Category Archives: independent film

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!

Screenwriting: Why concept is king.

writer, screenwriting, author, greenstreet, top dog, indie film, british filmI was recently told by my agent that a very well-respected scriptwriter had just read one of my recent efforts and had told him that it was the best script he’s read this year.

Now as someone who rarely receives praise for anything other than my tea making skills (which are, to be fair, legendary. Then again, I usually practice them when I’m supposed to be writing) my initial reaction was ‘holy f**k!’. This was closely followed by the obvious question, ‘so what happens next?’

Thankfully, that question was answered fairly quickly and if all goes to plan, exciting times lay ahead. However, as I reflected on things over the next few days, I began to wonder how I’d managed to create a script which had received such glowing praise from someone who certainly knows their way around a screenplay. For as I’ve written before, I don’t really consider myself to be a screenwriter at all.

OK, I’ve had some success in that area but I’m not one of those writers who will happily polish a spec script to within an inch of it’s life before they even show it to someone else. No, I’m more of a concept writer because in most instances, I’m more than happy to throw together a decent first draft and show that around to see if it gains any interest. And that interest is generally dependent on the concept because in my experience, scripts don’t sell scripts, concepts sell scripts.

After all, it surely stands to reason that not even a brilliantly written and constructed script will sell if the basic concept is flawed. By the same token, a brilliant concept will sell even an average script. Therefore my job, as I see it, is to develop an idea to the point where a producer will get excited enough about it to start talking money. After that, the whole thing becomes a collaborative process involving producers, directors and even actors with my role being simply to work with them to develop the concept to the point where the camera starts rolling.

As if to prove my point, about 18 months ago I received this email:

…had a concept pitch from a distributor you may or may not want a crack at pitching a treatment for…

A group of old-school, Krays/Richardsons era retired gangsters (Alan Ford, PH Moriarty, Berkoff etc) are all living off past glories in East London, thinking there’s no school like the old school. One of them is savagely murdered by a group of hoodies (they probably film it etc) and they go back to their old ways to exact revenge and clean up the streets. Think Harry Brown on crack with a smidgeon of the Wild Geese. And of course, nobody thinks its them because they’re OLD

Whadya think?

I thought it was brilliant and with the help of my good mate Gary Lawrence, we developed a half decent draft and then worked with the director to develop the shooting script of what became We Still Kill The Old Way. You see, it’s all about the concept.

And in case you were wondering, yes, the concept for the script which received that wonderful and confidence boosting praise is indeed, quite brilliant. But that’s all I can tell you about it for now.

Watch this space.

indie, self publishing, soccer, money, eastenders, danny dyer, football, soccer, brimson, top dog, green streetI am pleased to announce that Top Dog has been nominated in the ‘Best Action’ category of the National Film Awards to be held in London on 31st March 2015.

Obviously, we need votes so if you have seen and enjoyed the movie, please click on the link, do your bit and then help out even further by spreading the word!

If you haven’t seen it, then still vote! I won’t judge you.

wTop     riting, writer, screenwriting, screenwriter, author, kindle, indie, film, cinema

 

Screenwriting – Why you should take notice of dreams.

script, screenwriting, screenplays, author, writing, kindle, amazon, ebooks, self publishing, top dog, green street,As a writer, one of the questions I am most frequently asked is how I get my ideas.

This is of course, a perfectly reasonable question and my standard answer is always the same. I don’t get ideas for stories, I get ideas for endings. For me, as anyone who has read The Crew or Top Dog will know, it’s all about the last few pages or the last ten minutes and everything else is about getting the reader or viewer to that point.

Recently however, I found myself the recipient of an idea. It came courtesy of my subconscious and was delivered in the form of a dream. Yes, that’s right. I woke up with a fully formed three-act outline in my head.

Now this would be great if I’d gone to bed thinking about the relevant subject matter or had eaten cheese on toast before retiring but this came entirely out of left field. It’s not even in my usual genre, or anywhere close to it. But so vivid was it that I wrote it down and then mailed it to my agent for comment.

His response was almost immediate and the upshot is that I had this dream four weeks ago today and this afternoon, mailed him a first draft of the script. All being well, this will be in front of an eager studio boss ahead of our meeting next week.

Watch this space.

screenplay, independent, film, writer, gangster, murder, As I mentioned the other day, We Still Kill The Old Way is released on December 26th.

This will be my second movie of 2014 which is not to be sniffed at although if all goes to plan, that number will be bettered in 2015. Anyway, if you fancy it -and why wouldn’t you?- you can click here to pre-order.

