Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Scene 51: My Top Three Media Websites

Well, its been a busy week for me. I've been editing a short factual film that I also shot. I shall never complain of lack of cutaways again.

I thought I had enough and then before I knew it there were blade lines - I currently use Final Cut Express - and only just enough  shots of random objects to cover them. I also learnt the hard way to manage and clean out my Render Files - I had junk in there from when I first started using my computer! 

Anyway, its been a long week, but I have been looking at gaining more experience out there in the world of media - having been pretty inert the last few months. 

So I've started gathering the cast and crew for a short film I'm going to shoot soon, tried to keep myself motivated with my new script - page 17 at the moment, and I'm wondering whether to keep going and not re-write anything until its finished, or to give into temptation and re-write my second scene now. 

I've also been looking for opportunities to do some freelance writing, and it occurred to me it might be worth doing a list of the websites I use for other media people. 

So here in no particular order here are my three favourite media websites, which I use pretty regularly: 

A good place I've found, to look for jobs. They advertise not only jobs from independent companies, but the BBC also advertise there. Registration is free, and there is simple form and CV format you can use to apply to a chosen job.

This site is more for independent and individual filmmakers, and markets itself as the world's filmmaking community. Free to register again, its a good place to look for work experience or collaborations. It also advertises courses and people can pitch their scripts on there too.

One of the top places to go if you're a scriptwriter. It offers lots of advice, including guides to formats, a guide to writing a script and an archive of scripts to read. You can also look at their opportunities page for current competitions and call-outs for scripts. 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Scene 50: My First Awards Ceremony!

Wow, isn't that serendipity for you, the day I go to my first awards ceremony is also the day I write my fiftieth post! 

Yes, I have been to my first film awards ceremony as an entrant, so to speak. Last year I helped out on the production of a short film called Coins, a Victorian drama that was funded by First Light Movies, which was created and starred young people from my local area. Check it out on the Vimeo.

Then a couple of months ago we heard that the film had been nominated for an award in the Best Drama category at First Light Movies own Awards Ceremony at the Leicester Square Odeon in London. 

I ended up organising the basic arrangements of informing the cast and crew, and then securing the tickets. I had a few problems along the way, but ultimately a small group of cast and crew all made their way down to London today, including two of the actresses, Kim and Estella, and the writer and star of the film William Jones. 

The info pack had said that judges of the films had included Matt Smith, Toby Jones and Martin Freeman - but unfortunately none of them turned up to the ceremony. However, to my extreme surprise and delight Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright - of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead fame - were there to present the award for best comedy. To my delight again Damien Molony from Being Human was also there to present a prize! 

The ceremony was lots of fun with a comedian and a puppet dog Hacker from CBBC hosting, and a YouTube comedian warming up the crowd at the beginning. We also got free goody bags containing a book on Bond villains, popcorn and a voucher for money off at Odeon, almost other things.

All the films shown looked very good, and I was impressed with the quality and ideas all the young people had come with, and with the documentary topics - which ranged from charms to drugs. 

Our category was at the very end, and unfortunately we did not win. Nonetheless, I think the experience has been great, that merely getting nominated was an honour and that all the young people involved should be proud of the film. 

After all the wards had been given, we then went on to an after party at Planet Hollywood, were we had some snacks and mingled with the other entrants. One girl in particular, in a red hat with a Ghostbuster badge came up to me and my sister to compliment us on our Whovian hats - mine is a Dalek, my sister's is the TARDIS - so I'd like to give a shout out, as it were to her and her friend, who were part of the group who won the comedy award.

And that's pretty much, in condensed form, what happened - and it was pretty awesome.  There are just a couple of extra things to mention, first on the way back from the party, we ran into a crowd of people outside another Odeon near the one we were in, all waiting by a red carpet and realised we were walking past the beginning's of the premiere for Danny Boyle's new film Trance! 

Secondly, as Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright walked past our seats after giving out the prize,   Pegg started to high-five people on the end of the rows - including my sister who put her hand up! Talk about an incredible moment. I'm quite jealous actually.

Anyway, an excellent if tiring day, and I recommend you check out the young talent that one day may be making the next big films at First Light Movies website

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Scene 49: Script Extract by Request

As you may have noticed I have a habit of sharing alot of advice on scriptwriting in this blog. Mostly because I am a scriptwriter myself, and I like to share good ideas with others and also because sharing these tips and hints kind of helps me learn it myself. 

Anyway, this has prompted a couple of comments requesting to see some of my own writing. 

Unfortunately most of my big ideas are still in my head, and those that aren't are in digital document form as half-formed in prose or as started scripts. 

