tips

10 tips for Making it in the Music Industry – Nile Rodgers, Part 1

For anyone wanting to be a musician, these 3 programmes by the BBC are full of 40 years of experience and advice from Nile Rodgers, who has been at the forefront of popular musicianship for so long, he’s practically the figurehead on its prow.

His CV (the 2 minute version)

(more…)

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typewriter, poem

Getting poetry published (3) in Poetry Magazines

Some excellent advice for new poets here, from Claire Askew, in the Scottish Poetry book trust post here.

1. Write lots of poems – Claire chose 41 poems to put in a book from an original pile of 150 poems.  That improves the quality of the chosen ones.  Also, when submitting to a journal, and waiting to hear back, you can’t send those same poems somewhere else so…. you need a lot of poems ready to send.

2. Best piece of writing advice she was given – “You can only have a first book, once”. There are literary prizes for a first poetry collection – so you want to wait until you’ve got a really strong first book put together.  Don’t rush into publishing too early!  Some famous writers have spent their lives trying to buy up all copies of their first book, to destroy because the style is so unlike their true voice (Norman MacCaig did this).

3. Get into the poetry community.  Claire got early opportunities because she met people in a writing group or someone heard her performing her poetry.  Join a good workshop group, go to open mic nights and perform, and hear about other opportunities through getting to know other writers.

Here’s one of Claire’s poems, set to video (the first 41 seconds are scenesetting, unsettling experiemental noises – you can skip ahead to the poem if you prefer).

 

 

creative pledge

Screenwriting Masterclass: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Phil Lord and Chris Miller, screenwriters or producers on such diverse projects as “The Lego Movie”, “21 Jump Street”, “Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs”, TV’s “How I met your Mother” (3 episodes), “The Lego Batman movie“…. give a masterclass on screenwriting and producing.  They break it up really well.  So although they speak for 53 minutes, they’re worth hearing.

They have a relaxed way of presenting together, bring in some crazy fun but over and over again repeat that they’re obsessive about making every tiny part of their projects absolutely brilliant – refusing to settle for merely excellent.  As the presentation continues, and this is repeated, you realise that they are speaking truly.

Screen shot 2017-09-25 at 02.26.15They speak for under an hour – and then there is a further 30 minutes of questions and answers – which are good – so worth setting aside the full one hour and a half to watch in its entirety.  They are amusing, honest about early failures and difficulties and how they won through was – no surprise, folks – lots of hard work.  They write and rewrite and rewrite and tweak and rewrite, show to friends, rewrite.

 

 

Screen shot 2017-09-25 at 02.33.25

One tip which came across clearly was to show your script to other people – no matter who they are in the studio pecking order or whether they’re friends/family – they’re a person with an honest opinion – and as writer you should listen up, because you are too close to the project to see its flaws.  It’s humility – but it’s also good sense.

The two voices give variety to what is said, and there are plenty of illustrations and clips from their projects:

Along the way, they present their maths of working as a partnership:

half the money, twice the effort, twice the time = an output which is 1.3 times better!

They also lead the audience in a pledge to make work, and are adamant that all humans are creative, anyone can do the work they do but it is hard work, done repetitively.

What they’ve also learned along the way are, like all important learning, found through failure and near failure.  One vital lesson was learning to listen to other people’s feedback and recognise that making a film is a hugely collaborative venture.  Also, to recognise that even at the end, the film is actually ‘made’ in the imagination of the viewers.  And this is one reason given for really listening to someone/anyone who has an opinion on the work – because if they don’t get the story clearly, then likely the final paying punters will find it puzzling in the same way.

A film is about RELATIONSHIP not just CHARACTER.

This is a great insight – at one point, “Cloudy with Meatballs” was about a main character and a situation – it was funny but there wasn’t a real sense of involvement, until they made one of the characters the father of the hero – and the hero wanted to get his taciturn father’s approval.

Screen shot 2017-09-25 at 03.31.32If you want to be a screen writer, then watching this interview is a good thing to do – yes, it is long, but that gives enough time to talk pleasantly and with humour through the whole career process.

In fact, the whole series of “Genius” strand of masterclasses by BAFTA looks worth a checkout.  See them here.

