer 2010, for delivery in August 2010.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

SWF 09 - Techrec

Only three weeks to go until SWF 09. Excited? I went to the Technical Recce at The Cheltenham Ladies College yesterday, and it’s a fantastic venue.

One thing - It’s a bigger, more sprawling site than the Manor by the Lake. Wandering round the college yesterday was a bit like the first day at big school. Not in the head-flushed-down-the-loo*-by-the-bigger-boys-sense, but in the sense that the campus seems huge. There will of course be maps, and highly trained runners to ask directions from, but be prepared to take a while to get acclimatised. The programme has been designed to give plenty of time between sessions, so hopefully that won’t be a problem.

IT**was a problem last time, but the college has its own state of the art IT (and isn’t located near a secret government communication centre,) so that should be better this year.

Transport might be more of a problem (Pity the poor sucker who has to coordinate that!) There will be no direct trains to or from London that week, so anyone travelling from London will have to change at Bristol - the current advise can be found at but obviously check well before you travel.

There is also NO PARKING ON SITE, and you will be very, very lucky to find a road without parking restrictions to park on. Most of the central hotels are within walking distance of the college, and the Travelodge is about 10 minutes by bus, so we’re*** recommending delegates leave their cars at their hotels and walk/bus/taxi it.
btw, The Queens Hotel will be the venue for the Post-Festival drinks Monday till Wednesday. Thursday drinks venue TBC.

Might be an idea to check with your hotel/ landlady how far where you’re staying is from the college, if there’s a bus connection etc. Any questions about Cheltenham, or the festival itself, then post them here and I’ll try to answer them, or find someone who can.
The provisional schedule is available now. Hopefully more names TBC, including (hopefully) one household name (who‘s not a writer.)

Oh and one more thing - Hypnotism is expressly forbidden by the terms of the Festival‘s contract with the college. You have been warned.
* Speaking of which, it‘s also one of the few places in the country where there shouldn’t be a queue for the ladies - there are only 2 gents on the whole site!
**That’s I.T. obviously, not the eponymous Big Bad from the 19?? Steven King novel ‘It’.
***Feels strange to say ‘we’ - it’s not like I’ve had that much to do with setting up the festival so far!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Writing Full Time In Your Spare Time - pt 3

Last time I ended with a question: How? How do you find the motivation to write when you‘re working full time?

It’s taken me a while to get back to that one, because frankly I have absolutely no idea.

This week, I did 4 hours writing Sunday and 3½ hours Monday. Sounds admirably consistent, except for 2 things: 1)I was day off Sunday, and worked all day Monday; 2) I actually did 3½ hours writing Monday, as opposed to 4 hours staring at the laptop and occasionally sighing.

I wish the fired-up motivated Monday me could tell the shiftless, struggling Sunday me how he does it. The truth is, some days you’re in the mood, and it all flows, and some days you‘re not and it doesn‘t.

But I do write when I don’t want to, and that counts for a lot - if you only write when you‘re in the mood then you have a hobby. It’s all very well saying you shouldn’t force you muse (man,) but you have to put the hours in. Ok, there are times when you need a break, when you need to get away from it. But I always try to err on the side of carrying on, however hard it is.

The key word here is professionalism. In the day job, I sometimes feel tired, de-motivated, frustrated, bored. Sometimes, you’ll be stunned to hear, I don’t want to be there. If you have job that doesn’t at least sometime makes you feel this way, then you are very, very lucky. Please e-mail me your address so I can kill you, ear your skin to your job and take over your life.

The point is, I never, ever say “fuck it, I can‘t be bothered with this,” and go home and watch a DVD instead. I’d have to check the company’s disciplinary procedures, but I’d probably be sacked if I did. But when I’m writing, I do sometime say “fuck it, etc…” Why? Because when I‘m writing I’m my own boss and frankly I’m a bit of a soft touch.

So that brings us back to the original question - How do you find the motivation to write?

You just have to decide to do it. Then do it. It’s as simple and as hard as that. Apply bum to seat. Write. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes.

Some people are more naturally driven. Anyone who’s ever met Adrian Mead wouldn’t be surprised that he managed to write while doing two jobs 6 days a week - the man’s a positive mountain of energy! But the idea that some people can do it, and more specifically, the idea that you’re not one of them, is dangerous. If you think you don’t have the motivation, then you won’t - it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

A wise man once said, “Do, or do not. There is no try*” Now objectively, this is not true. You can of course, try and fail. But subjectively if you believe that you will succeed, then you’re more likely to.

