Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Bi-Monthly Update!

Can you believe it's been 2 months since my last update!?

What the hell have I been doing since then? Why haven't I updated this blog? Have I even been writing at all during that time? Did I even go to the Writersroom Birmingham Roadshow? Am I even alive?

Well, yes, I'm still alive. That is, unless someone has hacked into my blogger account and is writing all this? In which case, why would they even mention the fact that they may be an impostor? Maybe it was to double bluff the reader? Or maybe they...


So, since I last posted, I really haven't done much in the way of writing. I've been so wrapped up in work (the day job) that my mind hasn't been on writing much. I know it's no excuse and I really should be setting time aside in the evening to write, even if it's just for half an hour! To be honest, I noticed a general lull in blog posts and activity over the summer, so maybe it wasn't just me not getting into the writing spirit.

Well, now I think I've got my Mojo back and will be steaming ahead with some writerly goodness. I've still got to finish the new script I mentioned in my last post. I never did take it along to the BBC Writersroom Roadshow in Birmingham. In fact, after the roadshow most people put the scripts they had with them back in their bags! Only a handful of people actually handed one in. I think this was due to the "first 10 pages" advice that the speaker gave. I'll do a separate little post about the roadshow soon.

So, just what HAVE I been getting up to then?

First of all, I suddenly got a craving for creating comics! This was mostly down to Mr Tony Lee who I've been following on Twitter (he's currently working on a script for the comic version of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"
). He ran a quick little competition where you could win access to the Beta of Longbox Digital - an online comic reader, which is going to be the "iTunes" of online comics.
I won a Beta code, but I'm still unable to use it, as the Beta testing hasn't started yet. So, in my eagerness to read some online comic goodness I searched the NET and stumbled across Pixton - an online comic strip creator. There are literally thousands of comic strips already available to view on this site and so I spent an entire afternoon (while I should have been getting on with something else) reading loads of comics. Some good, some great, some... okay.

After I'd had my fill, I had a go myself and came up with The Undead World.
The online software is extremely easy to use and although it can be a bit limited in places, you can usually get the things you want in your panels by cheating. An example of this is how I made it look like a zombie's head was lying on the floor. I basically covered the character with a box which was the same colour as the floor (leaving only his head visible) and then splattered some blood around the severed neck...nice!

A Zombie head from The Undead World - Episode 2

I think this would be a great way of seeing any short scripts you've written in action! Be warned though... I think Pixton own all the copyrights to things you create, so DON'T go creating a comic strip out of the next blockbuster you're about to sell to Hollywood! I'm not saying they would, but wouldn't it be ironic to get sued for copyright infringement for something you created in the first place!!!?

So, have a go! If you create a comic, let me know in the comments so I can take a look! Michelle Goode of Sofluid fame has already created one, which is rather good and can be found here! Nice one Michelle!

Finally for this post, I was absolutely chuffed to bits when I received an e-mail from Michelle last week to inform me that I'd got through the first round of the British Short Screenplay Competition (BSSC) with my short screenplay "Mom's Holiday". I've been checking their website regularly, but they are having problems with it, so they informed everyone by newsletter instead. Unfortunately, I don't receive the newsletter (I thought I'd signed up but apparently not - I have now anyway!) but luckily for me Michelle does get it! It was just the boost I needed to get me back on track! I don't know how many people entered, but even if EVERYONE got through the first round I'd still be happy, just knowing that someone has actually read it! This was my first ever script too, so I'm even more amazed! I've had a read through it since and can see where I've made a HUGE amount of rookie mistakes. Too many (beat)s, CAPITALISED character names throughout, descriptive text in parenthesis... it's pretty terrible to be honest, but I think the story is quite good, which is probably what shone through. ;)

That's it for this post, but I'll do another one soon, detailing my experience of the Writersroom Roadshow...

Don't forget to have a go at creating your own comics on Pixton!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

No CBBC For Me!

Hello, and congratulations to anyone who made it into the Masterclass for the CBBC opportunity! As you can probably guess from the title, I didn't get a sniff. I was slightly disappointed that I didn't even get an e-mail from the BBC to say "You're crap, give up now!" but neither did about 600 other people, so I'm in good company!

Some people got a nice e-mail stating that they'd made it through to a second reading, so congratulations to all of you. Michelle Goode got such an e-mail and while she would obviously have liked to make the final 20 it's still a huge achievement to get through to the second reading, so mega congratulations to Michelle! If there's anyone else who got through to a second reading or even got through to the Masterclass itself, then let me know so I can give you a mention!

So what's next on the agenda? Well, I'll be working on the script I submitted, as I personally think it's rather good! It does need a lot of polishing and I have to admit that I rushed it towards the end in order to make the deadline. Michelle also mentioned that it was quite an ambitious script which would probably require a large budget and as such may have not been what the BBC were looking for (that's what I'm believing anyway!)

I'm also going to finally finish my previous channel 4 script, which I will now reveal is called "Cosmic Cabs" - just so I don't have to keep referring to it as "that channel 4 script that I didn't enter in the end 'cos it wasn't right... blah blah".

Something that did cheer me up, after the CBBC failure, was that the Writersroom roadshow is finally coming to Birmingham on August 18th! It's just down the road from me (well about 15 miles) so I'm looking forward to going to that. I've already sent my registration e-mail (twice, because I couldn't work out whether they wanted my name in the subject or body of the e-mail!)

