2020 a year in review

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Expectations for 2020:

Well this is a first. It’s the end of the year and I am just so underwhelmed that I’m not sure how to do this. I mean, what a year we’ve all had… and to think it started out so well.

[I’m well aware that many have had really bad year and suffered much loss. My heart goes out to you and yours. I really hope that next year is much kinder to you; especially kinder to those who’ve suffered economic hard ships, bereavement or have been directly affected by the virus.

FIRSTLY – IT*S REALLY EFFING LONG! DON*T READ IT!!!

SECONDLY – And to those of you who are new here, please note this sin’t a humble brag kind of thing, this is just my assessment of 2020, how I’ve done as a [creative] human being and me trying to work out what I want to focus on in 2021, assuming any of us have a choice…. that being said, I know there’s a group who believe we shouldn’t share what we’ve achieved, because it might depress or stress others out. If you’re one of those people, don’t read this. Simple…. This is merely my story and how I have always recorded progress over the past year. Unlike many people I do set goals for myself and I do try to hold myself accountable. – it is the only way I can force myself to achieve anything. I am a firm believer in celebrating your success if you’re lucky to have any, and to acknowledge the effort you’ve put in where it is due.]

Here goes…

  • Travel – I had such high hopes. Sadly there wasn’t any, save for January when Darwin and I shot a film in Italy and then in February when Suss and I had a weekend in Karlstad for Valentines. Because once the pandemic hit, I was either on lockdown, or I couldn’t travel to any of the regions we’d planned on, due to how other countries viewed Sweden’s approach to controlling the pandemic. And we ended up cancelling three trips this year and didn’t get complete refunds on two of them. But other than seeing family, which I very much wanted to do, I also hoped to do quite a bit of travel to my first film festivals abroad and network with other filmmakers and none of that happened.
  • Family – luckily there were no serious family illnesses or deaths this year, everyone has stayed safe and well. But I did miss my Mum’s 70th and the birth of two new additions to the family due to cancelled trips. At this rate, they might be in college by the time we get to see them…
  • Health – I know my mental health has suffered. And I’m not as fit as I was, despite doing some training. I’ve definitely drunk more this year, to kill the boredom / break up the day, and missed out on the gym, since the virus hit and I stopped going in March – I mean people at my local gym were unhygienic before Covid and never cleaned the machines after use, so no way was I risking it during Covid. But I’ve done my best to meditate, get some exercise and dose up on vitamins and light where possible. But this especially dark and warm Swedish winter has been brutal on everyone’s mental health.
  • Filmmaking – See below for a blow by blow rundown of all my filmic adventures across the last 12 months. There have been many and for that I’m truly thankful. it could have been the complete opposite and no one would have blinked. So I am aware of how lucky we are. But also acknowledge how hard we’ve worked to get here. The key high level detail is that we achieved our three goals for phase 1 of our plan: 1, Make films worth of festivals. 2 Win some awards if possible. 3. Get distribution / find an audience. All three of those goals were achieved this year. And now phase 2 of the plan can begin, to move into doing feature films / more ambitious projects. Currently, we’re on track to finding that audience and launching bigger things. I think the 15 awards this year, getting a lot of writing done and making 5 short films this year, despite the virus, has really helped. And if it wasn’t for this, God knows what state I’d be in now. I think although it caused some stress, it also got me through some hard times. But I’ve also not been so focussed on my own goals, putting other people’s projects forwards above my own desires, mainly to keep moving forward when I hit some initial roadblocks of my own and that’s got in the way of some passion projects – so I need to keep my own goals in mind next year. But also none of this would have happened without the trust, faith and passionate contributions from our collective teams on these projects!
  • Writing – I wanted to get a feature script written and I did. I ran into problems on my own but found that I could definitely help others working on their projects, when their stories were sufficiently developed but needed refocussing. But I knew I needed more work on developing better feature plots and I’ve devoted a hell of a lot of time and energy to doing so. There’s still aways to go, but I’m putting the work in and it is paying off; day-by-day I am less of a pantser. Overall I’ve worked on 8 shorts and 2 feature scripts this year and developed /fleshed-out some interesting ideas to follow-up on for future projects in 2021. And there’s been a refreshing amount of potential new ideas.
  • Self-development – I’ve done a total of 19 webinars and courses, read a screenplay a week, and a number of useful books to help develop myself, despite work and lockdown depression. I’ve sadly missed two key targets (one regarding a physical challenge, which ended up being missed mainly due to work demands / meetings booked when I usually preferred to do this thing, and another that was just not possible due to lockdown). I basically bumped those last two into next years’ goals when the year went south.
  • Work – this has been a real ups and downs kind of year, as I’ve been put on notice of unemployment twice, on furlough once and I’m notice of unemployment again. Who knows if I will be working or not in 2021 beyond February. Everyone’s got it tough and other friends have lost their jobs. But it’s a shame when you’ve had some glowing client feedback and gone through some tough projects this year, to be constantly looking over your shoulder. But with Brexit, a global Pandemic and the shit show in the US this year, it’s no surprise that things are bad the World over. So I’ll take what’s coming on the chin. But I was happy to throw every bit of energy into one particular rush client project, that was an indirect part of this new technology and scientific techniques that helped fight things like Covid. So at least some of my work has helped create positive change to combat this pandemic, even if the project nearly broke me.
  • Temperament / happiness – I’ve also had ups and lots of downs this year. Some real anger and stress. I’ve done well over all, trying to combat it, but I’ve also had periods of not following through on planned meditations. Partly this was down to work, but also down to real low periods, where the anger takes over. I like to think that over all I’ve been kind to myself and to others. But I know that my drive to achieve, and being on lockdown, has come at the cost of my energy and made me less willing to socialise; less of part of the human race sometimes. And as a result, less able to even enjoy some of the good times, as much as I would have liked to. Sorry to all for that. Maybe I should be less of a hermit next year, once lockdown is lifted.
  • House – We ended up spending shedloads having the windows and doors all redone, once we were in lockdown. And the only good thing about the pandemic, was having no money to travel and ended up managing to recoup much of the cost, just by saving up and doing sod all. I definitely did not achieve as many of the other projects I planned on the house, as I would like, but I’ve done maybe 50% of the things we set out to do due to putting the film stuff first. But it’s also been a pain being on lockdown this year, with constant construction nearby. We’ve had to put up with a fuckload of blasting and drilling and construction noises, due to the houses they’re building nearby and they’ve also taken some of our views. I’m hoping for a quieter and more productive year of DIY.

