Monday, November 21, 2005

Now I'm banned from joining the police

I'm not sure if anyone knows this, but if I wrote out a long list of jobs I'd like to do, Police would be at the top. Of course pro-monkey or director would be really at the top, but I'm listing jobs I could sign up for tomorrow.

The problem is I can't afford to. I have a mortgage and bills to pay, and the police don't pay as well as my current job. If it wasn't for that I'd join tomorrow.

My wife has always been against the idea, but now that WPC was killed in Bradford I'm officially banned. It's a bit freaky seeing it all on the news. I went to university in Bradford (and still live there'ish), and know the area well. In my student days, I would pass the place where it happened at least half a dozen times a day. One of my favourite night clubs is about 30 yards away (ahh Pickwicks, fun memories), and my best friend lived about 10 yards from where the woman was shot. I heard on the travel news all the streets that had been closed off and they have closed a strip of the area about 1/4 to 1/2 a mile wide (morley street, great horton road, and little horton lane are all closed at the bottom for those who know the area).

I'm not exactly shocked, I just find it a little wired that places I knew in every day life in dull old Bradford were constantly on the news for about 36 hours solid.

I did find a number of comments shocking. One community leader said he was shocked that there was an incident of gun crime in the area, and said it has never happened before, that it was a totally safe area, and that every one gets along. HA! UTTER CRAP.

Now, it has been a while since I've frequented the area, so things may have changed, but I know of numerous incidents involving guns. If I had a pound for every time I had the phrase "White bastard!" shouted at me by local youths, I wouldn't still be paying off student debt. People say that that is just the younger generation, however there was always adults in view most of the time (often the parents of those doing the shouting), and not a thing was done. One of the favourite past-times of the local youth was to go "Student bashing", late at night. I has a chuckle when they tried it on a friend who was rather good at martial arts (can't remember which one).

Anyway, that turned into a bit of a rant, but in short, I'm not shocked like that community leader was, I just find it wired to see my old stomping ground on the news. And now I'm not allowed to join the police :(

Monday, November 14, 2005

Not sure what to do

I'm a bit stuck.

Things are starting to settle down after the house move, and the only boxes left to unpack are full of the stuff we never use but don't want to throw out. They should probably stay packed and stored in the loft. As a result I am now starting to think about writing again.

I have draft number two of Good Guys about ten pages in, but I'm thining of putting that one on hold. My problem is lack of complete drafts (Good Guys is the only one). I have the horror idea and the romance idea in the front of my mind at the moment (and about six others archived), and I'm thinking of getting first drafts of those out of the way before I complete draft two of Good Guys. I feel that I will learn more at the moment by writing more complete drafts than a rewrite. That way I'm hoping draft two of Good Guys will be that much better.

Do I plod on with Good Guys, or do I get more complete drafts under my belt? I'm leaning towards the latter at the moment, but I'm still unsure.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I have an idea for a horror script!

Now, anyone who knows me will think that a bit strange. I've never gone for horror films. I remember watching The Amityville Horror when I was about 8 or 9 at a friends house after school when his parents were out and thinking "what's all the fuss about". Ever since then they really haven't appealed to me.

I've watched "sort of horror" movies, Resident Evil (an action film), Shaun of the Dead (comedy), Scream and I know what you did last summer (not sure how to categorise them), but I've never been a true fan.

I saw a trailer for The Grudge (I think, the one with Buffy in it), where there is that CCTV footage and I remember shitting my pants, so I doubt I'm ready to be a hard core fan. Anyway back to the horror idea.

Forgive me for making assumptions, but I've always thought of horror films as no-brainers (hold the flames, I'll correct myself), but after reading several screenwriting blogs on the subject, it would seem they may be the hardest to genre to write. With that in mind I could dive into the script and write 90 to 120 pages of what I thought was horror and totally miss the point, hence the following request: Educate me!

Keeping in mind that I'm a horror novice (so I want nothing too OTT), could you please list some good genre introductory titles that show all the good points that a horror film should have. Nothing too obscure, just titles that are simple and have all the basics.

I will watch them, try to find the screenplays, and see how my idea fits the mould, and try to take it from there.

The good thing is the ideas are still flowing while I've been out of writing mode. I've had a great idea for a romance that has never been done before (at least not that I've seen). I need to get the outline for that one done ASAP.



Friday, November 04, 2005

I've finally moved!

I've finally done it.

I thought it would never happen, but we're in the new house.

Posting will still be light as we have a garage full of boxes to unpack, plus the cable guy couldn't finish the installation and I have no idea when he will be back (must make a phone call about that).

With a bit of luck service will be back to normal in another week, but for now I'll leave you with this:

Year 1981
1. Prince Charles got married
2. Liverpool crowned Champions of Europe
3. Australia lost the Ashes
4. Pope Died

Year 2005
1. Prince Charles got married
2. Liverpool crowned Champions of Europe
3. Australia lost the Ashes
4. Pope Died

In future, if Prince Charles decides to re-marry and Liverpool wins another
European championship.... please warn the Pope :o) ...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Draft number 2

I've started the re-write (the bit where I actually write as opposed to scribbling on the first draft with red pen)… and then stopped now we have a moving date.

Pretty drastic stuff. I moved the cursor to around page 20 and held down the delete key. I've got the first 10 pages done, but the rest will have to wait until we have moved. I'm still trying to work out if leaving the love interest in there will add value. I'm erring on the side of "no" at the moment so it will be dropped, but that no only has a value of around 85%, so it may be put back in.

Anyway, I'll try to keep up the posting over the next four or five days, but with the move I can't promise anything.



Tuesday, October 25, 2005


We have finally exchanged contracts on the house move! It is fantastic to feel stress evapourate in under a second.

Now I have to work out how I am going to fit our stuff into the back of a long wheel based transit van. I'm lucky to have a friend's house to use as storage while she is out of the country.

I now need to buy packing tape. To the shop!

Monday, October 24, 2005

I can't fail!

I've got the next big disaster movie!

It's all about this guy called Chris who is desperate to move house, but it just keeps going wrong. He's been told he will be moving on the 1st November, but with so many dates given to him up to this point, he has been driven a little crazy by it all. He decides to accept the new moving date and pushes on with hilarious consequences.

I have no ending for it yet, but I'll have one next Tuesday (I'd better have or someone will hear about it!)

Do you think it will sell?

One shoddy draft and I'm handing out advice!

After a pointer from Warren at The Screenwriting Life I read the first column on Word Player. Here it is/

The important bit is half way down titled: The Warner Bros. Hallway Test. Read it!

Forget subplot, witty dialog and all the rest (for now at least), and work out what your story is about. When you have done that, you can work your art.

After reading the column I wondered about my Good Guys first draft. If I had no knowledge of the story, and stopped after reading the first 40 pages, would I be able to say what the story was about?

No! Not really.

Now my script notes make even more sense!

I always knew what the story was about, but when I approached my script I kind of gave it some artistic license and went off telling the story in my own way. I knew the beats and put them in, but I left the most important bit out of the writing process. The planning! I just let the story wander up to each beat at its own pace. I did write an outline showing all the beats, but didn't make any notes as to the pace of the story.

So my advice (Ha! like I'm qualified to give any) is this:

Work out what your story is about and work out its main beats. Then draw out a little time line chart (on paper or in your head), showing pages rather than minutes, and write down where each beat must happen. Then apply all your witty dialog and clever writing crap around that.

A few months ago I would have dismissed that advice, but I'll listen to myself and I've time lined draft number two in my head already.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

One or two things I've found out

I've learned some new things today, nothing too amazing, but they raised an eyebrow or two:

[1] People I didn't know where out there actually link to me (well one does for sure). I was looking at some of the things blogpatrol tells me about visitors, and one titbit is the url people visit from. I started checking them out and came across The Rabbit Trail and saw a link to my blog!

