year roundup

So, How About That 2020?

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Astute and observant readers may notice that I haven’t posted an update here since January.

Well.

What a year it’s been.

In the tail end of 2019 we in the UK were casting a nervous eye over the news coming out of China about a new virus that was threatening to spread quickly and widely enough to become a pandemic. The more foolish of us thought ‘surely it couldn’t happen here’ – including, it seems, our own government, given how ill-prepared we were when it did in fact happen here.

Cue a year of poor information, misinformation and disinformation, of death and sorrow and loneliness across the world. It’s still going and it shows no signs of letting up; as of the time I’m writing this the government yesterday announced that London and the South East are entering a Tier 4 lockdown over Christmas, effectively cancelling Christmas. (Edit: as of the time I’m posting this, everyone’s going back to work and the government is delaying second-dose rollout to get more people first-dosed, thus likely ruining the effectiveness of the vaccine and oh god it’s just such a farce)

While I’m glad I haven’t lost anyone to the Coronavirus, it’s been a tough year for me emotionally as I came to grips with losing my Mum last November. I think that grief may have acted as a catalyst of sorts, because despite lockdowns and depression and the sheer madness that this whole year has been… I’ve somehow had one of the most productive working years ever.

I know, I’m confused too.

So here’s a recap of some of the big things I did/that happened to me this year, in chronological order and with a disclaimer that my memory is poor and I’ve undoubtedly missed something out.

It’s going to be a long one again, so buckle up.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Set Up Professional Twitter Account

This was in 2020, right? I think so. Anyway, it’s small but important – I do all my whinging and nonsense on my personal Twitter account and retweet roughly six hundred angry political tweets an hour, so I figured it was time to get professional and split off my work persona from my shitpost-loving regular self. I still arguably retweet too much, but now it’s mostly signal boosting creative opportunities and projects, which I like to think helps put a little more positivity out into the world. Check me out over at SamKurd42!

Image from Ginger Nuts of Horror


Joined Ginger Nuts of Horror Review Team

Way back in Februaryish I saw a shout-out on Twitter that horror site Ginger Nuts of Horror were looking for reviewers. I love some horror, me, so I reached out – and before I knew it I was watching screeners and reading anthologies for review. Now it’s December and they haven’t tossed me out on my ear yet, so I’ve successfully fooled them into thinking I know what I’m talking about!

Joking aside, it’s been a great opportunity and I’m having a blast. While it’s true that there have been some stinkers, I’ve discovered some real gems like zombie comedy Ravers and dark Russian comedy Why Don’t You Just Die! which I may have missed otherwise.

If you like horror, definitely go check out the site.

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Attended the BFI Co-Working Space

The BFI hosts a co-working space in various venues to allow filmmakers a place to work in peace and meet fellow creatives to network or just get to know each other. Nottingham’s was hosted at Broadway Cinema, and I signed up for 6 months of Mondays in a lovely quiet room to write or chat or do whatever work I needed to. It was great, and working in the same room as the local BFI Talent Exec was a buzz.

Sadly we didn’t get to do the full 6 months because of, well, you know. The last couple of sessions were strange, with the handwashes and the social distancing, and then it just wasn’t viable any more. Happily they set up a Slack so we can keep in touch, but it just wasn’t the same as commuting to town and feeling like a ‘real’ worker again but without the stress. Ah well, maybe one day we’ll be allowed to meet in person again.

Image by Oli Lynch from Pixabay

Landed a Shore Scripts Internship

About the time I started going to the Co-Working space, I landed an internship at Shore Scripts. If you’re an early-stage screenwriter you’ve probably heard of them: they hold multiple competitions and provide resources for screenwriters. I got to know which scripts had won and placed last year, and I got to connect industry members with the scripts I reckoned they’d most like to read. I also did some article writing, some research and some judge hunting to add to their roster.

If I remember correctly it was only meant to last 3 months, but it was just so much fun and so interesting that I just sort of kept doing it. I’d heartily recommend going for it if the opportunity arises!

