Phil Peel

Film, video, photography, sound and story

SCRIVENER is my script writing program of choice  and Blake Snyder‘s guide for writers, SAVE THE CAT is a good template.
So here’s a guide to how to set up Scrivener with Blake’s Save the Cat structural guide .. or any other for that matter.  Good stuff by Pat Haggerty.

Day 2 at the Edinburgh Film Festival Talent Lab, was a masterclass with producer Iain Smith

He’s produced a fairly astounding eclectic range of films including “Local Hero”, “Chariots of Fire” ,”The Killing Fields”, “The Mission”, The Fifth Element“, “Seven Years in Tibet“, “Entrapment“, “Cold Mountain“, “Alexander“, “The Fountain“, “Children of Men“, “Wanted and most recently The A Team”


He showed a hilariously dated American trailer for “Local Hero” and interestingly said that “Wanted” had made more than all his other films put together.

His advice..

  • Surround yourself with people that are better than you.

  • If you know how to pitch you know how to make the film. …as you know what is the core of your film.

  • Pitching. It’s all abut how you end.

  • We should be reluctant to start writing until we know the ending

  • We shouldn’t be obsessed by success. We should be obsessed by failure. Failure is when you learn. Iain told us how he turned downWithnail and I

  • Hollywood has learnt that if you have someone famous in the film, then it doesn’t need to be execution dependent. I.e it doesn’t matter what it’s about or how it’s made.

  • There are 17 tent pole movies (blockbuster) being released this summer. There will be 5 or 6 failures. But he believes it’s not the end of the blockbuster. They will probably become even bigger.

  • So there will be a space for $20m – $60m films which will probably be made by TV companies.

  • There is a huge demand for filmed entertainment. It’s important for human health. So get out there and make stories.. things will happen.

  • In screenwriting / story-telling the element of surprise is vital. So the first thing the audience sees is important .. then you must then reverse their expectations. The more you can change and surprise the better.

  • Writing is the loneliest job.. you just get rejection. But directing is also really lonely.

  • Rejection.. Don’t let it get in the way.

Really interesting guy. If you get a chance to see him, go listen.


Screenwriting books – do they help?

Posted by Phil On July - 2 - 2012
screenwriting books

Some of my screenwriting books.

I used to love going into a bookshop (remember them..  before Amazon existed ) and browse screenwriting books. Each claimed to have the answers to the secrets of successful screenwriting. I would skim through several over half an hour in the bookshop, then  buy one, take it home and read it again.

I would rarely finish them though. But they are there, ready to dip into when I need guidance, crammed with fading Post-it bookmarks. I now usually cannot figure out why I put the bookmark there, but it’s an indication that something on the page resonated at the time.

Now the bookshops rarely seem to have any screenwriting books of interest. Maybe they have to stock more books on gardening or How to stop smoking. Maybe I have all the knowledge I need. Just have the problem of applying it.   I’m beginning to acquire more books online as Ebooks.  Great.. instant read… instant gratification.. Bookmarks that I can add notes to .

But deep down it doesn’t really satisfy. ..and when I need help, inspiration or guidance  I still find myself going back to my bookshelf

Incidentally for me, the most useful was the first I read 1990.  Michael Hague’s “Selling Screenplays that Sell” the yellow one at the top.

The most inspirational   … “On Writing” by Stephen King, which usually sits beside my bed.



Celtx screenwriting program available now on Android

Posted by Phil On February - 19 - 2012

Celtx screenwriting program

From the Celtx Facebook page -Official

CELTX “Software for Android …It’s in final testing now. Should just be a matter of days.” Friday 17th Feb at 10:47

UPDATE:   Celtx Script for Android now available in the Android Market!”

So why am I excited ?  What’s so special about Celtx?

I’ve used many scriptwriting programs over the years. …and I know Final Draft is easy to use and the industry standard. But if you’re intending to actually shoot your film, then you’ll need to start converting the script into production files.   ..and here the industry standard is Movie Magic Scheduling, which is a brilliant if somewhat complex program. Ideal for shooting a feature, but probably a bit over the top for a scheduling a short.

So here’s what I find happens.  The script is exported from Final Draft into Movie Magic and then it’s broken down into all the necessary elements ..location actors, props, costume etc.    ..and that’s great

..until the script gets changed.  I know it should be locked off. but in reality things change. Locations aren’t available, you can’t get a particular prop or the script just needs to be adapted.

..and this is the problem. if the script gets changed in Final Draft or for that matter most other screenwriting programs, then it doesn’t get changed in the scheduling program.

So this is where I find Celtx to have an advantage. As it’s a combined scriptwriting/ scheduling program, so if you change the script, it changes the scene breakdown, and all the other reports.

It’s also has an very effective online sharing facility. We used this to develop “Buon Giorno Sayonara” which incidentally has just been accepted into the 5th Annual Geneva Film Festival, near Chicago, March 29th – 31st – our 4th film festival of 2012.

I also find Celtx is better than Final Draft at some things. For example I’ve just been converting a stage play into a screenplay and needed to go through and change all the lines into the various elements: character dialogue, action etc.

Final Draft can do this. It can change an element. from say ACTION to CHARACTER, but it takes a mouse move to chose the element, then up to pull down a menu, then down to a submenu, then select the necessary element change  This takes ages for each change. There is apparently no keyboard shortcut.

Whereas in Celtx it’s just cmd (Mac) 3 to do the same. It can all be done in keyboard shortcuts.

Well anyway the point of this blog post is that I’ve found out that Celtx is about to bring out an Android version.It’s been available on Iphone /Ipad for some time but frustratingly  not on Android. Yes you’ve gathered, I use an Android phone.  I particularly like the immediate integration with Gmail etc.

But I have to admit that many of the professional apps on the Iphone /Ipad are seriously good ,and unavailable on Android devices.

One of these was Celtx. I’ve been hustling them for a year to get it working on Android and it’s about to happen.  🙂