Eibon Films Horror, Fantasy and SciFi writer / filmmaker and friend of the weird

17Jun/160

The cabin by the lake

I'm currently hiding out by a lake, an hour away from Stockholm by bus, and thoroughly enjoying being a little closer to nature - even if sometimes nature gets a little too close to me for my liking. Already, since taking time off work, I've done some reading, watched some good films, played with my new cameras, taken up sketching again and I've written a new short film script. I've also learned how perilous Dropbox connectivity can be to share said script when trying to connect to the net by phone, when the signal is apt to fade. It's frustrating to be sure, but a good excuse to get off the net and use your noggin' for other things. 


I'm enjoying the rainy days especially, as they often bring much needed gloom, to fight that eternal summer daylight and get some much needed sleep.

If things get stagnant, find a way to change them up. If your normal rituals don't work, to get around writer's block, change them up. I seriously think that switching media can help - going from not writing, to making films or sketching, can help stimulate your creativity in different ways, to get around the problem. A diversion if you will. 

I think my run-ins with nature will help stimulate a new short film idea. Especially all this talk of diseases born by Ticks, which are a real problem over here. Nevermind the huge hornet-things, that are nearly two inches long and half an inch thick. Also the fact that my cat has gone on a killing spree, since being repatriated to the country. He's definitely enjoying his freedom and been sampling the wildlife. Anything that runs is fair game, although he's avoided the snakes for now and the Eagles have ignored him...

After this week I will be in Krakow, and I'm hoping to continue my research for a new short story I plan to write in the future. And if I don't burn myself out travelling and survive the special toilet facilities out here in the woods, I'm sure I'll slowly be getting back to form - even if I might end up coming back a little lighter, thanks to the local mosquito population.

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6Jun/162

Things are happening

 

LeeandDarwin2.jpg

So today, I was out and about with my good friend Darwin Reina - Spanish ex pat  filmmaker also living in Sweden - and we were doing some shooting for a new VLog. It was the second day of shooting. It was just a bit of fun, our take on the fun that is 'National Dag', but hopefully between us we'll have created something worth watching. We've been experimenting with a way to update people with what we're doing, and experimenting in order to find a particular visual style / format for such video blogs. For now we're checking out Vlogs, especially those by the world's greatest - Casey Neistat (seriously, check him out especially) - and we're seeing what works about each video blog that we watch, what doesn't work and then trying to balance that with what we can achieve / pull-off convincingly.

LeeandDarwin.jpg

 

For me these opportunities are a great chance to hang out and be active and shoot something. It's also great to play with new gear - namely the Go Pro Hero Black 3 (mainly using for covert filming in public places and for timelapses) and the Canon 700D DSLR (for great all round filming uses). I've been so impressed by what both can achieve, I'm looking forward to seeing the finished / edited footage. In fact, I've been so impressed that I've ordered my own Canon 70D (no I'm not missing a zero - I've bought a newer and slightly more expensive camera). I'm looking forward to teaching myself more about all of the various settings - those settings that I never had to learn back when I used real semi-pro camcorders to do my filming.

Another bonus was that I also came up with an idea for a super short short horror script. It will be interesting to see if we can pull this off. I think people will enjoy feeling the hairs on the neck lifting up when watching it, if we can pull it off. What was interesting was that Darwin tasked me with coming up with something specifically for a set duration and rather than say "it can't be done" my brain was happy to rise to the challenge.

I also wrote a new comedy short film script this week. Well, technically it was me polishing up an old short film that I was inspired to write back in 2008, during a slow day at work. But transferred it from a notepad text file - yes I often start off just capturing ideas / scenes in simple text files - before I then transferred it into Final Draft and reformatted it. Once it was in the right format I was properly able to see the holes in it and fill and polish them. The reason I dusted this one off? It will be perfect to shoot. All we will need is an office and 4 actors. If we do it right, it will get a few laughs and hopefully a few shares. And it will give me time to get this other short horror short script finished, ready for the next production effort.

So things have been happening. It's baby steps. I'm still not 'right', but I'm taking it as it comes.

 

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24May/160

What ‘six months’ can mean

Time slips away from you and then, before you know it, half a year has passed and you’re no further forward creatively than you were before. And you’re no happier, in fact on many levels you’re much worse. The only difference between then and now is that it’s warmer and the sun has chased the permanent Swedish gloom away and replaced it with leaves and greenery; oh and I lost the most important person in my life. Yeah that.

