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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Have I Finally Found A New Book Series?

9 09 2015

The Enemy (Penguin - 2009)

I like reading. I really do enjoy reading books. I enjoy the opportunity to get lost inside a new world, one that I have either not experienced before, or continuing one I previously have entered. For the past few years, since 2012 I think, reading has become one of my favourite past times, particularly when I am travelling by train. The amount I can read on the train depends on the distance of travel, but for Young-adult fiction; which is my main genre of choice, even the short 15-20 minute travel time between Lancaster and Preston can result in one whole chapter being read. Recently though I have been having a bit of a problem with my reading.

The Young Elites (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers - 2014)

The issue has been something of finding a book to read in the first place. I like reading book series as when one finishes, another begins and this continues until the final book in the series. When a series finishes then I have the tough task of finding a new book/series to read, but when at the beginning or in the middle of one I can just look forward to the next book. Due to how slowly I read also, series can last a number of months, and when I am interested in a particular series, I can just read that one and nothing more. Of late though its become a real struggle to find a new series.

The Last Dragonslayer (Hodder and Stoughton - 2011)

It’s not like I have very little choice either. My Goodreads wish list allows me to keep tabs on books I have spotted and explore them further. This allows plenty of consideration time as what I would like to read next. But some of the book series I have read over the last couple of years are ones I am not too sure about continuing. In that time I have read several series of books from Michael Grant’s GONE series, Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games books and more recently Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking Trilogy and A Monster Calls. I have also started some other series I wish to continue at some point from possibly Joseph Delaney’s Wardstone Chronicles, Jasper Fforde’s Chronicles of Kazam and Shane Hegarty’s Darkmouth books (the second book is my current bed time read). But other series of books I have tried in the recent past, have not gone the way I had hoped. Two particular series of mention include The Last Dragon Chronicles by Chris d’Lacey and The Young Elites by Marie Lu. While I did like some of these books and do have something in them for me to want to see where they are going, they also have little problems in them that I find put me off from reading anymore in the series either. However, in the midst of all these though I think I may have finally found a series that works for me.

The Enemy (Penguin - 2009)

Recently I have been reading The Enemy by Charlie Higson. It’s a series I have known about for about a year now, and it was only when I was looking for a new bedtime read that I picked up a copy of it. After finishing The Young Elites I began reading The Enemy. In my first sitting I read the first 10 chapters all in one go. I just couldn’t stop reading it. I didn’t struggle with the text size or formatting like I did with The Young Elites, nor did I think it was too complicated a plot. Much of it I thought read a bit like the GONE books. Due to a busy workload helping out at The Dukes play in the park again this year, plus other bits and bobs, continuing the book was a bit of a problem, but as I went down on the train for my holiday a couple of weeks ago, I was able to get back into it, and with relative ease, and I just couldn’t stop reading it then either, or even on the way back. At the time of writing this I was roughly no more than about 70 pages away from finishing it.

The Dead (Penguin - 2013)

Probably by the time this gets posted I will have already started the next one in the series; The Dead. I really do like the books. The setting of a zombie parent filled London and the children trying to survive in a new world without their parents is an interesting one. While there are moments I find a little bit silly, there are some really good characters and some really interesting stories going on. It’s not too hard of a read either; chapters are relatively quite short, and when in the reading zone can be just blitzed through. I really am enjoying it, and while this series like many others will not last and then I will need to go find new stuff to read, for now I am happy that I have found something new to read but will also keep me occupied for some time.

Stone Heart (Disney-Hyperion - 2006)

GENEPOOL





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





Pleasant Dreams And The World Of Nightmares: A Short History In Honour Of What Was Once My Bed – Part 2

4 03 2015

My Bed 1

You may remember a few weeks ago I did a post on the demise of my bed of 20 years. Well over the last few weeks I have been preparing for its replacement. When the first bed broke I was ill with a sore throat and a cold. I was not in the best shape to go out and get a new bed. So for the period of over a week I slept on the mattress on the floor. While it may have not been a real bed I was able to get straight to sleep.

My Bed 3

The second Saturday after the original bed breaking, I was well enough to go with my dad to a shopping/business estate between Lancaster and Morecambe (White Lund Industrial Estate I think) to go and buy a new bed. We went to Bensons for Beds which was located in a store of Harveys; on the top floor. There we met a sales assistant who showed me a bed. I wanted a frame one as I needed the space underneath it to store stuff. The first bed he showed me was great. I pretty much decided there and then that it was the bed I wanted. It was comfortable and large enough for me. There was one problem though. It had a mattress underneath it also for use as a temporary second bed if I had guests around. I did not really need it, but they said they could give me one without, so job done really. Next up he showed me a mattress. A large one on another bed. It was rather comfortable too so my bed was ready. First bed with Second Mattress.  The bed however was made to order so it would be about 2-3 (possibly 4) weeks after the order that it would be delivered. Late February (last Thursday). So it was back to the floor mattress bed for now.

My Old Bed Ends

Over the next few weeks I got used to my new sleeping position. Then as the week of the bed delivery approached, crisis struck. I had another sore throat. Exactly 4 weeks from the last one. I think I caught it off a member of the family. Luckily it was not too bad but bad enough for me not to do any dissertation work at the time. I just went into recovery mode. During the week though it developed into a minor but bad possible case of the flu but quickly turned into a cold. Last Wednesday (the day it became a flu/cold based illness) I felt well enough to go to Preston and University. Throughout the day though I had a really bad case of dehydration. So much so to the point that on my way back to the train station, even though I had had 2 bottles of Drench (and recently) I felt so dry and horrible. I still went to play Board Games (my weekly Wednesday activity) at Juicafe where I got a hot chocolate which helped. For the rest of the week till Sunday, I had a very bad cold. I am a lot better now though.

