Blogging Next Year

So for the first time I’ve managed to keep my blog going for a year. Was a little gap in the middle of the year when life got in the way but I’ve mostly updated it regularly and feel like I’m improving and expanding with it.

My question to myself is what would I like to do with it in 2017.

Am always looking to improve the quality so would like to spend a little more time on the posts which I believe I can do, and maybe look for a set amount of posts a week along with certain set days that they come out.

Have a lot of ambition for 2017 that isn’t just scriptwriting so think that the blog will end up being more than just a scriptwriting blog and would cover a lot more of my other creative endeavours, but feel it’s already going that way anyway.

Know that it’s best for a blog to really centre around one core thing but that’s just not the way my brain works.

Would like to write more about past writing and filming experiences so will look to do that. Will keep up to date with my script writing and any thoughts I have on the subject along with trying to be as transparent as possible about my script writing career.

Have plans on making plenty of music videos and short films next year so that will become a bigger part of the blog along with a little more about my photography. Alongside this I’m looking to put a lot more work into the film review channel so will write about, and promote, that more which I’m sure will also lead to a couple more bulk review blogs.

The idea of the blog was always to track my creative progress and give a little insight to who I am and that remains the main idea. I want to share anything I learn and experience in the writing and film world while also sharing stuff I love and am passionate about.

Feel like next year has to be a big one for one, although I do feel that every year. Have a few things lined up that could really make that happen and will share as much of that as possible. Recently finished (I hope) a new feature script so will be looking to do something with that later in the year and have another one ready to get out there.

Going to make things happens, one way or another. Feel more confident about my writing and where I’m at with it and have made big steps forward this year behind the camera so now need to do something with that. So have my sights set firmly forward.

So thank you to everyone who’s been reading this year. Have had far more readers than any other year, in fact probably all the previous years and blogs combined don’t come close to this year so that’s been awesome and hopefully will only get better.

Stephen.

(This my final blog of the year most likely, but will be back super early next year)

 

My Top Ten Flicks for 2016

 

If I’m going to be brutally honest, I don’t think it was the best year for films, especially from Hollywood. I still liked a lot, but didn’t love as many as usual and certainly had a fair share of disappointments. I rarely hate anything, and that still rung true this year with Yoga Hosers being the only film to score a 1 from me. But there where a little too many 2’s and 3’s from films I hope to give more too.

But this isn’t about what I didn’t like, this blog is about what I loved. So before I name my top 10 in descending order there’s a few films that didn’t quite make the cut that I’d also like to mention as they where awesome. They are:

In a Valley of Violence, Swiss Army Man, The Shallows, Conjuring 2, Midnight Special, The invitation, Hush, Hail Caesar! and The Big Short (which I’m not sure if its 2015 or 16)

So.

10. The Nice Guys

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Just loved this film. Was so incredibly fun and funny with great performances. The plot was typically all over the place in that Shane Black style and had one of the funniest scene’s of the year for me when Gosling fell off the hotel roof top towards the end. Could watch this film over and over.

9. 10 Cloverfield Lane

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From the second this film was announced I was super excited about it and it didn’t disappoint. Incredible performances, fantastic story and pacing, awesome ending. Just a great film.

8. The Wailing

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This film just blew me away. I can’t believe how darkly funny something so serious can be. This is probably the most powerful film on the list and maybe the most technically sound. It’s definitely not for everyone and I won’t even go into the ending but it’s a fantastic achievement for a director that just only seems capable of making masterpieces.

7. Captain America Civil War

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This is probably the film I was looking forward to most this year along with the underwhelming Rogue One and this one delivered. Big Time. Fair to say I haven’t had any more fun in the cinema this year than I did watching this film. Had everything I wanted and plenty more. More than made up for Age of Ultron.

6. The Hateful Eight

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Speaking of directors that only make masterpieces there was a new Tarantino film this year (although maybe 2015 elsewhere). Loved every single frame of Hateful 8 as once again Quentin made an incredible movie. More tense than his others but also with everything I love about him. Adored the horror sound track as well.

