Look what they did to my script…

Posted: December 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

162725_1691863306230_1527204837_31618560_2234875_nEvery writer knows how daunting it is to hand a script to someone. Whether it’s a friend, family member, fellow writer, agent or anyone else, it’s a difficult task letting someone see that piece of work you’ve slaved over, put your heart into and means so much to you. So it’s no surprise writers are even more reluctant to hand work to a director or producer, for them to go away and turn it into their version of what you have in your mind. Ultimately, their vision is going to be different from yours. It’s like the whole ‘adaptation’ thing. I hear so many people that go to watch films that have been adapted from books they’ve read, saying things like ‘what happened to that bit that was in the book?’ or ‘that’s not how I pictured that character?’ or just ‘that was shit compared to the book!’. Well, that’s because they’ve already visualised the book in their own head – so whatever they see on screen will be different to what they imagined. I don’t know about other writers, but when I get an idea for a film, the whole thing builds in my mind visually – locations, characters…everything. So, although I appreciate writers do feel that they, or their scripts, get shit on and butchered a lot of the time, I do feel slightly sorry for those directors or producers who genuinely want  to do a script justice, but just seem to have a completely different vision to the writer. Having said that, I have had scripts butchered and it’s certainly not a nice experience – it put me off and I’ve directed most of my own stuff (mainly short films and sketches) ever since. However, I don’t particularly want to be a director. I do a fair bit of low-budget, freelance directing, but writing is what I’m really passionate about, so I thought I better start being bold and giving scripts away.

At the London Screenwriter’s Festival 2011, a lot of speakers I heard were saying the same thing – ‘you’ve got to get stuff made’. It’s something I’ve always tried to do anyway, but I started thinking of ideas I could put together and film myself for no money, and in a fairly short period of time. I did that (with varying success), then decided I wanted to write something a little more substantial than just a sketch or short – I wanted to try a series. I thought it would be best to start small to begin with, so I came up with an idea for a mini ‘web’ series…that’s how ‘Ask Dennis’ was born. I spoke to my writing friend Simon Regan about joining me on the venture, and between us we wrote six short episodes. Then it was time to show it to someone – that someone was William Thorne. I met Will through my good friend Chris Russell (who I know from various production work when I was AD-ing in London after uni) and I started writing a few bits for a proposal he was putting together for Channel 4’s ‘comedy blaps’. Nothing came of the Channel 4 stuff, but we stayed in contact and I thought I’d send him the Ask Dennis scripts to get his opinion. He liked them! The next time I heard from him, he was getting actors together and booking a day to film one of the episodes! Really??? There was no budget and he was going to do this in his own time…as were the actors. It’s exactly how I work, and knowing how difficult it can be to pull-off I wasn’t really expecting much…but what the hell – it was going to get made! I thought to myself (apologies Will) we could always ‘can it’ if it was horrendous. Well, I can safely say it was definitely not that. In fact, I was more than pleasantly surprised. He did a great job and it was almost exactly how I envisaged it. OK, it’s a little rough around the edges (with the sound being one of the main issues) but I think it goes to show that handing over your script isn’t always going to be a disaster.

I’d love to think we could raise an actual budget and get the whole series shot, but it’s probably unlikely. I think the episodes definitely get funnier as the series goes on, with some comedy magic from Mr. Regan, so it would be a shame if it never saw the light of day…but I guess that’s the story with a lot of scripts that deserve to get made and never do.

Anyway, enough of my babbling – here it is (strong language included)…

 

 

 

 

 

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A letter to Santa

Posted: December 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

162725_1691863306230_1527204837_31618560_2234875_nDear Santa,

I don’t want any presents this year. I’ll no doubt get some from my friends, family and loved ones, but they’re not what are important to me. I’ll be very grateful for them; don’t get me wrong, but what I really want for Christmas is for all of my friends, family and loved ones just to be safe, well and happy. That is the only and best present I could wish for. I know it’s all sentimental and mushy and people will probably take the piss out of this post, but you and I both know you’ll just put them on the naughty list anyway, so the jokes on them!

