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I am delighted to announce that my new play, “The Empty Charcoal Box” will open the new season at Oran Mor on Monday August 28th.

“It all started with the empty Charcoal Box. But that’s not where it started for Eddie. For Eddie, it started with Sonja Kristina……”

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“The Empty Charcoal Box” is the tragi-comic story of how a long-hidden event of extreme violence 45 years ago has haunted  the lives of  three  Ayrshire Schoolboys ever since. A contemporary crisis  mean that  Billy, Eddie and Deansy are finally forced to confront that age old question which determines our path to wisdom: Should we look backwards to try undo our mistakes, or forwards and try not to repeat them?

The play will be directed by myself and will  feature three of Scotland’s most talented actors, Ryan Fletcher, James McKenzie and Gavin Jon Wright.

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Ryan Fletcher

Gavin Jon Wright

Gavin Jon Wright

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James McKenzie

The play will use sound, movement and live  music to tell this darkly comic tale of guilt,  retribution and rebirth. Amongst others it features the work of Curved Air, Pink Floyd, John Kongos, Sham 69 and The Ramones.

Ryan Fletcher  has most recently been seen on the stage as Phil McCann in “Cuttin’ A Rug” at the Citizens and in “Milk” at The Traverse, and has appeared in “River City” , “Gary Tank Commander” and “The Limmy Show” on the small screen.

Gavin Jon Wright  is just back from the US tour of “Titus” where he played the title role. He played “Spud” in Trainspotting at The Citizens, and features in the role of  Hugh Kirk  in the recent three part ITV  Drama “In Plain Sight”.

James McKenzie  was last seen onstage at the Oran Mor and The Traverse as John Wilkes Booth in  His Final  Bow” . He also appeared in the NTS production “Rites”  and will be familiar to “River City” fans for his role as  Gary Trenton.

The play runs from August 28th till September 2nd.

Full programming  and booking details here at  Play, Pie & Pint 

 


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Over the last 4 years, the University Of The West Of Scotland has hosted regular Weds Afternoon collaboration workshops  in our TV studios at UWS Ayr. 

In that time over 400 participants, the majority of them International Students from countries all over the world have participated in the workshops. These student volunteers have collaborated together to record, edit and present the work of the BA(Hons) Contemporary Screen Acting Degree students . 

Full details of the StudioLab process can be found here  

I am pleased to announce that next Wednesdays StudioLab will be the 100th session . We will have a film crew down to record events . Look out for details of how we plan to celebrate our 100th Birthday . 



Contemporary Screen Acting Students in our recent Rail Safety  project 


Just got this on the hotline from my colleague Dr David Manderson

“Congratulations to Kirsty McConnell, a graduate of last year’s Honours Screenwriting/Film-Making degree, for winning first prize in the London Screenwriters’ ‘Fifty Kisses’ short film script competition for her short script ‘Enough.

You can read her script and the judges’ comments here:

http://www.50kissesfilm.com/50-kisses-the-screenplays/enough-by-kirsty-mcconnell/

Well done Kirsty! A career beckons.”


I have wrtitten previously about the setting up of our UWS collaboration project “Studio Lab”  at our new Television Studios at University Of The West Of Scotland in Ayr . We have now reached Week 3 of the project and it is developing at a breathtaking pace.

Ten  4th year (level 10 )  Contemporary Screen Acting Students have worked on creating  the scenario, characters and script of a live recorded studio production of approximately 30-60 mins in length. Readers will, I hope,  appreciate that this is a substantial piece of work.It   will be recorded  “as live” at UWS Ayr  Studios on December 5th. It will be directed by professional TV Director Michael Hines , who as well as being one of Scotland’s leading directors, also lectures on our Camera Acting Techniques and Screen Drama modules. All the improvisational materials and exercises are being  been recorded , edited and disseminated online to the performance  team by volunteer Film Making & Screenwriting students as part of this crossover collaboration. The volunteer  recording team have put in literally hours of work to ensure that the acting team have the material in an edited form in order to reflect, and then deepen the characterisations which will be eventually reflected in an improvised  shooting script to prepare for the live recording.

