Wednesday, 10 December 2008


Today also marks the 41 anniversary of the death of Otis Redding.

This is very possibly the greatest song ever recorded. Enjoy.

Rise Summer Challenge - The Latest

Just got this e-mail from the nice folk at Rise -

"Due to the high volume of scripts which we have received we hope to announce a winner some time in April. Rest assured, we will be contacting all the all the applicants via email and will post a winner on our site.

Thank you,

The Summer Challenge Team "

Anyone else enter?

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Friday, 28 November 2008

SWF 09!

Just in - the first details of SWF '09

bong! New Venue - Cheltenham Ladies' College.

bong! New Time slot - Monday 26th to Thursday 29th October 2009.

bong! New Format - Monday 26th & Tuesday 27th October (emphasis on workshops and interactive sessions) Wednesday 28th & Thursday 29th October (emphasis on case studies and transferable skills)

bong! The Prices - Two Day Ticket - £199.00 - (£250.00 after 30/04/09) Four Day Ticket - £345.00 - (£395.00 after 30/04/09) On sale from 17.00pm Tuesday 9th December 2008.

more details here, or e-mail

So who's going??

Monday, 24 November 2008

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The Devil’s Whore

This is fantastic stuff. It’s basically The English Civil War seen through the eye’s of the feisty (and fictional) eponymous noblewoman, Angelica Fanshawe (Andrea Riseborough,) and the two men who are in love with her* : The aptly named Sexby, a Mercenary-turned-Roundhead played with great relish by John Simm, and her husband and cousin, nice but clueless aristo Harry Fanshawe (Ben Aldridge)

In the first episode, the Fanshaw’s marriage is eaten away by Harry’s insecurity, as the country is torn apart by Charles’ arrogance. The marriage scenes are especially well written and acted - there’s a wonderful turning point (I won‘t spoil it if you haven’t seen it) involving the line “as long as you‘re quiet,” followed by a sex scene that is erotic, tender and disturbing in turn.

The show does brilliantly recreates the confusion and turbulence of the times, although the one critism I’d make is that perhaps the history is not quiet as compelling as the fictional characters journeys. It all seemes a bit rushed at times - Charles is rebuffed by Parliament, flees to Oxford, forms an army, and the two side meet at the inconclusive battle of Edge hill - all between two sets of ad breaks! The show does bravely eskew the sort of info dump dialogue that historical drama is often saddled with, although this might be confusing if you don’t know your history.

But minor quibbles aside, this is unmissable stuff. And having googled the careers of Sexby and Thomas Rainsborough, it looks like it's going to get better, even if you're not the sort of person who gets excited by the prospect of the dramitisation of The Putney debates!

Visit the home page here, and you can catch up with the first episode here.

*and frankly, who can blame them?

Sunday, 16 November 2008


Hellraiers tells of “The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole and Oliver Reed.” It's snappily written, and the mulitiple biography format works well - it’s like a greatest hits compilation with the boring bits left out. Consequently, it’s quiet literally packed with stories: How Burton answered the phone at Elizabeth Taylor’s place to find her then husband demanding to know what he was doing in his house. “What do you think I‘m doing?” said Burton. “I‘m fucking your wife.” How O’Toole was refused service at a pub because it was past closing time, and was so desperate for a drink that he brought the pub. How Reed once downed 126 pints in one day. How Harris was due to meet John Boorman for an audition over Sunday lunch, woke up at Midday, frantically dressed and hailed a cab, only to realise that it was already Monday!*

So is Hellraisers just a string of laddish anecdotes? Well no, not quiet anyway. However Sellars, his interviewees and the stars themselves try to spin it, there’s a real melancholy edge to this book** These four musketeers all did real damage to themselves, their careers, and their loved ones. Harris and Reed were phenomenally talented and charismatic performer who made themselves virtually unemployable for most of their lives. Burton’s affair with Taylor led to both her and his then wife attempting suicide.


*the film was Zadoz, so possibly a lucky escape there.

** and don’t know if it’s just me, but I find that biographies tend to be rather depressing anyway, as (SPOILER ALERT) the subjects tend to get old and die at the end.

Richard Burton reading Do not go gentle into that good night

Friday, 7 November 2008


I’ve been researching short screenplay competitions, so I thought I’d share.

Y’all know about the BSSC, right? But what about the CSSC? - yes the Canadian Short Screenplay Competition. Like The BSSC they produce the winning screenplay, and it’s open to writers of all nationalities. Final deadline is 31ST December 2008, entry fee $35cdn

The Page International Screenwriting Awards have a short films category. They will begin accepting entries for the 2009 competition in December’

Gimme Credit Screenplay Competition provide feedback and produce the winning script, and are also an international competition. The extended late deadline is Monday December 1, 2008 entry fee for Super Short $29.50, Short $49.50

LA Comedy Shorts is also open to applicants living outside the US. Late Deadline: December 3, 2008 (fee $50) Extended Final Deadline: December 19, 2008 (Fee: $70)

There’s also the following contests that are now closed : The American Gem Short Screenplay Competition, and the Movie Script Short Contest.

Your local film agency runs Digital Shorts schemes - I think they’ve closed now. If you’re looking for feature competitions, then there’s this old post. A lot of these links come from, and of course there Robin Kelly’s indispensable list.