Right after I had set my plans for this creative year and attempted to move forward with them, and a few months into executing some of them and on the cusp of publishing my first Kindle release, I received news that my father was diagnosed with a second cancer; a blight on him that was much more hateful and aggressive than the one they’d found the year before. And unlike the operable tumour of 2015 - one that took me a while to recover from emotionally enough to consider creating again - this one was totally untreatable. It was exactly around the time that we were expecting to hear that he had the all clear and was in remission, and we were all looking forward to better things. Although the doubt was always there, it was never supposed to be like this. It floored me. Everyone took the news badly.

Although I was able to fulfil the demands of my day job and I’ve been able to keep it mostly together, I’ve been unable to pursue any creative endeavours. All of my thoughts were for his care and for somehow trying to spend as much time with him as possible - which is no mean feat from a different country entirely. But we tried.

Sadly, one month ago almost to the day, my father passed away. I won’t and can’t really go into that in a public forum or truly communicate what I’m feeling or the surprising depth of my anger at that bastard cancer and the way that it happened, or share the details of the bureaucratic fuckery - the fallout to this - which is still to be overcome. But I think you can understand the impact of something like this in your life. And I think you can grasp the hole it leaves inside you when you lose someone so special. Let alone the strength it needs to get up and get through a day, and support others who are also grieving when you can.

It’s too soon to tackle anything seriously creative or consider committing myself to any large undertaking this year. Every time I catch myself looking forward I’m struck by an absence and other thoughts that take me out of my stride and knock me down. It’s fine, I’ve been through this before and not just once. I know this is natural. I will keep on keeping on. I am very much here and these feelings will run their course and will never go and I would not want them to. I will be able to work on something challenging eventually. Right now I’m simply concerned with baby steps: get up, wash, eat, exercise, work, eat, sleep, repeat. I’m making notes of new ideas. I’m letting things germinating. I’m distracting myself with pictures of shiny camera / film related toys, for a future project. But I’m living in a mental place that, right now, means no London Screenwriter’s Forum for me this year, putting things on hold until I’m ready to tackle them and waiting. As for nanowrimo etc and my novels, well they’ll just have to wait. I might as well push this year’s goals into next year…

I just wanted to explain my absence.

There will be other things of note. There will be better things - there bloody better be! We’ve all lost too many shining stars this year, too many greats - irrespective of my own losses - and there won’t be any more if we all stopped creating.

Check back here when you can. And say hi. When I can I will share what other activities I’ve been up to. They’re things that relate to writing and filmmaking and self-improvement. And I think that they’ll be of use to you - even if they might seem a little indirect.

And I just might surprise you… eventually.

To anyone I know who’s reading this - thanks for all of your support. It means a lot to know I’m not alone.

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3Jan/160

2016 – My creative resolutions and goals

Last year, I did one of these posts, explaining what creative activities I was planning on focusing on in 2015 (original article HERE). So how did I do with those resolutions and goals and what will 2016 bring?

The short version:

  • Not so well. 5 out of 8 aint bad.
  • Will tackle the other 3 this year.
  • Still fighting the good fight.
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29Dec/150

2016 will bring editing

Today I printed the rough draft of MUTAGENE - my nanowrimo zombie novel from 2014.
Mutagene_Rough_Draft.JPG
2016 will definitely produce a 2nd draft of it. I've printed it to go through it and painstakingly highlight it and mark it up, ready for editing, in the new year. I've ignored it and my other nanowrimo novel for too long. There's always a reason to work on something else. But I will bring one of them forward at least!
 
It's quite astounding that my tiny mind conjured up a 379 page novel. But also that I've still got another novel left to edit.... the question now is, are they any good????
I'm also going to devote some time to reflecting on how I've done in 2015 - with regard to following my goals. And looking at setting some new creative goals for 2016.
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20Dec/150

You just write…right?

I've finally stepped up to the keyboard and started throwing words at the page. Apologies, if in doing so I've gone quiet of late, but I've edited over 1700 words of this long short story / short novella (I'm never really sure where some of my work fits when speaking of length - as traditional metrics don't really seem to work for me when defining the type of story it is). I've added in 400 words from a new scene that I think more effectively sets up the finale and explains something important about the secondary protagonist.

I'd like to say that it's taken a real effort, but actually, it's anything but. What it actually took was a couple of days to recover from my work demands, from a gruelling 3 day, 3 city workshop tour which had me working long into each night, to sleep, to meditate, to get all of the fun stuff out of the way, the chores that were distracting me - any active procrastinators will know how appealing such things suddenly become - and watch the shows I'd been dying to watch, and to just give it a try. Here's the recipe that sometimes works for me:

  • Turn off the TV
  • put on Holosync - the Dive and Immersion - audio meditation tools.
  • Start writing in my journal and let the fingers warm up and find all the keys.
  • And then find the meaning again.