Santa-Claus-Pics-0302

As for gifts, I have plenty of those. I have more than anyone could ever wish for in fact. I have friends I can trust and know will always be there for me, including a girlfriend that puts up with me no matter what, I have a tight family that would do anything for me, I have my health, a roof over my head, a job and food in my belly. People lose site of how many gifts they already have; we’re all guilty of forgetting how lucky we are. I could write a 10 page list of ‘things’ I want, but they’re definitely not things that are important. So, this year, I’m going to write a Christmas list that includes things I really want, and that are important.

I’ll start off with things that are specific to me.

Here goes…

  1. I want my mum to keep going from strength to strength as she continues her recovery from cancer. I want her to be happy and well and to realise what an amazing job she does as a mother. She is the most selfless person you will ever meet. She has dedicated her whole life to her family, and being with them is what makes her truly happy. She is incredible and I hope she is rewarded for that.
  2. I want my dad to have a relaxed Christmas without too much worrying. He’s the rock of our family and has been through a lot recently (even if he doesn’t admit it to himself) and I want him to know how much his family thinks of him, especially me.
  3. I want all my brothers and sisters to realise how beautiful and talented they all are, in their own individual ways, and to know I’ll be there for them whenever they need me. I want them to be successful and never give up on their dreams, no matter how difficult life gets at times.
  4. I want my nephews and niece to have the fun Christmas they deserve – they’re all little angels really, and they deserve to be rewarded. One day they’ll be ready to understand that presents aren’t what are important, but for now we can cut them a little slack.
  5. I want all my friends to realise how important they are to me, and to forgive me if I haven’t been the best at keeping in touch with them. Whether they’re friends from school days, friends from Epsom, friends from college and university, friends from the various jobs I’ve had over the years, friends from Bournemouth or London, friends from rowing or friends who have left this world, they know who they are and I want them all to be well and happy.

Now for the more general wishes. These are pretty big ones, so I don’t expect too much – but just see what you can do!

  1. I want people to be less greedy. My grandfather always says ‘greed is a bucket with a hole in – you’ll never fill it’. There are too many people in this world that believe monetary wealth is what’s important; it really isn’t.  I hear so many stories about people being greedy and they really upset me. There are the obvious ones…huge corporations dodging tax to maximise their profits. Yes, it’s legal, but is it right? Shame on them for not contributing – they are far too greedy and they could do so much good with all the money they make. The landlords – they may be fortunate to own more than one house or property, when there are people in this world who don’t own anything, but that doesn’t mean they have to charge extortionate rents for disgusting dwellings or for shops that would put local, independent companies out of business. My friend works for an estate agent, and he tells me he is constantly receiving calls from landlords for student accommodation that want to put their rents up ‘just because they can’ and they know those desperate students who don’t have anywhere to go will have to pay it – shame on them. And shame on the shop owner who forced the closure of his own sister-in-law’s business because he demanded rents her small clothing company couldn’t afford, and proceeded to leave the shop vacant for months until there was someone willing to pay – it saddens me to think there are people this greedy in the world. I could go on and mention all the other greedy souls, but you get the idea and know who they are. Please, make them think about ‘life’ before ‘profit’.
  2. I wish people would be less angry. Some people go their whole lives being angry, and it’s really not fun! They don’t smile, they frown…they don’t laugh, they scowl…they spend every day looking for people to chastise and turn their nose up at, when they could be making new friends or brightening someone’s day. I don’t know what’s happened to them to make them feel this is the only way they can be, maybe they’ve never known love? I would ask you to help them experience what love and kindness is, so they can spread happiness rather than hatred.
  3. I want people to stop hurting others. Whether it’s people in power that send innocent soldiers to die for an unjust cause, and the countless deaths of innocent civilians that follow…whether it’s paedophiles and murderers  that prey on the weak and vulnerable and ruin peoples lives forever…whether it’s those who take pleasure from bullying and making others lives a misery for no reason at all…and for all the other acts of unnecessary violence or mental abuse, may all those victims find solace and a way to get on with their lives, and may all those perpetrators find the help they need to realise what they have done is wrong and change their ways.
  4. Finally, I ask that humanity works together to protect one another and make this world a better place to live in. People understand what is right or wrong, what is moral and what is unjust, what will hurt people and what will make them happy, what causes wars and what will will create peace…may they all make the right decisions, decisions that are moral and just. We must remember that the world is a place for our children – not just our own children, but children everywhere. If you are a mother or father, you would do anything to protect your own offspring and give them everything they could ever wish for – just remember what you do in life affects their future and the future of others just like them. Don’t let them down!