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Attended London Screenwriters Festival – Online

This one was a doozy. I’ve never been to the festival before, and I was very nervous when I bought my ticket. Being A Broke, I had to pay monthly, and every Paypal notification was a reminder that soon I’d have to go down to That London and brave the crowds and noise and try to stamp my social anxiety down (and the regular anxiety too). When the news broke that gatherings were being curtailed and it looked like I wasn’t going to get to attend after all, my disappointment was tinged with relief that I wouldn’t have to put myself through the stress of it all.

BUT. The team performed a miracle of human co-operation and pulled together to host the festival online. This was the perfect solution for me personally, the only person who matters. I got all the benefits of the expert speakers and networking events without the sheer terror of being surrounded by strangers. I met a LOAD of lovely fellow writers and creatives, and now I know that when we’re allowed to be in public again and the festival is held in meatspace, there’ll be lots of friendly faces to calm my nerves.

And they’re doing the online one again in February! Maybe I’ll see you there!

Attended Semi-Regular Online Meetups/Webinars/Courses

Off the back of the success of the online LSWF, I threw myself into semi-regular online events. Sundance Collab had free events, the BFI and Screenskills had loads of opportunities, and I even did a couple of webinars on marketing myself and developing a career as a creative with Script Naked Coaching and Cine Circle. I joined the Global Film Industry Zoom Cafe and while I’ve not been able to attend most of the events, it’s still a great time! I’ve also attended a weekly writing Zoom chat nearly every Sunday morning, hosted by Bob & Savannah from the LSWF – if you’d like to join, hit me up and I’ll shoot you the Zoom link!

Image by Finmiki from Pixabay

Got an ADHD Diagnosis

So back in 2019 my spousal unit (author and badass Rachel Tonks Hill) was diagnosed with ADHD. It was a Big Deal as it explained a lot about her upbringing and hangups and mental processes. I was right by her side as she went through two consultations, one private (to diagnose and start treatment) and one NHS (to transfer treatment over to the NHS, because we are Hella Broke). As she answered the questions about her childhood and attention span and so on, alarm bells started to ring… “uh oh,” I thought, “this is… this is me.”

I sat on this for a while, did a self-test thing that indicated ADHD was likely, worried about the cost of getting me a diagnosis too. Eventually I got the ball rolling on an NHS assessment – I thought, cut out the middleman and just go on the waiting list, get diagnosed when they have time, no biggie. In February I had my assessment and it… didn’t go well. LONG story short he wasn’t interested in asking the official assessment questions and was only interested in if I had PTSD from my time in Palestine. He then told me I “may” have ADHD but if I did he wouldn’t prescribe meds anyway because he doesn’t think they’re effective. When I complained to the NHS they were pretty dismissive, they agreed with him and said they were shutting down ADHD assessments anyway so goodbye and good luck.

I was a bit distressed, to be honest. My first ever let-down from the NHS (I’ve been very lucky, and they’ve been absolute stars, don’t let the Tories dismantle the NHS). After humming and hawing over going Private, we decided it was worth the expense as we had some money saved up (and a generous contribution from my girlfriend and from my metamour’s grandparents). I went through Clinical Partners and after a consultation that overran because I had so much material to give him, the doctor declared that I very much do have ADHD.

It’s been a bit of a shock to the system. After years of being told by parents and teachers that I was “lazy” it turns out my brain just isn’t wired to give out dopamine for the basics like most others are. No wonder revising was difficult and felt thankless. No wonder I always preferred reading and computer games (the latter especially are very good at doling out those dopamine hits). I was never stupid or lazy. I was untreated, just like I was untreated for depression and anxiety.

I’m still getting to grips with medication and wrestling coping mechanisms, so watch this space to see how successful I am at that, I guess?

