The Weekly Screen & Fiction Writers' Tips

Posts Tagged ‘films’

Film… Movie! Movie… Film! It’s the same difference isn’t it?

In Screenwriting Tips & Advice, The Art of Writing, Writing Tips and Advice on 19/10/2014 at 15:16

moviemaking

OR…

FILMMAKING

Whatever…?

The written word versus the visual one?

Well…

both really

I write with a filmmaker’s eyes…

I film with a writer’s structured mind…

Do you see? Do you see?

I see… already!

Hello fellow scribblers, key strokers, filmmakers, scriptwriters, daily creatives etc., etc.

Please tell me life has been kind to you?

Tell me you have met with success no matter how small.

A lifetime or two hundred suns ago.

Oh please don’t exaggerate. Ok.

Right, some time ago, as you know. I made a conscious decision to tinker with scriptwriting. And in a short space of time, I wrote a radio play, a stage play, a two, two-hour film adaptation of one of my novels, a half-hour television script and a number of other film and television scripts. I felt totally satisfied and believed I found my creative niche at long last. Well, at long last was up to that time.

I still craved. Creative minds do that, they crave. Whatever they are doing their minds are craving, yearning. It’s an intellectual drug. They need new experiences, new subjects to learn, new people to meet, new places to visit, new food to taste and so on. Well, for me I wanted to develop my screenwriting to the next level.

And what for heaven’s sake would that be?

Well, I’m glad you asked me, my dear conscious self. It’s like this. I became frustrated trawling through the internet looking for photos of a look alike protagonist or antagonist or love interest for my next screenwriting saga that I can pin on my board, or impatient by writing a short character description before they enter the scene. I wanted the real thing. I wanted people, because in my head, my characters were alive. Their dramas were vivid. Where they lived was real and their emotions, painfully human. There seemed to be only one avenue open for me.

To film my own scripts. To learn filmmaking and its various facets. To spend my time filming, meeting other filmmakers, to watch films, to join filmmaking groups, read filmmaking books and magazines and so on. The last time I felt this thrilled and occupied was when I began to learn how to write. I had to learn a new skill with all its pains, and its ups and downs. Remember the time when your scripts were rejected time and time again. What did Oscar Wilde say? ‘I’ve received enough reject letters to wallpaper my bedroom.’ Ah, the joy of learning.

 

quiet please filming in progress

So guess what I did with my time over those sunlit days and moonlit nights in the last few months? Yup! I became a film apprentice. As I mentioned in my last blog I have amassed my learning equipment, travelled high and low, met a lot of inspirational people and created at first, some outrageously amateurish footage. But it was fun. I learned a lot and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I filmed new angles with cheap home-made equipment. I had great fun coming up with new filming perspectives. But I was on the way to making my scripts become real. Currently, films similar to ‘The Blake Witch Project’ are masterpieces compared to what I still consider my mediocre efforts. But do you know what?

What?

They are my mediocre films. I am at that perfectionist stage when anything below that level is puerile, kindergarten output. But hey, I’ll get better. And in a coincidental way it has brought me back in touch with how I started as a writer, by writing short stories. I was quite surprised at that outcome. Now I have written several short scripts to create as my calling card. I have even dug up some of my old short stories – YES, NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY. As I said, I found these old short stories and am currently adapting them into film shorts.

Film festivals, have always got room for short films. And when I pondered some more about filmmaking, or moviemaking, making your own films is little different to a self-published book, although that is a lot cheaper to reproduce than a film. But the market to being noticed as a filmmaker is far broader than the one for books. You have festivals, the internet and television to spread your visual word.

Films, movies, a well-crafted script, short stories, documentaries, these are forms of expression. Of reaching out with a theme, a visual message. But isn’t that what fiction or non-fiction books, short fiction, articles and poetry is doing. I am still voicing my messages, but now I have increased my chances of being heard. It’s not about me wanting to become famous, far from it, it’s about increasing my audience.