The TV is a distraction. Sometimes its one that helps. But today it was not. And so are the other chores and tasks that you know need to be done. You can only put off your life so long before it gets in the way. But ultimately if you start working, you will start working.

As a friend often used to say to me at work: J.F.D.I it. (Just.F*cking. Do.It)

It works for me. Even if I don't always get to it in the most direct of routes.

I hope all of your creative endeavours are going well.

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11Dec/150

Editing hell

onlinestopwatch

I've realised that I really don't like editing fiction. I don't mind it so much in screenwriting - because whittling and honing those sentences is much more straightforward and once the structural issues are resolved, it's almost fun. But for fiction, there seems to be inumerable and more significant impacts from every edit that I make. But more importantly the choice of words is under a much greater scrutiny.

I think the edits that I performed on PIG SWEAT BLUES have ruined me for my current fiction editing - despite the power that was refined and the gem that was uncovered. It's the first time I've actually dreaded doing any writing and found any excuse to do anything but. It's almost as if I am dreading delivering this next edit to my beta readers / proof readers and in turn subjecting my baby to another [critical] kicking. But I simply need to man-up and to stop making excuses and get the hell on with it!

Yes I've been tired. The trip I took to rest and recuperate and concentrate on my writing proved to be anything but. I was severely sleep-deprived on my return. But now I've managed to recuperate some and I can no longer use it as an excuse. I have to overcome this reticence to connect with my creative intention. Otherwise I need to give up. Because I can't simply write for fun and leave it all unfinished and unread.

As a reaction to this editing. I've been looking into the Pomodoro technique. I stubled across it from a random route, during a course on learning techniques. And I decided to apply it on my day job, during a period of low energy. I found it a very simple and straightforward way to carve up a day's work and then to ensure that I completed the priority tasks. And it did help to inject some direct energy into that day. There's even loads of handy free and paid apps to help you do it - if you can't find a simple food timer to use, or don't want to use your smart phone clock.

Now the real task ahead is to carve this beast of an edit up into Pomodoro's and then trek through it, 25 minute slot by 25 minute slot.... I'm 1,400 words in. 8,000 lef to go.

This is grind. This is not glamour. This is a war on purple prose and it will be won by every yard of territory gained. And I am well aware that it will need repeat grind to elevate it. But if I ever want to go back to my Nanonovels, I need to do this.

 

 

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7Nov/150

Mind Map – finally teaching myself to outline and plot

With Nanowrimo 2016 happening, and the usual helpful and inspirational posts on writing techniques and tips flying around, I've been reading up on how to outline / Plot stories. This is especially pertinent, as I am in the middle of writing 2 new short stories, and rewriting a third. Plot and structure are very much on my mind. However, I am not doing Nanowrimo - just to be clear.

One of the excellent articles I read was this one: HOW I USE A MIND MAP TO BUILD STORIES by Paul Donovan Campos on Ian Broome's blog. There's an excellent explanation of his technique, with example screenshots that fully demonstrate the technique. Please go there are read it.

As a result of that article, I've built a template for my own use, but put it up for you guys to use and download HERE. It's built in Scapple - built by the same company behind the excellent Scrivener writing tool. If you don't use Scapple or Mac OSX, it won't be much use to you. Sorry. But for those that do, I hope you find it useful.

Please let me know if you're using it and if there are any potential improvements that could be made. 🙂

Mind Map scapple

Mind Map screenshot from Scapple

Download the Scapple Mind Map template I created here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/glb9j5lrsuatcb8/Blank_MindMap_Story.scap?dl=0

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22Oct/150

PIG SWEAT BLUES finished

Yesterday the rebirth of an old tale called PIG SWEAT BLUES was finally finished. Let's await the verdict of whether it makes the grade 🙂  .

Meanwhile I'd like to thank Matthew Sanderson and Christopher Alan Broadstone for royally kicking my *ss over the rewrite / edits of this new and improved version - all for the greater good. You sods 🙂 .

PSB is a tale that was very loosely inspired by this documentary: SLAUGHTERHOUSE: THE TASK OF BLOOD (2005) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I41IYWb_Mus - although much of the early research came from doing research stuff for a company that designed futuristic computerised abattoir systems. It's where I first had the glimpse of an idea about a young lad abused in the Shambles, who later takes his revenge on the whole town and the guy who drove him to it.