5. Neon Demon

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Nicolas Winding Rein definitely isn’t for everyone so I’m sure this will be absent from a lot of people’s list but once again I thought he made something incredible. Never fails. Just an absolute nightmare mood piece with strong performances, incredible moments and a killer look. No one makes movies like NWR and I love him for that.

4. Hell or High Water

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This was the biggest shock of the year for me. I had high expectations for this film down to how much I loved the cast but never thought I’d like it even more than Hateful 8 or Neon Demon. Just loved it. I hope it features in the Oscar race, it deserves it,  because this movie just doesn’t stop and it’s perfect.

3. At Cafe 6

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This one was a last-minute entry to the list and shot all the way to the near top. Am not sure how people will feel about it generally and I can’t really give the reasons why I think so highly off it without giving spoilers but this movie just hit me hard. I watched it a few weeks back and it’s still front and centre in my mind. Love it.

2. Your Name

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I really wanted to give this movie the number one spot and still could change my mind because it’s the most beautiful movie I’ve seen in a long long time. I have no idea how the director made it so easy and clean to follow with such a complex and beautiful story but he did. Love the look, care so much about the characters and just flat-out adore this incredible film. Forget best animation, I’d give this movie best picture because there isn’t a better film this year except one…

…So the number one spot goes to…

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Train to Busan

Zombie films won’t win best picture but this is more than a zombie film. This film is the definition of perfect. Considering they hadn’t really made a zombie film in Korea before they won’t make better. No one will. Which considering its a genre I love is saying something.

Never before has every character in a film like this been so damn well-developed and meaningful. I cared about everything in this film and the script is about as good as it gets. The action is incredible, the set pieces insanely good, the pace, editing, plotting, performances all just brilliant. To round it all off the kid in the film is beyond great as well, how often does that happen.

I will never have enough good things to say about it.

So that’s my top 10. Feel free to let me know what you think.

Stephen.

Stuck on a Scene

I think I’ve got better over the years at knowing when not to hang around on a scene that’s not working for too long in early drafts.

I plan a lot before I start a script. I’m not someone who takes a blank page and goes with it. I know exactly what I’m going to write. But no amount of notes and index cards can read the same as an actual script so there’s always scenes that just don’t work.

I like my scripts to be tight. For everything to work together and towards the same goal so if this happens I know it can throw the whole script off-balance. This used to mean I’d basically get stuck until I find a solution and would occasionally mean abandoning the script until the right idea hit me.

While this approach didn’t overly cost me time because I’d always be writing and working on something else, it has meant giant gaps between drafts and being stuck on weird page numbers.

What I’ve learnt now is that simply you can always come back to it. Just move on to the next scene and get to the end of the script. Writing is rewriting after all and that applies to scene and structure as much as dialogue and action.

There’s always a solution and sometimes it means having to change other scenes or sequences but that’s part of redrafting anyway. Is better to have the whole thing to work with than part of it otherwise you could have a problem with a yet unwritten scene that directly affects this one.

The script I’m currently working on I’ve tried 3 different ideas for a particular scene. A different one in each draft because every time I’ve reached that point I’ve known the scene didn’t work. Took me a while to work out that actually the scene before needed to change a little and the scene after.

I’ve now gone back to my original idea for that scene that never made the first draft. Funny how these things work. The scene needs tightening as it feels like a first draft scene not a third. But it flows with the rest of the script now and that’s the most important thing.

Gone are trying to make each draft perfect. Just doesn’t work like that for me. That’s why they’re drafts. I’ve found it more Important to just always be moving forward. Everything can be fixed and corrected and made better at different times. Doesn’t need to be all at once. As long as it comes together for the finished product what does it matter.

This realisation has stopped me hopping around scripts so much. Like I said, hasn’t made me write more or less. Just means I’m finishing things one at a time rather than having nothing for a while and then a few things at once which I think will definitely help in the future when I have actual deadlines instead of self-imposed ones.

Great thing about writing. Will always be learning and improving.

Stephen

Music Video’s I Love

So the rest hasn’t exactly gone to plan with me writing every chance I get and working all the hours available at my job job but I’ve still found time to watch some films and plenty of Music Video’s.

