2019 a year in review

I didn’t have high hopes and huge demands for this year. At least not when it began. Just having a functioning website was a key goal, after the last website was stupidly wiped out and needed to be rebuilt and repopulated… and I lost nearly 4 years of [luckily poor] activity. But beyond that… just getting through the year was also enough – well that and constantly expecting some epic global meltdown / armageddon. But thanks to SBC IT for sorting me out with a new website. Nice one. But this is the first year when I feel that I have properly used the website for what it was intended and used it regularly. Go me. And I think that this was a positive year creatively.

Loss – the previous years were overshadowed by loss and bereavement. So did I lose anyone? – Felix (my feline companion of 15 years), and a few friends sadly. That and some relationships ended… but I also gained some new friends and a new cat. Not a replacement by any means, but a welcome addition and helping to fill an empty space in our hearts and a great character he is. So not the best of years, but better than the preceding two years.

My health – could be improved. I’m still suffering daily with Shingles pain. However, I largely maintained the diet, despite my usual battles with depression. I’ve been mostly free of back pain, training smart and even got corrective foot insoles specially 3D printed to exactly match my feet and correct them, reducing some foot pain… but the last two months of MR CLEAN [colour grading] stress saw me drinking more than I’d like… But I made a point to get light every morning to help regulate and improve my sleep and it has been better over all.

Travel – any interesting trips? – Barcelona twice, Tallinn, Hälsingland and Cornwall. Two for pleasure and the rest for filming / film related trips.

Filmmaking – editing MR CLEAN, doing the trailer and post production for the premiere was hard work. But a valuable learning experience. Then there was SVEN GUNNAR and LOVELY TO MEET YOU, two other films that we wrote and produced this year. I am also planning to film another short very soon as well as help a friend on a film in Rome. In the process of doing SVEN GUNNAR I learned how to use the BMPCC 4K and learned enough to shoot it for Darwin (first time doing Cinematography for anyone else). But I do need to learn Da Vinci Resolve and Colour grading as a goal, to get the best out of the footage myself without having to always rely on others. I also made 7 music videos – when shooting background visuals for MEIPR, a friend’s band, for their gig. 6 of them were made in a matter of weeks, back-to-back. I was impressed I got it all done! Despite the tough / insane tasks I set myself, I achieved everything that was within my power to do. Sadly only ZOMBIE MINTS didn’t get released. But it will be a side project. Also we did not get to do a Swedish premiere for the shorts. It’s bonkers. We have to crack this!

Writing – I wrote five short scripts this year and started work on rewriting an old feature script… enjoying the challenge of trying to work out what someone thinks they are trying to say in a rough form script and reinterpret it more to the goals of the narrative and polish it and fix it – more of a problem solving / jigsaw puzzle in some ways for three of them. But I also learned to take charge more, when collaborating, when the original narrative is not fit-for-purpose. Sadly I didn’t finish the feature script rewrite due to work and MR CLEAN getting in the way. It’s on the list for next year. But I still need to devote myself more to writing each day again.

Self-development – I completed quite a few training courses. And started some new ones. But MR CLEAN later stole a lot of my time there. I upped learning Swedish every day, to trying to learn Spanish also and devoting a minimum of an hour a day for it. but I have made good on reading every day and reading at least one script a week…. in fact, by my calculations, I’ve actually read 60 (admittedly 50 of them were TV scripts, so average 60 pages, rather than the usual 110-ish, but still…)… and I finished the entire John Connolly Charlie Parker book series, as well as the entire Stephen Hunter Bob Lee Swagger series. I also read my first entire book in Swedish, and in Spanish (although didn’t understand all of them) …as well as many more – how many books? Who knows, but it was a lot. But with the languages, I need to speak more and reading books aloud is really helping.

Workwise – I delivered my first course end-to-end entirely by myself, save for a few commissioned graphics… constantly wondering if under this economy I still have a job? Worst year financially for us over the last 5 years…actually demanding that my boss “just go and fire me already”, because I got so sick of wondering day to day about it. I still don’t know. But I’ve resolved myself to just focussing on me and letting what will happen with work just happen.

Temperament – Lost my temper a lot…. I still want to work on being calmer and appreciating my successes. I want to be kinder. Thank you to Bob, the dummy, for taking so many beatings and helping me stay calmer. But meditation will be a focus for 2020.

