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Collaborative writing

I've never been confortable calling myself a writer. It's not that I don't like write. I love writing. I love the whole processing of telling a story. I suppose when it comes down to it and when people ask me what my favourite part about the filmmaking process is, I'm always drawn more towards directing and working closely with actors. This doesn't mean that I shy away from writing my own films. At times I feel like an ideas machine and wish there were more hours in the day crank them out.

At this moment in time I'm spending at least 70% of my time writing. Being a filmmaker my workload will change dramatically from month to month. Once I have something in production my writing will take a back seat all the way through post.

Recently I have discovered something about writing that I'm confident will improve the quality of films that I make. It's simple really. Writing is vastly improved when you're doing it with a partner.

I attended the London Scriptwriter Festival in 2015. My intention was to network and meet other creatives and possibly form collaborations. Unfortunately my networking skills are less than impressive and over the course of the three day event I managed to hang around with the same group that I met on day one. However post festival, I utilised the LSW connect group online. Think of it as the FB for those festival attendees. I requested in a forum for people to send me scripts. I had a big response. Around 20 scripts headed my way, a couple of which I'm hoping to make this year.

One of the connections I made was with Jonathan Young. He is a writer/director/teacher/creative and I met up with him this week. The purpose of the meeting was to see whether we would be a good fit to co-write some short films and going forward build a creative partnership. He'd already sent me script notes and some thoughts on my short film script, PADLOCK. We met at the BFI and we started talking. He had questions. Questions that I didn't have immediate answers to. What is the characters intention? What does he want? Why does he want it? What is it about his past that has brought him to this point and forced him into making this decision? We completely stripped away every layer to the main character. We did the same with the female character. In a very productive and collaborative way we developed these characters into real three dimensional people. From this point on we discussed everything that happens in the film, why it happens, how it happens, when it happens? We did this knowing those characters inside out. It BLEW MY MIND. I would have gone into production with a much weaker script, (thinking it was great) without the collaborative nature of this process.

What I would say I have learnt from this process is as follows. It's important to put your work infront of other writers. You need to take it away from friends and family. They will love you and support you. You need someone that is going to tell you how it is. Getting feedback and taking it onboard is vital for improvement. If you're lucky enough to find a co-writer that can share your vision, then I would say go for it. Writing can be a very lonely process. Why not make it a team event?

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