Another Annoying Little Book

14 09 2016

Mogworld (Dark Horse Books - 2010)

Back in 2014, I finally managed to finish a book which at the time was something of a bane in my reading life. The book was called MogWorld, and it was a book about a character living in a MMORPG video game world and it was written by Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw. I began reading it in 2010, but it was a hard one to read although it was filled with a lot of humour and at times was mega funny. Anyway, in 2014 I committed myself to reading the last section of chapters and then I was glad it was all out of the way and that I had finished it.

Well; now it’s 2016, and I have another annoying little book which I began to read a while ago but have yet to finish. The book is none other than Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder. I bought it back in 2013 while I was studying a Screenwriting course at the University of Central Lancashire along with a copy of Syd Field’s book: Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting. I bought them because, well; the name Syd Field is hammered into your head while on these courses although I have yet to hear of a film or TV show he has worked on, but also because I thought they might help, and I was first introduced to Blake Snyder’s book earlier that same year. I have yet to make a start on the Syd Field one, but I began reading Blake Snyder’s as soon as I got it.

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Michael Wiese Productions - 2005)Instantly I could see it was a book that spoken the hidden truth, by that I meant it said things how they were and was in all honesty very funny, but also very descriptive, and easy to understand. It even used examples from the world of film and screenwriting to make its points plus also had a little game inside that you could make a homemade copy of easily. As well as that it also came with exercises, while I have yet to do any of these, the book used them to get you thinking. It also gave me perspective on the 10 basic story lines of cinema too:

  1. Monster in the House
  2. Golden Fleece
  3. Out of the Bottle
  4. Dude with a Problem
  5. Rites Of Passage
  6. Buddy Love
  7. Whydunit
  8. The Fool Triumphant
  9. Institutionalized
  10. Superhero

So why do I talk about it like I have read it and why if I am so interested by it do I consider it annoying? Well, it is very in-depth and I really do like it, it’s a very fun book and I really hope to finish it one day and use it as a way to help me with my screenwriting. The issue sort of comes from putting off reading another chapter for a while, and when you start reading a chapter that references a previous one that you have forgotten, it’s hard to remember the context: that’s what happened. And generally, as my screenwriting course came to an end, plus the enjoyment I used to have for the course by this time vanished; it was hard to keep it up when I wanted to do something else. That was it really and since then, much like MogWorld, it is featured on my ‘currently reading’ profile on Goodreads, consistently reminding me that I have not finished it yet, although the gap from now to the last time I read it is significantly smaller than when I finished MogWorld.

The Foundations of Screenwriting (Delta - 2005)

My hope is that one day, like MogWorld I will finish it and then everything will be happy and I will be able to look back on it more fondly, but right now I just need to just sit down and do it! Whether I start again or not is another question, but right now it’s all about just trying to find a decent time to just do it, while making sure I do not do the same with Project Nemesis.

Project Nemesis (Smashwords Edition - 2012)

GENEPOOL

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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





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).








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