Sunday, August 27, 2006

FADE IN: The act one moment.

How many act ones do you have?

Well I have a ton of them. Some written and some in my head.

I've just created another during what I call "An act one moment". One of those moments when you get a moment of clarity and in a flash an entire act one pops into your head. For me different things can cause this; a thought, a news article, something someone says to me in passing, a dream or a joke. If it is something factual like a news article the act one doesn't usually turn out to be about what was reported, but something was within it to act as a trigger.

The problem is that flashes of inspiration like this rarely constitute a full three acts, but with luck it will have something that (with work) can make it to a full screenplay. My current "act one moment" has produced an act one that deals with love, death, the afterlife and a personal quest. Normally that would be enough for an entire screenplay, but here is is all contained in act one. That may make it too busy, but I have an ending, or at least an idea for one that my main character has to get to, but the middle is a bit fuzzy. "Isn't that always the case?" I hear you ask. Well you are probably correct, but I'll see what I can do with it.

The problem is that this means I've got too many ideas on the go. I have the third draft of Good Guys, the outline for the Roman time travel thing (that's not as daft as it sounds), the outline for the Sci-Fi horror, and now this. I've also got another horror idea that I've been carefully growing inside my head for the past six months. Usually I find it is the ones that have been in your head for ages that turn out best.

Anyway, I'd better crack on with some script notes I have to write (Lucy, you should get them soon).



Thursday, August 24, 2006


It's been a while since my last post so I thought I'd better make an effort.

I've actually had quite a good week screenwriting/reading wise. I've had a steady flow of scripts to review through my free script notes offer, but the really good news is that I managed to get hold of a copy of Movie Magic Screenwriter. I bought it off EBay for the grand total of £36.01 including postage!

I am shocked the guy let it go so cheap, but I'm glad he did. I suppose an auction is an auction.

I know you can use Microsoft Word or Notepad to write scripts, but this software makes writing much easier. After I let my original copy of the software go I switched to CeltX ( for a while. CeltX It is very good (and free!), but MMS still has an edge on it.

More updates on some actual writing soon :)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Practicing what I preach.

The script reading seems to be taking up a lot of my free time and as a result I'm spending less on my writing (a bad thing).

However, what it is doing is making me practice what I preach and as a result my writing should be of a higher quality (a good thing).

We all know the mechanics of a good script and how they should be presented, but when you are slogging through the process, churning out page after page, it is easy to loose sight of quality (or at least it is easy for me). When reading another person's script, I can pick out what it is doing wrong and what it isn’t doing that it should, but picking those issues with my own work seems to be harder.

While reading and making a note or two about the script, I've found myself thinking about my own work and making notes left, right and centre. So in short, I've got even less time to write, but what I do produce should produce a much tighter and marketable script.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Unique isn't easy

Ok, so I've read a few scripts through my new service (see link on the right), and the last one gave me one of those "I wish I'd thought of that" moments as it had something unique in it. I won't name the writer as I don't want to embarrass, but he (or she) has a blog in my blogroll.

Everything has been done before, be it horror, action (on land, in the air, on the water, under the water), romance, the romcom, mobster, western, the buddy movie (this list went on but I shortened it). It has all been done before.

You can mix them up to an extent (Shaun of the Dead - comedy/horror), but what we have to do as writers is pick one of those and make it unique. Horror seems to be the thing to write at the moment in this country. As a result, if you write bog standard horror and submit it you can probably guarantee that yours will sit in a pile of others that are exactly the same. You have to pull it up out of the pile. Imagine a movie exec dangling a uniqueness magnet over a pile of scripts. Will yours be the one that is fished out?

How do you make it unique? Well I can't do it for you (unless you give me a credit), but just take a look at the 'standard' features of your chosen genre. In horror I guess there are standard (or perhaps famous) situations. The shower scene where you can see through the shower curtain and a shadow is approaching. Take that and give the audience something unexpected with it (I've got a twist on that but I'm not sharing it :p ).

Read your last script and pick out the main points. Have you given the reader something never seen before? Give it some thought and see what you come up with.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Something in a Confined Space

We all know Snakes on a Plane is coming out soon, and we are all kicking ourselves for not coming up with an idea as simple as that. It says action, death, adventure, and suspense. It presents an opportunity for someone to face up to death, fear and destruction, rise above it all and save the day, all within the interior of an aeroplane. It is a pitch, a logline, and a tagline all wrapped up in four words. Will it live up to all the hype? Time will tell.

So I have to ask the question:

If it turns out to be a success, how many “deadly things in a confined space” movies will we see over the next three or four years?

Movies seem to come in genre/concept packs sent out by the studios to capitalise on what is seen as safe money. The cinema goers like that, so they will like our version. I remember as a kid there were disaster movies (The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure and Earthquake). In recent years we have had a flood of romcoms and teen movies (some good, some bad, and some that look like a bulldog chewing a wasp). Currently we have horror and comic based stuff.

Will Snakes on a Plane become leader of a pack? Well I have copyright on Tarantulas in a Submarine, so there! :)



Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Script notes plus this and that

Well my free script notes offer has gotten off to a good start. So far three people have mailed in their script, so I have some reading ahead of me.

I don’t do this often, but this month I have to recommend Empire Magazine. They have a great article on Snakes on a Plane, a B movie that was famous before filming even started. I’m proud to say I was there at the start when the cult formed after Josh Friedman wrote this post (he’s back online BTW). They also have a mega review of about every film to hit the UK cinemas over the next year.

Also another screenplay has developed into existence inside my head. It is my second horror idea which is strange because I don’t really like horror (I’m sure I’ve said it before).

Anyway, I’ve got some reading to do.