Happenstance led me to the chance discovery that this site had been hacked, quietly sending traffic to link farms in the background. While I think I’ve rooted out all the offending code, it did make me wonder why I still retain this site. I don’t write on it anymore, it doesn’t really have a place in my pantheon of writing destinations, and all the content is outdated.

So, I think I’ll migrate some of the better content (if such a thing can be found) from here to storyfactory.uk/blog/, but aside from that, I think it might be time to shutter this relic and move on. It’s been a ride…

As a creative freelancer in a digital world, you can never do enough. Even if you were mono-focussed on just one commercial activity, and assuming you weren’t cross-pollinating ‘work’ from your non-work life, there’s still all the related, necessary activity. There’s promotion and marketing, which can include web design, blogging, social media work, and networking. There’s advertising, and finance and logistics. Realistically, at best you’re doing about 50% creative work vs everything else. And in lean times, it’s so much more because you’re hustling so much harder of so much less work and money.

But, let’s face it, you’re going to cross-pollinate from your personal life. And chances are you have several irons in the fire at the same time. Either because you love it, or because you need it. Or you’re a masochistic type who just likes to suffer. Possibly some combination of the above.

Currently I’m dealing with a production company on a co-written script they’ve optioned, while working on pre-production of the same in case they drop the ball. I’m hawking around a TV pilot that’s getting some good buzz, while reworking an old feature script and a new short film. I’m making money taking photos of people, and sometimes things, while putting the finishing touches on my first photo book. I’m contributing to a collected work of short stories and blogging commercially. Between all of that, it’s no surprise that business-oriented, never mind personal, social media use has shrivelled to next to nothing, there’s just not time!

However, that’s an error, I need to make time for it, for the little blogs, the Facebook updates, the networking and the frustrating process of keeping my profile high. Putting a pause on all of that has meant I’ve managed to get so much more done, finally gaining traction in all areas. But somehow I need to find more time, and spread myself a little thinner. There’s no point putting out the work if there’s nobody to see it.

I’ve been working freelance as a photographer and writer for about a year and a half now, and while I wouldn’t give it up for the world, it does have its quirks and tribulations. In this series I’ll be exploring some of these tales of minor woe.

First off, days of the week.

There’s a regularity to office or scheduled work that some find frustrating and/or reassuring. You can plan around it, schedule things, secure in the knowledge that, while sometimes inconvenient, there’s a structure to it all. Sure, it means taking a day off work for going to the doctor, and you can’t make weekday daytime events, but you know where you’ll be, what you’ll be doing and know you’ll be paid for your labours. Not so in freelance world.

Events photography generally means you’re working evenings and weekends, when everyone else is free, so say goodbye to your social life. Clients often either suddenly realise they need someone at short notice or, worse, cancel at short notice.

If you feel stir-crazy and need to get out of the house to work somewhere else, you’ll find everywhere’s too busy on weekends, or closed on Mondays if you live in some backwater. Mostly you find these things out last minute. And you only realise that places are going to be either rammed or closed when you get there. Because you’ve totally forgotten what day of the week it is.

With little to structure the day or week, and when your hobbies are your job, and when you’re constantly pushing for new paying work, you end up working all days and all hours, which all blend into one. When you’re not actively working on paying work, you’re working on your portfolio or trying to attract new clients. So you’ll be working from when you wake, and carrying on working until you physically can’t do any more. Every day.  Each day blending into the next, only punctuated by gigs where you have to actually leave the house, when you end up double and triple-checking the calendar because you’re really not sure what day of the week it is. You end up as a bit of a hermit who only interacts with clients potential or actual.

So, if you’re in a regular job, take some solace from the predictability of its structure, embrace the social interaction it affords.

And if, like me, you’re not? Mourn with me, perhaps over a coffee sometime. Just not evenings or weekends. Or Mondays apparently. And I’ll probably cancel at short notice. Sorry.

Some very mild spoilers ahead

There are plenty of things to say about John Wick Chapter 2 as a movie. I could talk about its disjointed pace, the absence of an emotional hook or the very definite Episode 2 (or is that Episode 5?) feel of it. I could talk about how excellent the death of Gianna D’Antonio was, or how I smiled when Lance Reddick’s maître d’hôtel said the Dog had been a good boy. But it struck me suddenly, amidst all the imagery of Hell and travels through the Underworld, that I may have done John Wick a disservice, …read more

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There was some discussion on Twitter the other day, about how a blog differed from a journal; that many blogs were in fact mere journals, filled with the personal thoughts and observations, and that there should be a different nomenclature for them.

