Ready?

Been a long time since my last update again, but better check in to document where I’m up to especially as 2014 is coming to a close. Looking back, it’s been a very productive year creatively. I’ve starred in 3 plays and written 1, starred in 2 short films one of which I wrote and directed, and… as always, continued writing my novel almost every (working) day of the week. I want more next year please, only improving each time.

To recap what I’ve been doing since my last post: After coming back from Twelfth Night I had a couple of weeks off, where I just wrote my novel and relaxed. getting back to normality was a nice break, and I had a week in Cyprus with my girlfriend in a lovely health resort, where all we did was relax, read, eat excellent food, meditate and do yoga. It was amazing, and while I was there I read the Tony Robbins book ‘Awaken The Giant Within’. Now, I’m a bit of a sucker for self-help books, because I love personal progression. If I can improve any area of my life, then I’d happily read a 600 page book even just to glean one nugget of information that strikes a chord with me. Well, this book struck about a million chords. It was spectacular, and made me realise that I needed to get back to my roots. I needed to get back into film making.

Ever since I was a kid and saw films like Back to the Future and Terminator 2, I wanted to make films. I started out wanting to be a stunt man, because the best bits in films for me were the action sequences where the main character was flung through a window as a bomb went off. What a fun way to spend the day doing that? As I got older, I realised I wanted to be an actor, because it was the actor who was the person’s story I was following, and they were the ones having all the fun, really. Older still, I realised the story wasn’t that of the actors, but the director’s. They made all the decisions and told people where to stand. That’s what I wanted to do. And eventually, having drilled down to ground level, I realised it was all to do with the story, and the writer was ultimately responsible for the exciting journey that people go on as an audience. Anyway, this love came back in full force while I was in Cyrprus, so when I got back I went online and bought myself a Black Magic Pocket Camera.

Black Magic Pocket Camera

I’d been looking at one of these babies for a while, but never pulled the trigger mainly through a fear of spending that much money (approx £700 for just the body), but also because if I did buy it I’d have to actually do something with it. But coming back, reenvigorated with a desire to film again, I went ahead and bought it, along with every other piece of kit I needed to make a short film. I spent just over £2000 in total, and started playing with my new toys straight away. The only problem was, I didn’t have anything to film. Cue me digging around in my old script folder.

Ready?

Ready?

A couple of years ago I’d written a comedy sketch for me and my mate Dave called ‘Ready?’ about a couple of world war 2 soldiers about to go into battle. I dug it out, dusted it off and read it. It wasn’t bad. The ending needed changing, but everything else was pretty decent. Quite funny, I thought. It was a very static short, being a sketch, so the shoot wouldn’t have been a complicated one. I got in touch with a friend, Chris, who I met on Twelfth Night and is an editor/cameraman. I asked if he wanted to shoot it and he said yes. I got in touch with Dave. He said yes. I asked my mate Martyn to be the boom operator. He said yes, and within a week we were on schedule to shoot ‘Ready?’ … and we did. I won’t go into detail here, maybe save it for a later blog post but the shoot went well, and the final cut is… READY. I’ll be entering it into film festivals as of tomorrow (1st Jan).

Ready Filming

Ready Filming

 

Other things I’ve been upto are:

1) I registered a production company, Typecast Productions, which all my latest offerings will come under (website: http://www.typecastproductions.com)

2) I got confirmation of the performance dates of my play, Millionaires Anonymous, which will be performed in the Unity Theatre on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of July 2015. Still a way off, but plenty of time to prepare.

3) After filming Ready I also took a small part in a short film by Purplecoat Productions (whom I’ve done my last 3 plays with) which was filmed over 6 weeks, but I was only needed for a couple of days. It’s a com/zom movie and great fun to be part of as always.

As for my novel? I’m still writing it, almost 70% of the way through my second draft and it’s really coming together quite nicely. I was on target for an xmas finish, but it will most likely be spring next year now with all the other stuff I’ve been doing.

My main problem is now I’ve got all this camera gear, it’s staring up at me like a begging dog. I’ve also got an idea for another short, I just need to find the time to start writing it. Soon, laddy. Soon.

Tis but fortune.

