Friday, 29 July 2016

Review of An Alex Cox’s Introduction to Film: A Director’s Perspective


Whether you’re already established as a creative in the film world or contemplating a course of study or vocational training, then this book by Alex Cox will give you great insights into the filmmaking process, from idea to production to cinema.
The bonus with this book is that Cox recommends various films and clips for you to watch interspersed through the text, together with his thoughts on the process, drawn from his own career and experience. This is, of course, the perfect film book for the internet age, as there’s never been better availability of the content he signposts. He also provides interesting further reading lists should you wish to explore specific areas more deeply.
That said, this is a highly personal and eclectic journey through film history and the influences and figures in filmmaking that Cox thinks are worth further investigation. Therefore the reader must bear in mind that hardly any female filmmakers are represented here, though this reviewer was pleased to see mention of Marleen Gorris and her marvellous film A Question Of Silence, (certainly a groundbreaking film in terms of gaze for this reviewer). I hardly think this is intentional on Cox’s part – like I say, this is a highly personal account and Cox notes that countries with repressive attitudes towards women often don’t make great art. Not that Cox’s observations are superfluous on the greats like Hitchcock or Kubrick, who, whatever you may feel about their work can only be admitted as iconic filmmakers.
The most interesting section for me was on world cinema with the Latin American canon coming under the spotlight. I do love a film book that teaches me something new. I’ll certainly be checking out some of the Latin American films he suggests, specifically El Angel Exterminador (The Exterminating Angel), cited by Cox as a brilliant use of resources, as the characters are all trapped in one room.
In a way this book serves as a primer for our own reflections on how we are influenced historically and culturally as creatives. It would be interesting to consider, say, ten films that have influenced our own process, but perhaps that’s for another blog post. I think Kamera Books have hit a rich seam here and I look forward to other filmmakers’ perspectives on their craft.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

REVIEW: Those Who Walk Away by Patricia Highsmith

Darling ones,

I've been a long-time fan of Highsmith's Ripley books. So when Lucy Hay spotted Those Who Walk Away in a Tiverton charity shop, I couldn't resist.

I've always loved Highsmith's forensic way with her prose. She gets right into the heads of her flawed characters, but, bizarrely, eschews judgment in favour of examination of their motives. That was true of Ripley and it's true of her protagonists in this book. Ray Garrett's young wife Peggy kills herself. Her father Ed Coleman holds his son-in-law very much to blame. The two men seem bound by mutual loathing as they hunt or avoid each other through the streets and canals of Venice, inevitably drawing the people around them into the drama.

Each man throws himself upon the mercy of strangers in the story, as much to escape themselves as each other, yet each man must interrogate himself as to his involvement in Peggy's sad end. Had they failed her in some way? Ed by his lack of involvement in her life, or Ray, by failing to meet his wife's needs. Venice is the perfect backdrop for the story, coming to represent the labyrinthine twists and evasions in Ray and Ed's minds, as well as the ideal place to hide from your enemy in its claustrophobic streets and waterways. These men are deeply flawed but there are no easy classifications of villain and hero here. It's not difficult to identify with their desire to leave lives that have gone so hideously wrong in the wake of a shocking act of self-destruction.


Monday, 27 June 2016

Not enough hours in the day...

Darling ones,

I am happily involved in several projects at the moment:

Reading and editing for the Twisted 50 project. Got a horror story for the next book? Time to get re-writing!

Writing, proofing, editing and frankly, eating and drinking, for new listings magazine SEEN.

Plotting a low-budget horror script with our very own Lucy V Hay.

The Forgotten Women anthology (in which I have a tale) is published this July 1st. If you lke dystopian sci-fi, then this may be for you.

If there's one difference between what I'm doing now compared to this time last year, it's that I am working in COLLABORATION with others. I must say I enjoy it more than I did when trying to get my own projects off the ground. Which is not to say that I DON'T like being alone. I do. I've always been good with my own company; you have to be if you write.

TOP TIPS FOR COLLABORATION:
1. Talk to other writers. If you like the same films or books then it's odds on that you can write together.
2. Always be willing to slaughter your darlings if it favours the story.
3. Play to your strengths within the partnership. They'll complement each other.
4. Always give/receive feedback in a constructive manner.
5. Be open to the experience. You'll learn loads.

via GIPHY


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Rocliffe Notes - A Professional Approach For Screenwriters

Darling ones,

this excellent book is slightly different to its fellows in the Creative Essentials canon in that Farah Abushwesha has included many words of wisdom from eminent people in the film industry. In this way the book acts (certainly for me) as a go-to manual when I'm stuck on anything. As Farah says in the introduction, her book is a compendium of the many different routes a writer or writer-director might take to get into the film industry.
I also liked reading about Farah's own journey as a writer/producer. Her down to earth, humorous approach to the process of finding yourself as a writer is a million miles away from more mystical tomes on the subject. To say that the book is exhaustive is an understatement! From ideas to creating an online presence to understanding the festival process - it's all here. Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting her in her official capacity at the Bafta Rocliffe New Writing Forum will recognise her style. Informal in tone but also bang on the money in terms of the reality of film, what is also clear is her passion for writing and writers. An indispensable addition to the writer's bookshelf.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

London Screenwriters' Festival 2015

Darling ones,

I am live-tweeting as many sessions as I can and catching up with friends. I will be using an iShine Power Bank 5200mAh to aid me in this fell purpose... #LondonSWF

Hopefully see some of you there!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Udemy infographic

Darling ones,

here's an interesting infographic about screenwriting from the lovely people at Udemy - thanks Samantha! Check their site out here!


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Twisted

Darling ones,

it's been my gory pleasure to read many short stories entered for the Twisted50 initiative over at Create50. You can submit up to three drafts of your bone-chilling/disgusting/spooky/sick story and redraft according to your peers' feedback on your glorious prose. But hurry - Cristina and I are soon to draw up a shortlist with which to entice a publisher!