Wednesday, March 07, 2018


This week a guest blog from Lexy Anderson on her experience writing, shooting and editing a short mockumentary.

“Reality Bites” - 1 Day. 1 Shoot. 1 Film

Filmmakers starting out seem to all have the same problems: What equipment do I use? How do I gather crew? What’s a worthy script look like? But for us, these limitations aren’t problems. In fact, if you accept them, the answers become pretty clear, pretty quickly.

What camera do we use? The one that we’ve got I guess. 

How do we gather crew? We’ve got each other, how many favours can you call in? 

What’s a worthy script look like? Well, does this make us laugh?

We (Lexy Anderson and Ben Murray) are a filmmaking duo based in London, currently freelancing across the UK film scene. We’ve started regularly collaborating a number of short projects, all written, produced, directed and edited by ourselves. 

(Left to Right; Filmmaking team, Lexy Anderson and Ben Murray)
Our most recent film has just launched online, “Reality Bites” - a short mockumentary following the marriage of a young woman and a zombie, and the challenges they face in that relationship - so we want to share how we managed to use one day, to get through one shoot, and come out with one complete film, that we’re both very proud of. 

The Script 

On a dark, cold night before graduation from UCA Farnham (a small arts-campus in the depth of Surrey), we found ourselves panicking about Post-Uni life. As you do.

To distract from our impending future, we decided to plan some scripts. Writing with another person can be difficult, but at this stage, we were just riffing ideas and after a night of basically talking nonsense, we conjured up a collection of concepts, one of which was “Reality Bites”. 

TIP: The story for “RB” came from us asking “What if” about various scenarios - for example, what would life be like if you married a tame zombie? The fly-on-the-wall documentary style seemed like the right way to explore comedic elements. Once we got more specific with “what if” questions, we managed to write it overnight. Turns out, it’s a pretty efficient way of writing.


The preparation for “RB” was all done about twenty-four hours before shooting. We’d initially planned to shoot another script, but some last minute cancellations threw the handbrake on that production.

But we had booked the day off work. We had crew on standby and cast ready to shoot. Giving up wasn’t an option. We decided to pull one of those dark-cold-night scripts from our archive, and make that instead! Thankfully, our incredible actors, Bridgette Wellbelove and Jorge Andrade, were game for a last-minute-switch-a-roo. 

“How the hell do you make someone a Zombie?” After an immense amount of searching and spamming posts on filmmaking Facebook groups, we found an MUA (makeup artist) at the last minute who agreed to Zombify Jorge in “Michael”.  

TIP: We can’t recommend Facebook groups enough - if you can manage to advertise a position as “Paid”, no matter how low that is, you’ll usually attract a higher level of candidates to your radar. 

With some quick sourcing of props and minor adjustments to the script, we were ready to shoot.

(Actress, Bridgette Wellbelove, slating a scene)
The Shoot 

The shoot itself was very relaxed. We shot in one of our own flats, so no location restrictions there - the schedule was spread out nicely through the day. We were also right at the heart of Central London, so everyone could easily travel in and out. 

We brought both actors in at the same time to give make-up an hour to prepare “Michael’s” zombie-look, while we cracked on with shooting “Jane’s” talking head shots. Part of that was scripted, part - a lot actually! - was improvised.

TIP: Usually actors arrive staggered, so they’ve time to get makeup and costume on, but if one’s preparation will take significantly longer, you can overlap their arrival and begin shooting one character while the other is readied in the green room. 
(Ben’s incredibly “fierce” collection of batteries)
A lot of the scenes we originally wanted were adapted or improvised during the shooting, due to logistical reasons. 

TIP: Everything shot in the apartment was either tripod or handheld, and all of our lights were small battery powered LEDs (I’m fiercely proud of my LED collection!) A really simple and lightweight shooting kit makes it easy to do more flexible, improvised work without worrying about clunky or difficult setups - especially as you don’t need mains power or cables. 

