First off, sorry this is a couple of weeks late. I started a PGCE in September (more on that later), and my coursework has taken priority. Right then, let’s get to it. Last year I congratulated myself on my most productive year to date and predicted big success was just around the corner! Was I right in my assumption? Let’s find out!
The Darning Needle did not achieve the big success I’d hoped it would, failing to be selected for the Wales Drama Award or the Script Room. However, in preparation for selection, I came up with three outlines for Doctor Who episodes that will come in handy if I do ever find myself brought before the BBC bigwigs; I hope to develop them further as well as coming up with a few more. I recently went back to treatment with The Darning Needle, planning a further draft, but it’s taken a back seat to my PGCE. The Darning Needle has been with me three years now, but being the best example of my long-form writing, it’s essential to continually update it until I come up with something new. I’d love to write a new feature, but with the busy year I have ahead, that may have to wait. I also received another rejection from the BBC after submitting two scripts to their Class Dismissed series (my one about Mr Plank the woodwork teacher was quality, the name alone sells it, I don’t know what they were thinking). I won’t be posting these, though, as there may be another opportunity to submit them in the future.
My greatest success this year by far has come with my filmmaking/writing in the short-form. In January, having wrapped up production on Bamboo House, I set my sights on Cardiff Mini Film Festival. Having been nominated the previous year, I was determined that this year I’d come home a winner. I tasked myself to write a number of scripts through January and then select the best for filming and submission. I wrote seven within the month (five in one week), and we managed to film four before the deadline. Three of them were nominated along with Bamboo House, and I did indeed come home a winner as The Prophet was victorious in the One Minute Wonder category! Further success would follow throughout the year, the films gaining multiple competition/festival nominations and selections; Goldfish reaching the finals of the Oniros Film Awards and Bob winning Short Film Sharer! Producing these successful films led to me making many new connections through networking at festivals, increasing my online presence via a Facebook page, creating posters for all my Outré Media productions, editing a slideshow advert and a showreel, and securing my first television interview! I did have one negative festival experience, but always striving to take some good from bad experiences, I decided to produce a festival submission guide so that others wouldn’t make the same mistakes I had.
It was also another great year for collaborations and making new connections. How Not To Be Single episode two – this time written entirely by myself – was completed at the start of the year, and it was unanimously agreed that it topped the original! Sadly, the planned third and final episode of the series has yet to surface due to various reasons including actors leaving the country. Studying for my PGCE, I would be unable to take on a large role on the project, but I’ve been encouraging the show’s creator to carry on with myself acting only as script-editor; so fingers-crossed! Speaking of script-editing, I also secured that position on the web series Long Shots. The series is still in post-production and I’m greatly looking forward to its release, it being the most prestigious, high-budget project I’ve worked on. Long Shots was one of two writing jobs I gained this year by passing an application/interview process, which has given me confidence of my high-ranking position in Cardiff’s writing community. The other job was for Stuart Thomas of Stu’s Reviews, who hired me to write a script working from his brief; hopefully you’ll be seeing the finished film later in the year. I also joined a new filmmaking group, Film Focus Wales. Through the group, I’ve redrafted one script, Snow White and the Seven Convictions, that went on to be filmed with me acting as sound recordist, and unofficial advisor due to my vast experience. Again, you’ll hopefully see this later in the year. Due to my PGCE commitments, I won’t be taking on any producing or directing roles within the group, but I’ve offered them a number of scripts I’m happy for them to film. One of which, Marching Orders, is in pre-production. Having not handed over complete control of one of my scripts before, I’m looking forward to the results.
My most fruitful collaboration has been with Rachel Pedley-Miller of Avant Cymru. Not only did I produce the trailers for Avant’s Killer Cells, but I was also asked to film and edit Lands of Our Fathers, a half-hour documentary about the Rhondda’s immigrant ancestry. It was quite the experience being the longest single project I’ve ever been involved with and documentary not being my usual field. It’s had one screening so far, and we’re hoping for more this upcoming year. James Humphreys has yet again proved an invaluable contact, asking me to take part in one of his ScriptDawg events, test-running Tell Me About It, Sam on stage before filming. ScriptDawg is a great venture and a lot of fun, but I have no plans to pursue theatre work as it is not my passion or where my talents truly lie. James also encouraged me to take up home tutoring via the Tutora agency. This not only became my main source of income for the year but also a truly rewarding experience as I helped a number of struggling GCSE students achieve passing grades. It also inspired my decision to take a PGCE. My hope when I graduate is to gain a part-time position as a lecturer so I can still carry on my filmmaking/writing career while having the security of a well paid permanent job and hopefully making a difference in people’s lives.
One thing I’ve neglected this year is film/TV analyses/reviews. I had plans for a few but my filming/scriptwriting has taken priority, which is definitely for the best as that’s what I want to make my career from. Nevertheless, analysing and reviewing other people’s work is vital for inspiration and keeping one’s screen language skills sharp, and it’s a lot of fun, so it’s still my aim to publish my thoughts on some films and Doctor Who episodes in future. I’ve been aching to do The Seeds of Doom for ages, so hopefully that’ll be on this year’s list. First and foremost to this year’s plan is passing my PGCE, though. This will mean I’ll have less time for writing/filmmaking, at least until June – I’ve already had to turn down the opportunity to write/direct for Emojis of Horror, which would’ve been a cool project – but as well as Film Focus and Stuart Thomas, I’m on the lookout for other filmmakers to produce my work. Getting something produced on a big budget by a professional crew would be ideal. For this reason, along with the great opportunity it’d bring, I’m determined to be selected for It’s My Shout 2018, so will be producing a number of tailored scripts, much as I did for Cardiff Mini Film Festival. On top of all this, I’ll be continuing to submit my films produced this year to competitions/festivals, and I’m confident they’ll be more selections, nominations and winners ahead, and I’ll make many more connections.
So, do I feel I’ve achieved big success this year? Sure. I’ve topped last year for productivity and recognition, and my ability continues to develop rapidly. But am I satisfied? No, I want more! And I’m confident I’m going to get it. I’m certain I’ll build on what I’ve achieved and see similar success this forthcoming year. I feel I can accomplish anything if I set my mind to it, and with effort and perseverance, all my goals will be achieved.