STUART ST PAUL TALKS
OK, so about 20% of my cv and biog is on IMDB so I am not going to pull it out here but I will say that by nature IMDB is a record of what you have done. IMDB PRO is a record that we are all judged by now, and a site for professional subscribers that attempts to quantify your standing within the industry. So go have a look, your click counts! But please know, in the film industry you work and develop so many more projects that never go ahead, or are sold on to others for others to re-brand that IMDB is such a small footprint of your professional life. Life’s been good and I am also lucky enough to have a very normal and great family and support.
The body of work now affords me the privilege of being asked to speak all over the world now. Maybe that just means you are old. Looking back, my credits and memories I guess are experiences that can be shared, so when I was asked to write a book on screenplay writing I took that approach. I am not sure you can easily teach someone how to create or write, but you can help them understand the playing field and dodge the bullets. I approached the subject as a profession, not an academic lecture. I decided that as there are many excellent books out there by the likes of Seger, Hague etc, I would explain what will happen to you and your script, how it will be judged so you can be ready for the shrapnel. This is about putting that script, and yourself into the industry. I guess that is what I know for although I am a story teller, my spelling, grammar and literacy have always been questioned by those who know better – that’s anyone.
SCHOOL and ENGLISH – I failed.
I was in the bottom stream for English in a technical high school. I had to get an English O level to study maths and physics at university, which I found an insult back then and still do. What if you had to get a maths pass to go study any form of language – lets face it, if you make a career you need to know how to pay your taxes! Still school doesn’t teach the real world. So, there I am, the story teller; provoke, make people think!!! You can’t teach that. To my English teacher, Mr Scrimshore who took time with me, respect. I would love to find you and say how right you were. At the end of the year as we left him, he predicted what each member of the class would do. He said I would become an absurd writer, or a writer of the absurd I can’t remember, living on an island somewhere. He was so right, how can you know that, sir? I was the class clown, and now I would just have been put in a box marked Attention Deficit Disorder, or Dyslexia, but that is why so many of us are attracted to screenplays. Scripts are not packed chunks of words, they don’t describe, they don’t use too many words or take too long to say nothing.
SCRIPT WRITING CHEAT GUIDE
My book is very different, it explains how your script may be looked at and how it may be judged, and what, for a five dollar read the intern has been asked to assess. It is a book you might read first to get an idea of how a writer may fit into the industry and then the other books will make sense. Like Shades Of Bad it is short and sharp, a frank and easy read.
It is more like a cheat guide, so it named itself.
Now I have the first Shades Of Bad novel pending publication.
Like many writers I collect ideas. Thanks to the computer we can store and file them all. Never lose an idea, just file it. So when a new challenge comes along you often find from the whole tool chest of material you have stored there are nuggets, and some form end goals and directions.
I was once called by a Hollywood Producer and asked if I would direct a movie with Claire Danes and Oliver Martinez. Who wouldn’t, but why me? Obviously I did not ask that but I was told. I had directed two movies, both successful in their own way with awards and festivals; but both were female leads. I had never realised it. Here we are again, three men in a boat, no, three women in a kitchen is Shades Of Bad. My wife laughs when people say how in touch I am with my feminine side, but hey, the proof is in the work. Like so many many films, that amazing script aimed at starring Claire Danes was not made.
The Scarlet Tunic stars award winning actress Emma Fielding, as well as Jean-Marc Barr who I was about to direct in a movie in the USA with James Caan, and when it failed he came with me to Scarlet. It also starred Simon Callow, old friend Lynda Bellingham, Jack Shepherd, John Sessions and my daughter Laura Aikman.
Devil’s Gate with music by Bryan Adams and REM stars Laura Fraser (Breaking Bad) and whom I first worked with on Small Faces. Devil’s Gate also starred Callum Blue, the late Tom Bell whom I first used when I was a producer on The Krays, and my son Luke Aikman.
WHY WEB SERIES
I don’t read much other than instruction manuals, technical specs, religious history (boy do I love meeting someone who has only read one book) and artificial intelligence. I like logic. I like the future. The future is logical not an emotional wish. I met Ray Kurzweil at the Breckenridge Film Festival (where I won best director). He was the closing film and lecture. It blew me away. The future is that exciting, but that worrying. Some people try and work towards it, others deny it’s existence. That denial is now encapsulated in one of my favourite terms; Digital Denial.
Let’s just say that in the 1970’s we had landline telephones as a means of communication, then left the home leaving them behind. The world resisted mobile phones, hated the users, objected to them being used on trains and in golf clubs. No further conclusion is necessary other than some people have a television, a means of entertainment and leave it at home. Very few users now have just one screen. The average person now has 3 or 4 screens and within just a few years are expected to have 10 screens. Phone, sat nav, iPad, laptop, desk top, TV….. so, when you watch someone at a bus stop laughing at their phone you are not observing the future, you are witnessing the past. The future is web series. Netflix are educating the world that they can download TV,Sky are on the go, Daily Motion is free.
WHY THREE MINUTES
If your are writing for the web you can chose how long your show is. I chose 3 minutes because I wanted Phone as well as Tablet and TV. Phone viewers rarely watch shows over 8 minutes long. So we get them all. I also liked the challenge and discipline of writing that Dan Brown like chapter, short, so much, and I want more.
WHY SHADES OF BAD
Now we have met let me deal with that another time. However, the two lead girls wanted to do something on the web and it was a case of be careful, you might get what you wish for. They just needed a financier like me who could share dreams. The one thing I knew, was that the web offers the fantastical, it offers what other TV does not, and as they are not kids, we have to think how they do that. It took me just a few minutes, but I do have a twisted imagination.