Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Who is "you"?

I've just realised I keep referring to "you" in these posts. "When you write like this... When you create a character..." Who are you? Are you there? Do you exist? I'd love to think I'm helping "you" whoever you are. But maybe I'm just helping me.

Either way it's all good.

I would do anything to achieve my goal. Just don't ask me to do X.

Stop talking! Start doing!

I could be talking about myself but in fact I'm talking about my characters. If you take nothing else from anything I write in this blog, take this. Passivity is the single greatest block to good writing I have either had placed in front of me or have placed in front of my own self, I can't decide which. Characters must do. They can't just react. A character must drive the narrative, must make decisions that have consequences. You the writer must present your characters with choices to make and the story goes from there. Now each and every one of you out there in cyberspace are probably doing that already and are reading this thinking, "No wonder this monkey hasn't sold a script. He's a monkey. A passive character writing chimp." But I have a feeling many of you make the same mistake.

One of my pet hates is people who use bad analogies. "Life is like making a smoothie. It will only be as good as the quality of the fruit you use." AAAAAAAAAGGHH!!!! Wanker! However as someone who hates bad analogies, it is perfectly acceptable for me to use them. So here goes.

The writer is often compared to God. We are Gods of the universes we create, the people inhabiting them, the things they do and say. Taking this to be true, remember this. God, if you're approaching this from standard Western Catholic doctrine, also gives us free will. He gives us the ability to make choices. And this is exactly what you must give your characters. A story imposed on characters who are nothing more than cyphers is as obvious as testicles on a eunuch. Characters have things happen to them and then they react by making things happen. A character who talks and reacts then talks some more will not be interesting, unless that is the nature of the character and the writer is controlling him/her accordingly. Passivity due to bad writing is absolutely fatal. This is where many writers go wrong at first, me included, except that it's what I've been doing all along. I have interesting story ideas, some good scenes, maybe even one or two great ones, some interesting character ideas, but every single time the whole thing is undermined by characters reacting to events I make happen. I am as big a character as any in the film. "Hey, who's the bloke that's making all this shit happen? I wish I had the chance to do something about it." No such luck mate. Time to react to something else.It's been a huge thing for me to realise and it's taken me a long time to realise it. But the heavy lifting equipment is out, sweaty workmen are baring their arse cracks as they toil to lift it as we speak and I think soon it will be removed from my path and taken away to be destroyed.

Last year I attended a screenwriting conference in San Diego (more later) and I met a script consultant called Michael Hague. Now Michael Hague has written books, gives lectures and can easily be found in the library with a thousand others promising the secret to "Writing the Script That Sells." But if you don't know him I would urge you to seek him out. I met him after a lecture he gave and I paid a little extra for a half hour script consultation with him. It was he who made me see how I've been going so wrong. And it was in the course of the lecture he came up with the question to ask of your character, the question I have used as the title for this post. Michael believes strongly in, as he puts it, "clear, attainable goals." What does the character want and what are they doing to get it? And to create great drama and conflict work out what it is they are most afraid of and put it in their way as an obstacle to achieving the goal you have set out for them near the start of the script. "I would do anything to achieve my goal. Just don't ask me to do X" They absolutely have to solve/find/escape from/meet/kill whatever it is but they are terrified of meeting/doing/being/finding X. This feeds into motivations, characters arcs and other things I will talk about another time. But for now, if you ask that question of your characters, work out the answer, and place it as the primary obstacle in their way of achieving their goal, you'll be well on the way to creating a script that is in danger of working. I know I am! Take them out of their comfort zone, make them really work and you'll have an audience rooting for them. Even if the story demands they fail. One of my favourite films is Raiders of the Lost Ark for many reasons but that is one of them. Indianna Jones loses the ark as many times as he retrieves it again and in the end it isn't his. The point is they'll have gone out of their comfort zone to achieve something, which by the way can be absolutely anything in any genre. Think of any film that moves you. Chances are, there is a person struggling against something to achieve something.

