Monday 30 November 2009

Thought Of The Day.

nobody will believe in your work if you don't.

Care to share?

5 Page Screenwriting Competition - Only A Few Days Left!

"I am a writer," he said, and the girl got impressed. "But I couldn't do the competition because I had to work and then I had to clean the cat and then I had to log onto Facebook."

Don't be one of them people. Be the writer you know you are, or be the writer you want to be, or --- if you've never written before...... find that creative soul that's hiding deep within you and let it out, be a part of our competition.

There are THREE PRIZES: Best Screenplay, Funniest Screenplay and Most Original Screenplay. I will also give a few gifts to the winners, namely a few books and DVD's.

Here are the rules.
  • Your script must be no more than 5 pages long (6 including the cover page)
  • The entire film is set in one place - the kitchen.
  • You must use industry standard formatting.
  • There are three characters: Anna, Mike and Hank.
  • Anna wants something from Mike, but there's no way Mike is giving it away.

That's your brief. You can only use those three characters - and at some point, Anna is going to need something from Mike that he won't be giving (it could be sex, a monkey, a wedding ring, who knows, it's up to you!)

Be creative, be imaginative, be daring, and get your script in by December 2nd 2009.

By submitting you agree for your screenplay to be shared with readers of the KITFW blog. I will read every script sent to me.

Care to share?

Saturday 28 November 2009

ideaaaaaas whereeee are youuuuuu, come backkkkk!

What is creativity? where is it? Who is it? How can I sit there some nights writing away like a maniac and other nights I sit there with pure blankness. I'm not talking about those nights when my ideas are bad or my inner-critic is telling me I'm useless, I'm just talking about those days when it just isn't there.

How can this be? How can the material not be there? It's like working in a shoe factory but being told there's no laces to finish the job. It makes no real sense. One night I can be laying there and BOOM, a genius idea for a story or a script. But on another night.. It's blank. A blankness that is impossible to describe, but I'll try. It's like you're looking down a blank road, waiting for a car to come out of the mist. But you keep searching and searching but it won't arrive.

I'm not annoyed or anything. It's not a problem, an idea doesn't have to come TODAY. It just seems crazy that it can't. If I have a genius idea tomorrow about a disabled camel that runs for President, why can't I get it today instead?

It's like a few months back when I wrote my tea addiction story and the one about dreams - they appeared from nowhere, for no reason. Why? How? Where from? And if I have the talent to write humour like that why can't I do it all the time? Why can't I write one about coffee right now?

I don't need answers, but it just fascinates me. I kinda like it - to be honest, it feels a bit magical. Where in my brain is it coming from? Or does it come from God? And if it does come from God, will he take a commission from my work?

It's a bit like that Elizabeth Gilbert video I posted a while back. She talks about the cosmic creative forces that swirl down from the ether and give you the genius for a moment at a time. And besides, she was talking about Tom Waits and great novellists, not about anonymous bloggers who miraculously have decreasing numbers of google followers.

So, yeah-- I don't really want actual answers. If you said "well, Kid, your creativity is stored in your elbow and only gets released when it hits certain temperatures," I would feel disappointed, because I like the magic and I also like to keep my elbow slightly below room temperature.

It's 4am. I am shooting a scene at 10am. Awake is not what I should be right now. If you see an anonymous blogger filming a scene tomorrow in Central London be sure to leave him a comment.

Care to share?

It's My Life. It's Now. Or Never.

And I had this thought HIT me, that we could be ANYTHING. It was this little wave of a thought, a feeling - that we could achieve EVERYTHING.
"There are no films I can be cast in right now." - 30,000 films are made a year. Yes you can get cast.

"I want to write a script but can't right now." - You have a laptop? Or a pen? Yes, you can.

"I need funding for my film but no-one will give me money." - There are fifteen billion people on the planet. There are sixty trillion dollars on the planet, and I have a few coins stashed in my room. So, yes - you can have funding.

"I can't find anyone trustworthy." - Are you trustworthy? Yes. Are you the most extra-special person in the world? No. Therefore, there are others like you. Go find them.

"I don't know how to do it." - Ask for help. You need help blogging, or writing, or directing, or making tea? Email me. You need help doing other things? Google people, find them, and ask.

"I wish I could just ask Spielberg a question." - Have you tried?

I'm going to go and achieve EVERYTHING I ever wanted. Let's all do it.

"This train
Carries saints and sinners
This train
Carries losers and winners
This Train
Carries whores and gamblers
This Train
Carries lost souls
This Train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train
Faith will be rewarded"


Care to share?