For example, a scripted scene had Michael accidentally throw his hand down a bowling alley. This later became a quick scene of skipping pebbles by the Thames, with a lighter, less on-the-nose joke. Being ready to adapt and discover alternative moments with actors was really useful, and a lot of fun too. For us, it was good practice as aspiring directors, to be flexible. Out on the streets, we shot with a very straightforward setup - using ambient light we could find, a single handheld camera, and a small, discreet sound system.  
(Top to Bottom: Street gear set up using ambient street light on actor Jorge Andrade, screenshot from film)
TIP: If you are a small crew, five people or fewer, and you’re shooting handheld, there is little to no restriction to filming on London’s public highway (tripods are considered an obstruction to pedestrians or roads, so that’s a little tricker, as far as finding permission goes). However, from experience, it’s still best to choose quiet and rural estates for general safety.

The Edit 

The challenge of the edit was, much like in an actual documentary, dealing with those unscripted and improvised moments, so structuring the material to the original script became almost impossible. Instead, we sifted through the footage as though we’d never seen it before, to identify the shots and moments we could use to building a story with a similar structure. This was actually the slowest part of production, as we had to balance post-production with our working lives. It took around six months to cut, grade, and sound design the short. 

What next? 

You can see the film, “Reality Bites” and make up your own mind here:

Ben’s in the middle of post-production on a new fantasy short, “Taboodisobis” to be released later in the year, and Lexy’s in pre-production for a new comedy “Kill Norwood” about a gamer-obsessed kid. 

To find out more, get involved or just get in touch, contact us on our respective social media accounts:

Instagram: @lexy__anderson @benthemurray

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Way back in the mists of time, well 2013 to be precise, I was commissioned to write my third feature screenplay. Over the last five years, the project has gone through several drafts, has been to Hollywood and back, was shelved, has stalled and been reborn. And today I handed in a treatment of the latest version ready to be sent to potential investors. It's been quite a journey.

There have been many frustrations along the way but we've always known the idea was worth investing our time in. The downs have been worth putting up with to see the project move forward and the version we have now is a great deal better than the original idea. What I have learned from the process is that an idea improves with age, much like a great single malt. A project may falter along the way, it may even be abandoned at some point, but ultimately the opportunity for the project to move forward will eventually come around again. No project is ever truly dead. At some point or another, there will always be an opportunity to resurrect it.

What was originally a thriller has now developed into a dark drama exploring what it is to be a child, the loss of innocence and more importantly examining what it is to be a parent dealing with loss and the responsibility that comes with it.

There's a saying, 'too many chefs spoil the broth'. In my experience, three heads are better than one. You may think that with one writer and two producers there might be some disagreement on direction, but the beauty of our project is that we've all been on the same page from day one. When one person suggests a new change the others have always agreed. Quite often someone has come up with a way to take that new idea to even greater heights. Between the three of us, we have developed a cracking idea that has already got people lined up to read the treatment.

I guess my message here is, don't give up on an idea or a screenplay. Revisit them now and again, see if they fit in the world at that moment. You may even surprise yourself.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


I was chatting with a friend and fellow graduate of the BA (Hons) Screenwriting for Film and Television at Bournemouth University and was surprised when he mentioned that when he graduated a couple of years ago the university still didn't include an industry training module as part of the course. There wasn't one when I graduated in 2001 either, but I would have expected them to have introduced one since then. After all knowledge of the industry is a vital part of a successful screenwriting career. Without it, you're floundering in deep water with nothing to cling on to but your writing skill.

When I left university with my screenwriting degree I thought I knew it all and it was only a matter of time before my work was recognised and my career took off. I couldn't have been more wrong. It didn't matter how good my writing was, my lack of knowledge of the industry held me back. It took me nearly nine years and a lot of wasted hours to finally discover this. You guys have it much easier though. There's so much more information out there on the internet than when I started out. All you have to do is hunt it down.

Industry knowledge is just as important as your writing. Without it, you'll be sending your work out blind and that will never do you any good. Remember, first impressions count. It was only when I realised this that my career started to go somewhere.

It's not even enough to occasionally check what's going on in the film and TV world, you have to spend at least twenty-five percent, if not half of your time on this. It is equally as important as writing. Writing isn't enough on its own. You might be the world's greatest writer but if you don't know where, when and how to send your work out, you are going to fail.

