Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I am seeking actors for this weekend.

Male and female; lead roles and featured extras. 

Location: Cottesloe.

Commencing: Early afternoon.

Looking for new faces so extensive acting experience is not required.

All age groups welcome.

What is necessary is enthusiasm, confidence, charm and a big appetite.

This is an unpaid gig.

I don't have a script or anything.

But Mum makes a mean chicken and salad roll.

She asked me if I knew anyone who might like to try them out.

I said to her, actors are always up for a free feed!

She nodded sagely and smiled.

Please supply head shots and dietary requirements to

Don't apply if you don't like chicken.

Or salad.

Stills will be taken of said rolls being consumed.

These will look great on your:


Facebook page

Business cards


If we remember to send the pictures to you that is.

I anticipate that if this goes well there'll be a sequel.

For screenwriters.

Admission strictly by application only.

Yes, we know how hungry you all are.

Probably a short screenplay featuring a chicken and salad roll.



One Paragraph Synopsis

One Page Synopsis



Supporting notes

Supporting notes to support the supporting notes.

How you would approach eating the chicken and salad roll differently the next time you ate one.

Please don't send a head shot.

You're a screenwriter.

Yes, I am taking the piss.

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.

Thank you for your attention.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What are you all so worried about – it’s easy!

I really should stop reading most things on the internet about screenwriting. A lot of it is not so much fiction as science fiction. Sure, there are useful resources online but [expletive deleted] me you have to trawl through some [censored]ing crap.

Take for example this gem I found on a film networking page:

“Writing a treatment is very-very-very easy!”


Not your garden variety ‘very easy’ where you knock out a “3-5 pager” before a cup of tea and a scone.

Not the slightly rarer ‘very, very easy’ where you’re doodling in a notebook and, hey presto, you’ve accidentally written a treatment (framed by a lovely floral doodle).

No, this is the ‘very, very, very easy’ phenomenon where you fall out of bed and, oh my god, there’s a treatment just sitting there on the floor… or you open the fridge door and look, a treatment at the back next to the six pack of tinnies!

Intrigued beyond words at this exciting new discovery I eagerly read on. A quick scan of the ensuing pitch told me how to set a treatment out on the page – double spacing you say? - and what went where like an Ikea instruction manual. So if it’s a three page treatment (I’d call that a synopsis but hey, whatever) the first page is the first act, the second the second and there’s a prize if you can correctly guess what the third page is. Genius!

Okay. Let’s do this then!!!

*Fingers poised above the keyboard*


I suppose I might need a few other things.

Like a great, original idea for a film. A premise? A theme maybe? Oh, I know, some compelling characters. Yep, need those. Plot? Something to say? Rising action and stakes? Wants, needs, flaws. Character arcs.  A kick-arse climax and satisfying conclusion.


Not seeing any of this in my very-very-very easy treatment writing discourse. If I start typing in double spaced Courier 12 font it will no doubt come to me…

It’s like telling me anyone can make a car. All you need is an engine, four wheels, a steering wheel… maybe some doors… oh, oh, oh, those drink holder thingies… and a sunroof… and what’s that gadget that does the thing with the thing? One of those!

Someone commented on the original post in response to my scepticism (who’d have thought?) that “physically” it’s easy to write a treatment. I guess so – you depress the keys in a downwards motion using your fingertips and words magically appear on a white space commonly known as a screen.

Come on!!! Writing a treatment is very, very, very easy? [Expletive deleted][Censored][Under review at the Classification Review Board] you!

Coming up with an original, compelling, entertaining idea for a feature film is HARD! There are courses now being run over east about how to write a proper LOGLINE – one sentence! Because, going by most funding body screeds of projects in development, we pretty much suck at it.

But what troubles me most is this – the dismissive nature of what it is screenwriters do.  Of course it’s easy! Anyone can do it! They’re only words! Knock out one of those out no probs! Which leads us here.

There are several types of writing that not all writers are good at – scripted scenes are different to a one page synopsis which is different to writing a full blown treatment. Don’t only give me a mechanical, dry recitation of the ‘geometry’ – inspire people to come up with good ideas; to recognise and discard bad ones; to work at their craft; to show respect for that craft. Celebrate good writing. Don’t trivialise it. And don’t ever, ever disrespect what it is screenwriters struggle to do – bring worlds and characters to life using only words, imagination, and bloody-minded commitment. None of that is easy. Not even for the most celebrated of writers.

Otherwise, it’s very-very-very easy for me to dismiss you as just another [censored].

"I love writing but hate starting. The page is awfully white and it says, “You may have fooled some of the people some of the time but those days are over, giftless. I’m not your agent and I’m not your mommy. I’m a white piece of paper, you wanna dance with me?” And I really, really don’t." 

- Aaron Sorkin

Live Below The Line - The Result

Back in May I posted about Live Below The Line, a great initiative to raise money for extreme poverty. Well, the good folk at LBL want me to tell you how things went. An excerpt from their email:

Richard --

In May this year, you supported something a little left of centre.

“Jessica is living on $2 a day? That’s crazy...” – you might have thought. And yes, you were kind of right, Live Below the line is tough challenge!

But here’s the thing -- your support, in the end, made a real difference.

Along with 52,324 other Australians, you helped spread the word that while poverty can seem overwhelming, it can be ended.

And your support helped spark a movement. Together, 7812 Live Below the Lin-ers across Australia raised over $1.9 million to help provide an education to those who need it most. You made this impact happen.

