Tag Archives: hollywood

How movies happen. Part One.

film, screenwriting, script, CannesFirst off, I must apologise for the title of this blog.

The truth is, as a simple writer I am but a tiny cog in the movie making machine and if I did know how they happened, I would have bottled it, patented it, franchised the shit out of it and be long gone by now.

What I do know however, is how mine happen although to be fair, my experience is hardly standard. After all, my first feature came about as a result of a conversation on a dodgy internet forum and my next one (that will  be #4) is the product of a simple one line pitch thrown in at the end of a meeting about another film. A film which remains as yet, unmade.

This proves to me, and should do to you, that there is no actual ‘way’ for a movie to happen but there are instead, a myriad of ‘ways’. And for the average writer, most of those will be entirely out of your control and more often than not dependent on huge amounts of luck. Sad, but undoubtedly true. 

That said, there are plenty of ways to heighten your chances of escaping the anonymity of the slush pile although in truth, none will ever guarantee success.

For a start, turning in a script which is both properly formatted and free of either spelling or grammatical errors should be a given (and if you don’t do that anyway, then you don’t deserve to have your script read let alone produced) whilst having a decent title certainly helps. Attaching a star is also a great way to gain attention but all of this should be the territory of your agent or manager if you have one. On which note, if you don’t, then get one. They are effectively filters who keep crap away from script readers and so a pile of paper coming from an agent is going to have far more of a chance of being looked at and taken seriously than one that doesn’t.

If you’re not adverse to networking (and I am, I hate it) then get out there and sell yourself as often and as hard as you can. In the film industry, people buy people as much as they buy what they can actually do. If you can’t or won’t do that and aren’t getting anywhere via any other means, then entering and hopefully winning one of the numerous screenwriting competitions will at least get your work in front of the right people.

And that’s what all of the above is designed to do; get your work in the hands of someone who will hopefully read your script. That’s when it’s all turns back around and you really do influence what happens next.

Because aside from your screenplay looking professional, the single most important thing to do with a script is the one thing you have the most control over. It’s the story. Because whilst a great story will sell a crap script, a crap story won’t sell a great script.

So nail your story from day one and if you do the work and get it right, it’ll happen. 

On which note, if all goes to plan, details of my next movie will be announced at the Cannes Film Festival which begins a week today.

For reasons which will become obvious in the fullness of time, details of this project are being kept a closely guarded secret for the time being but rest assured, I will pass them on as soon as I’m allowed.

What I can tell you is that it’s going to be a cracker and is certain to shock a few people. More than a few hopefully.

And that’s all you’re getting for now.

@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

beer, lads, women, men, relationships, sex, love, romance, author, screenwriting, ebooks, self publishing, indie film, football, twitter, trolls, trolling, facebook, social media

 

 


Dear Doug, I’ve written this amazing script….

brimson, screenwriting, writer, script, authorAs someone who has pulled it off more than once, I’m often asked how to go about selling a script.

Whilst an obvious question, it is actually the wrong question. For the truth is that anyone can sell a script just as anyone can buy one. So what people should be asking is what are the chances of selling a script into the industry. Be it to a producer, a studio or even to an agent.

The answer, for a first time writer is slim, very slim. In fact the odds are stacked firmly against you. Not because  the film industry is some kind of closed shop -although in many respects it is exactly that- but because of simple mathematics.

You may well have written an awesome script, maybe even a potential Oscar winner, but the second you send it out into the world you’re entering a competition for attention and that competition is fierce. Not merely in terms of quality, but because of pure numbers.

The Writers Guild of America register anywhere between 30 and 50 thousand scripts every year. A number that can probably be doubled if you factor in screenplays written by writers who don’t register their work but still punt it out. That’s EVERY year, and the average screenplay floats around for at least 5 years, usually longer. So even using conservative figures, that’s 250,000 spec scripts floating around waiting to be picked up at any one time.

Since the vast majority of movies which actually get made are written by writers with some kind of track record, as a first time writer the chances of anyone even reading your script let alone buying it are reduced even further. Indeed it is estimated that even in a good year, only 50 spec scripts are actually sold into the business.

In real terms, that’s 1 per 5000 or 5000 to one. Or, to put it in more realistic terms, you’re twice as likely to die by falling in the shower as you are of someone buying your script.

Simple as that.

(It’s also important to remember that selling a script, whilst a great achievement in itself, does not guarantee that it will ever get anywhere near actually being filmed. And before anyone asks, it’s also worth noting that many spec scripts are sold for nominal fees, sometimes as low as £1!)

@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

self-publishing, author, writing, amazon, kindle, independent film, ebooks, screenwriting, writing, writingtips, amwriting, screenwriter, green street, 

 

Love film? Then this is the most important post you’ll read this year

Read this. Just read it.

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 09.48.28

Now, the next time you’re thinking about buying or downloading a moody copy of an independent film, remember this post. Then think about everyone who worked on that film (often for free, because the budget was so tight) or the people who sweated blood to raise the money to make it or who went begging and called in favours to put a crew together or any one of the thousand and one things that were involved in getting that DVD into your hands. 

