Not So Super

16 12 2015

Film Reel

During the first semester of my final year at University (about 1 year ago now), I was still studying Creative Writing and Screenwriting at the University of Central Lancashire. In my third (or 4th overall) year however it was very different, as for the first time I was doing Creative Writing Major and Screenwriting Minor, where as in the 2 previous years I had done them both joint. I decided to go down this path because in year 2 I enjoyed Creative Writing far more than Screenwriting, and wanted to do more of that, even though I was getting some of my better marks in Screenwriting. During my first semester I took part in my last screenwriting module, wherein we had to write Monologues. Now my monologue did change here and there, but the subject remained the same throughout, that of an ageing, retired super hero who just wanted to be left alone. As the development progressed, it went from a sad story of youth in my first draft to eventually a super hero talking about how he has to do work for charity events. Well eventually one thing came to another and before I knew it, it had been selected along with two other monologues from the group to be made into a short film.

Casualty Logo

At first I was surprised, but could not understand why mine was chosen. I was certain of other people in the class being better at the course than me, and so for a few days I was just at a loss to understand, eventually though I came more round to it, and began to get a little bit more excited. It was to be directed by my monologues tutor Anita who also writes scripts for Casualty, and produced by two of her ex students. I attended a meeting about the short films late December, and we talked about what they were hoping to do with it, and suggested actors to play the parts. They suggested for my film for the character to be played by Rev actor Tom Hollander (where as I thought of Tim Piggott-Smith). Anyway, that’s how it got started.

Rev TV Series Logo

In the next few months, news was scarce as to what was going on, but eventually come around February I finally heard news of what was going on. The plan was to shoot mine first out of the three and show it off at festivals. But the big news was who the production team managed to get to star in the short film; John Henshaw. When I first read that I was completely unaware of who that was, but when my Mam found out, she nearly shouted in shock and surprise. I was still unsure until I went online and found a picture of him in Google. I best know of him for appearing in Early Doors, but his filmography is much bigger than that with appearances in The Cops (which Anita also worked on), Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, and lots of other things I can’t currently grab to mind. There was also an idea for me to have an appearance in the film with him. Well, this big news was very exciting, but then about a month later I found out more detail. It turns out that John Henshaw couldn’t do it anymore, and was replaced by Shameless actor; Mark Sheals. Another person I did not know much about. However I was aware of the actress Alice Barry (after seeing a photo of her online), but instantly recognized her as someone who was in Shameless (haven’t seen it) and Phoenix Nights. Soon after that, I was given details about the film’s Facebook page where some photos from filming had already been posted and then invited all my Facebook friends to come and like the page.

Shameless Logo

So, Filming was still going ahead, but I had no idea when, until one of the producers phoned me up, and invited me to come down one day during the Easter Holidays, to Salford where it was going to be filmed. It was the Tuesday (I think) just after I got back from that year’s Saved2Serve. Anyway I turned up, having read the start of Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness on the way down. I arrived, waited for a while to be picked up, and then was, along with someone else who was waiting around at the same station. We went to one of the first sites and waited in an office for a time, only to find out we were not going to be able to film there, so we went to another site, had some lunch and I watched some of my film being filmed. The plan was that at the original location I was to be filmed with the star, but sadly it couldn’t go ahead for some reason. Anyway, I was there, watched it being made, didn’t get to have my scene, but still it was nice, was then given a lift back to Preston before journeying on to Lancaster.

Monsters Of Men (Patrick Ness - 2010)

Time passed some more after that, and I was hoping to receive a copy of the film before I went to Roothill that year so I could show it off at the camp concert. Sadly that did not get to happen, but during the previous July, I was asked to go down to Manchester, to Gulliver’s Bar, where a showing of the film was going to be put on, along with some other films that were made by some of the film’s contributors. Before that though met Alice Barry, was sitting less than a couple of metres from John Henshaw who came down to watch, and said a brief hello to Mark Sheals again. The films were all nice to watch; my particular favourite was Going to Mecca which was just really funny. But then my film came on. It was very dark and hard to see much, but it was nice to finally watch it. However I did not feel all that much strongly for it. It didn’t look or feel like the monologue I wrote, it just felt different. Out was the retired superhero who wanted to be left alone, it just didn’t feel like my work, but my Mam pointed out that it was the case that it was adapted from my work, and I may not feel as strong to an adaptation when I was so close to my original piece. Since then though I have watched it a few more times, it has been uploaded to YouTube, I have shown people I know, and I have grown a bit more strongly towards it.

YouTube

In the end it was a fun little experience, and though while it had its hurdles with both production, and me and my work personally, I am glad I did it in the end and it is a nice little film. Nice thing to put on the CV (which it is, and I am currently unemployed), but also a nice thing to show my family and friends, and something nice on which to end my Screenwriting Course. Now here is your opportunity to have a watch, please feel free to comment, like and share…….…if you want to.

