Being Hugo – Finding Work and Public Exams.

As my sister stumbled into breakfast this morning with her head held low, my heart sank. I knew what it meant, she knew that I knew what it meant. We both avoided eye contact, sat down and finished our cereal in silence. 

This morning in the UK, hundreds of thousands of eager/nervous/excited/self-assured 18 year-old’s received the results of their A-Level public examinations. One exam had gone terribly wrong for my sister. In fairness, everybody who knows her and her entire school population seems to believe a mistake has been made, so she may well be fine. But others won’t be. 

The way that we are conditioned to believe in examinations, the importance of higher education, leads the opening of an email one morning… one second in time, to change your life forever. From a world full of hope and opportunity to nothing. 

This is a huge shame. 

Yet exams are important – this is the desperate thing. In billions of years of development, exams are the best way that human beings have found to measure themselves against one another.

This, again is a shame. The issue is not in the exams themselves, but in the huge bias that people seem to put on them. 

It leaves many people in the situation of having an infinitely more difficult journey to finding success.

You can decide for yourselves the importance of a university degree, but I would ask that you do this: The next time you speak to somebody and find that they have not been to university, ask yourself, ‘I am judging this person?’. The answer is almost always, yes. Heck, even I do it, and I haven’t been to university myself. 

To my sister and all those others out there. Don’t despair, there are many many ways to succeed, university is just one of them. 

In order to truly find the best in society, we need to look beyond traditional education, beyond financial means beyond color, language, race. Success in a government standardised test isn’t the only measure of success and ability. Don’t trick yourself into thinking it is. 

By the same token, those who have gained great results today, I applaud you. As I am currently finding, when it comes to the job market, it is going to make your life a hell of a lot easier! 

Guy Hugo

 

 

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How To Write A Screenplay In Four Days

People I have been speaking to recently seem to be surprised at how quickly I am able to churn out the first draft of a screenplay. This, in turn, seems a little odd to me – I just sit down and write. So, I thought that I would write my tutorial on how to write a screenplay quickly – well, in four days to be precise.

WARNINGS: 

  1. This is NOT an overly healthy way of spending your time – if you are ill at the time, then don’t attempt.
  2. The polishing of a screenplay takes much longer, this is only about the first draft.

I always start by ‘blocking’ (not a technical term 😛 ). I look at my schedule, and block out four days. Completely and totally – there can be no distractions. Ideally these days would be four in a row, but they can be spread out over two weekends, if necessary. 

Once this is done, I then prepare the list of things I am going to need for the project. For me this is:

  1. The WILL TO DO IT! This method, and writing long scripts in general is HAAARD, you need to really want it, if you are not quite ready to commit, then this probably isn’t for you (Just Do It!)!
  2. A well developed idea/treatment – THIS IS ESSENTIAL! This is probably an obvious point, but if you have no idea what you are going to write about, then all you are going to do is load stress onto yourself, so always come into the project well prepared!
  3. Get your food supplies. 3 meals a day are very important! If you let your health slip when you are putting pressure on to yourself, then you’re at the start of a nasty, slippery slope. 
  4. Get your drinks sorted! Everyone of course has their own drink of choice. For me, I am currently getting really into fruit squash. You are going to need to reward yourself, and a delicious tasting drink will do just that!
  5. Gather your snacks! Mine is strawberry laces…can’t get enough of the darn things… These will be important to keep you going – while you are not going to be physically tired, you are going to be mentally tired, so plan ahead!
  6. Get Netflix. ‘Netflix?’, you say… why on earth would you do that? I will explain that later, but choose a TV Program on Netflix (or however you choose to watch TV on your Computer)  – make sure the plot/genre/tone is different to that of your screenplay. 
  7. Get plenty of post-it notes. 
  8. Make sure you have -plenty of music to play (or not – I feel it soothes me, others, no doubt, hate it!).

Now we get to the fun part! The start!

I am going to assume that most are going to be using Final Draft (or at least are writing in Courier 12). Given that,  from my writing experiences, I can write between 3 and 4 pages per hour – 3 pages for ‘business heavy’ action/description scenes, and 4 for dialogue heavy scenes (when I am not feeling especially inspired, so just normal, standard writing).

So if we consider a full length screenplay to be roughly 100 pages (and more or less, then the method can simply be adapted) that leaves us 25 pages to write per day.

So that means we need to be writing for a minimum of 7 hours a day (four pages an hour, rounded to the next hour) and a maximum of 9 (3 pages an hour). Thus, here is how I structure a ‘normal’ day.