Finally, I found this checklist from the 20/20 contest while I was looking, thought it might come in handy.

If any one else has knows of any short screenplay competitions, feel free to post below.


It’s been a long time coming...

Saturday, 1 November 2008


There’s been a bit written about blogging recently, and not just on the blogosphere. The papers have recently carried articles like “Have blogs finally come of age?“ and “Is blogging dead.” As they do.

Closer to home, our very own Jason and Danny have written excellent articles/blogs about blogging. Now, some folks sneer at blogs - even The Doctor used “blogging” as a term of abuse! There‘s a lot of talk about “information overloads” and “the cult of the amateur,” and “user generated content taking over from traditional media.” This is seen as a bad thing.

I think this view is based on a fundamental misconception: That all this blogging, facebooking, my spacing etc is published material that seeks to replace books or newspapers. It isn’t. It’s a primarily a form of communication. It’s people talking to each other. To say that much of it is banal is to miss the point spectacularly. It’s like saying that the conversations people have in the real world debase the language of Shakespeare. The language belongs to the people, not just the poets and philosophers. A random reader may not care that “April is hungover, But it was worth it!! lol ;)” or “Jon hates his f***ing job :( ,” (or that Mike has finished his first draft,) but their friends do.

Besides which, is five pages of Wossie and Brand’s Unspeakable Crime against Humanity really any better? And have you read a newspaper columnist recently? I read one the other day ranting about their fridge being delivered late, or broken, or something (okay, I didn’t actually read it, just kind of skimmed past it tutting.) Danny says about blogs that “anyone can post a you tube video and a joke and call it a post.” *(ouch. See below.) Well, doesn't that describes the contents of most tabloids?

I’m a geek. I know quiet a lot about a few things, and I get frustrated by how wrong the papers can get it when they write about, say the Beatles or Doctor Who. Who fans out there: How many times have you read that Dr Who was created in 1963 by Terry Nation? It makes you wonder how accurate the stories about things that really matter are. And the press have the cheek to slag off wikepedia for being inaccurate!

At least us amateurs have passion. There’s a lot of crap out there on the internet, but there‘s a lot of great stuff written with passion, wit and insight (Just like the mainstream press in fact.) Blogs provide insight and information, but for me the best about them is that they allow you to keep in touch with people you would otherwise meet once and never again.

All this is a roundabout way of saying I’ve been neglecting the old blog recently (which is probably the phrase I’ve used more than any other in this blog!) Truth is I’ve been neglecting the writing too - I was going to do a "flaky meltdown post" about why, even though that breaks the second rule of blogging (Be Positive**) Then I got waylaid with this brief introduction on my thoughts about blogging! (Which kind of turned into a rant about the press didnt it? (With far too many brackets.))

But fuck it, this is just between us right? So coming soon, The True Confessions of a Spec Monkey: The Truth about Writing. ***

Speaking of which, I think I’d better go and actually do some now!

* which is a shame, cos I was going to post this from the most underrated film of the last year, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It’s a little gem of a film with all the wit and warmth you’d expect from The House of Apatow. But it also has a Dracula Musical. With Puppets!! Here’s that link again
. Watch it. Then rent the movie. Hell, buy it - you’ll want to watch it again.

** The First Rule is “Don’t be boring.” Come to think of it, shouldn’t that be the first rule of writing?

*** I was going to call it "When it's Hard." snigger.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


It's good to see we have the leadership we need to deal with these vital issues in these troubled times.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Tuesday, 21 October 2008


According to Sunday’s Observer, Nick Cave’s rather wonderful ‘Into My Arms’ is now popular as funeral music, with the ‘My’ in the title changed to ‘Your.’

Great song, but would you want to dedicate a song with the line “I don‘t believe in an interventionist God/ But looking at you I wonder if that‘s true.” to someone who’s just been struck down dead??

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


Watched an episode of The Wire, then a Deadwood the other morning. The following quotes stood out :

“Witnessing the events of late in the east, oughten any depositer pause and consider before trusting his savings to a bank? ”
Alma Garret, Deadwood

“You know what the trouble is? We used to make shit in this country. Build shit. Now we just put our hands in the next guys pocket.”
Frank Sobotka, The Wire
'Nuff said

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Title TBC

19 hours writing each of the last 2 weeks. After The September Splurge of writing for Rise and Red Planet deadlines, I’m starting the next draft of Technicolor for Metlab. I say starting, but the trouble is, no deadline pressure = no urgency. I kinda treading the fine line between research and planning, and just plain phaffing* about. Also, trying to resist the siren call Season’s 2 of Dexter and The Wire. Not always succeeding. Damn those are good shows!

I’m sure y’all already know about the books by Russell T Davis and Adrian Mead? Well, okay then. No need to be like that. I was Just checking. Jesus!

Whatever. **

* or is it faffing??
** sorry, I didn’t mean it. Please come back. You know I still love you.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Monday, 22 September 2008

“Write hard and true about what hurts.”

So why the Cracker and Joy Division clips? Apart from them being great??

Well Tony Wilson says in the Joy Division trailer “Everyone else was on stage because they wanted to be rock stars. This lot were on stage because they had no fucking choice." He meant they had passion. They did want to be rock stars (and a lot of the reason they were burning the night Wilson first saw them was that they were pissed off about the billing) But they were doing something original. They has passion, energy. Soul.

