Over at the Screenwriting Goldmine there is a great interview with Simon Harper who is responsible for finding new screenwriters for BBC1's show Holby City. In the interview, he discusses how to start writing for the show and how you might get him to read your script.
If you are interested in writing for the show and finding out about Holby's Shadow Scheme, then head on over to the interview, which can be found here. The interview takes place over the phone and is best listened to with headphones.
A few highlights from the interview:
Always looking for new writers.
He works with the Writers Academy, although, his job is to recruit new writers not through the writers academy. He's the alternative path onto Holby City.
He takes on a "I will read anything attitude."
Works with writers on the Shadow Scheme, which is for less experienced writers.
Scripts that show a great synthesis between guest and serial story are the spine of the show.
"Good, cracking, intelligent, ballsy dialogue is a must."
"It's about getting the characters voices because the characters drive these shows. It is a love for and investment in these characters and the consistency of those characters..."
You don't have to know the show that well. - "It doesn't discount you."
It's a matter of sending him your script. He will read it and gets back to everyone.
Reads 20 spec scripts a week.
Doesn't have enough female writers. Would like more.
It's his pleasure and privilege to read stuff and see who is out there.
You don't have to send a medical spec script.
He's looking for strong, meaty, dramatic writers, but equally people who can do drama and big emotional stories, but also who can be funny and playful... people who can write wonderful characters.
There is a hell of a lot of competition for a limited slot.
True talent will win through.
Scriptwriting in the UK has a great post about BBC Shadow Schemes/Trial Scripts for continuing dramas, which is worth checking out, here.
Information on the various BBC Shadow Schemes can be found at the writersroom.
The current episode of radio comedy show Ed Reardon's Week - Series 1 entitled Holby City centres on an attempt at writing for the show and is an amusing episode. It can be found here on the bbc iplayer.
I've been intrigued by this screenplay for awhile, as I knew it was based on an old television series and the oddity exhibition and phenomenon. I hadn't seen any of the television show, exhibition/museum content, or read any of the stories behind the scenes. I was just aware of the reputation and nature of the phenomenon. So a screenplay based on that is an interesting idea and an attractive read, not to mention, a possibly strange experience. But did it deliver? The verdict is: it does, however...
The story begins in 1930s New York and centres on Robert L. Ripley, an eccentric man who has gained celebrity status through a newspaper column that chronicles his search for the greatest oddities in the world. His next adventure and potential money-spinning attraction is the mythic tale of the Horn Man, and so with a handpicked entourage of odd and uniquely gifted friends, he heads for China.
The screenplay was an enjoyable read; amusing, eventful, touching and driven by the highly likable, wonderful and unique, Ripley himself. The supporting cast and band of friends were nicely written and executed, each with their own talent and weirdness. It carried a pressing pace, which like the force of Ripley's childlike wonder, and ambition, makes you feel like part of the gang as the scenery and events are passing you by without time to think. However, at the end of an enjoyable, relentless and grounded two-thirds, the story settles into a strange third act and ending, which didn't compliment what had gone before and took things into an unsatisfying direction. This may be the nature of the Ripley television show and therefore my own bias isn't a negative against the screenplay, just my lack of understanding within its wider context.
The story is about the pursuit of the extraordinary and unlikely truths and the ignorance and disrespect that goes into the pursuit of such a goal. Everyone is the Centre of the Universe within their own perspective, but it's wrong to act selfishly without conscience and in disregard of others. Everyone deserves respect, no matter how different.
It was an enjoyable, unique and fast paced read and I'm interested in the film when it comes out in 2011. I may skip the cinema visit and be content with the DVD rental instead, although, that does depend on who will play Ripley (as there's really only one person), and of course, who the director will be...
This was a random pick for a read and a rewarding one at that. The title alone is enough to entice anyone to have a peek and wonder what the Superconducting Supercollider is, does, and what could possibly be its story.
I had some expectations going in on this one but no knowledge, as I assumed it was a David Koepp/John Kamps dream spec due to the long and rather wacky title. David Koepp's produced screenplays that I've seen have offered a high quality and particular blend of suspense, drama, humour and tenderness i.e Secret Window, and polar opposite, Zathura. I enjoyed both films and so wondered whether this could live up to its expectation of being something completely different, unique, out there, consuming and immersing. And the verdict is: it does -- it does.
The story centres around twice divorced, Karen Krauthafer, the local sheriff, as she and a man, Howard, a local scientist, collide on a stretch of road, but more specifically, his body to the bonnet of her squad car. Shortly after the abrupt meeting, a strange phenomenon startles the town and causes a panic, which sends Karen out to investigate.
The screenplay is a wonderful, charming and exciting read. It offers an interesting, ultra cool, and challenging story with unique characters who are realistic, humorous and empathetic. It's a fantastical story that exists in reality and is believable yet makes for a magical read. As its opening credit reads: 'This is a true story. It just hasn't happened yet,' it's one to be remembered.
The story is about the pursuit of knowledge and knowing all there is to know, and at the same time whether that knowledge would deprive you of the very essence, pursuit and wonder of living. Would there be any fun in knowing everything?
I'm glad that I took the chance on this as it was one of the most original, wonderful and interesting screenplays I've read. I hope that the film is being made and isn't just a spec screenplay that won't see the light of day.
This is another one of those: 'I wanted to read awhile ago and has taken awhile to get around to' screenplays and I'm glad that I have now finally read it.
I remember seeing a brief trailer some time ago and the instant feeling I got was that 'this is one for me.' It belongs in the wide genre of indie type films that centre around family, a longing from the norm and feature a great blend of humour and drama. So I was eager to know if it would hold up to its initial impact and deliver. And the verdict is: it does.
The story is about a widowed father and newspaper advice columnist who has his hands full with raising his three daughters and being practical to let go and enjoy something in life. But then the family head off on vacation and his rational and in control side is put to the test when he falls for a woman.
The screenplay is a heartfelt and feel good read. It embodies a strong driving force via realistic characters and the humour and drama that they bring. It has a unique blend of humour, familial conflict and emotional upheaval that makes for a warming and layered read. It has a great balance and rhythm to its scene and content that keeps it pacey and interesting. However, there are one or two potentially cheesy and questionable moments, which are to be expected within this type of story.
The screenplay is ultimately about family and personal happiness, what that is, how it should be approached and how the two can exist in harmony. It's about finding a balance with the mundane rational side and zest for the irrational and unpredictable side in order to live in real life now and again.
I can't wait to see the film and I hope it holds up to my now high hopes and expectations.
So I’ve been out of university for awhile and still feel overwhelmed at the amount of screenwriting and industry advice/information available; the monumental task ahead of me in all its stages and phases; the route possibilities and pathways; all compiled with all the other things I want to do like living, writing and stuff. However, one decision has made its way to the forefront and is such an obvious one: to write something. But not just anything.
I'm on the back of a serious two year relationship with WWII Drama and recently have been engaging in many flirts and not committing to anything. But the good news is I'm done playing the field and ready to step into something serious again.
But it would be foolish of me to just write whatever I liked because at this point in my life everything I'm doing is working towards an ultimate goal. So like in a script every line of dialogue and action needs to be leading somewhere; it needs to have a point and a purpose within the bigger picture. So everything that I do and write now needs to have that same point and purpose and be leading somewhere.
It may appear obvious, although not everyone realises that what they write for television needs to be relevant in today's world, suitable for the small screen and is what is wanted by the industry. So this has become my new romance or rather, an old flame I patched things up with.
So the television calling card script is my next target, challenge and focal point for the next six months or so. If all goes to plan it will also form as my entry to the Emmy script competition for 2010.
With this script I'm aiming to demonstrate that I can write effectively within the world of television and write the type of script that people are looking for. Ultimately, it will be used to sell myself as a writer and only time will tell if it's the best possible script to do that.
So there are some basic questions to ask myself before proceeding into the project to make sure I stand the best chance possible in writing a great, relevant and suitable script:
Have I picked the right story that will drive me through the next six months and not leave me having to carry it through or give up on?
Does it move me? Am I passionate enough about it? Do I care about the characters? Is it uplifting, tragic or inspiring?
Is it suitable for television?
Is it a contemporary drama or sitcom? Will it have a realistic budget? Few characters and a general location?
Is it relevant and dramatic enough for television?
Is it relevant to recent national events/issues? Is the issue/event explored in terms of character action and change? Is it emotionally engaging?
Is it relevant and suitable in relation to what's on television now or has been in the past? To what's in demand?
Does it fit into a specific television slot and style of programming? Has it been done or explored before?
Will it be visually appealing?
Is it set in a visually interesting location? Is the location symbolic in any way to the characters and the story? Will it take place as much outdoors as it does indoors?