Rebecca Skinner, Emmi Häkkä, Marius Pocevičius and Lizzie Kane in UWS Ayr Studios

As the project progresses closer towards  shooting, Broadcast Production students will become more involved, so that by the time we record, I expect a team of about 20 strong production team to be part of the behind the scenes efforts to capture the live recording of this experimental drama. Thus around 30 UWS Creative Industries students will have had the chance to take part in an authentic  hands on experience which we hope will arm them for the challenges of the Professional Creative Industries.

We have now reached week 3 of the project. So far students have worked on Object, Situation and Interactive  improvisations. This has produced approximately 3 hours of edited material. The first part of each session is taken up by watching, discussing and reflecting upon last weeks material. All the edited material has been previously posted on a closed Facebook Group where all the participating students, both voluntary and assessed, take part in creative online discussions through the week.Screen Acting  students are tasked with creating three dimensional authentic characters with a backstory, personna, and  psychological underpinning which will propel them into the creation of a fully integrated live drama.

Having now gathered a wealth of material, students are  engaged in the process of “locating” the precinct within which the final production will be based. Will it be an airport? An institution? A city street? A Spaceship? Inside John Malkovich’s head? The decision of what, where and how the precinct will be will evolve over  the next two weeks, so that by week 6, students have a firm grasp of the creative parameters of the project. By weeks 7 and 8, the  now located script will be further improvised, developed and honed. At this point, UWS Screenwriting students will distill all the material into a developing script, so that by the time we get to the Technical Rehearsal in Week 10 on Nov 28th, we will have an agreed shooting script  which fully reflects the creative input of all participants. We are then planning a final screening in our Campus HD 7:1 Movie Theatre in Week 12.

Next trimester, all the Contemporary Screen Acting students are tasked with writing a 4-6,000 word Ethnographic survey of the lived experience of the entire process.  This part of the process is has been devised and delivered by my colleague Dr John Quinn at UWS.

The combination  of the two processes, Recorded Artefact and Ethnographic Survey will combine in a 40 Credit Module to complete the Contemporary Screen Acting Research Project. We plan to have all student work submitted in a digital form and be deliverable online in the first ever truly paperless  I will update progress with the StudioLab project as it develops.

Katie Power,Catherine Lockhart,Stuart McGowan,Anna Kennedy & Claudie Baker Park improvise. Photos by William Aldridge


This is an expanded version  of  a talk I gave  at  a Glasgow University Theatre Film and TV  Student Employment Forum At Gilmorehill Church On Monday 21st March 2011

