Unexpectedly Creative October 🎥📻

I watched the film, and it really brought what was already a wacky script to life. The process I was involved was great fun, so I can only imagine how the others felt with the other parts of the team felt.

It did show me that a short can be filmed safely during these times, and offers hope that Three Knocks or any other film I’m a part of can still be viable.

I say I saw the film. That is true, but it was the version that was submitted as part of the challenge. It is still subject to further edits and cleaning up before anyone in the team will make it public, and I’m looking forward to doing so.

Reflecting on the rest of October, I refer you back to my initial foray into audio writing and I’m now toying with a few other ideas and seeking opportunities while ‘Alley’ takes pride of place in a digital in-tray for future consideration.

I’ve also worked on other projects of mine- including reworking the ending of ‘Today’s Date’ which I have deliberately let gather dust so I could somewhat objectively re-examine it. I’ll seek further feedback before I decide what to do with it 🤔

‘(Un)Civility’ and ‘Must Not Run’ are in the hands of a table-reading group, who are seeking actors and deciding what to do with it. I’m actually hoping they are going to be brutally honest with their feedback so I can assess their viability 🙈

And lastly, children’s fiction. I fell into (the idea of) it earlier this year, and scribbled down a couple of ideas. I’ve enjoyed re-drafting them and look forward to doing more with them as this year draws to a close.

So, yes, and unexpectedly busy October. Let’s hope the rest of this year is even more busy…

Thank you for reading.

Scribbling In Tandem 🖌

As I write this, the filming has just finished on our team’s London 48 Hour Film Project.

To observe current restrictions, and the Rule Of Six, I have been contributing remotely where required, though that has not occurred all that often today, a sign that we are likely onto something here.

As the completed film will eventually be made available for consumption, I’ll keep my powder dry on specifics, but to say it covers a genre and style I am unfamiliar with (or would turn to in my own writing) would be an understatement.

And that makes me even more relieved the project had a team of writers with rolling input and feedback from our director, Dom and producer Naomi.

Before I treat the process that we undertook, it’s worth speaking about how we came to design the script that we did.

In the early part of Friday, the team received a list of 36 combination of film genres in our group.

For example, ‘Thriller/Comedy’ or ‘Western/coming of age’ so there could be seemingly incompatible types of films placed together and depending on how many of them a team wanted to incorporate, truly inventive or out-of-the-box ideas could be developed.

On the list, I noticed one particular combination of genres that encapsulated all of what I would NOT want to be dealing with with only 48 hours.

I even joked about it within our group. We’ll call it ‘Number 31’. And it quickly became clear that I shared this sentiment with a lot of the team.

So, came the evening Zoom meeting where everything was set in motion, and no prizes for guessing what happened…

Yes, a virtual (and randomised) wheel matched our team with ‘Number 31’. The exact combination we dreaded getting 🤦🏿‍♂️

But, after a moment or two, we rallied, said we would get on with it, and the writers convened virtually to put ideas together. One of first things we did was decide to focus on one of the genres, rather than both and use filming techniques and effects to highlight tropes.

After a short period, each of the 3 writers (me included) pitched ideas and Dom, actor and Producer, Naomi, and the other actors, placed them together and after a few drafts, edits and moveable ideas, our completely barmy short script was complete at about 1am. It contained the required prop, the required line and the required character, as adopts a tone befitting of our combined knowledge of the genre 🤣

Anyone who has seen ‘Calls’ or/and ‘Get In, Get Done, Get Out’ knows my sensibilities can be a little… eccentric, but this is truly out-of-the-box, even for me 😉

Having never written as part of a (real time) collaboration before, I really enjoyed the bouncing of ideas and getting (as well as giving) feedback and perspective on what was being devised. And will now actively pursue this in future.

And that brings me back to tonight, at the end of the shoot. Having seen some of the raw footage, and being a party to some of the production ideas, I think it will turn out well and should be enjoyable to anyone who sees it.

Though there is still the process of editing and post-production to be done before submission at 18:30 tomorrow, I just wanted to pass this on, with the message that team work and a mix of ideas can be of immense benefit, as I have found out in relation to what I enjoy doing the most.

I’ll be back with one more update at some point tomorrow or Monday.

Thank you for reading.

48 Hours?… There Goes The Weekend! 🎥

So, I’ve basically given up this coming weekend 😳

But, it’s OK, because it’s in the name of creativity.

Yesterday, during the course of my lunch, a notification flashed from a name I recognised but had not heard from in a little while. On that basis, I was curious and pleased to hear from him.

