Category Archives: screenwriting

The two keys to keeping your inner writer motivated.

writer,writing,motivation,author,screenwriterAs a professional writer, I’m often asked what I find most difficult about my job. Aside from the obvious answer of ‘getting paid’ my usual response isn’t finding an idea, nor is it getting motivated, it’s remaining motivated. Indeed, when a project will inevitably take many months to put together, it takes a special kind of commitment (or madness) to keep the enthusiasm and motivation going long enough to be able to sit down every day and drive it along to completion.

However, it is important to remember that motivation isn’t within us, it’s something we have to provide for ourselves. And having been at it for over twenty year now, I have learned that key to doing that are two things: routine and reward.

WRITING ROUTINE
There is no way to write, only ways. Therefore it is vital that you find what works for you and stick with it.

For some, that will mean an office, a quiet corner or even the sofa whilst for others, it will mean Starbucks or even the local beach. Some like to write in silence, others like noise, some in the morning, some late at night. Whatever it is, once you have established a routine, stepping into it will help your creative mindset and you’ll be away.

WRITING REWARD
 A simple love of writing or a desire to tell a specific story may well be all the reward you need but for others, like me, there have to be two specific and personal incentives. The first when you hit your daily word count can be something as simple as a glass of wine or a Mars bar and the second, when you hand over the finished work, can be something major such as a holiday or even a new motorbike.

Whatever they are, keep them fixed firmly in your mind (maybe even write them as your screensaver) and make sure that when you’ve earned them, you take them and you savour them.

Fairly soon, these, like your routine, will become part and parcel of your writing life and with any luck, the process of writing won’t ever be a chore, it’ll become relatively easy. Which is pretty much what’s happened to me although to be fair, I have been doing it a long time.

So I know what works for me, the question is, what works for you?

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart


Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from bothAmazon and iTunes

 

hooligan,hooliganism,writing,writer,author,screenwriting,greenstreet,sex,

Why we write movies. (The Curse of Bovver).

bovver,greenstreet,hooligans,indiefilmAs anyone who knows me will know, I rarely describe myself as either a screenwriter or an author. Not out of any kind of false modesty, but because I’ve never felt that I’ve earned that right.

Yes, I know I’ve written a few books and a number of movies but I’ve always considered the ’S’ and ‘A’ words to be far too grandiose for the likes of someone like me who basically got lucky. And let’s face it, given the lack of acknowledgment or recognition from either industry over the years, I have a feeling I’m not alone in that thinking although that’s another debate.

However, the other day I had an experience which has actually made me rethink things and consider the fact that I haven’t actually done that bad. It happened, ironically, in a pub where I was having a late afternoon drink with the actor Leo Gregory who starred in both Green Street and Top Dog.

As we were chatting, the door burst open and in came a group of Man City fans on their way to their FA Cup tie at West Ham. Within seconds, they’d recognised Leo and as the cries of ‘fuck me, it’s Bovver’ went up they came across and surrounded us. As gracious as ever, Leo took the time to shake hands and pose for selfies and fairly soon, the pub settled back into normality.

Now this is a fairly routine occurrence when you’re with Leo and god only knows what it must be like to have the shadow of Bovver follow you around all the time as it surely must. But as I reflected on it later, it struck me that whilst that’s my fault for creating that role, I have every right to feel pretty pleased with myself.

After all, Green Street was released in 2005 and whilst huge credit must go to Leo for what he did with him, to have created a character that people still recognise in the street 12 years later is an achievement to be proud of.

And d’you know what, I bloody am.

.

Talking of movies, thanks for all the messages about my next project, Three Greens. As is the way with these things, there’s not much I can say at the moment but I’ll release more details as soon as I can.

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

screenwriting, author, ebooks, kindle, green street, writing

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So you want to write a book?

writer,writing,screenwriting,screenwriter,author,amazon,kindleI’ve received a number of mails recently from people who are keen to write books and need advice on how to go about it.

Invariably, these mails ask about finding an agent and/or a publisher as well as any one of twenty questions relating to the actual process of getting a book from brain to bookshelf. However, whilst I’m always keen to encourage new writers, it’s fair to say that most of the people who contact me need (and receive) a reality check.

