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James Alexander, Sonja Crisp and Dan Jarvis MP...

James Alexander, Sonja Crisp and Dan Jarvis MP at the Launch of Aesthetica Film Festival (time-4-change.org.uk)

ASFF 2013 Now Open for Entries

An  exciting opportunity for  students at University of the West of Scotland. Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2013 is now open for entries, and they would love to hear from Film students at University of the West of Scotland!

They are looking for films of 25 minutes and under to screen at ASFF 2013: an innovative international film festival that presents a fantastic opportunity for University of the West of Scotland students.

ASFF 2013 is a unique chance for budding filmmakers to connect with new, worldwide audiences and interact with some of the biggest personalities in the film industry today. Over 200 films will be screened at this unique event, in 15 iconic locations across the historic city of York from 7-10 November 2013. It’s a fantastic opportunity for  students to showcase their work in an impressive setting to an international audience. High profile ASFF attendees in 2012 included representatives from Warp, BAFTA, Channel 4 and Raindance.

In addition to great exposure at the festival, the Winner will receive £500 among other prizes and screenings at a number of other UK festivals; the People’s Choice Winner will receive £250. A shortlist of finalists will be included on the ASFF Sampler DVD, which will be distributed with the December 2013 issue of Aesthetica Magazine, the international arts and culture publication. Finalists will also be included in an editorial feature in the magazine, which has a worldwide audience of 140,000.

 

They’ve already had a great response from a range of organisations and filmmakers, both nationally and internationally, and ASFF 2013 is set to be their best yet!

Click here to download a poster to be displayed or to request printed flyers please email Eva Helen here  eva@aestheticamagazine.com.

They are  happy to provide more information and images, so please get in touch.

Entry is £15 and the deadline for submissions is 31 May 2013. For more information, please visit www.asff.co.uk.

Eva Helen

PO Box 371
York

YO23 1WL

01904 479168

www.aestheticamagazine.com


Women in film and television – 3:30pm for 5:00pm Start | Saturday 27 October | Venue:  Hopscotch Theatre Company, Water Row, Glasgow, G51 3UW

Following the huge success of the WFTV Writers’ Group in London, they’re delighted to announce the first Writers’ Group meeting for their members in Scotland.  Join Raisah Ahmed and Lynsey Murdoch and talk with fellow-members and writers.  Guest speaker Eleanor Yule.

For a limited period of time, this group is also open to non-members. Only writers though, please!

CONTACT DIRECTLY for further info Belle at – belle@wftv.org.uk

A new monthly Women in Film & Television Writers’ Group  – first session will be held at Hopscotch Theatre in Govan on Saturday 27th October from 3.30-5pm. All the details are on Eventbrite and here is the link:  http://wftvscotwriters1.eventbrite.com

This first meeting is free to all, and is women-only. It’s for anyone interested in writing professionally for the film and TV industry. Eleanor Yule is the first speaker, and we will bring in script editors, producers, actors and designers to enable the group work with indsutry professionals.



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.


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.


hayleighbarclay@yahoo.co.uk

Do you know any  actors who would be interested in making a film about 4 disabled guys in a comedy  adventure film? Our UWS Film  graduate film student, Hayleigh Barclay has asked me to help in the search for four likely lads for a London Film project scheduled in the New Year.

If you are a disabled actor, or even  want to take the plunge and  get involved in film making, please contact Hayleigh at the above email address for more details. Please send this message on.


Glasgow city centre panorama from Lighthouse t...

Glasgow, City Of Film!

I am indebted to Linda Campbell for important news of a new Initiative from Write Camera Action in Glasgow. For more information email Linda Campbell at writecameraaction@hotmail.co.uk
A lot of Scottish Film makers have embraced the ethos of WriteCameraAction and gone on to form collaborations and get those ideas which were originally workshopped at WCA actually produced – Well Done! With the support of their host venue the CCA in Glasgow, Linda Campbell is now organising an event to showcase films that have been workshopped or have collaborated with WCA prior to their production. At this early stage what she is looking for is an indication of how many of these films are out there and a little of their history.

Please check requirements below and if relevant contact Linda at writecameraaction@hotmail.co.uk about your project with subject heading ‘WCA Indie Initiative’

The script of the work produced must have been workshopped either in whole or in part at WriteCameraAction in a monthly WCA or an advanced WCA workshop booked by Linda, AND/OR have some collaboration directly with WCA that contributed to the work being produced. It must be a no-low budget production e.g. not funded by a public body (no Student Graduation films) That’s it!!!