Friday 27 November 2009

It's A Kind Of Magic - Why We MUST Keep Creating Work Again And Again And AGAIN.

This is something I've always kind of known but last night it really hit me with clarity after speaking with my friend Steve. Although, this is an anonymous blog, so let's call my friend George. So me and George were talking-- we were talking about our careers, he's an actor, I'm not an actor, I'm a Writer and Director. George is not a Writer or a Director, but an actor. Anyways, we were talking (this is the same conversation as I just mentioned, I don't want you to think this is a new discussion) and we were talking specifically about my films, and specifically about my new one but also the older ones, so I guess specifically those too.

Anyhow, he asked me if I was happy with my new film. And I said I was, although I said it in the present tense, it was more like "I am." But he could tell from my reaction that I wasn't a hundred percent. This surprised me, as I was actually trying to pull a face like Al Pacino at the time, just for fun. Anyways-- don't get me wrong, I love my new film. It's great, the actors are superb, the production value is high and there are some genuine laughs in it. But I have this feeling that it's not my best. And it's not that there's anything wrong with it, it just doesn't have that little bit of magic. I've made like ten short films in the past, and two of them have the magic. Everyone who sees them just falls in love with them. And if they don't fall in love, they at least have self-pleasure for five minutes. But regardless, there is something about them. And my friend Steve, I mean-- sorry, George.. he told me how his girlfriend and her friend act out part of my film whenever they're on a night out (don't worry, it's not a film about rape and murder, just laughs) and I took that as a huge compliment. It's hard to say how huge, but probably around the size of a medium steak.

The conversation stopped abruptly whilst I sipped on some tea. This only lasted for about four seconds, and then we carried on. I started rambling about 'magic' in movies. About how, you never really know. You could write a script that's the best script ever written, but it won't necessarily transpire as magic on the screen. There's something else that needs to happen. When Eric Roth wrote 'Forrest Gump' he didn't know that the line about chocolates would become one of the most famous lines of all time. You just never quite know what you're gonna get. For example, Cameron Crowe created movie magic with the 'Tiny Dancer' scene in 'Almost Famous' (the cast are together on a tour bus, singing the Elton John classic...) -- for whatever reason, it's just the most perfect scene you could ever imagine. Everyone who sees that movie remembers that scene. It's golden, it's magic. But then, fast-forward a few years (or just walk there slowly) and there's Crowe's film 'Elizabethtown.' I remember reading the script and absolutely loving the scene where Dunst's character and Bloom's character talk on the phone to each other - it's about fifteen pages long and it's funny, moving, compelling. I remember Crowe talking about the scene during production, talking about how amazing it would be. I guess the plan was that it would be another Tiny Dancer moment. It wasn't. It was pretty average, in fact - the whole of 'Elizabethtown' was pretty average. The point of the story is not that you need Elton John to make a scene work (although this idea could be explored) but that - films are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.

And that's why we have to keep making them. That's why, when you show everyone that short film you did and the reaction of everybody is 'oh, that's cool' -- this isn't a sign that you can't captivate and excite them. It's a sign that, you didn't on this occasion. But there'll be others, you just have to keep searching for them. You have to keep writing. Keep creating things. This happens on a small level when you make a short film in your house with your cat and your parents, (it's called 'Kitty, I killed The Parents' - out soon on Blu-Ray) -- right up to when you're Kevin Smith and telling everyone 'Jersey Girl' is going to be the best thing you've ever done. You just never know.

"Uh well, I'll tell ya, I remember this one time - I'm in a Banshee at night in combat conditions, so there's no running lights on the carrier. It was the Shrangri-La, and we were in the Sea of Japan and my radar had jammed, and my homing signal was gone... because somebody in Japan was actually using the same frequency. And so it was - it was leading me away from where I was supposed to be. And I'm lookin' down at a big, black ocean, so I flip on my map light, and then suddenly: zap. Everything shorts out right there in my cockpit. All my instruments are gone. My lights are gone. And I can't even tell now what my altitude is. I know I'm running out of fuel, so I'm thinking about ditching in the ocean. And I, I look down there, and then in the darkness there's this uh, there's this green trail. It's like a long carpet that's just laid out right beneath me. And it was the algae, right? It was that phosphorescent stuff that gets churned up in the wake of a big ship. And it was - it was - it was leading me home. You know? If my cockpit lights hadn't shorted out, there's no way I'd ever been able to see that. So uh, you, uh, never know... what... what events are to transpire to get you home."

-Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) in APOLLO 13

So what I am realizing more and more is that there is just this kind of magic thing out there in the atmosphere, or in your work, or maybe it's in Cardiff, Wales. Wherever it's located - it's out there, and nobody quite has their finger on it.. and this is the great consolation for when you cry yourself to sleep at night thinking "I am not as talented as Tarantino." Maybe you're not as talented as Tarantino -- but that's not the point. Because you could both write a screenplay tonight. His could be incredible - his usual hilarious, crazy madness. And yours could be a little bit confused and awkward. BUT, that magic essence; who knows, it could end up in your work. This is WHY we all have secret favourite movies (like 'You've Got Mail' or 'Duets' for me) - there's just something in there that grabs you, that speaks to you - and you can't plan for that. We don't know what it is. We just know we found it in books when we were children and we find it in people we meet on our way through life.

It's a spark, it's a thing -- it's real but we can't feel it. We just know it when we see it. We know it when we see it. So if you've written nineteen scripts and no-one cared about them, don't give in. Number twenty could have the magic in it, you'll have captured something real and put it out there for people to feel.

"But when the night is falling
you cannot find the light
If you feel your dreams are dying
Hold tight...

You've got the music in you
Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
Can't forget
We only get what we give"

-New Radicals - "You Get What You Give"

Steve Martin was a stand-up comedian for ten years. For eight of those, nobody really 'got' him. Nothing was happening. The only constant thing is that he was still working, still going to clubs when, sometimes, there'd be literally three people in the audience. I guess the magic wasn't with him yet. And then one day, breakthrough--- almost overnight he was playing to full houses of 40,000 people. You just need to keep doing what you're doing, keep creating the work - stay true to yourself and show your work to as many people as you can, because one day, not too far from now - the magic is going to be there between the lines and you're going to capture the world.

Care to share?

Wednesday 25 November 2009

I wish there were more films like The Apartment

There is nothing more wonderful than watching The Apartment. I watched this with someone recently and was completely jealous that she got to see it for the first time. I want that experience again. I wonder if there'll ever be another film as perfect as this, it's hard to imagine.

Care to share?

I wish Jimmy Stewart was still making movies.

"I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long... "
-George Bailey

Care to share?

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Thursday 19 November 2009

Something That All Young Actresses Should Be Aware Of

There are a lot of pretty women in the world, and there are lots of guys who are terrible at interacting with them. This is obvious, of course. Years of loneliness and bitterness and other factors can lead a man to go a bit odd. A bit desperate. You know how it goes. I mean, you girls reading this probably think it describes 300 of your Facebook friends. Luckily, women can spot a weirdo a mile off. Except for in one situation - where various factors come into play.

There is one magic way to meet women. And not just any women, but the most beautiful women you could find. It's a very simple sentence, "I'm casting a movie." This weird piece of phenomena hit me the very first time I cast a film - and it seemed crazy to me. Here is a guy who rarely gets to speak to those wonderous beautiful ones - and suddenly, I can meet ten of them in a day, and they are all desperate for work.

The worrying thing is that many guys reading this are probably thinking "cool idea!" but herein lies the problem - nearly every actress I know has a story about a 'Director' who met them about a project, didn't have a script, and had some little project with 'artistic nudity' - and for me, and luckily most men in this business, we can see it for what it is. I guess we can recognize it in ourselves in some ways - how easy it is to interact with the beautiful people by making a movie.

So here's the thing - when you're a 22 year old actress with limited film credits and you meet some man who says he "worked with Altman in the 80's," your hope begins to grow that this project will help you in some way. You justify it by thinking that there's nothing wrong with nudity if it's artistic, and when the filmmaker keeps delaying the script you tell yourself it's okay, it's an experimental movie.

I'm a Writer/Director. When I cast a project I give all actors the script. They can Google me and see my work, articles about me, if they really want they can add me on Facebook, the work I do is completely justified. I've never shot nudity - but if I did, I'd tell the actors who's shooting it, where, I'd give them freedom to do whatever it takes to make the experience a comfortable one - it would be completely transparent, like everything I do in filmmaking.

Yet these filmmakers who are doing Arthouse films with 'brief nudity' tend to be elusive, mysterious figures, who never quite have a script ready-- and often want to meet up with the actress to discuss the project. Alarm bells for all of us, I'm sure-- but for an actor in the moment, it's easy to get caught up in thinking there's a good experience to be had.

Just the other day I was talking to an actress about this, an actress who is one of the most beautiful people I know - and I'm fully aware that, if I was an accountant, I'd never really interact with someone who looks like her. That feels creepy to even say, but it's the strange thing about this industry. Luckily, I'm a good guy, and her looks aren't an important part of our friendship, but I'm aware of it. And I'm aware that men are men. All the perversion and weird thoughts are going to be in the film industry as much as in the streets, or on Craigslist.