-- End to the line of questioning --
I am equally excited and anxious at writing this story but feel it's the right time to do so. So with all these initial factors and questions answered in my head, it’s time to get on and commit to this.
However, the usual last minute worry and concern remains:
That it might not fit the sixty minutes, be realistic enough, or even work as a television drama.
That's what rewriting is for. So it's nothing to worry about until there's a first draft. A television calling card script can be up to 90mins for a contemporary drama (30mins for a sitcom). But for now, it's important to just get something written down and then go from there.
Now onto an exciting and intimidating set of words:
Last Friday was the graduation ceremony for the Media School at Bournemouth University and naturally my own graduation into its alumni, which I'd like to believe is what the Illuminati goes by nowadays.
Anyway, Friday was an intense start at 5am for the coastal drive across to Bournemouth, as I didn't get any shut eye the night before. So I had to rely on adrenaline and anxiety for the ceremony to keep me awake and alert.
The ceremony was great and has set the record for continuous hand clapping for a prolonged amount of time. After awhile I just knew I couldn't keep up so I opted for a consistent and strong; clap every other person and saw myself outlast everyone around me. I clapped for what seemed like hundreds of people that day and deservedly so.
The step up onto the stage felt like a Michael Jackson 'This is it' moment with the culmination of my time at the University. The stage walk is a blur but the proud feelings of graduating and moving onto the next stage in my life has remained.
Afterwards there was a little shindig in the Purbeck Hall for a natter and a drink accompanied by a cool band in the background. Here is where I spoke to the scriptwriting lecturer who marked my major screenplay aka my beloved WWII Drama. It's also where the quality of the BU lecturers continued to shine through in offering advice and encouragement. I felt even better about achieving my feature script and was opened up to the prospect of it making a great radio play. This is something that makes sense because it would be a realistic achievement compared to a feature film and it's more likely that people will get to experience it. I would love to hear it myself and will consider it in the near future. I did hesitate going to the mini shindig at first but I'm glad I did and it was one of those moments that just felt like another fate encounter.
It was an extremely refreshing and exciting moment to leave graduation and the world of university behind. However, I will always look back on writing at Bournemouth University with fond memories and gratitude for its teaching staff.
As for the future, I don't believe there's any rush and especially when there's so much to learn and discover. It's a new world and so naturally I need to learn how to crawl before I can walk and walk before I can run. So I'm just going to take it easy and enjoy the journey, and ultimately, aspire to live in the vain of Rudyard Kipling's poem IF.
Yesterday I read three screenplays and so I thought I'd have a collective round up of thoughts and offer up an Award for the Best Screenplay of the Day. (Note: There are no spoilers).
Firstly, The Lovely Bones, written by the team behind The Lord of the Rings and based on the best selling book of the same name. It was an interesting read simply because it was different from any script I have read or film I have seen.
Going in I was aware it was the story of a murdered young girl who narrates her story from heaven, which is known from the outset. But instead of entering a potentially dark drama about the loss of a child, I was swept up and surprised with its often light-hearted nature at times and from within her viewpoint of death from heaven. It offers such an interesting contrast to the events and emotions on the ground and a very brave way of approaching such poignant and horrific subject matter.
It is a heartbreaking and tragic story but those emotions aren't solely relied upon and enforced to carry you through, as that's not so much the angle of the story being told. It's achieved in an often light-hearted way with dramatic and suspenseful moments. It's interesting that as an audience you're so angry at the crime but find yourself forgetting about it at moments and being amused at some of the things the girl says or a moment or two within the family as we pass through the years; offering some much needed relief from the unapproachable and quite frankly inconceivable thing that's happened.
However, it wasn't an incredible read, (although the more i think about it, it kind of is) but it was different, structured in a way i hadn't seen or read before, naturally powerful due its nature and subject matter, but handled in such a unique and sheltered way. I did want it to go to those high emotional and dramatic places, which the characters didn't as such, but then again, I suppose that has been done many times before and like i said, this was different to anything I've read or seen. I applaud them for adapting/making it and just hope that the film turns out really well because it deserves to.
Second is, The Visitor. It was an interesting read for one major reason and that it didn't appear to be good enough to be made.
At first, I expected a horror or thriller of some kind as I went blindly into it, which is the way I like to go into screenplays. But I was surprised with a drama essentially about illegal immigrants from the view point of a lost and lonesome college professor.
