It’s been a big year…
I knew coming in to 2014 that it was going to big but even seeing it coming didn’t really prepare me for the crash tackle.
As a writer I’ve long embraced a mantra of flexibility and platform independence. In the 21st century if you define your craft as medium specific you invariably confine your career and creativity to a ghetto. 2013 really saw me put that mantra to the test and leave some skin behind for the effort.
So in my annual wrap-up, the year-that-was looked like this….
As head of story for Portal Entertainment I oversaw the writing of a slate of projects and the release of the iPad immersive Thriller, ‘The Craftsman’. It’s our first boat in the water, testing our concepts, audience and business model. We learned a shit-load and in a very direct way are responding to and implementing what we learned in our next productions. We were also very pleased to get a good deal of press attention and were featured in The Guardian and at Wired Next Gen conference.
So then, when I wasn’t writing interactive narratives I was writing good old fashioned book narratives. This year I signed a three-book international deal with publishers Simon & Schuster and Atria. The conspiracy/historical thriller novel Bloodline, cowritten with Alan Gold, was published and is on shelves as I type.
Back to screen stories - the three part ‘Wastelander Panda Chronicles’, created by writer/director Victoria Cocks, was released with me tagging along as story editor/EP.
This lead to a development deal with Madman pictures and the ABC on a further 6-part series where I had the gig of leading the writers-room and penning a couple of episodes. It was such a pleasure working with Vic, Kirsty and the Epic films team based in Adelaide and we hope that this new Wastelander series will go into production in 2014.
In a larger scale TV heaspace, I went to work in the writers room on a couple of big new TV series drama projects. All very hush hush for now and can’t say any more, but very bloody exciting…
Further work in Adelaide had me steering a collection of excellent new interactive projects as part of the SAFC Digital 360 Lab. All of which got their first airing at the Adelaide Film Festival and have bright plans ahead for production.
In a a similar development vein, there was a slew of workshops and development programs I delivered in 2013 including;
- The Immersive Writing Lab UK.
- ARC Interactive Media Innovation workshops.
- Doha Film Institute Transmedia workshop.
- Metroscreen storyworld studio.
- Screenworks Immersive Writing Workshop.
- and the Australian Writers Guild Platform-X initiative.
And never one to turn down a public discourse, I showed up at a number of seminars, film festivals and public events including:
- The Australian Writers Guild Conference to speak on writing for interactive narratives.
- Powerhouse Museums Creative Futures seminar on iterative writing & development processes.
- The Protein Studio on building audiences across platforms,
- and the BOFA film festival ‘game changer’ panel discussion on opportunities in the digital space.
Now this is all the stuff that was completed in 2013. There was also the ongoing development of ‘works-in-progress’. Some of these will go into production in 2014, others building more long term.
My horror feature film, Ashes, picked up an Australian Writers Guild Award the previous year and so in 2013 we put the creative team together attaching producer Raquelle David and director Jonathan auf der Heide (Van Diemans Land & The Turning) to the project and setting into a new draft from the ground up. The project was short listed for the painfully competitive Screen NSW Aurora investment funding but unfortunately was pipped at the post and just missed out. However being short-listed was a big vote of confidence in the project and us as a writer, director and producer team. It’s a script that scared the shit of me writing it so hopeful it will scare others ;-)
Away from screen stories, my coauthor and I penned the first draft of the sequel to our first book Bloodline this year. Entitled ‘Stateless’, it is due to go to print in 2014, just as Bloodline is launched in North America. The final book 3 is due in 2015.
The year also saw embarkation on a new feature film and multiplatform project entitled ‘Whole World Watching’. WWW is a collaboration with rising star producer Ester Harding and is a supernatural conspiracy thriller set in post-war Iraq. A solid treatment is now on paper from which to pen a first draft in 2014.
And finally there is the slate of forthcoming Portal Entertainment interactive Horror and Thriller projects that I’ve been developing for the coming year. ‘The Craftsman’ was our first toe in the water and will be followed in 2014 by ‘Dead Mans Tracks’, a serial killer thriller adapted from the best-selling books of Peter James and written with screenwriter and film producer James Simpson. And hot on its heels will be the supernatural horror experience ‘The Nightshift’ which we have been busy developing over the past 6 months.
And then there was a bit of teaching at the Australian Film TV and Radio School. This year I was particularly proud of the students I had in the Master of Screen Arts program who produced some amazing scripts and projects with big-picture ambitious thinking. I am humbled by their energy and commitment.
Yeah, it was a big year. And I’m a bit tired… but there ain’t no rest for the wicked…
What this all means is that in 2013 I had writing gigs across;
- Interactive narrative games
- Online web-series
- TV writers rooms
- Feature film scripts
- Transmedia projects
- and development workshops delivered in Australia, Europe and the Middle East.
And thus I’m painfully aware of the mantra of ‘flexible and platform-independant’.
If, as a writer, you define your craft as medium-specific, you just confine yourself to a ghetto and may miss the opportunities available.
Despite the all too common rhetoric, there’s Never been a better time to be a writer - there has never been more work, never been more opportunity, never been more screens, more diverse audiences to tell stories to or greater access to them…! But you have to be really fucking Flexible….
You also have to be training for the marathon not the sprint. I had my first professional paid writing gig in 1995 - a one-act play for a festival. From there to now has been 18 years of writing and Learning how to write.
I confess to being sometimes dismayed by the attitudes of students I’ve taught who, fresh out of film school, seem to believe the industry somehow ‘owes’ them a living…
The creative industries Do Not owe you, me or anyone Anything….!
If you can accept that as a starting point you may be in the right head space to seize opportunities rather than lament their lacking.
So, shut up and write.
See you in 2014.