So, Santa – this is my idealistic Christmas list. Idealistic is what it will be called, but realistic is what I believe it can be. If we all just take a moment this Christmas to reflect and look in the mirror, we can think about our own lives and actions and give the best Christmas present ever this year – a present that will change someone’s life for the better. Especially those people with power and in influential positions…give them the strength to do what is right. Let all those on your naughty list (and I’m sure it’s a very long list) do at least one thing that would make them worthy of being on your good list – then who knows, maybe we’ll start to see a change. Maybe then humanity will start to realise what’s really important and where true wealth lies. And last but not least, for all those people who don’t believe in you, sprinkle a little bit of magic in their hearts this Christmas and show them what it is that makes life so special.

Yours truly,

Dom x

Yeah, I know…I haven’t been on here in ages, but I’m not going to apologise – I’ve been busy writing! Last time I posted anything relating to my own screenwriting endeavours, I think I was working on the rewrite of my feature after I’d received feedback from Alec at Kibo Factory. Well, I finished the draft and sent it off, and now I’m in the midst of another rewrite (not so major this time) after another bout of feedback and a Skype session with Alec. There was good news and good news, which is not something us writers get to enjoy very often. The good news was, Alec thought I’d taken on board his advice and produced a much stronger draft whilst still maintaining my own voice and story. The other good news was, after his feedback and a very productive Skype session, I knew exactly how to make things even better and hopefully nail this next draft so it’s ready to start sending out. So, that’s where I am – halfway through what I really think might be (dare I say it) my final draft of Beach Huts…for a little while, anyway.

Once I’ve finished this latest draft, it’ll be back to business as usual and the blogging will start to focus on how I use this (what I’m calling my ‘calling card’ script) to try and promote myself in the world of screenwriting. I also have other projects on the go, and will be looking to pursue new ventures, so these will also start to feature in my updates. I always find it interesting reading about other writer’s projects, experiences, successes and failings, so hopefully this interest will be reciprocated. If not, I don’t mind. I think of this blog as a sort of diary, anyway – it’s nice to look back and see what I was thinking about, moaning about or generally doing at the time of any particular post. So now on to today’s post. This week, I’ve seen various debates/blogs/articles, in various forms online, all relating to the same subject – why you shouldn’t pursue a career in screenwriting. This made me sad. Sad because I want to be a screenwriter, and sad because I know it’s true. It also made me happy (in a slightly perverse way). Anyone I know personally and see having some sort of success in such a vast, competitive and cutthroat industry, I like to think I share their victory in the form of admiration and a sense of hope for myself. I consider myself to be an artist, and the one thing I always try to remember is that art is something you do because you love it. You have an overwhelming urge that you will never be able to escape, because your art is in your soul. So, whether I’m sweeping the floors of a toilet, answering phones in a call centre, or writing adverts for local radio, no one will ever stop me being a screenwriter, no matter how hard they try to convince me it’s the wrong thing to do. Of course there’s a reality, and that reality is you won’t ever make a lot of money being a writer. Well, I’m fine with that – so let the writing commence!

Whilst I go back to working on my script, I’d like to leave you with an interview I did with Alec earlier this year. You should know Alec by now (in virtual terms) as I’ve mentioned him a few times on here, and he even wrote the last post as my guest blogger. Anyway, his short film Three Days in Kamakura won Best Film at Aichi Vision 2012 and I’m sure will go on to be very successful at all the other festivals it’s due to be screened at. I asked him some questions about the film and his experiences as a screenwriter. The sound isn’t great, but I hope you find it as interesting and useful as I did. Another victory for a fellow writer!

 

Thanks for watching/reading…

Until next time!

Peace x

What Does a Writer do on Set?

Posted: October 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

As you may or may not know, I’ve been super busy on the writing front lately – finishing my feature project, writing scripts for various submissions and working on my next collaborative feature length screenplay. I’ll be talking about all of these in posts to come, but that’s why the blog has been a little slow of late. However, you’ll be pleased to know we’re back focussing on all things ‘screenwriting’ and today I have a very interesting guest blog for you. I’ve mentioned my friend Alec a number of times on here, and he’s very kindly written a post for me to feature. I’ll leave him to do the introductions and I hope you all enjoy!