The rest is detail: You should say what the Title of work is, genre, duration, brief synopsis, and brief history of ‘idea to fruition’ e.g. Did you utilise the WCA mailshot, did you cast from participants cast during your workshop or seen at another performance at WCA etc. or not. Who were your crew and did you meet them through networking via WCA or not. Has it been shown anywhere else e.g. Film Festivals, GMAC, Youtube… That’s it. More than one entry is not only allowed, it’s applauded! No limit to the number of films you enter as long as they fulfill the criteria. If you have a work in progress send Linda the details if it’s likely to be completed in the next few months. Please note: Do NOT send any films at this stage. Linda expects to see varying standards of production values so don’t let that put you off – Write Camera Action is about supporting and developing Home-Grown Produce!!

If in doubt of eligibility contact Linda for clarification. Enquiries on this event from relevant writer/filmmakers only. Once the Event is fully realised and dates and ticket prices fixed, she will send out an email to everyone. You know she will :)))


Michael Cera, canadian actor (MACBA, Barcelona).

Why Not Cast Him?

"It's about this kid who has a sledge called 'Rosebud' "

Over the past five  years I calculate that I have workshopped, tutored or just plain stuck my nose into a minimum of  300 short film projects. The figure is probably nearer 500 but who’s counting. The point is that again and again  I have sat with  creative clients of some sort, in a creative environment of some sort,  in order  to change a wonderful idea that a writer is passionate about in their head,  into a short film which they hope will make the world just as passionate about it too. I call this the “alchemy of film ideas.” That magical fantastical part of  the creative process which has to do with transforming  the original nugget of creativity into a new , expanded and shareable film experience for the viewer. Put simply, if you had an idea that made you cry with emotion, that’s what you want the film to do to the audience. The same goes for  laughing,  smirking, or most importantly thinking! That’s why we want to make films in the first place, in order to share our emotions and thoughts with the world.

The trouble with this  alchemic process is that between that nugget of creativity you originally  had  and  the tear jerking movie you want to make, lies a whole prosaic , practical, TECHCNICAL  process of change, in which there are a  thousand chances to make decisions which will distort, or even destroy the final product. That’s why making good films or TV is so difficult. That’s why as William Goldman says “nobody knows anything” about what makes  films successful.1.

Goldman was talking about commerciality, of course, but I think it’s true on an aesthetic and creative level also. Experience has shown me that it’s virtually impossible to predict what the correct decisions should be at any stage in the process. Given this, it seems to me that the best  thing you can do is to take a series of steps which will help to minimise the distortion, and maximise the chances of your original idea surviving the brutal process of taking it  to the screen. Original ideas are not robust, and need nurturing , so if you want to become a successful film or TV writer, hold on to that idea you have , because its going to be a bumpy ride taking it all the way to Production. So what I plan to do is create a series of short blogs with a modest aim. How to limit the possibilities of failure by   making  as few mistakes as possible in bringing in your five minute film to life. Lesson 1. has to do with the simple  idea that  “Size Matters.”

Regular readers will know that I spent the weekend at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye speaking to 30 new Screenwriters who are developing ideas through the FilmG Short films competition. As we trolled through the writers  ideas one by one, I realised that just like my previous 270 odd workshop clients, by far the greatest challenge which these tyro film makers  had in bringing their ideas to the screen was that the scale and size of their original idea was way out of line with the needs and demands of a five minute film.

People rarely have too few ideas for a short film. Time and time again, they have too MANY ideas for a short film. Of  the 29 short film ideas I was handed at the weekend, I wrote the letter “F” beside about half of them. “F” stands not for failure, but for Feature. Again and again, new writers have an idea that they think is about a short film, when in fact it is an idea for a feature. So my advice (caveat scriptor…what the heck do I know, you might be a genius ) is  forget about large casts of characters, complex backstories, groups of friends, convoluted  plots and love stories combined with gothic horrors.In my experience, a short film can just about take on board the problems, experiences inner thoughts  and development of one character. It can further just about cope with one mentor/friend/enemy/ character who can help the main protagonist to understand the need to change. And that is it. You want to show a guy who meets a girl, falls in love, loses her and then finally wins her back against  the exciting backdrop of the world tree felling championships? Great.Go get 3 million dollars and make the low budget  feature. You might even be able to cast  Michael Cera and Ellen Page, and raise 30 million on it,  but it  it certainly isn’t a short!

So, based on all those past workshops, and all those brilliant ideas,  the first piece of advise I have  in scriptwriting a short film is, SIZE MATTERS. Small is beautiful.Keep the idea simple, keep the protagonist’s journey short, keep the cast list down to two, and if you can’t express the totality of the film in three sentences, then it’s not a short film.

Next time I’ll talk about structure in screenplays. Do we need it, does it matter, and what the heck does Aristotle know about movies anyway?

"Hey, my mother loves my script!" FilmG Creatives on Skye

Here’s a fine example of a short film which knows it’s limitations, and explores it’s subject matter with emotion, and economy. Its called Historia De Un Letre . Is it any good? I don’t know, but it made me cry, and in five minutes, that’s not a bad outcome.   Enjoy.

1.Goldman, William (1996). Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood (2nd rev. ed.). Abacus. ISBN 034910705X.

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