5-4-3-2-1 Talent Campers are GO!

Like most writers, I’ve done my fair share of courses – short and long, online and offline – to help improve my writing. I’ve attended events and seminars to glean nuggets of info from those who’ve been there and done it, and signed up to numerous writing websites’ newsletters .

And now, I’ve finally taken myself by the scruff of the neck and gone for the Big One: Talent Campus, the London Screenwriters’ Festival’s rocket-fuelled 7 day, 4 week intensive workout.

I’ll openly admit, I thought it was too soon for me to take full advantage of it. But then I thought, what the hell? I’ve either got talent or I haven’t and it’s probably best to find out sooner rather than later, right?

I was still unconvinced though, and my application contained 10 pages of an incomplete script which was pretty much a raw first draft, where I teed up ideas to explore further along. I figured, if they accept that, I know I’m on the right track.

So here I am. The intense activity away at Ealing Studios starts on June 26, but we’re in the Pre-Ignition phase and they’ve already set a first homework assignment, a 2 page script for their Impact 50 project.

It’s something I looked at briefly before, but couldn’t come up with a good idea, mainly I think, because I was concentrating on my TV pilot for a competition. So I let it go – and then slightly panicked when the assignment came through.

Don’t settle on your first idea, it said, and eventually the snippets I’d been jotting down previously formed themselves into a workable plot: An elderly lady decides to protect her canine best friend from suffering the impact.

I decided to give her a cantankerous husband to play off, then decided to give him dementia – we lost my dad to the condition, and I’m involved in the local dementia action alliance, so I’m confident including it in my stories.

But then a funny thing happened. Having only two pages to play with, I ran out of room for the dog. So the story became: A woman whose husband lives with dementia shields him from the present by recreating a date from their past. Which hadn’t been in my notes at all!

Writing daze

The Coffee Break Screenwriter by Pilar Alessandra

You know I said I’d be writing at least 3 pages a day? I actually have!

Therefore, as we near the end of January, I can look back on the month and be really proud that I’ve now two complete project drafts. And it’s thanks in part to the excellent book (see above) by Pilar Alessandra: The Coffee Break Screenwriter.

I was stuck at a rough 12 pages for the pilot episode of my TV series, so, since it was Pilar’s weekend TV writing course that set me on the journey with it last year, I revisited her book to jump start me again.

Going into the weekend last year with just the basic concept, I came away with the full template for all the elements of a mini series bible, which subsequently turned into a 5 page document that set a strong framework for me to work from.

But knowing my characters and where I want them to go turned out to be the easy bit. So using Pilar’s book, I’ve begun to work through the 10 minute exercises and concentrate on one part of the script at a time. Before I knew it, I’d hit 45 pages. And I’m still only at the beginnings of the rewrite processes!

Having already completed the vomit draft (as I’ve charmingly seen it called) of my feature – Pilar refers to it as the speed draft (as in you write it quickly, not while you’re high) – I’ve started the rewriting process on that and already it’s gained another 4 pages.

It helps that I’ve finally made the effort to make more, dedicated, time. I’d let too many distractions keep me away from the writing but a new approach has proven worthwhile. This is essentially not writing just on the computer – printing the drafts off and going through with a red pen (like in the olden days) clearly works for me. Pen and paper, you can’t beat it.

Yesterday I was at the second Rochester Write Then Socialise and basically sat quietly for 3 whole hours working through the script, with Pilar’s book becoming more and more thumbed as the day wore on. The beauty of this was that once I felt a break was in order, I could reward myself by chatting to fellow writers over a coffee, the importance of which can’t be underestimated.

Writing is a lonely, solitary business and it’s easy to become isolated. While we were all concentrating on our own projects, the sounds of low chatter, tapping on keyboards and the scratching of pens reminded me I’m not on my own.

Continuing personal development …


My ambition is to write a screenplay. A full length film. I’ve got the whole film playing out in my head – interrupted occasionally by the TV series I want to do. And chocolate adverts.

So I’m dabbling in online courses for film making and screenwriting, through the brilliant Future Learn portal – masses of free online courses you can do in your own time, or alongside potentially thousands of others. Do check them out.

The one I’m currently engaged in is ‘Explore Film’ and it’s pretty awesome – I’ve already watched some brilliant short films and am feeling inspired. Into Week 2 and there was the opportunity for some practical work. Today found me on location (at the ever welcoming Cafe @172/Dot Cafe in Rochester) with the lovely Sam Rapp, The Dyslexic Poet, and the also lovely Penny from the cafe (who didn’t need too much persuasion, since she’s another crafty creative we’ve found).