I'm writing a new spec script specifically for it. So I can take it with me to hand in personally. I don't want to take my CBBC script because I should imagine that they'll be getting a LOT of children's scripts sent to them over the next few weeks (I don't know why!)

I'm really excited about the new idea I've come up with. I've already written the outline and will be starting the first draft when I've finished this post! I don't have a title yet, but I'll let you all know as soon as I have one! It'll be a 1 hour long drama, which I don't yet have in my portfolio.

So, if anyone is going to the Birmingham Roadshow, let me know. I'm looking forward to meeting some fellow writers!

Finally, for those that haven't seen it, check out the Pavaline website for some great writing competitions. They usually charge $9.99 to enter a script, but they're currently running a free competition based on the environment. Brenda Strong of Desperate Housewives fame (she's the voice of the dead woman) will be starring in the finished film! Deadline is August 15th but this is a "Short Story" script, so it only needs to be between 5-20 pages. You also need to register on the site but it's all free, so go for it! (Thanks to someone called "Nlog" for the heads up on this - he/she left a comment a while back - don't know who they are because their profile is private... But thanks anyway!)

Thursday, 2 July 2009

For Those About To Write - We Salute You!

What's this? Another blog entry just shy of 2 weeks after my last one!? It can't be!

One blog entry for June is a pretty poor showing, don't you think? I blame the CBBC competition, the AC/DC concert, London and the day job. All of these (maybe not the day job) will get a mention in the following post, which will be quite long. So, grab yourself a nice cup of tea (preferably Yorkshire), a biscuit or three (preferably chocolate Hob Nobs) and a comfy chair (preferably your own) and sit back, relax and enjoy the ramblings...

First up, the infamous CBBC script...

A few of us blogo-types have been working hard for the past month to hammer out something decent to send to the BBC. As mentioned in my last blog, I was doing a major re-write on mine and think that it's now a lot better than the original. I still think I could have improved it further, but I just ran out of time and even had to send it via Special Delivery, to ensure it got there before the deadline (it actually got there on the very last day!)

In my last post I mentioned the possibility of handing it in myself, as I was in London last weekend, but it still wasn't finished so that idea was a no go. In fact, I looked on Google maps and saw that Grafton House (the Writersroom HQ) is just up the road from where I stayed in Marylebone! No harm done anyway, it got there safe and sound (so the Royal Mail website says...)

I really enjoyed writing this script and I think this is the first time that I've actually understood what a proper "re-write" is. In previous scripts I've just "tinkered" - you couldn't really call them full re-writes. But my CBBC entry totally changed direction. There were a couple of scenes that survived and expanded but the overall story arc changed dramatically! For the better I think.

It's quite scary when you come to actually sending the thing away for professional scrutiny. I always feel that it could be improved further and if it wasn't for the deadline I'd probably improve it forever! I'm still working on the script that was going to be an entry to Channel 4's "Coming Up" competition, because I'm still not getting the feeling that it's the best I can do!

I suppose there comes a time when you just have to say "That's enough! It's ready for human consumption!" There are always extra bits I want to add but half an hour is quite limiting, so you have to cut out bits that you quite like, but that aren't really necessary for the flow of the story. I save all these bits up though, ready to sneak into future episodes!

So, after frantically checking for errors and carefully printing and binding the script on Monday, it's gone. I haven't read through it since because I'm worried about spotting more mistakes that I can't do anything about now!

One small error I did make, which I realised too late, was putting "The End" at the end (funnily enough) when I should really have put "End of Episode". The reason this is such an annoying error is because it ends on a cliffhanger and "The End" makes it feel like there won't be an explanation for it all. But, I suppose the readers aren't going to say "This is fantastic! The best script we've ever read! Get this man on the phone immed... oh hang on... what's this? The End? THE END? Forget it! Another one for the pyre..."

Ok, so any other areas of business?

Oh yeah, the Rock-Band-A-Thon that took place a couple of weeks ago...

What a brilliant night/morning that was! Me and 4 of my brothers (yes, I said FOUR - I actually have SIX brothers) staged an all night Rock Band session in anticipation of the AC/DC concert the following week. My younger brother has the AC/DC Rock Band game, so we played that (and Rock Band 2) from about 5:00pm on Saturday afternoon to 5:00am Sunday morning. Much alcoholic beverages were consumed and a few pizzas were mutilated during the event.

Here's one of me playing Iron Maiden's "The Number of The Beast" on "Hard" difficulty (probably):

How Rock and Roll is that China Cabinet!? ;)

And here's one of my niece who stood in as the support act before the main session got going. She was surprisingly good on the drums, especially as she's never touched a drumstick in her life before (apart from the chicken variety). You haven't lived until you've rocked hard to "Spongebob Squarepants - Best Day Ever".

Yes, she's a Wolves fan!

Ok, so that was the prelude to the main event...

... AC/DC at Wembley Stadium...

As mentioned in my last post, I'm not a "rocker" but I do appreciate good music and great concerts! I can honestly say it was THE BEST concert I've ever been to in my life! - I actually went to the Queen's "Party at the Palace" in 2003 (I was one of the lucky winners!) which was amazing - but this was better!