There’s a great scene in Walk the Line where Johnny Cash blandly sings this bland Gospel Song in an audition for Sun Records. Another studio boss, the legendary Sam Phillips, cuts him off, saying “I don‘t believe you.” When an offended Cash asks his why, Phillips tells him “We've already heard that song a hundred times... just like that, just like how you sang it.”

“If you was hit by a truck and you were lying out in that gutter dying... and you had time to sing one song, huh? One song... people would remember before you're dirt... one song that would let God know what you felt about your time here on earth... one song that would sum you up... you telling me that's the song you'd sing?

“Or would you sing something different?

“Something real, something you felt? Because I'm telling you right now... that's the kind of song people want to hear.”*

Then Cash sings Folsom Prison Blues (“Ah shot a man in Reno/Jus’ to watch him die,”) literally finding his voice as he does, and the rest is history.

So, the Six Million Dollar Question: would you sing the song you’re singing at the moment? Or, would you sing something different?

See that’s something that’s been bothering me recently. I reread a couple of my old scripts recently, and they were not just better than I thought they would be - They were better than the stuff I’ve been writing recently. Sure they were rough, but they were more heartfelt, or more fun. I've become a hack. I‘ve improved my craft skills, and craft is vital. But sometimes we need reminding that there's more to writing than structure and arcs and act breaks.

Watch the Cracker clip, and imagine Fitz throwing away Field, Mackee…telling you to look inside and think what really matters to you, what you really want to write, how the world really works. How you really work.

One of my favourite ever quotes about music, about art, is from Mick Jones of The Clash. He said something like “The trouble with these modern bands, is that they leave you as they find you.” How will what you’re writing leave the audience?

*Edited Extract From ‘Walk The Line’ - screenplay by Gill Dennis & James Mangold

Sunday, 21 September 2008

"No. Fucking. Choice."

And the moral of the story is....

I've been far away...

On holiday from the day job, so 33.5 hours writing this week. Would have done more, but I was away for a few days.* I’ve finished the draft of my TV pilot, so just need to polish up the first ten pages and rocket them off to Red Planet. Also finished my Rise submission, and whisked that off.

BTW. I tried to have a day off from the writing today. Christ it was boring! How do people cope without writing to do? Don't they get bored?? Anyone know any real people they can ask???

And I’ll let you know tomorrow why I posted the Cracker and Joy Division clips above. See if you can spot the link**


* Though I did a few hours on the coach on the way up. And the way back. And in bed when the girlfriend was asleep. Don’t tell her though - It’ll be our little secret, ok?
BTW, Interesting that getting away from the computer freed the pipes - writing on the coach with a notebook on my lap, and no distractions let me completely rethink my metlab project.
** apart from Manchester, obviously.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Hello! Just passing through. Can't stop!


Did 20 hours writing last week. Scribosocial was rather wonderful, thanks to everyone who came - I'll post the rest of the photos here or on facebook soon. All in fantastic stereoscopic 3-D!*
One week, I'll do a Stuart Perry style blog a day. But not this week! Even though I'm on holiday from the day job, got tons to do. I'm away for a few days from tom, so trying to cram in as much writing as I can today .


Friday, 5 September 2008

Whoo who!

Did 30 hours writing last week (the bank holiday helped!) On course for 20 hours this week. But more importantly, I finished the exploratory draft of my rom com* (currently going by the slightly ropey working title of Summer Night)

I’d set myself the completely arbitrary deadline of last Sunday. That deadline whoosed meerily by, but I finally finished the draft Thursday. Partly cos I got stuck in the middle. Partly, I found something else to write (isn’t it amazing how having to write something fires you up with a burning passion for writing something else?? Tho I don’t have it as bad as the wonderful Paul Abbott) It was a script for an entry for this funky little graphic novel competition from the observer btw.

Summer Nights ain’t great. The tone is all over the place. The protagonist is the most boring character in it. The second act doesn’t work. The characterisation is inconsistent. Cos I was moving forward, I’ve occasionally left lines blank, I havent gone back and set up things I hadn’t realised I needed. I even threw in a completely new character who everyone knew on about page 60!

It’s rough as fuck, to be honest. But, I’m liking the characters, liking the humour. Loving the ending. After struggling through the second act, I caned the last twenty pages. I’ll have to see how it matures locked up in the script cupboard now. **

In other news, this week I have mainly been listening to Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour. There are two shows a week [one on Radio 2, one on 6 music] click on the links and you can listen to them on your computer! Really!! As the man himself says “music travels through the air, so it knows no boundaries”

As this clip proves! ***

*or is it a bromantic comedy?
** not actual cupboard
*** er, when I say 30 hours - there may have been some internet related slacking!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Only Forward

20 hours writing last week, and more importantly, 26 pages of my rom com first draft. I was going to post about first drafts and stuff, but a) I’m too busy writing one, and b) The Arnopp covers it so well here. It’s a great reminder that you have to move forward and not worry too much if it’s a bit rough. (BTW Robin Kelly has great links for Romantic Comedy and Comedy articles)

I’m glad I read Sir Jason's ramblings when I did, cos my exploratory draft is way rough, but I am a script shark, moving relentless on towards the fade out. Oh yes I am. I’ve set a deadline of next Sunday to finish it, then I‘ll have a couple of to rewrite and polish for rise.
In over news, I got my feedback back from Lucy in her metlab hat, and it was good stuff - but (of course) it needs work. Working on multiple drafts for metlab have made me realise how unfocused I've been before - I've got loads of polished first drafts (and quiet a few second drafts) saved on my computer, but no scripts i've developed nearly as much as this. I always move on to something else.
So I've got another draft of that to do for metlab. And, on top of that, Danny Stack here has shamed me into going for Red Planet, so I'm reading a TV script a day from Lee's handy list here to prepare for that.

