Category Archives: screenwriting

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 working on 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 my 18th book which will be my first military based thriller. In the meantime, book number 17 has already hit the shelves. The third book on the Billy Evans trilogy, it’s entitled In The Know and is, if I say so myself, a cracker.

You can order it, as with all my books, my clicking on the following links. Amazon  iTunes

@dougiebrimson

The business of writing: finding motivation.

write,writing,screenwriting,screenplay,author,hooligan,football,soccer,independent film,When asked about writing, author Neil Gaiman once famously said, “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

He is of course, spot on, well, almost. You see for me the hardest part of the writing process isn’t the actual creativity element, it’s the physical one. Or to be more specific, the act of dragging myself to my desk and actually sitting down at my computer. This is a torture I have to endure on an almost daily basis.

I blame my father, and the military. You see despite his undoubted talent as both a musician and comedian, my dad was staggeringly lazy and this is one of the many bad habits I’ve inherited from him. It began whilst I was in the Royal Air Force when much of my time was spent employing the ‘minimum input, maximum output’ approach to service life and to be fair, I was bloody good at it. Just ask anyone who worked with me.

Inevitably, this lifestyle has also infected my career as a writer although even I know that it’s a luxury I can ill afford. If I don’t write it, it doesn’t get written and if it doesn’t get written, I don’t eat or get to go to *football/stock car racing/cinema/restaurants *delete as appropriate.

As a consequence, most mornings I have to force myself away from the sofa and the delights of whatever movie I recorded the day before and go through what is an increasingly defined ritual to begin my working day. I won’t go into it all as it’s starting to get a bit OCD like, but it is safe to say that both coffee and Solar Radio feature as prominent kick starters in my motivational process!

Occasionally however, I don’t have any trouble getting to my desk. Indeed, sometimes I can’t actually wait to get started and when I hit that point, I know I’m onto something solid. Thankfully, I am there right now. Not once, but twice.

The first project I’m excited about is my next book which will be my first military thriller. It’s actually based on a script I wrote a couple of years ago which is currently in the process of being financed and is a truly cracking story set around the RAF. And that’s all you’re getting for now.

The second project I’m working on is based on another screenplay I wrote a few years ago, this one for a potential TV series. Sadly, despite some initial interest it fell by the wayside as so many projects do. However, one of the things I loved about the script was the central character and so did a producer friend in the US. So when she was recently asked by a Hollywood studio to pitch a new movie project within the same genre as my comatose show, she immediately thought of my creation. One thing led to another and we’re now at the point where the green light is beginning to flicker.

It’s all very exciting and hopefully, I’ll be able to pass on the details soon.

Speaking of likeable characters, you may or may not have noticed that my favourite anti- hero has returned with a vengeance (literally) in the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy.

To say In The Know has been well received would be an understatement with 5* reviews across the board both on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s also sold out the first print run which is fantastic (new stock is on the way as I type) so can I thank everyone who’s read it so far and taken the trouble to post a review.

Oddly, given that it’s a trilogy and all three books have already been published, I’m already being asked when the next one is coming. I actually have a few ideas for Billy including a prequel, but like all things, it will be wholly dependent on how well this one does sales wise. Mind you, a film adaptation would certainly help and that may well be in the mix already.

Watch this space. And please, stay safe everyone.


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


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How to write (real) violence.

Green Street screenwritingI’m not usually one for taking part in online debates about writing, mostly because I’m not that clever and have an adversity to making myself look stupid.

There’s also the risk that people will discover that I’ve been winging it for over 25 years which wouldn’t do my publishers heart rate any good.

However, I recently became involved in a fascinating discussion with a group of writers on the use of gratuitous violence  or, to be more specific, the duty of the writer in the way they portray it.

I won’t go too deeply into the way the debate unfolded other than to say it veered from one extreme to the other and back again more than once. But whilst it was extremely interesting to learn how others perceive their creative responsibilities, little or nothing was said which made me change the way I think about mine. And mine, as I see them, are relatively simple. Indeed, they can be encapsulated in one single sentence. For when it comes to anything fictional, my job is to tell a decent story as honesty and realistically as I can.