 

lights camera action

 

It really is ‘Lights. Camera. Action.’ And do you know what? No matter how old I’ll get, I will always stop, assess and learn new ways to increase my audience, and my skills. I will never be happy with one medium and that has always been the case from the time I was able to hold a pencil and scribble some indecipherable something on a page and glow with pride, shouting ‘I did that. I did that.’

So until I meet with you again, just sit back and assess yourself and your skills and ask if you can go off into a new direction. And if you want to, then ask yourself what is stopping you and get rid of that hurdle, work your way around it, through it, underneath it, anything. JUST DO IT. Don’t just sit there and wish.

Well… until the next time we cross paths, love you and those around you. Listen, encourage and be patient with you and them. Remember, they will be the first ones there when you want your ass kicked, hand stroked and your cheek kissed.

Keep well. Remove your creative blocks. And be at peace.

Believe in you.

Nev

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Tick Tock! Time is not my friend when there are many things to do!

In Writing Tips and Advice on 27/05/2014 at 13:17

dripping clock

OR…

The battle of age versus interest…

new skills…

demand…

not enough time…

Why is my brain so active, alive!

Why am I like that loveable Johnny… ‘More input. Input.’

Hello again key bashers, candle burners, dawn word thumpers, midnight creatives etc. etc.

Mighty jehosophats! Where has time gone?

Do you know, since the last posting, which now seems an aeon ago, but it’s only been a few weeks, life here has been a land speed record. It sort of whooshed by. I’ve been away for a while. Then there is the usual sniffle, but to a man it feels like some major epidemic. I’ve been writing, reading watching films, writing films, tried to keep up with all my social duties, all my online duties, such as Stage 32, Twitter, Facebook, About me, Pinterest and a few others. Yes, I’ve had to keep up with all that, but my biggest reason has been my new found interest of film making.

Some time ago. There, it’s that time again. I made a conscious decision of making films of my own screenplays, rather than let others do them. What prompted this decision are the people I met recently. People within the film industry here in the UK, online and in Los Angeles, such as Dov S-S Simens, Syd Field and many others. But one person has stood out a Canadian who lives in the UK but has a global passion, an international vision and formed Raindance, Elliot Grove. You have to check out Raindance. It’s an indie filmmaker’s Nirvana. The guy is so passionate about film. I can honestly say I have all his books, been to Raindance London, where I attended a course given by Dov. I am a dedicated member of Raindance now and my next natural step had to be… filmmaking.

value your time

My time is valuable in many ways. But I was determined to master the craft of indie filmmaking. Now I won’t go into much detail at this point, since most of my up and down, negative, positive, hair pulling film experiences are kept as a daily journal to be published in book form in the near future. But my learning experiences have been joyous. I am now writing short film scripts, which apparently are like gold dust, and filming them. I decided to start with short films, venture onto a documentary or two and then features. This is my learning plan. Currently, I am amassing my equipment, kit or whatever you young filmmakers call your resources and that in itself is a huge learning curve. Film language has to be learned when I begin working with media students, film crew and professionals, since that is the language they speak and it makes communication more fluent.

Anyway… I have digressed yet again, since the point of this posting is about time, or lack of due to present commitments and new skills. But this learning period is also an investment for the future. It’s about getting my products, skills, talents, ideas and words out there, for others to see, read and absorb. I believe there is only one way of doing that and that is to stop, take stock and invest in those new skills.

If you want to continue life as a writer, in whatever form, that’s fine, but I am the new skills hungry, intellectual ants in the brain kind of guy. I cannot sit still intellectually. Besides, everything I do is related, connected linked to one major core – creativity. And I firmly believe that filming provides me with the opportunity to wrap everything I have done, and doing, all my skills into new directions. It’s an expression. In other words I am not just sitting down waiting for opportunities to happen, I am making them happen. I am increasing my chances of being noticed. Isn’t that what we all are trying to do. To be noticed. Well, adding new feathers in my boa is increasing the odds of being noticed and for my creativity to reach new audiences.

So that’s what I have been doing in my time in the last few weeks. I wish I could have said, I was on some golden beach, sipping on margerhitas,  gazing at some bronzed woman and dreaming of the World Cup. But no! I aint that kind of guy. I am huddled in a room, learning all about Follow Focus, Depth of field, bokeh and so on. And do you know what… I love it.