So I'd better get started!
Oh, and more details of the scribosocial here.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Getting a bit tardy with the writers log - I did 23 hours the week before last (And I was planning on having an easy week!) Only 17 hours last week, but I had to help my sister move on Saturday, which is my usually my Big Writing Day.

I’ve been mainly working on Digital Shorts proposal (South West Screen had a (very) late call for applications after another project fell through) Now I’m focusing on my vaguely Apatow-esque currently-between-titles romantic comedy (vacbtromcom for short) It‘s (very loosely) based on the first feature script I ever wrote. I‘ve been meaning to rewrite it for ages - If I hadn’t got onto the Metlab scheme with another script, I'd have written it last year. It’s been nagging at me, popping into my head and jumping up and down squealing ‘write me! write me.’ I’ve been telling it, shh maybe later - I don’t have time.

There are a few competition deadlines in September, including the rise films summer challenge on the 26th, so I’ve decided to go for that . Okay, it wont be a fantastically polished draft, but at least the deadline gives me something to focus on - I know the characters, I know where the story is going (though not necessarily how to get there!) and I’ve got about 4 weeks to write it.


Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Scribosocial by the Sea 2008 - The Bournemouth Ultimatum.

We’re having an informal writers get together down here in Dorsetshire on Saturday the 13TH of September. Details of venue etc. TBC, but there will be drinking, merriment, and serious screenwriting discussions. But mainly drinking ;).

Some folks are even coming down from London Town and staying overnight, so all are welcome.

For more details, visit the facebook site here, e- mail me, or watch this space!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Stephen King “I used to tell people I wrote every day except Christmas, but that was a lie - I used to write on Christmas Day as well.”

22.5 hours writing this week. Not too shabby, especially as I throttled back a bit since I sent my latest metlab draft off to on Thursday. I’m quiet happy with it - I had enough time since the last draft to put it away for a bit, re read it, then do another half-draft. Is it just me, or does anyone else get a feeling of anti-climax, almost loss, when they reach a deadline and finish a draft?
I’ve got back into the writing habit now - I’ve fallen back in love with it, which is good, cos I haven’t got time to slack for long - I’ve got a rom-com I’ve wanted to write for ages, that I’m going to try to tackle between metlab drafts; a proposal for Digital Shorts to work on; and a short story I want to write. And that’s just the tip of the project-iceberg I want to .. er, ram my writing bows into.

Hmm, didn’t really think that metaphor thorough, did I? ;)


Monday, 28 July 2008

This image was a cover piece for my unsuccessful animated Digital Shorts submission, The Doomed. It was just a little something I scribbled myself on the back of an envelope… no of course it wasn’t, it’s by a professional illustrator, the wonderfully talented Mr Paul C Watts.
Visit his website here.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Writer’s Log, stardate 19.260708

Last week, I did…


I didn’t think I’d improve on last week - I had plans Thursday and Friday, but people bailed on me, so I had more writing time than I expected. Knowing I‘ll have to report back here has been a real motivation - it‘s certainly added a few hours when I was struggling in the middle of the week.

I work 6 till 2, and that helps. Even though it’s a really, really shitty job, it means I have the afternoons off which is great, especially this time of year. The downside is I’m too fucking knackered to do anything, but as the man so nearly said, feel the tiredness and do it anyway!

I’m writing to a deadline - so I’m motivated by fear of my slave driving script editor ; ) I don’t know if can keep this pace up - especially if means staying in on days like today, gazing out on that little tent of blue that writers with a deadline call the sky.

Must go, cos got more writing to do.


Monday, 21 July 2008

Writer’s Log, stardate 13.190708

As I said last time, I will blog every week with how many hours I spent writing, so (drum roll please…)

Last week, I did 24 hours writing.

Which I was quite chuffed about.

I thank you.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

A belated post from behind the scenes of The Screenwriters Festival 2008 - It already seems so long ago. It was a blast again, and even harder work than last year! I was a volunteer group leader in charge of parking and transport (or Transport Manager for the sake of brevity and the CV.) Or as Danny put it, I wandered round with a clipboard telling everyone I had a PA!

I ended up working from 9AM till near midnight the Monday, then 7AM till 11 at night on the Tuesday - I had so much to catch up with on Monday (a lot of the runners had been there setting up since Saturday.) then a lot to deal with Tuesday. Running the driving for the VIPs especially is very reactive - you can only plan ahead so far, and the plans often fall through - people don’t show when they said they would (I heard “my PA‘s off this week” a couple of times!), or suddenly want transport when you haven’t got any cars.

To give you an idea how manic it was, I phoned the Girlfriend Tuesday evening to apologise for only texting her once the whole day (which she wasn’t pleased about.) Whilst I was on phone, I had 5 calls on the radio, 2 phone calls on my other mobile (!), and someone come up to me with a problem! (BTW, The Girlfriend was even less pleased after that. Women, eh? Who can figure them?!?)

So I had a PA on Wednesday! - I say a PA, I had a runner assigned to help me. But PA sounds better. Part of the problem the first day was that we were quiet bottom heavy. We had a lot of runners this year - about 35 compared to the 25 ish last year - but we had too many of them standing round, even though we added the strand of group leaders (7 people were doing what 1 did the year before!)

The last two days, it calmed down a bit. I even got to see some of the talks, and speak to me fellow bloggers for more than 5 seconds at a time! I may have mentioned to a few of them that I had a PA. (I had to get in the Jag we had for VIPS (like TV‘s James Moran) with my PA, and I told Richard the Chauffeur to drive slowly until I saw someone I knew!)

Despite working ridiculous hours for no money, despite the occasional minor conflict, I had a wonderful time with a great bunch of people. And I came away inspired to write more. Writer-Mountain Adrian Mead said that most of us spec monkeys* don’t do nearly enough, and he‘s right. I worked more hours in the first day for the Screenwriters Festival than I had spent in the previous two weeks working at my own writing. This is not good. If I have the drive and motivation to work that hard for someone else, then I can do it for myself. If I can do 36 ½ hours of the day job, then I can work a few hours for myself.

Last week, despite having man flu and recovering from SWF, I did 18 hours of writing (and more on networking and blogging and other vaguely writing - related activities.) Not bad, but not good enough - I was aiming for 20. (I‘m working on the next draft of my metlab script, and it‘s coming along very nicely thank you for asking.)

So I’m going to post on here what hours I do every week. Which means a post (at least) once a week! And stay tuned for an important announcement about what‘s already being called** the social event of the year


* he didn’t actually use the term spec monkey.
** admittedly, only by me

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

screenwriting competitions

Some of my fellow runners were asking about screenwriting competitions, so here’s a post on everything I know on screenwriting comps - if anyone has anything to add, then feel free to post in the comments.

Here goes…


There are loads of comps out there - generally they run once a year, so some of these might be closed for this year the year.

In the UK Red Planet launched at the festival, is the best.

The British Short Screenplay Competition (BSSC) is great, as they actually make the winning script (unfortunately, it’s just closed ) The regional film councils run Digital Shorts yearly - usually in the autumn. (you can find South West Screen here.)

Euroscript and Metlab (which runs through bang2write also run competitions that help develop your script as a prize.

Of the big American comps, Scriptapalooza is the most famous; Bluecat also offers feedback for a slightly higher fee; The Page International Screenplay Competition has separate prizes for different genres; Nicholl is possibly the most prestigious - it’s run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, don’t ya know.

Finally, there is an organisation calls itself the International Screenwriters Festival that runs some kind of live pitching competition. Might want to check this out tho, they sound a bit dodgy!


Apart from clicking on the links above, there are a few ways to keep in touch…

Lianne has a list on her blog Light and Shade that collates upcoming competition deadlines quarterly, so you can see what‘s coming up. Blogs in general are a good way of keeping in touch with what’s going on, picking up handy hints and ‘networking’ (industry jargon for making friends!) WARNING - They can become addictive, and seriously eat into yr writing time!

To name but three, Lucy Vee’s Bang2write is the most popular meeting point; Robin Kelly has lots of up to dates info; and Danny Stack’s Scriptwriting and Script Reading in the UK is the Daddy of UK writer blogs.

Subscribing to shooting people is also a great way of keeping in touch. You get a daily bulletin and discounts on writing stuff. You can also post on the bulletin, so if you have a question like “what are good writing competitions?” it will go in the bulletin and other members will answer in the next edition.

The BBC writersroom website is essential for many reasons. It has news on not for profit competitions (and occasionally runs it‘s own.)

- If you enter any competitions, read the rules.
- Make sure what you send is as polished as can be, not a first draft (writing is rewriting) - - Be realistic (but not too realistic!) about what to enter. I spent £££’s entering the first script I wrote into loads of competitions - that money could maybe have been better spent on professional feedback.
- Read the rules!
- Comps will not change your life. Even if you win, or get placed, you are unlikely to sell your masterpiece to Spielberg and become an instant millionaire. But any success will help build up a track record, and it can be one more step along the long, long road to success.

Phew! Hope that helps. Any further questions?

Saturday, 5 July 2008

SWF 08

I’m just back from SWF 08 - had a blast, worked insanely hard as Transport Manager, saw lots of old friends, and met some fantastic new people. I’ll be posting about it properly soon. No, honestly. Regular readers will (both) know that I’ve been neglecting this old blog of mine recently, but that’s gonna change. Oh yes.

So look out for the phrases “Would you like to stroke Stuart Perry?,” and “Did I mention I had a PA?” (I had a PA, by the way. Just thought I'd mention that.) If anyone’s got any questions, feel free to post below. I’ll be putting up links to all the festival-related blogs I can find, so send ’em in. Meanwhile, for any new readers, here’s a link to last years (very, very extensive) post about driving for SWF ‘07.


News flash! Here’s some posts just in from Messers Turner and A Crop, special limo riding guests David Bishop and TV’s James Brown… sorry, James Moran. Always get those two confused.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Add Some Music...

Thanks to Lianne for memeing me.

