Top Dog – done and almost dusted.

clapper, film, kemp, sothcott, greens street, top dog, brimson, gregory

 

So that’s that. Whilst there are still a couple of days filming to go, to all intents and purposes my role as the writer of the movie adaptation of Top Dog finished when I drove out of 3 Mills Studio’s in East London last night. To say it has been quite a few weeks would be an understatement.

It’s no secret that my previous experience as a full-on feature film screenwriter wasn’t exactly great but it’s fair to say that as polar opposites go, Top Dog sits firmly in the epic category. Indeed, in all my time on set (and I was on set almost every day) I only had one gripe and that was yesterday evening after what had been a very long, cold and tough day. And no, I’m not going to tell you what it was or who it was with.

Credit for that must go to the amazing production team put together by producer Jonathan Sothcott who not only worked miracles at times but put up with me wandering around asking questions and poking my nose in.

Ironically, as a former military sort where every single thing is religiously and meticulously planned, organised and structured, film sets are actually something of a nightmare as they are, to say the least, chaotic places. Yet to a man (and woman!) the crew on Top Dog were truly brilliant and I doff my cap to them all for what they’ve done these last few weeks.

Much the same can be said of the entire cast who, from the simply awesome Leo Gregory through to the numerous supporting artists (or ‘lads’ as I prefer to call them) who came along simply for the experience of being in a movie, breathed life into my humble script. But I’m not going to talk about them purely because I don’t need to. You’ll soon see for yourselves how good they all were. Believe me, you will.

However the real star of the Top Dog shoot has for me been the director, Martin Kemp. As genuinely nice as you imagine him to be and frighteningly talented, he led from the front every single day and was an absolute pleasure to be around. Just as importantly, as I have previously blogged, he’s taught me so much about the process of developing a script and has even got me to the point where I’ve started to think that I might actually be half-decent at it! Who would have thought?

And so now it’s done, and now I wait. Don’t ask me what comes next because I have no idea. People talk about seeing rough cuts and afternoons in screening rooms but this isn’t my world and so I simply nod my head as if I know what they’re talking about.

What I do know is that when Top Dog is finally put together, it’s going to look fucking amazing. Because I watched it being made, and it was the absolute bollocks.

I cannot wait to do it all again.


top dog, brimson. hooligans, author, film, screenwriting, violence, crime, thriller
 Top Dog will be released next spring/summer but in the meantime, if you’d like to read the book that started it all, you can download it from Amazon by clicking on here

And don’t forget, Top Dog is actually the sequel to #1 best-seller The Crew which is not only available to download as an ebook, but has just been re-issued in paperback. Again, you can purchase that simply by clicking this link. 

5 reasons why adapting your own novel for the screen is a great idea.

readers, film, ebooks, itunes, amazon, blog, publishing, author, writing, top dog, brimson, screenwriting, the crew, green street, elijah wood, leo gregory, charlie hunnam, essex boys

*This blog was written a few months ago but with the film done, dusted and heading for release, I thought it worth posting again because.*

As I sit here typing this, on the other side of London (Croydon to be precise), a crew and some awesome actors are filming scenes from my own adaptation of my novel Top Dog.

For various reasons, not least the fact that I abhor the area around Croydon with a passion, I have stayed away from the set today and am instead, sitting at home. However, with no game to occupy me thanks to the FA’s obsession with international football, I thought it might be an idea to write a short blog about a question which has been repeatedly asked of me since the shoot began. To be specific, what’s it like watching both my book and my script come to life?

