The Price of Progress

August 31, 2010 at 2:31 pm (Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Gotta spend money to make money!

Greetings blog-jockeys,

and thanks for peering once again into the tortured souls of myself and Liam… together we are Man Alive.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on our pod-casts (which are live on itunes, down-loadable for FREE), our blog, and our very own version of twitter, (where we find small animals, shave short, poignant messages into their fur, and chase them into densely populated areas, we call it ‘critter’), then you’ll know all about the Man Alive, weekly work schedule. 3 days – corporate, 2 days – entertainment focused.

Well we’re upping the game even further now. Because we are keen to make the most of our entertainment days and accomplish as much scripting as we can throughout the week, we have doubled the number of writing sessions, so that as well as the 3pm Tuesday and Thursday meetings, we are also taking time at 10am on Tuesdays and Thursdays to power on scene by scene, act by act.

Today was our first morning script-fest.


Hey sorry I was late.

No worries, you made it within
the 15 minute lateness buffer.

Thank goodness for the buffer.

Writing went well. The Tonic owner was on hand to lend us his laptop charger when Liam discovered his was still at the office. Smooth move on his part, simple maths really. Keep us their for longer, more time to rack up the bill.


Better either leave or order another drink.
Don’t think he’ll be happy about us sitting here
making our coffees last longer than a Dream Theatre

Ok, lets get one for the road. But lets rubber Brae’s
this avo, and write in the boardroom instead. We’re gonna
blow the whole budget on coffee before we’ve finished
the script.

Hopefully this has offered you insight into the delicate ecosystem that is Man Alive Studios. A multifaceted business, with each extension fulfilling a unique and essential purpose.
3 days corporate – working hard, making money; 2 days entertainment – spending every last penny on skinny, single-shot lattes. A perfectly balanced company.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for more sketches, blogs, pod-casts and the much anticipated, feature film!

Love Stu x


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The Kenyan Invasion

August 17, 2010 at 3:52 pm (News) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

So, it seems we’re about to enter, in the words of Disney’s Aladdin, “a whole new world”. A world in which “man ALIVE Studios” actually have some kind of marketing strategy, a world in which we actually make some moves towards achieving the things we’ve wanted to all along (that’s right, a statue of me in front of Dundee’s Caird Hall), a world in which we have to tidy up the office a bit.

It’s all go! Today we had a visit from our good Kenyan chum Judy Mbugua (hence the VERY mild office tidy). Judy has a masters in business and marketing. This beats Stu and I’s combined marketing experience of having sent out a couple of emails once. After I returned from a swell holiday in Vegas (ask no questions, I’ll tell you no lies), I suggested a wee meeting with the mighty Stulander and we have re-focused a bit. Our week is now split up so that for some of the time we work on the corporate side of our company, and the rest of the time we’re working towards making a feature film!

Judy is helping us to market the corporate side at the moment, and so far she’s exposed some glaring holes in our strategy.

Judy – “have you been into many businesses to offer your services?”
Me – “define many? is it more than none?”

We’ve started the script for our feature and have now created a film group on facebook for local (or semi-local) film-makers to sign up and get involved with. If you’re interested/involved in film-making in any way, please sign up and take part. If we work together we can make some awesome stuff! 🙂!/group.php?gid=148077518538510&ref=ts

That’s all my news for today. If you already heard our most recent podcast you already knew this stuff anyway. Clever you! 🙂


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Happy New Year?!!!

April 22, 2010 at 10:44 am (News) (, , , , , , , , , )

Unbelievably, this is our first blog of 2010 and we’re already halfway through April! I know what question you’re all asking and dying to hear the answer to, so I won’t beat around the bush… no, we have not yet dominated the film and television industry with our work. I know, it’s a surprise to us too. Soon though, friends…soon.

In the meantime, some good news is that we finally finished our work with the Scottish Social Services Council. Feast your eyes and ears on one of the finished sketches below…

This is embedded from our new youtube channel that is dedicated to our more corporate, less entertaining stuff. If you want to know more, you can check it out at

That’s all for today, but we’ll try to keep updating you with more interesting news, tips, rants and inspirational speeches (ripped off other people) as and when we can.



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Noble Pursuit

December 3, 2009 at 2:17 pm (News) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Hey out there!