Well… till the next time I enter your life, you have a good one and love your loved ones. Listen to them. Encourage them. Be patient with them. Because if the you want some truth. Your loved ones have a huge bit of you in them, so love yourself too.

Take care. Stay creative. Stay full of peace.

Believe. Believe. Believe.

Nev

Where have I been? You really don’t want to know…

In Authors and Books on 08/03/2014 at 14:32

missing link 2

OR

sorry to sound mysterious

BUT

sometimes, one loses time doing other things

AND

really I have no excuse

SO

let’s get on with the show…

What’s today’s philosophical question?

‘Do novelists remain novelists all their lives, or do they move to pastures new?’

AND

‘If they do remain novelists, then do they change genre?’

Hmmm… Interesting thought Watson. I just need to play a few notes and have a few smokes from my pipe. Well, I suppose you shouldn’t speak in general, but I’m sure that some novelists move on to new ways of expressing their creativity. It is very possible.

And so, Holmes it is possible to think, that some writers change their style.

Yes, yes, of course. One has to think of the story. Would it be better as a book, poem, film, short story, comic and so on. You cannot assume that because you are a novelist, and you have a story, then it must be suited to a novel. You can make it so, but perhaps it would lose the depth, the emotion, the characterisation.

Then it is settled Holmes. A novelist cannot remain a novelist.

Oh Watson, you are generalising again. How can that be? A novelist who wants to change their style need also consider whether they have the skills to do so. This isn’t some instant decision.

Yes, of course, skills, aptitude. It isn’t some area to rush into. That could lead to disaster. That could destroy your writing confidence, your voice, your creativity.

Absolutely Watson.

missing link 1

So then Holmes, what about genre?

What about genre?

Well, my initial question? Can a novelist change genres, or do they have to remain with the genre they know?

The answer is in your question Watson. You said, ‘with the genre they know’. To change one’s genre requires a tremendous effort. To write about a genre, you have to know the new genre, as well. To know the associated words and expressions, the characters’ mannerisms, speech, the way they dress, the background and so on. If you need to write about it, then you have to have almost lived it. Can a romantic novelist, suddenly become the writer of steam-punk detective novels? I hardly think so. I may be proved wrong here but I believe that you have to spend as much time reading that type of genre as reading romance.

Yes, you’re right Holmes. You can only write about something well if you are familiar with that topic. And write with the same skill set as other writers of that genre.

Bravo Watson. You have answered all your own questions. Excellent.

So, it’s goodbye from me until next week.

Have a positive productive week.

Love one another and be creative.

And this week I ask you to love yourselves.

Ta Ta.

Theme? Theme? Theme? What is theme? What is my theme? I want to scream…

In Screenwriting Tips & Advice on 01/02/2014 at 12:31

theme 2 images

OR

Is it love?

Is it war?

Is it justice?

Is it about the unfairness of life in giving me another parking ticket when I stopped for a few seconds at my local store to get some apricot jelly/jam for breakfast?

Hello… Pensmiths of the world

So how are you? Please tell me you have had a great week. Have you been kind and loving to everyone? Did you help any old people across the street? Have you stroked any animals and got nipped in the process? What have you written? have you written every day? Great. Remember we have to keep the world going. The rest of the world needs writers. We are their everything: entertainment, news, information, education etc. Do you see how important you are?

Now… while you maniacilly scribble your weekend to do list in your notebooks, allow me to mention this week’s theme. Yup it’s THEME. No matter what you write… from a simple poem to a novel, a film, news article, DIY article, they all need theme. But seeing we are only concerned with the fictitious world, then that’s what we’ll concentrate on.

