Tag Archives: screenwriting

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 no writer should ever fear a blank page.

writer, writing, author, screenwriting, film, movie, hollywood, football, soccer
Ever since I’ve been writing, two things have regularly been thrown in my direction.

The first is that at some point all writers experience writers block, the second is that the blank page is a terrifying thing.

I’ve written about writer’s block numerous times before so I won’t go over that again (however, to paraphrase it for any newbies, in essence I believe it’s a myth designed to excuse one of any number of basic failings) but the issue of the blank page is something I’ve rarely discussed. As I sit here facing a new one today, now seems as good a time as any to tackle it because the explanation is relatively simple.

You see loathe was we are to admit it, all writers believe that somewhere deep inside us is the ability to pen a booker prize-winning novel, a ‘Harry Potter’ style literary phenomenon or an Oscar-winning screenplay.

The blank page signifies the opportunity to commence the creation of that particular creative journey and like any opportunity, there are two ways of looking at it. You can either be pessimistic or optimistic. Which one you choose, or rather which one chooses you, is wholly dependent on the type of person you are.

The pessimist will type those first few words already believing that this new project won’t be the big break they have been dreaming of and instead, even as they sit there hammering away, they will fairly quickly be enveloped by that awful sense of hope evaporating.

And as that hope rolls away, it will be replaced by the standard writers fears of exposure, of failure, of making yourself look stupid and possibly worst of all, of being boring. Who on earth would want to risk any of that let alone willingly put themselves through it?

Yes, all of that and more lurks on that single A4 page or blank screen filled with nothing but white. Having written 16 books and numerous screenplays, I can state that with some authority.

Thankfully, having been writing for some considerable time now I tend to be far more optimistic and far from fearing the blank page, I love it! For one very specific reason: it signifies power. Power to create anything I want to create be it non-fiction, fiction, thriller, comedy, male, female, sex, crime, football… anything.

A blank page gives me freedom to develop characters and make them do whatever I want them to do be it good, bad or even evil. I can make them love, hate or even kill them off, horribly if I want. And all of that comes from nothing other than my imagination. How can anyone not find that exciting?

That, in essence, is exactly what I’m facing at the moment. For having just completed work on the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy, today I start work on a new novel.

It’s a thriller I’ve been planning for a while and having read over the numerous notes I’ve made over the last few years, it’s going to be great fun to work on.

Blank page… don’t be frightened of it, love it. It’s everything any writer could ever want.

violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, burlesque

Despite being over 18 years old, The Crew and Top Dog continue to sell well with the former continuing to inhabit the #1 slot on its Amazon chart. Indeed the new book will bring the character of Billy Evans right up to date and if I say so myself (although I don’t because my beta readers have told me) it’s a cracker. I’ll have news of publication dates as soon as my publisher lets me know!

Finally, thanks to everyone who continues to contact me about Wings of a Sparrow which also continues to do well in both paperback and eBook formats. Having recently sold the film rights, I’m seriously hoping that we’ll soon see it make the leap to the big screen.

screenwriter, screenwriting, author, self-publishing, green street, top dog, british film, gangsters, the krays, hooligans, collymore, troll, trolling

 

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

Trolled on Twitter? Sorry, it’s your own fault.

twitter, troll, trolling, writer, green street, top dog, As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I am a huge fan.

To me it’s a great source of both news and amusement as well as being a fantastic way to promote my books and well, what I do. Most importantly for me at least, it’s a great way to interact with both readers and football fans and it’s fair to say that I’ve made some great mates though twitter with I hope, many more to come.

However, I’ve also encountered some proper dicks over the years and received more than my share of abuse from all kinds of trolls. In recent months for example, besides the usual ‘shit writer’ fair I’ve been accused of condoning child abuse, being sexist, homophobic and racist amongst other things. None of which is particularly nice I’m sure you’ll agree but, and this is the crux of this whole matter, I know how to deal with it. And by that I mean me. Not twitter, not my ISP and not the police, but me.

And at the heart of that is one simple statement, ‘it’s not personal, it’s Twitter’.

The day you start screaming blue murder about something mean said about you by some anonymous idiot on a social networking site is the day your life begins to spiral out of control. No, it’s not nice to be accused of being a Nazi and I’m fairly certain that it’s not nice to read that someone wants to rape you or burn you alive but by reacting, you do exactly what the person who wrote it wants you to do. You give them power by taking them seriously.  And power is all they’re after.