The truth is that when you’re starting out on the rocky road of penmanship, you don’t need an agent and unless you are incredibly famous or staggeringly lucky, the chances of you securing a publishing deal are pretty much zero. What you do need however, are words on pages. Lots of them.

So if you want to write a book, the best way to start is to simply sit down and get writing. And once you have a few thousand words on your hard drive, you’ll soon realise any number of things. Not least if you have the imagination and drive to actually see it through. Most don’t, but if you actually reach the point where you can say ‘yes’ to both of those questions, that’s when you need to start thinking about the next stage in the process.

Until then, it’s all about actually doing the graft. And you do know it’s hard graft right?

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information can be found at dougiebrimson.com

screenwriting, author, ebooks, kindle, green street, writing

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The film pitching process (and 6 reasons why it sucks).

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordA lot of people have been contacting me recently to ask if my football comedy novel, Wings of a Sparrow is ever going to make the leap from book to screen. My response is always the same, I’m working on it. However, the truth is that whilst I continue to push it as much as I can, the next step isn’t really up to me. I wish it were.

In an ideal world, I would write a script, show it to someone and they would hand me a few million pounds to get it made. Better still, they’d buy it off me and I could sit back while they did all the hard work. However, it doesn’t work like that, not for me anyway. Instead, like hundreds if not thousands of other scripts, Wings is having to go through what is called ‘the pitching process’ and since I suspect that many of you don’t understand how that works, I thought I’d put together a layman’s guide and tell you where my baby is currently sitting.

1. You write a script. – Done. Both film and TV versions have been written together with various outlines ranging from two sentences to 15 pages. Plus there’s the best-selling novel of course.

2. You send it all to your agent who identifies those production companies who might be interested and sends it out to them. – Done.

3. You wait. And wait. And wait. In the meantime, you network the shit out of it and maybe attach potential cast members or even a director. If you can add a well known name, this is a huge plus. – Doing.

4. If you’re lucky, one or two (from up to ten or even more of the companies it will have been sent to) will actually come back to you and say that whilst they like it, it’s not for them. This is normal as many production companies will only be looking for certain types of films although in many cases, some of the reasoning for the rejection is questionable (but never open for discussion). ’Football films don’t ever work’ being the most irritating response we’ve had to Wings. – Done.

5. You wait some more, and possibly follow up with those who haven’t responded. You also send it out to more potential producers and maybe a director or two. Then you wait, again. – Done/doing.

6. You give up pitching it and go onto the next project in the hope that one day, someone will possibly stumble across it and like it enough to show interest. – Pretty much done.

And unless someone actually comes in with an offer to either option or make it, which can be at any point in the process or the future, that’s the brutal and frustrating reality of how it works for most of us. It’s even harder for those writers who have never had anything produced because you have no track record to back you up. However, we all know that and as I’ve said many times, if you don’t like it, don’t do it.

Do I think that Wings would make an awesome and very funny low-budget movie? Of course! Do I think it would work on TV as either a two part comedy drama or even a sit-com? Too right!  But what I think doesn’t matter. It’s all down to what a person sitting behind a desk at a production company or studio thinks and more importantly, what they are looking for at that moment in time.

For whatever reason, Wings of a Sparrow isn’t it. Yet.

PS: If anyone in the business would like to have a read of the script, please drop me a line at dougiebrimson@me.com

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart


Just in case you didn’t already know, all my books and DVD’s are available from bothAmazon and iTunes

Five reasons why writing a novel is better than writing a screenplay.

author,screenwriter,ebook,self publishing,indie filmThe other day, someone pointed out that I am one of a very few writers who have enjoyed a degree of success with both books and screenplays. Not only that, but according to them I also hold the dubious honour of covering a range of genre which very few writers anywhere can match.

Whilst I’m not sure about any of that, it is fair to say that in a writing sense I have certainly been about a bit. Mostly, it has to be said, because I get bored easily.

However, whenever the subject of my work comes up it inevitably leads to one particular question and that is ‘which one do you enjoy the most?’

