Emotional Distancing

When to hold back ☛ One of the basic tenets of the industry that has grown up to help screenwriters with their scripts is: make your story as emotional engaging as possible. It’s not bad advice: well-written, emotionally impactful scenes cost the same to shoot as averagely written ones; but they can make the difference […]

Read More Emotional Distancing

Directorial Style

Why directors make their mark ☛ One thing that distinguishes many successful directors is their tendency to leave their own personal stamp on a film. From Woody Allen to Ken Loach, Spike Lee to Tarantino, directors whose names we know often give their films such a distinctive feel that, were we to be dropped into […]

Read More Directorial Style

How to Travel in Time

The Art of the Flashback ☛ Flashbacks are on my mind at the moment. I’m currently working on two feature projects – one as writer, the other as editor – which are structured around multiple time periods, so my brain has got well-used to jumping around in time. Flashbacks are pretty common these days, but […]

Read More How to Travel in Time

“One for Lloyds”?

How many takes to shoot ☛ “One for Lloyds…” is a phrase often heard on movie sets in the UK. It means shooting a second take, even if take one was perfect; y’know, just in case. Lloyds is the centre of the British insurance market – I believe their policies once demanded that a minimum of […]

Read More “One for Lloyds”?

How Long You’ll Need to Edit…

…and When You Should Stop ☛ One question that I’m often asked when interviewing for a low-budget feature is: “how long do you think you’ll need?” The answer is… it’s complicated. There used to be a rule of thumb for feature films: 1.5 times the length of the shoot. This was based on the assumption […]

Read More How Long You’ll Need to Edit…

Brando recognition

When is a good actor not a good actor? ☛ A weird thing sometimes happens when two or more people sit down in a cutting room and look through takes. They will agree on which take has the smoothest camera move or focus pull, there’ll be little disagreement about whether the shoot looks better with […]

Read More Brando recognition

The Root of Rootability

How to Make your Protagonist Engaging I don’t think I’m the only screenwriter to be frustrated when I’m given the note “Couldn’t the main character be… just a bit more likeable?” My frustration comes partly from the fact that a lot of my protagonists are intentionally not conventionally likeable, and partly from the note having […]

Read More The Root of Rootability