Congratulations to GRID actress Charlie Clarke!

We didn’t even know GRID had been nominated for the Midland Movie Awards, but it was a thrill to hear that not only was the film up for BEST ACTRESS to accompany the wonderful Charlie Clarke’s amazing perfrmance as Angie Wordsworth, but that she ultimately took the award home and WON!

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So many congratulations to Charlie, who is a wonderful, magical and inspiring actress and I’m so very glad that she has been recognised for the role she brought to life more than I ever could have dreamed!

MA – SCRIPTWRITING #4

This week has been quite a frantic one! I’ve always said a writer/filmmaker’s head is like busy rush hour traffic, with cars, lorries and vans all screeching past one another, horns beeping, city sounds thumping around and almost complete chaos, but the traffic regulations help bring some sense of order!

With filmmaking/writing, It’s the same thing. You have ideas racing about, some going faster than others, all jostling to be heard and seen, while the background sounds of life can be heard, sometimes also thumping as they need attention too.

You can imagine that this week, what with still directing/producing a feature film, and finding time to sleep, as well as look after half the cast who are ‘crashing’ at my house on all floors and levels has been quite an adventure! So while it has been hectic as well to try and cram in some writing, especially on a script that needs to be at least 20 pages in length, it’s been bloody amazing to start it too! Suppose it’s a bloody good job I enjoy it all then!

Despite not being able to get a full first draft complete for the next session, I spent a lot more time the week after (and once another week of filming had completed), to get a first draft complete! I got to about 16 pages in the end, but I was happy. The first draft of any script is what I call “preachy”, because my brain races along with lots of ideas, lots of dialogue, lots of actions and themes you are desperate to not forget to write down on page (or celtx!). I find this happens alot to me, like that rush hour traffic analogy, ideas screaming to be heard as they drive fast quickly, so you have to listen out and hope you hear what they say before they disappear off into the distance. Which is why I refer to a first draft as preachy, because all this dialogue, all this exposition is there, lots of fluff, that you can begin to wittle down in future drafts.

1st draft

But I put it all into a first draft because I’m terrified I’ll lose it. So typos reign supreme, because my brain is working faster than my typing fingers, and characters have different names, while scenarios sometimes don’t work as well as they hopefully will in future revisions.

Feedback wise from my tutor is his identification that my writing is very novel based at times, and I agree. My past experience of writing a script is from the provision that I usually end up directing them myself, and I keep a lot in there siimply so I don’ forget it on the shoot (remember that crazy flowing traffic!). And with this being a spec script I do look forward to trying to minimise the descriptive nature so that it plays less like the novel, and more a shot by shot rendition. More emphasis on the shots and what is on screen…as well as fixing some of those bleeding’ typos!

In my defence of being quite descriptive, and having read lots of scripts, it is fascinating to see how different writers approach their work. If you look at the likes of Remains of The Day, an Academy Award Winning script, the content and actions are very minimal! It’s frightning actually! And yet, an early draft Doctor Who script by Steven Moffat is so very detailed, and every part that is written eventually ends up on screen! Marvellous comparisons! And one actor once remarked that he loved how detailed my scripts were, because as an actor, he felt confident that I had a vision, and he didn’t have to ask any questions about the character they were playing because all the answers were there on the page in front of him.

In the lesson we looked through the script and the ideas (it is very rough, what I call the preachy stage where you throw everything at the kitchen wall so to speak in terms of dialogue, ideas, settings, themes (because as I’ve mentioned before, my brain runs faster than I type, so I don’t want to forget anything). There were some good suggestions from everyone which I took on board and made a note of. Some were the following;

