Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Back from the Wilderness or Belated Update

I am here to announce that the Great Theatre Rebellion of 2014 has finally been put down… kind of. Yes, it’s true. I have seen a hell of a lot of theatre this year - over one hundred productions. I have also reviewed, well, ahem, over one hundred productions. While I enjoy this theatrical diversion I’ve hit the ‘rookie wall’ and can’t sustain the cracking pace. 

Plus I have to, you know, write.

So what’s been happening on that front, Richard?

Thank you for asking fictional & anonymous blog reader.

The sixth draft of the feature script Turbulence has been coming along… slowly. Too slowly but now the stage production obsession is in remission it’s something I’ll be returning to with a vengeance. In related news my director is moving back to Melbourne. I half suspect it’s in protest of my glacial writing ways but apparently it has more to do with the Carlton Football Club and the kind of Victorian lifestyle one doesn’t find in WA. Thank goodness for Skype.

The web series Boondock Alley now has a facebook page and even a website. Not bad for something ‘still in development’ which I believe is the euphemistic term for ‘ain’t nuthin’ been shot yet’. The search for a producer has been ongoing with lots of people “loving the concept”, asking for scripts then never being heard from again. This leads me to a few possible conclusions – the scripts are so fucking awful as to induce the sort of demise one might find in The Ring. You know, after reading the script, your mobile rings and a dodgy ADR track whispers, “seven days”. The prospective producer then loses all possible means of communication in some catastrophic meltdown thus rendering them helpless. Except to post pictures of cats and selfies on various social media platforms. It’s a curious phenomenon! Other conclusions have been self-censored for fear of causing offence.

However, there was a meeting Saturday past at some ungodly hour in the morning as insisted by a complete moron (namely me) where we tried something a little different. A face to face pitch then the physical handing of the Bible and Pilot script to two gentlemen who seemed switched on with strong credentials. One of my actor/producer colleagues received a call 7am Monday morning to say they loved it and were “in”. The way to avoid The Ring style curse is clearly not to email the script – there’s always a loophole in those horror stories! This could be a promising development with talk of a January shoot… let’s see how things progress.

On the very same day, a businessman I met at a producing course who subsequently pitched me a feature film idea on the rooftop of a boutique bar in the city as we celebrated the ending of said course… man, this is a loooooong sentence… *deep breath*… sent me a whole lot of material to read with a view to see if it could be turned into a script. This is after a weird conversation about ISIS, ebola and filmmaking. Only two of those things threaten to destroy the fabric of civilisation as we know it… though there are times it could be all three if someone makes me sit through movies like Godzilla again. 

Oh, hey! Did I mention? I did a producing course!!!! So frustrated with the inability to get short film scripts and the web series made I decided to pretty much splash out on an FTI course in sheer desperation. Six times three hour sessions conducted by Tenille Kennedy who I have known for a while and now have an even greater appreciation for her producing skills. I’m not sure it’s what I really want to do and Tenille has a wealth of experience and knowledge that would take me a long time to acquire. I want someone like her to produce my scripts not try and be her. But it certainly gave me some great insights from a different perspective and oh, hey, did I mention the networking/pitching over drinks thing?

That’s pretty much it other than to say it’s been a strangely film orientated few days with the other director I have developed projects with contacting me out of the blue today and we had a coffee and chat. Maybe it’s all a sign for me to pull my proverbial out and get on with the Turbulence draft… 

PS Australia Post - when someone sends you a certificate in the mail and the envelope says "Please don't bend" it actually means Please don't fucking turn it into an origami swan to get it into the letterbox!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Short Film Update or I Think I Wrote That or A Writer’s Lament

It’s been a shitty week at work. Scrap that, it’s been a shitty month. I’m not usually prone to work related stress but I’ve been feeling it of late – overwhelmed by the sheer volume of activity and the kind of long hours I promised myself I’d never return to when I went back to the corporate world. A state of affairs that I will be redressing as of next week I can assure you, good reader.

