This month, my short comedy play Crappy Birthday to Me premiered at the marvellous Slung Low Shorts alongside a collection of new plays by new and established writers. Slung Low 4, as it was Slung Low’s fourth outing, was performed at The Holbeck, Leeds from 18th to 21st July. I was delighted to be asked to be part of Slung Low this year – it was an honour.
Crappy Birthday to Me is a twisted family comedy about a twentysomething woman who returns home to a secret birthday party. She is less than thrilled at the idea of an awkward evening with her parents and sister, but this is no ordinary birthday bash…
I was super excited to be there on the opening night and meet my cast and director, and see and hear the reaction of the audience. It was a full house and I’m really proud of the team for pulling it together so brilliantly. And some horror geek trivia, the dad was played by Michael S. Siegel who was in Killer Klowns from Outer Space!
I’ll be bringing this short play to London soon, and may possibly turn it into a short film, but for now… I’m happy to say that my play was the one with the most clean up afterwards… Apologies to the stage management team for putting up with the fruits of my mad brain.
And huge thanks to all of Slung Low for including me in the line up this year! It was utterly brilliant and I can’t wait to see Slung Low 5.
An extended article I wrote for the spectacular new print magazine Film Stories has now been published. The feature is about the too often overlooked 90s rom com Jack & Sarah, starring Richard E. Grant, Samantha Mathis, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Eileen Atkins. Spread across five pages, I argue that the film is well worth a revisit and discuss its many merits. It includes extracts from an exclusive interview I did with the writer/director, Tim Sullivan, who was very generous with his time and shared so many interesting stories about the making of his ‘baby.’
Film Stories, Issue 5, is available now from the BFI Shop, WHSmiths and via mail order. It’s a snip at just £5.99, or it’s even cheaper if you opt for a subscription deal! This issue also includes:
The stars of Rocketman on bringing the Elton John biopic to the screen
Richard O’Brien on the lost Rocky Horror Picture Show sequels
The movie apocalypse films that have flown under the radar: Reign Of Fire, anyone?
True confessions of a movie PR rep
The woman who transformed Warner Bros’s movie marketing
Jack & Sarah: revisiting an overlooked 90s British movie.
The evolution of movie special effects, and the return of practical
Three films and he’s out: the movie career of Yahoo Serious
Celebrating the musical films of John Carney
The trick to making a horror movie remake
So don’t miss out! And I hope you enjoy reading my lovingly crafted article!
I’m really proud to say that an article James Moran and I wrote about our hit short, Blood Shed, is featured in issue one of the brand spanking new movie buff magazine, Film Stories!
The magazine is the brainchild of Den of Geek founder, Simon Brew, and accompanies his popular new podcast – also entitled Film Stories. The magazine was recently funded by a massively successful Kickstarter campaign, smashing the initial target – almost doubling it. It champions new releases and new writing, celebrates all the geeky film stuff that you want to read about, and features regular columns by stand-up Romesh Ranganathan, BAFTA-winning creator of Wolfblood, Debbie Moon, and writer/director of The Levelling, Hope Dickson Leach. So we’re in great company!
Our article addresses how to get your film noticed and more bang for your buck when submitting to film festivals, with our hints and tips for playing the odds and creating a successful strategy. There are also some of our lovely behind the scenes photos taken by the brilliant Mike Shawcross.
You can get your hands on a copy of issue one now, or subscribe so you don’t miss out on the next magnificent issue!
Chuffed to announce that I’ve been selected for the BAFTA Crew Film/TV programme 2018! I’m part of a group of shorts to feature writers, directors and producers who are working towards their debut feature or TV show over the next few years.
Looking forward to meeting everyone and getting started on the roundtables, seminars and networking events. Knowledge is power. @BAFTAGuru #baftacrew2018
2018 is now in full swing, and this is my first news post since the birth of my amazing baby daughter, Ava-Grace, in January. I’m loving balancing motherhood with my writing and filmmaking, and have actually found myself with a renewed sense of vigour, despite the mountain of diapers I have to contend with on a daily basis. I’m incredibly inspired and the ideas don’t stop coming at the moment. I can’t wait to share them, but for now, I’m riding the wave of love for Blood Shed!
Since making its festival debut last August at FrightFest, Blood Shed has been selected for more than 30 festivals across the globe, winning 6 awards and garnering many more nominations, and we’ve still a long way to go! Our latest win in February was the Best International Short award at Nevermore Film Festival in North Carolina.
It’s been just over a year since we smashed our Kickstarter campaign target and began production on the the film, and James and I can hardly believe it, but Blood Shed has been selected for TWO Oscar qualifying festivals in the USA. The first is Nashville Film Festival! It’s one of the longest-running film festivals in the US and one of the most acclaimed in the South, so we’re thrilled to be part of it. We’re screening with the superb Found Footage 3D on 18th & 19th May. Nashville had nearly 5000 short film submissions this year, selecting just 215, and we’re competing as part of the Graveyard Shift competition.
The second qualifier is the amazing Seattle International Film Festival! Connie screened at #SIFF last year, so Seattle feels like home for me as a filmmaker. It’s the largest and most highly-attended festival in the USA and the selection of films this year is not to be missed. Blood Shed screens on 26th May as part of the Terror Internationale block.
