The Death of Football.

football, soccer, watford, hooligans, gangs, top dog, danny dyer, we still kill the old way, green street, screenwriting, author, screenplay, script, independent filmI am a football fan. This, dear reader, is a well documented fact.

Now to some reading that, it will be natural to assume that if I’m not watching Sky Sports I’ll be trawling the back pages absorbing every fact about every game in every league the world over. Well I have to tell you that this is far from the case. In fact it’s the polar opposite of what I actually do for the truth is, I find the vast majority of football boring as f**k.

You see I am one of those supporters who believe that if their team isn’t playing, it’s not important. For me,  the great game really does begin and end at Watford FC and if they’re not playing, I have more important things to do than be bothered.

This, in essence, is why I rarely get involved in debates about football related issues. Yes, if something’s causing a stir in the media I might sling out the odd comment on twitter or Facebook and occasionally I’ll even blog about something but in the main, I don’t really care. As I say, if it doesn’t impact on life at Vicarage Road, it’s someone else’s problem. And to be honest, there’s usually enough football related drama going on at Watford to negate the need to get involved in crap going on elsewhere.

Once in a while however, something happens at my club which does demand comment. Today is one of those instances.

To give you a bit of background, over the last couple of decades Vicarage Road had developed a reputation as a ground where the concept of atmosphere was alien. There were no terrace anthems of the ‘Keep Right On’ or ‘Blue Moon’ variety, singing and banter amongst the home support was, to put it kindly, subdued. Even general crowd noise usually bordered on the safe side of medium. Certainly not enough to upset the patients in the hospital less than 200 yards away.  

Recently however, a group called the 1881 have sprung up in the home end and things have begun to change. I won’t go into it all in too much detail here but suffice to say, thanks entirely to their efforts, the atmosphere has improved markedly and Vicarage Road is becoming a great place to be on match days.

Pretty much everyone recognises this with even the players frequently pouring compliments upon the fans and in particular the 1881 and with things going well on the pitch as well, you’d think everyone would be happy. You’d think that, but it is apparently not the case. For this morning a letter appeared in the Watford Observer from a gentleman called Ken Connelly.

From what anyone can gather, Ken sits in the same section as the 1881 and he is not pleased. He is not pleased at all. This is that letter.

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Geezers-Guide-Football-Mainstream/dp/1840181141 

Now I’m not going to attack Ken personally for what he’s written because he is of course, entitled to his own opinion and strictly speaking, he is absolutely correct. It is indeed illegal to stand at football grounds in this country.

However, aside from lining himself up for what I’m guessing will be a legendary piss taking at the game tomorrow, what he has done is underline one of my biggest gripes about modern football and that is the issue of designated seating.

I understand the case for it, I really do. But that case is based on a history which is no longer relevant in the vast majority of grounds in this country. As a consequence, it has now become the key factor on the demise of the traditional atmosphere at games as well as the main cause of the majority of arguments I’ve seen at Vicarage Road this season.

If there’s anything more annoying than the sight of people wandering up and down at 3.05 with their tickets in their hand looking for ‘their’ seat I can’t imagine what it is. And what’s most annoying about it is that it’s entirely avoidable.

In fact if we are ever to see a return to the safe standing that so many are demanding, designated seating would almost certainly have to be scrapped anyway so why not do it now? Not only would it allow us to sit where we like but it would allow people like Ken to get up and legally move if something or someone was bothering them.

Football grounds are not theatres and crowds are not audiences. For too long now clubs have failed to grasp that simple concept and that has to change.

Because if people like Ken Connelly are allowed to hold sway over the wishes of the majority, football as we know and love it will finally be killed off.

manchester united, david moyes, liverpool, british film, ryan giggs, old traffordIf you don’t know, Top Dog has been nominated in the ‘Best Action’ category at the National Film Awards which will be held at the end of February.

This is a real boost for the film but we need votes! So if you watched the film and enjoyed it, please click on this link and vote!

In other news, I’m currently in the middle of negotiations for options on two new screenplays and all being well, I’ll have these tied up next week so will be able to pass on details fairly soon (although I will tell you that one of them is the adaptation of my football comedy, Wings of a Sparrow).

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watford

green street, top dog, we still kill the old way, danny dyer, elijah wood, leo gregory, script, screenwriter, author, independent film, self publishing, ebooks, dvd, hooligan, gang violence

 

5 reasons why I love writing for older actors.