Just visiting Wembley Stadium was an event in itself. It's HUGE!

That's not an ice-rink, that's the covering they put over the pitch!

AC/DC totally blew the roof off! Not that the roof was on in the first place, but if it was, it would have been blown off! So it's a good thing that they didn't put the roof on, because... (you get the idea)

Angus Young is a total genius on guitar. I've always been a big fan of Slash (the guitar player, not taking a pee) but after seeing Angus in action, I think he raises the bar so high, there's ice on it!

All of the fans were brilliant too. Extremely well behaved - there was a real sense of camaraderie amongst everyone. The weather was great, the pyrotechnics all worked flawlessly and there were no sound problems. It really was a shining example of the perfect gig! Hat's off to the Wembley Stadium staff and promoters!

If you want a sense of the scale of this thing, check out this video.

And for a song you've definitely heard of (and some Angus action),check out this one.

The only downside was that they tried to charge my brother £24.00 for 2 beers and 2 burgers! That's outrageous! It should only have been a much more respectable £19.00!!! Ahem!

After the concert, we went out for a few drinks around London (mostly in Leicester Square) which was great! I've never been around London at night and I was totally amazed by the amount of people wondering about at 2:30am! It was like the middle of the day! Even the shops were open! It was quite a sight!

There were even a LOT of people in Trafalgar Square (at 2:00am) laying out candles and flowers for Michael Jackson. There was even someone dressed in his famous red "Thriller" suit (who I think ended up in one of the fountains!)

After a lovely 4 hour sleep we got up and enjoyed an "all you can eat" breakfast in the hotel, which actually turned into an "all you can find" breakfast, as they seemed reluctant to put out any more food once we'd finished our first helping!

Then we jumped on the tube and spent a few hours walking around London. I'd forgotten how HUGE everything is! Statues, buildings, the Thames, people! I loved it and the weather held out for us too. I know some of you probably live in and around London, so forgive me if I sound all "Ooooh Ahhhhh!" I live in the Wolverhampton, so London is a "bit" different and exciting!

So, with that in mind, here's a random shot of the London Eye for your viewing pleasure!

So, a fantastic time was had by all and we got home safe and sound on Saturday night.

But, what was the best sight in London? Big Ben? Nelson's Column? Wembley?
Nope! It was this...

I nearly exterminated my pants when I saw this!

It was cool seeing a Dalek in the middle of the street! You don't get THAT in Wolverhampton! (Although the exhibition is currently in Coventry, which is just down the road...)

Finally, a big shout out to my brothers who footed the bill for most of the weekend. I wouldn't have gone if it wasn't for them, so BIG UPs all round! (whatever that means).

OK, that's it for another month... But, seriously, I really will try to post more often! Some of you bloggers out there post at least once a week, so shame on me...

Of course I'll need to blog anyway, to tell you about the BBC giving me a call to invite me to the CBBC Masterclass... I wish! ;)

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Blog Police

The Blog Police have been round. Apparently someone reported me for a breach of the public blogging order 2002 - Something to do with not updating it enough...

Yes, I know, it's been a while. I REALLY must update more often! The idea of a blog is to keep a record of your life. According to m
y blog, I've been dead for the last 22 days! That's almost a month!

So, from now on I'll endeavour to update more often. Even if I've done nothing exciting! I'll blog about what I had for tea (a nice p
rawn salad, as it goes) or whatever.

Right, so what have I been up to since we last didn't meet? Well, as everyone else has been doing (everyone that hasn't got a paid commission yet that is) I've been working on a script for the CBBC competition. They didn't give everyone a lot of time so I've had to pluck an idea that was floating around inside my cerebral store cupboard of despair and blast out a first draft. I
'm quite pleased with the concept, but it's a little complicated! Thankfully, I had Michelle on hand to give me an absolutely brilliant critique on it. She not only came up with some brilliant constructive comments but also gave me a few good ideas that I'm currently weaving into the re-write. All this and Michelle is actually starting a different CBBC script from scratch with a completely new story, so a virtual "Big Up!" goes out for taking the time out of her busy schedule!

Okay, so I'm doing the re-write at this very moment (well, not at THIS very moment! This blog isn't going to appear on CBBC anytime soon
!) I don't have much time at all, as I'm out all day (and night) on Saturday and next weekend I'm going to Wembley to watch AC/DC (Friday the 26th) and we're staying in London and making a day of it on Saturday. So, including tonight (which is almost over for me) I've got about 8 days in total to get it completely finished! GULP! And that's if I only leave an extra day for it to get there! I can just imagine the post being crap and it getting there a day late!! In fact, with this in mind, I'd hope to get it finished by next Thursday, so I can post it before I go to Wembley... Sorry? What's that at the back? "I could take it with me and hand post it myself?" Hmmmm, where is Grafton House?

So that's my main concern for the next week
and a bit. I may beg a day off work so I can spend a full 10 hours on it. I'll seriously have to beg though! I had to promise things I'd rather not talk about just to get the Friday off!

