Meet the directors – interview with L’HIFF for GAS!

a chat with Darwin Reina at L’HIFF

I recently did a 30 minute interview with Darwin Reina for his L’HOSPITALET DE LLOBREGAT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – to talk about the official selection for the WWI short screenplay GAS! and you can watch a 7 minute cut down version of it above. And enjoy my corona-do; my lockdown hair cut. 😉

Thanks to Darwin and L’HIFF for the interview.

SVEN GUNNAR is an award winning proof-of-concept

SVEN GUNNAR screenshot from the CYIFF award live stream via Zoom
SVEN GUNNAR picks up a 2nd award!

SVEN GUNNAR picked up its 2nd award in Cyprus yesterday! Congrats to Darwin Reina and the team! And many thanks to CYIFF for recognising that our short horror film is a great proof-of-concept. I couldn’t agree more.

WATCH THE CYIFF AWARD LIVE STREAM here: (the award is given at 1:28:58).

It’s a really interesting award to be given, precisely because although it is a self-contained short film, SVEN GUNNAR is the feature film we wished that we’d been making – when we set out to make something more ambitious than MR CLEAN, with more characters and locations, but due to budget limitations etc we set out to do it as a short, but always hoping to later get enough interest to develop it as a feature. It is also one of the feature scripts that I am currently having fun developing, to explore how it will work as a feature film.

SVEN GUNNAR poster with laurels
SVEN GUNNAR poster with laurels

And in fact, one of the things that always concerned me about the short, was that I didn’t want to cut it down and weaken it. There was plenty narrative there to make a good long short film. So it’s not a huge stretch to open it up a bit. And we really suffered to get some of those shots, especially the damn mosquitoes which are rampant in Hälsingland. So to get more potential mileage out of it would be awesome.

SVEN GUNNAR grab with laurels
SVEN GUNNAR poster grab with laurels

And luckily there have been some reviews and feedback where others have also recognised it’s potential. e.g. this one on IMDB by Mikief. “…I loved the Tim character – that sweet innocent family guy- “No problem I take you”! and SVEN GUNNAR the fat character of the film so nasty, So weird! I also liked the whole Europeaness of the film – the location Sweden country side, that English accent, and overall a great flick! What I will give as a negative rant is that I really wanted to know more about the town where it was shot, and the Swedish people.…”

So watch this space. Soon we will announce something more tangible regarding the possibility of such a feature version. And congrats again to Darwin and the entire team!

Here’s the trailer:

Fest update and more

Lit Scares International Horror Festival semi-finalist wreath
LIT Scares laurel wreath

GAS! has made it to the semi-finals of the Lit Scares International Horror Festival! Which is awesome! The finalists are announced on Friday Dec 12th. So fingers crossed this WWI horror short script makes it through. But it’s much appreciated to see it get through this far. I’m definitely beginning to think that this may have a future beyond being merely a writing sample…

And in other news – re TUMBLE DYING, I have managed to cut from 2hrs of total footage, down to 24 minutes. I have a workable sequence, rough cut of 2.5 minutes. But have much further to go. But I’m enjoying how this one is coming together, even if my time is quite limited.

Work is proceeding apace on two feature script ideas. I’m expecting one meeting this week to resolve for me which one is definitely going to be the official front runner, because I can’t do two at once. And although I am sure which is the natural front runner, it seems that there might be a good reason to move the other one forward, to jump the queue. Apologies for being cryptic, but I just wanted to show that not all in writing goes as planned, when you’re collaborating with others. But I’m keen to resolve that asap. – what I can tell you is that the MURDER TOURS synopsis has been well-received by 3 of the trusted readers. I’m still waiting on feedback from two others. But I do really appreciate their collective efforts and feedback.

I also surprised myself this last week, by writing a couple of micro fiction / flash fiction short bedtime stories with a Christmas theme, and no one died in them! There was a very specific reason for doing so, and in such a rush, and if anything comes of it, I will tell you more. But I was happy to challenge myself and do something very different.

Screenwriting update of GAS!, MAGIC IS MURDER and more

Gas! poster with 11 laurels
GAS! poster with latest laurels

Firstly, my WWI short script for GAS! has been officially selected to another festival, it’s now an Official Selection of the Lit Scares International Horror Festival. Awesome!

And then I learned yesterday that although GAS! didn’t win in another festival, it did get some lovely feedback from the Landed Enterntainments festival which is always much appreciated:

Landed Entertainments script feedback
Landed Entertainments Script feedback

And lastly, I did a nice zoom video interview for GAS! with Darwin, for his L’HIFF film festival – talking about the official selection of my script, why I wrote the piece and how, and more. So I will share the link when that interview comes out.

It’s been a while since I talked about feature film scripts. I’ve been busy, toiling away, quietly on four projects. Erm yeah. Crazy.