Whilst both have their merits, and leaving aside the simple truth that I’ll write anything for anyone who pays me, the answer is always the same. Because if I have a blank page and am left to my own devices, I will start writing a book. All day, every day. And for five very specific reasons.

It’s easier to write – That might shock a few people but the truth is that I can have far more creative fun constructing a 75,000 word novel than I can working on a 110 pages script. And if I’m having fun, I can promise you that the words will be pouring out of me as opposed to having to be dragged out. Something which not only makes it easy for me to write but which will almost certainly make for a better read once it’s finished. 

It’s easier to produce – Working with publishers can be hard work sometimes but if all else fails, I always have the option of self-publishing. It might not see the shelves of Waterstone’s or WH Smiths but let’s face it, it will certainly see Amazon and if it sells and is earning, who cares? Certainly not me.

With a film, the whole process is a nightmare which can fall apart at any moment. That’s if it gets anywhere at all which to be frank, it often doesn’t.

Control – With a book, I have no restrictions on subject matter, genre or even length. Being able to write what I want, when I want and just as importantly, say what I want, is not only liberating, it makes the whole thing both more interesting and enjoyable for me. If you need any more proof of that, have a look at my backlist and you’ll see a book about farting. Case rested. 

With a screenplay, once I hand it over I have no control over anything. At all.

The End Result – A book is mine. All mine. Praise or criticism are therefore personal and either enjoyed or dealt with as appropriate and I’m fine with that. A film however, is only mine if someone slags off the script even though by the time the camera’s roll, my input into the development process will have ended ages ago. 

The people – For an author, publishing is a relatively solitary game and as someone who prefers his own company, that’s exactly how I like it. For a screenwriter, the writing process is part solitude, part collaboration, part chaos. This would be great if it were an industry inhabited solely by nice hard-working honest people but sadly, it isn’t. Instead, amongst the many awesome individuals I’ve worked with are far too many arseholes who, if they aren’t simple crooks, are either bullshitters or incapable of making a decision. Or both.

So there you have it. Five reasons why I’d write a book over a movie any day of the week. And with that in mind, I’m happy if not delighted to announce that work is currently well underway on the sequel to my novel Billy’s Log. Indeed, starting work on this has underlined everything I’ve written above and more because I’m loving it.

All being well, it’ll be finished by the time we start moaning about the cold but more as and when. I might even post a teaser or two!

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart


Just in case you didn’t already know, all my books and DVD’s are available from bothAmazon and iTunes

The saga of ‘Carry On Sothcott’.

sothcott,Carry On,indiefilm,HMRC,tax,top dog,wsktowAs some of you may be aware, Top Dog and We Still Kill The Old Way producer Jonathan Sothcott has been spread across various media outlets lately amid allegations of financial impropriety.

The response from the man who most recently announced that he was going to reboot the Carry On franchise, was, somewhat predictably, to claim that it was all the work of one crazed stalker and that no one was investigating him. Least of all the police or HMRC. Furthermore, there were/are legitimate explanations for each of the nine or so companies he’s had shut down over the last few years.

Thankfully, more by luck than judgement, The Hollywood Reporter picked up on this story, smelt a rat or two and began to dig in search of the truth. The result of their hard work can be found here and it makes for interesting reading. Not least because one of the names mentioned is mine.

I won’t go into all of the reasons why I first got involved as the investigations are still ongoing but what I will say is that it wasn’t for financial gain as I am not actually owed any money. However, I do take offence at being associated with something that ripped people off and in my opinion, that’s exactly what was happening here so I stepped in and tried to do something about it.

As for the Hollywood Reporter article, I’ll leave you to form your own opinions on the content but suffice to say that whilst it answers a lot of questions, it leaves many more unanswered. The primary one for me being why, when much of this was an open secret within the industry, did so many people continue to ignore what he was up to and carry on working with him?

That of course, is a question only they and there conscience can answer. However, whilst the majority are of little interest to me personally, there are a few involved in this sordid episode who should be called to account, if not named and shamed.

They know who they are (and if you’re curious, a quick trawl of his IMDB page will reveal which names frequently pop up) and they are the people who were more than happy to profit from his exploits in the belief that he, and they, would never get caught. They were wrong.