So what do I mean exactly by 'industry knowledge'? Industry knowledge is:

  1. Networking - meeting and forming relationships with other media professionals.
  2. Approach - how to conduct yourself so you will be remembered for all the right reasons.
  3. Social Media - how to use it to your advantage and what mistakes you should avoid.
  4. Trends - knowing what producers and broadcasters are working on and looking for and how to approach them.
  5. Knowledge - making sure you read industry publications such as Broadcast and Screen International regularly.
Unfortunately, very few people or courses talk about industry knowledge. Maybe that's because as soon as it's written down it's already out of date. There are several posts on this blog that cover all of the points above. Why not have a look and see if any of them can hlep you. I would also be very interested to know from my subscibers which degree and masters courses now do feature an industry knowledge module. Luckily though, there are a few books out there you can buy that cover this subject. The best of the bunch are:




Those who are knowledgeable about the industry have a far better chance of being successful in it. Those who can't be bothered, or think it'll take up too much time... well, that's their problem.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018


As I'm currently churning out eleventy billion one page pitches for my agent to pimp, I thought it might be an idea to jump back in time and take a look at a blog I published on the 5th November 2014. So here goes...

One Page Pitches are an art form, difficult to write and get right and probably the most important and powerful selling tool at a writer's disposal. So how exactly do you write a great One Page Pitch? Here's how I do them.


The font you use is just as important as everything else. Get it wrong and your pitch will be a difficult read, or at the very least not inspire much enthusiasm in the reader.

I used to use FINAL DRAFT COURIER for everything I wrote until I came to the realisation readers spend their entire lives staring at that font. Your font doesn't need to be fancy, just clear enough to read. I wanted to give readers something different to look at, easier to read, which is why these days I use ARIEL in all my pitch document and treatments.


At the top of the page, centred, in bold, in capitals and font size 14, you need to put your TITLE - ALIEN. Below this (non capitals) you need to state the format and genre of your pitch - a sci-fi/horror feature proposal. Then below this 'by (your name)'.

The next line should be your Tagline, written in ITALICS, in font size 12 and captured in quotation marks - "In space no one can hear you scream!"

Then below that your Logline (written in a plain font size 12).

And finally below that your pitch (written in a plain font size 12 as above), containing a brief outline of the conflicts, characters and plot.


Your pitch will be selling your genre, so if your script is a comedy then your pitch should also be funny, a horror then your pitch should be tense and full of scares, etc. If your script is a comedy and you pitch isn't funny then it's not doing it's job.


The most important aspect of the One Page Pitch is to show conflict. Your protagonist must be in peril and you have to show this, especially the conflict with other characters. If you don't your pitch will be dull and flat. Show your protagonist bumping up against problems and obstacles, and make the reader really feel for his/her plight.


I've been guilty of this myself on many an occasion, but you should never end a pitch with a question - Will Ripley be able to defeat the Alien and escape home? You want your audience to ask this question, but not your reader. The reader needs the full picture, what happens and how the film or TV series plays out. If you don't tell them they'll think you don't know yourself and it'll go against you.


Add your NAME - EMAIL - PHONE NUMBER (or your agent's details) in the footer at the bottom of the page. It's OK to do this in Courier font as it's not part of the main document.

Here's an example of one of my pitches (copyright me of course) for reference only.

a 6 x 60 minute comedy drama TV series proposal
Dominic Carver

‘Second best.’

A middle aged man, disillusioned with being the sidekick of superhero Captain Cosmos, struggles to find himself as he juggles his family life and his secret identity, while looking to get the credit he thinks he deserves.

DAVID TUCKER has just turned 45 and he’s already smashed head first into his midlife crisis. By day he works as a traffic control officer and by night he becomes The Gnat, sidekick to the superhero Captain Cosmos. His landmark birthday prompts him to reevaluate his life, his job, his friends and family. It’s only then he realises he's completely lost.

David hates his job... both of them. He constantly struggles to keep his secret identity from his wife LUCY (42), who’s obsessed with aerobics, fad diets and is desperately trying to reclaim the body she had when she was twenty, and his son ALFIE (17) , who is uncommunicative and embarrassed by his parents on a daily basis. David’s trying to find himself again and thinks coming out from under the shadow of Captain Cosmos to become his own superhero is a much better idea than buying a powerful motorbike, falling off it at high speed only to watch it be totalled by a passing manure truck.
 But even branching out on your own can have its mishaps - like not being recognised by the police and being arrested for exposure when you’re trying to suit up in a phone box.

Millionaire IAN BAINES (44), aka Captain Cosmos, doesn’t understand and is too ignorant and self absorbed to notice his crime fighting partner isn’t happy with his life. Lucy doesn’t have time for her husband to give him the love and support he needs, and Alfie is too wrapped up in his raging hormones and his own burgeoning super powers to spend any time with his father.

The only one who claims he understands David is PROFESSOR DOOMSDAY (56), aka estate agent MARCUS WAINWRIGHT, turning him against Captain Cosmos, his wife and his son, taking him out drinking and generally leading him astray. But Professor Doomsday’s motives are far more sinister than simply turning David evil - he wants to destroy him, to bring him down so that he’s in no place to rescue his son Alfie. It is Doomsday’s dastardly plan to have Alfie become one of his minions and to join him in the crime of the century - stealing the Royal Family and replacing them with robots.

This is David’s journey to find himself once more, make it as a super hero in his own right, rekindle the romance with his wife, reconnect with his son and save him from the evil clutches of Professor Doomsday.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


I've been in a rut for several months now, going through the motions and not really enjoying what I do. This is mainly down to a deep abdominal strain I picked up at the end of August last year, one that stubbornly refuses to heal. It has been causing me a great deal of pain for the past five months. It's very debilitating and has been incredibly draining. It got to the point I simply couldn't contemplate even thinking about sitting down to write when I knew that doing so would cause me more pain. In fact, it got so bad I dreaded firing up my iMac. I decided I had to do something about it.

Drowning in self-pity and doubt yesterday, I sat and thought about what writing is, what it means to me and broke it down to examine the reasons behind why I chose to be a writer in the first place. I asked myself a lot of questions. Can I really class myself as a professional writer? Is it, in reality, nothing more than a hobby that occasionally pays? Am I actually any good at what I do? Is it an obsession, an addiction that is getting out of hand? Can I make a sustainable living from it? Do I have the motivation to get on with my writing when I'd rather be playing Call Of Duty on my Xbox, or any other of the numerous ways I could procrastinate? I was brutally honest with myself. Should I carry on or should I walk away and call it a day?

What I discovered is that yes I do love writing. Yes, I am very good at it. Yes, I have found it difficult recently. I know I'm struggling at the moment. I know it occasionally feels like I'm banging my head against a wall, especially where TV writing is concerned. I know my motivation isn't what it would normally be, mainly because of the struggle with the pain I'm having to live with on a day to day basis. But despite all that and after stripping everything back, I realised I write because it makes me happy. I'd forgotten that.

For me, it's not about seeking adulation. Nor justification. Not even remuneration, although it's absolutely fantastic when my bank account is full. And it's definitely not about making other people happy. I write because it makes me happy. What I write makes me happy. I'm happy because it's what I want to do and not something I have to do. I'm happy because I have the most fantastic job in the world where I can write about the things that appeal to me, the things that get my juices flowing, the stories that I would happily read and enjoy myself. Every one I finish brings me great satisfaction. What happens to it after that really isn't important. That's other people's worry. The journey and how I get there is the only thing that matters. My happiness matters. If I'm miserable then what is the point?

I'm only going to write what makes me happy from now on. I'm not going to try and please others. I'm just going to please me. And when I do that I'll know what I produce is going to be absolutely awesome. It's when I'm at my best. I'm going to cut out the noise and get on with what I want to focus on, what I need to focus on for me.

So if you're feeling down, or think you're not getting anywhere with your career, take a step back and ask yourself this simple question... What makes me happy? When you know the answer go and do that. Nothing else matters. Everything else is a distraction. Events and states of mind are tempory. Disappointment is tempory! Rejection is tempory! Feeling adrift is tempory! Pain is tempory... even if it's been with you for five months! Find your happy.

Those two words I always signing off with have never been so poignant.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Writers' block doesn't exist. It's a myth. It's an imaginary hurdle some writers use as an excuse when they've been lazy and haven't done enough preparation before diving into their writing. Here are a few ways to avoid tying yourself up in knots and to keep the words flowing.