Been a while since I posted here. I actually wrote a very long piece a month ago, but there was a problem submitting it and subsequently it vanished from existence :/

Anyway, I’ve just come back from a UK tour of Twelfth Night with Purplecoat Productions, the theatre company I did both Noises Off and Caretaker with. What a superb time. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, even the lack of sleep, eating when I could, sleeping and shitting where I could. It was great. We started off in Dublin, playing in a theatre called Smock Alley. After that it was back to the hostel at midnight, bed by 1am, up at 3am to catch a flight to Birmingham. Once there we got a minibus and it was straight to the next theatre, which was called the Crescent Theatre. Nice black box space. That was where most of us caught up on sleep on the theatre seating. After that, back to the hostel for a nice lie in and a short drive to Stratford-upon-Avon.

This was the day where we probably had the most time, so a lot of us went out onto the streets flyering for our play, which was a new experience but I quite enjoyed by the end. THe theatre was called The Attic, in a lovely 17th century building that apparently housed the wood that Shakespeare’s house was built from. In Stratford we were lucky enough to stay in a Travel Lodge, but we were up the next morning and back to Liverpool to set up in Calderstones Park. A lovely sunny day, and a nice space too. We had 130 people come see us and it was definitely our most fun and interactive audience. After that, we had one night in our own beds before a very long (10 hour) journey to North Finchley in London, where we just chilled out for the night.

Sunday was our last day, and we performed in the Arts Depot Theatre, which was a lovely big theatre. The audience weren’t into it as much as others, but they picked up in the second half. There were only about 30 of them. Then we were out for a few drinks, ready for the coach/train/planes back to wherever we were all going next.

As I said, it was so much fun and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I met some great people and hope to work with them one day, but knowing how these things go (the nature of theatre), it’s more likely I won’t. I’ll miss them.

11328_10203092987305860_6423738876584017486_n

Well Played

I finished the first draft of my play yesterday. I’ve been very surprised at a few things, mainly how fast the whole thing came together. Obviously I’ve had this idea churning around in my head for a couple of years, and originally wanted to write it as a film, but once I got it into the play structure the pieces just fell into place. I only had the basic outline of Act 1, Act 2 and Act3, and everything I knew about those were on 1 page, but all I knew was essentially the plot. I knew nothing about the characters. And what I’ve learned, especially with plays, is that it’s all about the characters.

And that’s how this thing came together, because unlike my novel and screenplays I’ve written in the past, I didn’t outline heavily with this, I just wrote it and let the characters talk, evolve and the plot to move forward at its own pace. I’ve no idea how long this will act out on stage, but I’m a bit worried it might be too long for a comedy. I say comedy, Act 2 is definitely comedy with many farcical elements, but Act 3 is where the pathos comes in and gets much more heartfelt and serious, and hopefully not too sentimental.

I’m very happy with what I’ve got, and will give it another quick pass before I go away next week and I might move back onto my novel while the play simmers. I should find out July/August if I’ve got the booking at the theatre I want, and already have a production manager lined up. So things are looking good.

Caretaken

Caretaker2

Listen, son. Listen, sonny… you stink.

 

Well, Caretaker is done. We did a Thursday night and a Saturday night and they both went down really well. Here’s a link to all the reviews we’ve had, including a 9/10 in the Liverpool Echo, which isn’t online unfortunately. But take my word for it. Honest.

http://www.clickliverpool.com/culture/reviews/1221214-review-the-caretaker-ar-the-lantern-theatre,-liverpool.html

http://www.merseysidermagazine.com/site/arts/review-the-caretaker-lantern-theatre-liverpool/

http://madeup.lv/review-the-caretaker-lantern-theatre/

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-caretaker-the-lantern-theatre/

The play was part of a double bill with another play called ‘My Mother Said I Never Should’ by Charlotte Keatley, which I saw on the Sunday. Great play. The four ladies cast in it were all excellent. Thoroughly enjoyable, well done to everyone involved.

Now that’s out of the way, what next? Well I’m still writing my play and am (I hope) over half way through it now. I’d say I’m closer to two thirds through it, and it’s been going great. I’m finding it quite difficult to balance pathos with comedy, because a lot of the comedy is outlandish, crude… and just downright silly. To throw in some depressing character history in amongst that sometimes feels a bit off, so I need to strike that balance well or it won’t work. That’ll come with time and revisions though.

I’m still chipping away at the rewrite of my novel too. I’ve got the prologue written to a level I’m happy with. 1 chapter down, a million to go.

