Monthly Archives: September 2013

How to be a better writer

Turns out, all I have to do to become a better writer, is to watch Columbo… Lots of Columbo…

Seems a shame, since I was always more of a fan of ‘The Rockford Files’.

Nevertheless, here’s an article that insists that Columbo is the way to go if you want to be a successful writer.

Thank you to Roz for bringing this to my attention.

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A Summary of my Scripts

I will keep adding to this list as I write more. I will also be crossing off scripts that people have already taken into production.

If you want me to write a script for you which is not included in the list above, just ask me on Facebook, or on twitter @LaurieDix or @MischiefMovies if you want to go for the more ‘professional’ alternative.

NB. None of these are my best works, but I smashed them all out within a couple of days. They’re not supposed to be Oscar Nominations, just supposed to be little experiments. I hope they suffice. If you want to see what I can really do, they ask me to write something for you. If you have an idea for a script in mind, I will happily work on them with you if you feel you could use a little help.

The Statement of Randolph Carter
A screen adaptation of ‘The Statement of Randolph Carter’ by H.P. Lovecraft. Two men go on an expedition to explore a tomb. One of them does not return.

Under the Circumstances
A monologue, written from the perspective of a man, hiding in his attic, as he spirals into madness.

American Sit Com
A parody of how I see most American sit coms, especially those from the 60’s and 70’s. Complete with canned laughter.

American TV Drama
Even buying a bottle of milk becomes a dramatic showdown. Based on CSI and 24.

Books
It didn’t take long me to begin to suffer with writers’ block. This is one of the ways I wish I could get new ideas, absorbing them by osmosis.

Disappointed Mob
Who remembers the angry mobs of yesteryear? The kind with pickaxes and flaming torches? And who knows how much deeper it cuts when you hear the words ‘I’m not angry with you… I’m just disappointed.’ Combine those scenarios and take them to their natural conclusion.

Fear of the Dark
or: How to terrify your child and be a terrible parent.

Fifteen Year Plan
An existential crisis during a job interview may not be the way to go.

Football, honest
A mockery of gender stereotypes in the style of a beer advert.

For The Birds
Inspired by ‘The Birds’ by Elbow. An old man befriends a young nurse in the most sentimental script I’ve written.

Grave Situation
The monologue of a young woman, discussing mortality with the deceased.

Just a Moment
A man is delayed in delivering a ransom as he is frequently stopped by charity workers.

Kismet
A ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ style conversation about destiny and our place in the universe.

No Doors, No Windows
Someone awakes in a room with no doors, no windows, and one other person whom you should not trust.

No One Was Prepared
Bleak, apocalyptic monologue.

Playing House
We all played ‘House’ as children, but not all of us played ‘House M.D.’

Second Hand
A man discovers that his watch is capable of altering the flow of time, however it is important not to get too over zealous.

Smoke
Based on the song ‘Smoke’ by ‘Ben Folds Five’. Following a break up, a woman burns her diaries, and along with them, her memories.
– Ryan Cleary

Tea and Toast
Tea, toast, newspaper, breakfast, routine, abduction.
– Connor Coolbear

Wardrobe
A piece written specifically for foley. Someone, or something, is in the house, but from the inside of the wardrobe, how will you know what it is?

What’s Out There?
Post apocalyptic bleakness again. Two people in a room are left with the decision; die slowly in here, or quickly out there?

When I’m Cleaning Windows
How do people clean automatic doors?

Writers’ Block
A monologue from the point of view of a writer, staring at a blank page, waiting for ideas to come.
(Guess where the inspiration from this one came from.)

So there we are, there’s a bunch of scripts if you want them. Just ask.
You will notice that most of these scripts are written to be gender neutral. Anyone can play any character, which should make it easier to cast, and will also affect how the stories are portrayed. I have also written most of them, especially the monologues, with very little in the way of direction, sound or camera notes. This allows a low of room for creativity on the side of the director, sound designer, DoP, etc.

I will be putting the names of the people who ‘buy’ the scripts from me next to their title as they are crossed off. this way, if you are interested in a project that has already been sold, you can speak to whomever I sell them to.

