Tuesday, January 24, 2012


It has to be.

Over the past few weeks I've been swapping my writer's hat with my producer's hat for our web series WINTER. And I've talked to people about it, trying to encourage them to join our merry little band of pre-production heroes. (The AD and composer from MONSTERS are on-board and we have two CGI peeps so far.)

And over that time something's started to nag me.

Back in the 1980s the concept of "desktop publishing" was born. The completely new idea that a person could, with a personal computer, design and print leaflets, brochures, magazines, letterheads and a myriad other printed paper products. Hooray! Democratisation of print processes. No more slaves to the designer.

What happens: Crap designs. Everywhere. Graphic design takes training, to do it well requires talent.

And now the Internet and affordable cameras have meant the democratisation of movie-making. Yayyy!

What happens? Crap web series.

Of course there are some good ones, but these are mostly produced by professionals. Because every element of film production takes training and the ability to do it well needs talent.

I'll say here and now that I believe the main problem with web series is the writer-director. Because if they are the same person there's no objective view. "I've written this, I think it's great, I'm going to make it." And they do, and it's not great at all. Maybe it could have been great if it had received proper development.

And then there's WINTER. I wrote it. I'm not directing it but I am producing it. This is very different because producers have to be able to sell. Sell themselves, sell the project. To be able to do that you really have to believe in it.

So, do I believe in WINTER? Yes. Do I think it's ready to really sell to someone. Well, no. You see, right now it's good. Script-wise it's certainly better than 99% of the web series floating about.

But it's not brilliant - not yet. It's nearly brilliant. It needs that extra fillip to push it into brilliant.

It might seem strange, ego-centric or whatever, that I should describe something I wrote as nearly brilliant. But it's a matter of viewpoint. Right now I'm not wearing the writer's hat, I'm wearing the producer's hat. And the producer says "This is pretty damn good - now let's make it brilliant."

Because it has to be.

What's on the turntable? Nowt.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A word from our sponsor.

Over on the Voidships channel the latest blog about WINTER.

(I've been studying about the producer-ing business - look, ma, I'm a hyphenate.)

What's on the turntable? "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Any portfolio in a storm

What a title! I'm so funny! I bet you laughed 'til you stopped.

Why do experienced writers always enjoin (today's special word) you to have a portfolio of scripts?

So that when you read about some producer saying I'm looking for a script that's blah blah and blah, you can say "I have a blah blah blah script". Because a blah blah bleargh script will not be good enough.

Happened to me this morning "lo-budget short with SF or fantasy elements". Unicorn script in email within seconds.

High Five!

Make sure you have a portfolio.

What's on the turntable? (Nuffink I'm just off to work)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Coming up in 2012

(I am not writing this at midnight I've just scheduled it to appear at that time.)

Two years ago I organised some additional shooting for the Monsters trailer. In my past I have run businesses, organised and run exhibitions, been an organiser of massive events. Talking to people and in front of large groups doesn't scare me.

Which is why I finally decided to embrace something that has been creeping up on me. I've known it was there but pretended it wasn't.

The Producer's Hat - though I suspect wearing a hat is probably more useful than embracing it.

This year we will make Winter or at least film the actors (it will be CGI sets a la Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow). But for that to happen we have to drive it forward and unless we pick up the Producer's hat and get it worn, that won't happen. As I have more time than Chris the Director - and once the writing stage is complete I effectively have nothing to do (sort of) - it may as well be me.

Truth is, I enjoy it. I pretend not to but when, for example, we lost the cameraman a day or so before shooting the additional footage for Monsters - I managed to organise a replacement within 24 hours. It was exciting, scary and fun.

So that's the big target for the coming year: Shoot Winter. And it's a biggee. I have been gathering every bit of information (including buying a seminar on DVD from an actual producer on the subject of being one) books and so forth. It's no good going into this blind. And then adjusting everything I'm learning to fit the crowd-sourcing paradigm. It's a fun game.

Lesser goals for the year:
  1. Script in for Red Planet;
  2. Re-work two feature scripts so they stop saying I am merely competent;
  3. Build industry contacts;
  4. Get web sites running and generating income so I'm less reliant on the day job;
Overall policy for the year: Get busy!

What's on the turntable? "Amarok" by Mike Oldfield