Monday, October 05, 2015

My Crusoe ep on Sunday 11th October in UK

Yes, as threatened promised in a recent blog post here, my episode of Crusoe is on TV in the UK, this Sunday 11th October at 6pm, on the Drama Channel.

The Drama Channel is free-to-air in the UK, and is available on Freeview 20, Sky 158, Virgin 190, BT and TalkTalk 020. You can catch up using the UK TV Play service (on several TV systems or just on your laptop/tablet/phone). Or set it to record using whatever technological marvels you've got under your TV.

The episode is number 5 (sometimes 4, depending on whether they show the first two episodes as one bumper ep, this time they didn't), called High Water. Crusoe and Friday find an abandoned boat in a tree - will it give them a way to escape the island? What will happen in the remaining 8 episodes if they do?? Who knows?! YOU will, if you watch, this Sunday! 6pm! Drama Channel! Be there!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ghosting US premiere

My new short film Ghosting will have its US premiere this October at the Telluride Horror Show, a great genre festival that played Crazy For You in 2013.

There's a news article about the full lineup here, and the full schedule will be released just before the festival, which runs from October 16th to the 18th.

I blogged more about Ghosting here, where you can also see the trailer, and the updated poster is on the left for your clicky-biggy pleasure.

If you're in the area, or attending the fest anyway, go along and see if I can give you a scare...

Friday, September 25, 2015

Straight on till morning

Chekov: Course heading, Captain?
Kirk: Second star to the right and straight on till morning.
--Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, screenplay
by Nicholas Meyer and Denny Martin Flinn

Maintaining a writing career takes constant work, and a lot of it doesn’t involve actual writing. One of the most important jobs is something I call my writing stock-take.

At least once a year, I set aside a few days to take stock of my career. This isn’t just deciding what project to do next - sometimes that’s decided for you, if you get a writing job, or the chance to pitch for one. It's more of an appraisal of my recent work, and a plan of action. What sort of things am I doing, what went right, what went wrong, what can I do differently next time.

Then I think about what I want to be doing for the next 6 to 12 months - what projects do I want to get off the ground, do I want to move into a new area, focus on something in particular, where do I want to be in a year’s time, what do I need to achieve that. Sometimes that will require a chat with my agent, to see what’s possible/available, sometimes I’ll need to learn new things or do some research, sometimes I’ll have to take some time to write a new spec. As I’ve said before, you never “break in”, you just keep moving, and have to break in again every time you do something new.

It’s sort of a spring clean, to figure out the next phase. It’s important to take stock like this every year, sometimes twice a year. Like writing a script, you’ve got to know where you’re going, so you know what to aim for - sometimes you end up somewhere different and more interesting, but having a plan means you can take chances. And you should do at least one thing every year that absolutely terrifies you, that you’re convinced you’re not clever enough to do. Sometimes it’ll go wrong, but when it works, it’s incredibly satisfying.

All my project titles are listed in a big text file, with notes next to them saying who they’re with, if they’re available, dormant, active, etc. It helps me keep track of what I’m doing, and what needs actioning. I also keep a text file of pitches, all of my projects in one-paragraph pitch form, for when people ask what I’ve got available. Those are also kept online and on my phone, so I can quickly copy, paste and email any of them. Both of these files are kept updated regularly.

I combine the stock-take with regular training days, where I’ll teach myself a new skill, or continue learning about something - if I'm stuck on a script, I'll turn the day over to training instead. Over the past couple of years I’ve been teaching myself editing. I’ve edited all my FrightFest phone idents, my short films Three MinutesGhosting, and my music video. I also graded them (thank you, YouTube tutorials), did the sound mixes, and the visual effects. Most software packages and skills have tons of online tutorials, most of them are free, so you can learn almost anything you want. I’m now pretty confident with Final Cut Pro 7, and am currently learning the ropes on Final Cut Pro X and Motion.

You don’t have to learn about every aspect of filmmaking to be a writer, but it definitely helps and informs your work. Directing and editing (and even doing the sound effects) has helped my writing a lot, making me more ruthless with trimming the fat before it ever gets filmed. A few years ago, I took an introductory course in acting, for a similar reason. Seeing how actors interpret the script was really helpful, and changed how I approach creating characters - thinking of what an actor can work with, and giving them a reason to take the job.

I’ve been doing the career stock-take this week, and am currently deciding which projects to concentrate on, now that some of them may be on the move, and which ones I need to push forward. I’m determined to direct a feature, to get my own TV show off the ground, and to find some work in the USA. Those have been goals for a while, so now I need to knuckle down and focus. I’ve got a TV episode airing soonish (hopefully there’ll be an announcement imminently) and another one in the pipeline, which will both hopefully help with the next stages of my career.

I’m not 100% sure what I’ll be doing next year, but I have a plan. And that’s half the battle.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Crusoe airing in UK from September 13th

Crusoe, the NBC show I wrote an episode for, has a repeat airing on UK free-to-air TV, starting this Sunday September 13th at 6pm.