I've finally joined the ranks of Twitter! Yes, I've succumbed! I wondered what all the fuss was about until I actually took the plunge! I can see what I've been missing now! In between blog posts there are "tweets", so I can find out what TV's James Moran had for his tea! No, seriously, I didn't realise it was such a goldmine of information! What have I been missing!!!??? I
'm going to add a Twitter gadgety thing to my blog so you can see all of my tweets popping up. Don't expect many at the moment though, I'm still getting the hang of it and sourcing new ways to inform everyone that I'll be getting decidely drunk this Saturday night, while indulging in some Xbox 360 Rock Band action with my brothers (a sort of prelude to the concert next week - but you can't buy tickets to see us - unless you want them of course? In which case they're a fiver each...)

You might think that I'm a bit of a rocker,
but I'm not. I actually like a wide variety of music, ranging from Eminem to Kings of Leon, The Prodigy to The Beatles (incidently, there's a Beatles version of Rock Band coming out in September, how cool is that!?)So there you have it. My first post for a while! I *promise* I'll update more often from now on! If I don't you have my permission to spam the hell out of my Twitter box (if that's what you'd call it) using @Splinter073 many times...

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Laptop Heaven

That title isn't a good thing. I haven't just bought a beautiful new laptop with all the latest shiny gizmos - My (not so) trusty laptop has left this mortal coil and ascended up to a higher plane of existence - No, not the loft (I don't have one) but it's own laptop heaven (similar to Calculator heaven I think...)

I knew it was coming for a long time. The graphics went all funny (I could use a technical term, but I won't) and I've been using it for the past few months in a really crap basic graphics mode. It was fine for writing (what's more basic than a white screen with black text?) but for surfing the net it was a bit of a pain in the arse! It took about 10 seconds to scroll the window up and down!

Anyway, it finally decided it was finished with it's own pitiful existence and decided to present me with a blank screen covered in thin lines when I booted it up a couple of days ago (and every subsequent time from then on). I know what the problem is (the graphics card) but they cost about £120 for this model, so that will have to wait for a while (I need the money to get my car through the MOT) but in the future I may pull out the shiny paddles and shock it back to life...

Meanwhile, I've had to blow the cobwebs off my desktop computer, which is located in the spare room, next to the cat litter tray (beautiful!) It's actually quite refreshing (not the litter!) using a computer where the screen keeps up with me scrolling the mouse wheel. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise? The screen looks a lot sharper too... In fact, stuff the laptop! Let it rot in Laptop Hell!

The only downside is that I didn't back up the latest draft of my current project (tut tut - and me an IT guy too!?) onto the internet (I use SkyDrive) so I need to get the copy from the laptop hard drive - which is no problem really because I've got a gadget at work that can do it for me.

Talking of the project - I'm almost finished with the latest draft, which I hope will be the last (or somewhere near!) But of course, as everyone knows, the BBC have thrown a spanner in the works by announcing a nice little opportunity to write for CBBC. They're only giving us just over a month to submit something - not long at all! I'm desperately trying to think of an idea for this, but I have most of my ideas when I least expect them, so I really should try not to think about it too much... which is hard when there's a deadline so near!!

I hope everyone had a good bank holiday weekend. I spent most of it repairing my car, so that it will limp through the MOT. It's been off the road for about 8 months (since it failed last September) and I haven't had the money or the time to do anything about it until now. I'm no mechanic, but I'm a dab hand with repairing computers, so I thought how hard can it be? It's the same sort of thing... isn't it? A few parts held together with screws and such? Yeah right! I didn't take into account the fact that everything is covered in about 10 litres of grease, oil, rust and mulched whoknowswhat! Mechanics must have 3 or 4 arms 'cause some of the bolts you have to unscrew require you to hold about 4 tools at the same time! Who puts these things together in the first place? Robots!? Oh yeah, that's right...

Well, I've done all I can myself - replaced the exhaust and headlight, repaired the rear bumper (sort of) and a few other minor jobs, so it's now ready to go for the MOT. There's still a couple of minor things that need repairing but they're beyond me so I'll have to pay for those, but I reckon I've saved about £150 doing the other bit's myself. Let's just hope nothing else has developed a fault while it's been sitting for more than half a year!!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Gotta get back to it!

Right! It's time I made a post! I'm tired of seeing my "Back to Work!" heading! I've had another week off my real job since then and I'm now back at work from this second holiday (well, time off - I haven't been anywhere).

Okay, so what have I been up to? I haven't written anything new. I've still been working on the script I originally started for Channel 4. In the end I decided not to send it off as I just didn't think it was right for the type of thing they were looking for. Instead I've been revamping it and tweaking it (to death!). When it's finished I'm going to send it to the delightful Michelle over at Sofluid. Michelle left me some very nice comments on one
of my posts and we ended up chatting via e-mail and have agreed to read each other's work and provide feedback. I sent Michelle a copy of the script I submitted to the BSSC. She read it and provided some excellent (and extrememly fast) feedback on it. Of course, I'd already sent the script off but any feedback on scripts past or present is very useful and always appreciated! In return, I read one of Michelle's scripts (which was brilliant) and provided her with feedback. It's basically the same sort of thing that we do over at the Sharpshooter group, but this is a mutual 1 to 1 exchange, rather than putting a script into a pot for everyone to read. SharpShooter is great though and I'll continue to post scripts and give critique to others. Basically, the more feeback you can get for your writing the better!

So, I really want to get my current script finished, so I can get on with the next one! I got to write something new 'cause my notebook is starting to burst open with all of the ideas packed into it! It's all these weird dreams I keep having!