So what is THEME? This is a blurred area for many new and some established writers. More often than not, many books and films fall prey to that universal theme of LOVE. Yup, there isn’t enough love in this world, so we’ll make sure we’ll promote it in our writing, and in our films. There’s a lot of lonely people out there, so let us tell the rest of the world how lonely they are, how hungry they are for love, how they yearn to be one half of a couple. Then we can write a film script about divorce, how relationships break up, what happens to the kids during this time, how the warring couple will divide their chattels, house and so on. Yes, I’m sure that will make a good film. In fact, I think it will make a great film. ‘War of the Roses’ anyone?

There are many films when the theme is clearly obvious. I was thinking of writing a film around the theme of ‘how unfair it is getting a parking ticket while stopping at a grocery store to get a jar of jelly’. But if I did write a film around that theme then very few people would actually see my theme. So how do you present a theme?

First of all what gets under your skin?, makes you angry? you can’t stop talking about? you have to discuss wherever you go? a topic you would like to share with the world, you feel strongly about? have a strong opinion about? Well my friends, that is a theme. And if you are writing a novel, or writing a film script, then you present both sides of the argument. The protagonist represents your belief and the antagonist highlights the opposing view. Yes, that simple.

It is the theme of an essay, you argue for and against and then reach your conclusions. So a novel and a film is really an essay of an argument you are presenting to the world.

theme 2

Okay, here’s a little exercise, I would like you to write a film around the theme of violence, and the question is are we born aggressive, or are we made aggressive? First of all, what is your point of view? Do you hold an argument for or against? If you believe we are born aggressive then present your facts and proof for as the protagonist and then present your facts and proof against, but this time you are the the antagonist. For every argument for, present an argument against until you reach a conclusion, or not.

You see themes are just that… there are people who would agree with you and there are those who do not. Your film could present facts and proof, those against or for might not have considered and so on.

If your film has no theme, then it is very likely viewers will have anything positive to say about it. A lot of viewers enjoy exploring the images searching for that theme and taking sides. And there is nothing better than watching a film with some friends and then heading off to a pub or club afterwards and discussing it. You see films aren’t just about crashing cars, killing aliens or adultery, films are an intellectual entertainment.

Even if the theme is a simple love theme, there is still the joy of enjoying how the writer, director, actors and crew have portrayed their arguments.

So can you name any films with strong themes, weak themes, no themes, radical themes, controversial themes and so on? Go and look for them. Don’t just watch a film for film’s sake, what’s bubbling underneath, what has really pissed the writer off, what does he or she feel strongly about, what facts and proof has the writer demonstrated.

theme 1 images

So could the themes be any of the above, or was it something new you can add to the list? What have you learned from the film?

Have a great week exploring new films, and novels. Find out which films and novels you tend to ignore and find out why? You can learn a lot about yourself by what you watch and read. And as a writer of both, you can learn a lot about yourself and your attitudes and beliefs.

So really you can have a wonderful week of doing everything. Watch, read and write. Oh joy.

Right my lovely ones, until next week. Enjoy film and read books in all their glory. If you do catch some great films tell us about them and their themes. And your experience, of course.

Have a great week.

Love one another and be creative.

And this week I ask you to love yourselves too.

Ta Ta my little pretties

SO! You ready to tell the world something important? Or do you want to get your facts right first. You’re just thinking about it.

In Writing Tips and Advice on 25/01/2014 at 17:43

copper images

OR…

There isn’t one…

Because you need to find

something new.

Then, and only then you can brag to the world

or better… shout to everyone the following.

 new idea Unknown

Hello again midnight lamp habitants, or early morn bird feeders. You know who you are.

So another week has whooshed past, Saturday transformed into Monday and Friday became Saturday and the cycle repeats and moves on. That’s how time works, right? We can’t slow it down or stop it can we? Nope! So instead of moaning about it, turn things around and bring our thinking in from a different angle. Look at things differently, change our perspectives, right? Yup!

Yo… that’s so heavy man. Any chance we can sort of bring the sun in and lift us up into a brighter disposition man. This is so heavy, doom-like. It’s breaking my spirit.

Point made.

So what is your point man?

My point. Starting from this week I am going to post a step-by-step process from thought to finished screenplay, ready to submit the industry. So how do we start? How does the idea process become a film?