And I just want to bring awareness to this issue. And I want young actresses to know they are talented, beautiful people who should be doing exciting short films, immersing themselves in plays and meeting directors and producers who inspire them. If you meet a Director who gives you the ick, don't work for them. Whatever opportunity they offer can be found elsewhere in a less creepy way. And here's another common one - the innapropriate comment on the first meeting. If some 'Director' makes a comment about your breasts that makes you uncomfortable, get out of there, you don't need this experience. If the director had made that comment about an actors penis, they'd get thumped in the head.

I find it very hard to comprehend why a filmmaker's first short film would require nudity, there are so many other things to explore. Keep your clothes on, save the nudity for your boyfriend, or for the Hollywood film that pays you $10million.

Care to share?

Wednesday 18 November 2009

A Story - Written In Five Minutes By Two People With Writers Block

Here's a bit of fun. Tonight I was working on a feature film screenplay but had hit a bit of a wall - and my friend Anna was writing an essay for her class about an artist, and was similarly struggling for words. So, we put down our laptops and reached for some paper. My idea was that we write a sentence each, and the other one has to follow it - and so on-- and the story could only be a page long.

And we weren't allowed to spend time thinking, it literally had to flow immediately. So here it is. I began with the first sentence, in blue. Everything in red is Anna.

Once upon a time just south of New York, Mike was planning a party.
The Party was to be a costume party, and he had put months into his own outfit. "I look nothing like Batman" cried his friend, Jed. "I don't know why I thought this full body spandex was a good idea!" he said.

Three hours passed, and Mike wondered where all the girls were. Then he realized that the strange group of bearded dwarves in the corner were actually his good friends Jess, Tina, Barbara and Kim. Suddenly, Jed remembered that he had to get to church. He wouldn't have time to change out of the spandex, but he did happen to have a bible with him. Mike again reminded Jed that there is no God, and no church as it burned down during the great fire of 1973, in which 47 funeral attendees caught on fire.

"I am tired of all your random history facts Mike," Jess said. "Fuck you," replied Jed, who then reminded everybody that World War 2 was won by the Jamaicans. "You have no fucking idea what you're talking about man, and for that you are the one who is going to Church now" said Barbara, "the rest of us are going skinny dipping."

Unfortunately, since the fire, local safety regulations had been tightened - and dwarves were not entitled to go near the water. Good thing they were only dwarf costumes, and they went skinny dipping.

Care to share?

Saturday 14 November 2009

The Kid In The Front Row Online Screenwriting Festival 2009

Welcome to the FIRST Annual Kid In The Front Row Online Screenwriting Festival.

It's only small, but it's a great chance to pit your skills against other exciting, upcoming screenwriters - and you have the chance of winning THREE different awards. The rules of this are probably a little bit different to what you've experienced before. But it's a way of keeping it fun, challenging, and unique.

This year's challenge:

  • Your script must be no more than 5 pages long (6 including the cover page)
  • The entire film is set in one place - the kitchen.
  • You must use industry standard formatting.
  • There are three characters: Anna, Mike and Hank.
  • Anna wants something from Mike, but there's no way Mike is giving it away.

That's your brief. You can only use those three characters - and at some point, Anna is going to need something from Mike that he won't be giving (it could be sex, a monkey, a wedding ring, who knows, it's up to you!)

Be creative, be imaginative, be daring, and get your script in by December 2nd 2009.

By submitting you agree for your screenplay to be shared with readers of the KITFW blog. I will read every script sent to me.

There will be three awards:

Best Screenplay
Funniest Screenplay
Most Original Screenplay

(note: Just because their is a 'funniest' category, the script doesn't have to be comedy)

Entry is free, although you are welcome to make a donation via the PayPal on the left hand side of this blog -- that way I could treat myself to an ice cream whilst reading through all the scripts, and maybe get a nice award for the Best Screenplay winner.

Please share the competition around. The more people who enter, the more prestigious it is. Would you rather be the best out of 3 scripts or out of 30?

Any questions, please contact me via email, or pop a question in the comments.

(if you have never written a screenplay before - this is a great opportunity to try)

Care to share?

Friday 13 November 2009

Thursday 12 November 2009

Privilege - Stop moaning and accept your privileges.

I have an idea, let's waste all our energy moaning that "The only reason that dude makes movies is because his Brother's friends Aunt knows Spielberg." You could be right, I'm not sure. But even if you are - you're spending your days moaning and crying, and the dude is out making movies. So pretty soon, you realize that moaning about these things is entirely pointless.

