Making Music

Pt.1 Style counseling. Long before movies had sound, they had music. Not the 10,000 piece orchestra of Hans Zimmer*—instead, a single pianist on a cheap upright piano, or later a cinema organ, improvising to the picture as it played. Nonetheless, from near the beginning, moving images relied on music as a trusty guide, steering the […]

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No More Heroes Anymore

The Hero’s Journey: mythic or myth? ☛ Toby Litt recently wrote a fascinating article in which he argued that writing screenplays about climate issues has become difficult because movie screenwriters, and indeed audiences, have all got too use to the Hero’s Journey model of storytelling. His logic goes that tackling climate change requires collective action, […]

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Meditations on Monochrome

Should we be defaulting to colour? ☛ During the first film on which I worked, I got chatting to an old-timer in the camera department who bemoaned the lack of black-and-white films being shot. “You’ve got to have a reason to shoot in colour,” he argued. I should add that this was in the ’90s […]

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Cast Away

The Joy of Small Cast Screenplays ☛ Times being what they are, and social distancing being a fact of film sets for the foreseeable, we’re all scrabbling around for ways to deal with the restrictions this creates. What seems to be generally agreed is that scripts with small casts will be considerably easier to film. […]

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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 […]

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The Heart of the Matter

The Primacy of Emotion in Screenwriting ☛ Emotion is at the heart of every story. This statement won’t sound controversial if you write relationship dramas or rom-coms, but those of you who pen complex political thrillers or action movies will probably disagree. If you do, you’re wrong and I’ll tell you why. In a bit. […]

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Not ‘How’ but ‘What’

There’s a question that’s on the lips of virtually no screenwriter. So how is that a good subject for a blog? Because, while they rarely ask it openly, it’s a question all writers will have asked themselves privately at some point in their career. And it is: What should I write? Whether you take that […]

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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 […]

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