Alec McAulay is an award-winning screenwriter and script consultant working between Japan and the UK. He is currently studying for a PhD in Screenwriting at Bournemouth University. You can find out more about Alec and KIBO Factory at www.kibofactory.net

The 10-minute short film “Dark River”, prodcued by Nameless Films in association with KIBO Factory, is based on a true story. It is scheduled for release in early 2013.

What exactly does a writer do during production? While there is an abundance of material out there on the writing process covering everything that happens from the half-formed idea to the first day of principal photography, there is relatively little available on what writers do during filming. Of course, the received wisdom is that the writer’s role ends once the final draft is delivered. The director, actors and production staff then inherit the story and characters, and the writer sits back and waits (im)patiently for the finished film like an anxious parent waiting for a child to return from their gap year in Thailand. John August, writer of ‘Big Fish’, in his blog describes being on set tersely as “boring”, before adding, “if you don’t have a job on the set, it gets old incredibly fast.”

Director Stephen Frears insists his writer is there during shooting. However, it would seem that he is in a minority. Most of the time, the writer is not on set, and when they are, they often have nothing to do. I have no idea how many productions take place with the writer present (though it is a set of figures I’d like to see), but whether or not the writer does participate, and the role they perform, very much depends on their relationship with the director. So when my short horror script ‘Dark River’ went into production at the end of September and the director, Anthony Gilmore of Nameless Films in Nagoya, invited me down for the shoot, I took the opportunity to explore first-hand exactly what a writer does during filming.

It seems obvious to me that the first thing the writer does is respect the parameters set by the director, so I started out by asking Anthony exactly what it was he wanted me to do. I got a two-word answer: “Dialogue tweaks.” Some of the dialogue is in Japanese. Anthony doesn’t speak Japanese, so he wanted me there to work with the actors on those lines. One line in particular was key to creating the tone of the film. I don’t want to give too much away while the film is still only in post-production, but it had to do with the translation and delivery of the word “Thud!” The line had been put into the script in English. We had a working Japanese version of the script that functioned in terms of allowing all nationalities during the shoot to stay on the same page, but for dramatic effect and emotional rhythm the Japanese dialogue needed work. I spent most of the first morning working with the very talented Naoko Nakano, who would deliver the ‘Thud!’ line. We talked about its thematic resonance, its context in terms of what precedes and follows it in the script, the impact we wanted the line to have on the audience, her interpretation of her character… We finally agreed a Japanese translation that we were both happy with, and then worked on the timing, cadence and stress in the performance of the line.

That particular task went very well and it made sense to have me there to carry it out. This was my first time to be writer-on-set, but I have been on dozens of different productions in various roles and always take the opportunity to observe how the director works. Everyone has something to teach you. I found Anthony to be quite a unique combination as a director; someone with a keen eye and confident vision, able to execute it elegantly, but also open to suggestions and very collaborative. As the shoot progressed, I was able to expand the boundaries of my role, not because I was trying to impose, but because Anthony and DP Ryan Seale would open up spaces and invite me into them.

By way of example, there is a scene where a speech is given by a real estate agent advising a client that the apartment he is thinking of renting once hosted a murder-suicide. When I wrote the scene, I envisaged the performance as comic, in counterpoint to the content of the speech. Anthony and I talked a bit about this in the script development phase. Rehearsing with the actor on set (the lines are in Japanese), the actor told me he had rehearsed it ‘straight’ with Anthony the previous week. I wasn’t privy to the rehearsals, but felt sure we should at least see the comic performance on one of the takes, to give Anthony options. I told Anthony about this conversation before the scene was shot, and he was happy with the advice I had given the actor.

Then we shot the first take, the ‘straight’ version, and two things immediately became clear. One, the actor gave a performance so chilling, so unnerving, that there was no need to do the comic version. Anthony was gracious enough to ask what I thought, but it was clear to both of us that the ‘comic’ take was now superfluous. (For the sake of this article it might have been more interesting to see what happened if I had asked for that take…). The second thing that was apparent, only to me, was that I should never underestimate what an actor can do with my words. Quite simply, I had no idea how scary the speech I had written was till I heard someone else say it.