The brief was to write a 30 second script on the premise on someone in a room giving something to someone else coming into the room. I then had to storyboard it (you can see that on my Creative Arts Pinterest page. A must if you like stick men work) and then rope in some unsuspecting victims to film it with me (see above).

And this was the result. I still haven’t discovered the techy tricks that will make the video look as good on YouTube as it does on the iPad, which is annoying – but hopefully that’s something we’ll cover as we progress.

Sunday Slackers

Time for tea, and a schmoozy through some fun stuff …

RobotTechnology: Fifteen of the most advanced robots ever invented (video) I’m quite keen on the PR2 – and I checked the date to make sure it wasn’t an April Fool prank!

Literary Art: Graffiti artists’ tributes to Sir Terry Pratchett

And in related news – How you can tell if you’re in an STP novel. Carry on down  and read the comments, there are plenty more ways.

Continue reading

Sunday Slackers

The internet of fascinating things to while away your Sunday.


Literature into Film: The Top 10 Shakespeare films

Animals: Sweaters for penguins – gotta love the Penguin Books one!

Creativity: A messy desk is a sign you’ve got it

Trickery: Illusionist fun

Life: The hidden danger of comparing yourself to others


Art: Modern day painted ladies

Game of Thrones: (Spoilers Alert) George’s original plans

Nature into Art: Fantastic Fungi

Star Wars: Snow Sculptures

Travel: The fun side of the London Underground

Perspective: How to destroy your understanding of time


Images: Pixabay

Film makers can come in all shapes and sizes …

Young Medway film maker Sophie Lasson speaks to me about her latest film, Super Me.

Heroes can come in all shapes and sizes…

Max has dreamed his whole life of becoming a superhero, but did he realise, that at only six years old, he has done more than he could ever imagine; he has saved a man’s life.

With his mother too busy for him and his father non existent, Max is often left to his own devices, playing on the same estate where he was born.

He’s a curious boy, always looking for an adventure. When he sees a stranger on the roof of a building nearby, he goes to investigate. What happens next is life changing for the both of them.

Super Me is a 10 minute drama which challenges the way in which people view their own lives, by looking at it from the refreshing perspective that is Max. It’s written – and will be directed and edited – by Sophie, who is in her final year at Uni. She told me:

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)“Yeah, this is my final year and my final film whilst at University. During my time there, I developed a real interest in post production, specifically colour grading. In the summer I did a months placement at ‘The Look’ in London which specialises in grading and finishing for TV, film, adverts and trailers and I learn’t so much. I would love to go back to there, or somewhere like it after University and hopefully pursue a career in colour grading for TV and film.

“Super Me was something I’d been thinking about for a while. I wanted to write something which I felt would show the true value of love and friendship, not just between family, but people who can become your family. I guess years of watching Superhero films made me think about who a real superhero would be, and that’s where the story was born!

Did you always want a career in television and/or film making?

“When I was about 13 I took pottery classes after school. The place where I did this was approached by a TV show called ‘Tricky TV’ and were asked if they had any children interested in taking part in their show, as stooges for a segment called ‘wicked windup’. I along with a few of my friends took part. I remember spending the day with the crew and I just thought, wow, this is an awesome job! From then on I had a focus on working in TV although I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do at the time!”

Is there a film making hero who’s inspired you since?

“I guess there are quite a few, but my favourite probably has to be Zach Braff, possibly better known to most as an actor. As a writer/director I think he is great, across both TV and film. His films always seem to have the right balance of comedy and melancholia, which is so hard to do. His most recent film, Wish I Was Here, was partly funded by a Kickstarter campaign, for which I was a backer, and that inspired me to start my own campaign to make my film, which is going to be my graduate project.  I’m currently trying to raise some money to help create the film – this is my Indiegogo page!”

An obvious question, but I’m fascinated to know a film maker’s preference – what’s your favourite film?

“That’s a tricky one! There are so many films I love and it always depends on my mood as to which is my favourite at the time. I guess one I always come back to is Fight Club, although Garden State is up there too!”

Where can we keep up to date with your career as it progresses?

“My most recent works usually appear on my website soon after they are made so this will probably be the best source. I’ll be filming Super Me from the 5th March, for four days, although I still need to cast the actors and confirm locations! I’ll hopefully have it all finished by the end April, when there will be a screening. The film itself will probably be shot in Bournemouth, but I am planning to do the screening in Rochester.”

Thanks for taking time out to tell us all about it, Sophie – we look forward to seeing it!

Images: Copyright Sophie Lasson