The meme is for songs that you are into to right now. Now, I’ve got to confess, I‘m not as into music as I used to be. It used to be almost my whole life, which I guess is kind of sad. I still listen to music every day, obviously, but it’s nowhere near as big a part of my life now. I hardly ever buy new CD’s anymore, which I guess is also kind of sad, so the songs I‘m into right now aren’t going to be radically new, but here goes.

Duffy - Warwick Ave. Hey, this is new, so I’m down with kids really. Gorgeous song - Okay, it’s new music that sounds like old music, specifically Dusty Springfield. Speaking of whom…

Dusty Springfield - A Brand New Me. Getting Duffy’s platter inspired got me into Dusty again. Had Dusty in Memphis on heavy rotation in the kitchen the last week, but this song is the sound of the summer.

The Skatalites - Twelve Minutes to Go. The ska comes out with the sun. Perfect summer music, perfect writing music (no words to distract you,) perfect driving music - just perfect music.

Wake Up Boo! By the Boo Radleys - also summery perfection - found this CD in a second hand record shop. Used to spend far more time in record shops. I almost used to like record shopping as much as listening to it. See also reading about music.

True Faith - New Order - I feel so extraordinary, Something's got a hold on me/ I get this feeling I'm in motion, a sudden sense of liberty/ I don't care 'cause I'm not there, And I don't care if I'm here tomorrow/ Again and again I've taken too much, Of the things that cost you too much. I used to think that the day would never come, I'd see delight in the shade of the morning sun/ My morning sun is the drug that brings me near, To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear/ I used to think that the day would never come, That my life would depend on the morning sun... When I was a very small boy, Very small boys talked to me/ Now that we've grown up together/ They're afraid of what they see/ That's the price that we all pay, When valued destiny comes to nothing/ I can't tell you where we're going, I guess there was just no way of knowing/ I used to think that the day would never come, I'd see delight in the shade of the morning sun. My morning sun is the drug that brings me near, To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear. I used to think that the day would never come, That my life would depend on the morning sun…/ I feel so extraordinary, Something's got a hold on me/ I get this feeling I'm in motion, A sudden sense of liberty. /The chances are we've gone too far, You took my time and you took my money/ Now I fear you've left me standing, In a world that's so demanding. I used to think that the day would never come, I'd see delight in the shade of the morning sun / My morning sun is the drug that brings me near, To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear/
I used to think that the day would never come/ That my life would depend on the morning sun... just though I’d get that off my chest.

Dinosaur Jnr. - Freak Scene/ Jesus and Mary Chain - Head On/ The Clash - I Fought the Law - When I was packing to move, I spent a happy afternoon listening to my old vinyl 45’s, and that’s the last time I remember getting really fired up by and passionate about music - loving it like I used to. These 3 song stood out. Rock and indeed Roll.
Rubber Ring - The Smiths. don’t forget the songs that saved your life, and the songs that made you cry/ Cos you’re older now and you’re a clever swine, but they were the only ones that ever stood by you.

Says it all really - I’m off to follow The Beech Boy’s advice, and Add Some Music To My Day. *

*okay, I know that’s 9 songs - I’m over compensating here! And I haven’t even mentioned Let’s Take A Chance by Lisa Richards, which I mention every musical meme.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Watch this film

The Sorcerers is my new favourite film. It’s gothic horror set in swinging London -
a violent sci fi/horror about an old scientist (Boris Karloff) who invents a device that links his will with that of a young hipster (Ian Ogilvy) But as he and his wife (Katherine Lacey) control this actions, and experience what he experiences, they become addicted to the vicarious thrills. It easily transcends it’s exploitative (and to be honest, slightly daft) premise with sheer technical verve and the brilliant way it comments on the voyeuristic nature of cinema.

Director Michael Reeves only ever made one other movie - the equally stunning Witchfinder General - before his early death at the age of just 25. The documentary on the DVD makes mentions him in the same breath as Spielberg and Hitchcock, and they’re valid comparisons. Like both, Reeves was technically brilliant and a great manipulator. Like Hitch he had an ability to comment on human nature, and the nature of cinema, within the constraints of genre.

The comparison with Spielberg only serves to empathise what a tragedy his early death. At a similar stage of his career, Spielberg had made Duel and Sugarland Express - 2 really good little films, but just a taster of what was to come.

Monday, 12 May 2008

the god* ate my blog miss...

Okay, I said I’d blog again 'later in the week' last time, although to be fair in didn’t say which week. I have been finding the old writing hard this year - hard to find the time and motivation, what with the hassle of moving and life and stuff. The funny thing is, I never really lost confidence in my ability, but I went through a period where I began to question why I bother. I wasn’t enjoying the writing as much, I thought I’d rather watch a DVD or read a book, or have a nap.

But I‘m settled in the new flat now, and I’m back, back, back. I’m starting to enjoy the writing again, and that’s the main thing - cos lets face it, if it takes ten years to make it (if you do) then you‘d be a fool to keep doing it if you don’t enjoy it. And at least I kept plugging away at it when I didn’t - I‘ve almost finished the new outline of my next metlab draft now, and I‘m nearly ready to start yer actual writing. And at least it isn’t a page 1 rewrite like the last draft so it should be easier than the last draft (famous last words!)

Catching up on the old blogs it looks like a few of you have been through a rough patch writing wise recently too (and that‘s just the ones that are admitting it.) Everyone goes through it, but it’s how you cope with it that counts - as Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasms.”

