Paris

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It’s every writer’s dream to go to Paris and write… and guess what… I was in Paris… writing. I have a feature film project, The Interpreters, with The Bureau’s SOS european programme. This time around we were teamed up with producers from across Europe who gave input to our projects. We also got feedback from French and other european developers, broadcasters and distributors.

Unfortunately i was still a bit acursed with a fever and as a result i was not quite with it for most of the week – but hey – that’s when the writing is good right when your mad ideas fall out of your brain and wrap you in its lair. The problem come when you try to rewrite this crazy stuff. I vividly remember (and so will my little sister who i shared a room with many years ago) waking up in the middle of the night, with the thought that i had solved the mystery of the universe – everything made total sense and i wrote everything down in green felt tip pen on (what i thought was) some paper on my desk. My sister and i woke up the next morning to see my side of the desk covered in green hieroglyphic scrawl – i’d missed the paper entirely and none of this alien scribble made any sense.

Back to the future and, in Paris, i learned a lot during the week – what left an impression was a session by developer, Stephen Cleary on Aristotle and his principles of storytelling outlined in ‘poetics‘ but also fantastic anecdotes to help writers to write. One of them was that what writers need is for their producer or developer to invite the writer to a tiny cubby hole type room somewhere for 2 hours with a pad and a pen and tell the writer they will be let out in two hours. The other tip was to tell the writer to go for a walk and on that walk to not think about their story until they reach a certain landmark. Brilliant – worked for me!

Sometimes, all we writers need is to be understood. I like to go to sleep to write – i literally go and dream and often drift in and out of sleep. It’s in this state between being conscious and being unconscious that the creative juice converts into something tangible for the page. The trick is to then write it down as soon as you wake up. Its not ideal of course – many bed covers have been ruined in this way – pockmarked with ink.

Being in another city always stimulates my creativity, especially having new experiences, seeing different people, for example, in galleries, cafes and museums. In Paris I came across a guy who had the perfect look for a chinese character in my head for another film. Without being too weird (i hope) i followed him around the Pompidou for a bit. If you ever get followed one day, if its not an axe murderer it might be a writer – c’mon – which would you rather?!

Another perfect trigger for writing, for me, is travelling – buses, trams, planes, trains. Next week i have got a whole load of travelling on (London, Edinburgh, Belgium and Jersey) – and, if it doesn’t exhaust me, i am hoping to use the time to write up a couple of short film ideas, especially now that i have downloaded some writing savvy apps onto my ipad, i hopefully won’t need to lug my computer about.

What’s nice about next week is that it ends with a screening of a short film i worked on at the Branchage Film Festival. Screenings are one of the rewarding things about writing: other people get to see your work and you get to see your dreamed up idea in a dark room (rather than your own mind!). The same film will screen closer to home at the Abandon Normal Devices festival. A festival definitely worth checking out as it does what it says in the title.

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