GENEPOOL

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I Am Doing NaNoWriMo

31 10 2015

Pen and Paper

I know what you’re thinking; “what on earth does that say?” am I correct? NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is an online based project that takes place annually in November and encourages people to write. Basically for those who participate, everyone needs to try and write 50000 words from the minute it becomes the 1st of November, to 23:59 on November 30th (supposedly the minimum word count for a novel). I first heard of NaNoWriMo back in 2010 when my friend Hannah decided to do it. I have heard bits and bobs about it since then, but only decided to do it this year because since leaving University I have found it hard to simply sit down and start writing the novel I have been silently developing in my head since early June. So I am going to attempt to write it this month.

Blade Runner (Warner Bros. - 1982)

There is already some issues as my November is quite packed with events and opportunities including my annual Fireworks Social, a Creative Writing Pyjama Party, another Short Story Slam in Chorley and the opportunity to see Blade Runner for the first time. However I am still confident that I will have plenty of time to write as much as I can, and if not 50000 words, then at least enough for me to commit to writing it in the meantime. I will probably do some status updates on here to let you all know how I am getting on. I have no idea how the next month is going to pan out, but I am excited to take part and finally get down to-work on my first novel.

Bookshelf

GENEPOOL (Apologies for the short post, I have a much bigger one ready to be posted on Wednesday).





In An Attempt To Cure Writer’s Block

8 07 2015

Pen and Paper

Since finishing University a few weeks ago (and while waiting for Graduation in just over a week’s time), I have been trying to do a number of things to keep myself productive and busy. I have been looking for work, trying to come up with a career plan, writing weekly blog posts, coming up with ideas for stories and board games, reading when I can, playing games, baking cakes, volunteering at Barnardo’s and at The Dukes play in the park again. One thing though that I have wanted to continue since finishing, I have found rather hard, and that is writing stories. I like writing stories, I like all kinds of writing, and when I am in the zone, I just can’t stop. Starting is an entirely different matter however.

Darkmouth (Harper Collins - 2015)

I have kept up with my blog writing, and right now am writing a series of film reviews to be shown in a few weeks’ time, but writing large pieces of work is proving to be rather difficult. Writing big projects at University (in hindsight) was easier, as I was motivated to get the work done as best as I could, but now I need to find new motivation and am finding it hard. I am constantly coming up with ideas for projects, either it be stories, blog posts or board games, but getting round to actually doing them is what I am struggling with. Writing short stories shouldn’t necessarily be too much of a problem as they are small, quick stories to write, however, starting them is as difficult as any other project. Ideas for them are hard as they need to be concise, small, and not necessarily involve big incidents, or big things happening……….which is kind of what I like. Back in May I even came up with a plan to write at least one short story a month, but in June I (technically) did not write one.

A Cake and some Cake Pops I made recently.

I say technically; basically, last month I entered Preston’s first Short Story Slam. A writing/performing contest where writers write short stories to then read out. Writer’s need to write 3 stories of no more than 200 words that can be read in 4 minutes or less. It’s a head to head sort of thing (as far as I understand it) and I need to write 3 short stories for it. A week ago I wrote one story for it, I still have another 2 to write (at time of writing) but coming up with ideas for such a small word count I am finding tough, and even when I do have an idea, simply sitting down behind my laptop to write it is proving tricky. It was only when I had a voice going through my head telling me to write the first story that I finally did it (The Slam is at the end of July, so I still have some time). Even when it isn’t that though, writing in general (when it is not for my blog) I am finding tough. I can develop ideas quite nicely, (I prefer to do it in my head where I can visualise it, while find that writing it down can usually mean I end up leaving and forgetting about it), but that’s still not writing it.

Rory's Story Cubes: Prehistoria

In an attempt to cure what I think is writer’s block; I have started doing little exercises to get me writing again. While my mind wanders onto other ideas of approaching it, for now, this one is working. I have had Rory’s Story Cubes for over a year now. First I got a small expansion in the form of Rory’s Story Cubes: Prehistoria, but discovered using them rather hard, so I bought a copy of the base set, and was able to get going with them. To begin with I just used them as a little game to play with friends and at the Writer’s Society at University. Basically, the base set is a box of 9 dice, with each side on all the dice being a different image (54 images in total). You roll them, and then use the 9 images to make a story. It has to start with “Once Upon A Time” and can either be done as one continuous story as a group, or several stories. There are other versions of the base set and several expansions, all of which can be mixed and matched to create a diverse range of stories. Recently, I decided to use them to help me write some short stories. I use them in the same way as you normally would play with them; roll them and look at the pictures rolled (sometimes re-rolling if I can’t think of anything). Instead of telling the story to someone though, I would instead write my story in a Word Document.