If anyone out there links to me then let me know. I have a list of blogs that I read and if I know you are out there and reading mine, I will stop by and read yours (although the bigger the list the less frequent that will be).

[2] My blog is listed on blog shares. I never knew. So I created an account and bought 900 of me right away :) That drove up the value from 0.54 blog dollars a share, to 0.73!

I bought a few Danny Stack and then found I'd ran out of blog dollars :(

Come on people! Create and account and buy some of me while I'm cheap!

Major surgery

As I said in my last post, I've attacked my first draft of 'Good Guys' with my script notes and a red pen (actually it's technically a second draft, as number one was that Dukes of Hazzard type thing).

The number of scenes I've dropped, which while frightening, is probably a good thing as I need to merge the first two acts into one. I've taken out a plot line that introduced some tension between the main characters, and that took up the lion's share of the cut scenes. Doing so involves dropping a love interest thing that one of the main characters has. I was tempted to leave the love interest in, but I don't want one simply for the sake of it. Too many scripts do that.

While the beats of the story remain the same, this new draft is going to be a major one that probably will touch 75% of the scenes (if not more). When I think of it like that, the rewrite is a little daunting. I'm tempted to set a deadline, but with moving house I don't think that's a good idea. I'm probably just going to say that by next Wednesday, I'll want to have gone over the current draft a second time, and at least wrote a detailed outline of the new draft. I think the new outline is a must and I have to resist the urge to dive in and hack up the current draft without a detailed plan. If I just dive in, I may do more damage than good.

Onward! To the next draft!

Oh, by the way, if you write a script with Final Draft, does that mean you don’t need to do rewrites? :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A new hope

Nothing to do with Star Wars.

Danny Stack has already blogged about this guy, but I'm going to jump onto this band wagon.

James Moran has been blogging for a few years now. I've read the archives and I must say I have been given an extra boost of motivation.

Life is hard for a spec monkey, even harder for one not living in LA, and even harder again for one outside of the USA. James's blog chronicles the struggle of someone with a spec script, a TV script and a day job, who want to make it as a screenwriter. Sound familiar? Like you and I perhaps? Well this guy went out and sold that spec script! The film is out in 2006.

Now, sod waiting until I've moved house for the second draft, I'm motivated I am. I have some beer, my script notes, a red pen, and my first draft. Time to get stuck in.

I could go on telling you about his blog, but why don't you head on over there and read for yourself.

HEY! WAIT! After you have read mine that is ;)

How embarrassing (for her) :)

Went to a wedding over the weekend and at two days before my daughters third birthday, I was already cramping her style.

As the evening do started, Anna-Louise and a few other kids were running around on the dance floor having fun. Then all the other kids cleared off and left her there by herself. I felt sorry for her as she stood there looking a bit down, so I went over to have a dance with her.

She promptly took me by the hand, marched me over to where we were sitting, sat me down and shouted "No! You have to stay here", and then went back to the dance floor and ran around by herself. I tried again but got the same response!

I knew I would eventually cramp her style, but I thought it wouldn't be until she was about seven.

Oh well :)

Monday, October 17, 2005

The verdict is in!

I have my script notes from Scott the Reader, and I can say that I recommend his service to anyone:

Check his crazy offer out here.

Although I have nothing to compare his service to, I found he was very prompt. I sent him the script on Monday and had the notes on Friday (3 pages of A4). I thought that was quite good given the time difference between us. Ok, advert over ;)

What was the outcome? Well, he thinks there is a commercial film lurking in the material (fantastic), and that I'm not a bad writer (phew, although there is a world between not being a bad writer, and being a good one), however the script needs *lots* of work.

I have to say that it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. There was an issue with an aspect of the relationship between the main characters. I was aware of this, but left it in 'to see' rather than take it out, mainly because I had spent time on it. Scott confirmed what I thought and I'll drop it from the second draft.

The main issues (and after reading the notes I agree with them), will take a big chunk out of the first draft. I need to merge and compress acts one and two, and come up with a new act two. I also need to give a lot of work to the villains to make the story more believable. There are lots of other things, but I think these two are the 'biggies' so to speak.

I'm happy I was able to stand what he had to say. Even though he wasn't harsh at all, I was afraid I would have a "How dare he!" attitude. It seems I can take constructive criticism after all :)

You know, I think this script make it to a second draft :)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Quiet Time

Hello all,

Just a warning that I doubt the next few days will see a post.

I'm off to another wedding this evening, and won't be back until Saturday evening.

I have to look after our daughter while the night doo is underway, so I may take the laptop along and start on my next master piece (or try to save one of my stalled efforts).

Oh yeah; still no news on the house move :(

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sky News : Britain Faces Coldest Winter In A Decade

Saw this on Sky news:

Sky News : Britain Faces Coldest Winter In A Decade

Now don't get me wrong, as I'm sure these people know a little more about the subject than I do, but they have trouble making a five day forcast and often get it wrong. How on earth can they make a two to three month forcast?

They probably wrote a list of possible weather conditions, closed their eyes, and stuck a pin in it!

Now watch me sitting at home freezing my ass off this winter because the office has no power :)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Real world comments

Oh well, there goes nothing…

After finishing the first draft of Good Guys and getting a rave review from my wife (probably through rose tinted glasses), I decided to find out if I have at least got a foundation upon which to build any chance of making it as a screenwriter. Therefore I've taken Scott the Reader up on his offer: $60 for script notes, 3 - 5 pages. No way can I afford the hundreds of dollars other people charge, so I was glad when I saw his offer.

He promises to "tear my baby apart", and while that sounds awful, if I want to make it my work needs to be torn apart so I can see what needs to be put right.

I'll wait to see just how he rips it up and have MMS and fingers ready for the re-write.

I'll let you know how Good Guys fairs after I read what he has to say and stoped crying :)



Clever Writing

I watched Primary Colours for the first time yesterday and saw a simple but clever bit of writing that tied the whole story into a seamless circle. There was a character speaking O.C. over a close-up of some handshaking. The character was explaining the body language that was going on, and I missed most of what was said because I was eating a rather loud packet of crisps at the time. I watched the whole film (and enjoyed it), and at the end the new president shook the hand of the campaign head. I then thought "Ah, we've just learned the real relationship between those characters". Then "Shit, I have no idea what it is", because I missed the V.O. at the start. I had to go back and listen to it to find out.

Now, I thought that was a nice piece of writing. Given what was said a the start, the handshake at the end gave us a whole underlying subplot to the story that didn't exist up to that point. I don't know if that equates to good writing, but I really enjoyed the film even more because of that little scene at the start and that little scene at the end.

Perhaps everyone else thinks the film was crap, but it entertained me :)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Let me try

Ok, so I've seen:

Snakes on a Plane
Alligators in a Helicopter
Velociraptors on the Space Shuttle

So I thought I'd have a go:

Tarantulas in a Submarine (© Christopher Parr 06 October 2005)

I'll have to see if I can turn that into a screenplay.

What's that I hear you say? Well I know, but all the good ones are gone :)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Paranoia sets in

Ok, I've read Good Guy's from start to finish now and although it did come out with some red pen on it, I haven't dropped any scenes of felt the need to add any. I am going to go through it tonight and write how each scene moves the story along. If nothing can be written then I'll drop it.

Now, about the paranoia thing:

Not that I've sat on my script with a shotgun or anything like that, but now I have a complete script I was thinking of registering it. There are two places I have looked in to: 1) The WCA - UK and of course 2) the good old WGA.

Should I bother registering with both?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I think I'm happy with it

Just a quick post to say that I've managed to read Good Guys through from start to finish.