This is underpinned by something I have said many times and that is my belief that the most important person in the writing process is the person at the end of the creative chain, the consumer. And when you write the kind of things I do for the kind of people I primarily write them for (lads), then my sole duty is to give them something that they can not only recognise but hopefully, put themselves into the centre of without any difficulty.

In the case of a subject like hooliganism, that means street fighting and anyone who has ever been involved in a row at football knows that it isn’t Queensbury Rules Boxing or Tae Kwon Do, it’s short periods of scruffy, disjointed mayhem. It’s still violence, but it’s real violence as opposed to the stylised fighting we see in too many films and computer games. For some it can be little short of a  terrifying experience, for others it will often border on hilarity.

That’s how I have to write it because that’s how it is. Anything else would be a betrayal and if I did that, I’d lose not only my self-respect but my readers (and viewers).

Quite rightly too.

thriller, screenwriting, film, writingThe next few months will hopefully see a couple of announcements on the movie front but in the meantime, I’m delighted to announce that In The Know, the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy, will be published in paperback and ebook format in May 2020.

I won’t say too much about the actual plot for obvious reasons but I actually think that this will prove to be the best of the three.

I can also announce that amongst other projects, I’ve started work on a new novel, Three Greens. This will be my first book with a military theme and is based on the script I wrote for the forthcoming movie (more news of that soon).

Exciting times!

My 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.

Five reasons why I love writing for older actors.

older actors, acting, film, screenwritingAs my latest comedy script, The Gentle Sex, begins the difficult journey from keyboard to (hopefully) production, I thought it worthwhile to reboot this blog which focusses on an element of the creative process that I am quite passionate about. Age.

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 it mind (and I certainly don’t act it) but it is fair to say that having crossed the 60th threshold, 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 three in Doug’s Guide To Writing is ‘write what you know’ and since I know more about being a male over 60 in 2019 than I do about being a teenage lad in 2019, 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. For example when I  worked on We Still Kill The Old Way it received a great deal of positive press because of the age of the main cast, most of whom were actually older than I was. This leads me nicely into the central reason for this blog because 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 started to think about potential cast and with that in mind, what follows are 5 reasons why these days I tend to favour writing for actors who have actually been around for a while.

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 because when you’re working on something and putting together a dream cast you know that there’s a greater 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 60 (let alone 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 time and time again, the public genuinely want to see these great actors on screen.

Fun – If you don’t think working with legends of the movie 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 film projects in development that feature ensemble casts of actors over 60. And d’you know what? I can’t wait to get them moving primarily because they’re going to be great fun to work on which is kind of why I started doing this in the first place.

The problem of course, is that the production process isn’t down to the writers or the actors, it’s down to those mythical beasts called producers. So what’s really needed are more of those to step up and start taking the odd chance or two.

The talent is there, the ideas are there and as movies such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (1&2), The Book Club, Best Foot Forward and the recently released and quite brilliant The Good Liar have proved, the audience is certainly there, so how about it?

You could certainly do worse than drop me a line and ask to have a look at The Gentle Sex (a fabulous comedy co-written with Gary Lawrence who also worked with me on We Still Kill The Old Way) or even ask to meet up for a chat.  You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.

@dougiebrimson

romance, life, love, beer, sexAs some of you may be aware, I’ve been beavering away on a couple of sequels for a while now and can finally announce that In The Know, the third book in the Billy Evans gangland trilogy is now complete and will be published by Caffeine Nights in May 2020. I’ve also been working on my first military based thriller and developing an environmental project for Netflix which is proving challenging but great fun.

Alongside that, I still occasionally dive back into the sequel to Billy’s Log and have published a few extracts of ‘Billy’s Blog’ online to hopefully whet the appetite.

Please click here to visit and if you enjoy it, feel free to spread the word!

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

Gender, gender neutral, beer, lads, women, men, relationships, sex, love, romance, author, screenwriting, ebooks, self publishing, indie film, football

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The reality of Hollywood accounting laid bare (and why back end payments are generally worthless).

Green Street screenwriting
This article was first published on Linkedin two years ago. Sadly, it’s as relevant now as it ever was which if nothing else, is a pretty good indication of how the film business works.
 A few weeks ago I was involved in a conversation with a number of screenwriters about the issue of back end payments and how worthless they are. A fact both experience and my lovely agent have proven beyond doubt many times.