1. How to nurture your thought germ.

Where do we get an idea for a film? This part is no different from any other  story creation. Ideas for films follow the same pattern. Something tickles our cells and it grows. We could find the idea by watching a film or a television programme, or from a book or from real life. Real life provides many opportunities; it could be a writer’s journal, sitting in a cafe observing people, listening to conversation, reading a book, magazine or a newspaper, listening to the radio, a poster catching your eye, a phrase from the internet. Believe me, the opportunities are endless. It could be a combination of many I’ve just listed, for example.

A spark for a story can come from a character you’ve just seen, heard, or met. A phrase someone just said, or read or seen. A place you’ve just visited, would like to visit or someone spoke about. It can come from a note from your journal, a title of a book, a film or a song.

So what do we do with this idea? Usually, I let it germinate, or bounce around my brain either until another idea sparks off a story, or that initial thought has developed into a creditable story. Then I do the same about finding a character, or a name, or a title, or a place, or an antagonist, or an ending.

Don’t forget you are a writer. Be imaginative. You have your own voice, your own interests, your own likes and dislikes. All of these facets and more go into that hotpot of ideas and eventually into your stories. Don’t worry about genres at this stage, or genders, or location. We’ll worry about those things and also theme later. What we are creating at this point is a basic story structure. I am not even talking about plot. This is just a basic ‘One day…’ or ‘Once upon a time…’.

Ideas from the world around you can provide you with every facet of your story, then you just piece them together and create a fictional whole. No one will know that the heroine is actually your grandfather, and vice versa. Your interests or hobbies can be a part of the main character, or you may have had secret desires to be the a bad guy. It happens all the time in movies and television. Good guys playing bad guys and vice versa. Or women wanting to play masculine roles and vice versa. It’s no big deal, men have been playing women’s roles since before Shakespeare’s time. In fiction, anything is possible, remember that.

Your story, therefore can be a mishmash of influences from your own life. A snippet here. A phrase from that television programme. A woman you saw at your local beef burger joint. A family member. A house you used to live in. A house you visited as a child. Food you despise. Manners you despise. Interests you love. Clothes you love wearing. Your secret desires. Your secret past. The more real you can make your story from real aspects of your life, notes you’ve written, desires, wants, wishes.

You begin to see that stories are fictional, but constructed from real details. That’s how it is. James Bond was real. So was Jason Bourne. Superman, wasn’t and neither was Batman. The writers used that magic phrase every professional writer uses. ‘What if…?’

What if my mother is really a sleeper. A government agent ready to spring into action. What if those Wednesday afternoons she plays bridge is really her weekly training session at a secret location and that’s why she is always late? Why does she spend so much time on the internet? And are those crochet magazines she receives every week by courier, really crochet magazines? What if your dad is really her section chief and he is in charge of many other highly trained couples in the district? You begin to look at every jogger and cyclist with suspicion. Maybe you should take a look at all the fit people at your local gym? Could they be part of a your dad’s circle or are they part of another circle you haven’t identified yet?

Well, who knows? But there is a story possibility there. And all I did is applied that simple ‘what if…’ phrase. You can apply that to anything and come up with a story. Could two aliens be leaving secret messages for each other by disguising it as graffiti on the back of a bus? And so on? There are no limitations, just opportunities especially when you ask why, and what if?

idea image

Next week, we will go into the next step, story structure.

Get out there and write notes about the world you inhabit and those around you. There’s a story there, I guarantee it. And by the way, don’t blame me for any marital upsets or family revelations.

So… until next week, keep well, loving and full of peace.

Believe. Believe. Believe.

All my loving

Nev

So What Movies Do You Watch And Why Do You Watch Them?

In Screenwriting Tips & Advice on 02/11/2013 at 10:59

jaws

OR

What do I want to watch?

What do I watch?

Why do I watch?

What wonders will my chosen watch reveal?

Hiya Wonder Followers

Have you had a good week? I’ll wait so you can respond. As good as that. Wow! Did you make new pals? Great That will keep the world going.

Well, thank you for sharing your life with me. Greatly appreciated.