Image from Strictly Arts

Wrote Intrusion’ and joined ‘Seaview’

In one respect it’s been a slow writing year. In the past I’ve churned out several short scripts in a year, alongside work and a feature script and who knows what else. But now, trapped inside my house for a year (yes there were times when I could go out and see people, but Anxiety is a hell of a drug) it feels like I’ve barely written anything at all. On a rational level, I know that that’s fine: we’re going through a period of global ongoing trauma, and it’s ok not to write The Next Great American Novel while you have ‘spare time’. But irrationally, I spent my whole life beating myself up and I’m not about to stop now! Not until my next few rounds of therapy, at least.

But I actually surprised myself by doing remarkably well. Put it down to spending the last few months of 2019 with my mother as she died, or to burst of creative energy supplied by the BFI and LSWF events mentioned earlier, or to all of that and more. I found I was putting myself out there more, and more effectively watching for opportunities I could grab. Competition-wise it was a complete bust, but I did get two very big breaks I’m proud of.

Birmingham director Tayyib Mahmoud reached out to me on Twitter thanks to a recommendation from a mutual friend (writer/director Sheikh Shahnawaz, watch out for his debut feature Bluff) and before I knew it I was writing a hard-hitting short thriller about a black family who are terrorised by a pair of white home invaders. It was uncomfortable to write, because the subject is so far out of my comfort zone – those who know me know that until recently my writing has mostly had quite a light tone, and I’ve not really tackled many weighty Topical Issues. I asked Tayyib if he was sure I was the right fit and explained it’s not my usual wheelhouse, but he had faith and I’m glad he did. The end result (well, so far – there’s always room for development!) is something I’m proud of, even though it doesn’t make for pleasant reading.

A key part in the development of Intrusion (working title!) was my having to take a few months off it thanks to landing my first ever paid screenwriting gig! I joined five other emerging (and extremely talented) writers in the writers room for Seaview, an urban supernatural drama series about a working class Black family that risks being torn apart by dark secrets but might be able to save themselves with the help of a young man’s hidden gift. We got together (virtually and physically with plenty of precautions!) to create the overarching series narrative, character arcs, story world and so on, and after much work each of us was assigned an episode… and I was trusted with the final episode. The climax, the culmination of all the arcs and action, with enough of a hook to keep the mystery alive and provide a starting point for a potential series 2.

It wasn’t easy, but with a great support team, super talented fellow writers and brilliant creative leading (along with a pinch of talent from moi, I suppose), the end result was a bloody fantastic series of six episodes following the loves and struggles and triumphs of a family who just want to live in peace and be allowed to aspire to be better, like anyone else does. And when we had a (safe!) live readthrough of the series, I was blown away by how well everything fit together. So were some of the actors, who didn’t seem to have read to the end and so were stunned by the bombshell I dropped in the final scenes! That’s all you can ask for as a writer, really, to see someone mouthing ‘what the fuuuuck’ as they read your work!

My time on Seaview really helped me understand a few things about writing and creativity. It helped me re-connect with writing-as-play, and re-affirmed my love of collaboration. But perhaps most importantly, I feel like it matured me as a writer. This wasn’t my world, and dipping into it with research and listening to folks from this life was a real boon. I may be working class, but I’ve always had a middle-class affectation (read: I’m unlearning being a snob) and I didn’t even grow up in this country. I wasn’t sure I could write this with any truth, was worried I’d bring very surface-level stuff to the table. But showrunner Corey and script editor Sophie trusted me, and I’m forever grateful for that because I finally experienced first hand that story connects all of us from all backgrounds. I may not know what it’s like to be in the drug business on the streets of Birmingham, but I know Ambition. I know Fear. I know Hope. I know what it feels to know you can do more, be better, but be frustrated at the obstacles beyond your control. I know Love and Regret and Anger. So how could I fail to write truthfully as long as I put my soul into it?

Once my time on Seaview was done, I returned to Intrusion with new confidence and produced a Good Script. Both projects are in pre-production now, and plague-willing will soon enter production with an aim to be released later this year – or, in the case of Intrusion, at the optimal festival-submission time. Seaview is one of the flagship events of the Coventry City of Culture 2021 Events, and has been promoted by no less than the National Geographic so it’s guaranteed to have a few eyes on it! If I play my cards right and keep hustling then maybe I can line up some projects for 2022, who knows?