How’s things? Been dragged forcibly into the Christmas spirit yet?
Things have been very busy for us here. We’ve been filming at a couple of fashion events as well as pulling together our entry for this year’s Comedy Smalls competition…

Sadly, we didn’t win this time, but here’s the vid for your viewing pleasure…

I think it was way better than our winning entry from last year, but feel free to give us constructive criticism, so long as it’s disguised by tons of flattery.

I promise I’ll get those last few notes from the BBC Writersroom seminar up soon too, but not today, as we’re getting ready to go film a panto tonight.

Take it easy for now!


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Temporary Insanity

November 19, 2009 at 11:31 am (News) (, , , , , , , )

For the last couple of days, we’ve had a special visitor in the office. His name’s Stephen and here’s a few words on his experience with man ALIVE Studios!

“Well I’ve been lucky enough to have been at the office for Work Experience this week and it’s been brilliant! On the first day I made a slideshow for a fashion show called “Radiance” and Stuart helped me to animate a small “Radiance” intro movie. That turned out quite well I reckon and it was good practice since I’m interested in Stop-motion animation. On wednesday I got to see the guys interview people outside the Overgate and once I worked the microphone for them! I also got to help them find similar guys on Youtube to subscribe to. Today’s my last day but so far this has been a great Work Experience and I’ve seen a lot of how to edit films. I couldn’t really be here monday or friday sadly since I’ve got to travel to and from Glasgow. Man ALIVE studios is much better than school.”

Better than school, folks! You heard it here first. 🙂
It’s been a pleasure having Stephen as one of the team.


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We’ve Arrived!

November 12, 2009 at 12:50 pm (News) (, , , , , , , )

Hello out there, blog peeps!

We have finally made the switch over to wordpress after hearing some glowing reviews from a few of our chums.  So far I can’t get my head round it at all!  There seems to be way too much to take in all at once.  Even as I write this I’m getting distracted by seeing that I have the option to write an excerpt, or send trackbacks,  or post tags, or do something with “categories”.  Still, I’m sure we’ll get there eventually!

I’m going to transfer a bunch of our most recent blogs (from blogspot) over to this account, so if you think the content sounds very familiar, that’s (probably) why.  We’ll be posting some new material very shortly, but we have to get our vid for the latest Comedy Smalls competition done first!

Take it easy (but not too easy)!


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The Adventures of Moonface and Torchboy

November 9, 2009 at 4:51 pm (Equipment/Resources, News) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello out there!

Today’s blog is just a cheeky wee one, as I’m just squeezing it in at the end of the day. This weekend’s been crazy busy – we’ve been filming some fun sketches for the Scottish Social Work peeps, as well as attending the premiere of “Terror ‘Neath the Tay” on Saturday night at the Dundee Odeon cinema.

We were invited to the premiere by one of our youtube chums, Kyle Titterton. He got in touch and asked us to make a fake trailer to be screened before his main feature (which was very entertaining, I have to say!). Along with our good chum, Alexander Bethune, we came up with this…

We were concerned it wasn’t going to be well-received on the night, but fortunately people were in a silly mood and we got a respectable number of giggles.

The best thing about it all though, was seeing the benefits of building relationships with other local film-makers and people in the “industry”. Our friend and mentor, Justyn Rowe, once told us that we should get to know as many other people in the same line of work as us, and not be afraid to help them out. They may be your competition, but they are also a powerful ally and resource!

Anyway, that’s all for now!

Have a great evening!


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Surprise, Surprise!

October 28, 2009 at 1:31 pm (Reviews, Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Happy Wednesday!

How’s it going out there, peeps? Today it’s bright and sunny here in Dundee, which is most unusual. But enough with the tedious formalities! Here’s part 6 of my notes from the writersroom seminar…


When you are writing a screenplay, you want to write something that is fresh and original, but there are only a finite number of basic plots that you can work with (I’m going to do a blog on these basic plots later too) so you need to know what’s different about your version. What unique perspective are you bringing to the story? What’s your original touch? How are you going to surprise the audience?

When you watch a movie, or read a great story, there should be a sense that the ending was totally inevitable, but at the same time unpredictable. What I mean by this, is that, once the dust clears, you should be able to look back and see that it was obvious the story would end like this. Everything should “add up”.

A good example of this would be the movie “The Sixth Sense”, by M. Night Shyamalan. The story is about a child psychiatrist (Bruce Willis) who is working with a young boy that claims he can see ghosts.