“Delicious Complications” : Employment And The Creative Industries Graduate Today
By Stuart Hepburn
Here are 10 tips for Creative Graduates, in no particular order.
Tip 1. Carry out a Google search of your name.
Tip 2. Change yourself from a consumer to a creator.
Tip 3. Investigate the blogosphere.
Tip 4. Think Small.
Tip 5. Think Big.
Tip 6. Be Passionate.
Tip 7. Network.
Tip 8. Hang out with creatives.
Tip 9. Be Flexible,
Tip 10.Have a backup plan.
Why?
We are all witnessing today a world changing more rapidly politically, economically and socially than at any other time since man came down from the trees and started hitting bones with rocks.
A combination of Technological Change, Ecological Shock and the seemingly  irrevocable forces of Globalisation mean that all over the world, in all sorts of ways, people are having to cope with adopting a post-industrial lifestyle and economy.  The three hundred year “honeymoon” which Northern Europe enjoyed by leading the Industrial Revolution is apparently  over, and it would appear that  the post-colonolialist storm is about to break. It could get very uncomfortable for us cossetted Westerners, in  all sorts of ways.
The irony is that you,  as Creative Industries students from  the West of Scotland, stand at the very centre of that process, and are in a healthy  position to  take advantage of this state of flux. I’m reminded of  the Neil Simon scripted  “Barefoot In The Park” (Sachs 1967) , where the Charles Boyer’s character  states of the uncertain future ‘ I foresee delicious complications ‘. The entire developed world is at the centre of those complications, but it is my contention today that  If you are able to take advantage of them, then  the sky could be the limit for you all.
As the  rise of the Digital Economy goes on apace,  it  means that Cultural Trade of all sorts, all over the world,  is growing exponentially. As the   the old ways are breaking down, new forms are emerging to fill  up the vacuum. For example, Hollywood makes about 500 movies a year; Bollywood about twice that. But did you know that “Nollywood” AKA Nigerian Cinema makes over 2,000 films a year?  Albeit they are low budget, locally produced and distributed and have an average budget of £10K. Across the continent,the notorious Kibera Shanty town in Kenya, 10 digital flipcams have been supplied by TED to local residents who use them   to gather, edit and then broadcast worldwide on the spot stories of their lives .  The “Woman Are Heroes” project in the same are has allowed local creative artists to have their work spread  through the use of public art, digitation of imagery and blogging.
Will Nigeria ever overtake Hollywood as a world leader in film production? Will Kibera News Network ever eclipse CNN? Probably not, but there is something very alluring in low budget hi-fidelity digitised creative output, and  like it or not,  these localised  processes  are  forcing  the old order to face  stark choices for the future. As with with every choice in life, this  is a challenge which  has  tremendous opportunities,  as well as real  dangers. It is my contention that you as Creative Industries graduates must seize that opportunity.
As graduates of the class of 2011, you  are the the first Web 3.0 Higher Education generation, and you hold the future of the world in your hands. Literally in your hands with your pdas and smart phones and  flipcams. Five years ago, I didn’t even possess a mobile phone. Now, my iPhone is an integral part of how I interphase with the world, through my website, my blogs, Twitter, Facebook, videos, photographs, a web browser and any number of other apps and creative communication tools.
I use microblogging and digital output at the core of my own pedagogy as a  key to enhancement of  the student learning experience, and I want to share with you today, the possibilities of extending those undergraduate techniques into post graduate modes of employment and sharing and even monetising your creativity. It seems to me that the key to the  whole process which we are all  going through  is the notion  of  User Generated Content,  and as graduating Theatre Students, you are uniquely well suited to taking advantage of this innovative  collaborative process.
UGC is all about creating, and developing  your own narrative through your experience and those around you, and then   sharing and disseminating it all round the world. Our world is now a 360 degree multiplatform environment, with motivated individuals and groups operating on a 24 hours a day digitised interactive basis. Open source software and UGC is the future. The post-Wiki leaks  Firewall is now  little more than the  redundant dream of overworked ICT practitioners continually attempting to put another finger in the dyke to  protect the integrity of self serving institutions.
Don’t get me wrong, I want my bank account to be as secure as can be , but I want my CREATIVITY to be as open as possible.
Universities and large institutions are as fettered as Government Departments and the Ministries of Truth all round the world, all desperately (and vainly)  attempting to hang on to their own exclusive cultural knowledge. The truth is that the genie is out of the bottle, and it is reluctant to  go back, and it seems to me that it is the task of us  creatives to ensure that it never does.
The upheavals in the Middle East, the demise of the old ways of creating and consuming news and culture, the rise of Youtube and Twitter are all manifestations of this process,  and you can be at the centre of it if you choose.
And as we stand in the West End of Glasgow and look down on to silent shipyards , empty factories and a diminishing industrial base, the Creative Economy and those who operate within it have become more and more important economically, politically and socially. Scotland has changed forever, and we will either buy into that change or be left behind for ever.