Cuchillo by Nedarus via Flickr

Kept Poking Hen Party Massacre

So far my only feature (more that in a moment) and I still love it, so I’m making steps towards actually getting it made. I’m keeping my expectations realistic – a couple of festival entries and hopefully a spot on Amazon Prime would be lovely to achieve; even if there weren’t a plague I wouldn’t expect a cinema release for it! I just think there is an audience, however small, that would like to see a Bride and her Hens bicker and bitch while fending off a masked killer, you know?

I’ve chatted to theatre director Miriam Sarin who enjoyed the script, and have sent it to a producer I’ve worked with to see if she likes the script and can help me find a producer (or maybe even come on-board herself, which would be amazing). Nothing is set in stone, of course, but it’s movement. It’s movement.

Got Accepted onto Arab Film Development Workshop

Speaking of movement and grabbing opportunities, I applied for a spot in 2021’s Arab Film Development Workshop. The project I wanted to work on there is… a little controversial, perhaps (ask me about my Palestinian Time Travel idea some time), so I wasn’t expecting to be taken on – but imagine my surprise when they called me and said I was in! BUT with a caveat: they honestly didn’t think they could help develop that project because they don’t think it’d get funded/made so did I have any other ideas?

Honestly, I can’t say I blame them in the slightest. In a time where it’s becoming increasingly common to conflate supporting Palestine with anti-Semitism, it’s a big risk to take. That’s why when I do write that story, in prose or script or maybe even as a play, I know I’ll have to be very careful to make my intentions clear and unmistakeable. It’s a story about self-identity and inherited trauma, not about Palestine vs. Israel. One day it’ll see the light, if I’m brave enough and honest enough to keep working on it.

But for the workshop, I’ve come up with much lighter fare: a young Arab boy in the UK becomes convinced his neighbour is a Djinn and tries to convince him to grant his wish: the return of his father from Palestine. Yes, it still has Palestine in it, I’m trying to get in touch with my roots, sue me (please don’t sue me). The Hidden Djinn podcast has proven to be very useful and also fascinating, check it out.

Image by Shepherd Chabata from Pixabay

Survived

I hope this doesn’t feel glib, considering the millions who didn’t survive 2020, but I feel like it may have been touch and go at times if I’m completely honest. Despite the concrete evidence that things are going ok for me, there were times when I was close to giving up and… well.

But I didn’t. I’m still here, and so are most of my loved ones. Despite the hopelessness, the terror and trauma, the wilful ignorance and hatred. We’re still here.

If you made it this far down the post, then thank you. Thank you for sticking by me, thank you for caring. If you make it this far down on a second or third attempt to read it all and feel guilty about not reading it all in one go, thank you too. And if you didn’t read this at all but have supported me in other ways, thank you as well even though you can’t see it because you didn’t read this!

2021 isn’t the magic wand that’ll make everything better. People will still hate, and they’ll still be taken advantage of by those who can make a quick buck off that hatred. And climate change and Brexit and the plague and murderhornets and our new alien overlords (did those monoliths ever get explained?), they won’t go away just because we’ve hung up a new calendar.

But let’s keep trying. Try to be compassionate, try to harness your anger, try to help people. Try to create but try to forgive yourself for needing not to create. Try to understand yourself and others. Try to reach out if you can, try to ask for help if you need to, try to accept help if you have difficulty with that.

Self-care and care for others.

Let’s make 2021 about that.



screenwriting

Hacking Up The Hen Party Massacre

 

Cuchillo by Nedarus via Flickr

In an effort to keep this blog from falling into dusty disrepair as so often happens with my attempts at journaling, here is an update on what I’m up to, creatively.