The part of me that's been down for a while wonders how I could have spent so long not realising this. I guess you have to go through certain things to reach certain places. All I know is it's only in the last year or so I've started to understand just how passive my characters have been (because they haven't had clear, attainable goals and have instead been wandering around lost in the half baked narratives I've been providing for them) and more recently have started to understand what to do to rectify that. In the end it doesn't matter how I got here or how long its taken me to get here. The important thing is I'm here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


My Dad is leaving my Mum for a few days to go to Germany, apparently there's some kind of sporting tournament taking place there. He's meeting my two brothers and they're going to see a couple of games. So my Mum asked me if I'd go home and keep her company for of Dad's away days. (See, I can use football teminology.) It should be nice, if a little intense. The inevitable clothes shopping trip is already planned. See what I mean? Always the baby. I'm nearly thirty years of age.

We don't spend a huge amount of time on our own which I know is very important to her. That's very important to me too, I always try and make alone time with family and friends. I'm also as nervous as her and the confidence issues are hers too. Many neurosis are shared... it's a sad day when you wake up and realise you have turned into your Mother! Bless her.

Anyway you'll have to wait for your Garreth fix for a few days. I feel like the last few posts have been getting stuff out of the way, important stuff to be sure, but setting the scene for what will hopefully be an interesting journey into the nature of scriptwriting and the way this particular scribe (I've always liked that word! And yes I do feel it's applicable to me!) works and is trying to get his stuff read. Aswell as going back to college. I need to figure out a way to let anyone who wants to actually read my work too. A friend of mine was helping me set up a website so I might get that ball moving again, put my work on it and put a link to it here.

Anyway time to go catch a flight. Stay safe.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Beating Heart

The beating heart of any film is its script. That is something I believe as firmly as... well, as firmly as any of my other convictions. Of which there are few.

Films change from script to screen of course. Sometimes the changes are cosmetic, sometimes dramatic. Some directors favour improvisation, believing the script is little more than a framework. In this instance, the script will often change considerably. Often, disintigrating schedules or production problems force changes, not always for the bad of course, I'm not coming at this from the point of view that change is necessarily bad. Simply that for a variety of reasons change occurs. But even if the script is just a framework, it needs to be a strong framework. Good directors will allow for that within their directorial approach. Lesser directors can weaken or dismantle the framework altogether. The point is that I as a writer am not responsible for what the director does during the shoot. I am responsible for providing the framework. And that is the last time I'm going to use the word "framework" in this post.

As an aside, at the risk of stating the obvious, film is the director's medium. In alot of cases it's also the producer's and the actor's. Rarely is it ever the writer's. And usually when it is the writer's, it's because he or she is also the director. Alot of people get bent out of shape by that. Maybe if I ever have the experience of having my beautifully crafted words pissed on by a director, I'll feel differently, but for now, the way I feel is quite pragmatic. There is nothing you can do to change the situation so either get behind the camera to take charge of your script as you see fit, or stop whining. If you're Akiva Goldsman the Oscar winning writer behind Batman and Robin, Lost in Space and Practical Magic (Is it just me or should that CV be rewarded with an Oscar?) then you also produce. The point of this post is to think about the script as the core of the film and from there to think about what it is as a writer you're supposed to provide.

So many writers at the stage I'm at (ie, unknown and unproduced) seem to think that by reading Robert McKee, watching alot of films and devoting some time to writing that the scripts they produce should be made into films. I don't know if this will of any use to anyone but one thing I always do is to ask myself this question. I'm standing outside the Odeon Leicester Square and a film I wrote is playing inside. A man with his last £10 of the month wanders past with a view to spending it on some entertainment for himself. He can go for a few pints, go for a chinese, rent a DVD and have a few cans, go see a different film. Can you in all honesty look that person in the eye and say that he should spend his last tenner on seeing your film? Can you say to him why out of all his options, that one is the best? Don't ask the question flippantly. If you always come to the conclusion that, yes that man should see your film, then you're either unbelieveably talented or (possibly more likely) slightly deluded. What is in this story that NEEDS to be told? Who is going to get what from it? Why will I be invested in it? What's different from what I've seen before? Is this going to appeal to anyone beyond you and your twelve mates? I've made that mistake and so many people seem to aswell. If your script is about a "cop on the edge" or a "juror under pressure" or a "gangster retiring after one last job" well maybe you've come up with an interesting variation on an old cliche or maybe you've just come up with a cliche. Why should we care? Why should our friend give his hard earned to you?

