“A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.” - Lord Dunsany

26 Sep 2011

Back From The Wilderness

It's been a hell of a year so far...

Which is sort of my excuse for being utterly absent from this blog.

We had to close the bookshop that we owned. Which was no fun, and meant finding a new job, since nneeds must and in the current climate,beggars can't be choosers... which in turn lead to my employment in the single worst job I've ever had, working at a Motorway service station.

Far and away the most depressing job I've ever had,with the single worst employers that I've ever had to suffer,and a shift 'pattern' that seemed designed to break the staff.

Visions of Dennis Etchison's 'The Late Shift'.

On top of that my wife found out she was pregnant, we moved house, and now we've had the baby! A gorgeous little girl called Mina.

All that time, I've still been writing - and recording too, it turns out that while I'm no good at acting on camera, I'm okay for Radio, so have stepped up to record some audio plays that are close to being ready to give to the world.

So there's two film scripts about two thirds finished, and a number of radio scripts all done and dusted.

I've also got a short story in the current issue of THE EXETER FLYING POST - the 'Chaos' issue - though the story itself is really rather gentle. I'm pleased with it, and thrilled that it is featured so prominently (with photo illustrations by the brilliant Robert Darch). Yep, that's my name on the cover. And the story occupies the centre pages, so it tends to fall right open at it. I'm a happy boy.

The story is called 'Dad'. Not the most inspiring of titles, but it fits and leads in nicely to the first line.

I shrug. Titles - like endings - are a bitch.

17 Sep 2010


The problem is almost never that there aren't enough ideas, but almost always that there are too many crowding the page.

The process of writing is the process of editing for me, like tuning a radio until it's crystal clear, or clearing space to let the right words and phrases be seen and heard...

5 Sep 2010

Stories like wet clay on the slab...

So, for all the talk when I first started doing this blog, about turning a couple of short stories into short film scripts - it hasn't quite happened like I planned it. The notes still are there (glaring at me) to write them up as short films. But since the audio stuff has been coming to the fore my brain swerved to the left and wrote them that way instead.

Not least because it has become quite obvious that we have to do some of this off our own backs.

And since the trailer got us a solid foot in the door, I'm increasingly coming to believe that a finished piece or two might kick the door wide open. If nothing else they'll go up online as tasters for the work to come - shorts to get some interest, lay the ground work for when the longer audio drama comes. If we're lucky, build a bit of an audience, have them waiting for it when it's done.

I'd like that.

I'd like it even more if they prove willing to pay (go the Radiohead route and put it up as download where you decide the price?). Or it gets the attention of the beeb again, and they come forward willing to skip all the development bollocks and let us take a run at something of our own that we're in love with, and will - hopefully - taint a few minds.

But a fortuitous meeting (okay an online meeting) with an outstanding film maker has me chomping at the bit for my getting back to the screenplays. And seeing as we seem to park our cars in very much the same garage as far as taste and ideas go... I'm hoping we might even work together. His ideas are blisteringly good and absolutely up my alley. Everything I've seen of his work knocks me sideways - in that wonderful way that happens when you recognise one of your own kind, like a weird extended family that was separated at birth. A synchronicity of ideas that at times is a little frightening, but exilerating.

And it's really saying something right now - to note that I've been watching and rewatching the short that he did with Peter Mullan and which you'll find embedded down below - because I've been quite the fucking Grinch of late with watching films. Very little makes me happy, or genuinely satisfies. Some stuff has been good, but not much hit me in the guts.

But this one short did. More than any feature that I've seen this year.