Visualisation – I built a ‘vision thang’ – a mood board to help me focus and it worked. I will construct a new one for next year, although mostly it will be the same – but new visuals will help me focus anew and help me to manifest something I actually want to happen.

The “Vision thang” visualisation tool / mood board

Highlights:

  • The original premiere in May for DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE, and later for that film (post award) in December, as well as SVEN GUNNAR and MR CLEAN, complete with three TV appearances
  • DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE not only getting into 15 festivals, but also winning Best Narrative Short in Vegas
  • Getting a diploma for my work on DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE
  • Shooting SVEN GUNNAR and LOVELY TO MEET YOU and making some lovely new filmmaking friends
  • Releasing the trailer for MR CLEAN and finishing the film
  • Seeing the trailer for SVEN GUNNAR get 18K views
  • Spending two weeks with family and friends

Lowlights:

  • Felix dying
  • Losing friends
  • Not doing my secret project
  • Seeing the MR CLEAN trailer get less than 1K views
  • Not getting ZOMBIE MINTS done and released, as planned

So what about 2020:

  • Obviously I’d like things to be sorted out around Brexit, one way or another.
  • Impeaching Trump, and unfucking the planet would help. Ok. Pls thx.
  • I want to do a Swedish premiere for MR CLEAN
  • I want MR CLEAN to get into some festivals if possible
  • I’ll release ZOMBIE MINTS
  • I want to finally make COMFORT HIM and SEPULTURE
  • I want to finish the writing of and make a feature film.
  • I want to sort out publishing my old short stories and get back to working on one of the novels.
  • I want to continue working with, but also repaying the kindness of those who helped me make MR CLEAN and our other films. So Rome will be first on that score
  • I will read other books in Swedish and Spanish and improve speaking more of both languages
  • I will complete my secret project.

There’s more, but that’s the stuff that counts….

Q – What are your goals? How did your year go in review?

If any of you silent, lurking readers do come back here and have been following me over the last year, thank you for visiting and I hope that you have the best year that you can in 2020.

2018 a year in review

[Written in Dec 2018 and unable to post until now – I forgot that I’d drafted this when the Blog was down and was unable to post it]

It was a tough year, but it had a better finale than 2017.

Less people that I know and love died this year. For that I am grateful. Nevertheless, still we lost more friends. And with each passing day it feels like more of my past is being eroded. How long before it feels like it never happened?

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Life After Nanowrimo – what now?

So I finished Nanowrimo, and then like the survivors of great battles and those that complete marathon races, I had a very bad case of fatigue and I was overcome with a serious case of ‘What the f$%k do I do now?’

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I made sure of course that I backed up all of my files; multiple times (in Drop box, One Drive, USB, External backup) and – as I was using Scrivener, made sure I took a snapshot of the work, before I ever go back and then sat there, twiddling my thumbs. There as lots of twiddling. Lots of doubt. Lot’s of house cleaning and social engagements to fill up my time predominantly, but when in front of a computer – and starting at a blank screen – still faced with the same question: What to do?

I very much wanted to rest MUTAGENE – my Nano novel – and wait a while before revisiting it for editing / rewriting purposes. There are some plotting / planning activities and exercises I can still do on it, if I get desperate. But I wanted a break from it. After all, things had grown stagnant and we both needed to see other people. Or at least I needed some fun.

So I trawled back through my folders, trying to work out which of my other legacy projects was in need of love – as I didn’t have any burning new ideas to work on at that moment. That’s when I realised that I not only had one candidate, a short story I’d forgotten about (called ADRIFT), I also stumbled across a feature script I’d completely forgotten that I’d written (for a Script Frenzy competition a few years back)! Such a shambles. Such disorganised folders and files! And entrusting my faulty memory to guiding me clearly wasn’t working all that well. I decided that I needed to come up with a more appropriate plan to manage my writing projects.

After some soul searching, and some web searching, I realised that I needed a tool, like a database to track / catalogue every single idea, and I then needed to track which ideas then get worked on and when they become ready for circulation or publication.

I had three options:

  • an online writing database tool, such as writersdb and QueryTracker.
  • using Ulysses or Scrivener to track all of my projects; or
  • building my own tool to track all of my ideas and projects.

It wouldn’t be fun building such a tool, or populating it. But afterwards I would be in a much better position to track each idea through to completed project, and track my career more professionally – e.g. evaluate how much money I’d paid for editing surfaces, or been paid for successful story submissions, or for contest submission fees for scripts etc. I’d then have enough data to take stock of how things were progressing and make a judgement as to whether, like any business, it was still worth pursuing; or if torn between taking different roads, I’d have more than a gut feel to direct my decisions.