As  Jamaican Senator Donna Scott-Mottley put it in 2006….
“Sugar days are done, banana days are done, but in this globalised world, our culture is what sells us and we have to begin to look at it as a business”
For Sugar and Bananas in Jamaica, read Shipbuilding and Sewing Machines in Scotland.
But lets not get too negative here. We can pine and moan and say “Ochone” about the glorious sepia-tinted past, but there is also  good story to tell about contemporary Scotland today.  The  newly constituted Creative Scotland’s website informs us that
”  more than 60,000 people are currently employed in the Creative Industries, generating £5 billion for the economy.
It’s clear from figures such as these that  iconic structures and the digital hub around Pacific Quay, Film City and the SECC are no mere empty symbols, and that  Glasgow has a large share of that economic output. Of course, there is no guarantee that these new industries will have any more or even the same degree of longevity as the heavy engineering before it, but at the moment, they are a vital component for the success of the beleaguered Scottish economy.
So as  as the old industrial order   breaks down, and the old certainties fade away, your creativity, and your ability to articulate your own narratives become absolutely key to the way in which you interact in the brave new  world of the modern globak economy. You can be the equivalent of Kibera’s  KNN . You can tell your story to the world.
Human beings have ever hungered for stories. It’s what being human is all about ,  and theatre students have an almost unique opportunity to supply those narratives on a scale of which generations before can only have dreamed. I know, because I am one of the old gaurd who has witnessed the change.
In  January 1990  I performed in the celebrated  Communicado Theatre Company production “Jock Tamson’s Bairns” as the opening theatrical event of “Glasgow, City Of Culture”. Moving into the draughty dirty Tramway in late November ’89,   It felt as if the Trams had just  been moved out as the actors , dancers and musicians moved in. The piece, a natural development from “Mary Queen Of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off” (Lochhead 1988)  turned out to be one of the most seminal pieces of Scottish Theatre it has ever been my privelege to appear. It  was a qualified triumph, received good reviews, and Melvyn Bragg even filmed  a South Bank Show special  on it’s writer, our newly appointed Scottish  Makar, Liz Lochhead.
But that was it. The show opened on 25th of January, ran for about four weeks as I recall, and then finished, never to be seen again. The one lasting creative entity coming from the show was the continued creativity of our house band, The Cauld Blast Orchestra, which has recorded and toured sporadically ever since.
How a modern theatre piece would have a very different life story. Through the collaborative digital media there would have been a pre-production Twitter and Facebook Campaign; it might have benefitted from a #JTB Twitter hashtag and a Facebook Page. Rehearsals and workshops would have been blogged, fiimed, recorded on high quality smart phones, shared on Youtube, discussed in chat rooms, and the ripples and eddies from it would have travelled the world. A child in Kibera could have googled “Glasgow Theatre” and been able to share in all this, and indeed, reflect and add to the online narrative discussion. The digital revolution cant turn bad art into good, but it can spread the story of small, site specific art far far afield from it’s place of origin.
The future and potential for creating and sharing narratives is only limited by your imagination and ambition. The New Theatre is going to be collaborative, site-specific, multi platform and end user generated, and all those soft skills which you have learned in your time at University should leave you in an excellent position to take advantage of these developments.
But what does this stuff all actually mean? User Generated Content means that the entire creative process becomes part of an online communicated network of reflective and reflecting processes.
For example, before this talk today,  I tweeted my modest list of Twitter Followers and told them what I was going to be doing today, and wondered if they had any projects which I should be sharing with the Final Year Theatre Students.
Rosie Kane told me about the inspirational work of the Women’s Creative Company which meets at the CCA every Monday, where women who seven weeks previously wouldn’t have had the confidence to speak to a meeting of three,  are now up on their feet and telling their stories to an appreciative audience.
Linda Campbell of Write Camera Action told me about the exciting short film project she is curating.
Step2Collabo TV asked me to mention the £10K budget they had managed to create as the prize for a new pilot for a long running Screen Web Series. These creatives , through the new media, took part with me in a two way conversation which was then disseminated and refracted through this meeting with you  today and its subsequent blog. The (modest)  whole will thus be greater than the sum of the parts, and this is the most exciting thing of all about UGC.
It makes us bigger than we are alone.
It involves us.
It grows.
It turns the ephemeral nature of the theatrical act into something which can be shared.