Maybe that's why I spend so much time rewaching those near perfect films and TV that do iT for me EVERY time. TIME BANDITS, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE, CRONOS, THE IRON GIANT, Svankmajer's ALICE, Jack Clayton's THE INNOCENTS, Val Lewton's CAT PEOPLE, CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, THE BODYSNATCHER and ISLE OF THE DEAD. KES, JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (Talos! And that glorious pregnant pause BEFORE the skeletons erupt), EYES WITHOUT A FACE, MARTIN (you get the idea, right?). And on TV - well, I was going to give a big long list, and sure, I often dip back into the best of DOCTOR WHO, and I always go back to BOYS FROM THE BLACKSTUFF, THE SINGING DETECTIVE, EERIE INDIANA and THE TWILIGHT ZONE. But the TV that most obsessed me this year and last - for it's spot on tone and the sheer weight of emotional investment and the heft of the actors work onscreen was AFTER LIFE starring Lesley Sharp and Andrew Lincoln, created by Stephen Volk.

Far and away the best supernatural series of the last 10 or 20 years. Brilliantly written and played throughout. I walked in on it recently when my wife was off sick and had put it on... and even out of context found the finale of a late episode in series to had be welling up with tears. Brilliant stuff.

But I think I may wandered away from any particular point... save to say, that currently I'm high on excitement and possibility. And that's a very good thing. More than that it's finding those things that say you're not a lone voice in the darkness or out in the wilds. There are others - those who want to read/hear/see the kind of stories that I want to make for them. And others who want to make that kind of thing as well. Somehow that's empowering. It feels good.

Today, all the ephemeral ideas feel tangible. More real.

So I'm sinking my fingers in to the knuckles and molding them like wet clay.

Here's the short I was talking about (but you should click it and watch on the youtube site - embedding seems to have done something weird and clipped it, like old pan & scan VHS):

26 Aug 2010

Still Cooking...

Man things take their time in the real world don't they?

So be it. We're barrelling along. Still talking to producers, seeing what we might be able to do - but in the meantime steaming on full force with our own stuff, off our own backs too. Plans for some shit hot downloadable Audio books and audio drama are afoot. And I for one am very excited.

Also plans and conversations going on towards an animated short film - hopefully The Cat Who Said Wong, but maybe some other things too. And a possible illustrated book.

Meanwhile I continue to noodle on some prose and an idea or two for feature scripts while keeping central focus on the work in hand. Expect further updates in the very near future. An audio trailer is being polished (the one that got us meetings). Domain names have been bought and a Coming Soon image is on it's way to us... things are getting serious round here!

I'll keep you posted.

22 Feb 2010


It's a weird thing when something that was dead and buried in the back of your mind, comes suddenly kicking and screaming to life...

An old short story that died on the page, started talking a little while back. Shouting infact.

I've been working on ideas for Radio drama, since the trailer/snippet that I wrote and then recorded with Dan Smith has been finding favour with some folk on the inside.

They all seem to really like it. But don't quite know where to place it. But we should be meeting with a production company who makes drama for Radio 4 in March, so fingers crossed.

In the mean time my head has been playing with lots of ideas, trying to make sure we have a few other thigns in hand to talk about with the producer, but also to pitch towards the contacts we've been making, who all say 'Yes, please let us know any other ideas you have'. Strike while the iron's hot and all that.

So - in this frame of mind - I suddenly heard the voice of one of the characters in the shrot story that died start talking. Shouting at me infact - and ggrabbing a pen, I scribbled down the entire ending of the story as it might work on radio. Two intercutting, interlocking Voices, telling a single tale, sort of a contemporary reworking of 'Little Red Riding Hood', but also sort of an amalgam of other 'Wolf' based fairy tales too, reset on contemporary urban streets and pushed headlong into the darkness and with a healthy dose of the grotesque and dreamlike added to the mix.

It's coming along quite nicely. I like the oddity of it. And grimmness and the sexuality. And I particularly like that - for all the dark ickyness of it, I think the end manages to be uplifting. I think...

Lots of good squelchy noises in it. It if works it should be creepy, disturbing, maybe make you squirm, but ultimately lift you up, transcend. Or it might just freak you out. Depends on who you are I suppose.