At the end, I was aware that although it was naturally a powerful story, it just had something missing, some personality and real drama. It didn't go to the emotional places i wanted it to and generally thought as a film, it would go to. I was unsure to whether it was the real deal and wondered if it had been made. I thought the potential was avoided and was left with a sour thought of 'How can that be it?' I wanted more. The script was so basic in its detail and personality or lacking rather that it didn't feel like a professional screenplay. It was a competent read but just not what I thought would be enough.
Bare with me...
Anyway, so i hopped over to Apple Trailers and found its trailer. It was nominated for an Oscar and has won many, many awards! And the trailer, is awesome! The performances looked great and the cast spot on. It looked like it held together really well on such simple and basic drama. It was a little shock and nice surprise because the script was so basic in every detail and i thought missed out on its potential in drama and character bonding. It glided lightly over the surface, I thought.
That then told me two things, the actors and actresses on the film did an incredible job because i didn't feel or read much emotion in the script, everybody was constantly coming and going and hardly stayed for long, and two, there can be scripts that are so subtle, simple and only briefly touch on the drama potential, and that is enough itself. I am aware of that last one, but the script was such a surprisingly sparse and lacking read that I did wonder if it would be enough.
The director also wrote it, which is a factor and one where I can imagine specifically allowed the freedom for the actors and actresses to portray the roles and had confidence in himself as a director to achieve the performances, and so didn't feel the need to write them into the script as such.
But I have more respect for it now as a whole and it was a great lesson to fully realise with a proven and successful example.
The Third was, Last Chance Harvey. It was an interesting read for many reasons. The first is due to the fact I had seen the trailer awhile back, and thought, 'A funny stiff-upper-lip scene,' but hasn't all this awkward romance meeting stuff been done before? It was intriguing nonetheless. But the main factor was that I was aware of the actor and actress who played the two lead roles. So they were obviously coming along for the journey as well.
So going in with decidedly low expectations and hoping to be proved wrong - I was and pleasantly so. I found a moving and often amusing story of an estranged father who arrives in London for his daughter's wedding and subsequently meets a woman, suffering from the pressures of being single and reaching forty. They get off on the wrong foot and in a situation that would see most guys would walk embarrassingly away from and with some dignity. But not Harvey.
It was a delight to read and I didn't want it to end. It had such a great blend of subtle humour and drama that made it a really pleasant and mature read. It's a testament to the writer because I feel like I know these characters and that they are people I have met and spent time with. And ultimately, I think that's the goal of a good screenplay to achieve such a personal connection with the audience and this one had it. I really loved it. Kudos.
And so without further ado and all that malarkey...
The Award for Best Screenplay of the Day goes to:
LAST CHANCE HARVEY.
The Award for Special Jury Prize of the Day goes to:
I've been wanting to read this for over a year and finally got around to it yesterday. Everything in the universe felt correctly aligned and so I went for it.
Since knowing what the screenplay was about, I was intrigued mostly to see if it would hold up as another post-apocalyptic yarn. And the verdict is: it does.
The story is about a lone man who's been travelling a long time on the word of God and is determined to reach his destination. This means keeping himself to himself and not entering into situations or conversations with people because they're not important to his journey. No matter what, he must keep on moving west.
The screenplay is well written, naturally and in such incredible detail from the outset it had me reading with awe. How such simple and mundane things were described with such elegance and purpose to it. The characters were vivid and carried interesting traits and stories and were handled nicely within the confines of such a world. The standout element was how it played with our (my) expectations of such a desolate world and its pre-set conventions. It offered up new ways of doing things or unexpected events and characters. It's nicely paced and works so well in creating effective intrigue/suspense and the slow delivery of the main character and his meeting with the opposition that you know is out in the wasteland.
The screenplay is more than the sum of its part and ultimately is about faith, what is it and what it means to a person, which can mean a different thing to another. It's about following your path and doing what you feel is right even if there's no proof or guarantee of success.
I'm looking forward to seeing the film and how well it transferred.
I had a surreal trip back up to Bournemouth and the University on Friday to meet the animators (BACVA) and talk about the script.
And the good news is it's happening and the script will be made, which is great and I'm really pleased!
The animated short will be thirty seconds long and in what was descibed by the course leader as quality over quantity. This has got me intrigued to how it will turn out and most especially the view of Old London Bridge with its mish-mash of structures.
The final script deadline is in two weeks and will be discussed and finalised with the four animators. The group will then spend the year creating the animation, which I assume will be completed in the summer term around June/July next year.
