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.