My Old Bed Nuts

During the week though I still had to get my room ready. So on one day I took the old bed to pieces and stored it on the landing until they could be removed.

My Old Bed Slides and RIbs

I then removed the boxes from underneath it and storing them in my brother’s room (he currently lives in Edinburgh and the room is used for storage). Doing this though brought on an element of nostalgia though and I couldn’t help but rummage through bits of my old train set (something I intend to redo at some point in the future), and especially take out Smokey Joe and dust him off a bit.

Smokey Joe

I now fancy getting some track together and a transformer to see if he still runs.

Where My Old Bed Was

Anyway my room was now ready for the new bed and on Thursday it arrived. Due however to being so ill, I did not fancy either moving it upstairs to my room or putting it together, so it was left in the corridor.

New Bed In Corridor

On Friday I was feeling a little better and was able to do some Dissertation Work so I moved the bed upstairs with help from my Brother. However still did not feel too great. Then on Saturday I decided to give the construction a go. After putting the bolts into the bed ends I stuck the first series of Black Books on and built my bed. It was relatively easy, but rather complex to do on your own, particularly when it comes to tightening bolts. A spanner was provided for the bed end bolts but the holes were rather small to get the spanner in. Eventually they were as tight as I could get them. I then used the wooden bed frame as a work bench to put the metal frame together. This took one whole episode to do (the one where Manny thinks he is a Policeman). The main problem was bolting four bits together with 8 screws and having to line all the holes up. A couple of times I had to loosen tightened up bolts just to get other bolts in. But soon it was done. Next I had to put the ribs in. I asked my parents which way up they should be as the ribs had a bend in them. My dad suggested that the bends would straighten when the mattress was put on top of the ribs with the bends in up. Putting the bends in was relatively straight forward as all I had to do was put them in plastic holders and then put the holders in the metal frame. After this all I had to do was put the wooden frame right way up, then put the metal frame in and then put the mattress on top. Even though I put the metal frame in first then put the ribs in instead of risking them falling out of the metal frame when stood up. All that was left to do was put the mattress on top (even though a rib did jump out so I needed to replace it quickly).

New Bed Without Bedding

When I did that I noticed how tall it looked. I also felt the surface was rather rough. I then checked underneath it and discovered it had a softer side. Realizing I Had put it the wrong way up I turned it over and then it was done. I then pushed it into its correct place and watched the last episode of the first series of Black Books. During the evening I popped out to Southport with a few friends to attend Young Life but when I returned I had new bedding ready to put on my new bed. So I did that, and as the night came in I had my first proper sleep in the bed. It still felt quite high up. Earlier in the day I just sat on it and it and my feet could not touch the floor. But this time I did not mind all that much, and instead had a great night sleep. Since then I still have been getting some good nights. On Sunday evening I found myself having lack of sleep due to having a nap earlier in the day. Altogether though I am enjoying my new bed and am glad that I now have it. I still have some remaining work to do including sorting out the boxes in my brother’s room, getting rid of the old bed altogether including the mattress and disposing of all the rubbish and have a Hoover of my room. But for now I am glad that I can sleep in a bed once again, hopefully for another 20 years.

New Bed with Bedding

GENEPOOL





“Hey There Gorgeous”

19 11 2014

Pendolino

In the three plus years I have been commuting from Lancaster, to Preston and back to Lancaster on the days that I have been into University (as well as the days that I have not needed to be in at University) I have had some interesting moments on the train. One time in in foundation year, I accidently boarded a train which did not stop at Lancaster train station, having to wait until I got to Oxenholme Lake District to change trains to one that was going back to Lancaster. Other times have included staying on trains that were heavily delayed and not moving, trains that were without managers or more worryingly; without drivers, trains that were going north but to the wrong destination and changing trains due to delayed trains which then begin moving without the station announcing that the train was no longer delayed; one time last week, I was on a delayed train, thinking I would stay where I am while the train waited for the train manager to arrive but decided not to inform the other passengers that other trains were available. All these though somehow don’t compare to a few weeks ago when I was boarding the train from Preston to Lancaster and the door digital Display read, “Hey There Gorgeous” on the bottom line.

Alstom Pendolino

I was at Preston station waiting for the train home; I have now cottoned on to the train time system for trains heading in my direction. It is pretty much pointless going to Preston train station for anytime on the hour or just after as most trains heading in my direction (four, six or seven at best, but a rare occurrence) don’t really arrive into Preston train station until about 20 to the hour (or 40 minutes past the hour), but then the first one is a train that by chance stops at Preston, but then goes to Glasgow Central Only, so any wonder why it stops at Preston in the intermediate time. Anyway I was waiting for the train, and a Pendolino heading for Lancaster was arriving at the train station. I checked the station board to see if it was heading for Lancaster, I then double checked the door digital display. While I was doing that I spotted a slogan that I looked back at to re-read, and it said “Hey There Gorgeous”.

Pendolino Door Display

I have not once been greeted or complimented by an actual train, so this was definitely a first. Unfortunately at the time I didn’t have my camera, so I did not take a photo of the train door, however it did actually say that. The bottom of the door display is usually blank; it doesn’t really say anything at all. On this occasion however, it actually had a phrase on it, one that was like a greeting. I have no idea how this happened or why it actually said that but I thought I would share my experience, because, well, it is kind of weird.

British Rail Class 390 Pendolino

GENEPOOL








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