Writers’ Rights

I'm not one for ranting, but there are a few things on which I feel strongly. One of those is respect. Lack of respect is the fundamental reason for prejudice and discrimination throughout the world. In filmmaking, a lack of respect between the people involved in making the film sours the experience for all involved. And it's just plain rude. A director recently told me they were planning to rewrite a script and wondered if I wanted to be involved. I then discovered this was a script they did not originally write. Where then, I asked, is the original writer? (It turned out to be all above board, so I was pacified). If I'd found out that someone - anyone - had rewritten my script without my knowledge, I would be livid. I'm not talking about the process by which a script becomes a film, where the odd word sits more naturally in the actor's mouth than the one you wrote or the sun...
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My Persona

[to the tune of "My Sharona"] I've been relatively quiet of late about what I'm working on, but that's because I've been consumed with a couple of exciting projects. You may recall me waxing lyrical about Persona last year, the app-based drama that tells four snappy stories in a month via your smartphone. At the time, I was hoping to write one of the arcs but due to various happenings in the process, that all got swept to one side. But Phill Barron, awesome guy that he is, kept all us wannabe writers in the loop about what was happening with the drama. So when he sent out an e-mail looking for a writer, I leapt at the chance. I've been working with Cameron King, director extraordinary (you can see for yourself here) on a story that pushes all my buttons and about which, of course, my lips are zipped. Suffice to say, your knuckles will be white as you clutch your phone, aghast....
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And what if…?

Just spent a cool hundred minutes discussing possible permutations and combinations for The Underwater Realm. And we careered from plot to setting to character to motivation and back to plot, trying to tie disparate ideas together and make it all work. This following a twenty-six message e-mail conversation I'd had with another person involved in the production yesterday where we argued about the whole concept over about three hours. This bouncing of ideas is exhilarating. I love working with talented people. It also means I have little creative energy left for my own project work today. Time to refuel with a chocolate cookie (gotta love Lent Sundays!)....
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National Association of Scientific Asshattery

I spent the first two days of the new year at work, so when I was up at absurd o'clock on Sunday, I saw on the news about the Sunday Times' article on Nasa's list of Worst Science Fiction Films [no link - daft paywall] Nasa, deciding that bad science fiction is bad for science, named and shamed the least realistic sci fi flicks and praised the most realistic (lists at bottom). Together with the Science & Entertainment Exchange (SEE), they would like to campaign for more realistic science fiction, to include Nasa specialists and vehicles as "product placements" - in films that it approves. Professor Sidney Perkowitz, member of SEE, has also designed a mark of approval: No scientific ideas were seriously hurt during the making of this movie. I had a long argument with my director friend about scientific realism in movies, based in part on TV Tropes' Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness (though his main problem was that Star...
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Along the byway

Of course, it's the time of year for summaries and conclusions, personal achievement counting and reflection. I have finished Steampunk Assassins. By which I mean it's with my beloved director and editor friends and I suppose there might be One Final Draft to complete. I have made a start on The Greenwich Problem for Laughing Stack 2011. I ran the logline past my director, extrapolated the plot of the pilot and shaded in the main characters' traits and tics. He was very enthusiastic - and, as I trust his tastes, this pleases me greatly. I'm also going to try my hand at a Rom Com feature spec - we'll term it Baking Lawyer. That has a beat sheet but nothing else at the moment. Military Monster needs a complete overhaul before it can have anything going for it. I need to take a step back on Asylum and write a beat sheet for the pilot before I sink further into the intricacies of plotting...
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Max Effort, Max Reward

Another quiet weekend at home, with the snow disrupting my travel plans for next week, but hopefully protecting my family Christmas. And my trip to see my dear friends at Realm Pictures These are friends from my childhood, people I grew up with and grew my love of film and drama. And they are my talented inspirations. They've made a short film about film-making for the Pepsi Max It Legends competition. And I confess that, when I saw it, I shed a tear. Because it portrays the struggle of the indie film company and the hard work and dedication of so many individuals. And it's our story too. Check it out here....
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Dialogue is drama?

I've previously waxed lyrical about Aaron Sorkin's dialogue and why I think it's the best thing since sliced bread. Scott of 'Go Into The Story' quoted Mr Sorkin earlier: “I’m really weak when it comes to plot," he says bluntly—a startling self-assessment from the creator of three television series. “With nothing to stop me, I’ll write pages and pages of snappy dialogue that don’t add up to anything. So I need big things to help my characters—a really strong intention and a really strong obstacle. Once I have those, I feel I can write.” Oops? I do love a good bit of dialogue. The overwhelming criticism on the early drafts of Steampunk Assassins was 'omgwtfbbq, why so much talking?!'. And that is my weakness - probably in part due to my love of the work of the aforementioned Aaron. My director told me to cut out every second line of dialogue. And, amazingly, I found myself plucking out reams of pointless conversation, ditching conversations...
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It all started when…

I'm very privileged to have been tagged by the lovely Laurence, so I will share with you the answer to this burning question: How did I get started on screenwriting? I've loved writing since I was a child. I used to utilise my "news" exercise book to tell colourful stories about finding crocodiles on the beach and robbers invading our house. I wrote my first novel as a pre-teen and it was shamefully All About Me - and my friends and crush and love rival. Somewhat hilariously, said crush and I became good friends and he is known on this blog affectionately as my director. I was peripherally involved in To Swim With Angels, which was a best-forgotten first foray into the film world, where my main role was peacemaker and herder of extras. I was also on the sidelines during the development of Zomblies, including a memorable script draft where I demanded an increase in female ass-kickery, as is my wont. This is...
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Too many fireworks

I just submitted my entry for the Red Planet Prize. I've spent the past two days angsting over it, bombarded with feedback from my editor and director, and tonight, I just let it go. It's done. Tomorrow, I move to a new town. And on Thursday, I start a new job. Everyone just comes along at once, doesn't it?...
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The buzz of live theatre

Just finished the read-through. After a few technical hitches (Skype can really suck sometimes), I watched a group of four read my script aloud, taking on the main characters and grappling with the supporting cast. I could not stop grinning. It really came to life for me when they read it, and they brought perspective to the characters that I hadn't even begun to realise existed. Towards the end, I could sense their engagement, as eager as I was to see it through to the end. This pleases me beyond words. Also, the feedback they gave at the end was invaluable. The perspective on their roles and how they interacted with the other characters, as well as their thoughts on the series potential and further character development, really brought home my love for the craft and reignited the fire to spit out another two, three, four drafts in the next week. And I am not coming down from this high any time soon....
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