Tag Archives: screenplay

Screenwriting: Is age discrimination an actual thing?

author, writing, screenwriting, ebook, indie filmIn my last blog (Why the film world doesn’t owe you a living) I made the point that as a 56 year old male, the chances of you ‘breaking through’ are almost certainly hindered by the fact that you are usually old enough to be the father of the person holding your future in their hands.

The reaction to this was, as expected, mixed. Some people claimed it was shameful of me to compare age to race or even sex as a barrier with others thanking me for saying something that they’d been thinking for for years.

Now in response to the former, I have no idea what it’s like to be anything other than a white male and given that I’m currently 56 and a writer, I think I’m fairly well placed to write about the impact being a 56 year old white male can have on a career as a writer. And since this is my blog… well, I’m sure you know where I’m going with that so please, fill in the blanks yourself.

As for those who agreed with me, which was to be fair, the majority, I’m obviously grateful for all of your comments and if in some small way I’ve inspired you to keep going, then I’m humbled.

Interestingly, the blog generated some extremely positive reaction in the US (someone even linked me with Madonna which is a bit random!) and actually led to a few interviews on the subject one of which was with the website ‘Screenwriting Staffing‘ which has just gone live.

Have a read and please, let me know what you think.

manchester united, david moyes, liverpool, british film, ryan giggs, old traffordJust a reminder that Top Dog has been nominated in the ‘Best Action’ category at the National Film Awards 2015. This is decided by the public so please, click on the link and vote for us.

Could I also remind you that We Still Kill The Old Way is nominated for numerous awards at the Action Elite Awards Again, this is a public vote so please, click on the link and do it!

 

author, screenwriting, screenplay, green street, elijah wood, fart, farting, gangster, sex, oral, football, soccer, hooligans, author, indie, independent, self publishing, ebook

 

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!

How to bring your novel to life.

readers, film, ebooks, itunes, amazon, blog, publishing, author, writing, top dog, brimson, screenwriting, the crew, green street, elijah wood, leo gregory, charlie hunnam, essex boysOK, I own up. The title to this blog is slightly misleading because if you were expecting a writing lesson, you are going to be disappointed. In fact, to be perfectly honest anyone seeking a writing lesson from me is going to be disappointed because as I’ve written many times, I don’t actually know how I’m getting away with it so I am hardly qualified to advise anyone else!

No, the title to this blog refers to them actually taking on a three dimensional form in the actor sense. Because after what seems many years of what feels like post-Green Street herculean effort, it appears that one of my projects is finally making the leap from ‘almost there’ to ‘off and running’ with the announcement that Universal Pictures UK have signed as the distributors of my adaptation of Top Dog. Full details of that can be found here.

So, how did this happen? Well the truth is, like many of the events which form what can laughingly be called ‘my career’ it was down to moaning. And to a lesser extent, Twitter.

I won’t ramble on too much, but the short version is this. One day, as I was trawling Twitter in an effort to avoid actually writing, the name Leo Gregory popped up. Now Leo, as many of you will know, is the actor who played Bovver in Green Street and gave, quite simply, the stand out performance in the movie. He’s also a top bloke and so I dropped him a note and asked if he fancied taking a look at a project I thought he’d be perfect for.

Luckily, he agreed, loved it and so at the back end of last year, we met and chatted. Inevitably, talk turned to Green Street, the many imitators it spawned and the fact that in both our opinions, no movie thus far has actually failed to pull off the whole ‘hooligan’ ‘lads’ thing convincingly. This moaning led into discussions about my novels The Crew and Top Dog which in turn led to a meeting with the legendary producer that is Jonathan Sothcott  (which is a tale in itself). The rest as they say, is history.

Now, the point of all this is that like all writers, when I set out to create something, be it a book or a screenplay, it gets to a point where it takes on a life of its own. Up to now, I had always believed that there was only so much I could do after that point had been reached but this is clearly not the case at all.

Because as I have recently discovered, the key to success is moaning. And thankfully, it’s something that I’m not only exceedingly good at but which I also enjoy with a passion.

Happy days!

 

The rise and rise of Udinese B (better known as Watford FC)

pozzo. zola, watford. udinese, granada, football, soccer, elton john, chelsea, England, championship, premier league,

I am a Watford fan. That’s not an admission of guilt, it’s a fact. One of which I am especially proud and always have been.

Now as some of you will have noticed, after a slightly shaky start, the Golden Boys have gone on something of a run. Indeed, as I write this we sit in second in the championship after beating Derby 2-1 yesterday albeit with a somewhat dodgy performance.

However, despite our success this season we are, as a club, currently facing something that we have rarely faced before. You see in the past we have always been regarded as ‘the family club’ and as such, have been thought of in many circles as being either neutral or even bland. That is not the case at the moment for everyone seems to hate us.