Jonathan Sothcott may well be the first name to hit the headlines, but it won’t be the last.

@dougiebrimson

Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

Decisions, decisions. The joy of writing professionally.

ebooks, self publishing, veteran, writer, screenwriting, author, indie, film, green street, football, soccer, actor, script, sex, men, women, sexism, racism, homophobia,As anyone who does it regularly will tell you, writing is a curious business. It is after all, one of the few activities where you can spend weeks, months or even years baring  your soul only to then throw it out into the public domain where people you don’t know will quite possibly, and often happily, tear you to shreds.

Unattractive a prospect as this might be, writing professionally is even worse. For in addition to the above, you also face the joyous prospect of starving.

Having been doing it for over 20 years now and with a girth which suggests that it might actually do me good to miss a meal or two (OK, three or four), I think it’s safe to say that malnutrition is not something I need worry about any more but that does not mean I don’t face other concerns. Indeed, I have one right now and it’s one I need to address, and fast. It is, quite simply, what book to write next.

The problem is compounded by the fact that whatever decision I take will not be driven by a deadline but will in fact, be a spec project. As such, I get to choose it for myself which is fine until you consider the stark truth that not only do I have to ensure that I’m going to enjoy writing it, but that there is going to be a market for it. Trust me, the two are not necessarily the same thing.

I also face the problem of having three, possibly four distinct projects in mind all of which are totally different from the other. Two of those being sequels which have already been started but which fell victim to the demands of scripts which required urgent attention.

So do I, for example, finish the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy or do I carry on with the follow on from Billy’s Log?? Or do I venture into new genre, possibly with the supernatural thriller which has recently taken root in my increasingly confused brain?

Whatever it is, I need to make a decision and fast or I face the very real prospect of doing pretty much nothing. Which has its merits, but doesn’t pay the bills.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a tough job being a professional writer. But it’s even tougher being me.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

My boring writers life…

A couple of years ago, I penned a blog about the idea of my writing my autobiography.

Recently, on more than one occasion in fact, this subject has been broached again but just as I did back then, I dismissed the idea not simply because I can’t actually imagine why on earth anyone would be interested  enough to read it, but also because I have led a life which has been, shall we say, eventful. Indeed, back then I made the point that were I to commit it all to print, large portions of it would be disregarded as some kind of Walter Mitty fantasy.

However, as the completion of my 16th book approaches, and having recently passed the ’20 years in the job’ mark, I thought it might be worth listing some of the events that might make it in should I ever decide to take the plunge. I also threw in a few things which not many people actually know about me and purely for a bit of self-indulgence, thought I would share them.

In the interests of common decency I have edited out anything involving either women or sex (thank god I hear you cry!) as well as anything which might incriminate either myself or anyone else. I can however, assure you that everything listed here is absolutely true. And then some!

So, in no particular order, I…

used to smoke 60 Marlboro a day but gave up cold turkey. I would start again tomorrow if I was allowed.

once fell asleep whilst riding a motorbike and only woke up when I left the road and went through a hedge. I didn’t come off and yes, I was drunk, very drunk in fact. I’ve never again ridden or driven with alcohol inside me as I am terrified of losing my licence.

have eaten all kinds of odd things on my travels but the weirdest are Elk liver pate and sliced Reindeer tongue. Both were quite nice.

have only ever broken four bones and they were all as a result of sport. Nose (boxing), two ribs (stock car racing) and back (football).

once dropped a car on my hands and the only way I could get myself free was to simply wrench them out.  Sadly, not many of my nails made it and yes, it really was as painful as you imagine.

rarely drink these days because I am useless at it (and as previously stated, am terrified of losing my driving licence).

love giving random people compliments.

receive at least one email or tweet a day asking me something relating to Green Street. And no, I had nothing to do with 2 or 3 but would write 4 if they offered me enough money.

have taken part in all kinds of different motorsport with some success, but my proudest achievement was 8th place in the 1988 world banger racing finals.

was, on two separate occasions, in the exact spot where just 24 hours later the IRA carried out  assassinations of British servicemen.

have only ever been arrested three times; Once for theft of my own property from my own motor vehicle (!) and twice on the TV show, ‘The Bill’.