I shall, from the outset, put my cards on the table and say that I am, at least numerically speaking, old. 

I don’t feel old mind, and I certainly don’t act it. But it is fair to say that at 56 I’m much closer to my closing scene than I am to the opening act.

The reason I mention this is because for fairly obvious reasons, my age impacts on my writing output. Rule number two in Doug’s Guide To Writing is ‘write what you know’ and since I know more about being a male over 50 in 2015 than I do about being a teenage lad in 2015, my central characters tend to be older and I hope, more realistic. There will after all, be a part of me in all of them.

Thankfully, this is working to my advantage. We Still Kill The Old Way for example, is clearly receiving more press than most of its contemporaries because of the age of the main cast which is great for me, the film and the actors involved. Most of whom are actually older than I am, which leads me nicely into the central reason for this blog.

You see generally speaking, when I start thinking about a project, be it book or film, one of the first things I consider is who is going to read or watch it. But recently, when it comes to screenplays, I’ve also been thinking about something else, who I can cast. 

And so with that in mind, what follows are 5 reasons why these days I prefer writing for older actors.

Choice – We have a huge untapped source of talent in this country and it isn’t lurking in acting classes or talent schools, it’s working in small theatres or sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Sad for them but great for writers like me when you’re working on something and putting together a dream cast because you know that there’s a bigger chance of actually getting them.

Gratitude – The main reason why they’re sitting at home is because the phone rarely rings. And it rarely rings because there are so few decent roles being written for people over 50 (let alone 60 or 70). As a consequence, if you create these age specific roles and cast accordingly, not only are the actors grateful, but they give you everything from vast experience to PR gold!

Talent – To me, it’s criminal that all this amazing acting talent is being allowed to go to waste. Aside from the ones I’ve already worked with, I can think of ten amazing actors and actresses I’d crawl over broken glass to hear reading my words yet I doubt one has had a decent film or TV role in ten years. That’s tragic, not least because, as has been proven with We Still Kill, people actually want to see these great actors on screen.

Fun – If you don’t think working with legends of the entertainment world is fun, you really shouldn’t be writing screenplays.

Inspiration – When an actor you’ve watched for years and who you have nothing but respect for comes up and not only praises your script but thanks you for the opportunity you’ve given them, it’s both humbling and gratifying. But equally, such praise drives you on to create more of the same which is exactly why I currently have two projects in development that will feature ensemble casts of actors over 60.

I can’t wait.

Top Dog, green street, audiobook, hooligans, hooliganism, krays, gangs, ganster

The audio version of Top Dog is now available to download by clicking on the picture to the left.

It’s been narrated by Karl Jenkinson who has done a brilliant job and joins the film, the paperback and the ebook to give a clean sweep for this title which is something of which I’m justly proud.

In other news, details of the script I’ve just had optioned should be made public fairly soon whilst work is progressing on the screen adaptation of Wings of a Sparrow and a new project which is coming together very nicely.

I might also be releasing news of something else I’ve been involved with which may well shock a few people.

Watch this space!

ogilvy, ellison, we still kill the old way, top dog, green street, indie film, hooligans, krays, gangster, kemp, 

Writers: Are we our own worst enemies?

gangster, violence, gangs, independent film, rape, murder, sex As you may or may not have noticed, my third feature, We Still Kill The Old Way, was released over Christmas.

For reasons I won’t go into here, I haven’t seen it yet but friends and family who have were certainly impressed and reviews thus far have been generally excellent.

As co-writer of said movie, I’m obviously pleased for all involved yet there is one thing that’s becoming increasingly irritating to me. So much so in fact, that the other day I actually did something I said I’d never do. I complained about a review. In fact, I’ve subsequently complained about three. 

It would be obvious to assume that these were negative reviews but in fact the opposite is true. Each was full of praise for the film and the performances with none giving it less than four stars.  However, all three (and others to be fair) neglected to mention one specific thing, the writers.

Now to be clear, this is not a moan about me. As I’ve written many times, screenwriting is very much a hobby for me (albeit one that takes up most of my time!) as I consider myself first and foremost to be an author (and even that’s pushing it!). Furthermore, as I’ve also written many times, I’m never precious about scripts and am more than happy to hand them over to a director and let them take over. As long as they pay me of course!

However, whilst I’m always delighted to read the compliments paid to actors and directors, the fact remains that the starting point of any film or TV show is a writer with an idea sitting in front of a blank screen. Without them, there would be no film to talk of so is it not right and proper that their role should, at the very least, be afforded the courtesy of a name check rather than a cursory mention of the script they churned out?