What else have I been up to then? It was my girlfriend's birthday last week, so I bought her a Nintendo Wii that she's been afte
r since they first appeared! It's great fun! I'm a bit of an Xbox 360 man myself, but even though the graphics on the Wii are nothing to write home about, the fun you can have with a few beers and some friends round is brilliant! Golf is a favourite! ;)

Finally, I've been looking at other blogs and noticed that they all have nice pictures dotted around here and there, whereas mine has none. So, in the interest of brightening up the page (and testing a picture post) - Here's one of my cat, looking deep in thought...

Monday, 20 April 2009

Back to Work!

I hope everyone had a nice break last weekend!

As mentioned, I had the whole week off work and (as promised) I "lounged around, doing nothing!"

I did do a bit of writing, which was great being able to do it at my leisure - instead of having to stay up late to squeeze it in between work! Funny thing is though, I actually get more done if I've got work the next day! I think it's because work is mundane and writing takes my mind off it. When I'm not at work I don't need to take my mind off it and so I don't write as much!! I hope I'm not like this if I ever make a career out of it - I'll never get anything done!!

My script has totally changed direction now. I'm actually structuring it as a proper series (which will probably end up as a sitcom) and I've even started to write a series bible with character backgrounds, bio's etc. I really enjoyed writing the bible and I'd recommend that anyone else who is considering writing a potential series does the same. Like me, you're probably only going to write one episode, but writing the bible gets all of the characters straight in your head. Give them a background and a personality and how they fit into the story then when you're actually writing you can tell whether or not they would actually react the way you've written or whether what you've written is complete bullshit! (As mine was before the bible!) It doesn't have to be huge (like the Star Trek bible). Just a page of premise for the series and maybe a paragraph or two for each character. I'm also writing the episode out as a summary. All in all, it's more of a treatment at the moment, but as ideas pop into my head I'll be expanding it. It may never see the light of day, but
it's there in case I need it!

So, not much else going on. Been pretty quiet all round - even the SharpShooter group has been quiet over the last week but now I'm back at work I'll be getting that mundane feeling again and my writing will once again keep me going!

I didn't get to watch many episodes of Sliders. Probably a good thing because if I remember correctly it goes a bit crap after series 3!

I watched Crank 2 on Friday with my other half and I've got to say - What a ride!!!
Totally outrageous!! If you like non-stop, over the top, action films then this is a must! Some people hate it, but we loved it! Hilarious and sick at the same time!! Be warned though, this film uses the "C" word more times than the "F" word (and it uses that a lot!) It's usually Jason Statham saying it though, so it's actually quite funny! The first Crank film is actually on ITV4 while I'm typing this, so if you're reading this as soon as I've posted it, flick over and take a look! Another warning - it's uses a LOT of those wobbly camera angles and dodgy cuts that TV's James Moran hates, but I think it gets away with it because it makes the film move faster!

Talking of the mighty James Moran - Don't forget to watch "Severance" this Friday on BBC1 at 11:45PM. Fantastic film! Actually written by James and not by some phantom, as all the TV listings would have you believe, what with not mentioning who actually came up with the idea! Read James' rant here (which I fully support!)

By the way, if anyone thinks that this font is crap, let me know. It's supposed to look like a script, but sometimes I think it looks a tad small!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The First Critique!


After intending to upload his Channel 4 script to the SharpShooter google group before the weekend, the Undiscovered Scriptwriter found that there was a lot more 'tinkering' required than he first thought and didn't make his own deadline! Spending the weekend, visiting his ill brother and doing nothing else but watch TV, didn't help the situation.

However... After a rousing two hour session late on Sunday night/Monday morning the script was finally in a fit state to post and was uploaded at approximately 2:28am on Monday morning... The story continues...




Me! Yes, I finally uploaded my script to the SharpShooter group and I received my first feedback today, from the brilliant Adrian! I think he reads almost every script that's posted and his feedback is always extremely informative, indepth and honest.

He gave me some great feedback regarding my structure and story. The main point being that 20 pages of my script (out of 33) is just 2 men talking between themselves! A very good point and one that I mentioned in this post "First Draft Complete" . I was quite concerned with this (the amount of dialogue) and Adrian has given me some fantastic ideas on how to mix it up a little!

As I also mentioned in the post "A little update" this was NOT a sitcom... but after Adrian's insightful comments it might now turn into one!!

So, first of all I need to get some structure in there. It has the essential "Beginning, Middle, End" but it doesn't have much of a "conflict" until it's almost over! I've got some ideas buzzing around my head right now (which I should be putting down, rather than typing this!) and Adrian has also given me a couple of really nice suggestions, so here's to the next draft!

We (me and my lovely girlfriend) went to one of our friends' house last Thursday for some drinks, pizza and games (video games you mucky people!). It was actually a ruse to get me to fix their computers, but it was an enjoyable night all the same (apart from getting a phone call hearing that my brother had fallen ill). But why am I mentioning this? Well, I found out that my friend had actually written a complete film script! It was a total shock, as I didn't even know he was into scriptwriting! He's into drama and theatre (him and his girlfriend are both in a musical drama group - oh, and he might be on Britain's Got Talent - look out for the robot with computer eyes...) but I didn't know he'd actually written anything. We had a really good chat about writing and how he almost pitched it to a producer when he went to Los Angeles on holday and talked about some of my stuff. It was really good to find someone else (locally) who is as enthusiastic about it as me! Great stuff! He's going to give me a copy of his script to have a good read of and I'm going to let him know what I think of it. He seemed to think I was an expert because I was "talking the talk"! Truth is, he wrote his script a year ago, I only started in January!! He's more of an expert methinks!

Finally, I just want to mention how fast the feedback to scripts seems to be on SharpShooter. I uploaded my script on Monday and had feedback on Wednesday...that's fast! This isn't just "yeah it was good", "pile of shit!" type of feedback either, This is really good constructive criticism! You would pay £50+ for this type of service elsewhere and you would probably only have 1 person's view...



[The opening credit sequence (the CAPS bit at the start) is lifted straight from the LOST "Pilot" screenplay written by J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof...please don't sue me!]

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

SharpShooter and Wiffle Lever!

Sorry for the lack of updates fan! (Yes, I do mean "fan", that wasn't a typo!)

About time I posted the latest happenings in my endeavours to break into scriptwriting!

First of all, I'm on draft three of my Channel 4 script thing. Still pondering over a couple of things. Should that bit be there? Have I worded that bit correctly? Does that bit make sense? Will people get that joke? Does that bit with the whatsit make the thingummy work with the doodah?
Good news is, I'm now a member of the SharpShooter google group, so I shall soon be uploading this piece of work for my peers to rip to pieces! I hadn't heard of SharpShooter until last week. It's thanks once again to (and I shall keep referring to him as this, 'cos I know he loves it!) "TV's James Moran".
He mentioned the group and included the link in his "Big Writing FAQ", which you must read if you're like me and trying to break into the industry. To be honest, anyone reading my blog has probably already been to James' blog, which may have then led you to Paul Campbell's blog, which then led you here! Phew! Quite a journey! Take a break. Have a nice cup of tea!

Anyway, Sharpshooter is a brilliant concept! Apart from being a nice place for like minded scriptwriters to meet up and post information, tips and advice, it's main purpose is for us to upload our latest drafts of completed (or not) scripts. Once they've been uploaded, everyone else in the group can download them, read and offer critique. It's a brilliant way to get your stuff read by other unbiased people, who are not going to always flatter you because you're not their son or daughter! These people tell it how it is (from what I've read so far anyway!) I've yet to upload a script of mine but I have read a couple of scripts and have given my first critique on a fellow newbie's work...Woohoo!

So far, it seems like quite a busy group. I don't believe the google group info that says "Low activity"! Low? Maybe compared to the "MyTextGraphics" group! (I know I'm a sad individual but I just had a look for the group with the most members and that's it - 33816 members at the time of writing!) But wait! It still says "Low activity" for this too! Typical geeks though (of which I class myself as one), this group has more members than the second "fullest" group, which is Humor-Erotica... Go figure...

SharpShooter currently has 88 members, so there are plenty of people who can read your stuff and plenty of scripts for you to read. You can learn a lot from reading other's scripts, especially new writers (like me). It makes you re-evaluate your own stuff even more and also helps you spot small errors you may have missed, even though you've probably read it a thousand times!

I've really got into script reading now! Thanks to a link posted in the comments section of that blog from the infamous "TV's James Moran" (yes HIM again! There's no stopping the power of the man!)
Thanks to Adrian for providing this link (for it was he who posted the comment). There's an absolutely limitless supply of TV scripts and bibles here (probably why they've called it "TV Scripts and Bibles"). It really is good! I was working last Saturday and while I was waiting for some information to come through (I was installing computers and waiting for them to "appear" on our system) I downloaded and read the Pilot for "Prison Break". I've got to say, this was the best flowing script I've read to date! It probably helps that I've seen every episode (I'm a HUGE fan) and I do remember this one (of course) but even if I hadn't, it was beautifully written and it actually felt like I was watching the episode, rather than reading it! It probably breaks a few rules (what do I know) but I could imagine being a producer and thinking "Wow!" when I read this! So, if you get bored during your day job and you can't watch TV (who can!?) then I suggest downloading a few scripts of your favourite shows and enjoying those instead! ;)

Right, so I'm hopefully going to upload my script to SharpShooter by the end of the week and let the other members sink their teeth into it! I'm really looking forward to the scathing remarks to be honest! I always think you learn a lot more from your mistakes (I should know!) It's like catching a cold... If you've never had a nasty cold in your life then your body is going to be totally shit at combating one later on. If, however, you've had many nasty, dribbly, terrible, "Oh God, I'm dying! Please get me some chicken soup" colds, then you're going to be the "master" at fighting the little bastards later on in life... Where was I? Oh yeah, chicken soup... no I mean, "Failure makes a man great"... I don't think anyone ever said that, I just made it up...

In other news, no word from the BBC's Talking and Not Talking program yet. I'm guessing that they've been inundated with entries and they either haven't got around to reading them all yet, or they have but don't have time to reply to everyone who's been rejected. I still haven't heard of anyone being accepted yet though, so it's still a possibility.

Finally, I can see now why some blogs don't get updated very often. It's quite a mammoth task writing all of this! I think I actually find it easier to write scripts at the moment! With this blog, I actually have to think about what has happened in my life and check out little links and things. When writing a script I just write whatever pops into my head!