Mostly I’m working on my feature script, Hen Party Massacre. It’s Bridesmaids meets Friday the 13th: An awkward hen party in a rundown cottage turns deadly when the bride and her hens are forced to fight off a masked killer if they hope to live to see the wedding. I’m on draft… 5… (I should have kept better notes of that, bugger. I’ll call it draft 5) and it’s a pretty strong script. Some lovely people have given me great feedback and notes, and it’s hitting Quarter Finals in some competitions, which is nice BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Semi-finals or gtfo. Quarter-finalists don’t make waves, finalists make waves, and I’d be happy with even a ripple or two at this stage.

So right now I’m slashing up Act One of my slasher comedy (ok, ok, right now I’m writing this blog post as procastination, you got me) to tighten it up and nail the tone. As it stands, it’s pretty top-heavy; I’ve got scenes heavy on ‘shooting-the-shit’ dialogue, as a writer whose name escapes me called it. Basically friends hanging out and being funny while the plot moves at a glacial pace. It feels hard to cut these out, as there’s stuff in there that hints at the killer’s motive, but the readers are right: it’s too slow so it needs to go. I also need to add some creepiness in Act One to keep it tonally in line with the bloody shenanigans that ensue. I’m thinking something that’ll come back to play a part in Act Three, because setups and payoffs are important, you know?

It’s tough for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m not confident enough in my own abilities. For example I’ve added a new opening scene with an image that hopefully sets the tone (a close up of a knife being sharpened, followed by the sharpener filing their nails to look pretty), but I second-guess whether it’ll work as well on the screen as it does on the page, whether it flows ok into the next scene, whether it gives away anything about the killer, whether whether whether aaaaargh. I’m overthinking it, that’s all. I need to trust in my instincts, take a deep breath, write and then see what people think.

The actual writing is the second problem. Over the past few months I’ve found it increasingly hard to focus on any one task at a time. I get intensely, almost painfully bored and find myself reaching for my phone or booting up a browser almost unconsciously. Attention has always been a problem of mine, but it’s been especially tough recently. I think that when my wife got her ADHD diagnosis and I sat in on her assessments and thought ‘oh, oh I see’ at every other answer to their questions, a switch of some kind flicked in my mind. It’s like my mind went ‘yes, that’s me, don’t believe me WELL HERE’S THE PROOF’. And with my mental health being not so good this year, it’s kicked into overdrive. Lately I just feel too deeply. Sadness is despair, happiness is joy, anger is rage. That’s grief for you, probably. I’ve got an ADHD assessment of my own next month and I’m going back to therapy this month, so cross your fingers for me.

Anyway. That’s my current job, and the obstacles in my way. I’ve also applied for a traineeship in Film Exhibition, Distribution and Sales, and ScreenSkills have assigned me a mentor whom I’m meeting on Sunday. Hopefully they’ll be able to give me good advice on how to take the next step in my career. It’s probably going to be ‘make your own short films’ and I’ll cry because I’ve already tried that and burnt out. It’s been 5 years though, maybe if I can find someone who’s good at herding cats to do the scheduling…

There are deadlines coming up and windows of opportunity rapidly closing. I’m worried about a lot of things (it’s the anxiety, stupid) but I think if I just look at one thing at a time right now then I might be able to make progress. I don’t want to be the guy who spends 30 years on one script, but Hen Party Massacre is a good calling card script, it just needs finishing properly. And then I need to make sure I have ideas and one-pagers and am working on other scripts as well. One out of three ain’t… well, it’s not great, is it? But I’m getting there!

Look at that, a blog post that isn’t all false bravado or Negative Nancying.

I might be getting better at this journaling lark.

screenwriting

An Update From the Word Mines

Man writing on notepad with open laptop and a clapperboard

 

We’re long overdue an update around these parts!

Let’s see, what’s been going on lately? Well, I set up a Letterboxd account – follow me as I try and remember what films I’ve already seen and fail to stick to a consistent rating metric!