A video of the impact:

Well done to all those who participated and to the donors.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Shout outs and Gratuitous Plugs, Part 2

There is a word I love that I admittedly totally misuse. But I just like the sound of it. The word is ecumenical. Usually it has a specific religious connotation though I see also lists 'general' and 'universal' as meanings. So maybe I'm not too far off the mark. When I'm in an "ecumenical mood", in my terms, it means I'm in a warm and fuzzy, sharing, caring state of mind. Man, was that a long winded preface to say, here now are two projects that I am touting... with a twist!

That twist being a little crowdfunding love. Yes, these two creative teams are looking for support to bring their projects the life.

A little disclaimer - I am not creatively involved in either of these endeavours.

"So why are you promoting them, Richard?" Well, in the case of the Upstart Theatre Company I saw their production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot in June which was excellent. My comments at the time:

What a play!!! Absurdist, darkly funny, bursting with ideas, pointed, subversive, dense and intricate dialogue, playful... challenging. Three highlights (amongst many) - a powerhouse penultimate scene between Braye Dial as Judas Iscariot and Simon Thompson as Jesus; Kingsley Judd takes a beautiful written monologue at least 10 minutes long and hits it out of the ballpark; Desiree Crossing's character breaking down as she damns Satan as a liar. Get along and catch it - highly recommended! 

I therefore have total confidence that their production of not one but TWO of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies - Macbeth and Julius Caesar - will be excellent. So check out their Pozible page and help make wonderful theatre come to life with a group of talented actors. One of them will even make a cake for you as a reward!

Pozible Pitch from Bill Crow on Vimeo.

The second project is a short film by Gordon Waddell in Sydney. I was referred to Gordon recently by a mutual contact as he was looking for a writer to develop a feature film idea. As a result I've written a synopsis, the pitch has been made to a potential investor and now we wait to see if I get paid to write what will be a fun action/adventure story with a strong international flavour.

His short film is called The Offer and the Pozible page is here. Again, if you can spare some heard earned dosh why not help turn words in a script into moving images?

Lastly, talking of crowdfunding, a reminder about ScreenWest's 3to1 Initiative with submissions due on 12 November.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Feature Films and the Digital Divide

There appears to have been a sudden explosion of activity in my hometown. Everyone is running around making feature films. “Yay!” you might exclaim given that until recently Perth was better known for children’s television series and documentaries. The local funding agency’s West CoastVisions initiative has gone some way to changing that with films such as Last Train To Freo, Wasted on the Young, Blame and the upcoming These Final Hours. There has also been an influx of bigger productions such as Drift, the Cloudstreet mini-series (based on local writer Tim Winton’s novel) and, currently in production, The Deserter.

However, I am talking about the micro/no budget variety which has been made more attainable by digital technology. This has given filmmakers the ability to shoot longer form narratives cheaply and quickly. The problem though appears to be this:

The quality of the screenplay

I read one such script recently that to me was a rough first draft. I was bemused to discover it was the shooting script. Knowing some of the people involved I hope they salvage something from it. But it has train wreck written all over it.


It may be technically “easier” to make a film but is sure as hell ain’t easier to write one.

I know anything I write will generally be pulled apart by key collaborators, especially the director, before it goes through the funding process grindstone. If you’re fortunate enough to receive development funding then it’s onto drafts with script editors and more notes and feedback as the script evolves and gets better. In other words it is submitted to expert scrutiny. Sure, we can have a discussion about over-development or bad notes but the point is, the script is prodded and tested.

Who scrutinises these no budget feature scripts especially when a lot are by first time writer-directors? It feels to me like people are in such a rush to “make something” that the script is almost an afterthought. For these types of projects I would have thought it should be everything. What’s the point of spending your own money and that of family and friends on something that no-one will see or, if they do, could cruel your career right from the get go?

Then again, most of these seem to be on deferred payments and/or rely on the goodwill of actors and crew to work for free. Yet I see the same people going to that well time after time, requesting talent and crew on social media with only the promise of catering and “something for your show reel” as reward. Never mind the amount of actors I hear complaining that they never receive a copy of the film. 

When does someone transition from this approach to being a professional filmmaker?

When it's done right - Zak Hilditch's The Actress.
The only no budget films of note I have seen from Perth are The Actress and The Toll with an honourable mention to A Day at the Oasis. The first two are from Zak Hilditch who I am delighted to say has received government funding and financing for the aforementioned These Final Hours. The Actress, famously made for only $700, was well written and acted showing that Zak could tell a long form narrative. I’m looking forward to see what he can do with a proper budget. That script has also been through the Screen Australia’s Springboard initiative so I expect it will be in excellent shape. He is the exception to the rule. 

Part of me is jealous of all these people with their no/micro budget films who can tout the fact they have a feature film credit… but then I remember that’s not what motivates me. It’s to tell good stories. To me that means working hard to get scripts into shape to attract the type of financing and professional expertise that will do them justice. 

None of my key collaborators are interested in making no budget features. They are all developing projects through more 'traditional' routes. As a result there seems to be a clear divide here - those who compete for funding and private investment and those who prefer the "do it yourself" approach. 

I admire the latter's enthusiasm but can I suggest they spend as much energy on the script as they do on the "beg, borrow, stealing" to get their film made. After all, no budget, low budget, mega budget, if the script is broken you're going to have an uphill battle making a good film...