You see, we had met a couple of years ago at a preliminary meeting of writers and filmmakers for a 1 Month Challenge, and there seemed to be interest in a collaboration. Though it didn’t happen on that occasion, I had his business card, and the intention remained.

I went on to produce ‘Calls’ and ‘Get In, Get Done, Get Out’ while he went on to do some significant work, including on a big budget film a year or so ago.

When I picked up the phone and flicked through the messages, I was surprised to be asked to join a team as a writer/co-writer for the annual 48 Hour Film Project 2020. I had considered participating in previous editions, but the pieces never fell into place, so I was immediately curious. One introductory Zoom call later, and I was in.

So what is this challenge about? Using this year’s timings, the teams will join a Zoom call on Friday at roughly 18:00 to reflect the remoteness, where they will be given 2 genres from groupings, as well as a required line, a required character and required prop. All must be included in the film, which must be written, rehearsed, shot, and post-produced to submission at about 18:30 on Sunday evening.

So, with my intention to help where I can, I (along with a co-writer) will need to write a script, incorporating all the required elements, by the end of Friday. This in itself is interesting because I’ve never written with anyone else before, and I look forward to collaborating on a project, and taking in new ideas and feedback in real time.

After that, I’ll see what I can do to assist the rest of the production process, which will take into account current restrictions and safety precautions, as long as my presence does not compromise any of them.

So, yes, it’s another new challenge and one that could effectively end my weekend before it begins, but I’m very much looking forward to it and to making new creative friends.


Thank you for reading.

Not This Time 📻

‘Not This Time’ was part of the title on the subject line, so thankfully, I knew what to expect when I opened the e-mail.

I’d seen the contents plenty of times in the past when applying for jobs.

Once upon a time I would have been consumed with disappointment and the feeling of rejection. Then, I was insecure about myself and my talents, and took things like that to heart.

I wished I had learned earlier that, professionally and creatively, not hearing ‘yes’ is not the same as hearing ‘never’, because I’d have taken lessons contained at the time and I might even be further along than I am now in many ways.

Why such a pre-amble to what is a fairly straightforward main body?

In this case, it is because I wanted to show a marked difference in how I deal with not hearing ‘yes’ the first time, and how I look for (and find) positivity.

As you’ve probably guessed, my submission of ‘Alley’ was not selected for this Season of the Ragged Scratch Podcast, which is not a spectacular surprise given the fact it is my very first attempt at an audio script.

And given that it was my first effort, the feedback was very positive. Had I not sought the positive, I would have missed the fact that it was shortlisted, and the other bits of feedback:

Solid, with a nice twist and natural dialogue. Would possibly tweak the ‘VO’ lines so it’s all either said out loud or tweaked to a reaction noise instead. Feels like it could be the start of a full length play”

So, not only does it not require a wholesale re-write, but it could be expanded.

At the moment, I don’t have anything in mind relating to expansion or further development of the story.

I’ve taken them up on their offer to hold on to “Alley” for consideration in their next window, but will address the suggestions in the interim, so it stands a chance that time around.

I’ll also start working on other radio plays, and travel down this new avenue.

And then, there’s the table read for ‘(Un)Civility’ or/and ‘Must Not Run’ 😉…

Thanks for reading…

Making (Air)Waves? 📻

Yes, this site is still a thing, and thank you to all those who have checked in on a regular basis.

In short, I’ve been writing. A lot. Short stories (both aimed at children-more on that another time, and older people- more on that another time also) and scripts for various mediums, and that is where this post will venture.

A few years ago, a former work manager (who, for the purpose of this post, I will call Chloe 😉) put the idea in my head that I should perhaps try to write an audio script.

I didn’t explore it as I focussed on my short films (one of which is on this site), and more recently, short stories written in prose and poetry. But it came back from time to time, especially when I’d listen to a drama on the BBC, and the occasional drama/serial podcast.

Then earlier on this year, I came across a Facebook page for an initiative called ‘Ragged Foil Productions’ that invites submissions for 5-8 minute audio scripts.

Full of gusto, I started to scratch my brain for ideas. But then, my mind blanked and I missed the deadline.

‘No worry’ I thought, as I would wait for the next series. But then, everything was put on hold. We all know why…

I thought my chance was gone and my focus went back to my other writing projects.

I took in a series of podcasts from ‘Ragged Foils’ including the very good ‘The Art Of Ambition’ that was developed from a single submission in the last round of scripts.