  • Very wordy and descriptive which again I understand, as I do like to write scripts like this. It is more for me as a director so that I don’t forget a specific piece of imaery sometimes on a dat of production (especially as I am already planning to produce and film this script in Auust time). But yes, the opening can be cut down considerably, and condensed, but not in a way that dilutes the introduction of the setting, especially as it is a cell both practically and metaphorically for these two characters of Alexander and Willem.
  • More subtle descriptions for the characters, that allow for a response to be read quicker. It allows for the script to almost act as a shot list in a weird way, which is a new way of writing for me, so I believe it will be a process of elimination as I redraft that will.
  • ‘Confessor’ – there was a bit of confusion over whether this word existed or not so we’ve googled it and discovered it, so it works as a piece of dialogue within the script.
  • Don’t use italics to highlight and emphasise certain words, instead underline them to help an actor when looking for direction and how to express a sentence.
  • There needs to be more emphasis on Alexander, on his reactions and get him more involved in the conversation, as Willem leads at the minute and I don’t want it to be one-sided, because then the ending will lose the emotional impact and payoff. At one point, Willem discusses how thirsty he is, so in the next draft I want Alex to go for his water at the same moment and then stop, because he’ll feel guilty. Moments like this will allow the bond and relationship between these two strangers to develop and have a more meaningful lasting legacy.
  • No ‘we hear’…change this approach. Or the “two men are heartbroken” – how doe we see this on screen – have to be more specific such as ‘a sadness across his face as he looks to Willem’, or ‘Willem’s hand still trembles, but not as much’, for example.
  • Make the connection between how their eyes are the same – was mentioned earlier, make it more specific and of importance here.
  • The ending is overstated as Phil remarked which I agree with. It was me again throwing everything at the kitchen wall, so that I don’t lose an idea, but can condense them down later on. And it will be through future drafts.

Scriptwriting is a fickle old thing! But I love every part of it, and this project is so very exciting to me! And I cannot wait to try and tackle the suggestions and ideas given to me….

….oh and this first draft takes place over one day. Just under an hour, to help increase the tension, the ticking down of the clock.

But what about if I spread it over three-four days? As suggested by my tutor. Challenge accepted! I really enjoyed the feedback and it has helped immensely with how I approach the 2nd draft. This is the big change in structure I want to play about with and will be the biggest revision for the 2nd draft. And I’m really looking forward to that and how I can play about with the dynamics more so for the characters and their stories.

See you on the other side of draft 2 and it’s massive restructure!

WCR Radio LIVE From The Sustain Set

This past Thursday, while on the last day of shooting for the week, Jason Forrest and WCR radio broadcast live from the set of Sustain, interviewing various cast and crew!

And here are the shows below for you to listen back to! Thanks so very much again to Jason and WCR radio for wanting to do the show live from our location as well as highlighting the film to those around the West Midlands further!

Enjoy!

PART 1 – http://podcast.canstream.co.uk/wcrfm/index.php?id=18571

PART 2 – http://podcast.canstream.co.uk/wcrfm/index.php?id=18572

MA – SCRIPTWRITING #3

Throughout the last week I’ve spent a lot of time reading up on Willem Ardoneus, again as before, trying to get a idea of the man himself, what he was like, his hope’s, ideals, dreams even. I feel I have to take precious time to do this before I fully commit to a first draft of script (not that I haven’t been writing down little nuggets of dialogue and scenarios and getting an overall narrative structure together in my mind), but with this being a real person, I owe it to him, to take time to craft as realistic a portrayal I can through my own words with this project, as well as feeling the need to him justice as a lost seemingly unknown importznt figure in LGBTQ history.

I have been reading through more websites on the subject, while I also purchased a book through Amazon entitled Who’s Who In Gay & Lesbian History (Edts Robert Aldrich & Garry Wotherspoon), which also has a small segment on Willem (scanned below)

I found the above to be quite informative, and helped me almost reconfigure the specifics in my narrative (how he was a painter, where he had been living further, but more on that in the next blog entry with the first OUTLINE), while some complemented the research I had already been gathering (another part of me was fuming I’d spent out dosh on the bloody book, when I could have got the information scanned above from googel books website! Bloody captialism!).

I have also found some more pictures of Willem, which for a writer can be a blessing as well as a curse. This is because, if you have an image of a real person in your head, you are almost bound by that appearance and subsconciously you begin writing around that image (or set of them), instead of employing your own vision, even though the two are wrapped around each other ironically at the same time. It is a weird feeling. But I’m finding I have to be very delicate with my ideas here at the same time thus, becauseby seeing images of the man himself, of Willem, that duty of care shines through, and makes me determined even more to get this story, his story right. And to expose it to as many an audience as I can.

Finally these images also do one other positive thing. Yes, as I mentioned, that do form a grip/set of constraints around your own vision, but at the same time, I’m also seeing different mannerisms and looks for Willem. You almost begin to project what you think he is thinking in each of these pictures; pride, happiness, maybe even determination, all these based on the conditions in each picture, his clothing, his hair styles, his location (is he poor in one picture? Why is happy more so in other pitcures?). And these are equally as important to me, because I can use those questions and my own projections on him to write his story in my short script.