I'm quite happy to say that it read quite well. I was a bit worried that I'd let the characters lapse in a quest to get the story out, but it turns out that isn't true.

I'm going to action all the notes I scribbled as I read it and then I'll put it away until I've got another complete screenplay under my belt. Then I'll see if it is still any good :)

Now I have to decide if I should try to rescue 3500 Miles from New York (a rom without the com), or start work on my war/action/drama idea. The latter will be a real challenge, while although the former is my very first screenplay idea, roughly 30 pages complete, and the one I really want to see finished, I'm not sure if the story is strong enough.

I'll decide on Saturday and dive in.



Monday, October 03, 2005


I've finished!

Well, at 23:11 last night I typed 'FADE TO BLACK'. As predicted I finished two days after my original deadline, and it came in bang on 110 pages. I haven't read from start to finish yet, as after a quick spell check, the laptop was screaming at me saying the battery was going to give up in two minutes. I saved the script (about ten times just in case), and went to sleep happy. I've now printed it out and will attack it with a red pen this lunch time.

I'm a bit worried that I resorted to getting the story out and neglected the characters personalities a little. Compared to the first thirty pages I rattled the rest off pretty quick. I'll know for sure when I've read the whole thing. Then starts the tweaking and re-writing. After that I may even call it a first draft :)

I've really enjoyed this project so far. I've been writing screenplays on and off for about two years now, however all my efforts so far have stalled. I'm so glad I've seen this one through to a complete script.

I'll let you know how it reads when I've finished scribbling over it with my red pen.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Nearly there!

The end is in sight! I can see it!

I've written my false ending I spoke about in the last post, and I've started the final sequence of scenes. I'm not actually sure it is a false ending now I have written it, perhaps it was just the eye of act three's storm. I'll know for sure when I have finished, and see how the whole thing reads from start to finish for the first time.

Like I said above, I've just started the final sequence and that came in at page 96. I've still got around 10 to go (maybe 15 but I don't want to kill the flow), so I really want to push and finish tonight. Problem is a friend is off to Oz for three months, and we are having a mini send off. I guess I'll have a late night :)

Does anyone in the UK here know where to get hold of brads and a three-hole hole punch (that handles letter size paper)? A screenplay competition I have seen insists on three holes and brads (and letter paper as opposed to A4, but I can probably get that from staples).

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Ok, only one act three

I guess false ending is a good label for what I have rather than another act three.

I was making script notes all over the place in MMS to constantly remind myself that I shouldn't put my twist (if that's what we are calling it) in too much of a lull at what appears to be the end. I want it to be at a place where things are winding down, and the resolution of everything is about an inch in front of the characters faces. Then I'll pull out the rug :) I figure if I leave it until things actually are resolved, the flow of the script will stall and I'll be shooting myself in the foot. Let the characters see the rope that will get them out of the hole, only to have it yanked away from them as they reach up for it.

I really enjoyed last nights writing. Went to bed early and typed away until the laptop told me to save what I was doing right away, as the battery was about to gave up its last bit of power. What I wrote positively flew off the keyboard.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

One act three, and then another

Ok, I'm into act three now and it turns out I actually have two of them.

I have the one resolution to the story which the characters achieve, and then when they think everything's fine, it all goes pear shaped and then the second act three comes in.

I know it sounds silly to say I have two act threes, but I've never heard of that classic 'four act structure'. Then again, I've never attended any screenwriting classes, and I put Syd Field down before I slit my wrists (yes I found it dull, dull, dull. You can flame me later). I wouldn't say this is even a twist to a larger act three, there are two distinct acts here.

Saying all of that, I'm not strictly searching for that classic three act solution. I'm just writing my story. We'll see if it is works out when I've typed 'FADE OUT'.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Aw crap!

Now I'm not moving house!

Well not yet ;(

The people we are buying from still need some documentation from the people they are buying from before we can continue.

It seems I am now in a waiting game :|

I'm moving house!

Hello All,

Just a heads-up to say that posting may be a little thin on the ground over the next week and a half. I'm moving house next Thursday which means I have the family possessions to put into boxes. That along with my self imposed deadline of this weekend for finishing 'Good Guys', doesn't leave much time for posting. Even the screenplay may suffer with the amount of packing still to do.

Anyway, I'll do my best to write and blog and I'll just see how it goes.



Monday, September 26, 2005

The Phone Call

Ok, I've polished up the phone call scene. I know the formatting is going to go to hell when I paste it here, so please forgive that.

Comments on the structure???



Agents Mathews and Jones sit at a workstation in the cramped van going over a printout, when a mobile phone rings.

Pass me my phone will you.

Jones reaches over for it and passes it over. Mathews presses a button to take the call.

Mathews here.


Hey asshole!


Who is this?

This is Owen.

Mathews gives Jones a nod and mouths the words "the deli". Jones returns an understanding smile.

Owen who?


You know fine well who the hell I am.

Ok, what can I do for you?

What the hell are you playing at?

What do you mean?

Cut the crap, you know exactly what I mean. You contacted our insurance company and told them about the whole situation.


I contacted no one. I was outside the deli when the insurance inspector showed up. We chatted, I told him who I was, and it must have just slipped out.

You total prick! Why would you do that? Now they won't pay out.

Now you just listen here, you'd better remember who you are talking to.


Owen's eyes nearly pop out of his head.

Are you serious? You think I should respect you? Why don't you come and see me without that badge, then we'll see if I should respect you or not!

Now you just grow up a bit. You've had ample opportunity to talk to me but you didn't take it...


...I've broken no law, in fact I've stopped you from making a claim when you are in breach of a clause of your insurance. That's insurance fraud buddy!

I tell you, if you were in front of me right now...

AGENT MATHEWS'd do what? Listen, you want to talk about the Salvucci's, then we'll try to work something out, but until then...


The line goes dead. Mathews looks up at Jones with a grin on his face.

Well, that went well. they don't have much of a choice now, they'll have to cooperate.


Owen turns away from the phone and takes a relaxing deep breath.

A little help

Ok, the weekend at home without my wife went well screenplay wise, and 'keep my daughter happy' wise. I didn't make as much progress as I hoped, but I got some important scenes out of the way.

I have got a couple of points I would like the screenwriters who read this to help me out with (I think there may even be two of you!).

(1) The first is a phone call. I've just realised I've never written a phone call scene. Could someone point me to a good example of how I should format a phone call where the visual cuts constantly between two locations. I'll search the net today myself, but good pointers are always welcome.

(2) The second is a bit more important. I've got this scene that deals with a very important underlying issue in the story, where the two main characters pave the way for the resolution of a big wedge that has come between them. The problem is that the dialogue has run to five full pages, and that's after I thinned it out some. What is said between the two of them has to be said. Is five pages like that acceptable or should I scrap the scene and try again?

Anyway, apart from that I'm really happy with what I've got so far. I ran what I've written up to now past a friend. Now I have her and my wife wanting to know when I'll let them see the rest, so it can't be that bad. If you look at a previous post, I think I gave myself to this coming Friday to get it finished. I may need the Saturday and Sunday after that, but that's close enough for me. It will probably end up around 110 pages.

If I finish when I think I will, I'll be totally amazed! I'll have taken the screenplay from nothing to my 'Dukes of Hazzard 2' version, scrapped it and re-written a new outline, and now I've got the finish line in sight, and all in a fraction over a month. I don't think that's at all bad when I've got a wife, kid and a day job :) I've got many failed efforts on my hard drive from the past. Too bad I wasn't as motivated back then (I think it helps that my wife is behind me this time).

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Home stretch?

Phew, I'm finally there :)

If finally at the point in my story where the build-up to the finale starts (not that all of my script shouldn't be that, but I'm sure you know what I mean).