And the important thing is there's nothing wrong with privilege. Say I am Spielberg's very own son, and I desperately want to make films. Is it wrong for me to say "Hey Dad, could I borrow a camera and Tom Hanks and go shoot something?" Should I feel guilty about that? When you were young, and your Dad said, "Let's go to the park.." did you say "Dad, please don't drive me, I'd rather walk there with the homeless guys..." of course you didn't.

So, yeah- don't be a moany little bitch when it comes to "everyone in the industry knows someone other than me." YOU HAVE PRIVILEGES TOO. If you live in a democracy, you have a privilege that thousands of filmmakers don't. If you have a job, or you have a white skin, or you have a family, or you have a camera; whatever it is, you have privileges too. So shut up, and get on with it.

And the important thing is that you should stand up for your privileges. When someone says, "Lucy, it's really great that you got that role. Your Dad knows the Producer doesn't he?" - you can respond in one of two ways---

1. "Yeah, um - my Dad is kinda friends with that Bruckheimer guy. But not really, I mean - like, I still auditioned, he didn't.. y'know, I mean.. like..."

OR, you can say.

2. "Yeah, my Dad is best friends with Jerry Bruckheimer. He helped me get the role, I really appreciate that - I'm lucky."

With response one, the person asking you makes you feel really inadequate and stupid. With answer two, there's no comeback. "Oh, er.. so you do know Jerry. Cool. Yeah."

And then life is SO MUCH EASIER.

Just to clarify, I don't know any big producers. But I can remember when I began making films and I was flitting between many jobs and not getting paid too much. And certain people would say "You're so lucky you get to follow your dreams, that your parents support you.."

And I used to flip out and get really offended. It was like "how dare you say I'm lucky, I work really hard! I work at my films every day!" This was, of course, completely true - but at the same time, I was ignoring the fact I do have this WONDERFUL privilege, I have parents that support me and believe in me. So I started agreeing with people. "Yeah, my parents are amazing. I'm very lucky. I love my life." And then, again, there's no comeback.

Often these people have the same privileges too. And you wanna dive in and say "Hold on, you're 42 and live with your parents.. and... and..." But then, there's really no need to justify yourself. They'll say "yeah but I have car payments to make, and don't forget, I have a girlfriend." Of course, the thing to realize is that the car was a choice, and the girlfriend was a choice. Instead, you made the choice to pay a crew to shoot your movie, but they don't see it like that.

But it doesn't matter -- you don't need to justify yourself. Do yourself a giant favour and ACCEPT YOUR PRIVILEGES. It's something we NEVER DO, but when you do it - you are ACCEPTING A HUGE PART OF YOUR LIFE that you often don't identify with.

YES, I have a wonderful family!

YES, I have a camera!

YES, I had dinner today!

YES, I am alive at this time in the world's history!

YES, I have freedom of movement!

YES, My legs both work!

YES, My Uncle is George Lucas!*

It'd be really great if we could all share our privileges in the comments... and share a bit about why we're lucky and how they help us with our careers.

*My Uncle Is Not George Lucas.

Care to share?

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Interacting With Writers Block

We tend to become instantly polarized by writers block. A voice, or a feeling, or a blank page says to you "No, No. You have nothing to say." Or maybe, for some of you, it isn't that specific, it's just a hazy feeling-- some kind of feeling of being lost that you can't quite describe. The only thing you know for sure, is that you want to go and have a rummage around the fridge, rather than write the screenplay.

Some people identify it straight out as writers block, some people just think they're 'not ready' or 'the character and story haven't developed yet.' Call it what you want, I'm going to call it writers block.

Sometimes, you need to not write. This is probably true. But for the most part, your block is a great opportunity to learn something about your story, or at least, to interact with it differently. So I want to talk about a few different tools, or at least, a few different ways of interacting with it - that I think could help you. This is also closely related to inner-critic work that I have referred to a few times in the past.

1. Think About How Your Writers Block Is Part Of The Story You Are Telling.

If you're writing a screenplay about an aging boxer who is struggling to find the energy and motivation for that last fight, or if you're writing about a teenager who's not ready to take on his duty to save the world from terrorists --- whatever it might be, it is interesting to see how your inner conflict is something that your character is going through as well.

Your inner creative block is a natural thing for all humans. There are elements of it that are similar for your character. In fact, when you think about it - that's what films are about... characters who reach their limits, struggle with them, and then surpass them to save the world/get the girl/win the fight. So use your problem as part of the solution. What does your block tell you about your character?