It's incredible being back in a collaboration as there's nothing like it. I'm really looking forward to getting the script finalised and then on seeing the progress and offering any character/story advice and details I can.
It's nice to be on the road to having a sole written animation produced and has been one of my ambitions for awhile.
Strangely this is the first post on this collaboration which was completed over six months ago. But it was such an incredible experience that I am going to offer a brief insight and reflection on the project.
The Unsuccessful Vampire is a three minute stop-motion animation produced across the road from Bournemouth University at The Arts Institute Bournemouth. I didn't write the animation's story but did co-write the narration to it and had a blast.
Initially being chosen for the project was a mix of terror and excitement. I had no experience in the area and wanted to achieve the best I could because I didn't want to let anyone down and wanted to do justice to the story/visuals.
So I was given an animatic (rough version) of the short and had to come up with a suitable narration to accompany it. There was 30 seconds of an original attempt from the start, which helped to guide me and in the end most of it remained because it worked so well. At first it was very difficult because I had no story or character notes to work from, just the animatic/part narration and the fact that this vampire was rather unsuccessful in his line of work, well in his nature. But once I got started and involved it all started to flow and was great fun.
I think I did three rewrites on the narration which spanned over six months and received some great notes on them. I had time on this which was the best thing because it took awhile to get into the mind of the story and the world of animation. But it was such an incredible and rewarding challenge, and fun thing to do that I really miss the process. There were a few problem areas for awhile, where it just seemed impossible that anything suitable would fit there. But in the end, suitable words came from nowhere and seemed to fit and work.
It was such a great story and animatic and relaxed collaboration that it was a pleasure to work on and I learnt so much that it was also a blessing.
Currently, the short is being shown around film festivals and I should be able to get a copy within a month or so, as I haven't seen the finished version yet.
I do hope that it will be uploaded online at some point as it would be great to be able to proudly post the link.
I just wonder if anyone else has this same frustration or if it's a general thing with screenwriters in particular, but the common novel is getting even more frustrating to get through; because there's so much talking and oh those flashbacks! I don't care, just get on with the progressing narrative, please.
Do I have a specific condition or is this natural? I can imagine that now I'm completely aware of it it's going to become an even bigger problem. Or maybe I should simply demote novels and read more screenplays? After all, I don't want to be a novelist.
The problem and frustration came to light recently whilst reading James Herbert's 'Haunted', and although it is rather pacey, sparse-ish on talking and has only three flashbacks, it frustrated me quite a bit. It just wasn't progressing to the beats I wanted it to even though it was pretty fast for a novel.
Or maybe I just simply picked up the wrong thing so soon after the great, symmetrical and exactly thirteen chapters apiece and relatively short stays of The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room and The Wide Window. All belonging to 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' and being the first three volumes.
Another series that springs to mind with a lot of dialogue or talking rather in scenes is whenever Harry Potter sits in a room with Dumbledor. That guy can talk, and talk and talk, and then some. For me, those scenes or chapters have always been the most frustrating otherwise the books are great. The last one, possibly untouchable.
One book that I regret putting frustratingly down, and the second ever, by my foolish, amateurish and impatient nature quite a few years back, was The Wizardand The Glass by Stephen King. The Gunslinger, the first volume, quite possibly my favourite book ever. But once into The Wizard and The Glass, it delves into a flashback and I got so frustrated that I skipped some pages, then ten, then twenty and a hundred, and it was still going on. So I skipped another hundred and it was still going on. Then left it. I wanted the progressing narrative to continue. I didn't want the back story stuff. I just wanted the ride!
However, a week or so ago, a friend pointed out that the book is an entire flashback and relevant to later events and books in the series. So I felt stupid, and said, 'Yeah, that makes sense. I'll give it another go.'
I was always going to go back to it someday, I promise, Roland, Gunslinger, Mr. King...
So I think my post has answered itself really and that I should be reading more screenplays than novels, as I'm clearly striving for a ride and experience that's suited to the format and not so much with the novel.
I've recently completed an unexpected short animation script entitled 'The Pedlar of Swaffham,' which I'm really proud of.
I had initial doubts in achieving the script as by nature it was different to my other animation shorts and was my first adapted piece.
The Pedlar of Swaffham is an english short story that derives from the legend and myth of said Pedlar who came into a fortune due to a dream.
The project came about through Bournemouth University and the new wave of first year animators there. Five short stories were available for adaptation and the best ones will be created into animations by a team over the next year.
