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.

INT. TONIC – MORNING

LIAM
(apologetically)
Hey sorry I was late.

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

LIAM
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.

INT. TONIC – MORNING (CONT’D)

LIAM
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
album.

STU
(concerned)
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! 🙂

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148077518538510&v=app_2373072738&ref=ts#!/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! 🙂

L.

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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…

COHERENCE

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!

L.

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Stuck "In The Middle."

October 20, 2009 at 10:28 am (Reviews, Writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Good day to you.

Here’s part two of my notes from the writersroom session last week…

GET THE STORY GOING

When you’re writing a script, you need to “hit the ground running”. When readers are going through a script for the first time, they make a decision based on the first ten pages. This is because television isn’t like cinema; if people lose interest they will simply turn over or turn off. Obviously the script has to be just as engaging after these first ten pages, but if you spend too long setting up the story, or introducing characters, people won’t bother waiting to see what happens.

I attended another writer’s seminar, not that long ago, that was taught by the successful playwright, Colin Teevan. He spoke about the same thing, and called it “the ticking clock”. You shouldn’t have a story that begins on page seven. It should already have started by page one! You need to find out where your “ticking clock” begins and ends, so that your story doesn’t start too late or finish too soon.

The best thing to do is to start off “in the middle” of something, and show your characters in action. You can give backstory and character depth, but do it as the story moves, not before. Also, you should beware of doing too much backstory and exposition (explaining things). The audience is much more intelligent than they are often given credit for, and don’t like to have everything spelled out to them.

To show you what I mean, here’s a clip of the opening scene from “The Matrix”…

This is a great example of “hitting the ground running.” We begin with a phonecall between two unknown people, and are simultaneously aware that another, separate party is running a trace on their call. In this first conversation, one of the characters talks about how they are going to kill someone, and the other talks about the potential importance of this person. Suddenly, they become suspicious of a trace and end the call, and we immediately see that the police have traced the call and are about to bust down a door. An incredible action sequence follows.

There has been no explanation, no backstory, you know nothing about any of the characters. Who are they? What are their intentions? How are they able to do these remarkable things? Why is the woman being hunted? Who were they talking about on the phone? The audience have been hooked right into what’s going on. Straight away, you’re “in the middle of something.”

I hope you found some of that interesting/helpful. There’ll be more from my notes on the writersroom seminar tomorrow.

L.

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