Interestingly, a block often comes at the point when you have written a block for your character. For example, you may write twenty pages of a script with ease - and it's the best thing you've ever written. And then you make the girl dump your character, you blow up his house, and you make him lose his job. And then you're stumped, you've lost your flow.

What happens is that you identify with your character more than you realize, you begin to find yourself lost, like your character. But rather than think 'meh, I'm out of ideas.' You're not, your character is out of ideas. And if you really delve into that, then you are going to find really exciting ways to move on with your script.

To summarize -- we tend to become a part of the field we are writing about. If we are writing an inspiring story, we get inspired -- but when we write about the tough parts, we feel those tough parts too, we sink with it. The key is to have awareness around this, and to realize it's an opportunity if you identify it and delve into it.

2. Give Your Writers Block A Name.

It's really helpful to communicate with your writers block. You may feel a bit schizophrenic doing it, but it works. When you feel that voice in your head saying 'the idea isn't there yet' - you need to hold it accountable, you need to find out why. So, give your writers block a name. For this exercise, I'm calling mine Harry.

Ask Harry, 'what is your problem? why can't we write?'

And then go and stand on the other side of the room and assume the role of Harry. And give an answer. You may find that Harry gets all confused and doesn't have an excuse. You may find that Harry is really specific, like "I don't think the character of Leigh-Ann is developed enough, she makes no sense." And then you can go and stand on the other side of the room and say "Yes, I know, because you won't let me work on her, you keep making me stop writing!" -

Before you know it, this dialogue will really open up ideas from within you. Rather than seeing the block as a sign to stop - you get a lot more practical advice from it. You need to hold it accountable, find out what its problem is.

3. Realize That Harry Isn't Neccessarily Right.

Your inner-critic, Harry, has never written a script before. And if you go and win a Best Screenplay Oscar, he's going to be really jealous. He's going to find it hard to tell you you're talentless. So realize what Harry is - he's a jealous fool, he doesn't necessarily know what's right.

If you write a joke and you hear this mad annoying fool in your head say "No! No-one will get that joke!" then tell Harry to shut up. Since when did Harry become the authority? We don't need to take him so seriously. Say to your writers block, "Excuse me, but I'm trying to write here. I don't like how you're talking to me and, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see your name on the cover page - so stay out of it."

Write and write, and write. Don't let that voice chop you down. If you feel "Don't write, it's not good enough," then look at it differently. It's never going to be good enough if you don't write it at all. You need to tell Harry, "I'm not handing this to anyone, I just want to write it, get some pages done. I can always redraft later.." - You need to cut yourself a bit of slack like that.

To summarize--- your writers block, your inner critic, your Harry - he's not an expert screenwriter. He's probably never achieved anything, apart from stopping you from asking out Julie three years ago by making you think you're too ugly for her. Aside from that, his life achievements are pretty low. You're the one who has big dreams, you're the one you should listen too - the inner voice putting you down is just an annoying fool. And you don't need to take fools seriously.

4. Admit That If Your Script Sucks, The World Will Not Actually End.

That's it. It helps.

5. Get Over An Edge.

A great way to find inspiration is to get over an edge, a comfort-zone. This is something you can do right now, and all you need to do is do something that you don't believe is in keeping with who you are, something you don't see as part of your identity.

As writers, we get locked in by our belief systems, our views of the world -- and that is a big limitation. This transforms when you transform your views, your beliefs. And the good thing is, you get to have some fun.

If you are Vegetarian, maybe go eat one piece of meat. Yes, you may be disgusted with yourself and think you're going to hell - but what an experience!

Go on a date with someone you find very unattractive, read a book by a writer you hate, be kind if you're hateful, be hateful if you're too kind, dress in women's clothes, step over your comfort zone and tell someone important to you why they keep upsetting you, steal something..

Whatever it might be for you - the emotions and feelings are transformational. On the other side, you realize things about yourself that you never realized before - that maybe you like the taste of cigarettes, or that being a bit hateful makes you feel empowered, or that stealing is very exciting.

I'm sure you all have something personal to you. These edges come at the very edge of our personalities. If you're a guy who never asks girls for their numbers, go and do it, be different to who you normally are. If you're a woman who never speaks her mind for fear of what others think, go and speak your mind.

By doing something simple yet BIG (for you) --- you transform, you have a new angle on life. And then when you go home and sit in front of that blank page - suddenly, you have a lot more options.

Care to share?

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Who are you hanging out with tonight?

