My love for the character of John Constantine is well documented, but I was still cautious about the new TV pilot being commissioned by NBC. However, two things have shifted me from ‘cautious’ to ‘cautiously optimistic’. The first is that Neil Marshall, the director of Dog Soldiers, Doomsday and The Descent, will be directing the pilot. And the second? Constantine, as performed by Matt Ryan (voice of Kenway in Assassin’s Creed 4), looks spot on.

So, after a year of work, several wrong turns and distractions, I finally have a completed draft of a feature film. It’s incredibly rough, a little short, an unpolished draft zero, and flawed all to hell. But I do have a completed feature film script and some good ideas of how to improve it.

Currently the first 10 pages or so are in quite a good state, considering I’ve been hawking this project around, even though it wasn’t finished. (Top tip: Don’t do this) But the rest of it, there are a great many pages that I haven’t even read myself since the words flowed out of my fingers and into the screen writing software. Lots of characterisation, lots of foreshadowing and cleaning up of dialogue… There’s a lot of work to do for the next draft.

But I do have a completed draft screenplay of a feature film.  😀

But first, I think I need a palate cleanser, something totally different that will allow me to come back to Underworld Calling fresh and ready for a new edit.

Maybe it’s time to get back to Broken Gears.


Breathless Movie Poster

I’m a little behind on my goal of watching one of the Top 50 Films every week, but I’m battling on. This week it was Godard’s landmark movie Breathless. As ever, spoilers below!

It was landmark in that it was one of the earliest and brightest lights of La Nouvelle Vague, or French New Wave, cinema. Their style was short, sharp, cheap, real, immediate and purposefully imperfect and Breathless exhibited all that.

I’d like to start with the title. In the English-speaking world we know this film as Breathless, but the original French title is À bout de souffle, better translated as Out of Breath. Bizarrely, the translation on Amazon Instant Video was The End of The Tether, and even Rotten Tomatoes suggest the translated title may be By A Tether

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Writer/director James Griffiths won the BAFTA for Best British Short Film for Room 8, so that was next in line for a viewing. Watch it on YouTube below:

Room 8, a story about a prisoner, curiosity and a box of secrets was surprising. At first its slow pace had me a bit bored, and I was watching time tick away quickly. However, when reveal piled upon reveal, this five and half minute film engrossed. By the end, the atmosphere, the implications and the wider world it hints at have drawn you in effectively.

I’ve always believed a short film needs to be economical with its time, it needs to start late and finish early, even more so than a scene from in a feature film. Room 8 does that very well indeed. However, so far, of the shorts reviewed here, my favourite is still The Voorman Problem.

Icon-Movie-150Short films have great difficulty entering the awareness of the public. I learnt of The Voorman Problem from a segment on BBC Breakfast this morning, and it was only covered because not only was it Oscar-nominated, it also stars Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander.

If you wish to remain free of spoilers, let me just say, you should absolutely pay money to download and watch it, it is excellent. It’ll cost you less than the price of a cup of coffee. Come back when you’re done.

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Icon-Writing-150On the whole, screenplay format is pretty standardised, and thankfully screenwriters barely have to think about it thanks to the use of modern screenwriting software.

Some of the formatting controversies of the past have been dealt with and become canon: Avoid using parentheticals or transitions unless absolutely, vitally necessary. Simple enough. Two controversies remain though.

Fade In/Out

For once I’m not talking about the screenwriting software Fade In, but the necessity to begin every screenplay with FADE IN: and end it with FADE OUT. Certain guides will tell you it’s mandatory, some will tell you it’s tradition and you should just do it. Many newer to the industry will say it’s redundant and can be skipped, leaving the choice of fading, cutting etc. to the director like all transitions. There’s pretty much no consensus other than this: Keeping it will seemingly annoy nobody, while removing them could irk some. So we may as well use them, and some of their variations. A word of warning though: There should only ever be one of each in the screenplay.


I don’t refer to line-spacing, but the number of spaces after a full stop in a screenplay. After years of beautifully laid-out treatises, typographers finally convinced us all that putting two spaces after a full stop was redundant, as these days we have typefaces and word-processors that handle the kerning properly. The restrictions of mono-spaced typewriters were a thing of the past. Except, however, when writing a screenplay, where we use a mono-spaced Courier font, to facilitate standardised spacing, partly to assist in judging the minute per page pacing. Again, nobody is going to throw your script in the bin for only using a single space, but apparently it’s easier on the eye of a script reader to use two spaces. And these are the people who’ll make the first decision on whether to pass on your script.

By way of a friend and the Digital Theatre daily short, I was pointed at Toby Meakins’ Lot254, a three-minute horror short.

This film, shot for hundreds, not thousands, and selected for numerous film festivals in 2012, is a brilliantly atmospheric piece. Wonderfully shot and graded, it builds its horror gradually. Even with familiar tropes and ideas the tension builds smoothly, and the pay-off is delivered cleanly.

There are so many excellent short films out there, I’m thinking of finding and highlighting one per week. If you have suggestions or pointers, please get in contact!