Then think about what you are doing. Because you are stealing. Not from Hollywood, or some anonymous producer, but from guys like Ricci who are out there busting their balls trying to make movies. 

But just as importantly, you are involving yourself in murder because have no doubts, piracy is killing the industry. And in ten years time, when there are no independent films being made, you’ll be the one to blame. 

So don’t fucking do it.

@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.

 

The greatest films of all time. According to me.

film, screenwriting,brimson,UP,hollywoodThe other day, whilst sitting in my office trying to find legitimate ways of avoiding work as opposed to just avoiding it in the ‘can’t be arsed’ sense, I tweeted that in my opinion, Toy Story 2 is as close to the perfect movie as it is possible to get.

Inevitably, this generated a great deal of discussion but in spite numerous suggestions to the contrary, the only one that came anywhere  near changing my opinion was the idea that Monsters Inc. might actually be better.

Hopefully, I don’t need to explain why these two films hold such elevated positions in my thinking although I should make it clear that whilst I am a big kid in most senses, my choice was made purely on the basis that I’ve written a bit and watch a lot of films as opposed to anything else.

Of course ‘best’ is very different from ‘favourite’ and whilst Toy Story 2 (and Monsters Inc. for that matter) are certainly in my top 20 films, they are both in the lower half of my personal chart. 

They may be great films and be technically perfect in pretty much every sense from storyline to score but they are usurped by films which have something else. That special something which elevates a film from great to favourite.

With that in mind, and since a number of people have asked me about it this week, I thought it might be useful to list my top ten movies. I should explain however, that this is very much MY list. Most people will look at it and shake their heads with wonder at why X or Y isn’t included or wonder how I could possibly have two black and white films as my top 2. Especially as both of those are so different from each other.

Yet that in essence, is the beauty of film.  It might well be that not a single film on this list would make your top 10, there might even be one or two that you’ve never heard of. Yet every one of them has somehow burrowed its way into my psyche to the extent that if it comes on TV, everything will stop whilst I watch it or if I’m bored, I’ll take it down from my DVD shelf and bang it on. And I won’t get bored at a single point.  And with that in mind, here we go!

Vive la différence!

1. The Cruel Sea (1953)
2. School For Scoundrels (1960)
3. The Shawshank Redemption
4. The Bourne Trilogy (forget the fourth one)
5. Singing In The Rain
6. Fight Club
7. A Few Good Men
8. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
9. Psycho
10. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

There you go. Over to you….

@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.

Why the film world doesn’t owe you a living.

writing, screenwriting, script, author, greenstreet, independent, sex, dolphin, It is, as many people who work in film and TV will be acutely aware, award season. Or to put it another way, the time of the year when backs are slapped (or stabbed in), careers forged (or destroyed) and fortunes made (or lost. Usually in a sea of creative accounting).

The BAFTA’s, Golden Globes and Oscars are the main ones of course, but the business is awash with them and long may it remain so.

There is however, another side to award season. For it’s the time of the year when the hard done by come out from their hovels and give vent to their offence. And by hard done by, I mean those who claim to have it tough.

The two groups currently whining loudest are female directors and black actors and actresses. Both on account of neither group being represented in the best director or best actor/actress categories at the Oscars. This apparently, is an indication of the sexism and racism which runs rife through the entire industry.

What a load of bollocks.

Here’s a newsflash for you. Working in film and TV is tough, really tough. Yes, there is an identikit stereotype who might well have it easier but the bottom line is that breaking into the industry is tough for everybody be they male, female, young, old, white, black, yellow, actor, actress, director or perish the thought, a 56 year old shaven headed writer.

And that leads onto another newsflash; no one makes you do it. You, as a free thinking individual, made the choice to move into the entertainment and creative industry so if it’s not working out for you, dig in, get better and start to create your own opportunities because that’s how you up your chances of things happening for you. That’s how it works, that’s how it’s always worked and to be honest, in an industry where talent and tenacity are kings, that’s how it has to work. If you don’t like that, get out and get out now.

Not just for the sake of your own sanity, but because if you haven’t got the balls to fight that fight or are dependent on either tokenism or a tax-payer funded scheme to get you a job, the industry probably doesn’t really need you anyway.

.

manchester united, david moyes, liverpool, british film, ryan giggs, old traffordSpeaking of awards, could I just remind everyone that Top Dog has been nominated in the Best Action Film category at the National Film Awards and that We Still Kill The Old Way is up for all kinds of awards, including Best Action Film, at The Action Elite Awards.

These awards are voted for by the public (that’s you) so if you’ve seen either movie and enjoyed them, please click on the links and do what needs doing!

I’m also not a little chuffed to tell you that Wings of a Sparrow has been optioned by Trebuchet Film Productions and moves are now underway to raise the finance to make it. All being well, that will happen sooner rather than later!

Finally, if all goes to plan I’ll have another film to announce within a couple of weeks. And it’s a real cracker!

oscar, bafta, emmy, film, independent, screenwriting, author, ebooks, kindle, green street, top dog, writing

So someone wants to option your script…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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