I have a LOT of respect for a certain Mr Bob Fischer of "Wiffle Lever To Full!" fame. If you haven't read his book then I highly recommend it (especially if you're a Sci-Fi buff!) He has his own blog, where he basically takes a page from a diary he wrote in 1984 (when he was 11), transcribes it into the blog and then dissects it. He provides links, videos, photos, everything and anything that relates to what he wrote all those years ago. It's brilliant stuff! Especially if you grew up in the eighties like me! The most amazing thing is that he writes this EVERY DAY. So the current diary page relates to EXACTLY 25 years ago. That's commitment for you!

Until next time!

Friday, 20 March 2009

First Draft Complete!

It's done! The first draft of my channel 4 script is complete!

I didn't work on it at all on Tuesday or Wednesday.

After a long day at work on Tuesday, I was totally exhausted when I got home. I couldn't even think about looking at another computer screen!
Wednesday was a nicer reason not to do any work. We went to the theatre to watch our friends in a musical they were part of (West Side Story). Brilliant night! Ended with beer, pizza and kebab (chicken meat, not that shaved stuff!)

So, I REALLY wanted to get quite a bit done tonight. I still didn't start until after 10:00pm (what's he like eh?) but managed to get the final 10 pages done in 2 hours. I wasn't happy with the way those 10 pages were going at first. They felt out of place. But then I got into my stride again and I think it actually finished with a good ending (if that makes any sense whatsoever! Well, it wouldn't start with an ending would it? Unless you were writing Pulp Fiction or something...)

I suppose it's time to "let it lie" for a week. I shouldn't really. The deadline is in a month and there's a lot of work to be done on it! Maybe I'll just give it a couple of days...

I'll let you know what it is I've actually written once it's totally complete and on it's way to Channel 4. I can tell you that it is now more of a (slightly) black comedy drama. It doesn't start off like that, but that's how it ends up!

There's a hell of a lot of dialogue in it too! I've read many a time that characters should DO more than they SAY, but I've tried to make it easy to shoot by having the characters pretty static and the whole thiing laden with dialogue (especially from the main character). It makes sense once you know what it's about (I hope!)

I read on Mark Eastwood's blog that he's a dialogue whore too! Any thoughts anyone? (all 2 of you!)

As for other updates... there are none! I haven't heard back about my Talking and Not Talking one-liners yet. I did read on British Sitcom Guide Forums that they're still wading through the entries. Some people have had "No thank you" responses back, so no news is good news I suppose!

Oh, and finally... I saw an article (also on the British Sitcom Guide Forums - check the link) regarding writing for comics and in particular 2000AD. Sounds like an interesting thing to try. I might have a go when I have some spare time (yeah right!) You can write a 5 page script for the Future Shocks section of the comic and submit it for consideration. They probably get millions (as does everyone) but always worth a try I suppose!

Ok, I think I've written enough for one night! Time for some sleep!!!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A little update...

Thought I'd post a quick update after the weekend...

I've almost completed the first draft of my "Channel 4" script. I could probably have finished it actually, I was on a roll, but I did plan on going to work tomorrow so I need some sleep!

I really don't think this is going to be suitable for "Coming Up" though...
On the website (link in a previous post), it says they are looking for:

  • Bold ideas
  • Strong voices
  • Originality
  • Ambition
  • Wit
  • Urgency
  • Films that push boundaries in a way that wouldn't / couldn't be done in mainstream drama
  • Films that can be shot in 4 days on a limited budget
From that brief, it would suggest that they are looking for a 30 minute version of Trainspotting or something. My current script is... well... let's say a bit different to that!

However, it does have bold ideas, Strong(ish) voices, originality, ambition and wit (in my humble opinion). But not sure about the urgency or the "pushing the boundaries" bit.
It could also definitely be shot in 4 days, but it does require some CGI special effects, so not sure about the limited budget...

And it's a drama... a comedy drama (NOT a SITCOM...REPEAT...THIS IS NOT A SITCOM!)
In fact, it's more of a drama with funny anecdotes than an outright comedy.

I'll probably submit it anyway. If they don't like it they can f... I mean, I can always send it to the BBC.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Ebay affects your writing!

Well, managed to write 7 pages of my script for the Channel 4 "Coming Up" opportunity. Quite pleased with that as I didn't write anything yesterday.

I don't usually start writing until after about 10:30pm. But yesterday I didn't even do that!

I blame it all on EBay! My partner has been selling off loads of her old beauty products and we spent all of last night printing off invoices and labels, hunting for jiffy bags and boxes and then packaging everything up! I think I managed to get to bed about 2:30am! So, no writing and no sleep!

But, I'm happy today. I still started late, and as usual with any writing it takes a while to get into your stride but then I was flying!

What I love about writing is not knowing what the hell is going to happen next! It's almost like you're reading someone else's work. I have the general plot either in my head, scribbled down or nicely typed into a Word document. But what path the characters take to get where they're going, I haven't got a clue!

With this current script I don't even seem to be able to control the genre! It started off as a slightly gritty, dirty, serious tale... but somehow I've now turned it into a comedy! As I'm writing the dialogue, some stupid thoughts just pop into my head and I think "Yeah, that would be funny if he said that in response!". The next thing you know, I've turned Apocalypse Now into Good Morning Vietnam!

