Thursday 19 May 2011

Edinburgh Done Emmerich Style

To the right of the devastation is where I work. This would indeed be worse than the snow last winter.

 Just read about a new short film being produced in Edinburgh called Boat, spearheaded by a chap named David Lumsden. Unashamedly riffing on The Road, it's about a father and son struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic Edinburgh, now submerged in several metres of water. And these guys have done their visual research. Not just Prince's Street underwater, but those evil high rise flats at Sighthill now crumble at lapping waves and the Forth Road Bridge is left to rot.

Amazing to see this kind of imagery set around places I know and the fact that people are making films like this featuring VFX. I'm a huge advocate of Scottish films ceasing to obsess with social realism (not entirely, just think about the other audiences out there) and use the setting for more universal and even fantastical stories. We've a huge history of myth and legend here and it never seems to be drawn on effectively.

Have to say, I really want to see this.

Boat - the website
Edinburgh Evening News article on Boat.

Edinburgh Screenwriters Event.

I'm breaking out of the house again today (well, actually I break out every weekday to go to my evening temp drudgery but that doesn't register as breaking out with me). Off into Edinburgh this evening for one of the monthly events organised by the Edinburgh Screenwriters Group, a part of Scottish Screenwriters. They meet up every four weeks to network, swap stories of experiences, workshop short scripts or excerpts and often have speakers. This evening they're playing host to David Bishop, writer of several episodes of Doctors and Nina and the Neurons, copious tie-in novels, Doctor Who audio dramas and tutor on the Creative Writing MA at Screen Academy Scotland. Also an acquaintance during our time studying the Screenwriting MA at SAS and all round good egg.

Again, it'll be good to be around other writers and interesting to hear what David has to say about his own experiences and any advice he has. His blog is pretty damn good as well and recommended reading.

Attending these things is becoming more important to me. There is cross pollination between the above event and the monthly Shooters in the Pub meet ups, showing that there is indeed a growing community of filmmakers in Edinburgh who are getting out there and doing stuff without relying on the no longer existent seemingly unobtainable subsidies we once had.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

The Script Factory - Industry Script Reading

Well, Blogger failing last week led me to stray from my intended blog about the course I attended in London last week. But here it is anyway.

Getting into Script Reading has been on my mind for a while now. The idea for me is to try and supplement my income (or not have to continue my rotten temp job) and improve my own writing by reading more screenplays but as with any aspect of the industry, it's tough to get into and being able to say you've got some experience or qualification in Script Reading has to be a boost of some kind. So I enrolled in The Script Factory's one day course in Industry Script Reading and got my arse down to London for it. And a good time was had, both on the course and in the pub.

Anyone looking to get into it is likely to benefit from attending one of these courses and The Script Factory's seemed pretty damn good, with a tutor who knew what he was talking about, delivering it clearly. The other people attending came from a variety of backgrounds and all had varying levels of experience in screenplay writing, reading and/or development, some very new to the game and some veterans. So a good deal of what we were taught that day might have come as something new to some of the group. For me, a chunk of it was about taking what I already know about screenwriting and turning it around, using it to deconstruct instead of construct. This also served as a good reminder of what to do and not do as a writer. Working on your own in one room can make you forget certain aspects of the craft. Feedback is vital and I need to get my work out to people again.

Just as important (but something most of the courses I've done have failed to include) was information about actually getting employment within the industry as a reader. It's a daunting prospect. Readers are not paid well (this is not a job that can sustain a living), there are several levels of experience required for different sections of the industry and you can spend more time seeking employment than getting the work itself.

But that's no reason to be put off, as far as I'm concerned. We have to be prepared to exist at the bottom with little return if we're in it for the long game, and I am (my whole bleedin' life, so far). I'm still holding on to the old maxims about persistence and hard work (need to hold on to that latter one a but harder, I think) paying back in the long run.

So, I have to do some sample coverage and feedback reports and get my ass out there. Doing a course is one thing. Making sure you've got samples to back yourself up is another.

Read more. Write better.

Thursday 12 May 2011


Got back from four days in London yesterday and still pretty knackered after an awful train journey but a good time was had.

I stayed with a good friend right by Ealing Studios and proximity to any kind if film history will always get me unreasonably excited. I enjoyed a couple of quiet pints and scribbling in Ealing's Red Lion pub, also know as Stage 6 due to it being right across the road from Ealing Studios and was soon full of crew members finished for the day.

I went down to do a one day course in Script Reading and decided to spend a few extra days catching up with old friends. A fair amount of beer ensued but I can't stay in London too long. I'm a home-bod at heart and was ready to come home sooner rather than later. It also featured the first time I've had to ask for a refund at the cinema. Not the quality of the film as I had no way of telling, seeing as there was no picture for the first 10 minutes and when it was restored the sound was deafening. I'll need to try and see that film again up here. And the wonderful London air sparked an allergy I never knew I had. Sniff.

The Script Reading course was held by the Script Factory but I'll dedicate a blog entry to that later today.

Away for a few days and the grass is too long (but rain stops me from cutting it) while other things in the garden which should be growing have come on nicely. I'm so grown up and dull now. Well, certainly dull. Some of my London purchases, particularly from Forbidden Planet, don't demonstrate any sense of growing up; think Millennium Falcon and a Haynes Car Manual.