There Is No God.

Posted August 4th, 2017 by Ben

In the beginning was the word, but that’s only ever just the start…

I have an increasingly heretical stance on scripts. The contradictions inherent in the process of writing for the screen have troubled me before but the whole truth is that when it comes to scripts I find myself like a priest in a Graham Greene novel.

I was born writing. As a child my favourite toys were old typewriters. At 7 I wrote the play my school performed for Christmas and I have never looked back. Growing up we would laugh at the Americans and their writers rooms, their paid development process, their habit of bringing in fresh writers like honest folk might change socks. It was clear, you never needed another writer you just needed to give your writer another cup of tea.

I imbibed unquestioningly the British understanding of the dramatic hierarchy: the writer is God, the script his Text and Directors mere Jesuses trying to explain the complicated bits. (And yes, there had to be complicated bits, otherwise you wouldn’t know it was good).

At the core of this perfect cosmology in which all suns circle the Word, was the central belief in perfecting the script. What makes a great film? A great script.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen but a faith never really leaves you. I can think of films I enjoyed that have bad scripts and I can think hundreds that everyone else loves that have terrible scripts – but I wouldn’t want to have made any of them. I still admire the craft and if forced to drop all my hyphenates I would in the end be a writer not a director. However, brothers and sisters of the slugline, I don’t think you should perfect your script.

Or perhaps, what I mean is that we all need to alter our understanding of what a perfect script is.

Because a perfect script is not a finished thing. It is not a document that leaves no questions to ask. It is not the dynamite that utterly expresses all that needs to be expressed. It is not a flawless thing to be served instead of challenged. If your script has reached the stage where it cannot change – it’s not perfect, it’s over baked.

The perfect script should be raw, not just emotionally but actually uncooked and not good to feed to guests. It should be structurally sound but leave the reader racing ahead. It should highlight its own short comings, the necessary holes that require performance, photography, design, score and sound.

Of course, I write this not for my fellow writers but for producers, for directors, for development execs, for executive producers, for script editors and script readers – especially script readers. Writers, real writers, already knew this. If you’re not a writer and you’re looking for the “perfect script” then think hard about what you are actually looking for because it’s less like a cake and more like a bag of flour and box of eggs.

Festival Focus: Open City Documentary Festival Programme Preview

Posted July 27th, 2017 by Matt Turner

Now online, the programme for Open City Doc Fest‘s 7th edition is looking like a stellar one, with 36 UK Premieres across 13 venues, and a host of special events. Dedicated to providing “an open space in London to nurture and champion the art of creative documentary and non-fiction filmmakers,” the festival has been exhibiting the kind of challenging, formally daring and complex work that is becoming increasingly popular recently, through other London festival Frames of Representation, and in the programmes of larger international festivals like Sheffield Doc/Fest, CPH:DOX or DokuFest. Here we select just five of the many surprises on offer, five opportunities to see something unusual or outlier within the comforts of the city.

Read the rest of this entry »

Festival Focus: Shuffle Festival Programme Preview

Posted July 27th, 2017 by Kakki Meyer

Shuffle Festival returns this August for its fifth year. The festival exhibits creativity through film, science, performance,  architectural installations, walks, food, and music every year. Shuffle is primarily a grassroots, not-for-profit organisation that evolved from local activism at the St. Clements site and has taken root as an important part of cultural life and community cohesion in Mile End. With just under a month until the annual Shuffle Festival rolls around, we’ve looked over this year’s offering and picked five events from a packed weekend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ben’s Blog: Post Horror Pillow Fights.

Posted July 24th, 2017 by Ben

Genre has rules, but you can’t learn them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ben’s Blog: On Going Business.

Posted July 18th, 2017 by Ben

Cinema is both the business of art and the art of business and both highly prize the skill of meaning what you say without necessarily saying what you mean…

Read the rest of this entry »

Film of the Month: June Winners – Hope Dickson Leach

Posted July 17th, 2017 by Kakki Meyer

Our Film of the Month judge for June 2017 was Hope Dickson Leach. Leach is a British filmmaker whose films have played at festivals worldwide. Amongst them, Sundance selected thesis film The Dawn Chorus, Silly Girl, produced for NOWNESS’ ‘Define Gender’ series, and Morning Echo, made through Film London’s Pulse Plus scheme. Subsequently, Filmmaker Magazine named Leach as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film,”and her debut feature The Levelling premiered at Toronto International Film Festival to great acclaim. That film recently played theatres in the UK, and is now available on DVD/BluRay from Peccadillo Pictures, and on VOD. Currently, Leach is a co-founder of parent filmmaker advocacy group Raising Films and continues to develop films. You can view some of her work here.

Below are Leach’s insightful thoughts and comments on the top three films from June’s competition.

Read the rest of this entry »

Events: SP Networking with Mike Figgis

Posted July 11th, 2017 by Kakki Meyer

Ahead of our interactive session and networking evening with him, we introduce the Oscar nominated writer director, Mike Figgis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ben’s Blog: New Rules.

Posted July 11th, 2017 by Ben

The device you’re reading this on is probably a more versatile camera than any used by Cecil B DeMille, but new tools means new rules…

“Tangerine”, a hit in Sundance 2 years ago, shot entirely on iPhones…

We live in an age where it is increasingly possible to create work of cinematic quality with relatively inexpensive equipment. However, whilst the technology being used is brand new, much of the method around it dates back to cinema’s first innovators. This hides a trap.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kickstarter Round Up 2017

Posted July 10th, 2017 by Kakki Meyer

For just over a year, we’ve been partnered with Kickstarter to help ensure the best in-development projects from our community meet the attention of those in charge of outreach and support for the platform. iHere we review some of the best projects that have emerged from our partnership with Kickstarter and have successfully been funded on the platform. We want to show you what has happened over the year and we encourage you to get in touch with your own projects, month by month. Not yet convinced, also read here about some of the other great projects that have been funded since we last reviewed the partnership.

Read the rest of this entry »

Film of the Month: May Winners – Angeli Macfarlane & Femi Kolade

Posted July 5th, 2017 by Kakki Meyer

Our Film of the Month judges for May 2017 were Angeli Macfarlane (right) and Femi Kolade (left). Macfarlane is an experienced Development Producer and the founder of Script Cube who has worked with BBC, National Geographic Films, Creative England, BFI and more. Kolade is a filmmaker and educator. He has worked all over the film and broadcast industry including BFI, Film London, BBC Films and many more. Read more about Macfarlane’s and Kolade’s work and career here.

Both judges share their insightful thoughts on the top three films from May’s competition below.

Read the rest of this entry »