This was an opportunity I thought was too good to be true and there was no way i was going to pass on it. I love animations and writing them and have been trying to get 'Book' and 'Vampire' made for awhile. And, here was the chance to potentially get a written credit on a short animation! Too good to be true, and yet it is. :)
So I got reading the short stories, found mine and got to work, and with a one-week deadline. It may have only been six or seven pages long but the story's essence had to be compressed to a mere 2-3 pages of screen time, which was rather difficult as there was a major section of dialogue at a crucial point, had a lot of beats in the story and was historical. And I had picked the easiest one to adapt!
But the more I cut certain beats out on the fly and under pressure, I realised that the audience could deduce for itself what was missing and I soon found out the story could work with its bare bones. It's fascinating now, how quick I am to cut my favourite things as from experience they're often the weakest link, and with this I went straight to them and with only a slight hesitation. The characters and story always comes first, not me.
One of the most fascinating parts of it was the research, and finding out about the Old London Bridge (which the Pedlar visits) and that there used to be shop buildings on there, which people also lived in. The pictures and info I found were incredible and took me off on a tangent for awhile. It was a really great discovery as I love finding out about these kinds of historical gems.
Only in London folks:
It was such an incredible project and exercise and went so fast that I really miss it. I hope it gets picked so I can return to it and improve on it and hopefully see it for real.
It has also proved once again and only in the words of George Mcfly:
'If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.'
To be bold and ambitious or rather, naive and foolish, would all collectively summarise my decision to write the screenplay for WWII Drama one evening in February 2008.
Although, fingers to keys for the first scene wouldn't happen for at least a year and a half later and confined to evenings during a work placement. (To note: it's not an action war film).
As previously noted, it was a daunting prospect to be writing a drama set during the Second World War, although, it wasn't a decision made with my head but my heart. I had a burning desire to write this story and it just took over any rational thought. Plus I knew it had elements that had never been done before, other relevant positive factors and featured a knock-out title.
So I would have been a fool not to follow it, right?
I also knew nothing about the two world wars and had no real clue to the amount of research that lay in front me, as I had never written a script that required any large amount of research before. I hadn't even written a feature screenplay.
At a Danny Boyle talk last year (BFI Oct 08), he mentioned something along the lines of: In order to stay fresh, challenged and to lose your ego, he attempts a film in a different genre. This would account for his special array of films and is a great piece of advice because going in 'you know very little' and have to learn a whole new lot of everything.
In hindsight, the process of writing in a new genre is the greatest challenge there is and becomes a liberating and extremely grounding experience. I have always had ambitions to venture into different genres but this has made me even more determined but also aware of the ground work involved.
I did underestimate initially how much research was involved and soon learnt how it never ends, and that I wish I had a basic level of WWII and 1940s knowledge before I started. This lack of previous knowledge meeting the real deal soon started to chip away at my original treatment and reveal the various cliches it contained. But as the research and feedback continued the central story became more focused and its emotional journey enhanced. I became fascinated with what I was reading and it fed into my script and affected me emotionally unlike anything I've ever experienced.
The screenplay itself didn't end up as polished as I wanted due to the limited time I had to write it. But I am extremely proud and surprised at where it ended up and will trust my ability even more in the future. It did break my heart handing it in at what I consider an unfinished state, but thankfully it all worked out.
The process was unlike anything I've experienced and has become my own war story to tell or at least, to hold up against any further projects. The strangest thing is that I hardly remember the experience and question whether it was really me that wrote it.
In the end, it turned out to be an extremely challenging, rewarding and enlightening experience. It was as profound as they come and for a first feature screenplay it has certainly set the bar. It has also made me realise that I have so much to learn about character, writing and the world.
Although, I must say, I can't take full credit for the development of WWII Drama and hand over a good portion of that to my tutor for the project, Rosie Cullen. I don't think I could ever thank her enough for her advice, support and encouragement.
I look forward to polishing the current draft of WWII Drama for colleague feedback and then returning to it after one or two projects are complete. I aim to use it as a calling card script and look forward to the reunion and its next stage.
WWII Drama is the pinnacle of my writing achievements and is one I would go crazy over seeing in the cinema, and I think many others would also.
I got my 2:1 grade on Friday and my assignment percentages today, and I'm made up. After handing in my last assignments, I had convinced myself that I would get a 2:2 due to being really ambitious with my screenplay (major project) and running out of time to re-read and polish the slugger.