Oh, and I finished my first feature script The Bride Wore Blood, got a few revisions deep and realised that there’s no use tweaking it any more. At this point in time, right here and right now, it’s the best script I can write for that story.

So I’ve let it fly.

I’ve submitted it to the Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship, who fly the winner out to LA for industry meetings all-expenses-paid, among other things. I’ve submitted it to the Finish Line Script Competition, who offer a $1000+ grand prize and skype industry meetings, among other things. And perhaps most importantly, I’ve submitted it to the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Competition, which offers a live reading of the extract I submitted and an industry showcase right here in the country I’m most likely to be working in.

Do I expect to win any of these? No; I’m not delusional and I know there’s heaps upon heaps of talent out there. I know there’s also quite a lot of dreck out there too, and what I hope to accomplish here is introducing myself as a talent and not a dreck-peddler. Your first script is never good enough to be made, I’m told, but perhaps it’s good enough to get people to remember my name when my next script does the rounds.

Which reminds me, I’m slowly starting work on my next feature script. It’ll feature a non-binary teen who goes on holiday with their family and accidentally brings back a woodland spirit/creature/boggarty type thing. It’s early days yet, but I’m excited. I’ve applied to the BFI Network Feature Treatment Workshop at Broadway cinema, will hopefully find out soon if I got a place on it. And speaking of BFI Network, I’ve set myself up over there and uploaded The Tree. No idea what I’m doing or if anything will come of it, but whatever happens happens, right?

In other news, I finished a short comedy script about a young woman who moves into a haunted flat and refuses to leave no matter how hard the ghost tries to scare her. We’re taking tentative steps towards filming, but I’m rusty and frankly, scared. We’re going to be dipping our toe into crowdfunding, and it’s really quite overwhelming. I’ve been in a dark place mentally in the past week or so, but thanks to some much-needed love from close friends and the probably-all-too-brief return of the sunshine, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about things.

So this is Sam, checking in, letting you know things are moving and I’m not giving up.

 

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30 Day Film Challenge – 6. A Movie You Wish You Had Made

I love zombie films. There’s nothing quite like a horde of shambling, moaning corpses to brighten my day. It doesn’t matter if they’re fast or slow, if they crave brains or are just generally hankering for a hunk of human flesh – give me a good zombie movie and I’m happy.

I love zombies so much that the first film I made with friends was a zombie film – you can check out the link on the My Films page. It’s not the best film we’ve made, but I love it nonetheless. It was fun to make, and ended with a punchline that I’m altogether too proud of.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I would list Shaun of the Dead as a film I would have loved to have made. The RomZomCom premise is (a slice of fried) gold, and it’s so well made. I don’t just mean it’s well shot, though it certainly is. What I especially love about it is how tightly it’s written. Every detail, every joke, every event from Act One has a comeback or a payoff later in the film. From the obvious (“Next time I see him, he’s dead.”) to the more subtle (Nick’s pub crawl plan foreshadows the rest of the events of the movie), it’s a jigsaw that fits together beautifully. Hot Fuzz does the same, and though I’ve not seen it more than once I’m certain The End of The World is just as tightly plotted. It also helps that it’s immensely quotable, making it a goldmine for those who like to communicate almost entirely in pop culture references.

Shaun of the Dead is a love letter to the genre, from the biggest nerds the film industry had to offer at the time. The referential and irreverent humour really complements the subject matter, and the buckets of gore don’t hurt its case either. You can tell it was fantastic fun to write and to film, and that’s everything that a film should be. Fun, entertaining and exciting for the filmmakers and audience alike. Between this and Spaced, there’s a wealth of lessons to be learned on filmmaking in general and comedy in particular. If you’ve somehow missed out on watching this, please rectify this immediately!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have a nice cold pint and wait for all this to blow over.

Yeaaaah booooiiii.

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Letting Go

chimney swift by Ed Schipul

I have trouble letting go.

I have trouble letting go of preconceptions, of prejudices, of anger, of self-pity. I have trouble letting go of a lot of things.