[You might want to skip this bit and jump to the end, as it’s long! Seriously, go on, no one will blame you!

But please note, I’ve added links where possible to previous posts, if you’re curious to find out more]

In-depth on filmmaking / writing adventures 2020:

In January

I published a piece about why we made DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE, because there were so many incidents of domestic violence around the end of the year, and at the time when we’d received a diploma back in December 2019. And I was very happy for Darwin and the team, for the 2nd award that he picked up for the film in Greece.

I released a few experimental music videos that I made for backing visuals, for MEIPRs Snotty’s Seaside event gig. I’d made 6 in all. and the full playlist can be viewed here. I want to do more of them.

And at the end of January, Darwin and I did a test shoot for COMFORT HIM, which was a lot of fun. And then we went to shoot MAI PIU (aka NEVER AGAIN) in Italy. This was to return the favour to Alessandro Fiorucci for starring in our short LOVELY TO MEET YOU, that we shot in December 2019 – the latter was planned for release this year, but Darwin’s still wrestling with it, but it will be coming soon! Whereas MAI PIU is finished and we hope everyone gets to enjoy it in 2021.

At this point, there was already a virus looming – despite various Government’s claims to the contrary – I’d been following its emergence in the press…

In February

MR CLEAN got 2 new posters, Finally finished MR CLEAN the short film (which was a huge deal for me to finish something), and submitting to film festivals and reviewers – and got our first and 2nd review. And we worked on preparing for our cast and crew premiere screening – where I had to learn everything I could about creating my own DCP screener.

In March

DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE was given TV distribution in Latin America. We then shot COMFORT HIM – just before Lockdown was brought in – the virus was definitely here in Sweden. And the first of COMFORT HIMs posters, by Karen Keslen, was released.

The trailer for LOVELY TO MEET YOU was released – the screening was scheduled for April, and then again later in the summer, but ultimately hasn’t happened as yet. But we did get to do the cast and crew screening for MR CLEAN just before the lockdown. It was a great event, and amazing to see our shorts on the big screen and share them with friends and family. But people were already cancelling attendance due to the virus and I ended up feeling ill for a week afterwards… and suddenly I wasn’t unemployed after all, despite that being dangled over me…

In April

SVEN GUNNAR was selected to its first film festival. I was getting frustrated with the first festival rejections and cancellations for MR CLEAN, as it seemed that the pandemic had resulted in many live events being cancelled or pushed right back, or a glut of films being submitted to festivals and competition had vastly increased. But then we did get our first festival selection for MR CLEAN and then our 1st award! Amazing!

