Category Archives: Screenwrititng

Say Hello to Jack Raven

What do you get when you cross a hard-nose detective, a sweet little girl, and demonic possession?

A Jack Raven Mystery
Casefile # 0327-17: Lucy Perkins

picture of Elliot HayotOn Sunday, March 26th, Elliott Hayot from Belgium contacted me about making short films. Elliott is a Public Relations student and he’ll be taking the selection tests to be an Air Traffic Controller; he also studied filmmaking in high school. He had a short story he wrote that he thought would make an interesting film. He asked if I would take a look at it and possibly consider shooting it some day.

I receive a few requests like that through email and on Facebook, and I’m always willing to help when I can, but his story, The Man with the Hat, really drew me in and I immediately saw its potential as a film.

We chatted for a bit to make sure we were both on the same page and then I went back to planning an upcoming film shoot, but Elliott’s story was stuck in my head and nagging at me to do something with it now… right now.

So I did.

Several hours later the first draft was finished, but the characters took me in a very different direction than what I had originally planned.  Great characters often take on a life of their own. The following day, with the help of my girlfriend to proofread and offer some insight, I worked and reworked it until I had what I thought was a solid draft.

Twenty-seven hours and one minute since Elliott first contacted me, A Jack Raven Mystery was sent back to him to make sure he liked and approved the screenplay.

He did.

It is now sitting in pre-production mode where the 1st AD and I will breakdown the script and figure out exactly what and who we will need to shoot it. Right now we are looking at late spring or early summer before we start rolling cameras. In the meantime, here’s a quick list of some of the speaking and non-speaking roles we will be auditioning for as well as needing some behind-the-scenes personnel such as hair & makeup, sound, lights, and production assistants.

Cast
  • Jack Raven – detective
  • Lucy Perkins – little girl
  • Gloria Shannon – detective
  • George Perkins – Lucy’s father
  • “Doc” – the coroner
  • Father Charles Raven – priest
  • Child Services worker
  • Mrs. Smith – the nanny
  • Background actors such as police, ambulance personnel, etc.

Please note that at this time these are non-paying roles. but depending on what type of funding we can get this may change, but until further notice it is on a volunteer only basis. We are not casting roles at this time – but when we do hold auditions, members of The Filmmaking Datatbase will be the first to be notified about auditions. If the roles are not filled through the database then we will hold an open casting call. If you’re not in the database please CLICK HERE and add your email address.


About the Author:photo of Author, and Filmmaker Kenn Crawford

Kenn Crawford is an author and filmmaker from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Click HERE to watch his YouTube Videos

 

Writing 101

What’s the one piece of advice I would give someone who wants to be a screenwriter?

Write.

It really is that simple. The more you write the better your writing will become. Screenwriters don’t think about being a screenwriter, they don’t dream of writing that great script someday… They Write!
In the last year I have written 18 screenplays:

  • 1 feature-length script for Dead Hunt
  • 7 episodes for The Amygdala Project
  • 4 screenplays that I have already filmed
  • 4 that are ready to be filmed
  • 1 that I am working on with another writer
  • 1 new screenplay that I started writing last night

I was also asked to write the pilot episode for a TV series. We still have to hammer out the details and sign some paperwork, but I consider it a win just to be asked to write the pilot.

If there’s such a thing as a downside to filmmaking it would be that between writing, producing, filming and editing I don’t have any time left to write new short stories or work on Dead Hunt 2. I barely have time to work on the courses I am creating. But considering how much I love filmmaking I don’t really consider that a downside.

When I am not writing I am watching how-to videos on directing, lighting, blocking and every facet of filmmaking that I can find. Like most things, if you want to learn how to do something you have to immerse yourself in it as much as you can, but keep in mind that you can only learn so much from reading and watching videos, at some point you have to put aside the manuals and just start doing it, because no one ever got wet from hearing the word water. You have to jump in.

Writers write… so start writing.