would love to write a proper full-on romance from a male’s perspective.

have ridden a motorbike at 150 plus and driven a car at over 140. Both were my own.

have only ever taken my daughters to one football match and specifically chose it to dissuade them from ever wanting to go again. It worked. Thanks Norwich.

love a good conspiracy theory.

regard Billy’s Log as my best book to date but had most fun writing The Art of Fart. However, the best thing I’ve ever written (and of which I’m most proud) is a film I’m currently developing about a British soldier.

am a firm believer in all things spiritual and have had all kinds of ghostly encounters over the years.

have always wanted to own a Range Rover. I don’t. Yet.

rarely refer to myself as a writer as I still don’t think I’ve earned the right to that title.

have only ever been invited to three literary events during my career. Two of those were to do with moaning about something, the third came about purely because I asked why I hadn’t been invited! I do like talking to book clubs and schools though, when the ask me. I have never even been invited to a screenwriting event!

was just over a week away from leaving for a four month tour of the Falkland Islands when a psychic told my wife that I wouldn’t be going. I didn’t, I developed a stomach ulcer instead.

once ended up in court as a defence witness in a case against someone who was accused of assaulting me (think about that for a moment).

have seen not one, but three planes crash.

was scheduled to be on the ‘Herald of Free Enterprise’ when it sank outside Zeebrugge but cancelled the trip at the last minute as my wife was asked to go on a girlie night out.

once had a German policeman point a gun at my head and switch the safety catch to ‘off’.

have been involved in a (very) high speed car chase with the police. I was being chased, not chasing.

once had a bounty placed on my head (not the chocolate kind either!) and was targeted by an extremely nasty political organisation.

used to co-host a late-night radio show for Liberty Radio in London which was, at that time, owned by Mohammed Al Fayed. We were actually on air at the time of Princess Diana’s death.

once swore at Lady Sarah Ferguson (by accident, not because I don’t like her).

was once involved in a fight during a live TV show.

have only been a best man once and that was at a same sex wedding (and it was brilliant!).

am all but blind in one eye which is why I can’t watch 3D movies.

have a desire to run for public office and almost ran in the first ever ‘Mayor of London’ election. I still have plans to form my own political party.

once set up a charity for British troops serving on the front-line and managed to provide them with almost 22,000 free books.

once got up and walked off of a live prime time UK TV news programme because they described me as a ‘football hooligan’ when I had repeatedly asked them not to and warned them I would walk if they did.

never play computer games (boring) and never watch horror movies (coward).

sell more books in Russia than anywhere else bar the UK.

have had two mates die in front of me. Both were on motorcycles.

am terrified of heights.

once stole a parrot. I did take it back.

secretly inserted 14 things into the initial script of Green Street which were either ‘in-jokes’ or referred to something very personal. They all made it onto the screen but only half of them have ever been worked out.

once spent an afternoon all alone in a little cove on Ascension Island swimming naked amongst a swarm of little black fish only to discover later on that they were actually sea water Piranha’s. Barely a week later, that same shoal (or their mates) stripped the face off someone who fell off a ship into the sea.

once sold condoms for a living.

adore America but my favourite city in the world is St. Petersburg in Russia.

once appeared fully naked in front of a platform packed with Russians on their way to work.

was one of the first, if not THE first, person in the west to know about the Chernobyl disaster.

was once held hostage by a cow (bovine, not female).

was once involved in an actual UFO related incident (and no, I wasn’t abducted or probed!).

turned down the opportunity to invest in the setting up of a very famous website which was subsequently sold for many millions!

was once trapped in my car for 24 hours by the snow.

am a Falklands Veteran and was the first RAF member of the South Atlantic Task Force to have his post disestablished after the War.

have been a guest at Buckingham Palace on three occasions.

once punched a donkey on the nose. It hurt. Me, not it.

have flown in a Harrier jump jet (not by myself obviously!).

have never knowingly taken, sniffed or smoked any kind of illegal substance!

appeared in the James Bond movie, Goldeneye and once had a screen test as a potential presenter for ‘Top Gear’ (I didn’t get the gig).

And finally….