Ironically, as if to underline this point in thick black ink, last night I received the latest participation statement from the producers of Green Street. A movie I wrote back in 2004 and which starred Elijah Wood and Charlie Hunnam.

For those who don’t know, this movie was quite popular and indeed, still plays regularly on TV here in the UK where it is something of a cult hit (I hesitate to use the word classic, but others do). Given that it spawned two sequels (neither of which I was involved with), it’s also fairly reasonable to expect that it was pretty successful financially and that all those involved made a packet.

Reasonable, but wrong. Very wrong.

You see despite the fact that Green Street was made on a fairly small budget of around $6 million, it is still apparently some $1.8 million from breaking even let alone going into the black. But rather than expand on that, here’s the proof.

 

To put it in layman’s terms, all those people who worked on Green Street who took points in lieu of wages have lost out because not one of them has seen a penny of the profits generated and nor will they. Ever.

Sadly, this kind of thing is not unusual. In fact some would actually argue that it’s the norm and that what has become known as creative accounting is employed on pretty much every film made purely to maximise profits for the producers and avoid having to pay out to the ‘little people’.

Whatever the reality, if ever anyone working in the film industry needed conclusive proof that the only money they can count on from working on a movie is what they can get upfront in cold hard cash, this should hopefully provide it.

If it doesn’t, then you only have yourself to blame.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpool I am delighted to announce that the sequel to Top Dog is with the publishers and all being well, I’ll be able to pass on details of publication dates, etc, fairly soon.

I’m also happy to announce that I’ve started work on another novel, this one the first I’ve ever written with a military theme.

In the meantime, you can buy all my existing books, including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog from either Amazon or iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

 
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Why writing your endings first can solve your plotting problems.

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

In essence, pantsting 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, will almost certainly have developed and written to the point where it will remain pretty much untouched right through to the end of the process) 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!

But, as mentioned previously, no matter how many rewrites I go through, the ending will always remain pretty damn close to the one that originally sparked off the idea. For as anyone with any sense knows, when it comes to thrillers, endings are always the most important part of all!

My next book will be the third book in The Crew/Top Dog trilogy and  should hit the shelves later this year.

It’s a hairs breath from being finished and is a cracker, even if I say so myself (which I don’t, because a few people have already read through the opening chapters and they’re saying that as well!)

 

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolIn the meantime, my 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.

@dougiebrimson

Writing and the single, brutal truth about rejection.

writing,rejection,autor,screenwriterLet’s get this out in the open from the start. However it happens, rejection sucks. It sucks big.

Indeed, as I wrote in Billy’s Log some years ago, it is the best contraception known to man. Trust me, a brutal knock back will drive a shy male back to his XBox faster than you can say ‘friend zone’.

Unfortunately, if you want to write, be it for publication or screen, you had best get used to rejection because like it or not, it will be coming your way.

The only comfort you’ll have to draw on is that you’ll be in good company. I’m not just talking about J.K Rowling who was famously rejected by numerous agents and publishers before someone finally noticed the pot of gold under her arm, I’m talking about all of us. For with very few exceptions, every single author, screenwriter and journalist has to deal with the dreaded R word on a regular basis. I know I do. In fact my current hit rate is one script in three actually getting anywhere near being filmed.

To be fair, I am happy to acknowledge that to most writers a 33.3% success rate will actually look half decent but to me, whilst I’m obviously delighted with the one that gets through, I’m just as pissed off about the two that don’t.

You see I’m a lazy screenwriter and by that I mean generally speaking, I will only write a script if I’m being paid. Therefore, if I write one on spec, it means that it’s something I feel passionately about and so if it subsequently gets rejected, it’s personal. Very personal. However, what makes it even tougher to handle is that often, the rebuff will come after I’ve already taken a few steps along the development path and the anticipation of a dream actually coming true has begun to take hold.

To give you an example; a few years ago I wrote a script called Boots on the Ground which examines the thorny issue of PTSD amongst British military veterans. For obvious reasons, this is a subject that has special significance to me and so once we were happy with it, we went out and pushed it as hard as we could.

Eventually, it landed on the desk of the head script reader at a studio who took it to his boss claiming it to be the best script he’d read all year. After reading it for himself, the studio head rang me to give me his word that he would put up most of the money to get it made and then introduced me to a very high-profile British director who was all over it like a rash. We even had BAFTA making some very positive noises about putting money in.