Story Dice 1

I have been taking the pictures of the images I have rolled, considering possibly putting my stories online at a later date (with a photo of the dice to show what images I have to work with). I actually rather enjoy coming up with stories this way; they can be about anything and there are no restrictions as to the length of the story, nor the genre it is in. It really does help me to get back into writing short stories. While I have not done one for about a week (due to being busy with my current weekly schedule), I look forward to writing another one, and hopefully with time, be able to write some without assistance, possibly even bigger ones. Right now though, I have a Short Story Slam to enter.

Story Dice 2

GENEPOOL





Is It Possible To Write A Film Review In 100 Words Or Less?

4 02 2015

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Michael Wiese Productions - 2005)

A few months ago I had this idea of trying to write a short film review. The idea being to write a short film review that more or less got to the point quickly without analysing the film in detail as I think that my monthly film reviews are more of analyses than reviews. Originally the idea was inspired by the Blake Snyder book; Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need. Snyder talks about the situation we have all been when we want to go to the cinema but have to decide what we see.

“We’ve all had this experience… It’s Saturday night. You and your friends have decided to see a movie. One of you is picked to read the choices from the newspaper while the others listen and decide.“ – Save The Cat! (2005)

Snyder goes on to describing the situation similar to pitching a movie. Snyder was what is called a Spec Writer who would write a script then attempt to sell it to a big studio. Snyder though points out an important problem which both you as someone who wants to see a film and as a writer faces in a pitch.

But what’s it about? If you can’t answer that question, you know it pretty quickly. If what the movie is about isn’t clear from the poster and the title, what are you going to say to describe it?” – Save The Cat! (2005)

This is where the idea of a 100 word film review spawned. As point of a blog post possibility as well as a Creative Writing exercise. To get a full review within such a strict word count would be hard, but it would restrict me to how much detail I went into. It would basically come down to what happens in the film, who’s in it and is it any good, as well as any additional footnotes regarding who made it, soundtrack and effects. After a few months wavering over this idea I finally sat down to attempt it.

Neo-Tokyo

Originally I was thinking of using the film AKIRA as the first one as I saw it a few months ago for the first time, loved it and is one of the film reviews I want to do the most. When it came to it though, I didn’t want to spoil a bigger post of it later on as I feel a full-blown analysis (of the kind I produce) would be better off as there is a lot I want to cover. So I did a film I have reviewed once before and know pretty well: Batman Begins. When writing it however I discovered a problem, at least a problem for my writing style. The word count of 100 words was not enough. The problem was that despite me trying to get to the point quicker, my style of writing was still a bit too detailed. Even with some cutting I struggled. So I upped the limit, sounds like cheating, but it gave me options. I raised it to 250 words and only kept that to the blocks of text reviewing the film and not the quick references at the top of the review stating who directed it, who’s in it, who composed the music for it, who was the cinematographer and which studio produced it (and the film title also). Also, originally I was going to give it the title ‘100 Word Film Review’ followed by the title. Due to the increased word count I changed it round to ‘250 Word’. In the end however I gave it the title “A Bite Size Film Review” as I thought it was a much better title. While in the end I was not able to produce a review in 100 words; I feel like I have managed to accomplish the original intention however. Thus managing to produce a film review template that allows people a quick source option when wanting a quick guidance on whether or not they want to watch a certain film (that reads like an essay at university level). I now just have the uphill task of doing it for many more films.

Batman Begins Poster

GENEPOOL (The film review in question will be posted up tomorrow).





My Second Blog

2 09 2013

Second Blog

Over the course of the past year I have written many different things. I have written pieces of work for my University Course as well as pieces written in my spare time including (obviously) Blog Posts as well as several poems and short stories. More recently I have sent off some of these Stories (and one poem) to Story Competitions. To date though, I have been unsuccessful with most (I have yet to hear from Bridport). Recently though I decided to publish these stories, as was once suggested by my Creative Writing Tutor. While they may not appear on the shelves, or in papers or short listed/long listed entries in competitions, I decided to post them online. While I could do this on this blog and maybe make a second page, I decided to start-up a second blog just for my short stories.

So, with the blog now up and running I thought I would let you know where you can find it and take a look. The Web Address is: http://samstoriesblog.wordpress.com/ 

So please go and take a look and have a read of my stories. Click on the thumbs up/thumbs down buttons if you liked or disliked the stories and feel free to leave any comments that you wish to make. Don’t worry, this is not the end of this blog, my primary blog. This will continue to be updated weekly so please check back regularly for more posts.

GENEPOOL








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