Our Ian Kennedy was lucky enough to share a table for an evening with Steven Knight, the writer of SERENITY, PEAKY BLINDERS, TABOO, DIRTY PRETTY THINGS, LOCKE, and much more…
Steven Knight says that we’re entering a golden age of TV and film. He explained that the US system is great for writers – it’s unionized and you can make a proper living just from writing. He actually felt that there seems to be a good mystery to you if you DON’T live in LA, as long as you’re prepared to fly out every 6 weeks and do late-night conference calls.
But he explained that the Hollywood system is slow! It takes many years of gestation most of the time. If you persuade a star to be in your project, the studios know they’ll make back a certain many million dollars from it – his film HUMMINGBIRD (with Jason Statham) was in profit before it even got to the cinema. He felt that distributors often underestimate their audience and focus on young males.
Screens are better nowadays so TV drama has risen a lot. Actors like TV and it’s a writer’s medium – writers have control there, unlike other formats. Too many people are involved in making films, telling you something’s not good enough in order to justify their presence and pay. But getting actors to commit beyond series 1 of your TV series is hard because they may get film offers.
Show runners write episode 1 in the US and their team of writers – who’ve developed it with them – do other episodes. Writers rise up through the ranks in the US. British TV writing is more eccentric and individualistic – the US system is more corporate. Theatre writers are good for TV due to their ability with dialogue and are often overlooked.
Steven Knight explained that he had begun his career in the UK by writing plenty for radio, and for comedians including particularly Jasper Carrott, and writing 31 episodes of Carrott’s sitcom with Robert Powell, THE DETECTIVES. Steven was one of the 3 founders of WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE. He also wrote novels for Penguin, and presented DIRTY PRETTY THINGS to the BBC which led to that commission.
Then came AMAZING GRACE, for the 200th anniversary of the end of the slave trade, and EASTERN PROMISES which led from DIRTY PRETTY THINGS. The award nominations that came as a result of these put him into the US system, which he found to be great for writers. He got to direct HUMMINGBIRD which he had also written, and after that wanted to get total control of a project – and he feels that LOCKE vindicated him becoming a director.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our conversation with Steven Knight, in which he discusses the influences behind PEAKY BLINDERS, his writing process, and his plans for the future…
Part Two of Alex and Habib’s Hollywood pitching whirlwind tour from early May 2018… Want us to promote your script in our next our next Hollywood pitching whirlwind tour, or other pitching? We are seriously looking for 2-3 scripts for 2x Academy Nominated and 2x BAFTA winning, Habib Zargarpour to direct. If you have what we need please participate in: https://writemovies.com/spring-2018-screenwriting-contest/ now! (more…)
Want us to promote your script in our next our next Hollywood script pitching whirlwind tour, or other pitching? We are seriously looking for 2-3 scripts for 2x Academy Nominated and 2x BAFTA winning, Habib Zargarpour to direct. If you have what we need please participate in: https://writemovies.com/spring-2018-screenwriting-contest/
WriteMovies founder and producer Alex Ross and VFX expert turned movie director, Habib Zargarpour, just went on a tour of various Hollywood production companies talking to top executives about their new project. Here’s what happened!
Meeting #1: Skrzyniarz & Mallean. High powered Boutique law firm. (A lot of Los Angeles law firms now also act in a management capacity opening doors for clients etc. They, along with talent managers tend to be easier to work with than agents)
Alex and Habib started with an early morning meeting during which Habib gave a full presentation on the script they were pitching. The lawyer was very impressed.
Among other things she suggested who to get in touch with for funding. Alex gave the attorney a follow up call and there is definite interest on working on this project, and potentially other suitable scripts.
Meeting #2: Rough Diamond Productions
Another great meeting during which the producer showed interest in the project. She and her team totally got the value that Habib would add, to deliver a studio grade, VFX based picture for a fraction of the usual price. Many of the smaller production houses want to get involved in higher end VFX based projects but cannot afford the costs. This is what is so interesting about Habib’s work, in that he and his team at Digital Monarch Media have devised a software/hardware package, which has been tested by some of the greats such as Spielberg, Jon Favreau, and Denis Villeneuve, which allows producers to deliver studio grade VFX for a faction of the price. Their latest Virtual Film Toolset is called Expozure and was used on Blade Runner 2049 and Tom Hanks’ Greyhound.
There was a request for more info on budget so the team have a better idea on how and where to take the project –with the packaging suggestions we had in the first meeting, there’s some good signs and avenues for us to explore.
Habib Zargarpour and Alex Ross on their script pitching whirlwind tour in Hollywood, May 2018
Meeting #3: Branded Pictures Entertainment
After a full demonstration by Habib, the producers expressed interest in the project and explored Habib directing another of their projects as well.
Meeting #4: Meeting with Epic Pictures:
An interesting meeting with the top brass. They already really like the script. Totally got what Habib can bring to the table as a director. Needs us to come up with a formal proposal. “See you on the red carpet”.
Meeting #5: Blue Ant Media
Alex and Habib finished their day by meeting with Julio Sobral, former senior Fox Studios executive and now top of the food chain at BAM. Julio has a very deep background in post-production and FX and also really liked the fact that Habib was a partner at Microsoft Studios and helped to design a number of games which generated more revenue than a lot of blockbuster movies. So the ability to fully map out the ancillary revenue streams for your project are key to production companies and something you need to work out before you go to pitch.
BAM is part of a substantial chain of media companies, so Julio wanted us to come in and pitch not only with a view to getting Habib and Alex’s film done but also to consider working on some of their other projects.