1 - First things first, it's important to remember ideas don't fly out of nowhere fully formed. A spark of conversation, an article in the local paper, or even something you've seen on TV might ignite an idea for a story. You might even be lucky enough to have the basic framework of your story idea suddenly present itself to you. However your idea reveals itself, you will still have to put a lot of work and effort into it to get it on the page. As the saying goes, nothing comes for free.

2 - Preparation is key. The more you do the better. I know writers who refuse to write treatments or outlines, who are quite happy to throw themselves headfirst into the chaos of a screenplay without as much as a paragraph of preparation. And then they wonder why they come to a stumbling halt part way in. Mental! I couldn't work like that, but if it works for them then fine. From my experience the more work you do beforehand the easier it is to write your first draft. There won't be those unexpected pauses where you suddenly discover your character doesn't work, or there's a gaping hole in your plot. Or if there are, there will be far fewer of them and they will be easier to deal with.

3 - Even with the best preparation in the world you will occasionally stall when you encounter a problem with your screenplay. If you do come up against an unexpected pause the best way to deal with it is to go off and work on something else. Give your brain time to think about the problem and find the solution without pressuring it. The worst thing you can do is sit there staring at that blinking cursor for hours without the slightest clue on how to proceed, tying yourself up in knots because the answer won't present itself instantly. You could always skip to another section of your screenplay, one you know you don't have a problem with and write that. Eventually, the solution to your problem will present itself and you'll be able to go back and work on it with confidence. I prefer to go for a walk and usually find the problem has resolved itself by the time I get home. Fresh air works wonders for firing the imagination.

4 - Write bollocks! Yup, I did just say that. If you're struggling just write anything, even if it is crap. Having something on the page is better than nothing. Writing utter rubbish is better than staring at that dreaded cursor or procrastinating on Facebook. You're a writer, so write. Crap can be fixed. Rubbish can be refined. Bollocks can be whipped into shape. A blank page will always be a blank page.

5 - Work on more than one project at a time and ensure each one is at a different stage of development. That way you can keep things fresh, switching between the projects when you need space to think on something. I usually have one project at outline stage, another at first draft and a final one that I'm polishing ready to send out.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


It's only the second week of 2018 and already I've had reason to be frustrated/angry/utterly fucked off with other writers' attitudes.

I requested to join a screenwriter's Facebook page called SCREENWRITERS WHO CAN ACTUALLY WRITE last week. The arrogant title alone should have set the alarm bells ringing, but like the optimistic and sometimes nieve believer in humanity that I am I went ahead anyway. My request was approved two hours later and I logged in to have a look at the topics they were discussing. One caught my eye straight away.

The Admin had decided to take a screenshot of a member's post giving advice on copyrighting work in the UK and used it to slag her off, laughing at the advice, using the label 'Screenwriting Guru' as an insult and arrogantly announcing to everyone this member knew absolutely nothing about copyright law. He reinforced this by stating he was a lawyer and personally knew of fifteen examples of work being stolen from members of his Facebook page, yet in an article he wrote for ScreenCraft it was clear he couldn't even tell the difference between a WAVER and an NDA. I couldn't believe what I was reading.

As I continued to read the comments the insults increased, not only from the Admin who boasted of his fifty-six competition wins in an attempt to prove his experience, but from many others in the group too. Disbelief turned to anger and anger rapidly evolved into disgust. Not only were they dismissing what was very sound advice, they were happy to go even further and shamelessly assassinate the character of the lady in question, aggressively challenge her experience and achievements, proudly and smugly declaring she had none and should be ignored. They seemed perfectly happy to ignore her two feature credits as a producer, her years as a reader and script editor, her three published writing guidebooks and two internationally successful novels.

What she had to say was in direct contradiction to their limited knowledge of the industry, so instead of debating with her and questioning her on why she believed her advice to be true, they delighted in dismissing her as an inexperienced wannabe, an idiot, ignoring what she had to say and her experience. I was a member of that Facebook page for less than five minutes... I think that might be a record.

It seems I post blogs about this subject at least twice a year and it dismays me that people still can't grasp the basic fact that being nice, polite, encouraging and helpful are the basics of not only a long and successful career but also the basic requirements of humanity. Just because you think you know more than others, even if you actually do, it doesn't make you better than them and excuse you for treating others with contempt.

My message is simple... don't be a fucking dick! Be better! Make the difference!

Happy writing!