Dates For Your Calendar – July 2014 Edition

Date Event Notes
July 1st Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award Deadline TV Drama, participants must be under 30
July 3rd London Writers’ Circle XVII
July 15th Final Draft Big Break Standard Deadline Feature Film or TV Drama
July 17th London Writers’ Circle XVIII
July 18th London Writers’ Circle – Writers’ Retreat
July 31st Shore Scripts Screenwriting Competition Regular Deadline Features and short films
July 31st Final Draft Big Break Extended Deadline Feature Film or TV Drama
July 31st London Writers’ Circle XIX
August 14th London Writers’ Circle XX
August 15th LSF – Actor’s Table Reads Submissions Open LSF 2014 delegates only
August 15th LSF – Advanced Mentoring Script Labs Submissions Open LSF 2014 delegates only
August 21st ScriptAngel / London Screenwriters’ Festival Mentoring Competition Deadline TV & Film Drama; LSF 2014 delegates only
August 31st Shore Scripts Screenwriting Competition Extended Deadline Features and short films
September 1st Bluecat Screenwriting Competition Early Deadline Features and short films
October 15th Bluecat Screenwriting Competition Regular Deadline Features and short films
October 24th London Screenwriters Festival
November 15th Bluecat Screenwriting Competition Final Deadline Features and short films

 

Short(s) of the Week(s?)!

Hey friends!

The eagle-eyed amongst you (Shaff) may have noticed that the weekly format of this slice of Internet pie fell apart faster than Heroes Season 2. Well to make up for it I present to you three fine shorts spread over two delectable topics  for your viewing business/pleasure.

So without further “a Jew”, open wide and cram this down your gob.

PART UN (ONE): THE MONTAGE

As the song in Team America went – “We’re gonna need a montage. I love a good montage. You normally get a load of great scenes together, stuff actually happens and invariably there’s a cracking song or “Fix You” by Coldplay, in the background. A montage in a short can be tricky to pull off as you have limited time to set things up. If done well though you can really increase the weight of your piece by making the journey feel longer/deeper.

First up in this category we have “Set No Path” by Brooks Reynolds.

Watch it and let’s meet downstairs in seventeen minutes and ten seconds.

Ok, you back? Pretty depressing eh? Sorry about that… But hey how bout those montages eh? I loved how they used three stitched together with some Dawson’s Creek-esque acting bits. The editing of the montage sequences was incredible, linking the present day, flash forwards and using the Super-8 style camcorder footage for the flashbacks – all worked perfectly. Mucho kudos to Justin Dube for providing a brilliant soundtrack.

PART TWO: “Using your limits to your advantage OR How I have no money…”

Next up is an great example of how to do a lot with a little. It’s ALSO an example of a montage type piece. Pretty smart eh Stephan? (Yeah Andrew you are the best! – Stephan).

This is a short by a fellow called Gabriel Bisset-Smith and is named “Thrush”. Watch it with your eyes.

Pretty neat eh? Amazing how you can do so much with relatively little. Also think of all the issues this overcomes that might be stopping you from being able to tell your story – be it access to good actors, directors, camerapeople. Of course not every story can be told in this format but it’s a good example of thinking outside the box. Spotify did something along the same lines of using very little to do a lot for their recent ad campaign.

Another great example of this is Mark Colombus’s “Battle of the Jazz Guitarist”. Now those amongst you who are Stephan know how much I love this. Superb use of basically just subtitles to tell a story. Sit back and enjoy.

Wow. Eh? If that didn’t make you reconsider how you are planning your short I dunno what will. The way the subtitles change, or reveal, to be more of a stream of consciousness is amazing . And anything with M83 will always get bonus points from me.

Ok that’s it for this week. I’ll be back next week. Comment below. First comment wins a prize. Comment!

