More stop motion animation

Our latest short is here.

This time we’ve incorporated more green screen work and our ‘actor’ is a little more mobile.

Our thanks to Jonathan Legg for doing the main voice over work.

Screenwriting with futurelearn

I’m doing a two week free screenwriting course with I know very little about screenwriting but there’s a significant ‘read across’ from playwriting. I’m now at the beginning of week two and we’ve been asked to analyse a screenplay. I’ve chosen Lee Hall’s Rocketman (the Elton John bio-pic). My answers are below.

List the character’s major actions. Start from the end and work backwards. (Don’t analyse how or why; just create a list of actions.)

  • Elton hugs his younger self (Reg)
  • He goes into rehab (this has also been a framing device for the plot)
  • He is to play Madison Square Gardens but walks out
  • He has a heart attack caused by drug abuse
  • He rejects Bernie’s attempt to help him
  • He has a break up with his mother and step father
  • He marries Renate and regrets it
  • He has an HIV test (negative)
  • He enjoys sexual excess
  • Bernie asks for time out and he pushes him away
  • He plays the biggest gig of his career at the Dodgers’ stadium
  • He attempts suicide
  • He comes out to his family (they already knew). He’s determined no one else should know
  • He tries to reconnect with his father but there’s no connection
  • He buys everything in sight
  • Reid becomes his manager
  • He falls for John Reid emotionally and physically
  • He has a massive success at the Troubadour club in LA
  • He persuades Dick James to manage and promote him
  • He forms a team with Bernie Taupin
  • He approaches Dick James (music manager and promoter) but is turned down
  • He becomes a successful backing musician on tour and leaves the Royal Academy of Music
  • He plays a gig in a pub and becomes a performer
  • He passes the audition to go to the Royal Academy of Music
  • His father comes home but he can’t make him be affectionate
  • He displays a gift for the piano and ‘earns’ lessons
  • He yearns for his father’s affection

Analyse the list to reveal the character’s wants and needs. Is the character aware of what they want?

  • Elton/Reg wants success, acclaim, wealth, fame and experiences. What he needs is affection and self-worth. He only becomes aware of this during rehab.

Describe how the character thinks and look at his or her basic psychology. Intelligent? Intellectually engaged? Cognitive Biases? Impulsive? Cautious?

  • He is impulsive, creative, needy, self-sabotaging, self-destructive, lonely, a shy exhibitionist, emotional and demanding.

Describe the character’s superficial affect. How might a casual acquaintance describe them?

  • Outrageous, talented, full of fun and boisterous.

List any important physical characteristics

  • A tendency to put on weight. Hair loss. Energetic / hyperactive.

Stop Motion Animation

We, like most people, have been stuck at home for weeks. I should be learning French and writing a full length play but that’s not happening.

However, we have become fascinated with making stop motion animation. There’s no rhyme or reason for this. We’ve never tried anything like it before so we’re starting from nothing.

It began as a joke. I’d been sending a daily photo to friends and family purporting to be the story of Morris, our new rescue penguin. In one part of the story Morris is kidnapped and a note has been received (yes, it is silly). One of the recipients asked for proof of life so I decided to animate some mock CCTV footage.

This required some research. There was zero budget and less expertise. I found out about Stop Motion Studio software which runs on an Android phone (did I mention we don’t have a camera?). This allowed us to create the first film.

And then the second.

After that we created a couple of fun shorts here, here, and here. Obviously I hadn’t quite managed focussing at this stage (or, indeed, at any stage so far).

Next we wanted to create something longer using lights (struggling with this as well). This is the Brian Sedge Masterclass. If you like Shakespeare… I’m sorry.

We returned to Morris’ story for our latest effort. It’s all got a bit out of hand. For this ‘production’ we had a screenplay, recorded a soundtrack separately using Audacity, used green screen (chromakey) to give us an exotic setting and used a video editor to mix it all together. It took several days before we found a piece of freeware that worked for us but we settled on Shotcut, which is idiosyncratic but does the job. The result is Egg, Morris’s origin story.

It’s been a steep and sometimes rocky learning curve but it has been fun.

Back to Back at the Back to Backs

10 creative writers and 10 visual artists make a site specific response to Birmingham’s historic communal courtyard housing.