(Pic 1 – Where is he? A sense of poverty? Yet still a hint of pride in difficult circumstances).

Pic 2 – Reflective? A hint of sadness, of looking forward to an uncertain future?

Pic 3 – Among friends. Happier times. Socialising.

Pic 4 – His clothes here are in direct opposition to picture 1. A wedding. A grand social occasion?)

Looking at these photos of him remind me that his life was a sad one, and it wasn’t overall happy. I’m sure he had moments of pure joy (which I will attempt to incorporate into the script as well, to give a balance to proceedings), but I’m forced to think back to a quote by writer Russell T. Davies in this context.

“Drama’s not safe and it’s not pretty and it’s not kind…You’ve got to do big moral choices and show the terrible things people do in terrible situations. Drama is failing if it doesn’t do that”. Russell T. Davies

I completely agree with him. I want this story to be raw, I want people to expect a happy ending. I want them to have to confront basic harsh, uncomfortable truths, and real history. To understand the turbulent circumstances that we eventually find him in, and how we can further relate them to modern societal indifferences/themes that are still in the world. Maybe this can help audiences realise the importance of not only Willem, but also his story and why it needs to be told.

Mostly, I want people to really meet Willem. And perhaps for the first time in their lives too.  I hope I can do that most of all.

SUSTAIN Radio Interview – The Milk Bar

Jason Forrest is a fantastic supporter of not only us making Sustain but also House of Screaming Death/Checking In and all the other wonderful projects we’ve been working on and before we hit our 6 day shoot schedule, he asked if I’d be ok talking a bit more about the film with him.

So here you go folks. Thanks again Jason!

MA – Scriptwriting #2

Last week I began researching the life if Willem Arondeus, and it is fascinating and helping me immensely with an idea for not only my university script, but also something I want to direct later this year! I always love writing a script, and pursuing an idea when in my head the visuals, the angles, the set design and lighting come to life in the old brain!

The mise-en-scene was exciting me throughout writing this script, which personally drives me further with the idea and my writing. As I’ve mentioned before (like with GRID), I have to research as much as I can about an idea/person/event first and foremost and at times it can be a little fristrating because I’m so eager to begin writing immediately, but I have to restrain my excitment so that I can craft a story (especially with such a true story in this case), so that the final script after may drafts is a narrative that functions, as well as pays respect to lives that were real at a particular moment in time.

With this in mind, I have been looking online for articles about Willem, so I can try and discover who he was, what he did, how he lived his life, who were his friends, what important life events happened that I can potentially try and include in my own script to dramatise and create sympathy fo the character more so as well as further his ideals.

One of the first websites I discovered was the US Holocaust Memorial Museum – which  while brief, does allow for a reader to get an initial insight into the man himself as well as provide a photograph of him.

Things to consider from the article that I can try and deem worthy of inclusion within the script as well as providing ideas for narrative

1 of 6 children – can this allow him to show remorse for his actions?

Grew up in Amsterdam – allows for the story to unfold out over more locations?

Left home at 17 after coming out to his parents – again, does this impact on him emtoionally? Does he regret this? Does he miss his parents? Would he want to see them one last time, explains his confession?

He began writing and painting – does he talk about this? Did he enjoy it?

1933-39: Willem met Jan , the son of a greengrocer, and they lived together for the next seven years – this is important to use, about how they broke up, the conflict between Willem-between fighting and resisting Nazi’s and for love

They were poor together, Willem a struggling painter but refused to go on welfare – this is important, again, reaffirms his commitment to cause, his ideals but allows me to play with his emotions, how he lost Jan through it, or did he tell Jan to go to protect him?

1940-44: The Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. Soon after the occupation, Willem joined the resistance. His unit’s main task was to falsify identity papers for Dutch Jews. On March 27, 1943, Willem’s unit attacked the Amsterdam registry building and set it on fire in an attempt to destroy records against which false identity papers could be checked. Thousands of files were destroyed – again this needs referenced, it reinforces how brave he is and how committed to his ideals he was – how he is not scared of death in this present situation within the script’s narrative and maybe why he feels this need to confess/tell his story – that he is proud.

Five days later the unit was betrayed and arrested. That July, Willem and 11 others were executed. – Always a countdown in the story to occur within the script, time is running out for instance. This creates tension and hopefully allows an audience to anticpate what will happen next.