Dates For Your Calendar – June 2014 Edition

Date Event Notes
June 1st Screamcraft Horror Script Contest Feature screenplays up to 140pp in Horror genre.
June 12th London Writers’ Circle
July 1st Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award Deadline TV Drama, participants must be under 30
July 3rd London Writers’ Circle
July 10th Final Draft Big Break Standard Deadline Feature Film or TV Drama
July 15th Final Draft Big Break Extended Deadline Feature Film or TV Drama
July 17th London Writers’ Circle
August 15th LSF – Actor’s Table Reads Submissions Open LSF 2014 delegates only
August 15th LSF – Advanced Mentoring Script Labs Submissions Open LSF 2014 delegates only
August 21st ScriptAngel / London Screenwriters’ Festival Mentoring Competition Deadline TV & Film Drama; LSF 2014 delegates only

 

Short of the Week 1: ACTION SHORTS

Hello you!

As a new regular section of the website I, Andrew (@flightrisker), will be bringing you a weekly helping of short films, placed carefully onto an Internet-spoon and then crammed into your greedy mouth. I shall attempt to loosely theme these posts but I’m already predicting that these themes will descend into a farcical attempt at “professionalism” by about week 3.

Each week, under the flimsy umbrella that is the theme, I will post one Short of the Week as well as one to several other on theme shorts that may be of interest. First we’ll watch the short and then we’ll scroll down for some word soup concerning what we just witnessed. Feel free to then take the discussion outside (comments) and disagree wildly with any and everything I have just typed.


 

This week we’re looking at “Action Shorts” – specifically ones which rely heavily on one long action sequence. Action shorts can work very well as you have limited time to set up characters and a story anyway so if you just jump right in to some fisticuffs then you can usually get away with not having too much of those other things.

However, if you do take the time to add in these elements you can elevate a technically sound fight sequence to a very effective and dramatic piece of short film. This week’s short is “CONTROLLER” by Iranian born writer/director Saman Kesh. Saman has mostly made long-form music videos before this short film which is evident in the style of this piece. Midnight Club Pt.1″ and Placebo – Loud Like Love” are worth checking out, more from a technical point of view.

Anyway, let’s watch it and then we can talk some more. Please set your vibrators to cell phone mode.

 


 

Back? Great. So hopefully you enjoyed “CONTROLLER”. I thought it did a lot of things well. You were sold the concept and given an emotional hook in four subtitled lines in the first 45 seconds. The siren going off and the slightly creepy smile immediately give it an uneasy tone which is explored more later on. The censoring effect is quite interesting and is a pretty fresh feeling idea, using video techniques but making them out to be “in-world”.

Once the helmet is put on we’re given another unique element – a video game style menu bar at the bottom where we get to see the various “moves” that the”Controller” is choosing from. The fist is selected and one of the two men in the lift is brutally taken down. I loved that it then trucks out of the elevator and doesn’t show what happens to the second man. We then get a long pan up the building following the elevator as the siren returns and the titles appear.

The fight scene is brilliantly constructed and has some great sequences and innovative set pieces. If I have one criticism it is that maybe there should have been some point where you felt he was in peril. Maybe some type of a “boss” character that wouldn’t have folded quite as easily? Might have added a little to the drama of it.

The dynamic between the boyfriend and girlfriend is very compelling. It’s not your typical guy saves girl trope. She’s using her power to have him save her. This not only keeps her from being a typical damsel but it gives a complexity to their relationship (“Take it easy on these guys” / “Why did you do that?”).

Things take a bit of a twist as he leaves the office room and is confronted by the hazmat guys. Here it’s heavily implied that perhaps saving her isn’t such a great idea. Regardless of the morality of the company’s reasons for keeping her you do start to get the feeling that was still probably a good thing she was not free. They pretty much confirm this by the end (“Isn’t this going to hurt more people?” / “Yes. Sorry.”). This creeping notion and the gory deaths of the hazmat guys is juxtaposed with the beautiful, triumphant score, which for me at least gave the ending a very unsettling feeling. (The soundtrack is all on Spotify and is well worth a listen.)

The film then closes with the girlfriend answering the question that opened the film rounding it all off rather nicely.

Please comment below friends!