I feel like I'm on the home stretch now. This is the point in the story where the various plot threads start to point themselves fully at act three, and although there aren't millions of them, I hope I've included enough to please any readers (time will tell).

Also my wife is going away for a friends hen night this weekend, so come seven at night when my daughter goes to bed, there will be no TV to distract me, and I should be able to roll off at least three hours writing. I would do more but our daughter doesn't really sleep past six am, so I don't seem to do late nights any more.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Scenes that do nothing for the story.

I've filled in one of the gaps talked about in my last post with a montage that enforces one of the plot threads. I think with that montage, the sudden transition in time doesn't seem so harsh (I've never used a montage before and still need to check on the correct format).

What I was trying to avoid is what I saw in the third (and possibly the second - can't remember) matrix film. What I saw there was:

1) A bunch of scenes (mostly action aimed at showing off special effects).
2) The story then seemed to stop while there was a ton of dialog to explain what was going on.
3) A bunch of scenes (mostly action aimed at showing off special effects).
4) The story then seemed to stop while there was a ton of dialog to explain what was going on.
5) etc…

…repeated up to the end of the film. To learn the story we were told it verbally by the characters. I loved the first matrix film, but was appalled by the bad writing in the second and third. Anyone trying to break into this business could never get away with writing like that, so I have no idea why pro's should be able to (I have a soap box about that I'll save for another post).

I feel that every scene I write has to move the story along. As an analysis tool, I intend to look at every scene in the script and write down how it moves the story along. If I can't write anything about the scene, it will go.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How's the deadline going?

Well, so far so good. I managed to get five pages rattled off last night, and I'll probably do another three or four in what remains of my lunch hour.

If I keep that pace up I should easily finish in time.

I've managed to get MMS working on my machine at work, which is great as I can now haul my script around on my memory stick, rather than hauling my laptop to work with me.

My main problem is that I need an important scene that will happen about a week from the current point in the story, and a week before the main event. I need to fill that week either side of the scene in with something more than 'scenes for the sake of them'. I really don't want to compromise the story with scenes that don't move it along. I need to invent some more plot threads.

Monday, September 19, 2005

My word! I think I've done it!

Thank God for that!

I've finally dragged my screenplay kicking and screaming into act two (after I don't know how many attempts), and the story still has no holes in it. Phew!

Sorry about the lack of posting, but I've been on a bit of a roll with the script and I wanted to keep it up. Oh, and I've managed to change the title from 'Untitled 4' to "Good Guys".

My plan is for this week to drag it kicking and screaming to the end of act two, and to have the first draft done and dusted by next Friday. That leaves just under two weeks. Got to keep that momentum up :) The only thing that gets in the way at the moment is the day job. After reading what I had so far, my wife was impressed and has given me the all clear to have an hour or so a day on my own to get this done.

I know family and friends aren't always the most objective endorsement of work, but it certainly made me happy that she thought it was good :)



Thursday, September 15, 2005

My lesson to newbies

Just read something on Danny Stack's blog that has hit me between the eyes like a brick.

I think I've over-educated myself with regards to scriptwriting. I'm sure people who read my first full length script will disagree, but as a newbie I think I've educated myself too much in a subject I have no 'show-me-the-money' experience in.

I made a comment on his blog that I get sick of reading scripts I have downloaded from Zoetrope that are full of what I know shouldn't be in a spec script. But hold on a minute! I'm reading complete scripts! A story has been told from start to finish. Forget about all the crap that is wrong with the script, it is a complete script.

I think my problem is that because I'm aware of what I should avoid, I get hung up on trying to avoid it, not to mention the countless re-writes making sure my first ten pages are spot on. Ultimately, because of this my efforts seem to stall.

If at the start I'd just jumped in feet first, I'd probably have the majority of my ideas finished and be in the process of putting them right after receiving a bashing on Zoetrope.

If anyone reading this is just starting out and this is their first day of research into scriptwriting: TAKE NOTE OF WHAT I'VE WRITTEN ABOVE!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Should I have driven past?

On the way to work today I passed a petrol station with a long line of cars. I was going to join in but I thought "I've got 3/4 of a tank left, I can't be bothered". It was a fact that with the last protests, it was the panic buying that made the country run out of fuel. If everyone had kept to their normal buying habits, there would have been enough to go round in most parts of the country.

Half of me is wanting to run out. At least that way I can work from home :)

It won't be too much of a problem for me soon. As part of a drive to keep fit I am going to buy a bike to travel to work on (I hope I can keep it up). I'm moving house in 3 or 4 weeks (fingers crossed) and there will be somewhere to keep on at the new place.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Why do I do it?

Just wondering what actually got you into writing screenplays?

I was thinking about this the other day from the 'why am I bothering' point of view. If I started this for the big six figure sale then I may as well give up now. But that wasn't why. I guess at the end of the day I just want to tell a story.

If I think of the times when I am most inspired to write, they always seem to be after I have seen a good film at the cinema. I don't think the film has to be that great, but if the ending is good then I want to go home and write. I guess when I see the point in a film where all the threads come together (especially when it's a 'feel good' ending), I am inspired to go home and add that clarity to my story.

At the end of the day I think that's why a visit to the cinema has turned into what I call my 'chill thing'. Everyone should have one thing they do to really chill out and empty their mind of everything else. Mine is an early morning visit to the cinema. At my local cinema the showings usually start at 11am. If I go then I usually have the movie to myself and I forget about everything, loosing myself to the story. A problem occurs if it is a really bad movie because it really winds me up when I see on the screen things that a newbie could never get away with in a story, and then I am anything but 'chilled'. I have a soap box about bad films but I'll spare you and save that for another post.



Friday, September 09, 2005

Act one to act two transition

I'm at that wobbly point in a script when I'm transiting from act one to act two.

I've already had a few attempts at it and I'm still not happy with the results. Bang goes my plan to simply get it all down on paper in one attempt, and worry about stuff like this later. Oh well, I'm full of good intentions ;)

My problem is that the unresolved thread I'm leaving dangling for acts two and three, doesn't seem juicy enough. Either that or I haven't got the right number of minor threads. Either way, writing this full steam right through to the end would produce something short of mediocre that would require more than major surgery to fix, so I thought I'd better get this sorted out now.

All that aside I still think it's still my best idea to date. I've also came up with an idea for a short that I could do myself with a digital video camera or two plus about three actors. When I have my current screenplay complete in draft one format I may sniff around the local area looking for people to team up with to get the short made. I doubt there will be any value in doing that, but at least I'll be able to say I've had something produced, even if I did do it myself :P

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I said something had to happen

Read a BBC news article reporting that the people who organised the last fuel protests have arranged for all refineries to be blockaded on September 14 if the price of fuel goes up any further.

I'm not sure if that will have the same effect as the 2002 protests as I think the army trained about 1000 soldiers to be HGV drivers so deliveries could continue in a situation like this.

I may full up on the 13th just to be on the safe side. Then again I could forget and be unable to make it into work if fuel shortages hit :)

I'll write it later........ honest

It really is so easy to let the momentum slip.

I was away last weekend and ill when I got back and I haven't written a thing since. When you get back in the house after a day's work, it is almost too easy to sit on the couch in front of the telly and think about your screenplay rather than actually writing it.

Oh yeah, here's a tip: Don't go out and buy a PSP like I did. Don't get me wrong, they are fantastic little gadgets, but they are one more thing to do before you write that next scene (or even blog post).

So, on that note, I'll give myself a kick up the backside and write a few pages during my lunch hour. To make sure I do, I've resisted the temptation to bring my PSP to work ;)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

How Much?

Ok, just drove past 3 petrol stations near my house and the price of diesel is 96.9 pence per litre!