08:00 – Wake up.

08:00-09:00 – Shower, breakfast, read, prepare yourself for the day ahead.

09:00-10:00 – Write 3/4 pages of screenplay.

10:00-10:20 – Watch episode of TV show.

10:20-11:20 – Write 3/4 pages of screenplay.

11:20-11:40 – Watch episode of TV show.

11:40 -12:40 – Write 3/4 pages of screenplay.

12:40-13:00 – Lunch.

13:00 -14:00 – Write 3/4 pages of screenplay.

14:00-14:20 – Watch episode of TV show.

14:20-15:20 – Write 3/4 pages of screenplay

15:20 – 15:40 – Watch episode of TV show.

15:40-16:40 – Write 3/4 pages of screenplay.

16:40 – 17:00 – Watch episode of TV show.

17:00-18:00 – Write 3/4 pages of screenplay. 

18:00-18:20 – Watch episode of TV show. 

18:20-19:20 – Write 3/4 pages of screenplay.

19:20-19:40 – Supper/Dinner/tea/whatever you want to call it!

19:40 – 20:40 – Write 3/4 pages of screenplay. 

20:40-21:00 – Watch episode of TV show. 

21:00-23:50 – Free-time! Go wild, try and switch off entirely from your work. I normally go for a walk about now, just to stretch my legs and relax.

23:50 – Bed. Sleep.

Phewph! As I said, it is a long day, it is intensive, it is pressurized, but hey, at the end of the day (literally in this case 😛 ) you can look back on your work and really have a great sense of achievement of what you have accomplished! 

Some questions I expect to be raised!

  1. Again, why the TV show? Well, research (and, for most of us, personal experience as well) suggests that after studying/working hard for an hour, our concentration and performance levels tend to dip significantly. So it is important to take a break. Very important. The TV show (just my method, could be anything) takes my mind off my work and allows me to be transported to a different world (I normally choose Futurama for just that reason!).
  2. Why did you mention post-it notes? Aah! Well, I write with my desk in front of a wall. When I’m writing and I get an idea about my screenplay, I scribble it down and stick it on the wall. Usually in a break, or at the end of the day, I will spend a little time organizing them and often, they will add new light on the direction of my screenplay.
  3. Is this really necessary? No. Absolutely not. This method is for insane people like me who want to be able to be able to produce drafts of screenplays very, very quickly, and who are prepared to put their sanity on the line. It is probably the furthest thing from necessary. 

The last thing to say is that, screenwriting is an art, and it shouldn’t be rushed or disrespected. What I am suggesting here is not rushing, it is just stringing the hours you would spend writing into the space of four days.

So, there you have it – a vague guide on how to write a screenplay in four days. It works for me, will it work for you? Why don’t you give it a go sometime 😛 

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, or simply think I’m wrong then please do feel free to ask! 

Hope everyone  is having a good day!

Guy Hugo

Just Do It!

I find it rather odd that something my father has been drilling into me for as long as I have been able to walk, has only just been sinking in. Just. Do. It. 

I think that most of my trouble came from a fundamental lack of understanding of the phrase. ‘I want to do it’ I would say, ‘but it isn’t that easy’… ‘okay, I’m sure you know best…’ would inevitably be the response. I didn’t, which sucked.

I got to the stage where I was coming up with so many ideas that I could barely contain myself. From writing to thinking, to wanting to start up companies. At one point, I even tried to pitch my idea for a company to an angel investor and one of my fathers friends (who has so far helped me enormously). He sat me down and said, ‘Guy, you don’t know how to pitch to an investor, do you?’, ‘no’, I said. He then asked me how I was going to have time to do this and all the writing things I wanted to do. I didn’t know.

The death knell was when he said to me, ‘Okay, Guy, I think the idea is interesting – now I want you to show me some other creative projects you have finished – anything – I don’t mind’. I sat there and ran off a line of spiel about having lots of ideas, and how I was in the process of writing x, y and z. ‘But you don’t have anything finished to show me?’.

No.

Suddenly, I understood. God – how could I possibly have been so stupid. My father wasn’t in the room at the time. If he was he would probably have giggled.

I had a whole lot of talk, and nothing much to show for it.

So I started to finish things. Short stories, plays, and now – screenplays. I actually have things to show for myself, rather than just talk.

 

I cannot attest to their quality – other people can think what they want about my work – but all I can say now is that I am doing everything I can to help myself by actually producing, rather than just saying I will.