In a nutshell, it’s bloody awesome. But for five very specific reasons most of which wouldn’t apply if I’d handed the novel to someone else to adapt. So…

  1. As a writer, when you construct a novel or a screenplay, you play every single scene out in your head even before you commit it to paper (or keyboard). Seeing and hearing it unfold in 3D in front of your eyes is an incredible experience because it proves you’re not actually mad after all.
  2. Watching great actors actually act is an amazing thing (and we have GREAT actors on Top Dog). Not only do they give everything you’ve written a depth you cannot really put into a paper version, but they work with your words to make them even better. Understanding this can only make you a better screenwriter.
  3. Every once in a while, the actors will perform a scene EXACTLY as you imagined it when you wrote it. This has happened a few times on Top Dog and the feeling is indescribable.
  4.  It’s fabulous for the ego. And by that I mean that as a screenwriter, nothing will ever dispel your self-doubt faster than the sound of a director saying ‘Cut. That’s brilliant’.
  5. Standing on a film set surrounded by amazing people and knowing that they’re only there because of you gives you a feeling that makes all the hours, days, weeks and months spent at a keyboard worthwhile. Not because it’s a power trip (it isn’t) but because it’s proof that if you keep at it long enough, dreams can come true. And on top of that, you get paid. What’s not to like?

Thankfully, we still have a week of filming to go and whilst I’ll obviously be sad when this stage of Top Dog comes to an end, I know that the final wrap will signal the start of the next stage of what’s proving to be a fabulous journey. And on top of that, I’ve another film slated to start in March 2014 so I’ll be able to do it all again.

How cool is that?

The Crew. Top Dog, Green Street, Leo Gregory, British film, thriller

It has hopefully not escaped your attention that my novel The Crew has this week been re-issued in print thanks to the wonderful folk at Caffeine Nights Publishing.

It can be found sitting on the shelves of WH Smiths and all decent bookstores alongside Wings of a Sparrow which also completed the journey from eBook to paper last week.

Wingscover

Both books are available to order online from Amazon, iTunes, etc if you’d prefer and are of course, still available in eBook format.

And yes, Top Dog will also be re-released in paperback around the same time as the film is released. But like all of my work, there will be a twist in the tail…. 😉

Why all writers are mad… sort of.

writer, brimson, lazy, ebooks, amazon, itunes, screenwriting, author, novel, green street, sex, monkey, imac, windowsAs a writer, you inevitably spend a good portion of your time alone. The process is after all, fairly solitary and in truth, that’s one of the great attractions. At least it is for me. I’m not really a people person you see. Or to be more specific, I’m not really a real people person.

For on most days, I’m not actually alone at all, I’m in the company of all kinds of characters. Men, women, kids, hooligans, old men, glamorous women, thieves, thugs, hero’s… the list is endless. In fact it’s limited only by my imagination, because that’s where they live.

The joy of that is that they exist purely at my bidding and are real only for as long as I want them to be. Some I will meet only once, others will remain for a long time. Sometimes we have fun, sometimes I put them through all kinds of grief, sometimes I just watch what they do and feed off them. People are amazing, even imaginary ones. 

Now I know this makes me sound like some kind of mental case and if I were to chop off the first paragraph of this post and read it aloud to my doctor, she’d be quite justified in having me sectioned.

But the key word in that first paragraph is ‘writer’. Creating is what I do and my vivid imagination is my primary and most important tool. That’s how I can get away with having a mind which is a cross between a bizarre soap opera with only one viewer and a computer game with only one player. Both of which are me.

Sometimes however, it all goes horribly wrong. Or rather, fabulously wrong. Yesterday was one such occasion because filming began on my own adaptation of Top Dog. A novel I wrote well over ten years ago and which itself is the sequel to a book which first hit the bookshelves over thirteen years ago! And as I sat on set watching scenes I had created in my head actually being played out for real, I was frequently struck by how different it all looked from how I had imagined it. And the truth is, it looked a whole lot better in 3D.

That has taught me a very important lesson and it’s one which is almost certainly going to make me a better screenwriter. 

Because actors are real, locations are real. And as a writer, if you want to give your characters and situations life, the best way to do it is to understand that unlike the people in your head, they already have it. 

.

wings of a sparrow, the crew, top dog, football, screenwriting, leo gregory, hooligan, martin kemp, jonathan sothcott

Aside from the commencement of filming on Top Dog which will continue for a while yet, this week will also see two of my novels hit the shelves of WH Smiths (and all decent bookshops).

The first is the print edition of my most recent book, Wings of a Sparrow and the second is a re-issue of The Crew which continues to hold on to the #1 slot on the sports download charts. A position it’s held for well over two years now.

All in all, not a bad few days for me then.