Other Interesting Productions

It is important to keep in mind that the name of the course is ‘Filmmaking and creative media’. Sometimes, I prefer to think about other kinds of media, other than just film (although I love making films, there’s so many other flavours of things out there).

The other day we were reminded of some things we’ve seen in the past, other kinds of media, events and games, that will keep you on your toes.

2.8 hours later is a zombie survival game which is set up in various cities around Britain, and seems to going really well. Bristol seems to have at least one every year, and everyone I know who was involved in it seems to have had a blast. Everyone knows where they are with zombies, and everyone has had the old ‘What would you do in a zombie apocalypse situation?’ conversation… I know I am among true friends when their first response is ‘What kind of zombies? Naturally I assume you mean the George. A. Romero classic, which I apply as standard zombie rules, but if you’re talking about Sam Raimi Evil Dead Deadites or 28 Days Later infected, then we’ve got a lot of variables on our hands…’

Another game, this time for smart phones, is Papa Sangre, a game which uses binaural audio to make you navigate your way through the puzzles laid out for you. A few months ago I played Papa Sangre and The Nightjar (a science fiction alternative, set on a spaceship and narrated by Cumberland Bandersnatch, which relies on the same mechanics and was also produced by Somethin’ Else and powered by the Papa Engine) and it got me thinking about games designed for, or around, people with disabilities. The thing about Papa Sangre and The Nightjar is that you are focusing on sound, and in the development stages, people who were blind did a whole lot better at navigating the space by listening than the people who were able sighted. I began considering other disabilities and how I might be able to level the playing field a bit between able bodied and disabled people, in terms of game development. I also considered games which might specifically appeal to people with various disabilities, perhaps revolving more around tactile sensory experience, for children, for example. Anyway, I thought these were quite interesting games, and were really quite hard.

Not all events are as reciprocal as games, some are designed merely to be witnessed, such as the Clifton Troll Bridge stunt from last year. People were led to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, to witness the emergence of what every good bridge needs: A troll. And, because it’s Bristol, this one happens to be dressed as Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Not quite so interactive, but an enjoyable experience nonetheless, no doubt.

And finally, a real labour of love. Hypocentre is interesting because it didn’t involve any people… Or rather, it did, it involved a lot of people, the entire of Paris, who were then removed from the film frame by frame. Which has got to require skill and patience, to say the least. The video is spliced together with cutaways to suggest some sort of apocalyptic disaster, reminiscent of La Jetée, and the effect is somewhat unsettling, to say the least.

Some things to think about anyway, as I continue to consider what I might want to produce for my final major project. Media does not just mean film.

Developments in Ideas

I have had more ideas regarding my radio series, and have employed the help of my housemate and often co-writer, Tom.
Today has raised some interesting ideas, and hopefully I should be able to commit them to the page before they are lost to the ether.

Writers’ Hub also posted this today, which I feel will come in handy:

Image

A Slight Hiccup

I’ve never written a radio piece before, and I don’t know how they’re set out, or how you go about it.

So I’m looking into it, trying to work out what happens in a radio script.

The BBC has some interesting ideas, but nothing I can really use, more about generating content, which I already have.

Wikihow has some good tips on what should be achieved through writing, and it does go some way to remind me to write for audio, including sound effects, what needs to be done when you’re working in a purely aural medium.

More World Service stuff, which is a bit more useful, as it reminds me to think about things more closely, how to write a series in general, and then specifically for radio. Given that I intend to write these for Podcast, the format will be slightly different.

There are some examples of scripts here which is exactly what I wanted, as it shows me the format and how they’re written. I shall be studying these closely while I write.

Thinking in noise

Today, I am going to attempt to write a piece for radio.

I have been listening to a lot of podcasts lately, in particular Welcome to Night Vale, which gave me the idea for a short radio series which I will be embarking upon today.

