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Sunday, May 01, 2016

Podcast Episode 55: Mustapha Kseibati

We often get asked to feature up and coming writers and film makers in our podcast. Why? Because while it is great to hear from some of the top people in the biz, if you are a beginner to scriptwriting it can seem a million miles away from where you are now.

Mustapha Kseibati is on the way up in his career right now! He's done some top notch shorts (starring Benedit Wong and Kayvan Novak) after starting out in the music video world. It took him years of being runner and edit assistant first. So his route is one of hard graft and taking opportunities when he could - and a few gambles. But he can tell it in his own words.

Here is my own personal favourite of his. A dark comedy short with a touch of Tarantino -

Or indeed you can watch more of his films here -

Painkiller short film

Monday, April 11, 2016

Podcast Episode 54: Will Smith

You may see Will Smith's photo and know you've seen him somewhere.

He's acted in the Thick Of It, Paddington and with 'Harry and Paul'. But in this podcast episode we delve, of course, into his career as a writer.

Writing on Time Trumpet, Veep, Omid Djalili as well as for The Thick Of It too. How did he get started? And how did that all lead to his latest project, a non-comedy novel called "Mainlander"?

This episode has a guest interviewer, Jan Caston from Nelson Nutmeg Pictures, as she managed to bump into Will in Jersey and nabbed him!

will smith writer

Sunday, March 27, 2016

How we got our feature on the big screen via 'cinema on demand'

Just to set the scene for new readers. I co-directed and co-produced a micro-budget children's feature film called "Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg?" alongside my colleague Danny Stack (we do a podcast together and have written a book on scriptwriting). The film was made as a home-entertainment release, for a family to watch together or to amuse the kids. Here's the website and the IMDB page.

We made it for very little via a Kickstarter and some small investments, so had modest ambitions for it. But we knew there was a definite gap in the market for live-action kids movies. The figures don't add up to make such a niche movie for a large Hollywood budget, the demand just isn't there. But to make a low budget movie in this genre could offer some good returns.  Plus we love kids' movies, so we went for it.

We cast Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter movies) to give it a bit of class and we got some expert advice from film director Nigel Cole and sitcom writer James Cary. So it all turned out good.

The unexpected part was the world premiere of the film being at the BFI London Film Festival. This went really well, especially for a film edited and graded at home on Premiere. We had never really thought there would be a big screen opportunity. And our conversations with the industry continued to confirm that understanding. People just won't go out to the cinema in large numbers to see a film that they haven't really heard of that is just for kids. BUT, while large numbers may not do it, quite a few will. Not enough for a big release across hundreds of the screens, but still a healthy number.

So we are doing a small release ourselves and via OurScreen. Here's the trailer for it.

So here's how we created our own small release. 

Firstly, Danny emailed all the local independent cinemas in our area. We felt that as the film is all shot in Dorset, we could build on that as a marketing angle, getting on the local BBC radio and local papers. Obviously we did a lot of social media work and also got the film listed on the various "what's on" websites.

So via emailing the independent locally ourselves that got us a screening at Exeter and Poole Lighthouse and hopefully Bridport. These would be a simple profit split basis.

To get into the larger chains is trickier. But OurScreen helped us out on that. They are a 'cinema on demand' outfit. Why is this necessary? Well the reason that cinemas don't want to book smaller films is that they can't be sure there is sufficient demand. They could end up with only a few people in a screen. That screen could be showing a blockbuster instead and be fuller and more profitable. We could personally try and convince the cinemas that we have some demand, but why should they believe us?

This is where OurScreen helps. They provisionally book the screen. Then people provisionally book tickets via OurScreen for the screening. Once a pre-agreed minimum has been booked (usually about 20-30 tickets) then the screening is finalised. The cinema has the proof that demand is there and has some bookings already in place. It's a good system. We have 6 screenings on OurScreen so far, but we could ramp up more depending on how it goes.

A final note about certification. To screen a film in the UK you need a rating (U, PG, 15, 18 etc). The normal way to do this is to get a BBFC certificate. But this costs money - which probably isn't worth the investment for a few screenings. You will need to get a different one for a DVD release anyway. However, you can get one from the local council (of the screening venue) for free or a low cost normally. Every set up is different so its a pain. BUT, if it is only a few councils then its not a major issue. Our release is only in a small patch so we went that route.

So that's how we are doing it. Watch this space for how it goes. So far, the tickets are selling about to plan.

Nelson Nutmeg in cinemas

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Podcast Episode 53: our LIVE podcast

We did a special LIVE version of the podcast on TwitCast and Periscope. This is an archive of that. So when you hear us answering questions, these are comments and notes sent in via that those apps.

It was good fun to do, to have the banter! Let us know if you want more.


iTUNES =  itpc://

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Our first ever... LIVE PODCAST!

Date - Monday 29th Feb (TODAY!!!!)
Time - 8PM (UK time / GMT - see below for international times*)
Watch and join in via TwitCastLive (this will be a holding page until its live) -
Watch and join in via Periscope - we will put the link up on our twitter when its live.

We thought this discussion could be useful for those starting out, on the way up or stuck in a rut. Between us we have a BAFTA nomination, a few awards and had lots of of stuff on the tele and we made a feature film between us which premiered at the BFI London Film Festival.

You can ask questions and join our debate via either of those, or tweet us at @ukscriptwriters. See you there!

About our podcast in general...

As you probably know, I co-host the UK Scriptwriters Podcast alongside Danny Stack. And have done so for over five years and for over 50 episodes. We talk about all things scriptwriting, but mainly focus on the working and business side, more so than go over script tips or structure, which is already catered for elsewhere. AKA, we talk about how to get paid!

Something we started to do a couple of years ago was to interview writers and other people from the media world - whether they be new or super experienced. How did they start? What's their advice? What's the future hold for them? My personal top five favourites are...
But of course you may get more out of one of the many others. Here's the podcast homepage. And now we've decided to do something else new. A live podcast / vodcast where we will be discussing the life of a working writer, as it is today.

*International times...
  • 8PM UK Time
  • 3PM Eastern USA
  • 2PM Central USA
  • 1PM Mountain Time USA
  • Midday Pacific Time USA
  • 8AM - New Zealand
  • Way too early you POMs, I'll catch it via a podcast download later - Australia

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Podcast shortlisted for the 2016 Blog Awards

Good news - The UK Scriptwriters Podcast has been shortlisted in the Podcast / Vlogger category of the 2016 UK Blog Awards.

Which is really just an excuse to listen to some classic podcasts from the past! You know it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Podcast Episode 52: Tony Jordan

In this special podcast Danny Stack and I talk to UK TV writing legend, Tony Jordan. WATCH OUT FOR THE BAD LANGUAGE if that's not your bag as Tony has some strong views on how TV works or rather doesn't always work!

In the podcast we talk about:

  • Being a writer / producer and taking control of your own career
  • The Red Planet prize and why he continues to support it
  • His writing method - which is unusual!
  • Life on Mars, Dickensian and Moving Wallpaper.
There's still time to enter the Red Planet Prize (just about) here -

Tony also wrote the foreword for our book, which is out now via Amazon.

Any issues - click on the pic below to go to the homepage of the podcast.

Tony Jordan Red Planet