2014. What a year that was.

author, screenwriter, screenwriting, writing, writer, MACbookAbout an hour ago, I sat down with every intention of writing a review of the last twelve months of my life. However, the more I wrote, the more it read like an update of the Forrest Gump script and if I struggle to believe some of the things that happened in 2014 given that I actually went through them, what chance would anyone else have? Suffice to say, both my working and personal lives were, to say the least, interesting.

Thankfully (for you), I don’t do personal on my blog (for personal, read private) nor do I use it for bleating about the negative side of what I do so what follows, in no particular order, are my top ten highlights from the last twelve months of what passes for my career.

1. Top Dog. Released in May to brilliant reviews, it went on to win Best Feature at the British Independent Film Festival where it also captured awards for Leo Gregory, Ricci Harnett and Lorraine Stanley. A night I will long remember.

2. Meeting my agent. Yes, after years of searching, I finally found an agent daft enough to take me on. His impact was immediate and largely thanks to him, 2015 looms very bright. Oh that I’d met him a few years ago.

3. We Still Kill The Old Way. Despite not having seen it yet, the reviews have been great so I’m guessing it’s good. However, it’s fair to say that it wasn’t the greatest experience of my creative life although working with my old mate Gary Lawrence was a proper giggle and I’ll certainly be doing more of that.

4. Paperbacks! The Crew, Top Dog and Wings of a Sparrow all hit (or returned) to the bookshelves in 2014 thanks to Caffeine Nights Publishing and as an author, that was and always will be, a proper thrill. Sadly, they weren’t joined by a new book although one of my main resolutions for next year is to remedy that.

5. Audiobooks. Aside from hitting the screens, Top Dog also gave me my first experience of the audiobook world. It’s a genuine cracker of a listen although it’s very odd hearing someone else reading my words out loud!

6. December. From a working perspective, it was the best month of the year because meetings took place which will hopefully shape 2015 and beyond. That should mean two more films over the coming 12 months. Possibly three.

7. BAFTA. Not many people know this but a few months ago I apparently came close to being selected as one of the BAFTA Breakthrough Brits of 2014. Given the immense talent of the two guys who won the writers awards, I genuinely have no complaints and am simply humbled to have been even considered in such talented company.

8. Stan Collymore. I know it bored the shit out of a lot of people but to me and many others, it was and remains a big deal. If you were involved, you understand.

9. Luther Blissett. Being able to spend time with one of my genuine sporting heroes was a true highlight of the year and helping him start along a new path was a real pleasure. Watch this space!

10. You lot. Despite being a writer for around 18 years now, I still continue to wonder how I’m getting away with it but the fact that I am is entirely down to those people who buy my books or  watch those films I’ve been involved with. I can only offer you my heartfelt thanks and tell you that every email, Facebook message, tweet or review is genuinely appreciated.

So that’s that, the end of 2014. It was a year I’ll certainly never forget for all kinds of reasons, not least two of my scripts hitting the big screen, but the positives have far outweighed the negatives and that’s all I could really hope for.

To all those people who helped make it so memorable, a huge thanks and to everyone I met along the way, be it in the flesh, on the phone or even in cyberspace, I hope that 2015 is as good for you as I plan it to be for me. But more of that soon.

Have a great and above all, safe new year.

writer, writing, script, screenwriting, facebook, amazon, itunes, ibooks, macbook, top dog, green street, we still kill the old way, the crew, sex, adultery, spandau ballet

2014. What a year that was.

author, screenwriter, screenwriting, writing, writer, MACbookAbout an hour ago, I sat down with every intention of writing a review of the last twelve months of my life. However, the more I wrote, the more it read like an update of the Forrest Gump script and if I struggle to believe some of the things that happened in 2014 given that I actually went through them, what chance would anyone else have? Suffice to say, both my working and personal lives were, to say the least, interesting.

Thankfully (for you), I don’t do personal on my blog (for personal, read private) nor do I use it for bleating about the negative side of what I do so what follows, in no particular order, are my top ten highlights from the last twelve months of what passes for my career.

1. Top Dog. Released in May to brilliant reviews, it went on to win Best Feature at the British Independent Film Festival where it also captured awards for Leo Gregory, Ricci Harnett and Lorraine Stanley. A night I will long remember.

2. Meeting my agent. Yes, after years of searching, I finally found an agent daft enough to take me on. His impact was immediate and largely thanks to him, 2015 looms very bright. Oh that I’d met him a few years ago.

3. We Still Kill The Old Way. Despite not having seen it yet, the reviews have been great so I’m guessing it’s good. However, it’s fair to say that it wasn’t the greatest experience of my creative life although working with my old mate Gary Lawrence was a proper giggle and I’ll certainly be doing more of that.