My American readers work in gallons so I'll translate:

1 gallon = 3.8 litres
96.9 * 3.8 = £3.68 per gallon

A qick browse of BBC news business section to get the latest exchange rates gives £1 = $1.84

£3.68 * 1.84 = $6.77 per gallon!

Things can't go on like this without something happening.

FYI: Diesel doesn't actually cost that much, 76% of that £3.68 is tax :(

Friday, September 02, 2005

Next few days

I think posts are going to be thin on the ground over the next few days. I'm I'll but I have to be at work for a training course.

It happens I suppose :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

REVIEW: The Dukes of Hazzard (3.5/5)

Sorry for the gap in posting. I'm back from the long weekend and I've been to the cinema, so I thought I'd get back into it with a review.

When I was a kid growing up, the Dukes of Hazzard was a regular part of my Sunday afternoon at my grandparents, slotted in right after Sunday dinner and right before CHiPS. I am watching the reruns of the original series at the moment, so I wasn't too sure what to expect out of a remake.

Now, if you know anything of the originals, you're not going to be expecting any deep and meaningful, Oscar wannabe epic thriller are you? Are you? Good.

This is the type of movie you should go to see when you want to watch something you don't have to think too much about. If you don't take it too seriously then I don't think you will be disappointed. It's fun, corny and a few cars get to look very second hand indeed. This is a good old 'stop the bad guy before the clock ticks twelve' type of movie.

How close to the original?

Depends on how you look at it. The story would fit in fine if you shortened it a bit and slotted it right in the middle of series one with the original cast (apart from the fact that at one point Bo and Luke end up a long way from Hazzard). The characters? I'm not so sure:

Roscoe wasn't much good to me. He seemed to be the tough arm of the law, as opposed to the thick sheriff. Then when in front of Boss Hogg, he seemed just to have no character at all.

Boss Hogg was about as good as he could be I suppose. I doubt anyone could replicate the original character.

Enos was his good old bumbling self, although the original character was that in a simple innocent way, rather than in a 'thick as two short planks' way like in the movie.

Jessie Nothing much to say. Spot on.

Daisy's character was also about right (I'm shocked to say).

Bo and Luke were good but they are probably the ones that differ most from the original. In the original even though funny things would happen to them, I thought they had a serious side to them. In the movie I found them a bit 'slapstick'.

The General LeeIt got bent, scratched, smashed up, rolled and jumped, but they did have 13 of the things to play with ;)

All in all a good movie. The characters may differ slightly, but the typical Hazzard storyline compensates for that. 3.5/5

Friday, August 26, 2005


Hello all,

I won't be posting for the next day or so as I'm off up to Cumbria for my sister's wedding. I'll be back Saturday night, but I doubt I'll have the energy to open up my laptop yet alone post.



The homosexual heterosexuals

This is something I came across while watching Shaun of the Dead and I'm trying to work it into my current screenplay. When I say came across, I mean it's the first time I noticed it as a writing tool.

Take two friends, say in their thirties, that have been together since school. Total opposites in character, one is a total asshole (we will call him Bob) and the other is the typical 'nice guy' (we will call him Fred). Whatever Bob does, be it pissing the whole world off, or causing trouble and leaving Fred to take the rap, Fred will always forgive him without a second thought. This instantly causes conflict in Fred's life as he is likable and a great friend to everyone, but Bob always stresses any friendships that exist. To get on with his other friends, Fred must harm his bond with Bob, but to get on with Bob he must harm his Friends when he defends him.

Fred will always defend Bob against people he has annoyed, in fact he will protect him if a situation arose. There is some sort of deeper love here than simple friendship, some special type of love. On the flip side these two are as heterosexual as you can get, Bob will go after anything with breasts, while Fred is always after 'the one'.

They love each other in some deep way, but are terrified (in fact sickened) by the thought of love with another man: The homosexual heterosexuals.

I know there are many other films where I have seen this work, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. Actually there's that sort of relationship in a film called Combat Academy. I'm not going to watch it again to examine this for further ideas as I'm sure it's an awful film. I'll just keep the childhood memory I have of it alongside 'Ferris Bueller's Day off' and 'Wired Science'. If you can think of other examples where this has worked particularly well, drop them in the comments.

If the above is old to you, just remember, I'm a newbie.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I'm a liar and I love it!

I lie, at least from the point of view of this blog's title. Over the last 2 weeks I've managed to:

-- Get a screenplay into act 2.
-- Realise that I need to start again from a different angle.
-- Write a whole new outline for it along with back-story for the main characters.
-- Start version 2 and almost have it as far as act 2.

I'm quite pleased considering I'm (allegedly) not supposed to have any time to write.

For my next trick I will try to keep the momentum going. Now where’s my magic wand?

I like being a cliché

I have to admit I like sitting in Starbucks writing. My local one is in a Waterstones book store. They have classical music playing softly in the background, and I've spent time in there writing when it's been quite quiet. I've actually found the whole experience therapeutic.

I other thing about it is I'm the only person who appears to think I'm a cliché. The 'slaving away writing in a coffee shop' thing hasn't taken off over here (well, not in Bradford). Actually when I say I'm the only person, that isn't true. There is an American woman who works there. When I went back for my second drink, I'm sure she gave me a smirk and mentally stamped 'Wannabe Writer' on my forehead. I could see it in her eyes :)

Anyway, I'm about to break into act two with the re-write of Untitled 4. So far so good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A lesson in common sense:

I've just received a phone call from Lydia (my wife), who was totally freaking out because the postman had just delivered a postcard. It was handmade with a tropical scene cut out of a magazine and was allegedly from our soon to be 3 year old daughter Anna-Louise. It said something like (in adult pretending to be a kid style writing):

"To Mummy and Daddy, Having a lovely time playing in the water and climbing trees. Wish you were here, Anna-Louise"

Lydia was really freaking out asking if I really did drop her off at nursery this morning (wondering if she had been taken by someone and this was their sick way of letting us know). I told her to ring the nursery and I would check with a friend to see if it was him (I knew someone who was sending postcards out to friends). I got an email back saying he knew nothing about it, so naturally I freaked out and called Lydia back.

She said all was fine. She had called the nursery and the postcard was an activity all the kids had done. They had made them and walked to the post box to post them. The nursery manager said she doubts she will do that particular activity again as every parent had called in totally freaked out and checking that their children hadn't been kidnapped.

Personally, I would have preferred the manager had used common sense and threw that idea in the bin rather than learning the hard way. Probably great fun for the kids and no harm was intended. The disappointing point is that it really paints a depressing picture of today's society when every parent instantly thinks kidnap. Oh for the days when you could go out and leave your front door unlocked.

I suppose all's well that ends well.

I am still a child

It's true.

I've just ordered a Sony PSP and I'm actually quite excited about it.

I was thinking of buying an iPod or similar, but I saw the PSP and thought "that plays movies and games as well". Ok, there isn't a 40Gb hard drive in there so I won't be able to store 10 gazillion albums on it, but the memory stick is fine for the select few albums I do actually pay ear time to.

I'll get it sometime in the next 2 to 3 weeks.

Get the fuck out!

No seriously, do I really have to?

I was thinking about this with my re-write of Untitled 4. I wrote the outline and back-story for the characters, and started writing the opening scenes. One thing that has become clear is one of my characters seems to have a bit of a foul mouth. I didn't deliberately do this, he just seems to open his mouth and the bad language comes out.

Will this limit the opportunities for this screenplay? Should I make it as family friendly as possible, or will a reader see through the language knowing it can be toned down in a later draft it he is looking for a family film?

Please advise.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

When is a Zebra a Horse?

When it has no stripes.

When is my script The Dukes of Hazzard 2?