I didn’t really feel a need to track my writing each day, as that data would sit within Scrivener, or could easily be tracked in each project if I wanted to. And I was wary of my data being online, and being restricted to someone else’s design. And although I saw how someone else was using Scrivener to do their project management, it didn’t resonate with me. Seemed overly bloated and cumbersome. I wanted something small and portable. So I turned to what I know – I know spreadsheets. I know Excel.

So here’s what I built:

An excel sheet that has a project tracker tab: that tracks the name, type of project, genre (for film and prose), what stage it is in and what draft no and what is the latest file version.

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It also has a second tab for tracking submissions – once you’ve ushered a project through to completion on the first tab, you go to the tab called ‘Manuscript Script Submissions’ – for screenplays you submit to competitions or production companies, or manuscripts you submit to publishing companies or literary markets – and the feedback or decisions you get on that work, that may help you shape how you later go back to the rewrite / edit stage.

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The drop downs are populated on a third tab – so you can edit the field to your heart’s content and customise it to fit.

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DOWNLOAD THE FILE HERE: 

PROJECT TRACKER V1.0 Alpha 

Please do download it. Give it a whirl. It’s nothing fancy. But it works for me. 

Feel free to try it out, if you think that it might be useful for you also. If you change it, I’d love to know why and how, in case it may be useful to put it into a new version to share with others. And also, if you think it’s flawed – please let me know and I’d gladly consider any amends. I’m especially curious to know if there’s anyone else out there in the same boat, with more ideas than organisation.

For now, I’ve got some data to populate into this thing. I’ve got one short story to write. And then I need to plan how I intend to start my Nano novel editing / rewrite process; come January I want a proper plan in place.

JUGGERNAUT – A novel by Adam Baker – review

I first became aware of Adam Baker’s writing when searching from some holiday reading. Shopping sites remember our preferences, and sometimes they’re even correct – sometimes – and this time when searching for post apocalyptic pandemic / zombie fiction it presented OUTPOST to me. At the time of purchase there were only a few reviews. Although the reviewers were divided, the positive reviews filled me with hope that I would find a new PONTYPOOL or 28 DAYS LATER between the covers. It wasn’t until I was sequestered in by the pool, in the shade, so pale that I appeared to be in black and white compared to the other resort guests, and opened the cover of the book, that I realised I was in for a skilfully crafted and incredibly addictive joyride. Outpost

OUTPOST was an unforgiving tale of Arctic desperation, and ever pervading dread: seen through the eyes of a suicidal overweight priest and the crew of a defunct oil rig; watching the world submit to a global pandemic which turns its victims into a 21st century version of the living dead. Every page was either filled with the slow dread of eventual starvation, submitting to the elements and the bite of the infected, or I was captivated by the survivors’ Maguyver-esque attempts to turn the tables on fate.

I couldn’t wait to tweet about it as soon as I finished it – being a social media-addicted saddo (hence the blog) – and tell people that they need to grab a copy at once. That’s how I eventually came to own a pre-publication copy of JUGGERNAUT; a sort of prequel, if you will. Adam Baker read my tweets. We then corresponded. And when Adam later announced that he had written a new tale, I jumped at the chance to get my greasy paws on it. And I’m glad that I did… (forgive any spoilers!)

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Still alive folks! and we’re listed by Total Film

Yes, I have been quiet for a while. Apologies, working too many hours and not sleeping enough. Disappointing really as I have watched some blinding films recently, that I’d like to mention to you, short mentions / reviews below.

– But hey! The real news is that we have been listed in the TOTAL FILM ‘Movie blogs you might have missed’ listing on page 5! in the horror section. Nice. A little recognition always helps. Thanks very much!

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Dexter Series 4 FAIL!

DEXTER SERIES 4 – the plot twist in the finale – is an epic FAIL! It does’t work and is so flawed with logic holes. It just feels shoehorned onto the end and totally ruins the otherwise perfect denouement. I won’t debate it here, in case people haven’t yet seen it. But right now I am livid! Grrrr!

It is such a shame, as the rest of the series was actually quite strong…. and it appears that I am not alone – although no one has obviously stated the central flaw in the fairytale ending.

Okay.. if you want to read it…. then READ MORE below… (more…)