I’ve had a bit of competition success lately, and I’ve also started writing more - I’ve got back to doing 20 hours a week consistently. These facts are probably not unrelated. But of course I had to find the motivation to write the script that did well in the first place.

Which brings us back to sitting down to write - once you get into the habit of writing, you get better at it. Then you get some good feedback, it motivates you, and you build up a bit of momentum. The more you practise, the luckier you get.

So you have to find that initial motivation from somewhere - passion, ambition, revenge, competition. Believe that you have the choice. Believe that it is in your power. And if you don’t believe it, do it anyway!

* alright, a wise muppet.

Friday, 24 July 2009

...but no cigar.

Didn't make the finals of Bluecat, which is a shame, as this is the stage where cash prizes are involved, and I need a new laptop! I'm happy with the run I had though, and there's still Page.

Congratulations to the finalists!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Writing Full Time In your Spare Time Pt 2

So last time we left out intrepid hero (me) at a turning point - having to give up writing full time and get a proper job. That was late 2007, and disappointingly no one has given me any large sums of money not to work since then (the selfish swine.) So I write part time.

I work from 545am till 3pm,* which in theory gives me extra time to write. In practice, getting up at 5 every morning (and sometimes only getting a ¼ hour break!) is surprisingly tiring, so more often than not I tend to flop and/or sleep in the afternoons.

I aim to write 20 hours a week. I don’t succeed very often. When I was really fired up, after last years Screenwriter’s Festival, I blogged every week how many hours I did. It was kind of motivating to think I‘d have to report failiure to the blogosphere if I didn‘t get it done, and to get all the “wow, well done” comments when I did.

Of course it didn’t last. Last week was the first time in ages that I managed to get 20 done in a non bank holiday week. It’s hard enough dragging my sorry arse up every morning to work for T***o. If you factor in the writing then that’s a 60 Hour week. Every week. It doesn’t leave much time, or energy, to have a life, a relationship, or mooch around watching cricket/ DVD‘s.

I don’t say this looking for sympathy. I know there are people who work even longer or more unsociable hours, who have long commutes and family commitments who manage to write. Adrian Mead’s story is an inspiration - he managed to write while working two jobs (hairdresser by day, bouncer by night) six days a week. If that’s possible, anything is.

Quitting the day job and writing full time really isn’t practical for most people unless they have a private fortune, or a rich and very understanding partner they can sponge off, or they go live under a bridge and write. The latter option is the only one open to me, and then I’d have nowhere to plug in this battered old laptop so that wouldn‘t work so that wouldn't work.

Bottom line is if you want to write, you’ve gotta write. I remember someone at the first Screenwriter’s Festival asking what if you had a really good idea, but you didn’t have time to write it? I can’t remember the exact answer, but I’m sure it wasn’t ‘get a note from you mum and we’ll give you some money to write it. No actually we‘ll give you money and write it for you.”

We’re all grown ups here. I’m sure we all know the world doesn’t owe us a living. Screenwriter Dan Reed, also at SWF 07, said he remembered getting up to write at some ungodly hour when had the flu, thinking if he didn’t do it, then there was someone else out there who would. That really stuck with me.

It’s a competitive business out there. There’s a lot of talent around. Last time I checked the BBC writersroom get 10,000 scripts a year. I’m sure not every un-produced writer sends a script in every year. I’ve sent scripts in 2 out of the last 4 years, so using this ever so slightly unscientific sample lets say there’s 20,000 of us out there. And then there’s the season pros you’re competing against…

Now you could rely on being better than them, or luckier than them. Trouble is, you can’t control how talented or how lucky you are. What you can control is how hard you work.

You might say that this is easier said than done, and you‘d be right. Next time (Sorry I didn’t intend for this post to turn into an epic 3 part trilogy!) I’ll answer the $6 million question - How?

In the meantime, how do you do it? What motivates you? Do you set yourself targets? If so, in pages, word, hours? Is there anything you’ve changed that’s increased your productivity?

Now, all that talk of working hard is tiring, I’m going for a little lay down. ;)
* I’m a Space, Range and Merchandising team leader for Tesco. “Working at Tesco” seems to have reached the culture as a kind of nadir. There was an article in the Mirror a while about those teenage suicides in Bridgend. They asked a lad what it was like being young in that town, why so many kids thought the only way out was to top themselves. He told them that it was crap, there was nothing to do, no future, and the topper was that the best he had to look forward to was working at Tesco. The Observer had an article about the credit crunch where some posh bint who’d lost her job said “I’d even work in Tesco!” as if it was like going on the game. (Actually if you go on the game the pay’s better, and you get to lie down while you’re being fucked ;)