The reason for this change stems from the takeover of the club by the Pozzo family who also own both Udinese and Granada. For with amazing foresight, when they took over they decided to bolster our squad by sending some of the fringe players from their other teams to Vicarage Road on loan. And by some, I mean quite a few.

This was apparently fine whilst we were losing 5-1 at Derby early on in the season, but when the side began to gel together people began to take notice. When we started winning (and scoring for fun) it began to wind people up. Big time.

Things came to a head when Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway ranted on Sky Sports about our loanee’s prior to our live game a few weeks back and seemingly within hours, various journalists at TalkSport had jumped on the bandwagon. By the middle of the following week, Watford had taken on the mantle of everything that was wrong with the English game and my fellow Hornets, many of whom had jumped to the stout defence of their club, were bordering on scum because they could not, or would not, listen to ‘reason’ (sic).

I won’t go into the hypocrisy of the statements made by Holloway whose own team is full of loanees including one he only sold on the proviso that Palace could borrow him back for the rest of the season, nor the ridiculous statements made on the terminally ill station that is TalkSport, most of which were only made to chase listeners. Nor will I provide a breakdown of the actual Watford team to disprove much of what has been alleged or even talk about the phenomenal youth academy at Vicarage Road which is already churning out a steady stream of quality young players. All of whom have benefited markedly from working with world class players. I won’t do that, because it would amount to my appearing to defend my club, and the reality is that there is nothing to defend.

What I will do however, is make three simple points on this issue;

  1.  Neither Watford as a club nor the Pozzo’s as our owners, have done anything wrong.
  2. Almost every single club in the English game (including Palace and Peterborough) would welcome a ‘Pozzo’ to their club and would not hesitate to do so.
  3. We don’t care. In fact, we are loving it.

And that about sums it up.

football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritance, sex, orgy, oral, vibrator, penguin, monkey, giraffe, racism, green, pennant, royalMy latest novel, Wings of a Sparrow, continues its climb up the fiction charts and continues to attract excellent reviews so could I say a huge thanks to all those who have so far purchased a copy. 

And for those who have asked, yes, it was originally written with Watford and L*t*n in mind but our near neighbours wouldn’t give me permission to use their name in the text and so to avoid any potential legal issues, I had to switch to two more generic clubs.

If you would like a copy, please click on the cover to the left and it’ll take you to Amazon. It is however, also available from all online retailers including iTunes.

Finally, work on the movie adaptation of Top Dog continues apace. Watch this space. 

If you want to write, write! (but here’s why you mustn’t ask me to read it).

writing, author, books, ebook, screenplay, publishing, sport, football, soccer, amazon, ibooks, top dog, the crew, brimson, EnglandIn my last blog I made the point that in my humble opinion, everyone has the ability to write a book or even a screenplay. All they needed was the time and the commitment to put in the effort to make it happen.

This, not surprisingly, generated a lot of emails. The vast majority of which contained a variation of the same question; if I write it, would you read it?

Now this is a perfectly reasonable question and in truth, it is always nice to be asked. However, the answer is and always will be a firm NO! And I say this not because I am lazy, rude or a mixture of both, it’s for a number of very specific reasons.

You see I am, in writing terms, fairly talentless. I never set out to be a writer and certainly never trained in the craft and as a consequence, my skills are fairly limited. So much so in fact that if I am working on a project, I have to be 100% focussed on whatever it is I’m doing.

As a result, with the exception of Classic Bike, I never read anything else whilst I’m writing because either I end up writing in the style of whatever book it is I’m reading or I begin to develop feelings of inadequacy based on the simple truth that whatever I’m reading is probably better than what I’m busy creating.

The other problem of course, is that if I read unpublished work I lay myself open to accusations of plagiarism and this is especially relevant given that many of the manuscripts I’m asked to critique are within my own genre. And the last thing I need is some hairy-arsed Celtic fan* (substitute any club here) battering my door down because he thinks I stole his story.

So please, by all means write that book you’ve always dreamed of writing and if I can help you in any way I can, then I will be happy to do so.

Just don’t ask me to read anything.

football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritanceMy latest novel, Wings of a Sparrow, is continuing to sell well and if the stars align as I hope they might, I could well have news of a movie version in the very near future.

And on the subject of movies, the first draft of the screenplay for Top Dog has been completed and has attracted some wonderful praise from the team so all being well, we’re on our way!

Finally, for some reason I cannot fathom but about which I am delighted, Billy’s Log has suddenly become extremely popular again. So much so in fact that I’m becoming even more excited about writing the sequel which I will be later this year.

If you’ve not read them and would like to, links to all the on-line book-stores can be found by clicking here.