That said, it is not an easy road to take. It involves risks, it involves exposing ones own ignorance, it involves laying out ones own creativity at the mercy of anyone out there who wants to give it a kicking. Technically also, it’s not an easy nettle to grasp. I still have only a passing understanding of Facebook. Where’s my wall? Who gave me a poke? Why do these people I have never met want to be my friends? I valiantly keep up my Facebook site as a feeder for my blogs and Tweets, but in truth I don’t really ” get it” . However, in a sense, this doesn’t really matter. Nobody “gets” it all. There is a myth, promulgated by lazy thinking,  which talks about the younger generation being the first truly “digital natives.”
I reject this notion. Many of my students at the Skillset Media Academy  University Of The West Of Scotland find themselves seriously challenged by the problems associated with the new media. They may be able to text and log on to Facebook, but as for building their own  digital footprint or monetising their creativity, they are as much at sea as an old age pensioner looking aghast at a Computer Mouse for the first time. Or a lecturer trying to understand a “poke”.
The truth is that there are no experts in this field. Things are moving so quickly, and old technologies being superceded, so that we are all simply catching up in one way or another. Every teacher has something to learn from his or her students. Every student can share  something no one else in the class has found, and there is a refreshing democracy to the whole process. It’s a heady brew indeed.
So finally what can graduating Theatre Students do on a practical level ?
So to repeat, and in more detail, here are my ten tips action checklist.  It’s not definitive, and I am sure you could add or contradict much of it. That said, it has worked for me and my students, and there’s no reason to believe even following just  some of them will make a real difference to your creativity.  (I wrote these for Theatre Makers, but it could be just as easily applied to Writers, Poets, Engineers  or Wheeltappers.)  There is creativity within us all, and WEB 3.0 and UGC gives us the chance to explore it with the biggest group of collaborators  that has ever existed. The rest of the world.
Tip 1. Carry out a Google search of your name. If you discover that the only thing online about you is a photo of the tattoo on your bum and the fact that you were hungover on Sunday, then you need a digital makeover. Get a new Facebook or Twitter account, and start posting professionally  and creatively.
Tip 2. Change yourself from a consumer to a creator. Go on to Posterous.com and create your own blog site. You might discover that you can buy the rights to yourname.com/ .net or whatever for about £25.00 for three years. It’s inexpensive, and looks very professional.
Tip 3. Investigate the blogosphere and  find out who’s interested in the same things as you. Comment on their blogs, and start to write your own modest input. You know that voluntary workshop you do every Thursday night in Garthamlock? Blog about it. Tell people what you are up to, ask for advice, start a conversation.
Tip 4. Think Small. Be specific. Write this in big letters above your computer screen. No one knows your narrative but you. Your story is unique, and may well be interesting to others. NEVER underestimate how exotic you may come across as to someone on the other side of the world who has never missed the last bus home from Yoker and had to walk all the way up Great Western Road.
J.R Prufrock’s life could be measured in coffee spoons. Choose your metaphor and tell the world.
Tip 5. Think Big. Be Universal. Write this in big letters at the bottom of your computer screen. Spread your ideas on your new professional site  via Twitter, Facebook and the myriad of other platforms that exist. Between the “thinking small” of your initial idea, and the “thinking big” of disseminating your story, lies the true WEB 3.0  crucible of creativity.
Tip 6. Be passionate in everything you do. Again and again, employers tell educators that they are looking for graduates who are bright and passionate, not quiet and introspective. Get out there, develop the glint in your eyes, and ally it to  a degree of sensible arrogance. If you don’t blow your own trumpet, no one else is going to do it for you. Get rid of the Scottish Cringe which we seem to imbibe with our mother’s milk.The Creative Industries is no place for shrinking violets.
Tip 7. Network. This DOESNT mean going up to strangers at the Citz bar  and handing them your card. It does mean going to meetings and workshops, asking questions, getting noticed, and most crucially,  forefronting YOUR WORK, however modest.  Remember that the work HAS to be at the centre of  the networking process.  All it needs for you to be a  successful networker  is for one  threshold guardian to say to  another ” I’ve heard that X’s show is quite good”  and you are away. Don”t worry about being put down, you’ll find that most doors are open for you. Any older and well established creative who is NOT interested in engaging with emerging talent is an irrelevance anyway,  and should be ignored.
Tip 8. If you want to be creative, hang out with creatives. There is no shortcut to this. In every village, in every town , in every city, there are groups of makers, doers, creators. Become one of them, and you will find that one of the most wonderful things about creativity is that it is contagious.
Tip 9. Be flexible, and don’t specialise too soon. Be aware of the need to take advantage of serendipity. If you get the chance to do something but fear you don’t have the technical skills, ask someone who does. There is a strange breed of creature out there who understand things like  Final Cut Pro and can turn your shaky DV  footage of your theatre workshop into a wonderful piece of archive or reportage. Cultivate these people, and ask for their help when you need it.
Tip 10. Finally, always have a backup plan. If things don’t work out for you, after a while , take the hint. We can’t all be Gregory Burkes  or Emily Watsons, but at least you will have tried.
Stuart Hepburn. March 2011


