Thursday, 29 May 2008

Professional Studies. Presentation.

The presentation went really well, apart from the clips not loading. But everyone did a good job and I think we set a good marker being the first.

The real achievement, for me, like in the summer project last year, was managing to overcome my nerves and insecurities to put forward a 'hypothetical pitch,' which was chosen. And also, like in the Mulholland Drive presentation months before, to not pass out during the presentation and effectively communicate material to the class.

I don’t know how I presented the pitch in the presentation, but somehow I did and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. I'm beginning to learn that the fear of something is far greater than actually doing it. Part of the reason was also because I believed it was a good series and wanted people to hear it. So that took some of the worry away, which helped. I also rehearsed the speech quite a bit, unlike the Mulholland Drive presentation, which went well, but I was writing it up until the actual presentation. I’m really impressed with the other guys who did a great job on the day.

However, working in a group; I’d be the first to say that 'tolerance' is one of the greatest under-practiced words in human history. But there is a line to be drawn. Sometimes you do have to be cruel to be kind and even when working with friends. Normally I’d be happy to just stay quiet and get along to please everyone. But I’ve grown tired of doing that. But even though i was working with friends it still seemed to come easier than I thought. Things were going really well and one member was negative about it all and inadvertly insulting our work. So I spoke out about it and made it clear its the wrong attitude and its getting to me. In the end it didn’t have much of an effect but at least I spoke my mind, so it’s a start.

Nevertheless, everything came together in the end and, overall it was a great experience.

Thank You Douglas Adams.

First and foremost.

For the best piece of advice in history.

'Don't panic.'

In the six days before the deadline (two prep and four writing) I managed to write my episode drama and recieved a grade first for it. Instinctively, I knew it was the best script I'd written so it's nice to have that pay off. I had been thinking about it for about a week before starting and just let the script naturally form in my head. But the main thing was although i was running out of time, I didn't actually want to rush it. It came in its own way, as I believe it was meant to.

However, a brief note:

The reason the script was started that close to the hand in was due to problems with writing my original episode. But through advice, the way forward was to make a decision and that decision turned out to be to scrap the current script. It wasn't a case of it being left to the last minute. The original episode was in fact my personal favourite, and was overloaded with serial elements; some contradictory, which got in the way and I was trying so hard to make it all work.

Part of the 'Don't Panic' mantra was also down to trusting and having confidence in myself, which at the time I knew I was putting to the test. It was very close and could have gone horribly wrong. I had told myself from the start that 'I am going to write the best episode possible.' And I loved the characters and grew to love free-running as our sport, so that helped.

One of the strong points of the script and my favourite was in subverting the Jackson character, who from the series bible was penned as an antagonist (in the pilot) and formed as a negative journalist. Instead of him being the typical bad guy of the episode he begins as a good guy and is torn between work and his family. But he ultimately compromises due to being faced with losing both.

The inspiration for his character/story to feature as the joint main story came after watching Zodiac - and i got pretty obsessed with wanting to tell a story from a journalists point of view. So when the chance came up I knew I wasn't going to play it straight or in a cliched way. It was going to be an original and moving exploration of what made this guy eventually turn into a bad guy. Ultimately, it was the love and obligation he had for his family - and as the marking lecturer stated in her analysis - 'It confronted us with the complexities of his situation and human nature; life is not straightforward, black and white.' Which was a nice way to put it.

It was the greatest experience and most fun i've had writing a script and it came with the greatest reward. I couldn't ask for more than that. One of the most amazing things was that the characters pretty much wrote themselves, which is a testament to our group who collectively created them.

I think when you miss characters who feel like real people and a world that you felt apart of - it tells you individually and as a group that you did a good job.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Collaborating With Scriptwriters.

There was a time when I was all for collaborating (outside uni work) with other writers and it was something that I was extremely interested in and couldn't wait to do.

In the end I did get my chance and at the time it went really well and was the greatest thing. But without sounding cruel, the problem wasn't the story or its execution, it was actually really good and had a lot of potential, but the mistake was jumping into a partnership with someone I didn't really know. I don't say that in a regretful or backstabbing way; I mean generally we didn't actually know each other, and due to that a few months later the project pretty much collapsed without really knowing why it did.

In a collaboration you look for that quick story; you feed off each other and things get moving pretty quickly, and the work is essentially divided. However, both feel like they're not providing enough and are holding all the worry, which is probably where many partnerships breakdown due to a lack of communication. And to be honest, I had actually provided little early on, to the concept and characters, and didn't feel too great about it - and often thought if I was actually needed. And so I wanted to make up for it and in the end I think I did. It worked for me as I felt as I had contributed enough but overall it didn't do things any good.