And then… Series 3 was announced, and I decided this was absolutely the time to get to work on an audio script.

The original plan was to adapt my dystopian short ‘(Un)Civility’ for it, but it didn’t feel right, and ‘Must Not Run’ may not be well received within the medium, so I decided to create something from scratch.

As horrible and tragic as this year has been, health-wise, socially and economically, it has provided inspiration for creatives all living through this moment in history.

And that was the basis of the 6-page script I created, named ‘Alley’ at the very last moment.

Set during a fairly busy night time, it still manages to isolate the characters, and I ended up having a great time creating it, and adding quirks and elements to the people. There are a couple of nods to the current climate without it being all-encompassing, and I think it works quite well.

I plan to document this journey, provided “Alley” is selected for development.

But, it’s still not my best work, and is in a medium I’ve never written before, so there’s that element of doubt it will be selected, which might make this the shortest series of posts I’ve created 🤣

Whatever happens, I’m delighted I finally got an audio play written, and yes, this is a medium I plan to revisit.

Thank you for reading.

Non-Fiction: The Mask Narrative

Hello all,

Before I get to the main body of this impromptu post, I’d like to say that I’m not here to extol the virtues or decry the negatives of mask wearing or how it is being applied locationally by the Government. Just a few thoughts and speculation not based on any science.

Watching the Sky News Press Preview earlier this week, the first item was the directive laid down that from the 24th of this month, face coverings in shops would be mandatory- though arguably, it’s become less clear, since then.

As is the way with this item, they had someone politically right-leaning, and someone left-leaning. The right-winger rather objected to the idea that the element of choice had been removed and compared it to being ‘muzzled’. I immediately thought that I’d heard that narrative somewhere. Then it hit me immediately- The United States, where the issue of wearing masks had become as political as listening to expert scientific advice.

Fast forward to a few moments ago, and I headed out, headphones over my ears and mask over my nose and mouth. I started to notice something, but my focus was mainly on what I was going to order. As I made my journey, it became more pronounced, especially with what I made out to be suspicious and cautious expressions.

I noticed it when I walked past the local pub, and saw the people sat at tables outside. After I made the order and when I was walking back home, it happened as it did before. The almost puzzled looks and evasive action.

As I neared my home, I could see a couple walking in my direction, the man had a child in a baby carrier.

As I neared them, making sure to move to the side, I noted the man protectively put his arms around the head of the child. As any parent would in these uncertain times…

… Except I was wearing a mask.

They were not wearing a mask. In fact, absolutely nobody else on that 20 minute trip out of my home wore a mask. No-one else walking down the street, no-one outside the pub, no-one in shops, no-one where I ordered food or on the way back.

It was very striking and when I sat down at home, I gave it some thought. Not about the absence of masks. I’ll let you make your own judgements on that or why that could be.

Rather, I thought back to the suspicious and puzzled looks I was getting, and specifically the protective action the father took with his child. Depending on what you feel about mask coverings, I was possibly the person least likely to be a threat to them. Who knows, maybe that was the beginning of a repetitive action he’ll take tonight.

But following a specific train of thought, I considered the possibility that the narrative behind mask wearing will shortly change.

Will those who wear masks imminently be seen as the bigger threat?

“They said wearing masks was to prevent you (the wearer) from potentially infecting others. So if you’re wearing a mask, does that mean you’ve got COVID-19? Are you infected? Are you a danger to everyone else?”

And let’s not forget the freedom of choice, civil liberties argument that will likely grow legs over the next few weeks.

And I’m counting down the days until the first security guard openly challenges me on their inability to see my face fully in a shop or makes it clear I’m being watched 🤦🏿‍♂️

So the mask-wearing narrative and how it could (further) divide the country might be one to look out for…

Dinner was nice, by the way 😂

Comments welcome below.

Thanks for reading.

I Said

I said I wouldn’t publish anything on this point as other people could do it clearer and more eloquently. Ironic coming from a writer.

I said that people would understand my desire (and right) to internalise my feelings. They did. But I didn’t.

Why risk friendships, my job potentially and the investment in this platform to address something that touched me in a way that took me by surprise when I saw that video from Minneapolis, Minnesota? Not worth it, right?

Right?

Wrong.

I said I wouldn’t write this out on a notepad beforehand, so bear with me if the rest of this is quite short, quite long or something in between.