It’s not that we think a film about a man-eating shed would ever actually be nominated for an Oscar, but it feels amazing to get recognition from such big festivals that get thousands and thousands of submissions from films of all genres from across the globe.
Finally, I’m happily beavering away at feature ideas, with several already scripted and others at the outline or pitching stages. I’m also keen to get back on set and shoot my next two shorts from the Summer, but am making sure I get plenty of time to enjoy my babymoon with my favourite Moranic production…
Blood Shed continues to cook up a storm in the US! Our little sheddy tale of guts and gore has brought us glory the last few weeks, notching up several awards! First, we were stunned to wake up to the news that Blood Shed scooped THREE awards at the prestigious Knoxville Horror Film Fest!
We beat stiff competition to be crowned Funniest Film, and James Moran was named Best Director for a short, and we won Best Script for a short film, too. As Producer, Co-Writer and Production Designer, I’m grinning from ear to ear and thrilled that our rather unique tale has found its place on the film scene so quickly.
The awesome trophies arrived this week and are now adorning the Moranic Productions gong shelves!
The festival team kindly picked our star, Shaun Dooley, as the winner of the Best Male Lead Award. Here’s a quick peek at the trophy that is currently en route – what a hot bird! We can’t wait to unwrap this little chick.
Huge thank you to both festivals and their judges, but also to our supporters who helped get this film made and spread the word about it. It’s an honour to share it with so many like-minded shed-fanciers.
We have more screenings coming up. We’re screening at the awesome Ax Wound Film Festival in Vermont on Saturday 18th November, then we’re back in London on home turf for the Underwire Festival 2017 where we’ll be screening at the Prince Charles Cinema on Friday 24th November. Come and show your support if you can. I’m nominated for their Best Producer award and at more than 8 months pregnant, I am extra, extra emotional about this nomination!
In other news, James and I are guests on the latest edition (season 2, ep 7) of the brilliant film podcast Casting the Runes! We were chuffed to chat with the lovely Runes team and had a great time talking about Creepshow and Blood Shed. Have a listen to the episode here! We hope you find the things we say insightful as well as plain odd, weird and strange.
Seeing your work in print is a great buzz for any writer, but it’s all the more special when the story is personal, heartfelt and concerns the life of a loved one who has since departed.
Earlier this year, I was thrilled to receive the news that my short story, The Shells at Miramare Market, had won the Fresher Publishing Writing Prize for Creative Non-Fiction 2017.
After submitting to the independent publisher, Fresher, late last year, I did what many writers often do – logged that I’d submitted the piece, filed it away and completely forgot all about it, expecting to hear nothing at all or perhaps a ‘thanks but no thanks’ email. Much to my surprise, I didn’t just receive a standard email – I was ecstatic to learn that I’d actually won! Not only had I bagged myself a nice title and a prize of a consultation with a publisher, the story would also be published in the print anthology alongside all the category finalists and winners for the year.
After several months of eager anticipation, Fresher Writing Volume 3 arrived at my doorstep – an advance copy! Though I often read books on my iPad, there’s nothing quite like holding and smelling a real book. It takes me back to my childhood – devouring the pages of my dad’s old Penguin Classics with the orange spines and that distinctive smell of age.
Turning the pages of the beautifully bound paperback anthology, it is a joy to see the story in print. It’s been a little while since my last short story appeared in print or was recorded for radio, but this story is extra special. Inspired by the true story of my dad’s mother’s secret life as a partisan in her native Italy during World War 2, The Shells at Miramare Market is a blend of Sofia’s stories as they were retold to us over the years, mixed with a little invention to plug factual gaps.
Sofia sadly passed away in 2015, followed shortly after by her husband of six decades, Ronnie, but I was extremely fortunate to have a private recording, made just a few months before her passing, of her talking about her life to guide me through the writing process. Hearing her voice helped me develop the character of the piece, but I also interviewed my dad to get more detail – descriptions of Miramare, Trieste and his memories of his mum, her attitudes and her parents, but also her brother Mario, a fellow partisan who suddenly went missing one day during the war. The family never knew what happened to him and suspect he ended up a victim of war, possibly in the Karst Foiba. This loss was often commented on by Sofia and was something that she carried with her through her life.
Though the piece is termed creative non-fiction for good reason, I felt a great responsibility to tell her story as sensitively and accurately as I could. But I also wanted to tell her story in a compelling way – structuring the narrative and invented dialogue in my scenic writing to hook in the reader, create tension and even laugh at the juxtaposition of the little frail old lady with a surprising, dark and heroic past that you’d never have known just by looking at her. Though her passing was recent at the time of writing the piece, and therefore raw and quite difficult for myself and my dad, it’s such a personal piece and one that I was completely invested in – more so than much of my other work – and I hope this shows in the quality of the writing, the narrative, dialogue and characterisation. I’m proud of this story and feel it’s a love letter to Sofia and to her life. And who knows, maybe there is more to this story and it could become something more long-form…
Fresher Writing Volume 3 will shortly be available to purchase via Amazon. Stay tuned for a link!