I think it's because I'm like that with life. If I'm at work and people are talking about serious issues, I always get stupid funny thoughts pop into my head... and they don't always stay there!

I don't know whether this script will be right for the Channel 4 thing when it's finished, but I'm enjoying it at the moment!

Thanks for the support by the way! I didn't expect anyone to read my rubbish after one post... well except Paul maybe, as I did leave a non too subtle hint in his comments!

Monday, 9 March 2009

First Contact - Why I want to be a Scriptwriter...

Hello... Is this thing on? Is anyone reading this?

If you are, then welcome to my blog and my first post...

You probably don't know me... I probably don't know you either. So I'll start by telling you a little about myself and my goals.

I'm a 35 year old male, currently working as an I.T. engineer for a local authority.

I've been working in I.T. for about 15 years and I've finally had enough...

I've always aspired to be something better. Always wanted to do something creative... But I could never figure out what!

Then, a couple of months ago it hit me like the proverbial bolt from the blue!

I want to be a scriptwriter...

It sounds like a totally random thing to suddenly want to start doing, but it makes perfect sense. I honestly don't know why I didn't even give it a second thought before...

You see, I realised a couple of months ago that I've been writing stories practically all of my life...

The first time I remember actually enjoying writing was when I was a 3rd year at infant school. I remember the teacher asking who wanted to do homework. I actually stuck my hand high in the air and asked for some extra English to do! Swotty little git? I think so...

As a child I was always writing. I've written a couple of comic books with my brother and a few more with my best friend, short stories on a rusty old typewriter (found on a dump) and plenty more hand scribbled rubbish... Unfortunately, none of it ever survived past my teens.

As an adult, I've written a complete outline of a children's book and actually put down 40 pages and I've also written over 170 pages of a horror novel... But... I haven't finished either these... Why? Because I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do, even while I was writing them! So they ended up on a very distant back burner.

But, in early January I had the post Christmas blues. I was not looking forward to going back to work and wondered why on Earth I still didn't know what to do with my life! The thought of another 30 years in I.T. makes me feel physically sick!

So, I was reading the BBC News website (as I do every day) when I noticed a link for the "Writers Room". As I'd always had an interest in writing (the clue's in the text) I clicked and was amazed at what I read...

Free downloadable scripts? Open script submissions? Competitions? The Writer's Academy!?

I didn't realise that this stuff existed! I certainly didn't realise that the BBC were so open to cultivating new writers!

I must have read that website in it's entirety over the course of the next week, before finally discovering a link to a certain Mr Paul Campbell's blog...

The funny thing was, the first post of Paul's I read was this.

Not the most inspirational start of my first glimpse into a scriptwriter's life!

However, I noticed that Paul had been writing his blog since the 31st August 2005. So I went back in time (without the DeLorean) and read every entry from then up until the present day (the present being January 2009, not March 2009... I didn't travel into the future!)

Paul's blog was truly inspirational! Thanks Paul! It also introduced me to the blogs of Mr Danny Stack (another brilliant blog! Thanks Danny!) and to my favourite blog of all, that of "TV's James Moran". (Massive thank's James!)

Read any of these blogs and you can't fail to be inspired! There are many more blogs that I haven't got around to reading yet (apologies) but when I do, I'll post a link or three.

These blogs give you so much more information than any scriptwriting book ever could!

They talk about how they got started, what to expect, what NOT to expect and even throw in lots hints and tips, links and the occasional funny to give your brain a rest (you know what I'm talking about James!)

I was bursting at the seams with inspiration, so I decided to attempt my first script. I'd never written a script before. I didn't have a clue what to do! But the BBC came to my rescue with their downloadable template "Script Smart Gold". This is excellent for the beginner scriptwriter (as I still am!) You click a button to choose the type of script and away you go...

I actually managed to write an entire episode of a sitcom. Then, I did what everyone suggests and put that away, so that I could read it with fresh eyes in a week or so. I still haven't gone back to it because...

Then I started to write a screenplay for a horror film idea I had. I'm actually still writing this, as I was distracted by a short screenplay competiton I stumbled upon...

So, I wrote a 15 minute short for that. I actually wrote the whole thing in one session and then spent 3 weeks tinkering it until I was happy. That's now in the post, so we'll see what happens there...

Now I'm currently writing a 30 minute film for submission to Channel 4's Coming Up (thanks to Danny for the heads up on this!)

Oh, and I also spotted an opportunity to write some one-liners for BBC Radio 4's Talking and Not Talking show. I wrote about 5 pages worth yesterday (the deadline was today) and e-mailed those off last night.

Now, I don't proclaim to be any good at this scriptwriting lark! Hell, I'd never even written a script before January this year! But, I have so many ideas floating around inside my head that, for me, this is the best way I can think to get them out!

The entire process actually makes my mundane working life a lot more bearable. It might take me 5 years, 10 years (or maybe never) to make it as a scriptwriter, but I want to give it a try and I want to share my journey with anyone who reads this blog (that means YOU!)

If it all ends in a pile of steaming manure (I hate manure!) then so be it, but at least I'll have tried.

For the first time in my life I feel like I've finally found something that I actually want to do for a living... Apart from be an Astronaut, but I think that one's a none starter...