When I look at the one I'm currently writing ;(

I can't avoid it. I have to come to terms with it. My script is a Dukes of Hazzard movie, but there aren't many similarities:

There are two extra main characters to go alongside the Bo and Luke type (actually there isn't really a Bo and Luke type).
There's no Uncle Jessie in sight.
No Daisy Duke type.
No Boss Hogg.
There is no car taking a starring role.
No bumbling deputy.
No yokel car mechanic.
No corrupt local government.
No Boars Nest.
(I can go on but I'll stop there)

What it does involve is four *good ol' boys*, driving suped up cars around 1970's backwater southern USA. Oh and a sheriff who is always one step behind them.

No matter how long I make the above list, those last few sentences simply say "Dukes of Hazzard", so I've called a halt to the project.

Now, I'm thinking I should be screaming at the person who thought it a good idea to do a Dukes of Hazzard movie and release it about now, but I'm glad they did. It has been a blessing in disguise for me and I finally think I've moved up a level as a writer (not the cash earned this year level I'm sad to say). In the past I may have just thrown what I had written in the bin and sulked for a week, but this time I have taken it as a sort of a challenge. Whilst in Starbuck's (see my last post), I re-wrote the idea. I've moved the story on a few decades to the present time, cut the number of main characters by two, changed the location to New York, removed the sheriff, installed the FBI and added the Mafia. However the core of the story remains.

You may think "big deal", but I am really pleased with myself. As recent as a year ago, I often wondered what I would do if I managed to sell "3500 Miles from New York", and the person paying the money said "Great story, but I want it to take place twenty years in the future and involve submarines and a massive man eating spider! A great big hairy thing!". I would freak and say, but that isn't the story! It takes place where it takes place, and it takes place when it takes place, and it involves what it involves!. Now I feel I've gained the ability to take the core story and place it in a whole new screenplay recipe.

Anyway, enough posting, I've got some more back-story to write :)

I am a Cliché!

Not that I ever swore I would never do this but I just had to get out of the house today. Can't say why, I just needed some time by myself.

I grabbed my bag (no idea why I did that), and headed off into town to do some window shopping and grab a bite to eat. Suddenly I found myself in town with a bag containing my writing notes, standing outside a Starbuck's. Oh no!

Sitting in Starbuck's with a hot chocolate (I hate tea and coffee), writing a screenplay! Isn't that the biggest cliché ever?

Oh well, I must now officially be a writer :)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Finding a writing group

Does anyone out there know of any sites I can use to look up any screenwriting groups that may exist in my area?

To keep things on the move with my writing I'm trying to immerse myself in writing circles as much as possible. When I search for Bradford and screenwriting/scriptwriting I seem to get a billion links to the Bradford Film Festival and nothing else relevant.

Friday, August 19, 2005

How Accurate?

This is something I've often wondered about so I thought I'd ask for opinions.

I was reading a post on Josh Friedman's blog, where he spoke of research. He spoke of getting approached about writing a script for an idea someone was pitching to him and talked about getting offered the chance to research the idea.

Now, no one from a studio has ever come to me and asked me to write for a project, yet alone offered the resources to research the idea. I have a day job that pays the bills and I hardly have the time to write.

As I can hardly spare time to write yet alone the time (and money) to do much detailed research about an idea, how factually accurate does a script have to be?

We all know the rules about format, but for example, if I am writing a script on an English warship in the year 1800 and the captain orders general quarters (really he would say beat to quarters), is that a problem?

It is perhaps a weak example but you get the point. As long as the format is correct, the story flows and works, can the newbie get away with something like that when he/she doesn't have the resources to perform detailed research?

New phrase coined

There are probably people who will say "Stop going on about that", but I think it's classic:

Shit happens!
C'est la ville!
Life's a bitch!
Snakes on a plane!

For those of you who have no clue what I am on about, read this.

Washing up for ideas

I've discovered my muse!

It's the washing up sponge (we don't have room for a dishwasher).

My last two screenplay ideas came to me while I was washing the dishes. The down side to that is the dishes didn't really get done as both times I left the kitchen and wrote the outlines down.

I always do that now. I'll write something out as soon as I think of it. I've done that ever since one night when I woke around 1am and couldn't sleep. I came up with a wonderful idea, it seemed perfect. I tossed it round in my head for about two hours and then felt tired enough to get back to sleep. I thought "Should I get some paper and write that down?" but that meant getting out of bed and I was tired, so I told myself I would do it in the morning.

Morning came and could I remember what I had spent two hours planning out during the night? Yeah right! I spent the whole day trying to remember and drew a blank. All I could remember was that it sounded fantastic :(

So now I write everything down.

Thank Crunchie it's Friday!

That title will probably confuse you if you live outside the UK, but it means the same as TFI Friday! or TGI Friday! etc…

This week I've been mostly writing documents. It's kind of a double edged sword for me. I hate starting work on a project that has already gone arse over tit about halfway through. I'll say "Right! Let's get it sorted. Where are the requirements?" (I've stopped asking for the technical design documentation, that never exists). Usually the answer is "Err… well we have these", or "I'll try to dig out the emails".

So I like documentation. The flip side is that I whilst I understand its value and am willing to write it, the actual process is dull, dull, dull! It seems to suck my will to live, hence the post title.

Please send sympathy.

If you don't work in IT then I apologise for the meaningless post :)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Writing Style Dangers


It nearly happened to me again!

I've got part way through another screenplay and the point where the start and the end meet in the middle started to open up into a large gap :(

This time (for once) I've managed to pull them back together.

I suppose I'm at risk of that with my style of writing. Some writers will plan the screenplay out in great detail, writing out little cards for each scene detailing who is in each scene, what the point of the scene is and what will go on in it. I don't seem to be able to work like that (I have tried).

When I come up with an idea, I will get the outline down on paper. That will run somewhere between eight and twelve pages (handwritten). It is then up to me to see if I can flesh it out to a full length script. Just like I did this lunch time, I often find holes in the plot and no bridge building equipment to hand. Luckily today I found a spare bridge in my pocket :)

Doing it this way seems to be the best way I can keep the flow going. I want to get on with it, not spend weeks writing out each tiny detail. I know that way the potential for weak scripts is greater, but I have to go with what works best for me.

What is your writing style?

Review: The Last of the Mohicans (5/5)

I must have watched this film a dozen times, but last night was the first time in about five years.

What a fantastic film! I must get hold of the script for this and read it. It is one of those films where a good portion of it is told visually and not verbally. Trying not to give anything away to those who have not seen it (and if you have not you must!), there is a whole sequence from when the English army marches out of the fort, to where the lead characters paddle canoes across a lake and down a river. It must last up to ten minutes (maybe more) and during that time there can't have been more than two sentences spoken by the main characters. Great writing (or filmmaking or both). The only small point I have to pick is that the dialog is probably a bit modern for the period the film is based in. However, with all the plus points you don't really notice.

It is also one of those rare films where the soundtrack is equally as great as the film. Put the film and soundtrack together on the screen and the results are outstanding. The battle sequences are excellent, especially the final one at the end.

Fantastic story, fantastic acting, fantastic soundtrack and breathtaking locations.

I'll give it 5/5.

I'll have to start a review section. Not that I'm trying to copy off you Iain :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


This is related to my writing post about all my screenplays being based in the USA.

I stated this point on a screenwriting forum once and was told that I should only write what I know. How can I set a screenplay in small town USA if I have never actually been there? He said I should only write UK screenplays.

I don't know if his statement is valid or not, but it does bring up an interesting point:

Have we become completely Americanised here in the UK (or at least have I)?

I'm not implying anything negative there at all, just asking the question.

For me to write a screenplay based in small town America, then I must know something about it. I can't imagine ever coming up with a screenplay based in Russia, Finland, Brazil etc… as I know nothing about them. But it seems that I assume to know something about America.