In the aftermath, I did focus a lot on what was wrong with my work and if I had the time what I would have improved, which clearly didn't help. But in the end, the screenplay was my highest grade - 2% off a first and definitely something to learn from.
The grade has created a solid foundation for my confidence and future, which is what I needed.
Attending this course was once a distant dream for me and thought impossible, but after a lot of hard work and patience, I got accepted, then decided to defer...
Then it all gets fuzzy.
But it is great and surreal to say that 'I have achieved a major dream of mine' and many small ones along the way.
'I find myself back here again but this time everything feels different.'
My three years at university have come to an end, which in hindsight is the greatest thing and was rather overdue. The experience was a true character building and learning experience twenty-four-seven and completely worth it. Although, a few tens of thousands of pounds (that I would have liked to have seen) and three years of stress and sleep disorder is a strange way to instil some confidence into an originally 100% insecure mind.
The person I was arriving on my first day is a million miles away from the guy who just handed in his last assignment a week ago. (Admittedly on an extension, although all that really means is you don't have more time overall, just more pressure and nagging voices against you). But what's strange now is that I even feel different from that 'guy' last week. I just hope my physical aging isn't as fast as my mind!
Although, ending university has enhanced that great and immense pressure to do and achieve something fast in order to be a success. But I’m just going to relax the heart rate a bit, get some scripts under my belt, build on my learning and contacts, and work my own way through in my own time.
I've learnt a lot over the last three years about scriptwriting, the industry, myself and people in general, however the biggest thing learnt, is the fact I have sooooooooooooo much to learn!
It's been far too long since my last post and I don't quite know what happened. I had solid plans to keep posting, updating and keeping track of progress but then one of the above happened.
In a rather large nutshell; I remember completing ZZZZZ and writing a TV Major project in Jan, completing my minor project in early Feb, moving back home late Feb, and then back to uni three days later: found a comfortable place to live and work, donated some money to Danny Stack's Origins, did the impossible and completed my dissertation, wrote the final narration for The Unsucksessful Vampire (AIB), got the dvd for TV Major and was very pleased, left uni and the lifestyle for good in May, and I'm now in my second week of a placement in London with Blake Friedmann. Plus, essentially cool to note, living in the street Black Books used to be!
And what have I learnt?
That it may be worth...
...having self-respect to avoid wasting time and energy in the future.
...having self-belief, again to avoid wasting time and energy, to make the process and experience a lot better and a large step to future achievements.
...accepting that horrendous feeling, insecurities and worry of failure as a necessary route to achieving the impossible and to success.
...applying butt to chair whatever the weather as some progress and the zone potentially is only a few words away.
...in order to stay healthy and alive to not eat Iceland pancakes and egg fried rice and chips for three months.
There may be more but it's been a long day.
However, the answer to the above, apart from my dissertation period undoubtedly possessed, is: Other.
It's that time of the year again. A new term and with it a major slump in confidence. It happens every time, right after a break during which I've managed to gain some confidence and as soon as I'm back it all shatters.
But I've realised its not ability-related as I do believe in myself and the work that I do is good. But its the social and societal aspect that just drains me and in turn depletes what self-confidence I do have to be able to overcome these low periods.
And during these low periods socialising (even in its simplest form) becomes even more of an uphill struggle and I tend to hideaway. But then that's not as easy as it sounds and just becomes another obstacle and worry that gets in the way of being able to focus on and do work.
And so in that struggle of complete self-awareness and selflessness, I'm compromising my creativity, drive and ultimately, my work and future.
However on a different note:
"What an incredible painting..."
But then again, the best work I've done (at uni) has been in extreme circumstances and never when I've been 'happy'. However, on those occasions I was able to hideaway like a hermit and had the freedom to reach a creative peak.
'Everyone suffers for their art.'
And so, I've come to realise or in my amateurish nature, that I can only do 'my best work' when I'm depressed and up against it and just as important, when I'm able to getaway and have the freedom to work in a comfortable place.
But what's changed now is I'm unable to just hideaway and get on with it and that's the problem. I don't have a comfort zone where I am now or the freedom to create one.
Nevertheless, I do think I should be embracing this low period, as somethings got to give and I really do need to gather some heat to be able to write and get through my feature. Not to mention the rest of the term and graduate.
'No one said it was going to be easy.'
Naturally, but one thing remains:
'Is there a way to capture confidence and bottle it, so when I get it, I can never lose it.'
Although, it may partly be a case of: 'What you want isn't what you need.'
Ps: Was the painting at all an obvious ploy to see you through the post?