The description of the  location of a scene and the way in which the movement of the camera is described on paper  is one of the most vital parts of a screenplay. Yet for all it’s importance,  it  seems to be one the poor relations of the practical screenwriting world. Why this should be I don’t know.  Description is the first part of a script a reader sees, and if a script, especially a spec script, is a selling document, then the way that you invite your reader into the world of your drama through describing the scenes is a vital part of that marketing process. If   you get the description and the scene setting    wrong, you risk writing a boring script that won’t get past the reject pile on the first readers desk.

Remember.

A script which doesn’t get produced is a dead document. It’s not like a poem or a short story or even a novel. It’s a partly finished plan of a film which never got made; a telephone message never listened to; a technical drawing  for a fabulous palace no maharajah  ever built. It’s the saddest loneliest piece of  work  in the creative world. I should know. I have lots of them lurking in boxes and shelves all round my study.

But, wait. It gets worse than this,  because  if you never manage to get a script actually made, you will never become a better screenwriter. Trust me on this. Only by seeing your mistakes up on screen , by watching them  through clenched fingers , do you ever really ever learn not to make them again. To become a better screenwriter, getting the script produced isn’t the most important thing, it’s the only thing.

So if you want to at least get past that fearsome    threshold guardian, the first  reader, then you have to engage them immediately , and the way to do that is through  your description. Make  them want to  turn the pages right to  the end  by writing taut spare muscular description which draws them in to your story. I can’t write it for you, but here are a few thoughts which might lead you in the right direction.

But before we start,   what exactly   IS description?

For me, I  think of description quite simply   as “what the camera sees”. No more , no less. I constantly see scripts written by inexperienced writers which spend line after line describing incidents, details and action which will never actually feature in the finished film.  I don’t like laws and rules of writing normally. Any good writer breaks rules, that is what they are for. But there is one rule which I think you should always adhere to. I call it……

No see? No write!

If  the camera  won’t see it, then the  writer shouldn’t  write it. End of.

Pause for effect as your forehead furrows.

“Me no Leika !“ , I hear you cry.  “ I am not a camera, I am a writer. I want to drink in and communicate  the richness and depth of the humanity I see unfolding in front of me in all these wonderful  locations I have researched populated with unforgettable characters I have created acting out original pulsating stories. I cannot be constrained by the arbitary needs  of a mere  optical instrument!”

Oh yes you can.

You are writing a plan for a film, and films are a technical exercise in creativity,  so your task as a screenwriter is to  describe and create only what the camera, and hence your audience,  will see. Think of your script like an architect’s plan. If you need to design the cellar because  under the house because that’s where we meet the bogey man , then put it in the screenplay.But  if you are not going there, don’t .  From the first scene to the last, you are describing  what the director will shoot within the camera’s frame, because  that is what the viewer is going to see, and that is what you will describe in your screenplay. That is why the frame is first dimension of screen description, so lets talk about it.

1. Frame

We are organic creatures . We tend to think in tones, themes, loose images, deep metaphors. How do you write about a thing as prosaic as a right angled, rectangular frame? Quite simply this, if you have decided to write a script,( and believe me, it’s not the most obvious  thing to do in the world), then you have to think of telling the story within the frame.  Here’s how you do it…..

Don’t be embarrassed at this bit. Go to your location,(or one like it ) and  stand where you would like the initial point of view to be from , then  take your  thumb and forefinger of one hand at right angles  and with the thumb and forefinger of the other hand, make a rectangle at arms length,  and select the  frame. You now have a wonderful steadycam at your fingertips. Your job as the screenwriter is to describe what the camera will see, as it moves and follows the action of your screenplay within that frame. But it’s not as simple as that, because not everything in the frame is of equal importance. This brings us to the second dimension of description, the rank.

2. Rank

It’s not vital that you literally  know how to compose a shot. Don’t get too hung up on zooms and pans and close ups .That’s the director and DOP’s job .  What IS  important is that you  rank what the camera will see  in order of importance. In  other words if the crucial  content of a scene is that fact that there is a dead body lying in the middle of it, then don’t spend too much time describing the curtains. You  are the writer, and you have to decide  what’s important in  the  scene, and then describe it. The director will shoot it the way she wants to , but at least you made the initial decision about what is important in the scene.