This episode illustrates the role I feel writers are best suited to on set, as a sounding board for the tone and cohesion of the narrative as it evolves. As the flow and rhythm of the film builds, the crew often find themselves fighting the light, getting behind schedule, and inevitably discussions turn to what can stay and what can go. On these occasions, Anthony and Ryan would double check with me that the editing solution they were thinking of did not mean a huge sacrifice in terms of emotional rhythm or motif elements, etc. After a short discussion between the three of us, an insert shot of the lead female character got cut. On the other hand, on another occasion, the real estate agent, talking to the lead character, says about an apartment, “Japanese don’t like old properties. They prefer new things.” A discussion developed between director, actor, and location manager (hey, sometimes it is the grip, or the carpenter) about the appropriateness of the line and what alternatives were available. I stepped in to point out that the line foreshadows something that happens six pages later, when the lead character thinks about giving up something ‘old’ for something ‘new’. The line stayed.

Reading that last sentence over now I realize it sounds like I was there to fight for my line, but that is not my meaning. Everyone on a film shoot is myopic. The DP watches the frame, the lighting director the light, the script supervisor the continuity, the actors their own role. Only the director is looking at the big picture, but he or she can get distracted by an infinite amount of trivia – a car parked in the wrong place, a shortage of lunches, the opening times of stores, an actor in the wrong costume, a battery that hasn’t been charged (all decisions Anthony had to make a call on during the Dark River shoot). The writer on set can be myopic about story – the director’s back up on this element if you like. The writer can consider how the script has evolved now that it belongs to these creative collaborators, and how it should continue to be nurtured in the right direction. Actors and crew bring so much to a film but story can be secondary to their own performance in the moment. The director can get caught up in that moment. That it is when it is valuable to have you, the writer, there on set, standing a little removed, keeping story as your primary focus.

Last year I gave a talk to postgrad Screenwriting students, outlining a case study of the development process to production of an award-winning short I had written. Most of the students had never seen their writing produced so I was there to provide a snapshot of the nuts-and-bolts issues involved. It really is a watershed as a screenwriter to have your work turned into a film. Screenwriting craft does not make sense till it happens and it is incredibly difficult to teach the realizations it brings. There are two thrills as a screenwriter when your work is produced: firstly, seeing a scene or moment on screen exactly as you wrote it in your visual storytelling; and secondly, seeing something new that enhances your work added by talented, creative collaborators.

I experienced both on Dark River. The film was shot on the RED Scarlet, creating absolutely gorgeous images. Here is the screen direction I wrote to introduce the main character:

A large RED BOWLING BALL. The ball drops away to reveal the face of ARCHIE, 27, fair hair and blue eyes. He swings the ball back, and bowls.

This moment was shot in ECU, exactly as it is written. Watching this on the monitor, the RED capturing the stark red of the ball, the blue eyes of Archie staring intently as the ball falls away, gave me chills.

The surprise was the performance of Matthew Thomas Lott, who completely inhabited the role of Archie. But he inhabited it in a way I did not expect. He said my lines, and followed my screen directions, but very quickly into the shoot, watching him work, seeing the way he moved, reacted to things, looked at people, blinked, I realised he had taken full ownership of Archie. Any preconceived notions I had of the character quickly fell away, and I did not talk to Matthew about the character in case those preconceived notions compromised his nuanced bringing of the character to life. He approached me once to ask about a line. I simply said to him, “Keep doing what you’re doing.” I think it was good advice.

We all hand over our final draft before production, and keep our fingers crossed that they will make our script-plus-added-value. Sometimes they do. Other times, they mess it up. I feel fortunate to have been part of Dark River’s production. This cast and crew would have shot a very good film without me there, but I like to think they shot a better film because the writer was part of the shoot.

Gentle Petals

Posted: August 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

I have many things I want to blog about, but I have far too much on at the minute to sit down and put words to screen – instead, you will have to make do with another poetry offering. I don’t know why I wrote these poems, or if they’re even poems at all? It seems these days poems don’t have to rhyme and purposely set out to confuse you…I don’t know about poetry, but I like to write – simple as that. Anyway, here’s the latest…

GENTLE PETALS

Those sweet gentle petals, peaceful, and pure
Their desire to grow, to blossom, mature
An innocence bright, so perfect, so sure
But beware of the frost, with evil at its core

The frost comes in silence, its presence is short
But enough time to chill, and strangle each thought
The innocence snatched, the purity caught
The petals will wither, no battle was fought

The frost is a predator, petals its prey
Piercing their beauty, they’re left in dismay
Emptied of life, soulless, they lay
So beware of the frost, hunting petals to slay

The sun will appear, and more petals will flower
Their beauty will flourish, with each waking hour
So nourish their beauty, with love you must shower
But beware of the frost, the frost…

Beware of the frost that destroys, and devours.

Until I have time to write something more substantial…

Peace x

50 Kisses

Posted: August 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

For those of you that don’t know, ’50 Kisses’ was the name of this year’s screenwriting competition for the London Screenwriting Festival. If you follow my blog, you’ll know I entered last year’s competition ‘Four Nights in August’  and made it down to the final 12 with my submission ‘You’ (there’s a link to the script in the post ‘Four Nights in August’). So this year, the brief was to write a 2 page script that was set on Valentine’s day and featured at least one kiss. Everyone was allowed to submit two entries and there were 1870 scripts sent in total. Out of this number, the competition organisers would choose 50 winners – their scripts would then be made public for filmmakers to take and produce with the aim to combine the best and create a feature length film that would get a theatrical release. To find out more about the competition, you can visit the website by clicking the lips below – on there they explain things much better than I do.

Anyway, I entered two scripts and was delighted when they both featured on the ‘longlist’. Then, when the final winners were announced, I was informed that one of my scripts had made the shortlist (the last 100). I was pleased. Obviously I wanted to be one of the 50 winners, but to get down to the shortlist again was a real confidence booster.

For anyone that’s interested in reading my submissions, you can do so by clicking the links below.

‘Valentino’ by Dom Brancaleone and ‘Chocolates for Nan’ by Dom Brancaleone

‘Chocolates for Nan’ was the script that made it through to the shortlist. If you have a spare minute, feel free to read and post any comments/feedback – or just read and say nothing. Alternatively, don’t read them at all, but you’ve come this far – so you might as well!

Now it’s back to business for me – tweaking my feature script and cracking on with pages for the collaborative feature I introduced in my previous post. Busy times ahead, but hopefully exciting ones too. I would strongly recommend that any budding filmmakers give making one of the chosen fifty scripts a go – for the chance to see your short as part of a feature with a theatrical release, it would be well worth the time and effort. If I can find the time, I’ll be making one myself!

Lastly, congratulations to the winners of 50 Kisses, but also hats off to the team that took on the mammoth task of reading all the scripts, judging them, and then analysing them to make sure the 50 chosen worked together as a feature.

Until next time, stay cool…

Peace x

“NO IDEA” Between Them.

Posted: August 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve not written the following blog. I know I know, it’s bad enough that my posts have become few and far between of late, but now I’m getting someone else to write them??? Don’t worry, I haven’t hired a PA or anything – as you read on, it’ll all make sense. The short explanation is, I am working on a new script with my writing partner Simon Regan, and we’re going to blog about the process. So when Simon blogs, I’ll put his post on my site and vice versa. I don’t think there’s a lot more I need to say, other than you should keep and eye on what’s going on as you may find it interesting reading about first timers on a collaboration project.

Over to Si…

Standing at the urinal, I feel a giddy sensation. I wasn’t used to giddy sensations when urinating. Not these days, anyway. And certainly not in a public men’s room in the heart of Bristol’s City Centre. In fact, I would go so far as to not recommend that anyone stand at a public urinal in any given city centre with a massive grin on their face. At any rate, I’d like to think that the days of heady excitement whenever I would go for a tinkle in a public place amongst my gender peers was long behind me. And yet, on this particular occasion, I most certainly was grinning.

Being the happenin’, technologically hip, man about town that I am, I had taken the 30 second window in which I wasn’t engaged in conversation with another human being to remove my mobile phone from my pocket to check my email.

