Friday, 27 November 2009

Dan In Real Life

By Pierce Gardener.

Revisions by Peter Hedges.

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.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

That Television Calling Card Script.

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:


Monday, 9 November 2009

This is it, well, for Graduation.

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.