Category Archives: Screenplay

Why I failed. 10 points…

I’ve given up on my screenplay. I hate giving up on anything. During my final screenwriting course session I reflected on why I failed.

1. I can always use the old excuse of life getting in the way. It has been especially busy for the last few weeks at work and participating in the Poetry By Heart competition, but you can always do things if you want to. However, teaching, more than any other job I’ve done, seems to drain you mentally and so I have time, just no brain space.

2. I didn’t love the story I chose. I wasn’t sold on it entirely and couldn’t figure out some of the characters.

3. I have been working on receiving criticism for the last few years. I used to be really bad at it, , but I know it’s a really important thing to get better at. However, I found the way the tutors gave me notes, was contradictory and unhelpful. I have realised that I need a lot of reassurance in my life.

4. I’m really not a writer. At all. I did finish The Hall last year when some friends and I did a writing competition, but it nearly killed me.

However, I have realised a lot of positives from the whole experience:

5. From doing the course, we have found out about a film production course at The Phoenix in May and June, which we may do and I think will be more my thing. I’ve also realised what a great place it is for getting involved, which will be really great when Joey lives here.

6. I have read some really nice books from the reading list. William Goldman and Stephen King have been great inspiration.

7. I’ve found a career I definitely don’t want to do.

8. I have realised that I was teaching screenwriting in a fairly conventional way. Although, maybe with more resources and variety. Two hours in a room with just one voice is tricky…

9. I’ve learnt all about formatting, which is very useful and really enjoyable.

10. It has been really nice doing something creative with Mark and seeing how much he enjoyed the process. I also really like his idea and hope he keeps working on ‘The Gloaming’.

I’ve also realised that I set myself big challenges and maybe I shouldn’t kill myself when I fail. It’s good enough just to try things.

Screenwriting 5

The assignment this week was to help us start using dialogue. We had to put our main character in a greasy spoon cafe. Unfortunately, all of the screenplay formatting I had done on my google drive has gone, but hopefully you get the gist…

OUTSIDE ‘DAVE’S CAFE’ NEXT TO A BUSY ROAD. IT’S NINE ON A COLD, GREY BRITISH MORNING.
Lara is about to enter the cafe, but hesitates fractionally before doing so.

INSIDE THE CAFE, WHICH HAS THE RADIO ON. IT IS A UTILITARIAN PLACE WITH LAMINATED TABLE TOPS AND INDUSTIAL SIZED BOTTLES OF KETCHUP.
Lara looks around, a little unsure. She is well aware of how much she sticks out and therefore studies the menu board intensely.

DAVE – CAFE OWNER
What can I get you darling?

Lara bridles a little at the familiarity, but also faintly warms to the affectionate name, like a stranger in a foreign land

LARA
Oh, um… Please could I have a cup of tea?

DAVE
I think we can manage that. I’ll bring it over.

He turns to get her order.

LARA
Oh, sorry, do you have Earl Grey?
(As soon as she has said this, she knows she shouldn’t have. It’s a stupid affectation and makes her even less comfortable in the environment)

DAVE
No love, sorry. Just the standard builders’ tea.

LARA
Oh, ok. Ummm…. That’ll be fine.
(It’s not fine, but she knows she already looks like a fool and would trust the coffee even less)

DAVE
Anything else?

LARA
A couple of pieces of toast please.
(If she is going to have to sit here with the thick tea, she may as well have something else to not consume with it.)

DAVE
£2.20 please love. I’ll bring it over when it’s ready.

She hands over a £20 note.

DAVE
(With a sigh) anything smaller?

Lara starts furiously hunting for change by upturning the entire contents of her bag. She is getting redder in the face and more flustered. Dave, knowing this will be a fruitless search, simultaneously starts sorting out change from the till and as she looks up and shakes her head, he hands her £17.80 in coins. Lara shamefacedly takes this in her hand while trying to clutch all her dislodged possession under her arm and finds a table as far away from everyone else as possible. She sits down and tries to reassemble everything and restore some of her dignity.

Screenwriting course – assignments 1 and 2

These are the first two assignments for my screenwriting course. Any feedback is much appreciated.


Assignment 1

The Apartment (1960)
C. C. Baxter, a lowly worker from the masses is squirming his way in to the bosses’ favour by lending them his apartment for their dirty affairs. Miss Kubelik, the cute, damaged elevator girl, is the brightest part of his day. Unfortunately, she knows his home intimately. After cruel misunderstandings and lots of gin rummy, she finally sees the light.


My story:

The effects of war on a relationship. Josie has been married for 6 months to Rob, a UN peacekeeper, when he is blown up by a roadside IED. They go on a journey of recovery, which tests them entirely. Initially, this is physical rehabilitation, but the emotional and mental trauma is a more difficult challenge and they have to find and learn about each other again.


Assignment 2

A character that resonated with me:
I watched Amadeus at about 4 1/2 when I was meant to be tucked up in bed. I was completely engrossed in it and it led to me thinking I was Mozart for a while and wanting to be addressed as him. However, the character that intrigued me was Saliari. His bitterness and honesty were revelatory and his realisation of his own mediocrity was so brutal and adult.


A 1/2 page of my story:

As we see our protagonist Laura have a seemingly loving and sensual encounter, we cross-cut to a soldier being blown up by an IED in Afghanistan. Laura has decided that her six year marriage to an absent soldier is no longer making her happy after an intense liaison with a man from work. She leaves the marital home after writing a note and taking a final glance at the romantic image of how he proposed (candles, stones on a beach spelling out the question). The phone starts ringing as she shuts the door. As she kisses her new partner as he starts to drive her away, her mobile rings. Her husband has been seriously wounded.
At the airport his facial disfigurement is hidden until he gets very close. He is a shell of a man. They start the physical rehabilitation and she throws herself in to it to hide her guilt. However, the mental wounds are harder to heal and he is having continual flashbacks, nightmares and outbursts of anger. She is feeling increasingly isolated and pressured and is thinking of leaving. He finds the letter she wrote (in her panic she had just tucked it in to a book) and is devastated. He recreates the engagement scene in the garden, but with ‘I’m sorry’ and she realises that her husband is in there somewhere and starts a reconciliation.

I haven’t been completely useless though… My adventures on a screenwriting course.

Despite my lack of Top 100 film watching and assigned creativity, it’s not been all bad.  Nearly two weeks ago, Mark and I started a screenwriting course at The Phoenix (we seem to be going there a lot lately…).

It’s an eight week programme and by the end we should have written a screenplay and investigated structure, dialogue, character building and industry techniques.  We have also been given a reading list and we’ve got two William Goldman and one Stephen King books on writing to read.

The first homework was to write your favourite movie’s plot in four lines and then your idea in four lines.  This week’s assignment is to flesh that initial four lines out in to half a page and decide on a character that made an impact on you as a child.

My idea is based on the Simon Armitage poem The Manhunt (http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/simon-armitage-on-his-poem-the-manhunt/13455.html) although I may change the war by moving it to Afghanistan and also add the element of the wife having strayed before he came back wounded and the amplified guilt she would feel.  I like the idea of writing about war from a female perspective although I think I will have to do a lot of research first!

It's a start...

It’s a start…