Most of all, I have trouble letting go of my writing. I’m fiercely protective of it, knowing that if I spend more time on it I can polish it up and make it shine and sing and dance and do all the things that you expect a really dazzling piece of work to do. This is ultimately quite damaging, as the more I look at it the more flaws I spot and the more I resent it. Then I’m likely to never let it out into the real world.

I’m getting better, though. I’ve published a couple of short literary doodles on this very blog, and have managed to have enough scripts prised from my hands that we have a nice backlog of short films now. But still the temptation is there, the temptation to hoard and my work and clutch it to my chest and hiss ‘mine!’ at anyone who thinks I should actually do something with it.

This is a roundabout way of saying that I’ve just submitted 3 scripts to the Create50 The Impact competition. Are they perfect? No, and I have to be ok with that. Are they the best I can do at this moment in time? Yes, and that’s important to me. If I’d held onto them and tried to polish them, I’d have ended losing faith and never submitting them before the deadline. And not submitting anything at all would have been a crime. Nothing ventured, nothing something something etc etc, right?

So, with the help of a couple of beta readers (to whom I’m supremely grateful), I have finished the scripts to the best of my ability and sent them out, releasing them into the big wide world to fend for themselves. Will they soar above the heads of their peers? Will they stand out from the flock? Will they be torn to shreds or sucked into a plane engine? Will this extended metaphor never end? Who knows. Who knows.

Check out all the scripts (not just mine)(but do please read mine) over at the Create50 website. I think you’ll agree this project is shaping up to be a very interesting one indeed.

Stay tuned for the sound of your fingers tapping away rapidly at your keyboard as you write a comment on this post.

Picture: Chimney Swift by Ed Schipul, CC BY-SA 2.0

 

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Create 50 : The Impact

Falling Asteroids

Those of you who know me well may remember that I entered the 50 Kisses competition a couple of years ago. This was a fantastic idea – 50 scripts, 50 shorts, 1 feature film. It was also a great opportunity, a chance to get my work read and potentially noticed. I wrote Geek Love, which is now a short film trilogy that has been screened at the Derby Quad cinema.

This happened because, of course, I didn’t make it through to the final 50 in the competition. But I was longlisted, which gave me a lovely warm gooey feeling inside. I was also asked to write a blog post about my experience and what it meant to me.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that there’s a new competition – The Impact : same portmanteau format, now with an exciting scifi-tinged premise. There is a colossal asteroid heading for Earth, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. The short films that make up the feature will chronicle mankind’s final minutes before its inevitable extinction.

The aim of the competition is to shoot for substance and emotion rather than spectacle and effects, which is just as well because you only have 2 pages to tell a self-contained story about staring oblivion in the face. It’s going to be tricky, but what’s writing without a challenge?

My aim is to submit 3 scripts for consideration. The reasoning behind this is that I’d quite like to to try my hand at different styles for it. I’ve today finished the first draft of the first one, a Geek-Love-esque vignette that will hopefully bring a smile to a few faces. With the other two I’m aiming for darker territory. I’ve not quite cemented the ideas, but I’m working on it. I’ve had a couple of thoughts, but they were exactly what you’d think they would be, so they’re on the back-burner. Cliché is all very well and good, but only if you can do something interesting with it.

I’ve got a good feeling about this competition. Not necessarily an I’m-going-to-win good feeling, just a vague sense of impending accomplishment and fulfilment. And who doesn’t like accomplishment and fulfilment?

Stick around, more news on this as it comes.

Picture: Falling Asteroids by Robert Davies, CC-BY-NC 2.0

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Updates

A very quick post to let everyone know I’ve updated the site a little – I’ve added a section for my films, a section for my short stories and a section for my non-fiction.

I’ve only updated the films page so far, but I intend to use these pages as a portfolio, a way of showcasing a selection of my work. It’s by no means meant to be a comprehensive collection of everything I’ve ever done in the history of ever – it’s just a selection of works I’m proud of.