I had barely finished editing COMFORT HIM and SVEN GUNNAR won it’s first award too!

Sadly there was no screening in Spain for us, nor a trip to see my family, once the virus hit and travel became impossible. And rather than be unemployed, as I was originally supposed to be, I ended up having my busiest period at work for a good while, as a weird direct result of the pandemic. I had to work some insane hours, for science!

In May

Luckily, despite the rejections, the festival selections and awards also continued for MR CLEAN.

Sadly, we also had to cancel a 50th Birthday trip to Andalucia for Suss, a trip we’d been planning for months. A once in a lifetime trip… bugger. But it was happening all over the World. Why should it be different for us?

So I decided to start working on MR CLEAN the feature script. But it was tough to get going, with all the work I was doing for the day job. I was focussing on writing, as it looked like I probably wouldn’t get much filming done, with the pandemic.

In June

I was put on Furlough. A forced, reduced pay vacation for two months. A lockdown staycation. And I was pretty wrecked, burnt out already. On one hand it was much needed, but it was weird not knowing if you’d be going back to a job afterwards or not. However, there was a few more selections, for MR CLEAN and we got COMFORT HIM edit done, the final VFX and subs.

I started running into a few road blocks on MR CLEAN the feature in ACT 2, so I started doing a much deeper dive into Story Structure / plotting tools. But also had to sort out storyboarding our next micro short and rewrite HUSH MONEY TOWER for Darwin. I definitely felt the new planning approach / story tools I’d been working on were helping me understand this story and gave it what it was sorely lacking – but such time invested is also time away from writing / projects.

And we had our first Midsommar celebration in lockdown. It was lovely to spend it with a few friends, even if under such weird conditions and limitations. But let’s hope the usual pagan sacrifices can continue next year in public. 😉

In July

COMFORT HIM was released both online, and to film festivals – something that to my knowledge is rare if not completely unusual, but was intentional so that people could get to see some of our films and not have to wait for so long. And I avidly watched the stats to see if this film, as a Micro Short experiment, would find an audience and would it get rejected from festivals that prefer the premiere for short films, or would my gamble to release it first, so people could actually see it, pay off? Although it began to slowly amass views, it was tough to get anyone to actually review it. I mean, even the team thought it was a trailer because it was so short. And once released the inevitable “when can i see it?” requests followed people viewing what they thought was a trailer lol!

We also shot NO TELL – a film I co-wrote / polished with Darwin. A short that was a bit of a surprise for me, as originally I was too busy to help produce it and then kind of cut out of it altogether, and then suddenly back in on the production to try and pull it off at the last minute. And we tried to observe Covid conditions, but it was tough to do. But it was a great chance to meet new talent / collaborators and work with some old friends and I can’t wait to see it in 2021.

I released another experimental music video for MEIPR, for a new track.

SVEN GUNNAR got to go to India and Japan, but none of us could travel there sadly. But it was great to be finding new audiences around the World…

In August

COMFORT HIM got its first official festival selection, swiftly followed by more in quick succession and then it had its first win! and we unveiled the poster for a new project that Hasse and I started pre-production on – called TUMBLE DYING, our next micro comedy horror short.

I also started work on project called HEAR SOME EVIL, which was supposed to be a first collaboration with a new friend and fellow Swedish creative; and a chance for me to try out some new techniques re plotting and planning. Ultimately it ended up being a solo project and getting shelved on completion due to lack of interest / collaboration / bad timing. And Darwin shot DESEO EQUIVOCADO (aka ROAD OF LUST), a project I helped rewrite for him, without me – as I had zero money for travel due to a major house refurbishment, and was sadly back at work and working my butt off. At least my gear could help get it made.

MR CLEAN got more festival rejections and festival cancellations and delays, and I then gave up on trying to get the feature script finished. And I got sick, but don’t know what it was, whether it was the virus or not or just being run down. It was all just a bit poop – despite being on vacation. I was at a very low point over all. I had already pushed myself so hard…

And the month ended with a screening of COMFORT HIM in NYC, and me being depressed about another cancelled family trip, too much stress and zero feature script to show for it yet.

In September

We fared a little better – although I was still depressed, due to the continuing lock down and returning to work. But what helped me get through it was the selection of MR CLEAN to the H.P.Lovecraft Film Festival – a project I had always consciously intended it for, before I even wrote it. And sadly, although it had long been a dream to attend that fest, I could only attend online. But it was good. I saw some amazing films and it was an honour just to participate, although sadly after the fact, as the films were on at times that weren’t good for my work schedule. And it wasn’t the only fest selection. SVEN GUNNAR also did well, being selected for Cyprus.