As anyone who actually knows me will testify, I am actually quite boring, quite shy and am utterly useless at small talk.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

And the Oscar for best screenplay by an old fat white disabled male goes to…

With Oscar night almost upon us, it is sadly inevitable that the thorny issue of diversity will once again poke its head above the parapet. Or, as is more likely, be rammed down the throats of the millions watching around the world.

Now whilst I have every sympathy with many of the issues which taint the film industry on both sides of the pond, in particular the appalling lack of roles being written for older women, I have to say something about the notion that we need to implement a quota system to support those from minority groups. Because speaking as a member of a minority group, I am all for it.

Oh yes, in the business that we call film, when it comes to both minorities and the discriminated, I tick more than my fair share of boxes. What? You think I have it easier because I’m a white male? Seriously? OK, point me in the direction of the schemes that encourage writing from the white community? Or the over 50’s. Or the disabled. Or for that matter, men. Good luck with that.

I am of course, being sarcastic, but there are some serious points to be made here. Not least, if you’re going to start to impose quota’s on the creative process, where do you begin? Or for that matter, end? After all, how many races are there? Or religions, or disabilities? Will producers have to include one of each? Or will there be a quota of the quota? Will some groups be regarded as more ‘minority’ than others?

 The questions go on and on but there is one which is far more important than all of the others and it’s one which thus far, I haven’t seen asked let alone answered. How would you address the small matter of talent?

Because ultimately, any enforced quota system can only have a negative impact on the talent that appears on-screen and that can only be to the detriment of the finished product. Why on earth would anyone want that? Least of all those who may or may not end up winning some token statue.

Yes, of course there is potential for change, but we must never lose sight of the fact that the thing that sits at the very heart of the movie industry, both in front and behind the camera and irrespective of colour, creed, gender or anything else, is talent.

People even win Oscars for it.

@dougiebrimson

Apologies for repeating myself, but as some people are aware, I am one of a number of people involved in a legal dispute with film producer, Jonathan Sothcott.

I won’t go into details here as it’s now a matter for HMRC and the police who have already interviewed him in connection with our allegations. However, both Top Dog Films Ltd and We Still Kill The Old Way Ltd, have recently been wound up on account of unpaid invoices and as a consequence, the investigator for the Official Receiver has contacted me and requested that anyone remaining unpaid for work on Top Dog, We Still Kill or for that matter, any film made by one of Jonathan Sothcott’s companies, contact him direct as a matter of urgency.

His details are: Andrew Beckett, Official Receivers Office, The Insolvency Service (London), 2nd Floor, Abbey Orchard Street, London, SW1P 2HT .

Tel: 0207 637 6337 email: andrew.beckett@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk

Alternatively, contact the Metropolitan Police at Merton Police station quoting crime reference:  1404781/15

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers, The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

Oscar, Bafta, diversity, author, screenwriter, racism, racist, hollywood

 

10 things all writers should know before signing a contract.

author, writing, screenwriter, screenwriting, amazon, ebooks, epublishing, publishing For some reason I’ve never been able to fathom, I receive a lot of mails asking me for advice about contracts, both publishing and screen.

Now to be clear, whilst I have done a lot of deals during my agent free days, I am certainly no expert in this field and should not be considered as such. In fact, what knowledge I have accrued is generally a result of my own mistakes and trust me, I have made some corkers over the years. However, as someone who’s always happy to help if I can (and as long as you don’t hold me accountable in any way should you choose to follow my advice and it all goes wrong) here are my top 10 tips. Take ’em or leave ’em.

1.  Arguing with editors or producers over terms can cause some serious rifts in a working relationship which is obviously best avoided. Therefore, if you have an agent you should leave everything, and I mean everything, to them.

It stands to reason that their job is to get you a great deal because whilst they might be fabulous people who you adore with a passion, the stark reality is that the more you earn, the more they earn. So if they are happy with the deal they put in front of you, you certainly should be.

2.  If you don’t have an agent, then you are in a weakened position because the people you are negotiating with will inevitably assume that you are either naive and/or desperate which gives them the upper hand. Therefore, you should write the following three words down and stick them somewhere which places them in your eye line at all times: TRUST NO ONE.