I can probably safely say that it is true to some extent:

- A lot of popular TV shows are American (at least the ones I like are. I'll take Dead Like Me over Eastenders or Teachers any day).

- Films I have already talked about in older posts.

- Loads of adverts advertising products (many of them British or European) are set in America

- Films and products are released in America first, making us over here wanting to 'catch-up'.

- Our not so fast food has been replaced with American versions (McDonalds, Subway, KFC etc...). I can't remember the last time I saw a Wimpy Bar (if they still exist).

- Go to any cinema complex or any out of town shopping complex and the eateries are all Americanised with Route 66 signs and similar plastered all over the walls.

The list goes on. Perhaps we should get it over and done with and become the 51st state (a mediocre British film).

If it is true I suppose it doesn't matter to me that much. I'm the last person to be a "God save the queen" person. I don't think there is that much left in our society to be "British and proud of it" any more.

Any on that downer of a point, I'll stop ranting on :)

Where do your screenplays take place?

It has occurred to me as strange that my screenplays take place in the USA, with the exception of one which is 50% UK, 50% USA. As I live in the England, I find that a little strange.

I'm trying to get a handle on this and come up with a UK based screenplay, but every new idea I invent seems to be based in the USA. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I am inventing a screenplay in my head, I am imagining how it will appear on the big screen. For some reason I just don't see the UK on the big screen.

Has the British film industry suffered that much lately? I know that British films have done alright over the past few years, but every one of them seems to come sort of label like "The best British film since …....". As if that label alone will make me see it. They seem to attempt to make it trendy to want to go see the film. Anyone who knows me will tell you that if something is perceived as trendy, I will avoid it like the plague. I hate following sheep.

Perhaps the fact that with almost every film in the cinema is set outside the UK, I have been brainwashed into thinking of the big screen in that way.

I'm trying to come up with a British film I really liked. The only one I can think of is 'Shaun of the Dead'. 'Love Actually' was ok, but it just seemed like 101 short films rolled into one feature length film.

Anyway, maybe a UK based screenplay idea will pop into my head tomorrow :)


I haven't really told this to many people I don't see on a day to day basis:

I've finally plucked up the courage and had my eyes zapped. I can now see!

So if you see me without glasses, well now you know :)



Rotten Apple?

I forgot to post this when I wrote it, so it is a few days old now…..

Apple must be stupid. You think up a product, submit a patent and them manufacture it! No variation on that order.

It seems they launched the iPod without taking out a patent. Microsoft noticed that and said "Ohh, we'll have that then!". Now it turns out Apple may have to pay Microsoft up to $6 in royalties for each iPod sold.

Apple are fuming and crying foul, but to me it seems that it's their own fault as they should have known better.

I'm not sure how it will work out in the end, but doesn't Microsoft own 30% of Apple anyway?

Robert McKee???

I'm not quite sure why so many people rave about Robert McKee's book (Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principals of Screenwriting).

When I visit screenwriting forums or newsgroups, everyone says this book is a must have. I bought it and started to read. My first comments were "My God this is dull", but I stuck at it for a while. After that while I gave up and put it down.

To me it seemed more aimed at someone who wants a third party view of how this particular person views the writing process, rather than a book that will teach you how to write screenplays. Perhaps it got to the nitty gritty soon after the point where I stopped reading. If that is the case has he not broken the golden rule; get the readers attention and interest from the start? Maybe his seminars are different but the book just didn't do it for me.

I get the feeling that in the screenwriting world it is trendy to swear by that particular book.

Perhaps I'm the rebel writer, or maybe I just prefer books that get right to the point. I have read about three other books on the subject that I found really helpful. I'll post the titles soon if they aren’t at the bottom of some box (we are moving house at the moment).

Disclaimer: Please don't take offence if you do happen to think that book is great. What do I know, he's sold a shed load more books than I have screenplays :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Write! With what?

I posted about this on a forum the other day and thought I'd include it here.

I saw another one of those "Which screenwriting program should I buy" posts the other day. I asked the same questions when I started out and various answers like Final Draft, MMS (Movie Magic Screenwriter), Microsoft Word and Notepad came back to me.

I have since purchased a copy of MMS which does the job fine, and that's ok as I know I would love to write for a living so it was worth spending the money. However these posts come from people who are thinking about dipping their toe in the screenwriting pool. They know they would like to write a screenplay, but they probably don't know if they will be able to see it through.

Here is my answer to that question and it's one I wasn't given:

Buy an A4 pad of paper and a pen. Why spend £180 or so on a screenwriting program when you can spend £1.99? Write it out on paper first. If you see that process through to the end and have a finished screenplay, then it may be worth spending more money on some software.

I'm writing my current screenplay on paper. When it is finished I will type it up, moulding it as I go. When I have finished, hey-presto, I'll have a second draft!

When writing a first draft on the computer I find it hard to keep the flow going. I suppose I feel that because it is on the screen in the correct format, everything has to be perfect story-wise before I move on to the next page. There is no flow in that. Write a mess on paper the first time round (at least one you can decipher) and let the story flow.

Explicit Lyrics

Does anyone know the rules regarding explicit lyrics on CDs here in the UK?

I bought the James Blunt album the other day whilst in town with my 2 year old daughter. I got in the car to drive home and thought I'd put it on. Anna-Louise is nodding her head to the music in her car seat when the word 'fucking' came out of the speakers. I turned the stereo off and waited for the inevitable "What does fucking mean daddy?" Luckily she never asked.

Now I didn't remember an explicit lyrics sticker on the case when I bought it and a check when I got home confirmed this. I examined the case closer and on the back, blended in with the other writing on there is a box warning of foul language.

I'm not complaining about it as I have been known to use the odd four letter word myself in the past, but some better sort of warning would have been nice. I thought that if there was any swearing in the lyrics, one of those black and white stickers had to be on the front of the case telling you so.

Can anyone comment?

Screenwriting Post

To help those of you who are not interested in screenwriting filter any writing related posts from the others, thier title will now appear in green.

I tried red but it seemed a bit harsh.

Hope that helps.


How do you see films???

I must say that nowadays when I watch films, I do so with a little bit of a writers perspective.

Has it ruined watching films for me? I don't know, but I think I can now really appreciate a well written film. I think Lost in Translation is a prime example of this. I have heard many people say that they were falling asleep watching it, but I was the total opposite. It was great to see a film that constantly moved on, but it was the actual story doing this as there wasn't much dialog in it.

On the flip side there is the film 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow'. I rented this last night and I have to say it was rubbish (in fact I rated it 1/5 after returning it to screenselect). It was either badly written or badly made/edited. If it was well written then most of the film must have ended up on the cutting room floor.

First of all it took me a while to get used to the human actors running around in a comic book look and feel world. Then there seemed to be so many things missing. No character back-story, big holes in act two and the twist at the end wasn't mind blowing at all (if you can call it a twist). It didn't even rate a raised eyebrow.

If it was the writing I am seeing here, then I hope I can make a living writing like that, however I think if I ever want to have a career in screenwriting I think the bar I will have to jump over will be set a million miles higher in comparison.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Screenwriting Update

Hi all,

As the title of this blog suggests screenwriting, I thought I'd give you an update on my progress so far. I'll try to make some sort of flag easily viewable for those who don't really care about my writing and are just here to read my rants and raves.

I have around seven screenplays buzzing around in my head or as a rough outline on paper. As far as actually writing them goes….. Well, the number of finished screenplays still registers a big ZERO. However that doesn't mean I haven't started on any scripts.

3,500 miles from New York was my first attempt at writing a screenplay. I have a start, and the ending is fine. Unfortunately I am having trouble with the back end of act 2 and making everything meet in the middle seems to be a problem. Unfortunately creativity on this screenplay seems to have stalled. I will probably come back to this in 12 months or so and see if I can kick it back into action.