Happy writing one and all, and keep on keeping on.

*bizzare typo left in for comic effect

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

normal service will be resumed shortly...

Hello all!

Been going for the Stuart Perry award for non blogging! Been a bit crazy here - moving into a new flat, and finishing my met lab draft before that. Not got the internet at the new place a the mo, so I'll blog some more later in the week.


Wednesday, 27 February 2008


(Very) Belated thanks to all who recommended film books - Mr Stack’s being particularly comprehensive. “Adventures in a Screen Trade” and “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls” seemed to be them top picks, and they’re both fine books. I should also recommend Blockbuster by Tom Shone, it’s a great antidote to Biskind’s “Star Wars and Jaws killed real films” argument. After all, you can love the Last Detail, Chinatown and Mean Streets as well as Star Wars, Alien, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Even if you don’t agree with his arguement, it’s a great read.

Talking of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, there’s a nice little featurette on the What Lies Beneath DVD about Robert Zemeckis. Tom Hanks says of Zemeckis - “Bob has a great clarity. He’s great at focusing on the ‘red dot’ of what a scene is about and saying ‘how can we maximise that red dot?”

In one of the Potdoll’s film book recommendations, MacKendrick On Filmaking, Alexander MacKendrick states that “Obsurity is rarely a virtue,” and quotes Truffaut: “To those who question whether clarity is all that important, I can only say that it is the most important quality in the making of a film” Clarity. What’s your script/scene about? And is that clear to the audience?

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Friday, 15 February 2008

I keep faith

Billy Bragg has a new record out! Hoorah! Read more here, and Listen here.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Don't let the bastards grind you down!

In his book Hollywood England, Alexander Walker quotes Joe Losey - “the film industry constantly rejects what it is crying out to have repeated the next year.” Walker also uses the famous quote, “In this business, nobody knows anything for sure.” For instance, you probably think you know who said that, don’t you? It was, of course Bond Producer Harry Saltzman, from an interview with Walker from 1972, over ten years before Adventures in the Screen Trade was published. (He was talking about the reaction to Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, the source of lines like “All the rest is proganda.” “What ever people say I am, that‘s what I‘m not.” and “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” Hence the title.

Walker’s British Film Trilogy is very good (and the most recent volume Icons in The Fire is required reading.) Probably the best - certainly the most entertaining - book I’ve ever read about the British Film Industry is Shepperton Babylon by Matthew Sweet (The Whole Equation by David Thompson is the most fun about Hollywood)

Anyone else got any film book recommendations? In fact, let’s make that a meme! We haven’t had one for a while! Chip, Lianne, Lucy, Danny, and the Potdoll - I meme thee!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008


Okay, neglecting the blog again. It’s 430 AM and I can’t sleep, so a few random points.

Metlab - had a very productive meeting with Lucy and John, despite the odd (and I mean that in both senses of the word) suggestion about including more necrophilia from John! (He’s from Salisbury.) Got lots to go on, and I’ve done a rough draft of the new outline - it’s a page 1 rewrite unfortunately. Met the wonderful Chip and (very briefly) Elinor and the myterious and blogless Grant, and saw the Potdoll again (almost as briefly.) She's a lot less china-y in real life.

Having a short break from Technicolor to write my BSSC entry. I’ve got an animated short, so I’ll enter that too. Might enter 3 this year!

New Order Lyrics - Temptation is one of my favourite songs, and randomly look up the lyrics the other night, to find out they aren’t what I thought they are - or are they? Every lyrics site I looked at had more or less the same lyrics, for instance, the line I always hears as

From time to time, I find I've lost some meaning

I was a virgin to myself, I do believe

Is supposedly

From time to time, I find I've lost some need

That was urgent to myself, I do believe

Now listening again, it STILL sounds like the former. So are all the sites wrong? Are they all plagiarising each other? Or is it me?? The thing is, if I’d read in 4 books that the lyrics were not what I thought they were then I‘d believe them. It’s happened before (I misheard virtually all of the mighty White Man in Hammersmith Palais by the Clash, for example “It was Four Tops all night” became “it was fucked up all right“) but the thing is, with the internet I don’t know for sure.

All this information at your fingertips is great, but what use is it if you cant believe it? I came across the Wikipedia entry for the Screenwriter’s Festival too yesterday - I scrolled down, saw they had an entry for volunteers - Yey! I’m on wikipedia, I thought! But woe, the list is wrong - they’ve put the list of the first years volunteers in for both years. Fascists!

By the way, who’s going this year?? I probably am, probably as a volunteer. Which reminds me, I’ve got to get back to them.

Off to count some drinks now.

White Man (In Hammersmith Palais) - The Clash

New Order - Temptation

Thursday, 24 January 2008


In honour of Lianne’s adaptation group, here’s a few quotes on the subject.

HITCHCOCK: “Crime and Punishment is someone else’s achievment…Even if I did (adapt it,) it probably wouldn’t be any good. In Dostoyevsky‘s book there are many, many words and all of them have a function.”

“What I do is read a story only once, and if I like the basic idea, I just forget all about the book and start to create cinema. Today I would be unable to tell you the story of Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds”

Ethan Coen on how they adapted No Country For Old Men “One of us types into the computer, while the other holds the spine of the book open flat.”

