Friday, April 30, 2010

Engine Revved

Next week, I'll be in Newcastle attending The Story Engine, a two-day workshop/discussion about the wonders and pitfalls of the screenwriting world. On Day 1, I'll be talking about script reading alongside Ludo Smolski from the Script Factory. I'll also be sharing the stage with Lisa Holdsworth & Gavin Williams (a Red Planet 2nd round finalist) to talk about how there's no guarantees with this writing lark but how to keep your mojo going.

On Day 2, I'll be involved with the short film discussion, and the pros and cons of short film schemes versus independent production. That's a neat way to send me home as I'll go straight from Newcastle to the online edit of Origin, my short film, to finally put it in the can. Here's a sneak peek of the film:

At the time of writing, there are 12 tickets left for The Story Engine, so get on over to the website if you fancy booking yourself in. They've got a great line-up, and Master Arnopp will also be there, moving and shaking with the best of them. For details of last year's Story Engine, check out Jason's run down HERE and his review of Lisa Holdsworth's pitching workshop HERE. Hopefully, I will see you THERE!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Script Reading Round-Up

Remember my '10 Steps to Become a Professional Screenwriter' series? Well, I've put them altogether so it reads like a quick booklet. You can download it directly from this link. Feel free to share. I've been getting a few enquiries lately about how to be a script reader, so I've rounded up the relevant posts towards the bottom of this piece, or you can download them (along with a couple of sample reports) in my script reading guide.

In my heyday as a studio reader, I was doing coverage on about 10 scripts a week, plus 2 or 3 books. My reading nowadays is more to do with script editing or consultancy, constructive feedback and/or collaboration rather than the sometimes curt and superior air of a studio reader's notes. (If you'd like me to read your script, please check my consultancy page.)

This blog started as a rundown of my experience as a script reader, and what the whole process is like. Here's a list of the relevant script reading posts (or download the Script Reading in the UK guide here):

Logline (August 2005): "On the first page of a reader’s report, there’s a section called the “logline” where the reader sums up the story in one or two sentences (preferably one). This is an essential part of the report, and indeed, a screenplay’s development." Read the full post here.

First Ten Pages (August 2005): "A reader/exec will automatically know from the script’s first 10 pages if it’s good or bad, regardless of what happens. But this will be evident from the first page, never mind trawling through ten of them." Read the full post here.

Script Reports (September 2005): The basic structure and approach to a script report. Read the full post here.

Script Reader UK (October 2005): "The role of a script reader is a thankless and anonymous task but every production company will tell you that they are vital to the submission pile and to some extent, the development process. Producers and development executives simply don’t have the time to read every script that comes in the door and they rely squarely on the reader’s report and recommendation." Read the full post here.

Script Reading Tips (October 2006): "Once you start reading for a few different companies, they sometimes give you their own criteria on how they like their reports, and what they expect to read. It’s all variations of the main topics, of course, but they’re usually good script reading tips nonetheless." Read the full post here.

Script Reading Commandments
(December 2006): "1. Thou Shalt Read The Script in Its Entirety - When you’re reading a poor script, your mind will naturally wander and your attention will stray so try to stay focused as you don’t want to miss any important plot detail that will impede your ability to write up a good synopsis later." Read the full post here.

Script Reading Realities (May 2007): "f you really want to know what it’s like, or simply want to improve your level of writing, then here’s what you do..." Read the full post here.

Script Reading in the UK: The Complete Guide. Preview/download here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Screen Lit & More

There's a TV & writing festival happening in Nottingham this month, so if you live in the area or just fancy going along, then it looks like it's well worth a visit. It's called Screen Lit, and all the details you could possibly want to know can be found on their website. There's even a Q&A with my ex-boss, Cheryl Taylor, who is now a BBC Comedy Queen, so you should definitely go along to that one, especially as Cheryl is possibly THE most loveliest of TV execs.

Over on Twitter, you may have seen me mention Butchers, one of the entrants in this year's RTE Storyland web series. It's written & directed by Brendan & Jason Butler, two talented scribes who won the Oscar Moore Prize in 2002 for their comedy script, Ton of Money. Since then, they've been burrowing their way through the system, more recently with their short film Tufty which is quite simply GENIUS. Butchers has been going well so far, with strong performances and snappy direction, so here's episode one to whet your appetite:

Also, the series is edited by my sister Berni, so if you don't watch and vote for Butchers, then that's it, I draw a line: you and me are DONE. So, watch, enjoy and VOTE NOW!

In my news, I'm in the middle of my second episode of Fair City (the Irish soap), which I'm enjoying a great deal. I'm still waiting for the final favour on Origin, my short film, but I'm hoping to pin down a time & date this month, and then it'll be ready to release into the world. In February, I finished writing an all-new one-hour sample script, which has me very excited. M'agent has already sent it out to various peeps so I hope I nab a few meetings at the very least. I can't rest on the satisfaction of finishing a new script, though. I've signed myself up to Script Frenzy to finish a script this month (actually, on Twitter, I said I'd try to finish TWO scripts: a feature and another TV spec) so, um, I better get cracking!

And if you haven't heard: yes, we will be relaunching the Red Planet Prize, this year in conjunction with Kudos Film & TV. Full details, coming soon!

Oh, and here's another one of Sam's Grime City PD comic strips, enjoy! (just click to enlarge)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Coming Soon: RPP III

It's been three years (!) since Tony Jordan and I launched the Red Planet Prize. It's a screenwriting competition like no other, and something I'm immensely proud to be a part of. There's been two winners so far - Joanna Leigh & Mark Wilkinson - and they've enjoyed the fantastic prize: £5k, agent representation and their scripts developed by Red Planet. It's not all about the winners though, as several other writers have enjoyed mentoring and opportunities via the great guvnor himself, Mr Jordan. Naysayers be damned, the RPP is a genuine initiative to find and nurture new writers. There's no submission fee, no strings and no guff. All you need is good writing to apply.

Last year we took a bit of a break to take stock on how the competition was going, and what could be done to improve it. As a result, we'll be relaunching the Prize soon, this time in conjunction with the mighty Kudos Film & TV, which makes it double exciting.

Rest assured, as soon as the details are available, I'll put the shout about. So, if you're thinking of sending in a sizzling spec but haven't got round to writing it yet, then now's a good time to start (the regular set-up may change this year but as I say, as soon as details are finalised, I'll post 'em here). If you need any more motivation, then head on over to Script Frenzy and commit yourself to write a script this month. Do it. Do it now. You know it makes sense.