4. Paperbacks! The Crew, Top Dog and Wings of a Sparrow all hit (or returned) to the bookshelves in 2014 thanks to Caffeine Nights Publishing and as an author, that was and always will be, a proper thrill. Sadly, they weren’t joined by a new book although one of my main resolutions for next year is to remedy that.

5. Audiobooks. Aside from hitting the screens, Top Dog also gave me my first experience of the audiobook world. It’s a genuine cracker of a listen although it’s very odd hearing someone else reading my words out loud!

6. December. From a working perspective, it was the best month of the year because meetings took place which will hopefully shape 2015 and beyond. That should mean two more films over the coming 12 months. Possibly three.

7. BAFTA. Not many people know this but a few months ago I apparently came close to being selected as one of the BAFTA Breakthrough Brits of 2014. Given the immense talent of the two guys who won the writers awards, I genuinely have no complaints and am simply humbled to have been even considered in such talented company.

8. Stan Collymore. I know it bored the shit out of a lot of people but to me and many others, it was and remains a big deal. If you were involved, you understand.

9. Luther Blissett. Being able to spend time with one of my genuine sporting heroes was a true highlight of the year and helping him start along a new path was a real pleasure. Watch this space!

10. You lot. Despite being a writer for around 18 years now, I still continue to wonder how I’m getting away with it but the fact that I am is entirely down to those people who buy my books or  watch those films I’ve been involved with. I can only offer you my heartfelt thanks and tell you that every email, Facebook message, tweet or review is genuinely appreciated.

So that’s that, the end of 2014. It was a year I’ll certainly never forget for all kinds of reasons, not least two of my scripts hitting the big screen, but the positives have far outweighed the negatives and that’s all I could really hope for.

To all those people who helped make it so memorable, a huge thanks and to everyone I met along the way, be it in the flesh, on the phone or even in cyberspace, I hope that 2015 is as good for you as I plan it to be for me. But more of that soon.

Have a great and above all, safe new year.

writer, writing, script, screenwriting, facebook, amazon, itunes, ibooks, macbook, top dog, green street, we still kill the old way, the crew, sex, adultery, spandau ballet

So someone wants to option your script…

writing, screenwriting, script, screenplay, option, agent, film, hollywood

As those who follow me on twitter may have noticed, following a meeting last week I had an option taken on a new script.

This is obviously a very good thing for all kinds of reasons, not least that it could well result in another step toward retirement and a life spent tinkering on motorbikes in a workshop somewhere.

However, whilst obviously excited, I am not perusing the Screwfix catalogue just yet for having an option taken on a script is not the same as selling it. Indeed, over the years I’ve had options taken out on four projects which never progressed beyond that stage including both The Crew and Billy’s Log.

So what is the point of an option agreement and just as importantly, how do they work?

Well, an option agreement is the first stage in the production process and locks a script or novel into an individual or company meaning that they can’t be shown to anyone else.

Usually, these agreements will be for a 12 month period which should be ample time to get the production process rolling to the point where an offer will be made for the full rights. However, if at the end of this period nothing is happening, the option agreement can be renewed or the writer can put the project back on the market.

Inevitably, most producers will try to secure an option for little or no money as it means their risk stands somewhere between negligible and none but in my opinion, option agreements should always involve a fee of some description for one very specific reason.

As a writer, my job is to create the starting line of a project in the hope that someone will like it enough to develop it further. If I’m lucky enough to find that person, I not only have to like them but have enough faith in what they’re telling me to feel comfortable enough to put control of my work in their hands. In other words, I need to commit to them and if I’m prepared to do that, is it unreasonable for me to expect that they commit to me? And how better to commit than financially? Not just because it sits nicely in my bank, but because I know that if they are willing to invest money in a project, they are deadly serious about getting it moving. Primarily because they will be sharing the risk.

Conversely, if a producer wasn’t willing to offer even a negligible fee for an option, then I would have to ask myself why. Are they lacking belief in either me or their own ability? Or could there be there another reason?

For example, if you were a producer and someone came to you with a script similar to one you were already developing, the best way to kill the new project stone dead would be to take an option on it because it would effectively take if off the market. If you could do it for no money, all the better.

I’m not for one second suggesting such practices go on of course, because all producers are obviously saints in waiting and perfectly above board, but hypothetically, it’s a possibility and one I’d advise all writers to consider when offered an option on their work.