  • Firstly, I’ve helped rework a comedy horror script, called MAGIC MURDER, working in collaboration with writer / creator Simon O’Neil. I spent 5 weeks rewriting the script, a complete polish where needed, of every line and every scene – to bring out more of the conflict and enhance either the horror or the comedic elements where necessary. And it was a mad push, to get it all done before my Birthday, as it was one of my goals this year – and all had to be done in any spare hours, after the day job was done, which wasn’t easy to make happen at such a crazy busy work period, where often I barely have an hour in a day. Then Simon reworked one character and a few elements on top of that, and then we both worked on cutting it all back down, as it was 90 pages when I got it. 101 when I was done and then we got it back down to 90. And one of the main actors in the story, Peter Irving, just read it and had some glowing praise for the rewrite yesterday. very much appreciated. And we all can’t wait to try and shoot it, Covid permitting, in September 2021.
  • Secondly, I’ve been doing a couple of courses / challenges, to try out new techniques and learn some new skills – always to try and develop myself. One was focussed on clarifying the story for a potential rewrite and the other was more around how to pitch the piece and write a killer query letter, for when it’s done and ready to go. And it’s always easier to work with an idea you already know well / have cooking, when up against the clock, so I used my old vampire feature script LAST NITE IN SODOM.
    • The most useful challenge, was the 5 Day challenge – run by J Thorn, one of the writers of the THREE STORY METHOD, which was carried out in connection with Plottr, a useful new plotting tool that I’m teaching myself to use. The challenge gave you 5 useful tools to break a story, and get from idea, and basic concept and logline, to clarifying the 12 main story beats and who the main characters are; it was useful for both authors and screenwriters. And I find that it works nicely with some of the other tools I was researching over the summer. And it’s quite a brisk and straightforward approach for pantsers like me, to try and incorporate in their journey to become plotters.
    • But I also found the SCREENWRITINGU Get Your Script To Power Players course helpful too. Although the format was less engaging, the content is sound. But it’s tough to try and do all 12 assignments in a month, when you’re an idiot and like me, you accidentally deleted half the assignments, mistaking them for promotional emails and have to play catch-up etc. But the tools you build during that process, over the 12 assignments, is going to be key for me to use to get my scripts out there, once I’m happy with them. It’s definitely highlighted how LAST NITE IN SODOM is far too complex. There’s a lot going on in it. So it has helped me to clarify where to target future rewrites, to enhance its marketability.
  • The other two feature scripts are still very much early stages and both queued up to be written before I go back and rewrite LAST NITE IN SODOM:
    • The first has a rough title “MURDER TOURS” and no IMDB page as yet, and is at the point where some trusted readers have been giving the 5-page Synopsis a once-over, and although not all of the feedback is in, two of them love the concept. All I can tell you is that it was inspired by me telling Darwin how much I loved the film CREEP, in answer to his question: “Don’t you want to do something more guerrilla style and low budget?” and right there, mid-chat, I came up with two ideas and surprised myself. Something that might be shot, single-camera, found footage style and not require so much equipment to shoot. I’d really like to stress, that having fresh pairs of eyes on such material is key to help convince you if you’re on the right track or not, long before you commit to a mammoth effort of completing the whole feature. I really appreciate those who’ve been helping me out here! Thank you!
    • And where followers of this blog might assume the next one in the queue is going to be the long-awaited MR CLEAN feature, it might actually end up being a feature version of SVEN GUNNAR. Johnny is definitely keen to revisit the character and we’ve had meetings where we’ve explored the idea. But that one is not as far along as I’d like yet, to decide if I can confidently write it. But possibly soon, I might get to a 5-page synopsis that I can be happy with.

I’d also like to mention that I have been greatly enjoying the LOGLINE HACKS course by Lucy Hay, of Bang 2 Write. That and the fun assignments posted to get you to practice what you’ve learned each week, are really useful to hone your skills.

But the good thing is that there has been no shortage of ideas. The usual time availability issue is obviously still here, and yes I am back to editing TUMBLE DYING, so it’s a challenge. But I am committed. Or should be… to an institution. 😉

But I am glad that I am reaping some of the rewards of all that time invested in story, plot and structure, when I should have been writing MR CLEAN. Until I am happy with the plot of that idea, it has to sit and wait for the other more urgent and pushy ideas to come barging through. I could easily force it, but risk doing so in the wrong directions. So what’s the point?

18th festival selection for MR CLEAN

Mr Clean Gold laurels
MR CLEAN poster with latest Fest selection

MR CLEAN has been selected to it’s first festival in Mexico, as an Official Selection at the Stuff MX Film Festival  This is brilliant! And we’re very grateful! Especially as COMFORT HIM is currently in a festival in Mexico. Also this marks the 18th festival selection now for our short film. We’ve done far better than I could ever have hoped. 🙂

The Stuff MX Film Festival takes place in January 2021. So it will be a while before it gets exhibited there. But fingers crossed all the same!

Congrats again to the team!

Find out more: MR CLEAN movie

Visit the IMDB page: 

Thanks to Karen Keslen for updating the posters.

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