It's on the Drama Channel, which is available on Freeview 20, Sky 158, Virgin 190, BT and TalkTalk 020, and you can catch up using the UK TV Play service (on several TV systems or just on your laptop/tablet/phone).

My episode is number 5, called "High Water", and I'm really proud of it. The show was great fun to work on, and it was a huge pleasure to be on the team under the brilliant Stephen Gallagher (Eleventh Hour, Doctor Who, Murder Rooms, Oktober, and many more), whose blog you should be reading.

If I've worked it out correctly, my episode will air on Sunday October 11th at 6pm. Watch the whole series though, it's really fun and glossy, with lots of action, explosions, fights, stunts, gadgets, swashbuckling, witty retorts, shirtless men, amazing sets, and features bonus appearances from Sam Neill and Sean Bean. And it's free to watch! You can't afford to NOT watch! Watch it! Or I'll kill again!

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Surprise Beyonce-style revelation!

I’ve made a new short film!

Okay, it’s not an album, so it’s not technically a Beyonce-style revelation, only in the sense that it’s a surprise. Also, I am not Beyonce. Or Sasha Fierce. But I *am* fierce, and I can smize thanks to my addiction to America’s Next Top Model.


I’ve made a new short film! Shot on June 20th, edited/graded/sound fx’d/music mixed/graded/tweaked from June 21st to July 19th (on and off, not full time), ready to hand over to The Man Who Makes The DCP on July 20th. It had to be ready by July 20th, because that’s when the DCP facilities were available.

The DCP is a fancy file that will play easily in cinemas. Why would I need that? Because...

The short film will premiere at FrightFest! Yes, like all of my other movie work, including my first short film Crazy For You, this one is debuting at my horror home, my Horror Christmas, FrightFest in London.

It’s playing on Monday 31st August, at 5.50pm, as part of the short film programme, in Discovery Screen 2. There are 11 short films in that particular slot, mine plays third. You’ll need a ticket for the slot, which you can get here, so for the price of one movie, you get 11 short films, which is a bargain in any language. Except the obscure language Cheapskateish, which does not have a word for “bargain”.

The short film is called Ghosting. It’s a supernatural horror, which I hope will scare the pants and socks off you (not necessarily in that order). The trailer is here, but it gives away very little, because if you know everything that happens in advance, I won’t be able to scare your pants and socks off. All I can tell you is this: Research assistant Lyssa Fletcher is conducting a preliminary investigation into a supposedly haunted room. Like every other case, Lyssa fully expects it to be a waste of her Saturday. Today, she'll wish it was.

It stars the brilliant Francesca Fowler, who played Evelina in my Doctor Who episode, The Fires of Pompeii. It’s been lovely to work with her again, and see a completely different side to her skills - she more than stepped up to the challenge. I can’t wait for you to see what we all cooked up together, and hope you come along to see it. It’ll play other festivals after this, watch this space for details. It will eventually go online, but after the festival run.

I hope you like it, I’m really proud of this one and extremely happy with how it turned out. Here's the poster!

If all goes well, this post will go live when the announcement goes live. If not, then MAYHEM WILL ENSUE. Or, I guess, it’ll go live at the wrong time, and nothing else will happen. I’d invest in umbrellas and heavy weaponry, if I were you. Better safe than sorry.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Pottering

So, the last time I was at The Convention Formerly Known As LeakyCon (TCFKALC - pronounced TaCUFFkalc), or GeekyCon if you insist, I drew gasps from a panel audience when they asked me which Harry Potter house I was. Why? Okay, prepare yourselves. This is going to shock you:

I’ve never seen any of the Harry Potter movies, or read any of the books, and have no idea what house I am, or even what that means.

I know, I know. And I *live* in Harry Potter Land (“England”, if you will).

Anyway. So, back then, I made a somewhat rash promise. If I was invited back to TCFKALC, I’d watch all the Harry Potter movies beforehand, to catch up. I killed a couple of authors and half of a panel audience to make sure I wouldn’t be invited back. But due to an administrative error, and some *seriously* poor health and safety guidelines, I’ve been invited back.

So I’m going to watch all of the Harry Potter movies. Before July 29th. In a row. In order. Yes. All of the movies. All 13 of them.

I’m looking forward to the one where he goes to space. I think that’s movie 9 or 10.

Here goes!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Short film selection at Somerset House

FrightFest is putting together a short film selection at Somerset House on Monday 10th August at 7pm, featuring shorts by me, Alice Lowe, Ben Wheatley, Lee Hardcastle, and Sean Hogan.

The shorts will screen before a special outdoor screening of The Silence of the Lambs, so come along and see both (tickets sold separately). I'll be there, along with some of the other filmmakers, to introduce our shorts and talk about how we made them.

It should be a fun, scary evening, details and tickets are available here. Tickets are VERY limited, so grab them now!