If you haven’t watched it, don’t read any more as there is about to be a terrible spoiler…

…at the end of the movie, it’s revealed that Bruce Willis’ character (the main character throughout the film) is actually a ghost. This is a great plot twist in the movie, as, when you look back over the film, you can see that it really was quite obvious, but not (to my mind anyway) predictable. Now, not all stories need to end with such a mind-blowing twist to be a success, but they do need to come to a satisfactory resolution that has been built up over the course of the plot. Many movies start off strong, but lose it at the ending. This is usually because the writer simply hasn’t done enough to suggest this kind of conclusion to their story.

An example of a movie that (in my opinion) utterly fails in this principle, is the film, “Vanilla Sky”.

Don’t be fooled by the great trailer. This movie uses the technique that children are taught never to use in writing class, the “and then I woke up” lazy-ass ending. The writer has created all these confusing yet interesting situations/circumstances and twists in the plot, but then, instead of rewarding the faithful viewer with a great resolution that explains everything, they cop out by saying it was all a dream. Awful stuff.

So, that’s all for this section. Many of you may disagree with my thoughts on “The Sixth Sense” and “Vanilla Sky” (as there is potentially some case to be made in suggesting that Vanilla Sky does, in fact, point towards its ending), but hopefully you can see the principle behind what I mean anyway.


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Show Me Emotion, Tra La La La La….

October 27, 2009 at 1:44 pm (News, Reviews, Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )


We’re back after a nice long weekend, and, sadly, I’m now a year older. Yup, a lot can happen in a weekend. Today we were going to be out filming a silly fake trailer for a superhero film, but there was too much rain. Hopefully we’ll have it done before the end of the week and we can post it for your entertainment.

In the meantime, here’s the next part (part 5) from the writersroom seminar the other week…


When you’re writing a screenplay, it needs to matter at a human level. What I mean by that is that the characters and their individual stories need to be more important than the “concept” behind the film. This obviously links in with what we were saying about character in the last blog, but refers more to the journey that you take your characters through than the characters themselves.

A good way to do this is by showing the vulnerabilities in your characters – the chinks in their armour. A great example of this is the film “Leon”, which is one of my favourite movies of all time…

The main character is a cold-blooded assassin, who cares about no-one and lives a life of solitude, but everything changes when he decides to save the life of his next-door neighbour – a young girl. As the film goes on we get more and more glimpses into the true vulnerability of Leon’s character, and the emotional journey he goes through. If you’ve not seen the movie, I highly recommend it.

Essentially, the best scripts/movies (really, the best stories) should generate a physical response as you read/watch them – whether it be laughing out loud at the jokes, getting goosebumps at the revelations, holding back a tear at the sad bits, looking cautiously around the room at the scary bits, involuntary gripping of the armrests during a tense scene, or, best of all, combinations of all of these things and more. You can’t get any of this if the audience don’t care about the characters, and there’s no point aspiring to anything less than this. If this is not your goal, you’re wasting your time, and if it is, then check your scripts back afterwards and be sure you’re generating the feeling you want your readers to feel.

Peace for now!


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The Plot That Sucked

October 21, 2009 at 10:59 am (Reviews, Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello faithful blog readers!

Back again today with part 3 of the notes from the writersroom seminar. Today’s should be fairly brief…


Your script needs to have a strong plot that holds everything together. This should be fairly obvious to anyone who’s an aspiring screenwriter, but there are so many people who get it wrong! You can have lots of great ideas, good scenes, etc., but you still need a clear plot that connects these things and also comes to a satisfactory resolution.

One example of a film which (in my opinion) fails to accomplish this, is “The Boat That Rocked” by great writer Richard Curtis. It’s full of great little scenes and moments that can be comedic, touching, or even heartbreaking. As a whole, however, it is very unsatisfying. The overall central plot is extremely weak, and there are too many little plots all happening at once, with no real resolution or sense of story.

It’s very easy to get carried away when you’re “in the zone” and to try to do too much, but you need to beware of being distracted from the focus of your story. You may write a scene that you really like, but, if it’s not moving the plot along, does it really need to be there?

Lastly, you need to know the world, tone and genre of your script, then make sure that you are faithful to this throughout. What kind of story is it? This harks back to the stuff about format from part one of these blogs, but again – your audience needs to know what they are watching, and to “get it” very quickly. There’s nothing wrong with writing in a specific genre, the trick is learning how to be original and surprising within that world.

Alright. That’s all for part 3. Catch you later!


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