It’s fair to say then that I wasn’t my usual witty self when I wandered over to the latest PAC Script Lab reading straight from work. Not helped by the fact that, for some reason (perhaps because it was much warmer in the State Library than the morgue-like temperature my office building is set at?), I suddenly couldn’t hear very well as if my ears were stuffed with cotton wool. I was tired and cranky, a state not immediately solved by free wine. A combination of my general absence from the ‘film scene’ and an unruly winter beard also meant that I was largely incognito. I suspect my general demeanour may have been a contributing factor, another issue to address.

I did, however, have a conversation with the director of Filmbites who is easily one of the nicest people in the local film business. Amongst the general chitchat she gave me an update on the short film Darkness that I wrote in the second half of 2011 after attending two sessions with Filmbites’ advanced acting students in the middle of that year.


Apparently the footage is looking great, the special effects are now being done, and the producer and director are really happy with some local act that will be doing the music.

My reaction was interesting. I nodded politely and smiled but I had no personal or emotional response as such at all.

Three years ago I created the story from basically two disparate improvisations by those young actors. Initially I wrote, I think, three drafts. Then a director needed to be attached. I had a meeting with the person who would become the director one evening in a café to do the pitch. He came on board but requested changes to the script. This was fine as the basic idea was unaltered – it was mainly tweaking the ending which changed the tone somewhat but that wasn’t a deal breaker. As this was part of an inaugural programme for the film school the goal was to have as strong a script as possible. The director subsequently brought on board an up and coming producer and things were all set. I attended auditions, an entire afternoon of rehearsals in about April 2012, and was on location a few times when the film was finally in production. In other words I was an integral part of the process… up to that point.

Since then I haven’t seen one second of footage or had any input into or even been advised of any creative decisions. I briefly met the editor earlier this year who is an expatriate Western Australian now working in LA (with many impressive assistant editor credits on some big Hollywood films) and she was lovely but talk of possibly seeing an edit ended up being just that, talk.

I understand that as everyone is volunteering their time this was going to be a long process but from being one of the early driving forces I’m not even a bit player anymore. I haven’t had any conversations with the director or producer for ages so I really have no idea what the final film is going to be like. I’ve also lost touch with the actors who’ve gone on to varied things, one now attempting to forge a career in LA. This may be a screenwriter’s fate in the greater scheme of things though a little disappointing given the nature of the programme that was the impetus in the first place. I probably also cast an envious eye at tightknit creative teams like Seventh Continent Productions and others doing well with their short films.

So when I was hearing the update Thursday night I felt very remote from it all. Unfortunate but I guess I did my job a long time ago and once that’s complete my involvement to all intents and purposes is over.

I hope it turns out well.

I suppose I’ll find out the same time everyone else does.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Shout outs and Gratuitous Plugs, Part 3 - The Two of Us

Some time ago now I participated in the Professional Partnership Program with the Filmbites Youth Film School. My involvement was in developing what turned out to be two short film scripts based on the improvisations of the school's advanced acting students.

When the first of those scripts was being shot I visited the location one Sunday. As usual, a writer on a film set is a challenge at the best of times. However, there was a young actress there who was playing a background extra. Two things I remember from that day - she would read a book in a quiet corner when not called upon for scenes; and most respectfully asked if she could send me something to read after declaring that she liked my script.

That actress is Shannon Berry and what she sent me was a short story called The Two of Us. What struck me is what a wonderful piece of writing this was from, I think at that stage, a 13 year old. Mature and imaginative it was about a young boy and his shadow and how the two of them deal with the unexpected death of the young boy's father. Told from the shadow's point of view!

Shannon went on to adapt her own short story into a short film script that was subsequently shot for Junior Tropfest for which it was shortlisted.

That film is now up for an audience choice award as part of the ATOM Awards.

Unfortunately, the privacy settings won't let me embed the film but you can view it on Vimeo HERE.

To vote for The Two of Us it is in the "Best Middle School (7–10) Film Production" category on the Atom Awards website HERE.

I have subsequently read more of Shannon's work and she is a talented writer and passionate young actress. So if you like the film PLEASE VOTE!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Little Re-Branding

Ah, branding. Seems to be the buzz word these days.