The idea for the series is similar to Welcome to Night Vale, Twin Peaks or The League of Gentlemen, in that it is about a town where ‘things’ happen (a bit Lovecraft-ian, a bit House of Leaves-ey, a bit Eerie Indiana) but each episode would be told in the style of the intro/outro sequences from The Twilight Zone; a monologue about a person. Throughout the series, we will see into the lives of the people who live there, things they have experienced and how they interact. Perhaps we might only see a day in their life, a few strange hours, or perhaps it will be the story of their birth until their death, but we will follow each character and there will be crossover with other characters…

At least, that’s the idea…

We’ll see how it goes.

Something to keep in mind

Chances are, if I want to make it as a writer, I’m going to want an agent at some point…
Getting an agent isn’t as easy as approaching somebody and handing them a piece of paper that says ‘Fancy representing me in exchange for a small financial incentive?’. Although, you could do that, they might not be all that great.

So, I’ve had a look at what it does entail:

Here is a little interview with a couple of guys, Rob Kraitt and Matthew Bates, who know about this sort of thing.

As Neil Gaiman always says: ‘If you want to be a writer: write.’

The Writers Room seems like a pretty good place to see what’s going on, get some information and some advice, and they also accept scripts and offer opportunities.

I also found this list of Agents, which also has a couple of helpful links to interviews with Jason Arnopp and Lucy Hay on how to get an agent, what to do when you’ve got one and why representation is good..

I also found some information from Danny Stack on the Catch-22 of scriptwriting, which is honest but encouraging.

The Writers Workshop also had this to say about agents, as well as information about writing.

I guess I’d better get working on my portfolio and try to prepare myself for years of rejection.

After that, maybe I’ll finally be able to implement some of the information I’ve found about what to do once you’ve got an agent, like this from Film Slate Magazine, and then be prepared for further years of rejection.

It appears that writing is a much maligned career. But I shall attempt to remain stoic.

Personal Development

You will need:

  • A CV
  • A positioning statement
  • An online presence (website, twitter, facebook, whatever…)
  • A showreel/portfolio
  • Business cards wouldn’t hurt
  • a BRAND

Business card ideas:

  • Nicely designed
  • Credit card sized?
  • What kind of stock?
  • Font? Colour? Brand?
  • Could they have a second use?
  • Have a QR code which links to my website?

POSITIONING STATEMENT notes:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you?
  • What makes you different or better than other people going for that job?

Ideas:

 

“Writer, storyteller, logophile, rascal.”

“Cowboy  Astronaut  Storyteller”

 

Remember, a CV is an ADAPTABLE TEMPLATE. It should contain:

  • Contact details
  • Personal details
  • Credits
  • Production experience
  • Professional roles (employment)
  • Interests and passions
  • Health and safety, risk assessment training proof
  • Skills and attributes (near the top)

See if you can get a photographer to photograph you working?

Should be less than 2 sides.

Put some images on there maybe? Make it interesting.

Generating ideas

“I have a very simple development credo: what would happen if X did Y?  E.g. What would happen if a man organised a wedding… If you know the answer, that’s not interesting.  If the answer is ‘I don’t know’, that’s the right answer.”

Jon Rowlands

 

“My books tend to be more based on situation rather than story…I want to put a group of characters (perhaps a pair; perhaps even just one) in some kind of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free.”

Stephen King

 

Stephen King has a tendency to bring together two unrelated ideas and make a story from that. So that’s one way of doing it.

 

CONSIDER:

  • Where do your ideas come from?
  • Why are you attracted to those thoughts?
  • Bring your SCRIPT STORY into the PHYSICAL WORLD.
    A world made of technology, aesthetics, physics and psychology.

PSYCHOPHYSICS

The relationship between the world and the way it is perceived.

INTERPRETATION rather than RECORDING.

LEARN YOUR TOOLS: knowing what you’re doing and working with is paramount.

Some Support

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.”

Miles Davis

 

 

“Perfectionism is self abuse of the highest order.”

Anne Wilson Schaef

 

“Try not, do, or do not. There is no try.”

Yoda

 

“Do not fear the blank page. It does not represent a lack of ideas or imagination, merely the promise of things to come.”

Me