Here’s an extract from my feature film script, The Darning Needle. The Darning Needle has been with me a long time, originally writing the treatment for my MA. Since then it’s gone through many drafts, and the story and themes have altered as I’ve changed my perspectives on things and my writing ability has developed. In its final form, it follows the protagonist Elissa as she’s held back from achieving her dreams by the selfish motivations of those around her (even those closest to her). I’ve decided not to continue with further drafts as, as I’ve mentioned, it has been through many changes over a long period of time, and I think it better to start afresh with new works that can benefit from a purer, more focused vision.
After setting myself the task of writing a number of scripts specifically catered to Cardiff Mini Film Festival’s criteria, I wrote seven in total; three of which weren’t selected to be filmed. One of which was Toast, which can be found here. Another was The Artists, a comedy inspired by Vic and Bob, and Wham! that acts as a commentary on the life of the independent artist (earning just enough through their work to carry on producing further work). And finally, Marching Orders, another comedy, that shows how a positive attitude can affect those around you, and a negative one can do just the same. I felt these last two scripts’ dependence on music made them less preferable to the ones I finally selected as it gave them more of a music video quality.
Toast is a script I wrote as a possible contender to be filmed for Cardiff Mini Film Festival. It ended up being rejected in favour of other scripts as its plot was more complex and it would require a more elaborate production: the festival favours simplicity. It’s a comedy about how lack of communication and pent up feelings lead to antagonism. It’s, in a way, a reboot (well, they are in fashion) of an earlier film, The Housemate from Hell. There is much I still admire about that film. In particular, its themes of suppressed anxiety (that weren’t intentional, but I’ve since recognised), and as my ability has developed greatly in the four years since its conception, I felt I could write a more focused and efficient script in a similar vain.
Tell Me About It, Sam (script) was inspired by a real-life incident, in which I met a man who seemed to know me and preceded to have a long conversation with me about his personal life even though I hadn’t a clue who he was. I thought it was an ideal concept for a comedy film for Cardiff Mini Film Festival as it could take place in a single location – on a bench – and provided the opportunity for a punchline/twist ending. I felt the best method of filming would be a three camera set up, covering the action from all angles so we could run through the whole script in one take. To do this, I would require actors who could learn all their lines; a skill surprisingly lacking in actors solely working in film. Therefore, I cast two experienced theatre actors who I had seen perform multiple times, and who had displayed impressive skill as a comedy double act.
Unexpectedly, Sam turns counsellor to an old friend with relationship problems, or at least he thinks he’s an old friend, but for the life of him, he can’t remember his name!
Inspired to produce something simple to suit Cardiff Mini Film Festival’s criteria, I wrote Goldfish; a script based around the protagonist’s confined environment. It illustrates how you can miss out on life by not breaking from routine; paralleling the life of the protagonist stuck in his tiny flat with that of his goldfish. Although the premise was simple, I felt the production would benefit from some expert lighting and colour grading to further highlight these parallels and enhance the slightly surreal tone. For this purpose, I brought onboard Steven Owen, whose lighting served Bamboo House so well, and his associate Jack Longley. Both proved invaluable.
Huw lives a life of routine, never leaving the familiar environment of his flat. In an odd break from tradition, it’s up to his pet goldfish, Gil, to put an end to his static lifestyle.
Additional: Since my original post, Goldfish has been selected for Loch Ness Film Festival 2017, Nightpiece Film Festival 2017, Hellfire Short Film Festival’s 12th Round 2017, Brighton Rocks Film Festival 2018 and The Short Film Show 2018, shortlisted for Best Adult Fiction at St Neots Film Festival 2017, nominated in the One Minute Wonder category at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2017 and for both Best Fantasy and Best Original Content at Nottingham International Microfilm Festival 2018, and reached the finals of the Oniros Film Awards August 2017!
The Prophet (script) was inspired by an old proverb I came across on the internet:
“The man said to the Prophet, ‘give me advice’. The Prophet said, ‘do not get angry’. The man asked repeatedly, and the Prophet answered each time, ‘do not get angry'”.
I found the proverb amusing as the man persistently questions the Prophet even though he’s already given his answer, seeming like he’s attempting to aggravate him and get him to contradict himself. This was the basis for the film. I also incorporated subtext about the irrationality of having an unquestionable text and the hypocrisy of religious violence.
A modern-day prophet has some sage advice for an inquisitive young man, but he’s not about to take it without question.
Additional: Since my original post, The Prophet has been selected for Brighton Rocks Film Festival 2018 and Short to the Point November 2017, and won the One Minute Wonder category at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2017!
How Not To Be Single is a YouTube comedy series created by James Musgrove of J.A.M Productions that follows the highs and lows of four friends struggling with single life. I’m working on the series as co-director, cameraman, and scriptwriter. Although I was merely a mentor during the writing of episode one, due to my extensive experience and a fast approaching production date, I was asked to write the entirety of episode two; working from a brief from James. Matt was to move out of his old place and in with AJ, the lads would throw a housewarming party, and they’d all have to fail at being single due to their various foibles; the rest was mine to play with!
For a moment, you may think you’re rewatching episode one as it starts similarly with a knock at Matt’s front door. This isn’t derivative writing but an intentional motif that I wish to reflect Matt’s recovery from his break-up. Episode one, he couldn’t even answer, now he can but in low spirits; what will episode three show? The main characters’ personalities were so wonderfully defined in episode one – AJ, the father figure who pulls everyone together, Pat, the anally-retentive math geek, Simon, the mouthy narcissist, and Matt, the insecure victim in need of his friends’ support – that I made sure these characteristics were continued in episode two, but I also added some development, particularly for Matt and Simon, so the series doesn’t stand still.
The word constantly going around my head during writing was ‘dynamic’. Although a sitcom will inevitably have far more dialogue and be less visually driven than your standard short film, I didn’t want any scene to be solely about the dialogue and strove to always have an interesting action, location or visual element at play. This, as well as elements of the brief, led to a vastly increased cast that delayed production due to actors’ availability. The challenge of episode three will be continuing with this dynamic style while sticking to the main cast. We’re on a high after episode two, having surpassed our goals despite setbacks, and believe we’re more than up to it!