I wanted to unleash a furious fictional vengeance on a town I once lived in; it was a town I hated. And - although I know this is not the case everywhere, the worst people I met in that town worked in the shambles or the kitchens that I washed pots in. It was a dry run for a future novel - a great writing exercise. I was happy to get a glimpse of my protagonist and to see his world - and then to take the bare bones of what I needed, to then flesh them out elsewhere; ultimately unleashing a shit storm upon them.
Anyway - thanks guys. You're awesome - and I apologise for cursing your names often whilst going through this *&%king process. 🙂

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8Jan/150

2015 – my creative resolutions and goals

As previously mentioned, in my last post, I was quite chuffed with the results of my efforts trying to keep up with my resolutions and goals for 2014; despite a challenging day job and the fact that I had to put some creative goals on hold in order to fulfil my non-creative life goals (such as relocating to a new country). it was far from easy. But with the help of some very understanding loved ones and friends, I was able to make them happen.

This year I am hoping will be no exception. I have distinct creative goals in mind and here they are.

CREATIVE GOALS FOR 2015:

 

I want to:

  1. Finish / rewrite my Nanowrimo 2014 novel (MUTAGENE) and self-publish it. This will be the primary goal and will dominate everything else this year.
  2. Write the entire first draft of a new feature script. It's an aspiration, but I have some contenders that are jockeying for position inside my brain and fighting to get out.
  3. Rewrite one existing feature screenplay for circulation. I have 4 perfectly good feature film scripts sitting around doing nothing. Each of them needs a rewrite. And I think I need to learn more rewriting skills, so I should definitely set about doing this. Nothing of mine is ever ready after one draft. 
  4. Read more more screenplays - and study 1 a month. I think it would be good to rebuild my grasp of story structure, style and pacing and help me to see the flaws in my own writing.
  5. Circulate my short scripts for critical feedback and possible acceptance from a production company. Why have 12 of them sitting around doing nothing? it's stupid. 6 of them are definitely worthy of production. They've just not found the right home to love them.
  6. Finish the edit of one of my, as yet unfinished, short films. I have two unfinished films. Neither is perfect and that drive for perfection is why they are dormant and unfinished. Even if they suck I will get them to a point where I can at least put them out there for ridicule. 😉
  7. Do more writing courses this year. I haven't yet decide which area should dominate - screenwriting or prose - but I will have a better sense once I've dug into my Nanowrimo novel and looked at it's imperfections.
  8. Read more books and articles on my craft. I went through a splurge of buying more books last year. Buying them doesn't help you if you don't read them!
So that is more than enough to be going on with, even though it is not a nice standard number like 10 things to focus on. But I'm not bothered by convention. And don't be limited by my rules. If you only have 1 goal, that's cool. If you have 0 goals, that's worrying to me - but I'm not you. If you have 20, then good luck. That's a lot to manage. 🙂

You'll notice that there isn't much new film production listed above. It doesn't mean that I can't change my mind later if something good enough comes along. Right? None of this is set in stone. But each of these will help me to further my craft and contribute to my happiness and wellbeing - even though I'm setting myself quite a challenge. And to me, filmmaking is one of those goals that's impossible to manage if it is collaborative and dependent on others. It's fine if I come up with a solo project to work on, e.g. an animation.

So why do we need goals?

Why wouldn't you want to push yourself? If you're reading this, then you have an aspiration to create something. There's a flame of desire that is most certainly flickering within, even if you can't see it. And what better way to fan the flame then to set yourself some small, measurable and achievable goals that will eventually help you to find the creative path you really wish that you  were on?

The best goals are SMART goals:

  • Specific – targeted toward a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantifiable or indicative of being able to measure progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – you need to consider what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources / luck. So don't hold yourself to ransom if they're dependent on others. try to make them things that you can realistically achieve on your own.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved in this calendar year so that you can later measure if you hit them. And yes, the clock is ticking. But if you pick smart, small goals, you can always set a specific date - like "I will enter this screenwriting competition, by the deadline which is: DATE".

Should I share my goals?

 You don't have to share it. But if you do, you'll be surprised by how many people who care about you may offer to help you or understand when you need to put your goals before their desire for instant gratification. And there's always a benefit to be gained from putting yourself out there, to have people check up on you and make you stick to them.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do - if you choose to wing it, or if like me you'd like to set about defining your own goals!
If you share them here in the comments, I'd be happy to read them.

 

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