However, I have found this old opening sequence I had written a while back for a film idea I had - I remember it was lots of fun to write, and its far more action packed than most of my other scripts. 

I have made a few adjustments to make it little more readable, but otherwise its pretty much the same. 

Please note of course that any work that I post on this blog is copyrighted to me, so please do not paste and copy


An army Roman camp near the Somme river in France. JENNA, 24, a red-haired Celt slave, slips out of a tent. She goes over to one of the stables, and quietly starts to untie a horse.

Two Romans walk out of a nearby tent, and spot her.

(in Latin)

Jenna quickly swings onto onto the horse.

(in Latin)
Stop slave!

ROMAN 2, dashes over, grabbing a sword and leaping onto a horse, as several more Romans run out of the tent to see the commotion. 

(in Latin)
Don't worry, I'll get her.

(in Latin)
Just don't damage the horse when you catch her!

Roman 2 pelts off at a gallop after Jenna.

Jenna looks behind her, and urges on the horse, faster and faster...


A nondescript silver car screeches to a halt on a dirt road, near a small wooden bridge over a narrow part of the Somme.

DAVIDSON, 36, in a sharp pinstripe suit, jumps out and runs towards the bridge followed by NORMA, 26 and KASSIE, 21.

Which way is she coming?

NORMA pulls out a large electronic pad.

Through the French side...


Of what?



Jenna's horse bursts out of some undergrowth joining the French cavalry. Arrows fly through the air, taking out horses and knights on either side of her.

A knight suddenly takes a swing at her with his sword, she ducks and slides down the opposite side of her horse, swings back up and kicks him in the head.

The knight falls...

Jenna pulls to the left cutting across the path of the cavalry and towards the on-foot French soldiers.

She glances back and...


Second interchange...

Davidson is staring anxiously at the empty fields beyond the river.

Please don't tell me she choose a battle day...please don't tell me she choose a battle day...


Jenna's horse dashes through muddy no-man's land. There's the sound of gun fire. A explosion to the left.

The horse reacts, almost slips and swings right, up a mold of earth and over a German trench.

More gunfire, Jenna filches, and leans closer to the horse. Looking up she sees a mass of barbed wire...


A tank rears up in front of her. The horse rears up to almost throwing her, she pulls the reins and it goes to the side up a bank...


Jenna is in open fields, she breathes a sigh of relief, and laughs as the horse canters through flowers.

There's a gunshot, and something glances her bare shoulder, she gasps and looks back...

... at the Roman with a pistol.


She's been tailed...



Jenna is spurring her horse back into a gallop. She is heading straight for the Somme.

The Roman is in pursuit, firing shots at her.

She gets closer and closer to the river...

The Roman catches up, riding beside her now, he points his gun straight at her...


There's a clatter as Jenna's horses lands with on the wooden bridge, Jenna races it past Davidson.

The other horse appears with a clatter on the bridge.


The Roman falls from the horse, which keeps cantering, whipping past Davidson, Norma, Kassie and Jenna.

The Roman lies on the bridge, with a dart in his neck.

NORMA looks at her watch.

Well, that's the rest of the schedule gone to pot...


Sunday, 3 March 2013

Scene 48: 3 Tips on Screenwriting Sci-Fi

This weekend I was away in Wales at the Sci-Fi Weekender convention, where Sci-Fi London was hosting several talks, films and a quiz. 

One of the talks was on writing a sci-fi screenplay. An interesting talk, and I wish the guy had had more time to go into details like character and world building. Nonetheless, I picked up some useful tips and ideas about how to write science fiction.

  • Science-fiction has to make logical sense within the world. His example being Back to the Future. Flux capitors may be completely imaginary, but the science of the film stays consistent. Marty needs 1.21 gigawatts to get the car into the past, and he needs the exact same to get it into the future. 
  • You can find good ideas by reading online news and magazines, so it is worth having an RSS feed. His example was a great news story about a doomsday ark that scientists were suggesting to put on the moon - as he said, there was a story already!
  • Avoid cliches. A good general rule perhaps, but science fiction has lots of cliches and  often requires a very original feeling concept to make it stand-out. The speaker mentioned a list of science-fiction cliches that was apparently really helpful. I'm not sure which particular list, but TV Tropes has a Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Cliches, which looks pretty extensive.

I'll write some more about sci-fi screenwriting and Sci-Fi London another time, but do check out the website - click the link in the first paragraph - and take note that they are holding a film competition at the BFI soon, where the challenge is to make a film in 48 hours, with only the props and idea they give you. The prizes will include camera equipment.