I learnt a great deal overall on the project and actually learnt more about writing than in my whole first year at university (aided with Genesis; the Heroes pilot script), so i have no regrets at all about it. Its just the way it goes sometimes.

So I guess, the best advice when looking or embarking on co-writing something, is to know the person beforehand, know where you and the project stand, maybe even state it outright and agree on working terms, if all should go well.

Also, pick something that has the potential to be sold in this country within a targeted area, unless you're happy with writing for fun and just further experience at writing.

For now, I'm dubious about working with other people and won't rush into anything without further consideration. But as a writer, I think I should first develop my own skills, work ethics and portfolio and just see what comes along.

The best things are the unexpected, so who knows.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Placement. Update.

I’ve done the dreaded deed of ringing up the companies and the list has now shrunk to two companies; Goodfilms and Carnival Figures. Alex Dawson at Carnival Figures said he’d read my script and get back to me. Goodfilms who I’m hoping for a runner position said they’d get back to me.

It’s progress.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Placement. Too Little Too Late?

I put aside today to get started on finding a placement. I just hope its not too late. I’ve been looking for companies specifically in London and who are from three different potential backgrounds and what I’d like to do.

I created three different CV’s to cover the different specialist areas; general, animation and script reading. I’ve emailed them with cover letters and relevant sample work. I plan to follow up with the dreaded phone calls in about a week‘s time.

The list are;

Avalon Television, Runner/Assistant/Technical
Avalon Motion Picture, Runner/Assistant/Technical
Blake Friedman, Assistant/Reports
Carnival Figures, Animation Studios
Contender Entertainment Group, Assistant
Goodfilms, Runner/Technical
Linda Selfert Management, Script Reading/Assistant
London Script Consultancy, Script Reading
Pinewood Studios, Runner
The Script Factory, Script Reading
Universal Pictures, Runner
Weeble Films, Runner/Technical

In hindsight, I wished I’d done this a lot earlier. It’s cutting it too fine but things happen the way they do and nothing can be done about it. So hopefully having partially left it this late something good will come out of it.

I hope.

Monday, 5 May 2008

The First And Last Priority.

We had a workshop today for our one hour dramas. In my case Requiem. I planned not to bring anything in because I didn’t have any completed pages. But I desperately wanted to so I worked all night till about two in the morning to fill in the holes in the first fifteen pages. (I always leave interior descriptions till last because I think it’s best to put your energy into the actual scenes; action and dialogue instead of wasting it on describing rooms.) The first five pages were read out and I received two major suggestions that has helped to change the course and overall quality of Requiem, which I’m really pleased about. This just makes me want to present stuff to people more often because sometimes there will be some good feedback and in this case its ripple effect has made Requiem a much more credible and together story.

The story of Requiem and it’s main storylines have been set for a long time as I’ve stated before. And at first with the comments I did think that two major flaws have been uncovered and now the script’s ruined. There was a little panic for about an hour or so. But I just found a way to adapt what was said and let my protective guard down and compromise. I did happen to lose a lot of my favourite things from the new changes. I know it’s ‘the way of a script’ but I had already lost a lot of what I thought were my ‘favourite’ things in order to improve the script. But for a moment I thought these current favourite things were the foundations of the script. They were and they weren’t. It’s just that I didn’t have the right balance of things and looking back it doesn‘t work. So I adapted and worked the feedback into the script to create a much better introduction/brief glimpse into the main character’s life/mind and overall creditability to the story.

One of the comments was with Logan being an artist. He plays piano also and is gifted at that. But the suggestion was that being a gifted pianist instead of a painter has more credibility; pressure-wise within the family and society. It also creates an interesting mix with his painting as it shows his inner feelings and piano his outer so-called ‘act’ persona.

But the main thing I learnt was about getting too personal and allowing it hold a script back. From the beginning, I always knew that this script was different and I was prepared to be a little stubborn in some cases to keep certain things in and as a result receive a lower mark. But that’s all now changed of course. It’s the first time I’ve had that kind of attitude with a script as this story was different (personally) but its now become the last. I'm glad I realized it in time and a few alterations were made, which overall made the script a lot better. Less is always more and everything doesn't always need spelling out; that's what subtext is for.

The story and characters are always first. Not me.

‘The happy people are failures because they are on such good terms with themselves they don’t give a damn.’

-Agatha Christie