The other point to consider is that long before our friend has the chance of parting with his cash, you will have another audience to face. Directors routinely devote a year of their lives to the making of a film, often it's much more. What have you given them that's going to make them want to do that? Would you give up a year of your life to something you thought was a load of shite? Your job, in the first instance, is to ignite passion in the director and the actors and the producers. Is this story you're telling us making us turn the page in excitement? Are you giving a director great scenes he can sink his teeth into? Are you giving him visual opportunities aswell as dialogue scenes? Do those dialogue scenes crackle along, loaded with subtext and energy? Will actors think, "Wow what a character to play"? And not just your main character. If the script is the beating heart then it must be healthy and have plenty of work to do. Otherwise, from day one of pre-production through to the very last day of post, it's an uphill struggle for everyone concerned. Damage control rather than bringing to life something that's already pretty bloody good.

I've been falling short on all of the above. Reason number one I haven't made it yet. But they are the things I think every writer should be demanding of himself and his work. Because if you don't then what's the point? This world is full of mediocrity, we don't need any more. On that point, I usually go to the cinema a couple of times a week and I don't know about you, but for me the majority of films are neither exceptionally good nor exceptionally bad. Actually most aren't even pretty good or pretty bad. Most are okay. All right, but forgettable. Serviceable, bland and a host of other words you never want to be associated with. At least if something is absolutely dreadful it has produced an emotional response. The worst thing in the world is to have an audience sitting in apathy, neither caring nor uncaring. And given how many films fall into that bracket, it seems like the easiest thing in the world too. And you must avoid it at all costs. Be harsh with your work. Fair of course, don't give in to the bad thoughts telling you you're crap. But if you really censor your ideas, then the ones that get through will really start to excite you. And maybe, just maybe, they'll excite the people that can bring them to life.

Fuck Quentin Tarantino

Just to give you a sense of who I like.

Guillermo Ariaga - 21 Gramms, The Three Bruials of Malquiadas Estrada, Amoros Peros

David Mamet - Glengarry Glenross, The Untouchables, Heist, Winslow Boy, Spanish Prisoner

William Goldman - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Marathon Man, All The Presidents Men, The Princess Bride

Eric Roth -The Insider, Forrest Gump, Munich (as well as the Postman and Airport 79 but nobody's perfect)

There will be many more. I'm quite tired and struggling to come up with names but I thought I should give a sense of the people that inspire me. There's one writer, also a director, who I think is the single most overrated writer in about 20 years. I've cunningly hidden his name and just what I think of him somewhere in this post. See if you can find it!


The title is not, as it may suggest, an Irish boy's cry for his Mother. Rather it's the most concrete thing I've done in a long time. I've applied to various colleges to do an MA in Screenwriting. And guess what? I've been accepted into Goldsmiths on the strength of my application and interview. Given how few places there are I was pretty chuffed to get the good news. I'm still applying for one or two more but I do have somewhere to go in September once my job finishes and I leave the flat.

The pros and cons of a Screenwriting MA can be debated at length. Does every working writer have an MA? Not even close. But I have to look at things from my own point of view. Regardless of the academic merits, a year spent writing with a group of people with that level of guidance is hugely exciting and potentially very rewarding. Any contacts I make can only be a good thing and you never know, I may just learn something while I'm there too. The fact that I was offered a place was a great boost to the confidence. And it means I don't have to work for a year! Yay! Well I will have to work but at least I'll have the MA too. I'm not a big fan of work. This is something that will becomes clear as the blog progresses.

So that's the start of the plan. I have a feeling I'm underestimating how difficult it's going to be, how intense, just how much work will be involved. But bring it on!

The Great Big Why - part 3

But there's light at the end of the tunnel. If you make it past the first paragraph that is.

Since January I've been feeling alot of fear. I have two housemates, one I've lived with for eight years (Bert and Ernie eat your heart out), the other on and off for six. It's absolutely fantastic, we're very close and I love them dearly. I've been with the BBC working a highly dull job for 5 years. The only plus point of this job has been that it's shift work which has allowed me alot of free time to write but has also allowed something of a rut to creep in. I never thought writing could become part of a rut but it has. I work, I meet my friends, I watch films, I write. It's become part of a routine rather than a serious pursuit. I write but I don't finish much. I haven't seriously worked on a new idea in two years, I've been re-writing old ones. And I know exactly why this is. Fear. Fear of not making it, fear of discovering I'm simply not good enough to cut it. But because I write I can fool everyone, including myself, into thinking I have purpose.

Before Christmas, a round of compulsory redundancies was announced at the BBC and I was going to be affected by it. The unions negotiated that all people who didn't want to leave would be found alternative employment. My boss is moving to a different part of the archive department (archiving is where I work) and we get on well, I'm (reasonably) conscientious and I have half a brain so he took me aside and assured me that I could come work for him in the new archive project. This is where the new fear kicked in. I knew I was being given a chance to change things. And I knew I had to take it. So as compulsory redundancy effectively became voluntary, I opted to leave the BBC. To do what? To relocate to the States. Drastic, sure, but I don't do things by half measures. I thought my brother could help get me a Visa and I started looking into applying for colleges in LA. I announced to my flatmates that I was instigating the break-up that is of course inevitable in shared house circumstances and they made their alternative plans. Karen is off travelling the world, something she had been planning for a long time anyway, and Kev is moving in with his girlfriend. But I can't get a Visa for the States and I had missed the round of college applications for 2006 for international students. Looks like I'm staying here. But without a job and without my most important and immediate support network.

And THIS is the light at the end of the tunnel. I must change things. I want to change things. I want to write with passion and have the courage and the confidence to back it up with action. I feel I have the answer to where my writing has been going wrong (another post coming soon!), I have made my alternative plans for what to do when the flat disbands and my job finishes (the very next post!) and I have had more script ideas in the last couple of months than I've had in two years. I'm rewriting an old idea as I said. But it's genuine, rewarding rewriting. I'm having it read by a professional script reader whose feedback is superb. The script is on the verge of being in the best shape it has ever been in. The fear I mentioned at the beginning of the post? It's a different fear, born from the fact that I think I have a real chance. It's the kind of fear I imagine someone about to bunge jump experiences. I'm asking the right questions, thinking the right things, tackling the things that need tackling. Including answering a little question that's been in my head of late. Why film writing?

Happiness comes from within. It must do. If I'm unhappy, selling a thousand scripts won't make a difference. Selling a script represents my struggle with my lack of self confidence. It's an external expression of an internal feeling. What's been wrong with me of late is that the self doubt has begun to win. I've been feeling like I'll never make it which has made me feel doomed to be at the mercy of self doubt for life. What I've started to do is take control again. To remember how I started on this path at all, and to remember that it's a path I want to be on. There are things I can do in order to write well which will increase my chances of success which will boost my confidence. Whatever innate ability I have, whatever determination I have, they must be coupled with learning the craft of writing. I have been ignoring that. I've always imagined myself succeeding, not out of arrogance, but because I can write and because I'm determined and therefore am somehow owed success. Of course this isn't the case. And now I'm understanding that my lack of success is because I haven't been learning the craft as well as I need to and not because I'm just crap. The Hynes family stubborness is good for something. Its made me determined to sort through all this crap and to come out the other side the winner. At times like this I'm grateful I have it.

I'm really scared. But I'm really excited. And for the first time in a long while I'm proud of myself again. And I've started this blog as a way to document the change and as a reminder to myself of what I've promised myself. Success. Not success for success' sake or material reward, not because I think something external can bring me happiness, but because I owe it to myelf to make the most of my talents, my passions and my dreams. And I will not allow the self doubt that wants to take over, to do so.

That's why.

The Great Big Why - part 2

5 blogs in and I'm writing sequels already...

I can throw around stuff like, "Thing is, career wise there was nothing else I wanted to do. There never has been", or "Film is my passion" until the cows come home. Indeed I've said stuff like that so often it doesn't have much meaning alot of the time any more. But in my mind, that doesn't answer the question, why. Why film writing particularly?

The surface answers do contribute towards answering The Great Big Why. Of course I have a passion for film, I've been mesmerised by cinema for as long as I can remember. Why writing specifically? Well I've always had a flair for writing. When I was 12 a school reading test gave the result that my reading age was that of a 17 year old. I don't think my parents have ever been more proud. I remember my first attempt at writing a book. I was about 10 or 11 and I wrote 15 A4 pages of a story concerning 2 brothers who solved crimes with their father, Fintan. This of course was completely independent from that fact that at that time I was reading The Hardy Boys books about two brothers who solved crimes with their father... Fenton. To this day I wear my influences proudly on my sleeve. I guess crossing a flair for writing with a love of film gives you a film writer. Voila! Let's all go home and have a cocktail.

I suppose in the end I don't believe anything happens accidentally. I don't mean that existentially, this isn't turning into a post about the Divine. I mean that people control circumstances much more than they consciously realise or understand sometimes. I have a lack of confidence that is worse than anyone really knows. I don't have much faith in my abilities alot of the time and I'm sure this is why I struggle with simple things. Rather than potentially look the fool, I won't get involved. I don't want to be seen. But there is a functioning brain in this head. There is also drive, ability, understanding, creativity and a questioning of all things. When you add all those things up what do you get? A person who wants to create and control but do so invisibly. Ie become a writer. Is that too simplistic? More pop psychology? Perhaps to a reader. To the one who has to consciously and subconsciously orchestrate the little bits to align in just the right way so as to maintain a comfort zone with an impenetrable exterior and the veneer of confidence, it's not simple or "pop" at all. Not one bit.

Then there's the successful siblings. Ah yes, family. The source of our greatest comfort and greatest distress. My family is cursed with stubbornness like you couldn't imagine. I believe mine isn't the worst of the five of us. Of course that could just be the stubbornness talking. They will argue and shout and dig themselves into trenches that make the Somme pale by comparison. Me, well I'll feel it, I'll be absolutely certain of my own position in my head, I'll know I'm right. I just won't always say it. It depends on the circumstances. This means, from my own point of view, I've had to struggle for identity within the family. Big personalities will always ensure that is the case. I always thought writing success would tick many boxes. Assert my individuality, assert my own success and my position as Martin and Brian's equal and assert myself as an adult in my parent's eyes, rather than the baby. A scriptwriting career is a pretty difficult thing to accomplish. That's why I want to accomplish it, because it will achieve those things I just mentioned. But I guess more importantly, it will, in my mind, prove that I'm good at something worth doing, and that not many people can do. And that's why I don't want the fallback my Mum and Dad wanted for me through conventional education. In my eyes, falling back to something I'm not this committed to is tantamount to failure. And why am I so committed to it? You in the back nodding off, why am I so committed to it? Aside from a genuine love of cinema and a desire to create? Because I'm in this circle of self doubt. Round and round I go. I want to write because I think I can and I think it'll sort some things out but I don't really believe I can so I'll never make it and these things will always be wrong.

What's most frustrating is that, when I'm comfortable, I get glimpses of the person struggling for dominance against the other person paralysed by self doubt. The one who says things that make sense, who knows a little bit about some things, whose priorities are sound, who has friends that care about him and once in a while, even rely on him. I like that person. He needs to show himself a bit more.

The Great Big Why - part 1

I remember the day I left College...

Let me back up a tad. Before coming to England, I spent two years in Ireland at University College Dublin, where my eldest brother also went before emigrating to the States. I was doing an Arts degree which involves choosing 3 subjects from a large pool of subjects, languages, arts and humanities predominantly. Mine were English, Psychology and Sociology. I never settled at UCD. I'm not the most outgoing of people and Arts is (or was at that time anyway) one of the most popular 3rd level courses UCD offers as it's a good general degree for people unsure of what they want to do exactly. This meant I was in a class of 500 people. No word of a lie. 500. You would sit down in class, (a huge amphitheatre capable of holding that many people) meet someone then never see them again! When you're less than outgoing around people you don't know this is simply overwhelming and intimidating. Coupled with the fact that I knew exactly what I wanted to be doing but wasn't doing it, it made for a less than enjoyable time. Sooooo, after 2nd year I quit.

Now both my parents are highly intelligent people but came from circumstances that didn't permit education beyond the age of 12. For what I've always supposed were reasons of unrealised ambition (is that classic movie pop psychology or what?) growing up, education was hugely emphasised in our house. Martin, the eldest, has a PHD and Brian has an MA. Yes there is something of an age gap. Martin is 41, Brian 39 and then there's me bringing up the rear at 29. Mum still tries to tell me I was planned. Both my brothers are two of the most intelligent people you'll ever meet, academically successful and subsequently professionally successful too (just don't ask me what they do) and all this due in no small measure to Mum and Dad pushing them into 3rd level education and struggling and making enormous sacrifices to fund it all. So when I came along, there was little doubt I would follow a similar path. Indeed, for my own part I knew I wanted to go to college, the only question was to do what? Flash forward to the end of 2nd year when my feet are itchy and I'm really fed up.

So I announce that I'm leaving UCD. Mum literally turned grey, I mean ashen. She had to take to her bed...!! Dad was slightly more composed and asked what I intended to do instead. I told them I would work for a year, save money and apply to every film school in Ireland and England I could find. I did just that and was accepted into Surrey Institute of Art and Design. Mum and Dad always felt I should have a backup, "in case the film thing doesn't work out." Of course I see their point. Trouble is, career wise there's nothing else I want to do. There never really has been. And, scary though it often is, walking a tightrope with no net to catch you can only give you better balance. From their point of view, it was like me saying I wanted to play for Chelsea or to fly to the moon. Working in film is about as attainable. This is all compounded by my two brothers following more traditional academic paths. They've had 9 years to get used to the idea which they have, though I know they worry. Still if it wasn't that it would be something else. They are parents after all.

Not plot, not character, not explosions or CGI whatsits, but story

When in doubt, blow it up. Not sure how to link one scene to the next? I find a slow motion shot of a helicopter against a sunset usually does the trick. You see my friends I get alot of slagging about being Hollywood Boy. How I will always favour an explosion over a conversation. I understand the origin of the joke. I'm a sucker for visual effects! I love a good stunt. Check out my DVD colection and you'll find among others, Con Air, Terminators 1-3, The Rock, Lethal Weapon 2, The Matrix and Matrix Reloaded, which I bought only for the fight sequence between Keanu Reeves and the Merovingian's henchmen that leads to that phenomenol car chase. 21 minutes of enjoyable material in a 2 1/2 hour film. Where did it all go wrong boys? But I submit that this reputation does me a disservice.

The key for me is story. What is this film about? Who is doing what and why should I give a shit? Never mind giving £12.50 (Damn you Leicester Square and your inflated prices) and two hours of my life. The joy of watching a good plot confidentally reveal itself is a rare treat. Usual Suspects, Narc, LA Confidential, Memento, cinematic highlights for this reason. Great stories, populated by interesting characters. Often times people differentiate between plot driven films and character driven films and this is certainly true if you differentiate "plot" from "story". The story is what your film is about, the plot, the mechanics holding it together, making it work. It might be easier to differentiate plot driven films from their character driven counterparts but it's impossible in my opinion to seperate character from story. Venture further along my DVD shelf and you'll come to Remains of the Day (dir James Ivory, writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro). A character driven film more than a plot driven film certainly. But the most important thing for me is that it's a great story. And for any story to be great, it needs a great plot and great characters. Interesting people doing interesting things in an interesting setting.

And that is what I'm about. It's what I want to achieve across a range of genres. Will some of those stories require CGI and a pyrotecnics team to make them work? Fuck yeah! Some won't, it just depends on the story. But to state in one sentence what it is I want to do, I want to create great stories for the cinema. Everything else is dressing.

Of course it doesn't go unnoticed that the majority of films in my collection and that I watch at the cinema hail from our star spangled banner singing friends across the Atlantic. I accept without protest that this does nothing to help my cause. I think though this is because I'm drawn to films that move. I'm not, repeat not, talking about action. Car chases, gun fights, battles...though I do love a good battle...no Garreth! Stop it! That's three viewings of Derek Jarman's Blue as penance! Review the films listed above, the list that begins with Usual Suspects that is, not the one that begins with Con Air. Each of them moves in some way. People are doing, going, solving, and character is being explored in the context of a story that's moving. And this is why alot of European cinema doesn't appeal to me, speaking in the most ludicrous of generalisations of course. A recent example is Hidden, or Cache to give it its French title (dir/writer Michael Haneke). Critically acclaimed, the friend I was with (another aspiring writer and cinephile whose knowledge of cinema is actually terrifying) loved it. Me? Well, there was definately alot I admired, an interesting story, some great scenes, one or two shocking moments, good performances, yet somehow I wasn't engaged. It's as if the overall point was "hidden."

That's not to say if a film is slow I switch off. Remains of the Day as I've mentioned, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Son's Room, Take My Eyes, slow, slow films but gripping. I recently rewatched Chinatown and had forgotten how slow that film is in a sense. But again, it absolutely pulls you in and you're hooked. Why? Because they move. They go somewhere. They don't stand around dressed head to toe in black, puffing on a filtered mint cigarette, sipping a decaf, soy latte, procrastinating on the meaning of life.

Of course I'm being facietious. But only slightly...

Great stories that do something and go somewhere. That's what I want from a film and what I want from my writing.

Though I did use the phrase "the fight sequence between Keanu Reeves and the Merovingian's henchmen that leads to that phenomenol car chase" worryingly casually. Perhaps I protest too much...

A Preface Becomes A Post

I was going to start my next post with a qualification, confident as I am in my own beliefs. But I've decided it warrants becoming a post in its own right.

Many of you will know most or all of what I'll be posting about writing screenplays over the coming weeks, months, years, who knows? I don't consider myself an expert. If I was, I'd be writing this from my jazuzzi in the Hollywood Hills. But I do have alot to say about the topic. Maybe some of it will help someone else on a similar path, maybe the things I do right, the mistakes I make, the things I've learned will be of some use. And maybe with enough time and with me successfully staving off my innate urge to procrastinate, there'll be some measure of progress to follow. Or maybe it'll all be the most foul smelling variety of horseshit.

It's just there's alot of people who claim to be experts on a variety of topics. Pretension abounds. And all I want to do is make a record of something. Expertly of course.

A Writer's Life For Me

Having flirted with the idea of creating a blog for some time now, I've come to the conclusion that the only way this will be interesting both to write and to read is if there's a theme. Random posting, "Today I ordered a pizza and scratched my arse for a bit" simply won't cut it so here's the deal folks...

For as long as I can remember I've loved films. I've never been into sport, I play the guitar and enjoy music as much as the next man. I enjoy travelling but never really have the means to do a huge amount and I've never had that desire, it seems is a prerequisite of being a member of my generation, to take a year out and backpack around South America or India or fill in the country. I am interested in politics but am happy to switch off from it. Computers/technology/gadgetry leave me a bit cold. I used to read voraciously but these days I go through phases, (currently I'm in a "not reading" phase). But films... Tron is the first film I ever saw at the cinema. There may have been more in between but the next one I remember is Return of the Jedi. To this day my single biggest regret came the day my eldest brother Martin said to me, "So Gar, would you like to go see Indianna Jones and the Temple of Doom..." (surely there's no adaquate way of balancing that equation? Surely that's not even a choice? What 8 year old doesn't want to watch Indianna Jones swing through a group of bad guys into a mine cart?) ..."Or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?"

A little aside here, I'm gay. While I only realised it (relatively) late on, I wonder if the signs were there at an early age? Even that explanation makes little sense however. Harrison Ford was undeniably handsome and charasmatic in his youth...And boy could he swing into a minecart. Still, I chose that stupid cow and her seven singing dwarves. Hi-ho my arse.

Films are my passion and at the age of 21 they became my pursuit.

A brief history of Garreth - At the age of 21 I moved to England (I'm originally from Dublin) to go to film school in Farnham, Surrey. I graduated at the age of 24, ready to make film, and was handed my BA in Film and Video Production. This is like someone being ready to handle radioactive waste and being handed oven gloves. I moved to Surbiton where I lived for a year. This was a difficult year spent figuring out what the hell to do with my life now that the bubble of college had burst, and coming out to family, friends. (Panic attacks, counselling, anti depressants... the stuff of another post!) I then moved to West London and after a few months temping began work at the BBC. In my eternal optimism and enduring naivety I thought, this will give me my break. 5 years later, on the verge of taking voluntary redundancy, it might as well have been KFC.

In all that time I've been writing scripts. Some good, many bad, some seen through multiple drafts, some barely a scene old. All written with the fervent belief that, "this will be the one." A few minor successes along the way, finalist at a Hollywood writing competition in 2004, more than a couple London production companies requesting more of my work on the basis of a script sent in, and last year BBC Films had a script of mine under consideration for development. They eventually turned it down. But nothing tangible. The simple truth is the reason I haven't made it yet is because I haven't been good enough.

And so now here I am. Staring down the barrel of 30, no closer to achieving my dream on the outside, but with a change of heart on the inside. A renewed vigour that can only be created by the reminder of mortality the dawn of a new decade brings! But this is not a bad thing. Things are about to change. I can feel it. And I thought, why not share the journey? If you're interested at all in becoming a writer of any kind then I hope maybe even some of my ideas, thoughts and experiences will be useful to you. Some posts will hopefully be interesting to many, some only to a few, many perhaps only to me.

All this of course assumes there's anyone out there at all reading this. Fitting, given my pursuit...