Then, as soon as it began and for reasons which I’ve never quite been able to fully fathom, it all went cold. And now, like Wings of a Sparrow and numerous other scripts I’ve written, it sits languishing on my hard drive until we stumble across the right person to put it in front of next.

Gutted? No, I was devastated, and continue to be so. Not just because it’s possibly the best thing I’ve ever written but because it talks about something that this country HAS to talk about.

But as I say, rejection is a part of the writers job so the question is, how do you get used to it?

The answer is that you don’t. And nor should you because if you want to write for a living, rejection HAS to hurt. And for one very specific reason.

A mate of mine, Brad Burton, is a motivational speaker and one of his ‘braddisms’ is that if you have a plan B, don’t get upset when others don’t believe in your plan A. In other words, if you prepare for rejection, it means that somewhere in the back of your head, you’re expecting it. And if you’re expecting it, how can you possibly put everything you have into your script?

The answer is that you can’t. But what you can do is to take the gut wrenching pain of being knocked back and pour it into your next script or book. Keep doing that and eventually that pain will be replaced by the ecstasy of success. And it will. Because if you want to call yourself a proper writer, you have to have absolute and total belief that it will.

Because if you don’t, if you’re not totally committed to yourself and your work, what the hell are you wasting your time for?

Speaking of being committed, my latest novel, the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy is now being edited before heading off for publication.

If you’ve read either The Crew or Top Dog, you will have some idea of what it’s about so I’m not going to give you any clues. What I will say however, is that in terms of the plot, it is bang up to date the the twist at the end will have your head spinning.

Watch this space!

@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

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So, you want to be a writer.

When I first started out on what is laughingly called my writing career, I imagined that at some point, I would end up sitting somewhere warm doing pretty much sod all whilst my bank account was being drip fed a steady stream of royalty payments.

This money would then be spent fuelling my passions for motorcycles, stock car racing and Adidas Gazelles with the remainder being wasted on expensive holidays and flash restaurants. Sadly, it has not turned out like that.

Instead, like most writers battling against the combined curses of mid-list anonymity and the explosion of electronic publishing, I find myself working long hours developing new projects whilst waiting for decisions from people who are either barely qualified to make them or are simply too terrified to. These days, saying ‘no’ is both easier and safer than saying ‘yes’ or even ‘maybe’.

Given that I am keen to eat once in a while (well, this belly doesn’t maintain itself!) what this means in real terms is that since time is one of only two tools I have for the generation of income (the other being what could jokingly be called ‘talent’) it has become an extremely valuable commodity. One which once consumed, is irreplaceable.

I mention this not in an effort to elicit any kind of sympathy but for a very specific reason. For I recently read an amazing article by a best-selling American writer called Leslie Banks in which she talked about the demands placed on a writer’s time and in particular, the value placed on that time by other people. And what she says is correct.

Abso-fucking-lutely correct.

You see, like most writers I receive a steady stream of unsolicited mails from people asking for either help or advice and in the main I’ve always welcomed these and been happy to help if I can. After all, we all started somewhere right?

Recently however, increasing numbers of these mails have gone beyond simple questions about the basics of writing or publishing into requests to critique whole manuscripts, help find an agent and/or publisher or even come on board to help develop a project from scratch. This would be fine were there ever the offer of any money to carry out this work but this is rarely, if ever the case. Remember that, because I will return to it in a moment.

I’d also ask you to consider another point raised by the fabulous Ms Banks. For like her I rarely read anything else whilst I’m writing because I have learned from experience that if I do, I tend to adopt that authors style in my own work. But equally, whatever I’m reading sinks into my brain and on one occasion, something actually fell out of my subconscious and made it onto a page I’d written. Thankfully, I caught it whilst editing but supposing I hadn’t noticed it and it had made it into print only to be picked up by some eagle eyed reader who went on to point it out to the offended author. Can you imagine?

Indeed, with more and more people paranoid about the theft of ideas, it’s only a matter of time before a writer is dragged into court and accused of ripping off a plot line.

