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Marie learns the secrets of Hollywood screenwriting

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

From left to right: Rebecca Sloan, Ned Dowd and me, Marie Kreft

From left to right: Rebecca Sloan, Ned Dowd and me, Marie Kreft

My colleague and friend Rebecca Sloan and I have been learning the art of screenwriting alongside Hollywood producers, after attending an EU-funded course in Germany.

We were among fewer than 30 German, Danish and UK delegates in Bremen in northwest Germany for a weekend of intensive seminars hosted by North Sea Screen Partners Nordmedia and FilmFyn.

The study weekend, which took place from 3-5 June 2011 and was strictly for working media professionals, included sessions on pitching to film studios, preparing manuscripts, and adapting novels for the screen. It was headed up by award-winning film producer Lars Hermann and facilitated by bestselling author and feature film director Brendan Foley.

We were also treated to first-hand insight into the movie world from top Hollywood producer Ned Dowd. His film credits include The Last of the Mohicans, Grosse Pointe Blank, Apocalypto, The Count of Monte Cristo, King Arthur, Shanghai Noon and The Three Musketeers.

Rebecca is a Birmingham-based videographer who has just incorporated her first company, Glacier Films, for the hospitality, leisure and tourism industries. She said the course has given her tools to integrate real-life subject matter with screenplays to create cinematic films.

“A film’s success is determined by its ability to connect with viewers and invoke an emotional response. Applying the techniques utilised in big-screen productions will enable us to create videos that make a lasting impact.”

For me, the weekend opened up an exciting new world of potential work. Although it covered the tough realities of the business, it also showed how good ideas conveyed through well-written scripts have a fighting chance at success. I finished the course with a sense that anything is possible.

Course tutor Brendan Foley, who has worked with actors as diverse as Vanessa Redgrave, Derek Jacobi and Vinnie Jones said: “It is great to see new film talent such as Marie and Rebecca emerging in the Midlands. I hope it will not be too long before we see some of their work on the big screen.”

As well as continuing with our individual projects, Rebecca and I are writing our first short film, to be shot this summer in Birmingham. Watch this space!

>>Our coverage in the Birmingham Post [opens in a new window].

Twelve treats for Christmas

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Some golden nuggets especially for you … merry Christmas!

One German nutcracker museum

Four nutcrackers

Two funny Christmas customs
* The pooping log of Spain
* Krampus

The pooping log: Caga Tio

Three dreadful songs
* ‘I’m the Christmas Queen’ - Miss Piggy
* ‘Christmas Conga’ - Cyndi Lauper
* ‘Macarena Christmas’ - Los del Rio

Four Christmas creatures
Bunny in Santa hatKitten in a Santa hat

Rodent with a baubleRobin

Wind-up penguin toy from

Six disturbing decoration roundups
Fifty-four creepy, bizarre and geeky Xmas tree ornaments
* Nine really weird Christmas ornaments from Bronner’s
* Eleven weird Christmas tree ornaments
* Weird Christmas ornaments on Etsy
* Flickr: The strange Christmas ornaments pool
* Eleven hilariously stupid, strange and ugly Christmas ornaments.

Gherkin decoration

Seven silly presents
* Treasure-seekers’ shoes
* Sovereign ring mug
* Crime scene roll
* Belly button brush
* Toilet mat golf game
* Jim’ll Fix It soap on a rope
* Inflatable fruitcake

Eight vintage Christmas print ads
* Antique Christmas

Vintage ad: couple by Christmas tree

Nine ways of wrapping … 
Wake and Bake Dream Griddle Alarm Clock

Eleven lovely jumpers
* Hideous Christmas sweaters of the day (OK, there are more than 11 here but one can never have too much knitwear).  

Twelve Christmassy clips
* Santa announcement from Elf
* Home Alone trailer
* ‘Stop the Cavalry’ - Jona Lewie
* Christmas lights scene from Father Ted
* Last scenes of The Office Christmas Special
* Box of Delights
* ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ - Slade
* ‘Father Christmas is Indian!’ from Goodness Gracious Me
* ‘Fairytale of New York’ - The Pogues and Kirsty McColl
* ‘Walking in the Air’ from The Snowman
* ‘How to wrap a cat for Christmas’
* ‘O Tannenbaum’ by Vince Guaraldi Trio (from A Charlie Brown Christmas).

Gold bow

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous 2011.

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