 


 

Further viewing

  • If you enjoyed that it’s worth checking out “I___U” which is a prequel to “CONTROLLER”.
  • Burning Hearts by James McFay is also an interesting take on mixing genres a bit, slightly dodgy acting and a denim jacket you’ll never forget. Takes a bit to get going but worth sticking with.
  • Not a short but I gotta plug the fight sequence in Blood and Bone from the always awesome Michael Jai White. This is how you do story telling in a fight sequence. Bonus points for a two second short of Julian Sands.

 

 

 

 

 

Dates For Your Calendar – May 2014 Edition

Date Event Notes
May 8th Screenwriting Goldmine Awards Emergency Registration Deadline Feature Film
May 12th BBC Writer’s Room Deadline Comedy (Radio/TV/Film)
May 15th London Writers’ Circle
May 19th BAFTA Rocliffe Comedy Script Call TV comedy sitcom, animation sitcom and sketch show series.
May 29th London Writers’ Circle
June 1st Screamcraft Horror Script Contest Feature screenplays up to 140pp in Horror genre.
June 12th London Writers’ Circle
July 3rd London Writers’ Circle
July 10th Final Draft Big Break Standard Deadline Feature Film or TV Drama
July 15th Final Draft Big Break Extended Deadline Feature Film or TV Drama
August 21st ScriptAngel / London Screenwriters’ Festival Mentoring Competition Deadline TV & Film Drama; LSF 2014 delegates only

 

Dates For Your Calendar – March 2014 Edition

Date Event Notes
March 6th London Writers’ Circle
March 10th BAFTA Rocliffe Deadline TV Drama
March 20th London Writers’ Circle
March 27th Screenwriting Goldmine Awards Standard Registration Deadline Feature Film
March 31st BBC Writers Room Deadline TV & Film Drama
March 31st ScriptAngel / London Screenwriters’ Festival Mentoring Competition Opens TV & Film Drama; LSF 2014 delegates only
April 3rd London Writers’ Circle
April 10th Academy Nicholl Fellowship Regular Deadline Feature Film
April 17th London Writers’ Circle
April 24th Screenwriting Goldmine Awards Late Registration Deadline Feature Film
April 30th Final Draft Big Break Early Bird Deadline Feature Film or TV Drama
May 1st Academy Nicholl Fellowship Late Deadline Feature Film
May 1st London Writers’ Circle
May 8th Screenwriting Goldmine Awards Emergency Registration Deadline Feature Film
July 15th Final Draft Big Break Standard Deadline Feature Film or TV Drama
July 31st Final Draft Big Break Extended Deadline Feature Film or TV Drama
August 21st ScriptAngel / London Screenwriters’ Festival Mentoring Competition Deadline TV & Film Drama; LSF 2014 delegates only

 

Dates For Your Calendar – Feb 2014 Edition

Date Event Notes
Feb 28th Academy Nicholl Fellowship Early Bird Deadline Feature Film
Feb 28th LSF Tardy Bird Price Deadline Festival Entry
March 6th London Writers’ Circle
March 10th BAFTA Rocliffe Deadline TV Drama
March 20th London Writers’ Circle
March 27th Screenwriting Goldmine Awards Standard Registration Deadline Feature Film
March 31st BBC Writers Room Deadline TV & Film Drama
April 3rd London Writers’ Circle
April 10th Academy Nicholl Fellowship Regular Deadline Feature Film
April 17th London Writers’ Circle
April 24th Screenwriting Goldmine Awards Late Registration Deadline Feature Film
May 1st Academy Nicholl Fellowship Late Deadline Feature Film
May 1st London Writers’ Circle
May 8th Screenwriting Goldmine Awards Emergency Registration Deadline Feature Film

 

Recommended Screenwriting Books

We asked everyone which screenwriting books they recommended. For your reference, we’ve summarised them all below, with handy links!

Screenwriting 101 by Film Crit Hulk!