After all, as a wise man once said, ‘try standing at the check out in Tesco’s and see how much you get for a pocketful of promises.’

gangster, gang, violence, ogilvy, hollywood, film, screenplay, cinema

On the subject of scripts, my third feature, We Still Kill The Old Way hits selected cinema’s this week ahead of a DVD release over Christmas.

Co-written with my old mate Gary Lawrence, it stars Ian Ogilvy, James Cosmo, Chris Ellison plus a host of others and tells the story of a group of aged gangsters who get together to avenge the murder of one of their own.

Reviews thus far have been great so do yourself a favour and get along to see it!

Screenwriting: Why concept is king.

writer, screenwriting, author, greenstreet, top dog, indie film, british filmI was recently told by my agent that a very well-respected scriptwriter had just read one of my recent efforts and had told him that it was the best script he’s read this year.

Now as someone who rarely receives praise for anything other than my tea making skills (which are, to be fair, legendary. Then again, I usually practice them when I’m supposed to be writing) my initial reaction was ‘holy f**k!’. This was closely followed by the obvious question, ‘so what happens next?’

Thankfully, that question was answered fairly quickly and if all goes to plan, exciting times lay ahead. However, as I reflected on things over the next few days, I began to wonder how I’d managed to create a script which had received such glowing praise from someone who certainly knows their way around a screenplay. For as I’ve written before, I don’t really consider myself to be a screenwriter at all.

OK, I’ve had some success in that area but I’m not one of those writers who will happily polish a spec script to within an inch of it’s life before they even show it to someone else. No, I’m more of a concept writer because in most instances, I’m more than happy to throw together a decent first draft and show that around to see if it gains any interest. And that interest is generally dependent on the concept because in my experience, scripts don’t sell scripts, concepts sell scripts.

After all, it surely stands to reason that not even a brilliantly written and constructed script will sell if the basic concept is flawed. By the same token, a brilliant concept will sell even an average script. Therefore my job, as I see it, is to develop an idea to the point where a producer will get excited enough about it to start talking money. After that, the whole thing becomes a collaborative process involving producers, directors and even actors with my role being simply to work with them to develop the concept to the point where the camera starts rolling.

As if to prove my point, about 18 months ago I received this email:

…had a concept pitch from a distributor you may or may not want a crack at pitching a treatment for…

A group of old-school, Krays/Richardsons era retired gangsters (Alan Ford, PH Moriarty, Berkoff etc) are all living off past glories in East London, thinking there’s no school like the old school. One of them is savagely murdered by a group of hoodies (they probably film it etc) and they go back to their old ways to exact revenge and clean up the streets. Think Harry Brown on crack with a smidgeon of the Wild Geese. And of course, nobody thinks its them because they’re OLD

Whadya think?

I thought it was brilliant and with the help of my good mate Gary Lawrence, we developed a half decent draft and then worked with the director to develop the shooting script of what became We Still Kill The Old Way. You see, it’s all about the concept.

And in case you were wondering, yes, the concept for the script which received that wonderful and confidence boosting praise is indeed, quite brilliant. But that’s all I can tell you about it for now.

Watch this space.

indie, self publishing, soccer, money, eastenders, danny dyer, football, soccer, brimson, top dog, green streetI am pleased to announce that Top Dog has been nominated in the ‘Best Action’ category of the National Film Awards to be held in London on 31st March 2015.

Obviously, we need votes so if you have seen and enjoyed the movie, please click on the link, do your bit and then help out even further by spreading the word!

If you haven’t seen it, then still vote! I won’t judge you.

wTop     riting, writer, screenwriting, screenwriter, author, kindle, indie, film, cinema

 

Screenwriting – Why you should take notice of dreams.

script, screenwriting, screenplays, author, writing, kindle, amazon, ebooks, self publishing, top dog, green street,As a writer, one of the questions I am most frequently asked is how I get my ideas.

This is of course, a perfectly reasonable question and my standard answer is always the same. I don’t get ideas for stories, I get ideas for endings. For me, as anyone who has read The Crew or Top Dog will know, it’s all about the last few pages or the last ten minutes and everything else is about getting the reader or viewer to that point.

Recently however, I found myself the recipient of an idea. It came courtesy of my subconscious and was delivered in the form of a dream. Yes, that’s right. I woke up with a fully formed three-act outline in my head.

Now this would be great if I’d gone to bed thinking about the relevant subject matter or had eaten cheese on toast before retiring but this came entirely out of left field. It’s not even in my usual genre, or anywhere close to it. But so vivid was it that I wrote it down and then mailed it to my agent for comment.

His response was almost immediate and the upshot is that I had this dream four weeks ago today and this afternoon, mailed him a first draft of the script. All being well, this will be in front of an eager studio boss ahead of our meeting next week.

