The Weekly Screen & Fiction Writers' Tips

Posts Tagged ‘movies’

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





The written word versus the visual one?


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?


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.



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

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



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?


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.


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.


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

Fiction + Passion = Real Fiction

In Writing Tips and Advice on 24/08/2013 at 16:39

Max 2

Once upon a time there was a stand-up comedian, singer, entertainer, game-show host and actor in the UK named Max Bygraves. He was born in 1922 and began performing in the 1940s. At the age of 60, in 1982 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, performed with Judy Garland, and appeared with many US performers, such as Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason. Then in 2012, at the age of 89, he died.

And the point of this ….

I’m getting there. Patience.

Max’s favourite catchphrase, which usually began his show was ‘I wanna tell you a story!’ This opened his stand-up routine with, would you believe it, a story.

Aaahhh! See where you’re coming from.

Good. Now all fiction writers, whether it is a novel, film, television play, radio and stage play, irrespective of the genre are ‘telling us a story’. But to tell us an effective story you have to be passionate about it. Because your writing will reflect that. If you aren’t, then the lack-lustre passion will be felt and whatever you’ve just written will fall flat on its face. And I can almost guarantee, no matter what you’ve just written – unless you’ve self-published – will not even reach the reader, viewer, et al.

Allow me to elaborate.

Wish you would.

Try to imagine just one of the following: something that makes you stomp, keeps you awake, creeps up in your conversation, research on the internet, forces you to join a group, or a society, or even think of starting one, encourages you to go and buy a magazine, or a book, or search for the topic, any film will do at your local video store. I think you may be getting the point. PASSION. Something that infuriates you enough to write about it.

In the olden golden days, people used to write letters to newspapers, magazines, radio, or television. You know the sort of thing. Dear Sir, I wish to object most strongly, about the dreadful dress sense of the newsreader on the night of the 24th. Blah, blah, blah. Or some other complaint. That is a passion. That is something that moves you to write about it. But the real reason why viewers, readers wrote those complaining letters was to air and point out their grievance to the largest group of people possible in the hope that there were others who felt the same way.


Some fiction writers do that all the time. Their grievance is their theme. Their theme is their passion. However, I word it, it comes out sounding the same. GOOD FICTION NEEDS A THEME. GOOD FICTION NEEDS PASSION. I am not shouting that last phrase, by the way. I am emphasising it.

Now I don’t want to drone on about self-published novels and e-novels and how lacklustre some are because there is no passion. That is another blog. And I don’t mean the passion of two people, or more, in bed, on the beach, romping either. That’s also going to be another blog. We are concerned here about the topics, as I explained earlier, that ‘ruffle your feathers’, which you can turn into a novel, film or a play.

Some good book and film examples of passionate themes are; Colour Purple, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, A Suitable Boy. There are thousands of examples and they are usually films or books you want to share, or talk about with other people. Are we getting the point? Yes, films and books with a message. A message that touches peoples’ hearts, minds, souls – their lives. MESSAGE = THEME. THEME = PASSION. PASSION = GREAT FICTION. Move those words around and see what you get. Try any combination. Yes. The answer is always the same. I am not saying, Boy meeting Girl – The End, is not a good book.

Well, it’s a bit plain. A bit boring actually. As a matter of fact I would never read a book like that. It has nothing going for it.

Then we need to do liven it up. How about boy meets girl, and knowing she only has a few months to live, leaves her, but he loves her too much and stays with her until she dies. Now, let me think, I’m sure someone has written a story like that? What I have done is presented you with the theme of true love, how to care for someone, how to truly love someone even if it is for a short while. Maybe it is about how people come into our lives to teach us something, then when we have learned, they move on. In this case, she dies. Maybe it’s a theme I feel passionate about and want to express it in a novel and share my feelings with others, who may learn from the story, the expression, the theme of true love.

That’s what will move your book, not the continual promotion. But the word of mouth of readers who are moved by your work, your theme, your PASSION.

Well, now that I have got you well and truly depressed, I am going to wish a great week.

No, no, no.

Due to my annual break, my next post will be on Sept 21. So until then have a great life. Love each other and be good to each other. Remember, you cannot replace the ones you love, so love them, unconditionally. If you know what I mean.


*Positive Provocations*

~Healing with Positivity, Love & Happiness!~

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