Sunday, 18 September 2011

Channel 4 Screenwriting Course

I saw the following post from Andy Conway on the Shootingpeople Screenwriters Bulletin and thought I'd share it with you verbatum:

Thought I'd flag this up for our UK writers with no broadcast credit.

Channel 4 will again be running their screenwriting course for Channel 4 drama, January-June 2012.

They are "looking for 12 talented, original and diverse writers who currently have no broadcast credit but wish to write for television drama.

"The course will give you a chance to find out how TV drama, particularly Channel 4 TV drama, works, and to write, over a 5 month period, your own 1 hour pilot script for an original series or serial, working with an experienced script editor."

Find out more at:

Friday, 9 September 2011

'Big Society' and Nick Scott

It's not often I say 'I cried with laughter' without being really sarcastic but in the case of watching 'Big Society', directed by Nick Scott, I really did have to wipe the tears away. I caught this absolutely perfect short film at the Sunday Screenings at the Antelope a week or so ago and judging by the monumental round of applause the film got I think everyone else thought the same way. It's brilliant. So well done to Nick and actor/collaborator Jonathan Rhodes.

So watch the film below and then read the interview I did with Nick Scott, a really nice guy and very talented director.

So what is 'Big Society' about?
Big Society is about an officer in the British army who has developed a controversial new approach to tackle the anti-social behaviour he sees on the streets. It's a sort of Dirty Harry meets the Wombles. 

What themes does it explore?
It's a satire that (hopefully) explores the link between corporal punishment and anti-social behaviour. I also wanted people to think about the moral complexity that comes with life in the military. I grew up in Colchester which is a garrison town and always found it an incredible ask of soldiers to switch so quickly from one moral world to another when they come home after seeing conflict.  

How did the idea come about?
Jonathan Rhodes is a good friend of mine. We have developed several characters together through improvisation. We are both interested in black comedy and documentary real tone of films like Man bites Dog and wanted to do something in similar territory.

Describe your writing process?
Jon and I have quite a specific process. I write the structure of a scene and then we improvise within that. This allows us to find dialogue that suits Jon's natural delivery whilst still hitting the necessary dramatic beats in a scene.   

How do you prepare to direct a film?
I used to be obsessed with shot lists but things inevitably get in the way so now I like to keep things fairly flexible so you can use those obstacles to your advantage. When it comes to the shoot and you know where you are, I'll make a clear choice about how the scene will be handled.

What format was the film shot on and was this a creative or financial choice?
We shot on a mixture of Canon 7D and 5D mkII. It was a financial and creative choice, we wanted to make it look like a documentary and shot on slower zoom lenses to flatten the image.

What was its budget and how did you raise the finance?
We didn't have a budget but needed a few hundred quid to make the scenes work in Leicester. Jon and I put that in ourselves because we believed in the film.  

Describe the casting process?
The casting process for the kids was great. My friend Melissa runs an acting school in Leicester called Urban Young Actors ( Most of the kids don't have formal training, which is great because they act intuitively which was essential for this. I ran a couple of sessions in their class and they responded brilliantly. They are super smart, got the concept straight away and brought loads of great ideas. I would have used all of them in the film if I could.

Are you a director who likes to rehearse a lot before shooting?
I love working with actors. It's my favourite part of the process, I wish I could do what they do! I'll rehearse if I can but only blocking or for tech, not with full performance. I like the actors to hold something back for the shoot.

Nick Scott

What approaches do you employ when working with actors?
Depends on the actor and the production. I've studied Meisner technique at the Actor's Temple, which is the framework I use, I found that actors usually respond well to you knowing technique. A lot of actors will tell you they can get on the money straight off, but it usually takes them a while to get into it and some are much quicker than others. You need a healthy dialogue with actors and crew so you can adapt circumstances to improve performance.

Did you storyboard/shot list every shot in pre-production?

How long was the shoot?
Two days. One in Highbury in London. One in Leicester.

Which part of the production did you find most enjoyable?
All of it. It was a very enjoyable shoot. Faking the stuff on the streets was particularly rewarding as we'd worked on the blocking in the studio and we got all these reactions from people from strangers who thought it was real.

What lessons, if any, did you learn?
We were very lucky to have a very good editor work on the film. Gareth Scales pushed the material very hard to keep it as tight as possible. I was initially resistant to some changes but with time I saw that they were exceptionally good edits. It's important to keep your mind open and on the big picture.

Where has the film been screened so far?
We only recently finished the film and it's first public screening I went to was at the Sundays Screenings in Tooting, which was fantastic!
Future plans for the film?
The film has just been nominated for the Grand Prix at Encounters Film Festival, which we are all very excited about. It means the film is eligible for a BAFTA, which is amazing. We submit it to other festivals and keep our fingers crossed!  

What’s next for you?
Jon and I are working on two feature screenplays at the moment. Both are black comedies with political undertones, one is a fly on the wall documentary about a fly on the wall documentary, and the other is about a relationship termination agency that you can pay to dump your other half. I think there's some exciting and thought provoking films coming out of the UK at the moment and hopefully we can be part of that.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Air Castle Music Video

Air Castles
Been working on another music video. Not directing this time but helping out my good friend Robert Raby as 1AD and Online Editor. The video was for a track called 'Gold' for the band Air Castles. Check it out by clicking here. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

DCMS Film Policy Review Panel

I thought this might be of interest to some of you. The DCMS has requested comments and suggestions about what should be the country's future film policy, to be sent to them by 9 September. Jon Williams, writer/producer of 'Diary of a Bad Lad', has some very interesting suggestions and comments and is asking for support from any film producer or director with feature film credits, or with a feature in pre-production; or if you are the director or programmer of a film festival, especially one in the North West.

His submission makes a case for:

a. The restoration of the film exhibition quotas revoked by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980's.
b. The introduction of quotas to ensure a greater representation of British films on broadcast television.
c. Increased support for film festivals which place their accent on British films.
d. Reform of the hopelessly out of date 1984 Video Recordings Act so as to allow independent filmmakers the same freedom as the American, Danish and other colleagues, i.e. to not just offer their films unrated as downloads, but also as "unrated-18" DVDs.

If you would like to add your support to this submission please send Jon your key credits/company details/etc + your email address so that he can cut an paste together the list.
Full details of the submission are available at: