Thursday, 18 November 2010

Stroke of Insight...

This was recorded in 2008 as one of the TED lectures. It was the first TED lecture I was shown, as part of a course run by Screen Training Ireland and it is pretty amazing. If you feel like taking a coffee break, it might be worth a look !

Essentially, it's the story, from the inside, of the experience - and, believe or not, wonder - of having a massive stroke. But with a difference. Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist - and yes, she recovered. So she had studied these awful things clinically but was both fascinated to observe what it actually felt like. As her brain functions slipped away one by one - speech, movement, understanding — she studied and remembered every moment. As her blurb says: "This is a powerful story of recovery and awareness — of how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another."

The link is:

Monday, 15 November 2010

Slowly does it...

I'm seriously hoping this is the 'tortoise wins the race' period of the year. Work is slow. The intention to work gets muffled by cups of coffee, walking the dog, staying in the warmest room of the house where the tv and family are... and then the guilt for not working hard enough, fast enough or just plain enough.

My neighbour keeps hanging plastic bags on her washing line. The last time I saw this was in 1990 when I was on a work exchange as a journo to Sverdlovsk in Russia. (It reverted to Ekaterinberg later, the town in which the Tsar and his family were killed under the orders of Josef Sverdlov; hence the name).

But back then I also saw people collecting beer in plastic bags there too and fishing for two and a half hours on a freezing lake to produce a few handfuls of carp, the goldfish-sized ones for lunch.

I don't think we're there yet but I have to say I donot like the idea of handing over sovereignty in return for an EU bailout which seems to have been sprung to the Press last night. The way Fianna Fail, greedy developers, corrupt bankers and greed reduced this country to its knees, wasted all its money and given us the scariest health system despite the wonderful medical personnel we have makes me so angry...

So it's either bake a chocolate cake with whiskey in it or get back to my novel. Ho hum... Which would you do?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Free scripts....

Prompted by my fellow screenwriter's call to look again at competitions - Caroline Farrell, see - I went foraging in some spare moments - yes, those 'moments' that last half an hour and when I was MEANT to be honing a script. There is some interesting stuff out there but these are not competitions for first drafts. I imagine, given most of them have a fee, that there is fierce competition and that you only send your strongest work ever.

But some of them have interesting newsletters, even if you're not at that stage yet. The BlueCat Fellini Awards, for example, just launched their 2011 competition today but they also have a newsletter that looks interesting. From today's version, I was able to download The Big Lebowski, Jerry Maguire and Forrest Gump. The excuse for letting us access these is the search for good one liners.

I'm always telling my students to read, read, read scripts... It is the best way to learn, to absorb the craft, to challenge yourself to come up with something as fresh/ different/ visually and narratively compelling...but it's hard to find time and I hate reading them off screen but now I'm inspired. (ie: My computer is now filling up with scripts I want to read!)

I will set aside time to read the first ten pages of at least three scripts today and to read at least one full script each week. I'll use it as a way to break up the writing day. Might even allow myself a coffee while I do it and I'll try to learn to enjoy reading off screen. It's too expensive to print out every script.

Anyway the BlueCat Fellini Awards are for screenplays, features and shorts. it costs $60 and you upload your script in pdf, which saves the hassle of printing and the cost of postage. Sometimes I love computers!!

For 8 and 1/2 days in January 2011, leading up to Fellini's birthday, January 20th, they will be accepting material. This is the part I like: "Each script will receive TWO ANALYSES, plus the numerical scores we use to judge your screenplay."

Five winners will be chosen and each winner will receive a MacBook Pro plus Final Draft software, or the cash equivalent. Each winner has the option to select cash for either or both prizes.

Finalists will be announced on April 15th, and the five winners will be awarded on May 15th. All analyses will be returned by April 1st.

Submissions will start to be accepted on Tuesday, January 11th at Noon.

I have no idea how hard it is to be noticed in a competition like this but there's always a chance. And a deadline is a wonderfully strong motivating force!

Might be worth a look at the website? And definitely at the newsletter!