This is where people are getting it wrong when they claim Twitter should be clamping down on trolls because Twitter doesn’t have to. You do, as the individual. It’s called taking personal responsibility.

Would you walk down a dark alley in  a dodgy area in the middle of the night? No. Would you leave you front door wide open if you went on holiday? No. You take appropriate action to protect yourself.

So why don’t you apply that same thinking when it comes to social media?

Ignore, delete, block. Those three words should be beaten into the brains of everyone who uses either Twitter or Facebook because those three actions place you totally in control of what appears on your feeds.

And if it’s not on your feed, why do you care? Seriously, why?

Social media isn’t like real life. If someone is bad mouthing you to colleagues at work, there are processes in place to deal with it. If you’re having trouble with neighbours, then you tackle it face to face or if it’s beyond that, involve the authorities.

But social media is simple words. And unlike sticks and stones, they don’t break bones.

Yes, of course there are exceptions just as there are to every rule and yes, there will be instances where Twitter PLC or even the law should and must get involved. However, in the main it’s a personal choice to react, ignore, delete or simply hit the block button which Twitter already provides for you to use in just such cases.

If you don’t understand that and don’t accept that in many ways, Twitter is the greatest manifestation of free speech we have, then rather than scream blue murder about the need for censorship (yes, censorship) why not take total control yourself and employ the ultimate sanction, delete your account.

Because you do actually have that option at your disposal and speaking as a Twitter fan, if you do indeed think that social media is there to serve you and not the other way round, then I’d urge you to do just that.

I for one won’t miss you one bit.

@dougiebrimson

crew, violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, necrophilia,
The Crew. Still #1

I never get bored of saying this, truly, I don’t. A huge thanks to everyone who is keeping The Crew at (or very close to) the #1 spot on the Amazon and iTunes sports charts. We’re now approaching the end of our 8th year at the top of the tree which however you look at it, is quite something.

Top Dog is also sitting pretty as are most of my other titles which proves what I said years ago, that if you give people what they want as opposed to what you hope they might like, they’ll buy it.

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

 

 

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,

 

 

Want to be a writer? It’s money for old rope.

writer, author, brimson, lazy, ebooks, amazon, itunesAs I have previously mentioned, I receive a lot of emails asking for advice about writing. Primarily, these are of the ‘where do I start?’ variety as opposed to the ‘how do I enrich my novel with deep and meaningful subtext?’ sort but that’s fine with me. After all, I’m not exactly DH Lawrence or Dickens and to be fair, most of the time a large portion of my brain is actively tied up with trying to comprehend how I’m able to get away with earning a living as a writer. Although thinking about it, this is possibly why so many people do ask me. ‘If that talentless tosser can do it….’ etc, etc.

So let’s get this clear, writing a novel is easy. You simply sit at a keyboard, tap away at the keys until you have around 75 thousand words and there you go. It’s a novel. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can do that.

Screenplays are even easier. General thinking is that a page equals a minute of action so you’re only looking at about a hundred sheets of A4 which equates to around 20 thousand words. That’s a little over a quarter of the words required for a novel. Absolute piece of piss.

So what are you waiting for?

I am of course being flippant (I know it’s hard to tell sometimes) but trust me, there are people who really do think it’s that simple and in a certain sense it actually is. What they fail to recognise is that the easy bit is followed by the hard bit. Gathering together those 75 thousand words and putting them in some kind of coherent order takes takes time, effort, blood, sweat and tears.

Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those who subscribes to the theory that everyone has a book in them and I would most definitely urge everyone to have a go at writing for all kinds of reasons. As someone who is lucky enough to be able to do it all day every day, I can tell you with hand on heart that it can be hilarious fun, massively therapeutic, hugely exhilarating and even bloody exciting. But it can also be lonely, frustrating, heart breaking and certainly soul destroying.

Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way nor I suspect, would any other writer. Because that’s why we do it.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolAll of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

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

Five reasons why I love writing for older actors.

older actors, acting, film, screenwritingI 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 recently entered my 60th year on this planet, 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 50 in 2018 than I do about being a teenage lad in 2018, 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 am. 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 also think about potential cast and with that in mind, what follows are 5 reasons why these days I tend to favour 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 when you’re working on something and putting together a dream cast because you know that there’s a bigger chance of actually getting them.