Untitled 4 (as in I have no name for it yet) is my current work in progress. I'm writing it out on paper rather than at the keyboard (quicker to add notes and edit). I have a full outline (this time the start and end do meet in the middle), and I am currently around page 20 with the actual script. This one may be the first to the finishing line :)

The Woman on the Bus will be the next one I start. I have an almost complete outline that just needs a few ragged edges tidying up. When Untitled 4 is finished I will crack on with this one in an attempt to keep some momentum going.

As progress continues I hope to give regular updates.

Windows Vista???

This may be old to some of you, but I've just found out what Vista stands for:


Well it made me chuckle.

The queen for hire: best offer accepted.

Read an article on Google News to day about plans by the M.O.D to get the queen in to appear at a banquet in celebration of the battle of Trafalgar.

It seems the M.O.D can't afford the cost of the knees up and have roped in the queen so that they can charge £1,750 to see her. One source was quoted as saying that if you pay the money you will be able to chat to the queen.

Now it seems that politicians and "constitutional experts" are up in arms about this. They say it is wrong to use her presence to make up an M.O.D cash shortfall in staging the celebration.

I think they should shut up. My only problem would be having to pay money to see Betty in the first place. If she wants to exist in her elevated position paid for by the tax payer, then I think the tax payer should own her along with the rest of the Germans they have hiding behind the name Windsor. I found out last month that Prince Phillip doesn't even have a British passport (he may not even be a British citizen!).

Just imagine it. You go down to your local village fate, and join the queue for the "Throw a rotten piece of fruit at a royal in the stocks' stall (I would prefer prince harry).

Other ideas are welcome.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

To gazump or not to gazump.

Is that how you spell gazump??? Anyway:

Had a bit of a dilemma the other night.

We have sold our house and found one to buy and things are proceeding pretty much ok. However one of the people who had been to view our house in the past turned up on our doorstep. He said he had now sold his house and wanted to buy ours and that he had no chain. He said he has seen every other house in his price band in Thornton and wanted ours and was willing to beet our current buyers offer.

Now, he is dangling a big fish hook in front of our mouths with a pile of money on the end. We said no. I think it was the right thing morally and logically.

If the people we were buying off suddenly turned round and said. We don't want to sell to you any more as someone has offered more money, we would be pretty pissed off.

(1) There is a chain. If he had to sell his to buy ours then there is a chain. If we took him up on his offer and the people buying his pulled out on him, we would be shafted.

(2) The people who are buying ours a first time buyers and that is the definition of no chain, they have nothing to sell so the chain starts with us.

(3) Our first time buyers seem happy so far. If we go with the other guy, he could be fickle and pull out shafting everyone.

I think we did the right thing (I hope)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The most satisfying flash application in the world

Got this off Iain by email and just had to post it.

Kill it!

Things to note:

There is a counter displayed to show many times 'it' has been killed. Keep note of the number and after you have killed it reset the app and see how fast the number has gone up. People must really hate this thing ;)

The harder you hit it, the sooner it it killed. I managed to kill it with 2 swings of the bat. That is a good record to beat, but I admit that it wasn't as satisfying as drawing it out a bit and hitting it in the nuts a few times :)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Is it hot outside?

Wasn't it supposed to be the hottest day ever on record today?

Don't know about where you are but it is pissing it down here!

I really don't know why the news media always seem to jump on the weather. It's the top story if it rains heavily, it's the top story if it snows at all, and it's the top story if it's hot.

I can understand the tornados making the news last month, but the rest? We get sunshine, wind, rain and snow in this country. It's a fact, not big news.

Anyway, if you wan't an accurate weather forcast then download the Konfabulator toolbar ( I think). It's the most accurate I've seen so far, plus you can get lost of other widgets for it (thanks to Iain for pointing me at that).

Cinema start times

Ok I doubt anyone will read this as this is my first post in ages and anyone who was reading will have gone by now, but.........

After work last night I decided I wanted to go to the cinema. Looked at my watch: 5:30pm. Great I'll catch the films that start around 6:30, so got into the car and off I went to the Odeon. Got there around 6 and was miffed to find out that the films I wanted to see started at 8:15, in fact everything apart from Herby (or however you spell it), started after 8pm.

So back into the car and down to Cineworld (Bradford's other cinema). The result: THE SAME!!!!!!

Come on. The start times for all their films seemed to be 5:30 and then sometime after 8pm! Has it never clicked with them that the majority of people won't finish work until 5:30. Therefore by the time you get to the Cinema it will be after 6. So why, why, why do they start films at 5:30.

I'm sure there is logic to it but it is lost on me.

Rant over :)

On a lighter note, things seem to be going smoothly with our house move :)



Thursday, February 24, 2005


It took me an extra 25 mins to get into work today because it was snowing.

So what? I hear you ask.

Well the roads had been cleared, it's just that most people shit their pants at the first flake they see and drive everywhere at 20mph. "ARRGGHH a flake of snow, and shit a corner! Must slow down to 5mph before I die!" GO HOME! AND MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE YOUR CAR WHERE IT IS AND WALK!

Then there's the ones who try to get up the hill out of the estate I live in but putting the car in first gear and see how fast they can spin their wheels whilst moving at 1mph. STOP IT! ARE YOU THICK? ALL YOU ARE DOING IS POLISHING THE ROAD SO NOBODY ELSE CAN GET UP THE HILL? If your wheels start to spin then change up a gear! You will get up faster and everyone else will also make it.

I propose a change in the law that introduces a proficiency test that must be passed before you can even look at your car when it is snowing.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

By the time I'm 35?

I remember when I was 25 years old. That was about the time I started to say that I would have my own business by the time I was 35.

Well today I am 31 years 1 month and 1 day old, give or take a few hours, and I am on a shit salary (for my experience and capability). If it was me paying that salary to myself then I would not care, but unfortunately I am still working for someone else.

I had a chat the other week about this with a friend and he said he had similar ambitions. He is a company director, which is a million times closer to having his own company than me, but he is still working for someone else.

Therefore a plan! He said he has been up in front of venture capitalists many times (and had success) for the company he works for, so we are going to bash heads and see if we can come up with something. We may not, but we have had some common ideas, so at least that is a foundation.

Maybe my goal can still be reached. I guess it's all about my mindset. If I never try or never think about it, then it will never happen.

Free Mojtaba and Arash

There are many stories around the world where people get locked up for just talking. Well it seems that even a blogger can have freedom taken away.

Here's the story

Friday, February 18, 2005

I'm Back!!!!!!!

I'd like to say I've been off around the world or something that makes me sound interesting but I can't. I just let things on the blog slip and didn't get back into it. Until now that is (I hope).

Life with a wife and kid! Whilst it doesn't sound like the most taxing lifestyle in the world (and it isn't), little time is left to do things like keep a blog up to date. Isn't that what work is for? some may ask. Shock horror, no! (although I am writing this at work, it's my lunch break).

An update:

  • Moving house. This will be the first time I've had a house to sell before I can actually move. Very frustrating process.
  • Still not finished any of the five or six screenplays I have running round my head (although one is about half way through on paper).
  • Morale at work is slipping over the edge of the abyss.
  • I have a brand spanking new car! Novelty wore off after about 30 seconds. Back to the second hand show rooms next time me thinks.
  • I want more money at work as I know I'm way better at my job than people that are on much more than me. Thing is, here I can't get an above inflation increase with my current job title. If I want more I have to get promoted.
  • Owners of the house I want to buy think that although the house needs about £10,000 to £20,000 spent on it, there is no reason to accept a low offer i.e. the price it is actually worth.

That list could turn into a moan really easy.

More musings later.