Two days earlier, I’d received an email from my good friend and frequent writing partner Dominic Brancaleone. I rather look forward to these emails, as more often than not they signal the propelling forward of one project or another, in some way or other. In short, an email from Dom often meant I would inevitably have some work to sink my teeth into. But this particular email, two days ago, had been rather… cryptic.

Judge for yourselves:

See what I mean?

Although, I thought the “x” was a nice touch. It certainly kept me on side.

I’d been collaborating with Dom on and off for a few years. We met on the UK Film Council’s Advance Screenwriting Program, and had immediately clicked. At the conclusion of the course, we kept in touch thanks to email and social media. Just the odd “How are you?”, “What are you working on at the moment?” sort of stuff, but our correspondence always ended the same way. With the automatic – almost unconscious – sign off that I have found to be the “go to” conversation ender between any manner of creative individuals.

“We should work together on something some time.”

A standard farewell, hilarious in its ubiquity amongst writers and film makers alike. I shamefully confess that it is something I have said (and had said to me) so often over the years, that I paid it no credence whenever Dom or I would use it to sign off 90% of our correspondence.

The writery equivalent of “Let’s do lunch, sometime!”, or “I’ll call you, baby!”

But then, over time, we started to exchange actual ideas. Before long we had written a comedy short about a group of inept documentary film makers (a sort of send up of exploitative “The Man With A Face For A Brain” pseudo-documentaries), and a frankly hilarious six part web-based comedy series revolving around two “odd couple” flatmates that was initially devised by Dom.

While a “rough cut” pilot for the latter of the two has been shot and is currently in post production in London, both projects remain in various stages of development, out of our hands. While I continued work on my own individual projects, and with Dom refining a feature of his own, our progress as a writing team was stagnating.

So, stood at that urinal two days after “cryptic-gate”, with that ill-advised grin upon my expectant face, it was with great curiosity that I opened his highly anticipated follow-up email. Contained within was something I could never have expected.

Having worked on a handful of 6-8 minute projects together, the last thing I expected to read was a pitch for a feature film script. But that is what I found. A little taken aback, I read the email over a few times and… well… I LOVED IT. A little ambitious? Sure. But such was the power of Dom’s enthusiasm that I was completely convinced that we could pull it off.

And so, in these last few months of back and forth emails, we have developed a clear narrative path and a working treatment from which to start the first draft of a script for “NO IDEA IN DA HOOD”: A comedy set in North London, highlighting the contrasts between the middle class suburbs and the high-rise tower blocks that surround them.

Will it be a challenge? Absolutely, but an exciting one! With the better part of 80 miles between us, the bulk of the exchanging of ideas will be limited to email and video calls, with face to face meetings likely being few and far between – not to mention individual family and work commitments to juggle too.

This process is going to be just that – a process. We are learning the art of feature collaboration as we go. How to split up the work? Page by page? Scene by scene? How to keep the dialogue consistent and uniform throughout? After all, it is one thing to work on a mini series together, developing a series arc but dividing up episodes, but a feature is a different beast entirely.

I did a Google Image Search for “Collaboration”, this is what popped up. I think it’s a kinda creepy.

We intend to blog about this process, from the inside out, taking anyone who wishes to read about it along on this brand new experience with us. We have no idea where it is going to take us, and only a vague idea of how we’re going to get there, but as we develop this script we want to try to keep everything as transparent as possible. Sharing the stories of the highs and lows, the struggles and the triumphs along the way. Hopefully by the end of it all – in the not too distant future – we will discuss what happens next, when we have a finished script.

There are already a host of exciting peripheral aspects to the film on the horizon – with all the usual Twitter, Facebook and YouTube Channel goodness to follow, once we have a finished script. As well as the pilot for the aforementioned mini-series, which we hope will be ready to share with you all in the near future. But, those are all things for another time and another blog.

In the meantime, please Retweet/Share this post for all your amazing friends to see by using the buttons at the bottom of this post.

You can keep up with updates regarding our “NO IDEA IN DA HOOD” progress – as well as all our other projects in development – by Subscribing to both my blog and Dom’s blog.

So there you have it – our shiny new project! I’m obviously still working on my own stuff (Beach Huts, which is nearing completion) and will keep you updated with news on that as and when.

Until next time – be inspired!

Peace x