It’s been a strange, stressful and very long week. But one where it was great to learn that my WWI Short Script GAS! made it into the Quarter Finals of Fresh Voices screenplay competition. Nice. That made up for the rest of the drama and stress.
Also, it’s been fun! Each evening, the whole week, I’ve been doing a course by Lucy V Hay of Bang2Write fame, called SUBMISSION SECRETS, re helping creatives master the tricky art of presenting themselves and their creations in the best light to prospective publishers and production companies, with a view to getting work published / commissioned – like creating a creative resume, query email, one-pager or synopsis etc. It’s been very useful and nicely complements two other courses I did at the end of last year, which were also geared around different parts of the same process. And it’s also been good to meet with the same creative peeps, and network a little online this week and find out that everyone pretty much feels the same out there. You – as a creative entity – are not alone! And I’m hoping that the course will come in very handy, in the near future, when we look to secure funding for SVEN GUNNAR the feature and MURDER TOURS.
But now I need to decide if I am going to give GAS! a little polish and pay to resubmit it to Fresh Voices????
I was very happy to see this week that GAS! – my WWI short horror screenplay was selected to and placed in the Semis at the NiagaraFallsIndieFestival. This was great news. Competition was apparently fierce, with well over 1000 entrants. So I’m happy that it placed. And it’s looking quite nice with a full row of laurels. Hopefully a few more to add before its festival run is done.
It’s a further reassurance, that although not perfect, it was good enough to submit to festivals and shouldn’t be left sitting in a drawer, forgotten. And with two other recent rejections, that came with excellent feedback, I know exactly which areas I should focus on for polishing it even further.
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:
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?
The festival is on from the 9th to the 13th November, Barcelona, Spain.
It’s great that the script is doing well on its festival circuit. And thank you to L’HIFF for this great honour. Thanks again also to Karen Keslen’s fantastic art work and tireless work updating the posters.