I’m happy to share that I have now graduated from The University of South Wales with a MA in Scriptwriting after a fantastic year studying in Wales. I was fortunate to pass with a Merit and during December I took my place on the stage and collected my degree.
It was a great day (shame about the weather) and went very well, nobody tripped up on the stage and it was nice to see my classmates again. It’s a shame that it meant the end of my tenure in Wales but I came out of it a better person and met some fantastic, creative people I will miss them and hopefully we can all arrange something in the future. Here are a few photos of the day.
It’s a very rewarding feeling having a Masters and I really enjoyed my time at the University of South Wales and living independently. Let’s see what 2016 has in store for me!
Well, it’s just over a week until my final major project is handed in and I’m imagining that my classmates share the same tension and stress of perfecting our final scripts for the deadline. Since moving back to Hertfordshire I’ve had a very busy summer and finding some time to relax and work on my script has been a challenge but it’s still my number one priority of course.
A few weeks ago I went to Germany and Amsterdam for sights, scenes and sounds. And beer of course. Although a small holiday isn’t always the best time to do some writing, I found some time to work on my script on the train journey between Cologne and Amsterdam which was about 4 hours and in a first class cabin which was pretty special. I find writing on a train very unwinding and it’s when my mind is most creative as I don’t have to concentrate on anything else so it’s the ideal time to scribble down ideas or even write a full story. Also, first class in Germany is ridiculously cheap so why not, eh?
Two weeks ago I was looking into an empty, blank room with just a bare bed, wardrobe and desk. This was once my writing domain and office (and on some occasions a bedroom) and now I’m closing the door one final time and leaving the key behind. This was the room I wrote the majority of my scripts in during my stay in Cardiff since September of last year. It was in a quaint little terraced house that was converted from a grocery store to a house (god knows when) and I shared it with two other students who attended another university.
Mr Wrongright, my short script and cautionary tale about acceptance, attention as well as the wonders and dangers of technology was finally completed last Friday and sent away to the powers that be for marking. I will be uploading my short script here for all to see very soon but one thing is for sure I did enjoy creating Roger’s world and exploring many of the modern issues we face in today’s online society including anonymity and need for attention. If I were to give an initial postmortem of it though, I’d have aimed for something simpler and abide by the law of ‘less is more.’
I’ve written short scripts before with minimal locations and characters with an intent to film and edit at a later date – which I’ve done – but I went into Mr Wrongright with more of an open mind so I could concentrate on the story more than the convenience of shooting. Of course, it’s ideal to nail both those aspects in one single short script but I became too attached to the story I initially created for this and didn’t want to change or sacrifice too much. Overall though, I’m happy with the final product.
So last weekend, myself along with my MA Scriptwriting classmates and tutors departed to Gregynog Hall, a large country mansion in the old county Montgomeryshire, Mid Wales. It was a writing weekend, an opportunity to receive group feedback on our first drafts (which in my case is my TV series Lemonhead) and use that feedback to start rewriting it into something… well better! As for the location, I had read up a bit about it and it looked like a beautiful, secluded getaway which would be ideal for writing and brain storming, as well as collaborating with my fellow writers, some of whom I may not see for a long time unfortunately. Though let’s not get into that right now. As we departed to Gregynog with our suitcases in the back and Primal Scream blaring in the front we began our two hour journey to our fabled destination.
Last week I reached a personal milestone and wrote the first three episodes of my television series ‘Lemonhead’. Each episode is about 30 pages which of course totals to 90 pages overall, which to me is a great achievement. As it’s a draft there is still plenty to do but I look forward to it. This weekend, myself and the rest of my university classmates are taking a weekend trip to mid-Wales where we will stay at Grenygog Hall and will assess each other’s work with feedback and use that to improve our scripts.
Well I handed in the adaptation treatment for ‘Grim Fandango’ recently and eagerly look forward to my feedback. I say eagerly, more like anxiously but I’m sure it will be fine. As for my short script, I have the general story written out and will be starting my short script very soon. It’ll be good to get back into the actual scriptwriting side of things – for a scriptwriting course there is a surprising lack of it to begin with! But it’s been creative and eye opening and I feel confident going into my final major script, Lemonhead which is my television series.
In other news, my company Infamous Quests has just launched a Kickstarter for two new games that I’m helping to write and design for. The first is a short prequel to our first commercial adventure, Quest for Infamy which we’re calling Roehm to Ruin. The other is a brand new adventure series called ‘Order of the Thorne’ with the first game called ‘The King’s Challenge.’ In this you play Finn the Bard who solves puzzles and quests with his quick wit and magical lute. Our Kickstarter launched yesterday and we’re already passed the halfway point so here’s looking to an exciting month!