Believe me, no matter what anyone else might tell you, when it comes to deals there is only one person who has your interests at heart and if you don’t have an agent, that person is you.

Remember, it’s not personal, it’s business. The film BUSINESS, the publishing BUSINESS. As such, everyone you negotiate with might well come across as your best mate but the truth is that they are desperate to give you as little as possible or better still, strike a deal which means they don’t actually have to give you anything at all. This is because the less they give you, the more they keep for themselves or their employer. So read everything as many times as you have to and question anything you are unsure of. When it comes to contracts, there is no such thing as a stupid question, there are however, plenty of stupid writers who didn’t ask the questions they should have.

3.  It’s human nature to avoid asking for what we think we are worth and since most negotiators know this, their first words will be ‘so what do you want?’ thus putting you on the back foot from the off. Therefore to avoid this, it is vital that before a deal is even discussed, you take the time to work out what you have and how much will get it from you.

Remember, everything has a value be it your finished manuscript, your experience, your time, your backlist or even ‘From the writer of Green Street’. So be professional, quantify everything and work out both a starting point and a bottom line because pound to a pinch, the person asking you the question you will have.

4.  Publishing royalties should be on a sliding scale. For example, 7.5% for the first 10 thousand sales, 10% for the following 40 thousand and anything over 50 thousand should earn you 12.5%. All publishers will baulk at that but the reality is that most novels won’t get anywhere near sales of 10 thousand anyway so what have they got to lose? 

Should your novel be a success however, you’ll be quids in. As of course, will they.

5.  Unless you are knowingly going into an agreement for a film which is designed to kick start a career or you are willing to work on some kind of profit share, a contract for a screenplay with a production company should always include a fee on signature for one very specific reason; commitment.

If someone is prepared to put their money where their mouth is, it’s fairly obvious that they will be a lot more enthusiastic about taking your script through to the day the camera’s roll than someone who has nothing invested save a couple of lunches (if you’re lucky). Indeed, if someone is asking you to sign something but are not prepared to invest in you, you should be asking them (or yourself) why.

The remainder of the total fee will be staggered anyway so make sure you know what will be due to you and when.

6.  Unless a major star or studio is involved, back end payments are generally worthless so take whatever is offered with a pinch of salt and laugh at any offers of increased back end payments in lieu of a smaller front end fee. This is generally a simple tactic to save money so you should always squeeze every penny you can from the front end.

However, always make sure that a back end payment is included just in case it’s a smash and the creative accountants can’t cover it up.

7.  Watch the clauses! You want invites to premieres, involvement in promotions (at their expense), a cut of any soundtrack profits and if there’s a sequel, you want to be the one to write it. If not, you want a slice of the action including payment for the use of any characters you have created.

If there’s a chance of a novelisation, you want to write it but if you don’t, you want a cut of any profits, etc, etc.

If it’s for a book, you want details of the marketing publicity budget as well as an approximate publication date if at all possible.

Seriously, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

8. If the deal is for a screenplay, always ensure that there is a clause in the contract whereby if the film isn’t made, the rights to your work revert to you (for free) after a reasonable period. That way, if nothing comes of it, you will at least have a script you can try to sell somewhere else.

9.  Always, always, always get everything read by either a lawyer, the Writers Guild or the Society of Authors before you sign it. That’s what they are there for so use them.

If a lawyer comes back with some concerns about a contract, act on their advice and fight your corner. Producers are used to brinkmanship so take them all the way if need be and always be prepared to walk away if need be.

You might well come under pressure to avoid this step and just sign on trust or good faith and this will come in many forms from threats that the financiers are about to pull out if you don’t sign to female directors sobbing on the phone in the middle of the night. You should treat all such tactics as bullshit.

If someone doesn’t want a lawyer to see a contract they’ve put in front of you it’s almost certainly because they have something to hide (see point 2 above). Therefore, resist this pressure, stay cool and make them wait until you are ready to sign on the line. It’s your time, your money and your future income.

10.  Believe me, signing a dodgy deal is an awful experience so only sign on the line when you are sure that it’s as good as it can be for all sides, but especially you!

And finally, always trust your gut because if something feels wrong, it usually is.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

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