I’ve got a hankering to do another play too. Typical.

Caretaker

Yeah, that’s me looking all ‘ard and stuff. The Caretaker is on in less than 2 weeks and I know all my lines, I just need to refine them and run the play a few times. Should be a cracking show, though. I’m really enjoying playing a mean bastard.

In the meantime, I’ve sent my booking form off to the Unity, so fingers crossed I’ll have some dates set for Feb 2015 for when my play can be performed. Speaking of which, I’ve written half of it now and I’m quite happy with what I’ve got so far. The second act is quite farcical, which I think just comes naturally to me.

I’ve also started slowly working on the 2nd draft of my novel. Every now and then I’ll just get the desire to start writing it, instead of my play, so I dip into it every now and then. That’s going well too. Re-reading some of my early prose is a bit like looking at old photographs of yourself and cringing, but that’s good in a way, I feel like I’ve developed quite well as a writer over the past 2 years.

Unity, Radio, Caretaking.

Just a quick update. I’ve successfully shelved my novel for the time being and you know what? It felt great. I think some times you can really let something get its talons on you and won’t let you go, but it felt very liberating to leave the book alone for a bit. So instead of writing that, I’ve been writing my play which is going very well at the moment. I’ve just about got Act 1 written, and then it’s onto the dreaded Act 2 (where most shit will go down, yo). But I’ve also contact the Unity Theatre, in the hope to book 3 nights there for the play. The thing is, they get booked out so quickly that their next slot is Spring 2015, but that’s okay… it gives me time to write the damn thing, then some time to shelve and come back before I need to cast etc.

I also have been introduced to the idea of writing comedy for radio, so I rewrote a sketch of mine into a radio format, and I’ve started writing the pilot of a sitcom which I’m hoping to get done to submit to the BBC mid April when they’re opening up for comedy scripts.

Maybe I’ve got too much on my plate, because I’m also heavily into rehearsing The Caretaker, which will be on the 1st of May and 3rd of May. The lines are a bitch, but if I know most of Act 2, just need to sort out the last act and I should be good to get on with actually learning how to act, and not just riffing lines.

First Draft

Well, I’ve finally got there… after about 21 months I’ve finished the ‘first draft’ of my novel. I’ve put that in quotations, because while it is complete – meaning it has a beginning, middle and end – it’s not complete. It’s still full of notes and there’s quite a lot of stuff at the beginning that was written over a year ago that needs altering or taking out to reflect how the story progressed. It needs editing too. And polishing. And… well everything, it just needs a total makeover, but at least it’s there, a solid chunk of clay in the rough shape of a human being, I just need to start molding now.

That won’t be for a while though. It’s probably quote common for a writer to feel excited about jumping back in without having a break, but not me. This novel has been a fucking bitch to write. There have been numerous times when I’ve felt like I’ve been doing it for the wrong reasons. As if I’ve been doing it just to see if I could, or to make people think I’m a smarty pants with the complex plot. Maybe these are common feelings for writers. I’ve also felt a lot like writing novels just isn’t me, but maybe that’s me looking at the industry of books and the idea of the typical novelist, because when it comes down to it… I love ideas, I love stories and characters, and I love writing them down. That’s all it should be about.

One main obstacle about this book was writing about a police detective working for the Metropolitan Police. I don’t know a thing about police work, let alone London. I read a lot, but never felt it was enough. My friend’s dad is a 25+ year detective, so he was a good person to go to with questions, but the other issue was that this wasn’t a typical detective novel. I don’t do typical. It was about a DI who worked in a High Tech Crime Unit, something I know even less about, and so did my friend’s dad. Perhaps laziness played a part in my research. It can all still be salvaged, I’m talking like I’m not going to properly finish this thing, but I will be taking a break for a couple of months at least… because I’m writing a play.

The play idea I came up with a while ago, but it’s a comedy, its main impetus is a competition run by Liverpool Hope Uni, which has a deadline of 30th May, but it’s win-win, because if I don’t win I’m going to finance and direct it myself. Possibly even star in it too. I’ve fleshed out the plot and characters, and only started writing the script this week, but it feels SO much easier to write than a novel. I feel like I could write the thing in one sitting.

Maybe that’s a bad thing.

We’ll see.