The year ahead, for me (and like many other people) is going to be the biggest challenge I've had to face so far. It will comprise of not only managing to complete my university work and graduating but also maintaining confidence in myself and work, and momentum in my career ambitions after returning home.
I've never particularly liked being at university (aside from the course) and so the prospect of returning home to begin 'year one' is an exciting one. I can't deny that the experience has helped me to develop as a writer and a person. But at 23 I went to uni later than the average age and so didn't benefit socially like the majority. But the way I saw it, is that at 17-19 you go and have a great social experience and maybe figure out what you want to do and make some great friends. At 23, I was already set on what I wanted to do and obviously wanted to enjoy myself, but soon realised that I didn't fit into it because I had grown out of that mentality and striving to be accepted. I will miss certain aspects of university life especially since the beginning of the third year;
1. The creative environment and having a small group to hang out and share work with.
2.Being involved collectively in something fresh and exciting, and helping each other to develop.
3. The opportunities for collaborating with students from other courses and neighbouring Arts Institute.
The past year has been a roller coaster for me and would be rather difficult to summarise. Overall it ended on a high note with many positive achievements and developments to look back on and feel proud of.
1. Year 2. May. The one big achievement and development has been completing 'Requiem', the one hour drama assignment. I reached a new level of writing and aftermath bliss with that script and its out of uni rewrite became something of a revelation. The script process and story has helped develop and change me more than any other, and I look back on it with extremely fond and proud memories. It was written during a difficult and miserable time at uni and it helped me get through that period in a way that I don't think any person could have done.
2. Year 3. Term 1. Moving house once again proved to be the right move, as it has opened me up to what I term 'the real uni experience' that i had missed in the first two years. So it's nice now to experience the benefits of the social side entwined with the working side and for the first time being able to enjoy being at university.
3. Year 3. Oct. Work Experience, with Zig Zag Productions in London. An incredible two weeks. It was my first time in London and combined with the life as a runner, changed my life and helped to put things into perspective. The position at Zig Zag helped me to identify the major weakness in myself (confidence) and what I need to do to maintain a confident and happy lifestyle wherever I work.
Some other notable achievements and developments;
1. Overcoming nerves and fear to deliver two effective presentations. 2. Writing my Episode Drama (after switching episodes) in six days and recieving a grade first for it. 3. Working with an MA Animation student on 'Book' and others. (An effective beginning in the art of animation writing). 4. Realising that 'Story and Character come first. Not me.' 5. Building on professional practice with colleagues. 6. Writing a BATV3 minor project without meeting the person. 7. Overcoming fear and lack of confidence in sharing ideas. 8. Writing a second BATV3 minor project that wasn't used (but became a personal and professional revelation). 9. Beginning collaboration on BAIMP3 major project.
I'd like to use this post as an opportunity to address the upcoming tasks, milestones and ideal things I'd like to accomplish in the coming year: (some by definition have begun)
-ZZZZZ: An Interactive Website - (BA IMP3 Collaboration) -Have 'Vampire' or 'Book' produced by MA Animation students -Minor Project Feature Film Pitch/Presentation - (Uni) -The Unsuckessful Vampire - [Write the narration] - (AIB) -WWII Drama Feature Screenplay - (Uni) -Dissertation - (Uni) -Carry out four weeks work experience with Big Wave Productions - (Uni) -Successfully graduate with a 2/2 at least - (Uni) -Get a full time job back home - (July) -Write 'A&A' Television Drama Script -(June/July) -Write 'N' or 'H' Television Pilot - (Summer) -Continue fictional blog 'Black Sands' -Write Television Proposal for 'BM' and send to S9 producer -Write 'Undecided Project' or rewrite 'WWII Drama' - (Oct 09 to March 10) -Maintain professional working relationships with colleagues -Set up a few weeks work experience with a television company for 2010 -Have Credit Cards paid off by Christmas
The biggest challenge that has me worried is the Dissertation. Academic writing has never been my strong point and so I know I'm going to struggle with doing well on that. It's the reason I'll be happy with at least a 2/2 grade from the course because I know this assignment will bring my whole grade down. Alternatively, a 1st or 2/1 on my feature will take away any disappointment from an overall 3rd. As doing well in the feature script is more important to me than doing well in the dissertation, and in the long run.
I may not be able to achieve everything on the list and it may be a little ambitious, but as long as I graduate from uni then that's the biggest one out of the way and then the others will eventually fall into place.