Who are you hanging out with tonight? Are you seeing that friend who loves that you're a writer, or are you hanging out with that dude who works in the bowling alley who thinks your dreams are too big? I mean, it's entirely up to you. Which girl are you taking out tomorrow? There's that girl who moans about the weather and about the fact that some guy called Mark won't fix the copying machine in her office, or you could take out Julie. Okay, Julie may not be as physically hot but she's got a soul that's magic, she plays piano - and she gets excited by your scripts. So who are you going to take out? Again, it's entirely up to you. It's your life. You decide.

So you're inviting all your friends round at the weekend? That'll be nice. Who are you going to talk to - are you going to talk to Martin who keeps telling you your last script 'lacked interesting characters' - I mean, you could talk to him, and I guess he meets a lot of 'interesting characters' when he's flipping burgers, but is he really someone who you want to have an influence on your creative pursuits? It's entirely up to you.

And what about next Thursday, that day you had free - are you going to go to that writers workshop you saw advertised on Craigslist or are you going to go to that bar where Jenny works? Again, it's entirely up to you, it's your life - and Jenny sure is hot. And when she doesn't flake out, she's decent company. But if she flakes out again then you won't get her company and you won't get the writers workshop, so what are you going to do? Hey, don't let me influence you - it's your life, it's your career, they're your friends. I'm just asking you the question.

But the other thing to ask is how long are you going to put up with Sebastian questioning what you're doing with your life? Don't get me wrong, he has a right to ask you what you're doing with your life, I mean - after all, he's been almost considering applying for new jobs for three years now, but how much influence do you want him to have? You hang out with him three times a week. That's three times a week he tells you 'the film industry is tough', 'your writing isn't exactly Woody Allen' and 'we're all going to die soon anyway' - do you want this influence three times a week? Or maybe you should ditch him and hang out with David. David is only around once a week, at most, but he actually listens to your script ideas. And his eyes light up when you talk about your dreams. It makes you feel less alone.

Again, it's your week. Your life. They're your friends. It's entirely up to you. Let me know what you choose.

Care to share?

Saturday 7 November 2009

So where the fuck is my footage?

This is a sad but true fact, a lot of actors don't get their footage. This is how it goes.

Julie The Actress: "So, will I get a copy?"
Jonny The Director: "Yeah, of course. And it'll be in a lot of festivals."
Julie: "That's great!"
Jonny: "It's delayed a bit at the moment. I'm having trouble with the special effects."
Julie: "Okay, no problem."
Jonny: "........................."
Julie: "Hi Jonny, I've not heard from you in eight months, just wondering how the film is going?"
Jonny: "......................................"
Julie: "Hi Jonny. I'm moving to L.A. next month. I really liked your film, and I really need some footage for my reel. Just send me anything. I did it for free, and I just want my scenes."
Jonny: "I'm so sorry I haven't been in touch. My Grandma was ill, and then I moved house. Things got a bit crazy."
Julie: "Okay, no worries. I understand. Could I get the footage?"
Jonny: "............."
Julie: "Jonny?"

Now - I'm a Director. I'm not an actor. Luckily though, I have always been extremely good at getting actors their footage. I prefer to give them the finished film only, but in the past, if I've made a really bad short film that hasn't been completed, I make sure they get some footage. This is how it's meant to be.

But here's the strange thing, NO DIRECTOR EVER IDENTIFIES AS BEING THE ONE WHO DOESN'T GIVE OUT FOOTAGE. Yet EVERY upcoming actor I know is waiting on A LOT of footage, and most of it never comes. So, I'd really like us to find some of these Directors who never give out any footage -- and maybe we can come to a new understanding of why it happens. At the moment, Julie is left thinking "This guy is an asshole, he won't give anything." - but I want the Jonnys of this world to have a defence. If you are a Director who has ever failed to give an actor their work, or if you repeatedly do it - please let us know why. Are you ashamed of the work? Did the cat eat it? Are you waiting five years for financing to complete it? Genuinely, I think we'd all like to know what's going on.

Care to share?

Thursday 5 November 2009

The Bizarre Case Of Dane Cook - The Unfunniest Man In Comedy

I went to see Dane Cook in Madison Square Garden tonight and, I have to say, I was completely blown away by the complete lack of anything funny happening during his entire set. I bought a ticket because, being in NY, it seemed like something to do, especially as the Springsteen shows this weekend had sold out. So instead, I went for some comedy, and I was assured that this guy was the biggest name in comedy right now.

I never figured I would love him. I mean, I've seen his movies and he always just seemed like a weak Ryan Reynolds. But hey, I don't mean to sound like a Dane Cook Hater. After getting home tonight and being extremely discombobulated by how this unfunny guy had taken the comedy world by storm, I began to google him to find out answers. What I found, was quite horrible really - people really hate on this guy, they really make it personal.