You know what though, the differentiation is at best paper-thin. Unless you’re writing a commercial listicle for salary, ad revenue or exposure, a blogpost is no different from a journal entry. At the end of the day, it’s gonzo self-published article, and that’s a good thing.

Gonzo journalism, popularised by Hunter S. Thompson, puts paid to the fallacy that any writing can be purely objective. There will always be an element of subjectivity, to a greater or lesser extent. One might pretend otherwise, claim the writing is devoid of such trappings, but unless it’s the driest recount of facts, that’s nigh-impossible. Gonzo takes that idea to it’s logical opposite: if you can’t remove the writer from the writing, why not embrace that entirely?

Blogposts frequently instinctually blur this divide, as per the original observation, where a factual post is heavily tinged with the personality and prejudices of the writer. And why not? The blog is after all a personal domain. It may not be a safe space, it is public after all, but it is the digital yard of the writer. Those interested can visit, but none are compelled to stay.

So why not embrace this attitude, this gonzo sensibility? Why not accept that facts and guidance are useful, but do we really need another article telling us, for example, which rules of writing we should or should not follow? More interesting is what the topic means to an individual, what their perspective is, how it makes them feel. That’s where the individuality comes in: Everyone’s tastes and perspectives will be like nobody else’s. What’s interesting is when those tastes and perspectives appeal to the reader, making them think or empathise or just enjoy the ride while it’s happening.

So, embrace the gonzo, I say. Don’t try to write a dry recitation in a failed attempt at objectivity. Even if nobody ever partakes of your creations, find the joy of the writer in the written word, regardless of what you end up calling the result.

By Stephan

Title

We’ve encountered the work of Pork Chop Pictures before, with their charming short film Soul Matrix. This time, they’ve partnered with Mini Productions, and after a successful crowdfunding campaign, they’ve released Tea For Two.

Writer/Director Mark Brennan and producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley put together quite the cast for this 15 minute short: John Challis (Only Fools and Horses) and Amanda Barrie (Coronation Street) are joined by William Postlethwaite and Abigail Parmenter for this charming tale of tea, time and love.

Centred around a tea shop, the narrative is …read more

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By Stephan

Horsell Common

The problem with doing anything for the first time is that you don’t know what you don’t know. You can read books, listen to interviews and watch instructional YouTube videos all you like, but it’s never going to compare with actually getting out there and doing it. To that end I decided last year to write and film my first short film; a simple eight-minute, two-location piece about food poverty. With drones.

And so, in an attempt to test out a few ideas, I headed to Woking’s Horsell Common with two friends, two SLRs, two tiny drones and nowhere near enough …read more

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By Stephan

I had two chances to place in the top 10% of the BlueCat screenwriting competition, one for a feature and one for a short. Sadly, neither placed, but I am swallowing the bitter pill of rejection and moving on. Plenty more opportunities ahead!

I’ve listed all the competitions I know about below, sorted by date, with their associated costs, which should help you plan your deadlines. And if you prefer an Excel sheet, I have that too.

Name & URL
Date
Cost
Rocliffe TV
28/02/15
£21
Nicholl Early
02/03/15
$40
LIFF Feature Film Late
06/03/15
£55
LIFF Short Film Late
06/03/15
£45
Scriptalooza Regular
10/03/15
$55
Page Late
16/03/15
$59
Euroscript
31/03/15
£35
ScreenCraft Shorts Final
06/04/15
$29

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By Stephan

These days many writers rely on their mobile devices, their phones and tablets, rather than (or in addition to) more analogue stationary. Anything to get ideas down on the move with a minimum of effort and inconvenience. So I’ve gathered a list of mobile apps that I find useful to this end. I’ll apologise for the slight iOS bias in these, it’s not that I think one platform is necessarily superior to any other, but it just happens to be the one that works for me. Some these aren’t free, and there are cheaper alternatives for most, but again they’re …read more

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By Stephan

Last year, Scott Myers of Go Into The Story posted up a series of articles that were useful but I felt didn’t get as much traction as I thought they deserved. So, for your reading pleasure, I present to you Scott’s complete Screenwriting Back To Basics series.

Screenwriting Back to Basics, Day 1: Writing Scenes

Screenwriting Back to Basics, Day 2: Protagonist Metamorphosis Arc

Screenwriting Back to Basics, Day 3: Plot = Structure

Screenwriting Back to Basics, Day 4: Character = Function

Screenwriting Back to Basics, Day 5: Reader Identification

Related posts:

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