The blog isn’t dead! I just abandoned it for a bit. The funny thing is, this year has been full of blog-worthy happenings, but because I’ve been really busy I’ve not really had time to blog about them. That's not all that funny really.
A couple of years ago, before my son was born, I used the blog as a kind of warm-up exercise. So I’d write on here for an hour before working on a script or whatever. These days I don’t really have the luxury of time to warm-up as most of my writing is done in half-hour bursts on the train or on my lunch break. It’s kind of better that way, I think I actually get more done, but I’m between scripts right now so I thought this would be a good opportunity to update whoever still cares on what I did in 2014, and what I would've blogged about if I had any time to do it.
To put this all into context I really need to take you back to 2013. In the summer of that year I’d just finished the third Jenny Ringo short film (it’s the really short one so you can watch it right now if you have 2 minutes spare) –
Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spellbook from Chris Regan on Vimeo.
When that was done I started working on the first draft of Jenny Ringo and the House of Fear, a feature based on the same character I’d established in the short films. I had a vague idea I might try and film it myself one day, or that I’d send it to the few industry people I knew to try to get it developed but really I was mostly writing it for myself. It was in writing that script that I trained myself to be able to write on trains and in crowded coffee shops, and without that I’m not sure I would have had nearly as busy a year in 2014 as I did.
At the end of 2013 I did some script editing on a project for Craig Fairbrass. He’d written a gangster film and it needed some work on the structure. The details of that film are here if you’re interested.
The rewrite went quite well and I got to meet the man who tried to kick Michael Rooker off a mountain in Cliffhanger so that was cool. The producer of Craig’s film, Nick Hamson, then asked me to look at a project he was working on.
This is when my day job really started to get in the way of my writing. At the end of 2013 and going into 2014 the UK experienced some of the worst storms on record. This resulted in extensive damage and severe flooding in various parts of the country and, without going into too much detail, that’s what my day job is all about. From November 2013 to March 2014 I was probably the busiest I’ve ever been. I was working late most days and at least one day of most of the weekends. At the same time the project I was writing for Nick turned out to be a lot of work as well as he wanted a draft ready for Cannes in May. That’s where being able to write on trains etc. became really useful.
In February I took a week off work purely to write. It was amazing. I was being paid to write and I had the time to do it. I finished the draft that week.
The script was ready for Cannes and there was some filming done. Here are some people being filmed -
There were a couple of articles about it, in Screen Daily and The Telegraph. Later in the year they filmed a scene in Ditchling where the film is set. This was pretty amazing as I got to go along and took my wife and my son and it sort of felt a bit more real. Here’s a picture of Eric on his first film set -
There was also a rehearsed reading, which unfortunately I couldn’t get to but I saw the recording and that was really exciting.
Alongside that project I was also working on two scripts with my brother, Pete. One is the martial arts/fantasy film that was optioned by Focus Films a few years ago. This was re-optioned again this year and we'll be doing a bit more work on it this year. I re-read it towards the end of last year and, if I do say so myself, it’s really good. I mean, it may not be to everyone’s tastes, depends how much you like undead ninjas, but from the perspective of coming back to a script we wrote at least five years ago it holds up surprisingly well.
The second project is an action film which we’re developing with Transfilm in Canada. Can’t really talk about that one, but it has been a really interesting process and has really evolved from the project we started with. We’re working on the final draft of that one right now.
Towards the end of the year I worked on a couple of gangster films, one a kind of action re-working of The Long Good Friday, and the other a more contained thriller. I just finished the first draft of the latter over the weekend.
A short film I wrote was also produced this year and I made it to a couple of screenings. The film is called Salvation and it's a ten minute action film with a serial killer sub-plot.
It screened at the Century Club and at MovieBar in Brighton (yes, the MovieBar I used to run - it was awesome to have a film screening there again), and at the Action on Film Festival in the States. There’s a really nice review of the film here. Here I am with director Ross Boyask and host Simon Messingham at the MovieBar Q&A -
Other stuff happened too! You remember the Jenny Ringo feature I mentioned at the start? I decided at one point I needed to finish the second draft, but with all the other projects I had on the go I was struggling to find the time. So in order to set myself a deadline I decided to enter the second draft into the Blood List contest run by Stage 32. I entered purely on that basis, to set myself a deadline, and at the final hour I almost didn’t do it. But I did, and it went on to do really well! The script made it all the way to the final thirteen. I didn’t make it into the final six, but I was really happy to have made it that far in the competition, especially as it was the first original feature script I’d written in a while.
It was also a runner up in the Ultimate Logline Contest in October last year. Here’s the logline –
When an incompetent witch discovers that her council estate is a prison for supernatural creatures she must recruit her neighbours to help her get better at magic so she can take on the evil witchfinder keeping them there.
In October I went to the London Screenwriters Festival. If you haven’t been or don’t know what it is, it’s basically three days in Regent’s University going to sessions about writing, meeting other writers and pitching to executives. I could probably write a whole separate blog about it on here, but given my track record last year that’s probably not going to happen. I’ll just say it was definitely worth the money and if you’re thinking of going you should do it. I learnt a lot and met some really amazing people. Look, here I am pitching and stuff -
The one thing I will go into detail about is the Pitch Factor. Basically it's this live event on the Saturday night where writers pay a fiver for the chance to pitch to a panel of judges. Everyone gets 60 seconds to pitch. I was in two minds over whether to do it or not. On the one hand I am a firm believer in doing things that scare you and felt that I’d regret it if I didn’t do it. On the other hand I’m not great at speaking in public and added to that the time pressure, the audience and the fact that the judges included Joel Schumacher and David Reynolds (writer of Finding Nemo) I wasn’t quite sure I was going to cope. Luckily I bumped into Simon Messingham (the magician from Jenny Ringo and the Monkey’s Paw and host of MovieBar as seen above) and we convinced each other to go for it.
Here's a picture of the judges, and there were a few hundred or so people sitting in the audience to the right of this photo -
Oh, the part I forgot is that by this time I was starting to lose confidence in my Jenny Ringo pitch. I’d done it for a few different people at the festival mixed responses and although most people loved the idea I wasn’t 100% it was the simplest story to tell in 60 seconds. Earlier that day I’d wandered off to the park for an hour to work on a pitch for another project just in case I needed a back-up. So as I'm standing in the queue it was this new project I was going to pitch. But as I got closer to the front something made me change my mind and at the last minute I decided to go back to the Jenny Ringo pitch.
But when I reached the stage the rules changed. There were too many people in the queue and the event was set to overrun, so in order to fit everyone in they cut the time limit down to 30 seconds. In a way, I think this really helped. It meant I only really had time to do the logline and couldn’t really embellish it all that much.
It went okay, Joel Schumacher said it was a clever idea, I went back to my chair thankful I hadn’t embarrassed myself. Then they announced the joint winners and I was one of them.
I completely failed to follow up on it, of course. Joel Schumacher shook my hand and congratulated me, I was mostly in shock so I took my winnings and headed straight for the bar. It was pretty insane really. I went to the festival as someone who had never really pitched and thought I’d be terrible at it, and then I won a pitching contest.
That’s it, that’s everything that happened writing-wise in 2014. I would be concerned about topping it, but due to real life, non-writing stuff 2015 is already set to be amazing. I don’t have much writing planned other than finishing off the projects I have from last year. I’m also hoping to film a short at the end of the year, something that’s not all that ambitious but that I’m still really excited about. I may post more about that when it happens, but based on last year it’s more likely you won’t hear from me again until 2016.
Oh, and Pete and I have a website!
Happy new year!