Gratitude – The main reason why they’re sitting at home is because the phone rarely rings. And it rarely rings because there are so few decent roles being written for people over 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 entertainment world is fun, you really shouldn’t be writing screenplays.

Inspiration – When an actor you’ve watched for years and who you have nothing but respect for comes up and not only praises your script but thanks you for the opportunity you’ve given them, it’s both humbling and gratifying. But equally, such praise drives you on to create more of the same which is exactly why I currently have two comedy projects in development that will 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), Philomena, The Book Club, Best Foot Forward and others have proved, the audience is certainly there so how about it?

You could even do worse than call my agent and ask him to set up a meeting or even drop me a line. 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. Well the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy is almost done and then I will dive back into the latest exploits of Billy Ellis. On which note, I’ve published a few extracts of ‘Billy’s Blog’ online to 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

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

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.

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How to create believable characters (according to me!)

writing, screenwriting, author, writer

I was asked this morning how I come up with names for my characters and since I haven’t blogged for a while I thought it might be an idea to kill two birds with one stone by writing something about the process and how I go about it.

It is important to stress from the outset however, that this is my creative process. As I’ve written many times before, I have never studied the craft of writing and so have no idea if there is a standard ‘way’ or not. This works for me and that’s all I need worry about.

Character development is actually one of the most fun parts of the writing process for me because it allows me the opportunity to play god. And given that it’s fairly certain that he and I will not be meeting in the afterlife as I’ll almost certainly be heading south, it’s an opportunity I tend to relish for all kinds of reasons. Revenge being just one.

Now, I know that in both Billy Evans (The Crew, Top Dog) and Billy Ellis (Billy’s Log) I have created characters which have and will make return appearances but what we are talking about here are characters which make an appearance in my psyche for the first time. But be that in a novel or a screenplay, the process always starts with the same thing, the story. Be it tightly or loosely plotted, it is vital that you, as the writer, have some idea of the journey you’re going to take your creations on before you start putting them together. Once you have that, then you can start putting flesh on bones. It is however, important to understand that to all intents and purposes, your characters must be real in every sense of the word. They must have histories, personalities, flaws and fears and it is up to you, as the writer, to create those.

For me, the first stage of that process is to give each of them a name, a face and a voice. The name is the easier of the three because all it has to do it fit the individual and the world you want them to inhabit. Can you imagine Billy Evans being called Tarquin Selby-Green? Of course not, it would never work. Billy is short, sharp, blokey and slightly cheeky so it was perfect for the main man in both The Crew and Billy’s Log.

I also wanted the christian names to be short and punchy. Evans was my former agents name and Billy Evans rolls off the tongue. Simple as that. But in the past I’ve found names for my characters simply by scrolling through Facebook and finding something which I think fits.

However, a name can be changed fairly easily, usually with a few clicks of a button, but the face and the voice are far more important because as you spend increasing periods of time with these imaginary people, they will fairly quickly come to haunt your consciousness.

When a character first appears in your head, he or she will inevitably have a certain look and Billy Evans was no exception. From day one he was medium height, stocky, dark haired and had a cheeky face. In essence, like any one of a hundred lads I know. I also knew immediately what I wanted him to sound like and so once I had the plot tied down, I went looking for him.

Oh yes, every character in everything I’ve ever written is based on a real person. In the case of Billy Evans, it was a mate. Now I won’t say who he is (he knows, but he is very different from Leo Gregory which is why I had so many initial problems when I began adapting Top Dog for the screen) but I follow this same model for every character in everything I write. The reason being that if I ever find myself struggling, I can either ring up that person or YouTube them. Trust me, it’s amazing how quickly and easily a quick chat or a short video clip can free up the mind and spark something off.

Of course as work progresses the characters begin to take on lives of their own which is exactly as it should be but as a starting point, basing them on real people certainly works for me and in all honesty, that’s all I care about!

writer, writing, author, screenwriting, film, movie, hollywood, football, soccerIt has recently been commented upon that I have been fairly quite of late. This is not however, because I have been suffering from the mythical writers block not have I retired. Far from it.

In fact over the last year or so I have worked on three movie scripts (two of which have nothing to do with either football or criminals) as well as what could be an extremely controversial TV drama. Having thrown all of these into the commissioning pit over the last few weeks, I am now back working feverishly on the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy which is thankfully, heading toward completion.

More news of all of these as and when!

Exciting times!

@dougiebrimson

,sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fartJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

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