Newsletter #27 – May/June 2009

10102006223-cornerSome of you may not know, I’m also a film producer. Last year I produced a documentary interview with Ron Cobb and I completed TIN CAN HEART, a 3D animated short, written & directed by Rodney March. For the latter I co-wrote the story and the music score. I also worked as a co-producer on the post-production of THE DINNER PARTY, a film by director Scott Murden and producer Brendan Sloane.

Earlier this week Rodney flew to Melbourne to be one of the 3,000 to watch TIN CAN HEART on the opening night of the St Kilda Film Festival. ScreenHub wrote today:

From Australia, Tin Can Heart is a wondrously accomplished animation work from director Rodney March and producer Karel Segers, which riffs on some robot tropes before that space was overwhelmed by the tinsmiths at Disney.

Tonight, THE DINNER PARTY will screen at the Dungog Film Festival. Among those few who have seen it in advance, Lynden Barber gave it the thumbs up.

Back to the Story Department.

The past month has been the best yet. An undisputed highlight was the one-on-one workshop with Meg Shields. We worked for three days on her award-winning first draft of THE FLYING FLEAS (working title, has changed since ;). Back in Perth afterwards, she emailed me

“Well i just got home and have been absorbing and contemplating our last week of intensity! THANK YOU so much for being so generous to me and my story, embracing it and for providing me with a fabulous platform for this to be the best possible film it can be.”

I hope some of you will be infected by Meg’s excitement and join me in the Cave one day to labour over your stories, too.

The other day someone asked me to make the Adaptation Workshop materials available online. He couldn’t make it; he emailed me from Chicago, IL. Today I received this message through Facebook from a student in Orange County, CA:

“Hi, I’m a film student who has been currently been trying to get better at screenwriting and I just had to say that The Story Department really has helped me. So I just wanted to say thank you for that. -Best- Justin”

It gives me tremendous pleasure to see that the voice of The Story Department carries further than the Australian East Coast!

But most grateful I am to all of you, who allow me to share in the creation of your wonderful screen stories. It is great to see the readers of this newsletter making progress in their filmmaking careers. Please inform me about any great stuff happening for you and I may include it in the future.

If you’re not in the mood for reading today or you have no time, skip directly to the last point for a good laugh.

The Story Department

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The last Autumn workshop is on Sunday 21 June. Please note the change of date (from 7 June).  I’m offering only the readers of this email a chance to join for $132, which is the Industry concession rate (or 20% off). Click here and go directly to the info & booking page. We’re in a fabulous new venue, with big projection screen, excellent sound etc. Don’t miss out!


  1. WEB SITE REDEVELOPMENT
    With the help of Lee Sheppard, I’m working on a significant overhaul of The Story Department web site. Would you like to give us your two cents? We set up a simple, 10 question survey . Your input will have an impact on the future of The Story Department. THANK YOU!
  2. YOUR LONG TERM PLAN
    This week a quote from Emily Blake struck me: “They always say it takes about 6-10 shitty scripts to get to the one you love and I’d say that is 100% true for me.” It reminded me of reader Susan Donovan’s words, when she said “I want to write one or two scripts every year for five years before I decide whether screenwriting is for me.” Susan knows what she’s doing. Read Terrence’s guest post on this topic.
  3. SOFTWARE – GUEST POSTS
    In the series of guest articles from the screenwriting software publishers, this week we received a contribution from Movie Outline. Stay tuned next month for the article by the guys behind Movie Magic Screenwriter. Thank you to Cleo Mees for managing the guest posts. If you feel inspired to write a piece for the blog, contact me and I’ll get you in touch with Cleo.
  4. BOOK ME THROUGH THE AWG
    Finally the AWG have re-launched their script assessment service, with an impressive pool of no less than 40 assessors. Yes, Yours Truly is one of them. So please do request me as your assessor: the “Tier Two” rates are in line with the Story Department rates for Script Notes. For members, you’ll notice the fee is curiously IDENTICAL. The assessment form is here.
  5. FUNDING DEADLINES
    Screen Australia has closed its doors for screenwriters. Only producers can now apply for support. If you are one, there are no more deadlines for you. The NSW FTO, in a smart move, launched the Early Research & Development strand . It is basically what I have been focusing on for the past two years: development of the STORY before you write a draft. Check it out. Keep me in mind. Again, no deadlines.
  6. AUSTRALIAN B.O. $$ IN THE US
    Some Box Office results of Australian or ozzy-related movies: Taxi to the Dark Side, $275,000; Glass, A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts, $20,000; Noise, $17,000; Romulus My Father, $4,000; $9.99, $1,000. I’m only hoping that people will learn the right lessons from this. Most likely, they won’t. Next year should be much better, given the simple fact that there will be a lot more to pick from.
  7. WANTED: PRODUCER
    Mustard Seed Global, an organisation working to stop the HIV-AIDS epidemic in Papua New Guinea, wants to produce a film of around 30 minutes that will feature the stories of local people living with HIV-AIDS to help educate in an interactive format including the film. They are now looking for a company to produce the film.  Contact me if you’re interested and I will get you in touch with MSG.
  8. PITCHQ.com – POST YOUR PITCH
    If you think you have a great story idea, can you convince the rest of the world? Even if you have the best script ever, you know that doesn’t mean much. As I wrote recently “The ones who get their movies made are those who can make people believe they have the best movie idea”. Here’s where you can compare yourself with the competition.
  9. CONGRATULATIONS
    To readers Chris and Christine Kezelos for their amazing achievement with stop motion animation ZERO, an EFF short film of which a picture is now up on the EFF web site. More here.
    To reader Gunther Swoboda with the release of his epic novel Mountains of the Sea.
  10. ROMANTIC ADVICE
    If you’re connected with me on Facebook, you might have seen this one. I can’t remember when I laughed so hard. Here’s the 100% guaranteed way to have sex with that girl-you’re-in-love-with-but-who-has-a-boyfriend .


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