And we shot TUMBLE DYING too, and in order to get it done, I made a tower of socks and gathered lots of sock donations to do so. And we tried and failed again to observe proper Covid measures when shooting. But it was a surreal and short shoot.

I resurrected an old project, a short script called GAS! That ended up beginning its own festival run and getting a few more selections before the month was done. And then MR CLEAN and a shorter edit of COMFORT HIM both found some distribution, being accepted to to compilations, release dates TBC.

In October

MR CLEAN had a few more festival selections – some good, some not so good; some where they took place with no announcement of location / dates, and no ability for us to travel anyway, and others where they were online and it was impossible to take part, due to the weird limitations those festivals imposed (like US fests with a once-only live stream at ridiculous times, so we couldn’t catch up and see the films, without missing sleep and work for a week).

COMFORT HIM got into fests in Mexico and Australia, and I even got to do my first Q&A interview, which I then never even got to see as I couldn’t work out how I was supposed to even join the festival / view it from abroad…. And later in two more fests.

MR CLEAN won a cinematography awardhttps://eibonfilms.co.uk/mr-clean-wins-cinematography-award-and-more/, and got to take part in a great UK horror fest, where I was able to see all of the films online.

I also embarked on a then secret project. I was rewriting a comedy horror feature script – MAGIC IS MURDER – as part of another collaboration. I tried to get it done before my Birthday and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to crack it in time, to hit one key goal of the year, even if it wasn’t my own MR CLEAN the feature. It was still impressive, to get it done on top of the day job and everything else. And the collaboration was fun and I think the project has benefitted from it, based on the feedback from those who’ve read it. And I can’t wait to film such a crazy script with the cast and crew next year!

In November

MR CLEAN got its 18th festival selection, and then I was finally able to talk about other feature projects, including MAGIC IS MURDER. After a conversation with Darwin, discussing frustrations in launching some more ambitious projects, Darwin and I discussed two potential low budget guerrilla projects, and I had fun breaking the story on one of them, called MURDER TOURS. And I pushed myself to rethink an old legacy project called LAST NITE IN SODOM for future pitches, and had some meetings around developing SVEN GUNNAR as a feature – especially when it won an award, in recognition of it being a proof-of-concept for a future feature in Cyprus, and to see it on the live stream.

GAS! got into another fest. And I made some progress cutting TUMBLE DYING, as the editing had gotten pushed back again. I managed to reduce 2hrs of raw footage down to 25 mins of good footage, in the edit.

And the world said “screw you Trump!” and we all hoped he’d just fuck-the-fuck-off and the World could relax for five minutes, after such a stressful election. Yet the MAGA’s somehow ended up believing in more conspiracies and Trump lies and live in denial that any of this happened. LOL. But I had been very active with some US filmmakers in trying to help do our bit.

And the month ended as I got interviewed by Darwin’s festival, for GAS! And after another chat with Darwin, where he was having trouble working on a new potential short, I came up with a very different take on it, inspired by a mental image of carnage and almost seeing the entire story in my mind right there and then; I just invented the characters and knocked it out in a day, and BLOOD MIST was born. This was a nice fusion of pantsing and plotting, that I think really paid off. And I’m excited to see that get filmed in 2021.

In December

Work was getting rather frenetic, and yet there was some good news. COMFORT HIM was a selection and finalist at another fest and GAS! got was a semi-Finalist in another fest. There was talk of some actual funding for one feature project… And as a massive package of work was delivered for the day job. As a result, seeing some time off in my future, I felt that I might finally be able to tackle TUMBLE DYING, finishing the edit, and finish breaking the story of SVEN GUNNAR the feature. But time was ticking and my energy was at an all time low. And depression set in.

All of that graft this year had come at a price. I was getting burnt out. I was spending every free minute working on SVEN GUNNAR the feature, and TUMBLE DYING. but it was hard to get through it. Some rest for Xmas was definitely needed and taken. I was now down to 14 mins of half of a rough cut, and it was slowly coming together (not bad down from 2hrs).

And then MR CLEAN appeared online in the STUff MF film festival – for it’s Mexican premiere, to close out the year.

[if you read all of that, you’re awesome! Go You! Phew! You nutter!]


So what about 2021?