And I don't mean to do that, honestly I don't. I'd like to be more mature about it. Comedy is extremely important to me; most of my writing and filmmaking revolves around comedy. It's everything to me. So, I couldn't help but sit there in amazement at what was going on. Thousands of people were laughing uncontrollably, and I just sat there completely lost. He doesn't tell jokes, for one. I've read a lot about him tonight saying he tells 'observational jokes' - but I don't really see that either. He observes things, but he doesn't build jokes around them.

And that's what disappointing, I guess, is that rather than being a storyteller who cleverly crafts material and punchlines, he just talks about internet porn and sex like a guy in a bar would. He's very loud and confident. And I kind of liked that about him, he's great with a crowd, very fun. Problem is, I'm just not sure why they were laughing. The reason it troubles me is because, I'd like to think I have a good idea of what comedy is, and I'm writing a screenplay I'd like to think would appeal to the masses. But the masses, evidently, find Dane Cook hilarious. It confuses me because - I JUST DON'T GET IT! I don't see where the funny is! Why are people laughing?

He seems like a good guy, it's not personal. I'm not saying this because he's wildly popular and successful, he's done very well and evidently deserves his success if he can fill up Madison Square Gardens -- but it's left me confused by how we define comedy, and what people want to see/hear.

Care to share?

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Box Of Chocolates.

It's funny how the world works. You can be having the very best time of your life - but someone, somewhere else, is in downfall. It can be someone you know, or someone you don't know, I guess it really doesn't matter. But somewhere between living and dying, we're all going to travel around the wheel. There's something scary about that, but there's something really beautiful about it too.

And you look back at your life - there are the times you got the girl, the times you stayed up all night with new friends, the time you travelled to warmer climates, and there are the times you didn't get the girl, the times you sat by someone's bed-side as they slipped away, there are times you were stuck inside yourself with no idea how you would get out and do anything with your life.

I guess this is when a lot of people try to figure out the meaning of life, or look to God, or whatever. God can exist or not exist, life can be meaningless or important, either way-- we're on this big wheel that goes round and round until it runs out of energy. At any given moment, you can be flying high, it's all champagne, flowers and parties. But one more spin and it's smashed cars, broken dreams and day turning into night.

Sometimes it really jumps out and hits you -- you can be facing a moment that is literally life or death, and you turn to your closest friend, and they're trying to figure out which dress to wear to the party. But one year later, you're holidaying in Jamaica with your new wife, and that friend of yours is in a wheelchair now, and she doesn't quite feel confident enough to get back into a dress just yet. There's something really profound about noticing that polarity, and it doesn't really happen when you're stuck in your head, in your home, worrying about why your broadband isn't working, or being disturbed by how late the bus is. It only comes when you're faced with true life - when you're at the height of happiness or the depths of despair.

And that's what I find quietly beautiful about it all. Sometimes, a joke shared at someones hospital bed might be the funniest thing you ever hear. And you wouldn't have laughed like that if you were sat at home arguing on a forum about iPhone apps. And you realize, that car crash, that cancer, that break-up, whatever it is - it holds a lot more gold than pretty much everything else.

Your life is going to cycle. If you're laying on a beach, or buzzing around the streets of New York -- make sure you enjoy it. Life is to be enjoyed, and you deserve as many amazing experiences as you can find. Don't fear those bad times slipping in, because they're part of the tapestry of the wheel. I'm not saying you should 'be positive' like some cheesy self-help book; but even if the worst imaginable thing has happened, keep your eyes open, because some spark of life and magic can be found in the most subtle of things. And when life turns to shit, you notice the gold amongst the mud, that's where the silver lining is.

I guess what I'm saying is, whichever side of the wheel you're on - the other side is waiting for you; so if it's going to come, you may as well welcome it.

"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."
-Forrest Gump

Care to share?

Monday 2 November 2009

Things To Do Instead Of Writing Your Screenplay.

1. Flick constantly between your email and your Facebook.

2. Develop a sudden interest in world news.

3. Drink tea.

4. Get so engrossed in reading a Wikipedia article about UFOs that you completely forget you were even thinking about writing a script.

5. Look at pictures of Megan Fox.

6. Look at pictures of Monica Bellucci.

7. Write a letter to both of their agents, with a pitch for a film, starring them - with a clause that you get final say on costume.

8. Write the words 'YOU FUCKING SUCK AT WRITING' in big, italic letters.

9. Develop a fascination with really uninteresting people on your Facebook friends list.

10. Blog.

Care to share?