And that was just day one! Next, look what happened on day two of our Hollywood script pitching whirlwind tour! And don’t forget: We are seriously looking for 2-3 scripts for 2x Academy Nominated and 2x BAFTA winning, Habib Zargarpour to direct. If you have what we need please participate in: https://writemovies.com/spring-2018-screenwriting-contest/
We’re looking for a script for a two-time Academy nominee and two-time BAFTA award-winning director – and submitting your VFX-driven script to our Spring contest can make it yours! Habib Zargarpour has worked with Spielberg, Lucas, Cameron and Villeneuve, on movies that countless millions of people have seen – and soon your script could join them. We’re looking for a great commercial script for him to work with, and if you submit to our Spring 2018 contest, you will be in the running for that opportunity.
As we’ll tell you very soon, Habib and our founder Alex have been getting a lot of success in recent meetings with senior Hollywood execs about their next crossover project, and yours could be next! We’ve introduced many new categories to the Spring 2018 – long and short form TV pilots, indie and studio scripts, and video game scripts. Inspired by this opportunity, we will be giving a special recognition to the Best VFX Driven Script that we receive. There’s no special prize – just kudos – but if Habib loves it then we CAN make this happen.
Award-winning VFX expert Habib Zargarpour
What we want is the script where VFX can help drive the plot, the characters, and the script as a whole. We don’t want style over substance, we want style to give substance! We’re looking for a VFX-driven script with crossover potential to make an awesome video game. The director of this project, Habib Zargarpour (find out more about him in THESE past interviews, and in more articles we’ll publish soon!) has been VFX consultant on lots of major movies and major video games including 007 and NEED FOR SPEED titles – so we have the potential to take this to both markets, which is exactly what Habib and Alex have been doing for another project in Hollywood in the last few days – as we’ll be telling you next week!
So polish up that movie script you thought would be too expensive for anyone to make, and get it to us NOW!
After praising Second and Third Placed David Kurtz and Simon Bowler, we finally get to our Winter 2018 Writing Contest Grand Prize Winner. And again, it’s a writer who’s come back to us, improved, and won!
It’s been two years since Tyler True won the monthly contest for his script LOVE IS SOMEWHERE ELSE. He’s been improving as a writer all that time and has finally reached the pinnacle of his career – winning the Grand Prize in WriteMovies’ Winter 2018 contest! (We’re joking, of course, but still a great achievement.)
It’s been great to see Tyler’s progress over the past couple of years and we’re delighted that he, David, and Simon have all improved upon previous placements. So proud…
Here’s Tyler’s reaction to his big win…
“I am so incredibly grateful to all of you for this prize! I think I was even sleeping with a smile on my face, which hasn’t left since I woke up. It’s just so fulfilling to realize that somebody else sees the same potential in this script that I do. I can’t wait to sharpen this up and take it to the industry!”
Here’s a little bio on Tyler…
“I’ve had various jobs on the ocean, such as a tug boat driver and commercial scuba diver, led me to the other end of the spectrum and into the skies. After serving 5 years as a pilot in the Canadian Air Force, and completing a degree in Psychology, I decided to quit the military and follow my passion to be a writer. Four years of full time writing, while working sparingly as a diver, has resulted in numerous screenplays and an autobiographical book about my debaucherous and adventure filled life.”
And here’s the logline to Tyler’s winning script, SLAVE SHIP:
A devout African man chooses to work on a slave ship in order to ensure the safe passage of other Africans sold into slavery.
There’s only one way for you to see if you’ll be our next Grand Prize winner. Take a chance with our Spring contest now!
The Winter 2018 Writing Contest was a special one for us as we saw 3 previous winners all improve on past results! We had a previous Monthly Contest winner win the Grand Prize, a former third placed winner came in second, and an Honorable Mention and TV award winner broke into the top three.
Today, you get to meet the Third placed winner of our Winter 2018 Writing Contest Simon Bowler. Simon won the first ever “Best Teleplay and pilot award for Summer 2017. Then he won it again for the Winter Contest AND came Third overall!
A testament to Simon, and how well he used our past Development Notes prizes to improve on his previous draft.
Here’s what Simon said about his Third Placed finish…
“With WriteMovies development notes I was able to climb up from semi-finalist to finalist, to a being a winner three times in a row, which has been an extraordinary validation of my writing and has been hugely encouraging. I now look forward to working with WriteMovies to the hone the script, a pilot for a mini-series, into the best iteration possible, and to start focussing on how to market the project. The writing process, as any writer knows, is a lonely one, so to have the recognition of a triple win with WriteMovies and their continued support will make that journey all the more bearable, and hopefully, successful.”
Here’s some background on Simon:
“Originally from London, where he produced documentary films for the BBC and Channel 4, Simon has spent over twenty years in Los Angeles producing, writing and directing television docs and reality shows. Simon recently switched to drama and besides the multiple award-winning “Insurrection” mini-series (of which he’s written three episodes), he has written two award-winning plays (both at this year’s Austin Film Fest), a feature film, and is developing a classic horror anthology TV series.”
And here’s the logline to Simon’s winning script, INSURRECTION:
INSURRECTION tells the interwoven stories of three men – a farmer, a slave and a senator – whose dangerous battles against slavery led to the American Civil War. Farmer John Brown, slave Frederick Douglass, and Senator Stephen A. Douglas.
With two television awards up for grabs in our Spring 2018 Writing Contest, the chances of your pilot script winning has never been higher… enter here.