Which brings to mind the old story* that John Huston got his secretary to type out The Maltese Falcon in screenplay format before going on holiday. Jack Warner then got hold of the transcript thinking it was the final script, said he loved it and not to change a thing! Huston subsequently won an Oscar for script of Maltese Falcon. So it’s an easy job this adaptation lark!

* to be taken with a pinch of salt, like all old Hollywood tales.

Monday, 14 January 2008


I’ve just finishing reading Hitchcock/Truffaut, and it’s an excellent film school. Here’s a couple of sample quotes about Premise:

“I always feel comfortable with a project when I can tell the story in a very simple way, from beginning to end, in a fairly abbreviated version. I like to imagine a young woman who has been to see the movie and goes home very satisfied with what she’s seen…
Her mother asks her, “What was it about?”
And the girl replies, “Well it was about a young woman who so and so…”
Well I feel that before undertaking to shoot a movie one should be able to do just that, to satisfy oneself that it can be narrated just as clearly, the whole cycle”

“It‘s as if you‘re going to put up a building. You have to have the steel structure first. I‘m not talking about the story structure, but the concept of the film itself. If the basic concept is solid, then things will work out”

And you thought that all that pitching and 25-words-or-less malarkey was a new thing! BTW, Euroscript are running their Pitch and Premise workshop Saturday. More details here if you’re interested. I went last year, and I cant recommend it highly enough.

I’ll post a few more quotes when I feel like it. Meanwhile, here‘s a link to Amazon page for Hitchcock/Truffaut, and a bonus quote:

“charge the screen with emotion.”

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Fred Ginger - Night And Day Fantastico!

From David Thompson's "Biographical Dictionary of film"

"There is a good for arguing that, in the event of a visit from creatures from another universe ignorant of cinema, one would do best to show them some steps of Astaire as the clinching evidence of the medium's potential
"Astaire is the the most refined expression of the the musicla, which in turn is the extreme manifestation of pure cinema" Discuss.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

New Year? What do you mean there's been a new year? What was wrong with the old one??

Belated New Year wishes from the faraway city!

I had some time off from writing over Christmas (and felt really bad about it!) and I’ve been busy rewriting my Metlab script TECHNICOLOR since then, so not much time for blogging.

The script is still rough and raw, and there are things I know need working on, but overall I‘m happy with it. I managed to solve my, er length problem - The exploratory draft was 75 pages long, but I‘ve managed to get it up (behave!) to 90 without padding it out (much.) Originally, there was a huge info dump in the first scene, so I’ve cut that and made the protagonist work for the information more. I sent it off Monday, so I’m waiting for the feedback from my lovely script editor. I’m sure she’ll be gentle with me! ;)

So since everyone else did it last week, here’s my brief review of the year!

I had quite a good year, writing wise. I got onto the metlab scheme, and got to the semis of the BSSC again. Which is nice. I think I’ve improved as a writer - THE GIBBET, my BSSC script, is easily the best thing I’ve ever written; I’ve become better at story; I'm getting more visual in my writing; and I’m started to rewrite more instead of just polishing. Character is a development issue, and I am worried that I‘ve improved at story and structure at the expense of voice, but generally I‘m heading in the right direction.

One issue was that I didn’t do enough feature spec writing, so I need to focus on that more this year. Spent too much time ameboing on BSSC, Digital Shorts, SFX Pulp Idol, Make your Mark on Film, The Bridport Prize, Euroscript etc, etc. (I worked out that metlab was the 31st competition I entered in the last 2 years!)

I only wrote one new feature, THE FEARLESS, a sci fi thriller, which didn’t turn out very well, but I’ll come back to it one day, cos it’s a good idea, and the structure is reasonably sound.

I spent quiet a lot of time rewriting DRAGONS, my fantasy epic. Entered it into a loads more competitions, where it did absolutely nothing, although last year’s draft got a full read from BBC writersroom, and script reader Jo Rose thought it was good enough to submit. It is an absolutely ridiculous thing for a spec monkey to try to write, but I love it to bits, so I‘ll probably to give it another crack.

So many ideas, so little time! I was planning on writing a rom com called ONCE AGAIN this winter - I submitted it to metlab along with Technicolor, so I‘ll definitely write at least one draft of that this year. Of course, the main focus is metlab and Technicolor, but I’m also thinking about what to do for the BSSC this year (3 scripts ?!?) and I'd like to get a short made at some point.

But the best thing that happened this year was getting out and meeting people. Before this year, I didn’t know any other writers, and I’d put off the whole networking thing. I attended Euroscript’s Pitch and Premise Course. Adrian Mead’s Insiders Guide to TV, 2 WGGB events, The Script Factory’s Script Reading course this year, but best of all was driving for the Screenwriters Festival (BTW, I found out this week that Steven Soderbergh worked as a volunteer driver at the Sundance Festival the year before he got his big break!)

I blogged about meeting people like Bill Nicholson and Ashley Pharoah here, and here. And here. And here. Here too. Also here. Okay, got a bit carried away there!! But the highlight of the SWF, and of all the other courses and events, was meeting so many fellow spec monkeys, and of course, keeping in touch with y'all via this blog, not to mention ‘meeting’ the rest of you out there in the scribosphere.

So here’s wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New (-ish) year!

All the best



Wednesday, 2 January 2008

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