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Monday, September 15, 2014

Podcast Episode 41: Writing and making a feature

In this podcast episode I chat to Danny about the challenges, the fun and the surprises of directing a feature - as two people who have come more from a writing background.

Have a listen above. And here are some useful links below.

Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? is the film we are talking about. Here is the website, the Facebook page, the twitter and the IMDB page.
You can download my free shot list template for word from here if you fancy using it yourself in your own productions.
Below you can see an image of Danny's "heartbeat chart"

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Nelson Nutmeg Update

It has been quiet on this blog for a while. Sorry about that. The reason for the silence is that I've been posting more on the Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? blog - as well as actually making the film.

In case you don't know, Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? is a children's feature film I am co-directing with Danny Stack. You may know Danny as my co-host of the UK Scriptwriters Podcast.

It is going well and we are on schedule so far. We are fine-tuning the process as we go of course. But we got a lot right! It is all too easy to overlook those and focus on the negative. But here's what we got spot on:

  • Starting the audition process early means the kids feel like a real unit now and get on well together. There is a good vibe, which helps a lot.
  • Having two caravans on site next to each other is perfect. One for crew, one for cast.
  • The crew is just the right size, allowing for some flex (e.g. we split off a B-unit the other day) but without people hanging around waiting for things to do.
  • We have hired a minibus everyday to take us there and back. This means everyone arrives fresh, plus it is no more expensive as it saves about 5 or 6 people driving cars.
  • The location is amazing. Not just in how it appears on screen, but also the helpfulness of the people there. Free plug for them - Freshwater Beach Holiday Park.

But never mind all this text - here's some pics (thanks to Jo for these snaps) ...

Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg
Danny on location. Steve has a breather.

Film crew
Some of the crew

Digital loader
Adrian wrangling the files

editing on location
Dan Mellow adopts the edit position

dorset children's film
Dylan rehearses for his part in the 'staring competition' (no joke!) Chloe has to help him out

blackmagic 4K film UK
Yep. We can burn through 480GB in an afternoon

kids film british
So many funny faces here

hattie gotobed loretta walsh
Never too early to start promoting the film!

kids movie 2014
Mum gets the brew on

kids film for kids
P-Dizzle does her MA dissertation 

children's film villain
Elliot has a run in with "Mr Slug"

how to make a children's film
You must be this tall to be in the scene

Lastly, the IMDB page for the film is slowly being updated also.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Podcast Episode 40: Want to move to Hollywood?

This podcast is another interview special. We talk to writer Tim John about moving to Hollywood, how to fit in, how to find work there and why it all fell apart. A great episode for those thinking about hitting tinsel town. You can find Tim's book on Amazon - or simply click here.

A little bit about Tim John in his own words...

With over 20 years’ experience as a copywriter and creative director, plus 7 years as a Hollywood scriptwriter, I’ve worked with a huge variety of clients – from Burger King to Bill Murray, from Sunsilk to Schwarzenegger - winning awards and achieving significant results, even on tiny budgets.

Friday, July 04, 2014

How do you co-direct a film?

Note: Myself and Danny are the co-directors. Nelson Nutmeg has no directing duties!

I am co-writing, co-directing and co-producing a children's feature film called Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? alongside Danny Stack. We've worked together for years creating the UK Scriptwriter's Podcast.

That's a lot of co-filmmaking duties we are sharing though. However, two out of those three get no comments from anyone at all. Lots of films are co-written. In fact many times there are 4 writers on the credits of major films, which normally means about 10 writers were used, but many were uncredited so the film didn't look so bad. And lots of films have more than one producer, in fact having only one producer would be very unusual. But directing? Wow, no one co-directs.

One guy on reddit even said about our idea - "Co-directors=Creative poision 95% of the time." In a way he could be right. When we see more than one director on a project it is actually often because the first one has left / been fired and another one brought it. But does it need to be like this?

Our inspiration for this film is the Coen Brothers. Not just in their film making style but also how they work as a double act. They are both credited as director for No Country for Old Men, for example.

We may change our minds but here are our current three thoughts on co-directing.

One - Don't focus on taking the credit
Agree up front that this is a joint effort - 100%, equal billing. Sometimes you may feel that you doing all the hard work. Sometimes the other person will (you won't notice that of course, as that's human nature). If you are solid in the fact you are doing this together, it will work out.

Two - Know your strengths and weaknesses
Simply put, I'd say I'm more technical and Danny has a better grasp of story. We are both okay with the actors. That gives us a lot of strength to be doing two directing tasks at once. One person can be rehearsing actors, the other can be looking at lighting set ups or making art direction choices. Provided of course....

Three - You plan and create the film together
Personally I feel this can only work if you've created the story and worked things out together. Why? Because you have already crafted a world together, you both know it inside out. Co-directing from someone else's spec script would be harder as you may disagree about the interpretation or look / style or even the meaning. This isn't an issue if you've created all those elements together.

Join in the fun yourself. Our Kickstarter still has a few weeks to go.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A special mini episode of the podcast

A special mini episode of the podcast today, giving a shout out to our Kickstarter campaign for Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg. You can watch our pitch below - or go straight to the website by clicking here.

A big thanks to all the blog readers and podcast listeners who have given so far, too many to list here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Who Kicked Nelson Nutmeg?

The Kickstarter campaign for my new children's feature film is now live. Click to watch the rather excellent video above. Or visit the Kickstarter page directly here -

I hope you can support the film and share it with others. We really need to be making more home grown children's movies in the UK.

If you can chip in even £1 that is really, really useful. Kickstarter focuses more on how many backers there are, more so than the actual amount given. So a quid given early is worth a lot more than that over time.

If you are telling people about the film, here's the blurb I use - On their annual summer holiday to the south coast of England, four misfit kids suspect that their holiday park’s mascot, Nelson Nutmeg, has been pushed off of the cliff! They set out to find the evidence they need in order to reveal the culprit and convince their parents they were right.

Just a reminder of how lucky we've been with this so far. Nigel Cole (dir of Calendar Girls) is on board as a directing mentor and we have had script feedback from BBC children’s presenter Chris Jarvis. Our location is also the place where the BAFTA winning ITV show Broadchurch was filmed. I am co-writing and co-directing the film with Danny Stack, writer of Octonauts and Thunderbirds Are Go!

The campaign launched today and as I write this we already have over 10% of the minimum amount in place. This is amazing. Thanks to everyone who has supported the film so far. Here's to the next 10% and the rest!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How to launch a Kickstarter - using video!

One of the key things we were told time and again with a Kickstarter was to build up to the launch date. The first few days are key to a successful campaign (at whatever level you are doing it) which means people need to know about the campaign BEFORE you launch it.

Obviously by Kickstarter I also mean any crowd funding platform, such as IndieGoGo and the rest.

One of the fun things we've been doing with our own project, a children's feature film called "Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg?", is a series of videos. We started with kids talking about the ideas of the film, this made the film feel like it was coming to life and having an impact, before a single frame had been shot. You can watch them all in the play list below...

Then we progressed to a generic countdown, just to keep people on their toes. But these are fun and silly too so at least the audience gets a giggle. Again, the full play list is below...

Did it work? We shall see. The kickstarter goes live very soon!