Those familiar with the short films I’ve made will be pleased to see the links and the scripts to many that I’ve already unleashed on you – but please be sure to check out The Tree, A Done Deal, Innocence and Snapshots – these are scripts I have written which have not (yet) been filmed. Let me know what you think!

Speaking of letting me know what you think – suggestions, comments, demands and thinly-veiled-threats-against-my-wellbeing-should-I-stop-writing are all gratefully accepted – let me know in the comments and all will be addressed!

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For The Times They Are a-Changin’

Earlier today, I finished a draft of a short script that’s been in my head for a while now. As I returned to the living room from my newly-installed writing cave, my wife Tonks (still an odd phrase to get used to, even after a year and a half) asked me an important question.

She said “Sam, how many finished scripts do you have now?”

I did a quick tally, thinking that I’d get about 5 or 6.  I was shocked to realise that I’ve now finished something like 15 short scripts, counting ones I’ve co-written. Some of them have even been made. Two of them were polished in a professional screenwriting course. One was longlisted in the 50 Kisses screenplay competition. All of them are works to be proud of (though the perfectionist in me insists that they’re far from excellent).

I haven’t yet finished the feature-length screenplay I was working on last month, but I have about 15 shorts under my belt. I haven’t counted the number of short stories I’ve finished (they’re far outweighed by the number I’ve abandoned), but I have a short story that’s due to be published in an anthology by grass-roots Steampunk publishing company The Last Line, so soon I’ll have had my writing unleashed on an unsuspecting public in more ways than one.

The time is right. I need… A Change.

It is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to Blogger, where I intended to write many dazzling and witty blog posts. Instead I leave a layer of cyberdust 3 inches deep and a hamfisted attempt at journal blogging. I’ve never been good at journal blogging. My day to day activities just aren’t interesting enough for journal blogging. I wake up, I go to work, I try to write, I play video games. for much of the time, that’s it for me.

Well, no more.

I have a writing cave. I have 15 or more finished scripts. I have a wife who is more than happy to crack the whip if I get sedentary. And I have a need to get my work out there. Because there’s no point in writing a script if only a handful of people will ever see the finished film. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and I’m overwhelmed by the support they show when I put out a new film or story… but I need to get bigger. I need to get Out There. I need to succeed. Because I’m not going to be in the rat race forever.

That’s why I’ve created this WordPress blog. That’s why I now own http://www.samkurd.co.uk and am in the process of trying to get that address to point to this blog. That’s why I’m going to revisit my stories and get editing. And that’s why I’m going to try and get off my backside and sell a story. That’s why I’m going to work hard at this. I’m cutting back on the video games (although when payday comes around Life is Strange part 3 is coming my way because WOW that game is amazing). I’m cutting back on the mindless net surfing. I’m cutting back on Tumblr… er, well… let’s not go overboard.

From now, I’ll be blogging every other day. If I don’t have anything to say, I’ll make it up. I’m a writer, after all. All writing is good writing because just the mere act of stringing words together helps me grow as a writer. I can’t let my creative muscles atrophy, or I might as well just put my head down and plod through my life.

It’ll take years. I’m not an idiot. I’m not going to succeed overnight. But I’ve already started on the journey. I started on the journey the day I signed up for the screenwriting class. I started on the journey the day my friend James approached me and said ‘That short story “Jeremy” you wrote, I’d like to make it into a film…’. I started on the journey the day I opened a deviantart account and started posting my literary doodles there. I started on the journey the day I first stroked a keyboard, the day I first picked up a pen.

I start the journey over and over, a hundred different times, each time better armed and better prepared. And this time might not be the time that I don’t give up. It might not be the time that I get my name out and finally start writing professionally. It might not be the time when I find myself looking back and thinking ‘bloody hell, I’ve made it.’

But that’s ok. Because that time is coming. Mark my words. That time is coming.

Stay tuned for tweaks to the site format, frenzied attempts to get the everything about the blog just right and the customary panic and self-doubt that precedes two months of inactivity.