As a fiction and screen writer I am often asked what my favourite genres in fiction and movies are. I am never reluctant to answer, no matter how busy I may be, because if someone took the time to show interest, then I shall take the time to reply.

Most of my time in the last few years have been taken up with screenwriting. As I mentioned in a previous blog, my writing time appears to centralise around screens – little ones, big ones, internet ones.

But let’s take fiction… When I started reading as a boy, I read Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming, but what I yearned for was reality, grit, black and white, shadows, society’s dark side and I discovered Noir. I read so many. They engrossed me. They gripped me. They were so far away from my own life, they thrilled. I still read Noir and many of the books I read earlier have become classics. Authors like Richard Stark, Dashiell Hammett, Derek Raymond and so so many more.

Inevitably, my writing began to reflect my reading style and still does. I suppose you can now call it ‘Mature Noir’. There you are… my own category. Dark writing for mature people written by mature people.

You know what?

What?

Every week I shall mention a book title I read and by whom. They may be authors you never heard off before, which is great.

One of my personal highs as a human is exploring new ideas, areas, authors, music, etc. Anything new I come across. You never know if this new area will end up a love of yours. I love reading a new author, or listening to a new album, or watching a new film someone has recommended.

clapperboard

So in addition to a book I have read, I will also tell you about movies I have watched and why. I am a little selective with movies. I don’t watch everything that moves on the screen. I tend to watch what attracts my intellect, me, the genre I write in, what appears to be interesting and so on. So a lot of my earlier films were by directors like Godard and Melville and many, many more. As a screenwriter, I watch a lot of movies, so I may recommend a film I watched that week, or a new film I watched or a film that popped into my head, or a film to watch as a writer.

In the last few years I have been turning to watching classic Noir, Thrillers from around the world. Believe me, you have to do it. I love watching subtitled films anyway. It provides me with the opportunity of reading the dialogue, which is so essential to a great film.

A lot of people have told me that they cannot watch subtitled films, because they cannot follow the plot, or storyline and read at the same time. Do you know what? It gets easier. Easier to be able to watch and read at the same time. Besides ‘foreign’ films, I believe, are so much more original, real, adventurous, memorable than a lot of the English speaking ones. And to be honest… I am getting quite tired, of zombies, werewolves, vampires, frat films, a lot of horror films and rubbish that is churned out, day after day in the hope of grabbing that last nickel before the film theme dies completely.

My first foray into subtitled foreign films happened to be Italian films with wonderful directors like Fellini and  Visconti. At that time I also listened to Italian opera. I am not Italian, but I felt I was. It was everywhere in my life, food included. I was young, about seven, but that’s all I knew.

There is such a wonderful atmosphere about subtitled films. They are fresh. They touch upon subjects which English speakers shy away from. Watch ‘I am Curious:Yellow’, made in 1967 and see wonderful writing, superb characters, great direction and an astonishingly frank theme that banned the film for many years. Then they brought out ‘I am Curious: Blue’, but that’s for another day. A lot of the films are very intellectual, most of the Bergman films are. You have to pay attention with subtitled films. You have to unravel some of them. Look deep within and capture the symbolism, the depth of character, the ending.

Films, movies, ‘flicks’ ‘picture shows’, whatever you want to call them are one of my loves. And I hope to infect you with some of my passion.

nosferatu

Since we have just ‘celebrated’ another Halloween, I thought I would leave you with a still from a very early B&W film. ‘Nosferatu’, a silent film from Germany made in 1922. It scared many by shadows alone. Remember this is silent. No orchestra, no screams, no sound effects of creaking floorboards. To this day, this film is still considered the very best version of Count Dracula filmed. It’s astonishing to think how powerful the filming and the writing is to captivate so many for nearly one hundred years. 91 years for those who like it precise.

So, my lovely ones. It’s goodbye from me until next week. Enjoy film and all its glory. If you do catch some of the directors I mentioned. Great. Let me know what you watched. And your experience.

Have a great week.

Love one another and be creative.

And this week I ask you to love yourselves.

Ta Ta.

And if there is time I shall write why, going to mention

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