As I’ve already been too long about it so far, I’ll try to keep it brief. My goals / wants are as follows:

  • Enjoy the release / festival run / screenings of LOVELY TO MEET YOU, MAI PIU, DESEO EQUIVOCADO, BLOOD MIST.
  • Finish TUMBLE DYING and get it out there and plan the next one.
  • Write SVEN GUNNAR the feature and help get the production off the ground for the following year.
  • Write MURDER TOURS and get that on the way, to help me pave the way for MR CLEAN the feature.
  • I have a silly mission to work on a feature film before I am 50, so I am really hoping that either MAGIC IS MURDER (to be shot in the UK) or MURDER TOURS (for either a Spanish or Swedish production) will happen next year, if not both.
  • Rather than spread myself so thin on courses etc, I am going to focus on one mega course for 2021, where I will resurrect and finish off one of my novels.
  • But I also really hope to do some more experimental video projects and focus more on cinematography / filmmaking.
  • But most of all, I really want to travel and see places and people again.
  • I want to be kinder to myself and more present / a better partner to Suss etc. But I’m also aware, that I’ve already crafted a huge wish list above that I need to own…

I also want everything to settle down after the US election, Brexit and let’s just get Covid off our backs for a bit…

Conclusion:

The year hasn’t been a complete shit show. I’ve achieved a lot, and had fun with collaborating and trying new things, although there are also associated stresses and strains that result from it, especially risk of getting burnt out. But I think a bit more balance might have been beneficial, to have more of a life and not just throw everything into work and try and kill yourself. I think Suss is a saint for putting up with me being so absent / stubborn.

I’m glad that Darwin and I cleared the air around some issues we had and have collaborated much better afterwards. And also that we’ve both been able to work with others on so many projects. It’s amazing and I’ve been very lucky to continue to work with the same talented team for multiple projects. It’s been great to see them all grow and tackle other bigger projects too, including some Netflix gigs for our actors and awards for the creatives. I really appreciate Hasse‘s patience, waiting for me to get TUMBLE DYING done, Simon‘s trust in me reworking his script, and hope to be able to find other successful collaborations. You do need to change things up from time to time, to grow and challenge yourself. But you also need to own it when stuff goes south and try to fix it if you can. Fingers crossed that can happen.

I think sticking to my goals will be key to achieve my end of these more ambitious projects we have planned. You have to leave room for other opportunities, but know when to say no and stick to what’s important to you.

I really appreciate all of the creative friendships I’ve forged in 2020, and all of those people who’ve stuck around to help or even just to follow the journey. And to those who’ve supported me through it, thank you!

Lastly, I really hope that we can step up to secure some proper funding so that we can pull off these future cinematic dreams and reward our team with some actual payment. So far, all of this has been achieved from sheer grit, determination, pure passion and unpaid and often very hard work. But let’s hope everyone can benefit from the fruits of 2021.

[Jeez! I’m finished! Honest! After all that, I guess that I’d better get busy…]


I wish all of you a much calmer and kinder 2021!

MR. CLEAN review #2

And we have review number 2 from Keri @ Warped Perspective: https://warped-perspective.com/index.php/2020/02/17/mr-clean-2020/?

A partial screengrab of review
Screengrab of part of the review

The short version is “it’s a successful and fun project which blends moments of gore with hints of ‘old god’ weirdness.” but do read the full review. 🙂

Warped Perspective on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram

Thanks again for the review! and Hopefully we’ll have a few more soon!

First review for MR. CLEAN!

We got out first review for MR CLEAN – and it’s good! Nice.

From “A Touch of Film” – Hus Seis: https://www.facebook.com/lee.bailes.writer/posts/2560615950931575?notif_id=1581846282491301&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic

“MR CLEAN, directed by Lee Bailes – a different take… a new flavour of horror… a twist with horror and guts on what we see is at first a very normal story, but what we later see is completely different… it goes from 0 – to 100 – of violence, and kicks off in a short amount of time. The movie is only 7 minutes long, but you see so much in this 7 minutes…’wow’! …I can’t wait for it to expand on this. It’s wonderfully shot, reminiscent of Misaki Kobayashi’s KWAIDAN, Whilst something so mundane has got a lot more going on in it…. The way the film is narrated is quite cool, seeing two sides to this story. The cinematography is really really slick. The gore effects are really cool. There’s going to be more to this series, and I can’t wait to see the rest of the series!” 

“A slick, cool short film with a lot going on!”  and “it makes you think twice, next you see a cleaner.”

It’s reassuring that our first review is positive and enthusiastic. I must also share that Hus isn’t the first person that wants to see more of MR CLEAN. And this makes us all (the entire team) very happy.

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?

(more…)

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.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 11.53.32

 

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.