When I decided to take action and fulfill my life-long dream of being a filmmaker, one of the first books I read was “Rebel Without a Crew” by Robert Rodriquez. It’s not a how-to manual per se, but it does tell the story of how he made his feature-length movie “El Mariachi” on a shoestring budget. Whenever I am writing a new screenplay I always start with his advice of “Use what you have.”
I take stock of what I have (or can borrow) for props and locations and then I start writing.


Recommended by Kenn:

When I decided to take action and fulfill my life-long dream of being a filmmaker, one of the first books I read was “Rebel Without a Crew” by Robert Rodriquez. It’s not a how-to manual per se, but it does tell the story of how he made his feature-length movie “El Mariachi” on a shoestring budget. Whenever I am writing a new screenplay I always start with his advice of “Use what you have”  – I take stock of what I have (or can borrow) for props and locations and then I start writing.

About the book:

In Rebel Without a Crew, famed independent screenwriter and director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Spy Kids) discloses all the unique strategies and original techniques he used to make his remarkable debut film, El Mariachi, on a shoestring budget.
This is both one man’s remarkable story and an essential guide for anyone who has a celluloid story to tell and the dreams and determination to see it through.
Part production diary, part how-to manual, Rodriguez unveils how he was able to make his influential first film on only a $7,000 budget. Also included in the appendix: “The Ten Minute Film Course” a tell-all on how to save thousands of dollars on film school and teach yourself the ropes of film production, directing, and screenwriting.

Click here to order Rebel Without a Crew

 


About the Author:photo of Author, and Filmmaker Kenn Crawford

Kenn Crawford is a published songwriter, author and filmmaker from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.
Click HERE to watch his YouTube Videos

 

So You Wanna be a Filmmaker?

Filming THE AMGYDALA PROJECT was more than just fun and fulfilling… it was a great learning experience. I learned more on set filming it than I did watching the hundreds of hours of filmmaking videos and tutorials leading up to the project.

A photo posted by Kenn Crawford (@kenncrawford) on


I didn’t actually keep track of how many books, videos and podcasts I studied over the years, but suffice it to say that reading, watching or listening is still no substitute to actually Doing.

If you want to be a filmmaker you have to make films. It really is that simple.

THE FINAL GOODBYE was my first film – a no-budget, 8-minute short about a war vet filled with darkness and sorrow when he visits his mother’s grave to say one final goodbye. I’ve shot countless hours of videos, took tens of thousands of pictures as a photographer, and I directed comedy shows, but filmmaking is another matter entirely.  Everything I learned over the years had served me well and gave me a great foundation, but being on set and yelling “Action” is when your real education begins.

A few people have asked me how they could get into filmmaking and my answer is always the same: Write a great script. Not a good script, not a script that just needs a little work, a great script. It has to be perfect.  Once you have the perfect script, gather up your friends and shoot it.

It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. You’ll make mistakes and things will go wrong but guess what? That’s how you make better films – by making mistakes. By getting knocked down, getting back up, dusting yourself off, and doing it again. And again. And again.

If your movie would be awesome if you could get so-and-so to act in it – you need to write a better script. If all you need is _______ to make your movie – write a better script. They say you’re only as good as your weakest link and believe me your script better not be anything but the strongest link!

Great actors cannot bring life to a dull script. Expensive cameras, the most kick-ass locations, and having a special effects wizard on speed dial will not make a great film – only the script can help you do that so it has to be perfect.

With free screenwriting software like Celtx available for PCs and Mac, as well as apps for Android and iOS, there is no excuse why you cannot be sitting down right now and writing your perfect screenplay.

When you’re ready to start filming forget about needing this or needing that – use what you have, even if all you have is an iphone. Remember, TANGERINE, a film that won 22 awards, was shot entirely on iPhones. So tell me again why you can’t make your movie?

So you wanna be a filmmaker? Then stop thinking about being a filmmaker  – write the great script, gather up your friends, and shoot your movie!