Given the amount of theatre reviews I've been writing this year, it appears commentary on my screenwriting exploits has been choked to death like the victim of a gloved serial killer.

So I've created a separate blog for my reviews:


This blog will therefore revert to being:

Screenwriting 101 or Misadventures in WA Film.

No more theatre.


Except if I update the wrong blog.

Which is probably highly likely.


Okay. I'm going to work on my screenplay now...

Monday, March 31, 2014

But, didn’t you use to be a screenwriter?

I know what you’re thinking – “Richard, what’s with all the theatre reviews on your blog lately… didn’t you use to be a screenwriter?”

Richard enters stage left and peers out at the audience. Adopts an aggressive stance.

Richard: That’s absurd; of course I’m still a screenwriter.

Audience member: Prove it then!

Richard squints into the lights trying to identify the wag.

Richard: Reveal yourself, Sir/Madam/[insert correct gender salutation for a small child or possibly a verbose animal of some description].

The challenge is met with a slow handclap. Only a few people at first… then dozens of hands in unison. The sound builds in intensity until Richard is brought to his knees, hands clasped to his ears.

Richard: Alright, alright. I confess. I have been tempted by the sins of theatrical endeavour; swayed by the spontaneity of live performance; awed by the camaraderie and passion found in every independent troupe of players. Dazzled by –

Audience: Get off!

Richard is pelted with rotten fruit, robust vegetables, and random pieces of furniture. He beats a hasty retreat to –



Richard sits in his favourite writing haunt and laments the fact that the inability to format blogger correctly for the difference between stage and screen directions dilutes the visual effect intended for this convoluted introduction… 

Yes! I AM still writing!!! Spasmodically. Imprecisely. Incrementally.

The fifth draft of Turbulence was delivered to the director a little while ago and I have read his summary of what needs to be addressed in the next draft. I should, at this very moment, be reading his detailed notes embedded in the pdf version of the script but, of course, I forgot to bring the flash drive with me (Richard pelts himself with rotten fruit). In short, the next pass will be a character one. Progress has indeed been made - the comments count has gone from 83 to 43… or maybe I just fixed all the typos. Anyone who was at the PAC Script Lab reading a year ago would certainly recognise the story but there have been a lot of changes, especially in the second half of the script. Now we dig further and keep evolving and improving our characters.

I also finished the fourth episode of Boondock Alley, the web series set in a doctors’ surgery for the Undead. It was the hardest episode to write to date… and the darkest but the actors have responded with unanimous praise. This is flattering but also makes me a little nervous as I know it requires work. I suspect I need a critical eye to push me like Tim (director) does with Turbulence. However, it looks like we’re positioning for a tilt at ScreenWest’s newly announced Elevate funding scheme. So there will be a renewed focus on all the elements though I’m more than happy with progress to date. Ah yes, the joys of funding applications - writer’s notes!

Working fulltime has largely cut me off from the creative zeitgeist as I no longer have time to laze about on weekdays talking scripts, films and the like. It was a great pleasure then to go to the premiere of SeventhContinent Productions’ short film Rat Tale last week. Not only was it a terrific film but I caught up with many filmmaking colleagues I had not seen in a long time.

Yes, I am going to a fair amount of theatre and have even become a Friend of the Academy (WAAPA). Sometimes this is for sheer stress relief as my corporate job has burst into glorious chaos the last month. But mostly it is to experience the wonderful talent we have in Perth. I enjoy writing reviews and I figure that’s no big ask given the quality of shows I regularly encounter at a usually inexpensive cost. This year I’ve set myself to write something about every production I attend. In the past I tended to only write reviews for the shows I enjoyed. It’s time to man up and cast a critical yet constructive (hopefully) eye over every production.

But rest assured I’m still tapping away at the keyboard working on my own creative endeavours!

The stage curtains open. Richard bows deeply to rapturous applause… spots a half-eaten apple near the footlights, mid bow. Reaches for it… begins to topple… the crowd laugh. The curtains close. Thud.