Watch this space.

screenplay, independent, film, writer, gangster, murder, As I mentioned the other day, We Still Kill The Old Way is released on December 26th.

This will be my second movie of 2014 which is not to be sniffed at although if all goes to plan, that number will be bettered in 2015. Anyway, if you fancy it -and why wouldn’t you?- you can click here to pre-order.

Finally, the vast majority of my titles are now available in ebook format with the majority either free or just 99p to download. The full listing can be found here.

 

screenwriting, writing, author, indie film, self publishing, green street, top dog, 

 

My name is Dougie Brimson and I’m a Pantser!

panster, writing, screenplay, authorThe other day, I mentioned the subject of pantsing and have had a number of mails asking me what it’s all about.

In essence, pantsing is a method of writing where you put together the very basics of a plot and then just run at it. Or to put it another way, you write by the seat of your pants.

This is generally the method I use for all my projects be they book or script because as I have previously mentioned, the majority of them are sparked off by ideas I’ve had for endings. As a consequence, everything else is about getting the characters to a point I already have firmly fixed in my mind (or indeed, actually written) and so I can make their journey as simple or as complicated as I want.

Of course, as the journey unfolds and my characters begin to take on lives and personalities of their own, I will invariably get to the point where I’ll have to go back to the beginning and start again but this isn’t as bad as it sounds. For by the time I’ve finished what would be classed as a first draft, I’ve probably rewritten most of it at least three or four times and have characters which are reasonably well formed.

That usually means it’ll be good enough to send to an independent reader for some feedback and for someone like me who hates rewriting scripts without notes, that really is a god send!

It may or may not have escaped your attention that I’ve failed to release a single book this year. Given that I’d planned to publish two including the sequel to Billy’s Log, this is incredibly disappointing.

On the plus side, I have written four very strong screenplays and one of those is within a hairs breath of being green lit (indeed, we may even get the nod this very week) and am two thirds through a script which has taken me into a whole new genre. I’ve also been involved with another project which, if it comes off, will be quite amazing to develop and with any luck, we’ll have a clear path set up by the end of the month.

More news on these will be forthcoming as soon as I’m allowed to make it public but suffice to say, it’s quite an exciting time.

screenplay, independent, film, writer, gangster, murder, One of my other scripts was of course, We Still Kill The Old Way which is released on December 26th. The reviews thus far have been amazing and everyone has high hopes for it. Indeed, I hear a sequel is already in the offing so do yourself a favour and click here to pre-order.

Finally, the vast majority of my titles are now available in ebook format with the majority either free or just 99p to download. The full listing can be found here.

I can also announce that the ebook version of Rebellion: The Growth of football’s protest movement, is on the way!

My name is Dougie Brimson and I’m a Pantser!

panster, writing, screenplay, authorThe other day, I mentioned the subject of pantsing and have had a number of mails asking me what it’s all about.

In essence, pantsing is a method of writing where you put together the very basics of a plot and then just run at it. Or to put it another way, you write by the seat of your pants.

This is generally the method I use for all my projects be they book or script because as I have previously mentioned, the majority of them are sparked off by ideas I’ve had for endings. As a consequence, everything else is about getting the characters to a point I already have firmly fixed in my mind (or indeed, actually written) and so I can make their journey as simple or as complicated as I want.

Of course, as the journey unfolds and my characters begin to take on lives and personalities of their own, I will invariably get to the point where I’ll have to go back to the beginning and start again but this isn’t as bad as it sounds. For by the time I’ve finished what would be classed as a first draft, I’ve probably rewritten most of it at least three or four times and have characters which are reasonably well formed.

That usually means it’ll be good enough to send to an independent reader for some feedback and for someone like me who hates rewriting scripts without notes, that really is a god send!

It may or may not have escaped your attention that I’ve failed to release a single book this year. Given that I’d planned to publish two including the sequel to Billy’s Log, this is incredibly disappointing.

On the plus side, I have written four very strong screenplays and one of those is within a hairs breath of being green lit (indeed, we may even get the nod this very week) and am two thirds through a script which has taken me into a whole new genre. I’ve also been involved with another project which, if it comes off, will be quite amazing to develop and with any luck, we’ll have a clear path set up by the end of the month.

More news on these will be forthcoming as soon as I’m allowed to make it public but suffice to say, it’s quite an exciting time.

Finally, the vast majority of my titles are now available in ebook format with the majority either free or just 99p to download. The full listing can be found here.

I can also announce that the ebook version of Rebellion: The Growth of football’s protest movement, is on the way!