Now, put all this together and you might start to understand why more and more writers are not simply reluctant to respond to requests for help but are becoming increasingly angry about them. Because when that mail drops in my inbox what it’s actually asking is “Dear Mr Brimson, can I take advantage of your 20 odd years worth of experience and a shed load of your time to offer you the opportunity to risk getting sued to shit and back? Oh, and can you do it all for free?”

Not exactly the most attractive proposition and in all honesty, it’s actually quite insulting. After all, would you go to any other experienced professional and ask for their time free of charge? What do you think a lawyer would say to that? Or a plumber? What would you say if I came to you at your place of work and asked for something on a non-existent account? I rest my case.

So the bottom line is this; if you want to be a writer, then write. And if you want to be a published author or a credited screenwriter, then as you write, learn. Learn about the delights of plotting, the fineries of character arcs, the stress of editing, the nightmare of pitching, the complexities of contracts, the (occasional) thrill of PR, the gut-wrenching pain of rejection and the never-ending irritation of waiting.

But if you want to circumnavigate any of that and take advantage of someone else’s experience, then be prepared to put your hand in your pocket. It might cost you in the short-term but it will almost certainly save you an awful lot of both angst and time in the long terms.

And as Leslie Banks says only too well, time is money. My money.

@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, publishing, british film, football, soccer, sport, politics, work, green street, gang, hooligan,

 

 

2018… the year that wasn’t.

writing, author, writer, screenwritingIf you judged this year solely by my commercial writing output, it’s safe to say that it would be viewed as something of a damp squib.

Neither of the promised new books has materialised, no new movies have been produced and there hasn’t even been much news of anything else. Indeed, it has been suggested on more than one occasion that I have retired and spend my days ranting on social media. Thankfully, the reality is very different. I might be a week off my 60th birthday but I’m not finished yet. Far from it.

Indeed, I have actually been quite busy with various projects in 2018 but experience has taught me not to talk too much about anything movie related until there is actually something concrete to announce. Suffice to say that there is quite a lot going on at the moment including work on what will be the biggest budgeted film I’ve ever worked on.

This, in part, explains why I didn’t produce any new books either. It wasn’t always easy finding the time to sit down and actually focus on a manuscript whilst other stuff was going on. However, I am currently beavering away on the sequel to Top Dog and all being well, that will be published in late spring.

I’ve also been working on another project which whilst not directly related to writing, has the potential to make a massive impact in the worlds of both social media and independent film. I can’t say much more than that at the moment as I’m waiting for decisions from various people but the hard work has been done so fingers are firmly crossed.

So that was 2018 and to close it off, I need to thank all the people who have helped me out along the way. I can’t name you all here but special thanks must go to my agent Olav and the ladies at SMA Talent, my co-writers Gary Lawrence and Paul Woolf, producer/director/writer J.K Amalou and most of all, my wife Tina. God only knows how she puts up with me!

Finally, may I wish all of you a happy New Year and all the best for 2019. It’s going to be a blast.

@dougiebrimson

My 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.

A new novel, the third in the Billy Evans trilogy, will arrive in spring 2019. News of a new movie (or maybe two) will hopefully arrive before that.

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 previous 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 to do with the business side of your work, 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 it will take to 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 balk 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?

Similarly, with movie contracts you should throw in a clause which means that if a movie makes over X amount (enter some crazy amount) your percentage increases significantly. Again, the studio will balk but if it’s a huge success, everyone will be a winner and that should certainly include you.

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 they aren’t.

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 in any and all spin-off projects.

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.

I mention that purely because I was once commissioned to write a script for someone and whilst it was a great script, it never got made because of problems with the company. However, since I didn’t have the above clause, the rights continue to be held by the company and despite offers, they have refused to sell them back to me.

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 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 through 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, liverpool Someone mentioned the other day that I have been quiet on the work front of late. After choking on my lunch, I pointed out that whilst I might not have released anything, in the last twelve months I’ve written half of the sequel to Top Dog (the novel, not the movie) as well as four feature scripts and the first episode of a TV drama.

As usual with these things, we are now playing the development game but it looks as though one of the movies has already been green lit (subject to contracts!) and all being well at least one of the others will follow fairly quickly so watch this space!

You can buy all the existing books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog from either Amazon or iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

author, writing, writer, screenwriting, screenwriter, publishing, indiefilm, low-budget, self-publishing, brimson, hooligan,veteran