I’ll be writing a site-specific piece and performing it on the * POSTPONED until further notice * at the Back to Backs in Birmingham. I am working in conjunction with visual artist Deb Catesby. The visual art exhibition element runs from * also postponed *.

It’s going to be a great event. More details on the art\write web site. Booking is essential but it is not open yet.

Birmingham Back to Backs – National Trust

55-63 Hurst Street/50-54 Inge Street, Birmingham, B5 4TE

Now preserved by the National Trust these buildings represent the working history of Birmingham. The 19th-century courtyard of working people’s houses provides an atmospheric glimpse into the lives of the ordinary people who helped make Birmingham an extraordinary city. They are Birmingham’s last surviving court of back to backs – houses built literally back-to-back around a communal courtyard. The National Trust tour moves from the 1840s through to the 1970s, giving us an insight into the lives of some of the former residents who crammed into these small houses to live and work.

Unframed in Bromyard

Yesterday was the performance of my short piece unframed at the unframed writings event at the Chapel Gallery in Bromyard. It was one of eight pieces. The art\write writers involved this time were:

My piece was a three-hander and I’m grateful to fellow writers Philip Monks and Sheila Farrell for helping me to perform the piece. The rehearsals for all eight pieces of writing were short and intense and we are all indebted to theatre director Jonathan Legg for his calm direction and support.

The Chapel Gallery is a lovely venue and the audience were great. I hope we helped to raise plenty of funds for Bromyard Community Arts.

Coming Up: unframed writings

I am writing and performing a short piece for the below event. It will be inspired by pieces shown at the Chapel Gallery’s recent, rather wonderful, Unframed show. Please do come along.

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Unframed Writings
The Chapel Gallery, Bromyard
2 Forbury Chase, Sherford Street, Bromyard, HR7 4DL
Saturday 25th May at 4.30pm (doors open at 4.15pm)

A group of creative writers, collectively known as ‘art\write’, will be performing short creative works inspired by unframed, which was an exhibition of drawings and sketches recently shown at The Chapel Gallery. The afternoon will include poetry, short prose and drama. Entry to this one-off event is free – donations welcomed to support Bromyard Community Arts. The performance will end at approximately 5.30pm with tea and cake. Find out more about art\write at

R&J: take 2 – tickets still available

My piece for Romeo & Juliet: take two at the ArtistsWorkhouse in Studley is ready to go. The short two-hander is called the point of light. It is paired with Sheila Farrell‘s beautiful artwork a small light which will be in the exhibition. We are one of ten writer and artist teams presenting on the night.

The first performance is on Friday (8th June) at 7pm and the second is on Saturday 16th June, also at 7pm. Tickets are still available from Eventbrite at £7 (price includes refreshments). The last time that I looked there were still £5 early bird tickets available.

The exhibition (free entry) runs from Saturday 9th-Sunday 17th June, 11am-4pm (closed Monday and Tuesday). There are more details on the art\write site.

On a practical note… Parking: There is free parking available behind the closed Royal Victoria pub opposite ArtistsWorkhouse (B80 7AU). Alternatively there is a public car park at Pool Road (B80 7HJ) which is a short walk away.

Romeo & Juliet: take two

Romeo and Juliet has started previewing at the RSC in Straford. It plays there until late September and will then go to London. Why mention it? art\write are using the play to inspire ten collaborations between writers and visual artists. I am one of the writers and have been teamed up with artist Sheila Farrell.

It has been a interesting process and we’ve had some good conversations. The work in progress is, I think, promising. The written piece will be a 5 minute two-hander.

art\write have run similar projects before but not with the writers and artists working so closely together. It will be fascinating to see the results.

The performances of the written pieces are on Friday 8th June and Saturday 16th June, both at 7pm. The shows are at the Artists Workhouse in Studley (more details below). Tickets are £7 each and numbers will be limited.

The exhibition runs from Saturday 9th June to Sunday 17th June, 11am-4pm, (closed Monday and Tuesday).
R&J 1

R&J 2

Coming soon-ish

I am one of ten writers writing new, short plays inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for an art\write show and exhibition. I am working with visual artist Sheila Farrell who will be contributing to an exhibition of art works on the same theme.

The performances and exhibition will be at the Artists Workhouse in Studley in mid-June. More information to follow.


I wish you had met him

My piece for the Portraits 2 show on Sunday evening will be called ‘I wish you had met him.’ There are some great writers and I think tickets are still available.

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