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby

How Not to Write a Screenplay: 101 Common Mistakes Most Screenwriters Make by Denny Martin Flinn

The Hero with A Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)

The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion by James George Frazer

How to Write a Movie in 21 Days: The Inner Movie Method by Viki King

Your Screenplay Sucks!: 100 Ways to Make It Great by William M. Akers

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

London Writers’ Circle – our follow up to the LSF

This year was my first at the London Screenwriters Festival, and I very nearly didn’t turn up.
I’d been on the mailing list for a while, I signed up after re-reading the Guerilla Filmmakers’ Handbook a year or so ago. The emails came in and I looked at them, thought it looked great, but then cast them aside. In March I took the plunge and decided to do a weekend screenwriting course at the Met Film School, and I got the bug. I came away knowing what I wanted to do, screenwriting was my way forward. I got loads of books and started reading. Meanwhile, the LSF emails kept coming in, and I started to get curious. So, one evening I started to have a look at the website, the more I read the more interesting I became, and my stomach starting to churn at the thought of actually going. I saw a recommendation of the LSF by someone I had known at Uni. I Face booked him, what did he think of it? I haven’t written anything yet, I’m new, is it for me? His reply, GO! So I signed up and bought my ticket, my stomach churning away.
This summer I moved house, so for a few months my focus was find a house, organise and move. The screenwriting and thoughts of the LSF went on the back burner.
August, September, October – OH MY GOD IT’S OCTOBER!
On the advice given from many previous attendees of the LSF I ordered some business cards. I spent an evening scrolling through the websites, got some stuff down and hit send. My hands were shaking and my stomach was in knots. I’d committed for the first time to actually calling myself a screenwriter; it was there, on a business card for all to see. F**k.
More nervous preparation ensued, I printed the tickets, bought some more books, bought some new stationary, bought some mints!
I booked to go to Save the Cat! Wednesday. My partner booked the week of to look after our daughter. I booked Pilar’s Thursday.
OH MY GOD IT’S TUESDAY. I spent the whole day a bag of nerves.
Wednesday morning. I got up much earlier than required got ready and sat there. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. They’ll know I can’t do this. I was doing a very good job of listening to the voice in my head, and talking myself out of going when my partner reminded me that I’ve done more scary stuff before, this was just going along to meet some other writer folk and listen to some people talking. And there would be a beer at the end! I left before the voice in my head could take over.
5 days of early mornings and late nights, meeting people, listening to the speakers, having a few drinks, it was hectic.
Somehow in the middle of all of that, Stephan and I decided to start a writers circle. We have Chris Jones, Johnny Newman and their Manifesting Success session to thank. They got us geared up, and we made a commitment to each other to start a writers circle to keep this all going. To not go back to the real world come Monday and forget all the excitement, inspiration and enthusiasm we had over the weekend. We want to be writers, we want to get stuff read, produced, watched, and we don’t want to let it go. So we’re not going to, and we’re going to let each other either.
One thing that surprised us was the response we got from other delegates, people wanted to join us, and were excited about it too. We definitely couldn’t back out now.
So here we are, two weeks after the festival and the Writers’ Circle has a website, a Twitter profile, a Facebook page. We had our first meeting last night and people turned up!
It was great to have a beer and chat with other writers again. And we decided the following goals to take the group forward;

  • Motivation and accountability – encouragement of what you’re working on, having the meetings as regular deadlines to move your project forward
  • Having a read through of each other’s work
  • Doing table reads of each other’s writing
  • Critical discourse of films and scripts
  • Sharing knowledge, recommending books/films/websites etc.
  • Socials – trips to the cinema, meeting for drinks

The most important thing for me is to not let this slip away, and to keep writing. That little voice in my head has gone quiet, and the stomach churning, hand shaking nerves have gone. I don’t feel like a fraud calling myself a screenwriter. I have a deadline, in two weeks I have to bring an outline for my project. This is happening.
So, if you want to chat about movies and TV, meet some new people, be encouraged with your writing and have some help to keep that procrastination monster at bay, come and join us. 7pm Thursday 21st November in the Lyttleton café at the The National Theatre, we’ll see you there.

P.S. As for the LSF, I’ve booked my ticket for next year.