On May 26th, in the early hours, I was just mucking around on Twitter when someone I follow posted a 10 minute video from that evening. The time difference between the U.K. and U.S meant it was a very recent event. It showed an officer kneeling on the neck of a black man, as onlookers barracked the officer and his colleague who stood by. My focus was on the unseen man calling the police names, and not on the man begging for his life. I hadn’t even noticed, so commonplace was that kind of restraint against people who look like me.

It wasn’t until the onlookers pointed out that the man under knee had stopped moving that I realised what I was meant to be paying attention to all along and missed. After learning that his name was George Floyd and that he had died, I immediately put down my device and felt something I had not felt in a long, long time.

I felt different, because this was different. Yes, I’d seen the John Crawford III video, sighed at the details of the Breonna Taylor shooting, and had shaken my head at the Ahmaud Arbery killing a few weeks prior, but this was different. It was public, it was captured. It was clear. There was no mistaking what was there, and it lasted 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

The reaction, and global action demonstrated it was not only different, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. People had enough. We had enough. I had enough.

It forced us to look at ourselves and our role in what is a very real problem. No longer was the immediate reaction that of “Oh, here we go again” accompanied by rolling eyes 🙄

The way black people were regarded and treated was no longer unseen by everyone else. “Oh, so they weren’t lying or being paranoid” seemed to be the refrain. The natural instinct to push back against meaningful discussion was no longer there. Of course, the discussion, slogans and symbols are experiencing pushback now, and the “Ok, you’ve made your point now” eye-rolling has resumed, but with less force than before.

As for me, I was in the midst of structuring the following parts of the ‘Today’s Date’ story I was working on. That was May 26th. I haven’t touched it since.

For the best part of 2 months, I’ve felt that most of my writing up to now has been meaningless. Where was the strand of truth in my short stories? My short films, though I’m proud of them, stayed away from social issues I could speak best about. Why was that?

The truth was the exact reason I haven’t raised it in team meetings and wasn’t going to comment publicly: I didn’t want to make other people feel uncomfortable, and because the rawness of the moment meant I uncharacteristically couldn’t be sure how I could articulate it.

It caused me to think back to the times I was profiled by the police, the time I was jumped trying to help another black person who was targeted. Insensitive to outright racist comments, being spoken to differently to lighter people, being compared to animals in behaviour and looks, eyed with suspicion on the street, refused entry to establishments due to unstated ‘policy’, being spat at, spat on, and labelled aggressive when I raised a challenge on well… anything.

And, let’s not forget being fetishised. You can work that one out.

Basically, the usual.

So while I am blessed to be part of this moment in time, thankful for the family I’m from, grateful for my name, heritage and upbringing, I’ve forced myself to examine what I’m putting out there and the message I’m sending.

If my amazing white/non-black friends can show out, then so can I through my art.

If actor Charles Dale can accurately portray (unconscious) attitudes via the medium of verse, I can lift my head and use my God-given ability to speak to you all.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon my current work, or turn this into a socio-political platform, but I’m no longer going to shy away from that which matters to me now more than ever. I have a responsibility to people like me, people unlike me, my Queen and any children I have in future.

I said I wouldn’t, but that’s not the most responsible thing I said.

A ‘Brief’ Word

To those here in the U.K, I hope you’re having as good a Bank Holiday as is realistically possible right now. To the readers in the United States, have a good Memorial Day. To others around the world, the same sentiment applies… minus the Bank Holiday element 🤔

This post will be a brief one (“he says” 😂) as I only want to update you on a couple of things.

For those who have taken a few moments to read the two versions of ‘Today’s Date’ on this site, I thank you very much. The links will follow. It was only meant to be a one-off sweet tale showing positivity in these darkest and loneliest times. Plus it gave me the opportunity to experiment with a new structure…

But then proverbial wheels started turning, and I wondered what Simone had to say about all of this. So I explored her and her life, and discovered that there was probably a wider story I could tell while looking at other ways I can tell the story.

A word on this. You will see another 1-2 parts of ‘Today’s Date’ posted in here, then I’ll have a decision or two to make regarding what happens to the rest of it…

https://lanrefiction.com/2020/04/15/todays-date/

https://lanrefiction.com/2020/05/19/todays-date-simone/

The feedback has been largely positive and I’m touched by that, though only 2 people have been able to identify the pattern I utilised in Simone’s perspective 😉

Lastly, though I’ve posted them here, they are by no means the ‘finished article’ and will be amended on a regular basis. Hope you enjoy…

Thank you for reading, and remember to stay safe.