But as well as the frame, and  the rank, there is a third dimension in description. Yes, you guessed it. Time.

3. Time

You may not hear it, but from the moment your screenplay opens, a clock is ticking. A timeline starts  as you remorselessly tell your story in the present tense as it happens. (and yes, flashbacks are told in the present tense too!). A painting can hang in a gallery for a hundred years, frozen until the watcher looks at it, a poem sits snugly in its book waiting to be opened and read, as fresh as a daisy, but a screenplay is not frozen like that. It is a dynamic document, where each line is a second or two of very expensive screentime, and you have to be constantly aware of the constraints of this.

With that screen clock ticking remorselessly,  eating up your reader’s(and hopefully your audience’s)  patience, you must  master the third dimension of Screenwriting  description  as efficiently and quickly as you can.

So to sum up  Screenwriting Description. Describe what the camera will see, in the order that it is important, and at the time that the narrative demands.


Stuart Hepburn with Julian Colton, Tom Murray, Carol Norris and some of the workshop delegates

I had a wonderful creative afternoon in Hawick on  the 30th of October  with my colleagues at the Eildon Tree  New Writing Festival. The festival, organised around the Borders New Writing Magazine,  is  a celebration of the past  11 years of new writing in the Scottish Borders. The three hour practical TV Writing Workshop I held included creating ideas, narrative structure, script formatting and how to get your script marketed in these straitened times.

The workshop was attended by amongst others, a documentary film maker embarking on his first fictional drama, a poet looking to create a short film, an actress developing her career options, three 21 year olds making a sketch show, as well as a couple of novelists and short story writers for good measure.

As usual with these events, I learned more from them than they did from me.

There is a vibrant creative writing community in Hawick and it’s surrounds, and it was a privilege to be asked to share their hospitality in the environs of the wonderful Mill Tower building. I am indebted to Tom Murray, Julian Colton and Carol Norris of the Eildon Tree for their invitation, and to the attendees for their energy and creativity.

There is an interview with me by Tom Murray in the latest copy of “The Eildon Tree”. Page 10. 

Stuart Hepburn and Creative Workshoppers in Hawick


Due to the three year success of workshops at Write Camera Action, with such fantastic writing, talented cast and enthusiasm from all directors/producers and participants involved, it has sparked some amazing collaborative no/low-budget projects being made.  WCA would like to encourage and support more independent productions with two new initiatives:

1. Open Script Competition

All scripts entered will be given feedback.  A winning script will be voted by the panel to be produced sourcing cast and crew from WCA and affiliated groups, with equipment provided by Moniton Pictures.  The finished film will be ready for festival entry and be a calling card for all parties involved, with the writer retaining copyright of all material included.

Submissions open from 18th Oct. 2010.  Deadline closes 14th Jan. 2011.  The entry fee of £15 per script will generate the funding to produce the winning script.  More than one entry is not only allowed – it’s applauded!  The winning script will be announced at WCA networking night at CCA on 29th Jan. 2011.  Entry criteria and more details on request from writecameraaction@hotmail.co.uk

2. WCA presents a night of Film screenings & Networking

A lot of you have embraced the ethos of WCA and have formed collaborations to get those ideas work shopped at WCA actually produced, with some currently in production, WELL DONE!  Some of you are still thinking about it, WELL DON’T!  Now is the time to get them made, get them finished and let’s show them!  WCA announces an evening of film screenings from WCA collaborations to be held on Friday 22nd April 2011 at the CCA with networking at the CCA bar afterwards.

The evening will be open to the public with specially invited industry guests.  It will be ticketed to generate two cash prizes, 1) for the winning film voted for on the night by the guest panel, and 2) the winning film of the public vote from the audience.  More details and reminders next year but this early announcement will allow people to get their films finished and/or into production in time to enter.

Submissions open from 30th Nov. 2010.  Deadline 31st March 2011.  Collaboration can mean utilizing mailing list, casting, crew, work shopping etc.  Entry criteria and more details on request from writecameraaction@hotmail.co.uk Tickets £10, limited and available from CCA Box Office.


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