The music I’m loving at the moment seems to all come from Asia along with my favourite Music Videos so I thought I’d share some here. Love all these artist and can’t say enough positive things about how incredible the music scene for me is over that way at the moment. Especially Taiwan.

Would love to direct some Music Video’s over there. Here’s hoping that happens.

Enjoy.

 

Stephen

Photography Challenge

So a few times in the past I’ve considered the whole photo a day thing. Even downloaded an app last year but never kept it up. But think it’s time to give it a go. Might wait to the start of next year but seems like a good time in my life to try it.

Find myself using the camera on my iPhone nearly every day. Use Hipstamatic and Snapseed every chance I get. Love my Canon 700d and any opportunity to use that is one taken. Have a Viewbug account that I update regularly and enter photo contests and challenges all the time. So why not?

Certainly my life doesn’t feel exciting enough at the moment for their always to be the opportunity for great pictures but guess that’s part of the challenge. Have to find something other than my costa coffee’s and laptop to take photo’s of, but am sure I will.

Will try and take the photo’s on a range of different camera’s, at different aspect ratio’s. Will try as many of the lens and film options on Hipstamatic as I can along with trying some different editing styles on Affinity. Alongside that want to try a few different techniques as well, but we’ll see how it goes.

Think Instagram is the best place to show the photo’s (unless anyone knows of anywhere more specifically suited) and will load the best ones onto my Viewbug as well.

Have found photography has helped me a lot this year both on a personal level but also when it comes to filming things and making videos. I’ve learnt to fully use my camera and moved away from auto settings a long time ago. Feel like I have control with my camera now and can capture the pictures in my head rather than just getting close. Have a bit more to learn with Affinity but I’m getting there and have several apps that I’m very comfortable with in post as well on my iPad.

So I guess the question to myself is do I wait until the start of the new year and make it a bit of a 365 challenge, or do I start from tomorrow as why wait? Not sure the answer yet but like the idea of starting afresh in the new year.

Stephen

Can’t stop the Writing

So I tried to take a month off. Managed to last 2 days. Well 1 and a half. Then on went the MacBook, straight to final draft and the start of the third draft of my latest horror feature. Just can’t help it. Can’t switch off. And to be honest… That’s probably for the best.

I really wanted to switch off. More felt like I needed too after a long and difficult year, but guess I just can’t stop the writing, and nor should I. I’ve still managed to watch quite a few films these last few days in between my job job but my thoughts where never far away from writing.

Had idea’s swirling away in my head, was making notes on my phone for the next draft every spare few minutes I got. Was thinking about the structure of certain scenes on the way to and from work. All the normal stuff I do, while trying not to. Guess at this point it’s just instinctive and part of who I am.

So I’ve started the third draft. Although in truth it’s closer to the tenth. I’ve had this story in my head for years now and have reworked it plenty of times before I even typed the first word in the first draft so very much know what I want from it. Think that’s one of the reasons I can’t leave it alone at the moment. I feel like I can really crack on with this one and get it finished in relatively good time and ready to get it out there early to mid next year.

Have a lot of other ideas that I’m eager to move forward with but obviously away that I can’t rush a script. So instead of rushing it, it makes more sense to me to just carry on writing it when things are going well. Put in the time if I feel the quality is there, which at the moment I do. Having gone through  lean patch a few months ago it seems a waste not to attack my scripts when I’m feeling good about my writing. Kinda one of them situation when you have to cash in when things are going well because the last thing i want to do is take time off when I’m feeling good about my writing only to come back to it and find the moment has passed.

I’d still like to take it easier in December, I do need that rest, but think it will be more in the sense of not putting pressure on myself. Just consider that anything I do achieve this month is a bonus rather than any self-imposed deadlines that I normally live by. Still aiming to watch those 100 films despite not watching any today. On 12 so far as started a day early and watched loads on my day off. Finally caught Cool Hand Luke, a film I’m embarrassed to say that I hadn’t seen all of before, so least there’s that.

As always, just need to get the balance right.

Stephen.

 

Have 2 new reviews up on the channel this week I Saw the Movie