What annoys me most about this is that the people writing reviews are my peers and as fellow writers, I’d argue that they actually have a duty to talk up both their fellow scribes and the work that they do. For by not doing so they surely underpin the notion that writers are the least important people in the creative process when the reality is that the opposite is closer to the truth.

After all, do you really think Arnie came up with the line ‘I’ll be back!’ all by himself? Or that Jack Nicholson just threw together the ‘you can’t handle the truth’ speech from A Few Good Men as they were sitting on set? Of course not. They came from the imagination of some poor caffeine, alcohol and/or nicotine fuelled hack sitting in front of a computer in the middle of the night. 

So film critics of the world, the next time you heap praise on a movie, why not remember the individual who put it all together and give them a mention.

Not least because one day, that might be you.

Thanks to all those I’ve spoken to over the holidays (and at Chelsea yesterday) asking about my next project.

I can’t say anything at the moment other than talks are well advanced for a new film and I’m hoping to pen to paper on that within the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m working on a new script and will then start work on another book as I am determined to add to my list by the end of the year. On which note, thanks to everyone who brought The Crew, Top Dog, Billy’s Log and Wings of a Sparrow over the holidays.

I hope you enjoy them!

screenwriting, screenplay. script, author, ebook, gangster, indie film, british film, green street, social media, twitter, facebook

My year in film: 2014.

film, cinema, screenwriting, writer, script, indie, hooligan, war, Kajaki, Brad Pitt, streep, I forgot to do this in my blog yesterday so, since I’ve no intention of doing anything today other than watching movies, I thought I’d do a quick resume of some of the best and worst movies I saw last year.

Obviously, I’ve not included my own films (primarily because I’ve only watched two-thirds of one and haven’t seen the other at all) but have instead, covered my five from the top and five from the bottom. Feel free to let me know what you think.

My movie of the year was without a doubt, The Grand Budapest Hotel. What I can only describe as a visual and comedy masterpiece, it is Wes Anderson at his absolute finest. I can’t speak highly enough of it other than to say it’s one of those films I’ll happily watch for the rest of my life.

Close behind was a movie released in 2013 but which I saw in the US in February so I’m counting it. If you’re a fan of great acting, then August, Orange County is a must watch. Meryl Streep gives a performance which is quite simply staggering but she’s matched in every scene by the rest of the cast. I watched it again last night and it was just as breathtaking as the first time I saw it.

Another movie I saw whilst in the US at the same time was Inside Llewyn Davies. It’s one of those films where nothing much actually happens but it just swallows you up and is gone before you know it. Loved it.

Two war movies blew me away this year (no pun intended) but for different reasons. Whilst the story was a bit lacking in parts, I have to say that I thought Fury was stunning. However, for sheer tension and realism, Kajaki beats it hands down. The fact that it’s based on a true story makes it even more amazing and if you haven’t seen it, you must.

A number of films promised much but ultimately disappointed me last year. Northern Soul was perhaps the biggest let down because I so wanted to love it to bits and all the hype promised great things. Don’t get me wrong, the music was brilliant and it looked amazing but the story was way off to me.

Another film I really wanted to love was The Hooligan Factory and to be fair, I almost did. The idea of a film which takes the piss out of the whole hoolie-genre was pure genius and all credit to the hugely talented Nick Nevern for getting it to the screen because it almost worked perfectly. But almost is the word which springs to mind whenever I think of it because it could have been Airplane funny and it wasn’t. I actually saw this with Gary Lawrence, my co-writer on We Still Kill The Old Way, and we both made exactly the same comments. I mean, how can you parody Green Street and not include a single hobbit joke?

On the subject of hobbits, as a huge fan of Tolkien, I’ve wallowed in the film adaptations but whilst it remains my favourite all time book, The Hobbit has really disappointed on screen and The Battle of the Five Armies is certainly the worst of the three. If I want to watch a dragged out computer game, I’ll do that. I certainly don’t want to go to the cinema to do it.

Finally, the worst film I saw in 2014 was without doubt, The Other Woman. I don’t even know where to start with the things I hated about this film other than to say if anyone ever wants to torture me, just sit me in front of a DVD player and put it on a loop. I’ll tell you everything you want to know inside 15 minutes.

 script, screenwriting, author, writing, film, cinema, streep, brad pitt, hooligan, gangster, dyer