Friday, 4 March 2016

Murphy's Law

Hello! Welcome to the most poorly updated blog on the Internet. Good to see you! I always feel odd writing blog posts, obliged to come up with something substantial and worth the valuable time you will devote to reading it.

Well,  I've had that Thing happen. You know, that 'Thing?' That Thing writers treat like the Scottish Play -- we don't mention it. The spec I had written, rewritten, noted to the point of note blindness and was finally showing/pitching/querying was hurdled into town by a pro script from repped writers with a very similar premise.

Needless to say, I've had my little bout of sulking and self-pity, believing my little script, the one I had spent so long getting into shape, never got a shot. It was DOA.  I was DOA. Back at square one. Nowhere to go. Nothing to show.

Poor me.

One week later...

Upon reflection:

Their script was probably better executed (execution is concept's favorite sex partner) because they're Pros, right? (I wanna read theirs to make sure -- NO I DON'T).

Every writer has many set-backs in their career, this is my turn, right?

It's proof of concept. They had all those body-swap movies, why can't they have two movies like this?

It's still a sample I can show to people until the action spec is ready, right? Right? 

...and many, many more.

ENOUGH with the questions, Mac.

Just write.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

A Simple Plan

"He's Still Out There..." is just that. After months of rewrites, tweaks, polishes and just outright fannying about, I have decided to let it go out into the world. It's in the hands of producers who requested it at the London Screenwriters' Festival (at last) and soon I will begin querying reps both in the UK and the US.

A killer logline, timing, and a lotta luck. All of these might, MIGHT, get you read. Then you must deliver the execution to keep them reading: first 10, last 10, the whole kit and caboodle (yeah, I said that, as David Niven would).  Then, you gotta-- well, let's just take it one massive hurdle at a time, shall we?

I feel good about "He's Still Out There...' Readers have responded well to the script and its genre-bending horror concept. Of course, the road to the Cineplex is littered with specs people have responded well to and it's the money folk you need to impress,  so that keeps me grounded and teaches me to take each baby-step as it comes, which counteracts my imaginary interviews with Fangoria and my witty "He's Still Out There.." DVD commentary nicely.

So... wish me a killer logline, crackerjack timing, and a shit-ton of luck.

I return the sentiment in spades.

In the meantime, it's on to the next one: An action/adventure full of derring-do. Never stop. Keep writing.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Notes from Underground

Notes. We all need them, right? The 'eyes' replacing those that cannot see (our own). The notes pointing out glaring errors ("He died on pg.3, why is he in the climatic scene?"), spealing and FORMAT errors (See what I did there?), how plot and characters are working for the reader. Absolutely essential for the next draft.

There's note-giving etiquette (don't rewrite somebody else's script) and note-receiving etiquette (be mindful the reader has taken time out of their busy life to help you), but have you ever considered how many notes are enough? How many notes do YOU solicit before sending your baby to an agent/manager/producer? The person with the power to DO SOMETHING? The person who will undoubtedly have notes of their own.

I found I solicited too many read requests this time out. It was awesome people wanted to read the script, and I thought, "the more feedback, the better, right?", but this resulted in excessive notes and opinions, leaving me the task of sifting through notes often enlightening, but also, in some cases, confusing, conflicting and, in one instance, missing the point entirely. In the case of the last note? It didn't come from a contemporary, oh no, but from a service I hoped would be the arbiter. A service I PAID for. This resulted in me feeling "noted out." I didn't really know my next move and had to take a step back.

Luckily I had one of my oldest writing buddies on hand, the obscenely talented David Scullion (why am I calling you "David" here, Dave?). The first person to read the script. He picked me up, turned me around and while he failed to turn me into someone new, like, say, Tony Gilroy, he delivered the no bullshit intervention required.

I'm back on track now. Applying final touches to the draft to go "out there" (wherever out there is). I'm really happy with this draft, I think it has addressed many of the valid notes received from readers (thank you, all) and a few of my own. 

Let's see what happens next...

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Reversal of Fortune

Previously on FOABP...

I hadn't secured a pitching spot at The London Screenwriters' Festival

Then I did. Yes, thanks to some incredibly helpful folk on Twitter, chiefly, Rebecca Handley, and LSF itself (thanks Paolo),  I managed to get on the waiting list for the Pitch Fest and eventually landed a slot. How did it go?

My second time at Pitch Fest and I felt more relaxed. Simple reason being this time I did not invest the success or failure of my entire weekend on my efforts at the Deadly Table of Pitch. I'd learned to accept it for what it is. It is an opportunity for me to improve on my pitching skills from my first time out in 2012. Anything else is gravy. Super gravy.

I had eight requests for my one-pager from seven pitches. Huh? Howzat? Well, I also got my reluctant networking ass into gear and had casually pitched my script earlier in the weekend to somebody I had previously met at LSF 2012. They came back to me for my one-pager to pass on to an interested party. I also went armed with my unique flash drives [see gratuitously placed marketing pic below].

Needless to say I was generally pleased with how things went with the pitching.

Maybe it was because I was pitching a horror movie ["He's Still Out There..."] this time out and some folk are always on the lookout for a horror? Maybe I had improved my technique? Or (gulp) maybe the premise intrigued enough for them to want to know more? I dunno. I guess the answer to these questions, and more, will be discovered in the New Year when I commence Operation Follow-up.

Then came: BONUS ROUND. One producer I pitched at LSF emailed out of the blue asking for a copy of the script. Then, an agent I queried (prompted by a friend I had made networking) also wanted to read the script off the back of a log line! Huzzah!