So I’ve made some very good progress with my film adaptation of Grim Fandango. Having researched the game (in other words played it to death) I’ve got my ideal storyline figured out of how I would imagine the story of Manny Calevera as a film. The game is very much a tribute to film-noir but uses a lot of Mexican folklore and themes and I did not want to remove these elements. The story in Grim Fandango takes place over 4 years and features a lot of interesting locations, characters and things for Manny to do. For a game a lot of this can be stretched out and getting from one part of the plot to another would require a lot of gameplay inbetween, puzzles to solve and tropseing backwards and forwards until you’ve met your goal. It’s hard to picture a lot of these as a film so I’ve had to cut out a lot of the unnecessary quests and concentrate solely on the story but keeping the charm and style of the game. The film follows a similar path but I’ve made a few changes which I think would work quite well as a film. The deadlines looms and I’m looking forward to signing this off.
Last week we were assigned a new task – to write a short drama script. It could be in any medium we wanted so short film, radio piece or theatre. The only thing it had to do was include a museum as the main location or at least involve one. So what better to get inspiration then to make a visit to the museum itself and try to think up some ideas for what it could be. The class arranged to go on a Friday and unfortunately I had to miss it due to travel plans being affected so I had to arrange my own trip. I traveled to the Cardiff Museum in Cathays Park, wondering around aimlessly outside to finish my coffee so I could be let in. Taking a seat in the park, I read some news articles on my phone whilst finishing my coffee, unbeknownst to the chaotic scenes that were taking place right behind me. Fire engines, police cars and an ambulance on standby… what the heck have I just missed?
Stamping down the stapler on my freshly printed script analysis essay today was a pleasing sound. It meant that I was finished my assignment and that I could move onto creative writing once again. Not that I have anything against academic work, but I prefer it when I get to cite my resources from my mind and imagination.
So what’s next in store? Well, our next assignment is back to being creative but we still have to source from an original text. Our next objective is to adapt an existing text, whether it be a book, comic, television series or video game to a different medium. Since I can remember I’ve always wanted to adapt one item to film and that is Grim Fandango. Grim Fandango is a computer game developed by Tim Schafer back in 1997 and is one of my all time favorite video games. It’s a film-noir esque story of crime and corruption set in the land of the dead and you play as the smooth talking, Mexican compatriot Manny Calavera. You play as a travel agent, masked as the Grim Reaper in the human world and you must pay off your dept before you can seek eternal rest in the Ninth Underworld. You’re not the only Grim Reaper though, it’s a business called the Department of Death and you must take your newly deceased clients into a sale pitch and sell them the best travel package to the Ninth Underworld. If you led a bad life, you must take a 4 year journey of the soul and mind before you can find eternal rest. If you led a good life you are rewarded with a Double N ticket which is a 4 minute journey that takes you straight to the Ninth Underworld. The only problem is that Manny is struggling to find such clients and eventually finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy that involves crime, corruption and a bit of romance too.
As it’s an old game I did struggle get it to work on modern computers but fortunately for me, the good people at Double Fine Productions have released an updated version of Grim Fandango and now I can get it working flawlessly. So this month alone I will be playing Grim Fandango (for research purposes of course) and working it into my film adaption.
Monday 24th November
Monday morning for me was being cooped up in bed, feeling awful with a torrid virus. Or flu, I wasn’t sure but it wasn’t very nice. Either way I didn’t want to waste my time feeling sorry for myself in bed without writing something.
I meddled with different scenarios and storylines for Lemonhead. I felt the storyline was lacking something unique. It’s essentially a coming of age story that deals with certain mental aspects such as anxiety and social acceptance. Though I feel the main character, Jamie needed a new objective. He makes the decision to move to a new town, with a new job in a new setting but is underwhelmed at what he finds. Originally he just went with it but he needed a new reason to stay. But what that reason was I still had at the back of my mind somewhere.
Tuesday 25th November
I was still feeling rough today but the night before I had a flurry of thoughts crossing my mind. The main reason Jamie moves is for the job which he believes is in the games industry. Turns out it’s just a support role for a mobile gaming app and is not what he wanted. The other incentive for staying is that he’s living with Sonny, another game developer.
So I decided to add a new sub-plot the story. Both Jamie and Sonny work together to make an independent game together. I’m very passionate about the indie game community and felt this was the perfect niche to Lemonhead. By adding an indie game development storyline to the mix the program I can introduce a whole new audience of gamers to the show. I was also influenced by Silicon Valley from HBO, which has a similar premise, but more about starting a tech company.
Wednesday 26th November
Honestly, my attention was towards the entrepreneurial debate that was taking place today. I had to put Lemonhead on hold and concentrate on arguing against Welsh culture encouraging creative entrepreneurship.
Thursday 27th November
Today I wrote notes for the independent game storyline. The idea I had in mind was that Jamie will come up with the idea of starting a computer game with Sonny. They will use an idea they had back in university and use Kickstarter to help fund it. From personal experience running a Kickstarter can be very stressful and adding this storyline to the storyline would be a key factor to Jamie’s mental breakdown later in the series. I didn’t think there was enough pressure on him for that to happen and again this gives the story something new.
I also helped write some lines for a video game that I’ve been working on. This involved descriptions for certain items you look at, dialogue between characters and puzzle design.