Before his execution, Willem asked a friend to testify after the war that “homosexuals are not cowards.” Only in the 1980s did the Dutch government posthumously award Willem a medal – The overall message here, who was Willem, how brave he was, and how important he is.

This website has given me food for thought now and allows me to go forward slightly with Willem, while exploring other facts, but the above allows me to begin to structure a cohesive narrative to employ. And I’m looking very much forward to writing the script even more now!

MA – Scriptwriting #1

So, some of you know and some of you may not, but since last September I have been studying for my MA in Film Studies at Wolverhampton University, and I’m enjoying it immensely. To be talking film back in academic settings is something I have missed for a few years now, and the opportunity to get funding for the MA coming up last year helped intensify my encouragement to go for it, like I’d been planning to for a few years now, just not being able to afford it.

Which brings me to this blog entry. This semester, I am taking part in the Scriptwriting module, a course that is very close to my heart already what with my love of writing, so when this was offered I jumped at the chance! So every now and again, on here, if you see MA Scriptwriting as a title, feel free to have a nose, but they are to help form part of an ongoing portfolio I guess you could say, for the coursework, which requires me to show my workings, my techniques as well as reflections on writing a script for submission in May time.

So, we started around two weeks ago, and I must admit, my brain has been a bit empty of late, as I’ve been doing some interviews about GRID, filming SUSTAIN, as well as working on post-production for SCREAMING DEATH – all of which are keeping it focused and mildly chaotic. But I’m always on the look out still for those small stories, the ones that are rarely seen, or even heard of, yet when I see them, they immediately jump out at me and my mind is immediately swarming with mental images of how a scene can play out, who could play a specific role, as well as what the conflicts could be (there’s always more than one, where would the fun be else!?). And this moment kind of happened to me the other day.

I stumbled across this article through a facebook group I’m part of, and when I read it I was taken aback by it. Because not only do the themes of being gay speak to me, but how brave this person was, and yet how scared he must have been at the same time.

LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Willem Arondeus demonstrates the best of the human spirit in my eyes. He isn’t well known, his story has never been made into a film (why on earth not doesn’t really surprise me, Hollywood is not known for making that many films featuring a gay male lead in a blockbuster that could rival the likes of similar WWII biopics like Schindler’s List), and yet his life was purposeful. He quite possibly saved a few hundreds of people, maybe even more. He was also openly Gay and fought against not only Nazi occupation, but personal prejudice, and in a modern world where the US Government is openly causing segregation against communities of people, I feel this time is perhaps the best context for Willem’s story to be told.

Working Title: WILLEM

It is July 1st 1943. In a confined prison cell, Willem Arondeus, a Dutch resistance fighter, has been convicted of blowing up a building that held records kept by the Nazi’s of Netherland citizens, in an attempt to fight back against the ever growing rise of fascism.

As Willem sits alone in the cell, he is accompanied by a lone Nazi officer, who has been tasked to watch him, to make sure he doesn’t escape. As time seemingly counts down to some unspoken event, Willem decides to confide in this enemy, and reveals not only his homosexuality, but also recalls some of his most treasured moments from his life, as well as recounting the events of the bombing to justify his actions.

As Willem retraces everything about his life that was good, even those stemming from his open homosexuality, the guard suddenly comes over to him and places a kiss on his lips, revealing his own sexual insecurities that can never be realised. As the moment passes, the guard asks if Willem has one last request. He replies by handing the guard a piece of paper addressed to his lawyer, that simply states ‘Homosexuals are not cowards’.

As the guard suddenly pulls away for fear of being caught kissing his prisoner, more guards enter the room, take Willem outside and we hear a firing squad take his life, leaving the young Nazi officer with the message inside the cell still.

37297_retrieveassetAfter writing the above outline, I am very much more overcome by the possibilities that this short eventual script could achieve, through more dialogue, the idea of time running out, yet all the while Willem (seen right), never waivers, or loses hope. He had accepted his fate and stands defiant, against the Nazis and those who would attempt to oppress his life choices.

I also like the symbolism as well, that Willem is taken outside of his confinement, to defiantly stand in the face of death without ever compromising himself or his belifes under a blue sky perhaps (although we do not see the actual shooting, just hear it), while the closested Nazi officer remains in the cell, forever imprisoned by his sexuality.

Already I want to write and direct this film!