BAFTA Guru screenwriting

Screenwriting Tips from the professionals

Ever wondered how other people write the scripts for films and TV? Here’s a 7 minute video of interviews with a range of awardwinning screenwriters, put together by BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and without further ado, here it is….

Topics covered

  • What is your writing practice?
  • What do you do in a writing day?
  • Should you write about areas you know about from personal experience?
  • What happens during adapting a book for screen?
  • When do you let other people see what you’re writing?
  • Do you need any script when you’re improvising?
  • Advice for new writers?  (Keep going!  Watch films/tv which has writing you admire)

 

Writers Interviewed

John Morton (Twenty Twelve, W1A, People like Us)

David Magee (Life of Pi, Finding Neverland)

Joanna Scanlon (Getting On)

Ol Parker (The Best Marigold Hotel)

 

Fresh Guacamole

Hey – it’s the weekend!  Let’s make Guacamole!  How hard can it be?  I think I’ve got a recipe by PES somewhere…..

Here are a few recipe notes from film-maker PES, compiled from various interviews:

Salon Magazine: Have you ever calculated the number of hours of work that go into each second of your finished film?

No. I try not to do that, really. The funny thing about it is, I would almost guarantee that I spend more time thinking about a film than shooting it. I work on these ideas for years, you know, I finally reach a point where I’m like, “OK, I’m ready to shoot this.” I really don’t like to pick up a camera until I’m ready to go and I know the ending and I have a clear vision of everything. I produced “Fresh Guacamole” in four months, which seems like a long time to a lot of people for a 1 minute 40 second film. My friend told me I’ve been thinking about it since 2004, as far as he can remember.

full interview at: http://www.salon.com/2013/02/10/pes_i_worked_on_this_for_years

In a Creative Review UK, he gave movie making tips:

“Something I encourage all filmmakers to do is make your ideas as short as possible. Your goal isn’t to make the longest film you can make, it’s to get rid of anything superfluous,” he says.

“I also kind of feel like it’s respectful to your viewer to not overstay your welcome. You should know the length of your idea…. The whole reason I do previs is to figure out what I don’t need as much as what I do … and my goal is always to find the simplest, most direct, leanest way to tell a story.”

He also stresses the importance of having a clear story arc. It’s a simple concept, but one that is all too often overlooked in overly long ads.

Calming words

Writer Anne Lamott before her 61st birthday sat down and wrote all the truths she absolutely knew.  They include the importance of radical self-care

“Being full of affection for one’s goofy, self-centred, cranky, annoying self is home; it’s where world peace begins.”

“Every writer you know writes really terrible first drafts – but they keep their butt in the chair… they do it by prearrangement with themselves, they do it as a debt of honour.”

“if people want you to write more warmly about them – they should have behaved better” (round of applause from the audience)

“Grace is spiritual WD40 or waterwings”

These are words specifically written for people feeling overwhelmed by complicated politics in their country, by rapidly changing world events.  Above all, they are humane and hopeful, positive and spiritual.

10 film-making tips: Terry Gilliam

He who animated the pictures on the Monty Python shows, who filmed “Brazil”, “Time Bandits”, “The Fisher King”, “the Adventures of Baron Munchausen”…. lo he speaketh.

Long story long, there is his autobiography, which he calls his “me-me-me-memoir” and published 4 months ago.  (Judging by which he is beginning to look like Orson Welles…)tgwbook2.jpg

 

Or long story shorter, here are his 10 tips based on what worked for him:

  1. Growing up is for losers
  2. Film School is for foolssearch.jpg
  3. Auteurism is out, fil-teurism is in
  4. Put your ideas in a drawer.  Take them out as needed.
  5. All you’ve really got in life is story
  6. Command the audience with your lens
  7. Nothing can defeat a director who is one with his actors
  8. Surround yourself with improvisers
  9. Directing is not for the faint-of-heart.  Or the sane.
  10. Be an enlightened despot

Ah – but what do all those mystical soundbites mean?

 

Full story an explanation is over at the article from which these 10 ideas were extracted, in Filmmaker:

http://filmmakermagazine.com/36400-the-terry-gilliam-school-of-film-10-lessons-for-directors-today/#.WJiMqiOLQy5