My Night Out at the London Short Film Festival

Last Thursday, I headed to the Roxy Bar and Screen (cinema/bar) for the Music and Film night of the London Short Film Festival. My short ‘All Pinatas Go To Heaven’ I’m proud to say went down well with the crowd and its always pleasing to have people laugh (for the right reasons) and cheer at the closing credits.

There was a huge array of talent and over 30 films were shown, but a few still keep popping into my head (always the sign of a good film) so here they are.

This is ‘Severed Dreams’ by Ian Bucknole.

‘Golden Tree’ by Ninian Doff

‘Disappoint You’ by Ian Pons Jewell

‘Eleanor’ by Jim Martin and Oliver Rothwell

and ‘House’ by Prano Bailey-Bond

Tis the season to flake out.

I know this all depends on where in the globe you are, but right now in the UK it’s a very grim time of year. It’s dark when you leave for the day job, it’s dark when you begin to journey home, my body is still recovering from Christmas food and drink, a few injuries incurred through the drinking season, and in the first week back to the day job, the fight to go to bed at a reasonable hour is still on. In a nutshell; I’m tired.

But I am writing. On the train to work, on the train home, several hours of an evening. The script is shaping up. It’s still early days and as of today I’m approaching the half way point of the first ‘words to paper’ draft. This is the point where I just have to write and get everything down. It’s like how a painter can’t really paint until he or she has constructed the canvas to paint on – and this is going to be a hundred and fifty page canvas.

Since I am spending so much time writing, it’s become difficult to know what to post here. But over the last week I have read some interesting things to aid not so much my writing, but getting over that post-Christmas exhaustion/back to work blues and hopefully find myself not feeling so sleepy and tired – after all I have got a film to make and that might take more than a can of red bull to get through.

So… Your body is as important a tool as your brain – has a great article on things you should be doing as a writer. All the tips are encouraging, positive and helpful, but at a time of year when everyone has eaten and drank too much of the wrong things and you are too busy writing (or whatever you are doing) to think about much else, the tip that has stuck in my mind the most is Stop Treating Your Body Like A Dumpster which I am entirely guilty of.

Unrelated from the writing process but equally as important, I have discovered a few good blogs and videos this week I thought were worth a mention.

Seventeen Evergreen’s video for ‘Polarity Song’ has a wonderful ‘wish I’d thought of that’ concept and is worth a look.

I found this video on Laura Evers Johns blog, a Virgin Media Short’s shortlister with her film ‘By Hook’, also worth a watch.

And finally, another film that caught my attention was this wonderful animation by The Theory entitled ‘Address Is Approximate’. ‘Ace’ is the only word to describe it.


14 Index Cards


“You need fourteen cards per thirty pages of screenplay. More then fourteen…too much material…less then fourteen…you may be too thin… Why fourteen? Because it works… It’s just one of those odd things I’ve discovered out of my experience of teaching and writing screenplays…”
– Syd Field, Screenplay


My Laptop is My Boomstick!

Yesterday brought about the end (I hope) of three months of work as Chris, my co-writer and I, finished the plotline to our as yet, untitled feature film project. Just like Ash, at the very end of The Evil Dead, it felt like we had survived the night in the woods and were now basking in the sunlight of our achievement… yeah right. Just like Ash, there’s still something out there, lurking, waiting to pick us up, spin us around several hundred times and drop us in a muddy pond, face first – of course I’m talking about the screenplay.

I don’t actually consider writing the screenplay to be anything near as scary as being chased by demons through the woods, but I do expect it to be a challenge, full of tough decisions, initially bad dialogue and a refinement process that’ll take us all the way up to the shooting schedule. But we are one step closer and I’m especially excited about writing that first slugline and getting down to shaping our story into 90 to 100 pages of dialogue and action.

With that in mind, I’d like to relate back to a special episode of Screenwipe in which Charlie Brooker interviewed some of my screenwriting heroes as they spoke about how they go about the process of writing.

…also, if I’m using Ash metaphors, can I call my laptop a boomstick?

History – Knowing Your Backstory

Working through our plotline at the last writing session, Chris and I began getting ourselves into all sorts of trouble as we tried to settle on the rules and codes of our characters. All characters act and react in line with the codes and morals they live by, or find themselves in a situation where they have to go against these ethics and beliefs, but either way, without knowing what those codes are, as a writer you really are typing in the dark. So as I’ve mentioned before, character essays are hugely important to gaining this insight.

However, the back story of a place or location in which you choose to set your story can also provide new ideas and a greater understanding of why your characters act and react in the way they do. For example, our story is set in a small village and our main character is a fifteen year old girl who has lived in the city most of her life. So, as you can surmise, she’s bored and it’s this boredom that pushes her into the story that will become our film.

Recently, our story made a dramatic shift in that it went from a story devoted to the goings on in one house, to that of an entire neighbourhood. We also began to delve into some of the local history – legends, ghost stories etc and found that using this or even just mere aspects of it have hugely enriched our story.

Still no specifics, but those will come… promise.

Script Update – The Death of the Ghost Story

Yes, yes, I’m being bloody rubbish with my updates at the moment. I think I had something of a mental block. Update? There’s nothing much to report. Of course its my excuse that’s actually rubbish.

Lots has been happening with the script. After our most notable false start of 32 pages. We stepped back and amazingly in the last two weeks our story has began to change in ways that make it almost unrecognisable to our initial idea. I know it’s totally frustrating to read this without having an actual idea of the specifics of our screenplay, but there are a few things I can say.

For one, my initial notions in this blog, about ghost stories being the scariest of all horror sub genres have changed somewhat. Why? Because I’m getting a little bored of what I’m seeing. If it’s not the escapades of our favourite two sisters Kate and Christi in the Paranormal franchise, it’s the upcoming releases of The Awakening, The Woman in Black, and The Housekeepers to name a few that are making me a little tired of the idea. Mores to the point, by the time we complete our film, Hollywood and everyone else will be well and truly sick of such stories. Time for a change-up – and in deciding this, my co-writer and I have pushed ourselves to find a more refreshing plot – one we are even more excited about than the first. We took all the elements of our original story and deleted any paranormal action – we still believe in what we have and have adapted it into something new. Then we asked ourselves ‘What would scare our characters now?’ So far the results our promising and we our currently sculpting our way through the second act/middle, with the beginning and ending fairly locked into place.

In other news, last week I journeyed down to the London Film School for a Q and A session with editor Alessio Doglione who was talking about his film 20 Cigarettes. The screening and Q&A were free to go to and is part of a number of free screenings and lectures that the LFS put on to those looking to do courses with them. This is a great opportunity to learn from professionals for free and also to take in the opportunities and courses available through the school. It’s well worth visiting their website to see about upcoming screenings.