Finally, the vast majority of my titles are now available in ebook format with the majority either free or just 99p to download. The full listing can be found here.

 

screenwriting, writing, author, indie film, self publishing, green street, top dog, 

 

My name is Dougie Brimson and I’m a Pantser!

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

In essence, pantsing 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, actually written) 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!

It may or may not have escaped your attention that I’ve failed to release a single book this year. Given that I’d planned to publish two including the sequel to Billy’s Log, this is incredibly disappointing.

On the plus side, I have written four very strong screenplays and one of those is within a hairs breath of being green lit (indeed, we may even get the nod this very week) and am two thirds through a script which has taken me into a whole new genre. I’ve also been involved with another project which, if it comes off, will be quite amazing to develop and with any luck, we’ll have a clear path set up by the end of the month.

More news on these will be forthcoming as soon as I’m allowed to make it public but suffice to say, it’s quite an exciting time.

screenplay, independent, film, writer, gangster, murder, One of my other scripts was of course, We Still Kill The Old Way which is released on December 26th. The reviews thus far have been amazing and everyone has high hopes for it. Indeed, I hear a sequel is already in the offing so do yourself a favour and click here to pre-order.

Finally, the vast majority of my titles are now available in ebook format with the majority either free or just 99p to download. The full listing can be found here.

I can also announce that the ebook version of Rebellion: The Growth of football’s protest movement, is on the way!

Mark Duggan – Not A Victim, Just Simple Vermin.

Duggan = Scum

I have heard a lot of things over the last few days which have left me not simply angry, but seething. These range from some young ‘woman’ claiming she was rioting because she was taking her taxes back (sic) to Ken Livingstone trying (and failing) to gain political points of the back of what’s been going on.

However, there was one thing that surpassed all of these. It was a simple sentence which somehow became lost in the madness that engulfed the country yesterday and was uttered by the brother of Michael Duggan. The individual whose shooting was the catalyst for all this kicking off. In the wake of the initial Independent Police Complaints Commission confirming that Duggan did not fire a shot at police officers before they killed him, his brother released a statement which included the following: ‘this is an outrage, someone must be held to account’.

Let’s get one thing crystal clear here. The fact he did not shoot at police is irrelevant because the only thing that counts is that he was knowingly in possession of a loaded weapon which is illegal in the UK. Now this isn’t an offence of the ‘I’m sorry I didn’t know how fast I was going officer’ this is one of the most serious offences anyone can commit under UK law because guns are designed for one purpose and one purpose only, to kill. And if you knowingly carry a gun then there can only be one reason, that at some point you expect to use it. A simple truth which does kind of taint any suggestion that you are a ‘decent’ man or a pillar of the community because the simple act of picking up a weapon and putting it in your pocket actually makes you a major and dangerous armed criminal.

Inevitably, there will be utterances that he was carrying it for ‘self-defence’ but that isn’t a reason, it’s actually a further admission of guilt. Because it provides further evidence of the type of life he was leading and the type of circles he moved in. Circles in which guns get shot and people die. And let’s not forget, it is Duggan and his gun carrying ilk who continue to hold large areas of London and beyond ransom on account of their mere presence on our streets. Indeed, if this sorry episode has one potential silver lining it’s that the good law-abiding people of this country might finally show the resolve to stand up and reclaim the streets from these vermin.

Yet there is another equally important issue here. This wasn’t a teenager, it was a 29-year-old man who had already served a period on remand and so the family must have known what he was like and exactly what kind of life he was living.

Yes, I’m sure he might well have been a decent bloke who loved his wife, kids and mum but he was also a criminal. A gun carrying criminal. So should we feel sorry for him, no. Should we feel sorry for the family, possibly.

But I’d have a lot more sympathy for them if they came out and admitted what every like-minded individual thinks; that the one and only person responsible for the death of Mark Duggan is Mark Duggan.

.

Since this blog was first posted two and a half years ago it has caused all kinds of reaction, some negative but the bulk supportive. That has continued in the wake of the verdict yesterday which ruled the killing lawful.  The death of an individual in any instance is regrettable but the fact remains, had Duggan not knowingly and seemingly willingly allied himself to a culture of crime and violence, he would be alive today and his children would still have their father.

That is a fact and it is one those screaming for ‘justice’ would do well to remember before they start trying to apportion blame.

Dougie Brimson is an author and screenwriter who served 18 years as a member of the RAF. Details of his life and work can be found at www.dougiebrimson.com