Either way, I'm grinning. Because, if nothing else, I'm know that it will get a reaction.

27 Nov 2009


I used to HATE treatments.

Never used to write them unless I had to. And even then it was usually after the fact, having written a full script, or at least some kind of longer document, but discovering someone else really wanted one.

I still find them problematic. Conveying the exitement of an idea in such a way as to grab the readers imagination, but not giving them every last beat of the script.

Recently I've had a turnaround. I've got so many ideas on the go, that it just seemed practical (and quicker) to write treatments for them all, so that there was something concrete to give to people if they were interested/wanted to read.

My thinking being that - since I still work full time - I don't have the time to just sit down and blast the scripts out, so why not work them up to being ready to go, and let fate/interested parties decide which one goes to script first. And if no one makes that decision, well I'll slowly work my way through them anyway. No harm, no fowl. Everyone's a winner...

In the process, I've had a bit of a breakthrough.

When I first sit down to write a treatment, it isn't just a 'treatment'. It's the first draft of the script.

I write a very detailed, often undisciplined treatment, knowing that I'll cut it back. But that first moment of throwing paint at the canvas, is like an info dump. I write it fast. As fast as I can, pouring everything I think I know about the script/story out onto the page.

That's not to say I don't pay any attention to how it's going to read.

I'd be a very poor writer I think, if I did that. But I don't let it get in the way.

I write to be read. I write to excite - myself as much as anything. And as ever the process of writing, of pouring the stew of ideas out onto the page, seems to act like a sieve, cutting out the fat. Details leap out at me, flag themselves as key. Images and core points crystalise, and push you in more definate, honed directions. The story starts to find itself, define itself. Well, that's writing...

And I guess that's where I was going wrong before. I thought of the treatment as a condensation. Now it's part of the process. A first step to finding what the story/script really wants to be.

The treatment isn't just the 'treatment'. It's the first draft of the script...

Thinking of it that way makes it more integral. More useful. Less like something that's getting in the way. Less like something that seemed like it was just for lazy financers who couldn't be bothered to read a script (come on you know you've often thought it when you're trying to boil a big idea down without killing it dead).

It's an important step in the creative process now. A really helpful step.

It helps to order all my thoughts BEFORE I'm knee deep in the finer details of how one scene cuts to the next, or the implications of a single word of dialogue.

And it's fun. It feels a lot like telling myself the story for the first time again, seeing what works. Why the idea was exiting when I had it. And if I can tell the whole thing (even allowing for some narrative gaps filled in with notes) and make it work, find the shape in the treatment. It's pretty certain I can make it work as a script. Writing the treatment first gives you confidence. By the end of it, you're already partway there.

23 Nov 2009


Work in progress. An original screenplay by Neil Snowdon

Pete Gleadall and his dad are new in town.

The local kids tell Pete that the Devil lives in the house at the end of his street. That the old woman living there is a witch, who once had sex with a demon and nine months later gave birth to the Devil.

Pete doesn't believe a word of it. But that night sees the hulking man who lives there going out...

He comes back first thing in the morning. Just as Pete is getting up for school.

Pete sneaks over there to get a better look. Hiding in the bushes in the back garden, Pete see's the man - The Devil - take a couple of raw, wet hearts from out his bag and push them down into the earth, covering them carefully.

But why? Pete becomes obsessed. Night after night, he sees the man go out into the dark, into the town, and every morning he returns and buries hearts in his back garden.

Pete's dad tells him a fairytale about the Devil - how if you can pluck three hairs from his back while he is sleeping, he will grant you a wish.

Pete's mum is dead. That's why they moved house.

Now he has a reason to find out more. So he breaks into the Devil's house one night.

He finds the Devil sleeping -

He reaches out to pluck a hair -

And wakes him up... and then all hell breaks loose. In a manner of speaking.

Who is the 'Devil'? Why does he live with his mother? And what does she want with Pete?

You'll have to wait and see...