So I say this, do you have a great story you’ve wanted to write for ages? Sit down and write it! Been thinking of starting a photo blog? Do it! Been thinking about putting your ideas into a visual form and making a video – just do it!

There is a difference between a first draft and a polished script, but how are you ever going to get to that polished script if you never get the first draft finished? Just. Do. It! (I promise, it will feel fantastic 🙂 )

P.S. as an aside (but not an aside at all – if that makes sense 😛 ) today I hit 500 followers on this blog! Thank you so much everybody who has show their support and commented and liked my posts! It honestly means a huge amount to me, and whether you realize it or not, every like, or follow or comment or even view, gives me the motivation to work harder and harder and produce more and better work!

So thank you again! I hope everyone has a fantastic day! 🙂

Guy

 

 

Disappointment 1

The title of this post, and I suppose the title of many of my posts may well lead you to believe that my time here, and my current life in general, are all doom and gloom. This is not the case. 

I strongly believe-

No, actually, scratch that. I think I believe (I don’t understand enough of myself to know, yet – youth, inexperience, immaturity, blah blah) that everything in my life is happening for a reason. For me, that roughly translates as: trust your instincts, learn from your mistakes, and – set-backs are actually positive things. 

By this I mean – by failing to get this, or loosing that, I am actually being guided towards my greater goal (purpose, destiny – whatever you want to view it as). This leads me to have a freshly optimistic view of life. It relies on self-belief (If I believe I can achieve my goals, I can – it’s how it was meant to be) and of course, hard work: if the path is there, it is the best possible path for you – you cannot achieve the best possible ‘you’ without the most possible work, and so on. 

It is a quintessential way of living life. I don’t necessarily recommend it, but I strongly feel that it is something to think about.

I will give and example of this – which, in fact, happened yesterday. Last week I with some very talented young producers, showed them some of my comedy sketches, and explained my idea for an overarching, all encompassing, internet based comedy site. They said they liked it. They said they were interested in trying to make some of my ideas a reality. 

They arranged a meeting for Sunday and said they would call me beforehand to arrange a meeting.

They didn’t call, they didn’t show up. 

Huh. 

The positive I take out of this, is…well, this: maybe they were the wrong people to get involved with. I had wasted some time, got my hopes up, but ultimately took all of the positives out of the situation. Who knows, maybe they lost their phone, maybe something will work out…

I am now working on an idea I’ve had for a while about a web show, and I’m going to try and make it. Could this decision be the one that works? It’s unlikely, but I have, I believe, taken one step closer to my goal. 

 

Success

Okay, so I have set out my precedent, I want to remain in LA and be a screenwriter. But I haven’t really spoken about what it really is to be a screenwriter. Is it to write movies to read to your children as bedtime stories? Is it to publish fan-fiction free on a website online? Or is it to make millions of dollars and obtain the immense wealth and status of a Tarantino or the Nolan brothers?

The answer to this of course lies not in the definition of the screenwriter, but in a personal definition of success. What would it take for me to consider myself a successful screenwriter? Well…that isn’t an easy question to answer. So I have written a list of things which I consider to be the keys to be a successful screenwriting life (and I stress – they are entirely personal).

  1. To sell one piece of my work in order to continue to live in the US.
  2. To be able to go to bed each night not feeling like there was something I should have done that day.
  3. To make my own film/TV show.
  4. To do something productive everyday.
  5. To travel around the world with my writing and explore different cultures, while remaining sensitive to them.
  6. To genuinely move/inspire somebody to better their own life/the lives of other people.
  7. To lift somebodies spirits when they are down.
  8. To treat everybody fairly and give everybody a chance.
  9. To never forget to empathise with other people.
  10. To never forget that life is hard, and that some people will be struggling when things are going well for me.

I didn’t mention money in that list for a reason – I don’t think that money is an effective measure of success. Sure, it is definitely a measure, but one which is so overused that it has lost it’s effectiveness. When we die, we die. Surely we would prefer what we leave behind to be remembered for the good we have caused, not the money we have made.

So there you have it, in all it’s cheesy glory. My personal beliefs about success, and what I am striving for every day. 

As my taxi driver told me on my way from LAX to my apartment, “My ex-wife asked me a few weeks ago why I wasn’t doing so well, I said ‘Look, honey, life is a circle, I know you’re on top at the moment, but trust me you’ll come back down again, and I’ll go up'”

For me, that emphasised the very core of my beliefs: treat people well when you’re on top and they’ll return the favor.

It’s fantastic weather here in Burbank, I hope every one is having a good day!

Guy