At the beginning of the year, I found myself in a much securer position than at the beginning of the previous year and with a clear objective for the year to come of prioritising the development of my own work over critiquing other people’s.
My main focus has been The Darning Needle, a 3×45 min drama that I’ve submitted to the Wales Drama Award. It’s my best and most substantial work to date and the first full-length piece I’ve been satisfied with (although a writer is never truly satisfied and I’ll go back to it if required). I’m eagerly awaiting the results of the Wales Drama Award, and preparing other work to present to the judges if I’m successful, including an outline for another full-length piece and a Doctor Who episode. At some point after the results, I should be able to share some extracts from The Darning Needle and these other pieces. I’m hopeful for success, but failing any, I’ll have another chance to submit The Darning Needle to the BBC via their Script Room in December.
I’ve also been seeking success with writing in the short-form. Last September, I set myself the target of writing three short films by January, with an eye to film the most suitable as an eligible contender for competitions and festivals throughout the year. The first I finished was Nice Guy. I felt this was least suitable as it wasn’t up to the standard of the other two and its critique of Internet culture would require the potentially long and costly development of a fake social network to avoid copyright. The second, Total Investigation Television, was the script I chose to film. It still provided a critique of Internet culture but was far more easily realised, being shot in the style of the social experiment films it satirised. I was happy with its realisation, its production led to connections with some brilliant actors and organisations that I hope to work with again, and it’s also received some recognition. It’s due to be shown at Made in Roath Arts Festival on October 15th and was nominated for best Fiction at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2016 but failed to win. The final script I wrote, and possibly the best of the three, was A Love Story at Lin’s Kitchen. I decided not to film it immediately as I wanted to submit it to a couple of competitions that offered the prize of having it produced by professionals. Sadly, like Total Investigation Television, it was not successful. I feel on all these occasions, I missed out due to my entries’ incompatibility with the criteria, so next year I’ll be preparing more suitable applicants.
A further unexpected achievement came through our nomination at Cardiff Mini Film Festival. During the networking after-party, I introduced myself to the award hosts, Boyd Clack and Kirsten Jones, and asked them if they’d be interested in starring in A Love Story at Lin’s Kitchen; now retitled, Bamboo House. They loved the script and agreed. Shooting commenced yesterday, and you can keep up to date by watching our video diary. Being my first film to feature professional actors, Bamboo House provides me with a great opportunity, as this will not only enhance the production but potentially draw greater attention to my work than ever before. It will be made public on YouTube in November and submitted to competitions and festivals thereafter; including those we missed deadlines for last year – Cardiff Independent Film Festival – and others that Total Investigation Television was not suitable for due to its limited visual scope. With professional actors on board, impressive locations secured, and greater opportunity for sophisticated cinematography, Bamboo House should be my greatest production yet!
As well as instigating my own projects, I’ve played significant roles in other people’s. I helped out first-year film students at Cardiff and Vale College, acting in one of their shorts, and third-year scriptwriting students at the University of South Wales, assisting at script development classes. It was here I met James Humphreys, a fruitful connection as I went on to perform in a live reading of his script Ringland and was later asked to act at and script edit his first ScriptDawg event, and time permitting I’ll be taking part in all future events. I’ve also been told by senior scriptwriting lecturer, Sian Summers, that she’ll inform me of any further opportunities to assist at the university, which I’m very hopeful to do as I feel my tutoring/script editing ability has been put to good use. Another project where these skills have been utilised is YouTube sitcom series, How Not To Be Single, created by James Musgrove. I helped James develop the script for episode one, taking an advisory position, and then went on to co-direct and film it. Episode two I wrote myself, working from a brief from James, and again I’ve been co-directing and filming. It will be released later this month, and we’re confident it will top episode one. With this huge increase in filming, I hope to produce a showreel very soon or even multiple ones, focusing individually on my acting, camerawork, and writing.
Despite all my filming and scriptwriting work, I’ve still found time for reviews and analyses of film and television. These include E.T., the Star Wars saga, all the X-Men universe films, Ghostbusters 2016, and the classic Doctor Who serial, The Ark. I was particularly proud of my X-Men and Doctor Who posts. The X-Men posts perfected the more light-hearted yet informative blogging style I’ve been trying to move towards after writing formal university essays for years. Next year sees the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, and I’d like to review the Spider-Man franchise in a similar style, as well as the new Wolverine film so I can maintain my complete record. I was pleased to be able to debunk the negative and unfair fan opinion of The Ark, and I’m still hoping to produce many more Doctor Who posts in future. Critiquing at least one story from each Doctor is my next target, as well as an overview of all the Dalek stories, with an accompanying video ranking my best to worst. I also plan to post about Rogue One this Christmas and Trainspotting and its sequel upon its release.
I’ve exceeded my objective as this has been by far my most productive year. I’ve produced my best work, made great connections and received recognition for my efforts. I feel my ability is still progressing at a rapid pace and I’m more focused and confident than ever. I’ve achieved more than I could have hoped for, but I feel now that I’m in such a strong position, next year will reap even greater rewards. Big success is just around the corner!