PROBLEM KLAXON. I did not have a copy of the script I was happy to send. I had Draft 0 which needed another pass. My euphoria at having made even such a tiny step was torpedoed. I emailed both parties and explained I wanted to get the script in the best possible shape. They both agreed to wait. Me? I felt unprofessional. I should have had a script ready to put into their hands at a moment's notice. I should have had the completed script with me at LSF.  I shan't make that mistake again. No new script for LSF 2015? No pitching.

I have "He's Still Out There..." in readers' hands awaiting their valued feedback. I will work on notes over the holiday and have a completed script ready to go in the New Year to the producer, the agent and any-flippin'-body who wishes to read it! I plan to seek representation in the US and will be sending my log line to managers in the hope it engages their interest as it did those at LSF 2014.

In the meantime, I shall be working on my action/adventure and endeavoring to improve as a writer.  It might not be this one, it might not be the next one, but I ain't planning on stopping! Just gonna keep banging on that door!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Too Big To Fail

Today I awoke from my night shift slumber ("day" jobs continue to suck) to discover it was the London Screenwriters' Festival Pitch Fest booking sessions and, as an attendee, I should have been notified, but I wasn't. Not sure why, maybe it was a spam filter issue? Or perhaps the MovieGod is just telling me my pitch sucked harder than an asthmatic Dyson and it was best I didn't subject those poor Producers/Agents to my pathetic attempts to blurt my Horror script 'He's Still Out There...' at them? Hey, I could have pitched my crime drama instead (transparently desperate blog pitch)?

Nevertheless, I find myself out of the Rugby scrum which is the pitching sessions. So, I'm going to have to get to some of these folk another way. I'm going to have to [gulp] NETWORK. I'm going to have to get in peoples' faces (in a non-aggressive, polite way) and get them interested in me and looking at my script.

I'd like to say I have a strategy to do this, but I honestly cannot bullshit that effectively, so I'm going to have to formulate a plan to seek out and talk to some of the folk I'd hoped to meet across the Deadly Table of Pitch. This prospect terrifies me more than the Pitch Fest (at least I've done that before), but I'm still going to find a pair and get out there (Oooh, I shall use that phrase in my screenwriting book one day).

In the meantime I look forward to LSF and the collegiate atmosphere it generates. I shall enjoy listening to some very cool people (Pro or Will Be-Pro) and catching up with friends, old and new.

I wish all those participating the Pitch Fest the very best of luck, I REALLY wish I was there with you, but as I learned when I last attended the LSF: pitching is not the be-all and end-all -- don't put too much stock into it. Go, find your feet, and have a bloody good time.

Heh-heh. I'm just laughing at me using "formulate a plan." As if...

Friday, 27 June 2014

Breaking In

This is not an instructional post, nor is it a cautionary tale. I mean, you know spamming creatives with "will you read my script?" Tweets/emails is a dickwad move and potentially damaging, right? You also know there is more than one way to get your work seen. There are many (better) blogs covering this. No, not talking about that today.

Following a Twitter discussion with the wonderful @MysteryBritExec about the quality of scripts delivered to her by UK writers, it made me think of my own career strategy as a British writer. It doesn't involve the UK. At all. I've been told by other British writers that I should be writing pilots and submitting them to the British production companies who accept unsolicited material, because that's another thing - I don't have an agent, and I should be entering British screenwriting competitions because that's how I'll get on.  It's true I've known writers who have launched their careers exactly this way. 

So, why do I think that's not for me? What makes me so bloody special?

Nothing. Nothing at all. I've submitted to British companies and landed a bullshit British option out of it. I've been asked to submit further work to the BBC Writers' Room as "solicited;" I've won the 50 Kisses competition organized by the London Screenwriters' Festival and have an IMDB film credit to my name (and a lovely award), but since wanting to really give my writing career a proper shot this past couple of years, my target has always been, always remains, America.

Yeah, we all want to write in Hollywood (yes, even you denying it there), but it is more than that. I believe in the American system. I think the Manager culture there is fantastic. A person who discovers raw talent, nurtures it, gives it the kick up the arse it needs and when it thinks it's ready? Introduces it to the system. To people like @MysteryBritExec who are crying out for talent. Safe in the knowledge that the Manager is staking their reputation on the writer's talent and the Exec on the perspicacity of the manager.

I've listened to British agents offer soul-destroying lectures on breaking into the industry: The requirement you have a track record before taking you on (that makes fucking sense, doesn't it?), the idea that you have to write a particular type of thing, that it is a tough career, etc. 

Don't misunderstand me, I'm all for a healthy dose of reality, but how about a nice cup of "shut the fuck up?"

This is why when I'm finally "out there" (I have nothing in circulation because I don't have anything I feel is good enough), I'll be primarily querying US Managers and looking at opportunities like The Tracking Board and The Black List.

The avenues to progress are there. I prefer to listen to somebody inspirational like Brian Koppelman :

"Write something undeniable."

I'm working on it, Brian. That's all I'm trying to do.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Hello Again

Hey you! How are you doing? What you been up to? Me? Ahh, just trying to balance the day job and the writing. Not managing that as well as I'd like, to be honest, but I'll keep plugging away; it's all I want to do (not the day job, obviously).

Currently working on my first horror script: "He's Still Out There..." I love horror and thought long and hard about an idea, trying to be clever and looking for a concept which would reinvent the wheel -- and ended up with a simple and straightforward idea, with what I think is an intriguing spin.

The action/adventure still bubbles away in the background, the outline being pieced together and I want to jump straight into that once HSOT is completed.

I just finished a short which is being looked at by a director. Be really cool if she wants to make it because it's a very personal piece with a theme we both connected with.

No screenwriting hints or tips from me. Not that kind of blog. I'm fumbling about in the dark looking for the light switch like the rest of you.

 More soon (promise).