Tell us about Twelve Chairs Films ?
I set up Twelve Chairs Films with my friend and colleague Phil Falato just over a year ago. It was a natural progression to set up a production company. And it was a perfect marriage between Phil’s expertise in finance and investment, and his love of film, and my writing and business background.
Twelve Chairs Films is developing a slate of film and TV projects for investment. To date we have optioned one novel which we are adapting, and one script, which we have taken through many drafts. Ideally we would like a third project on board to make an initial slate of three , but we are writing up our investment plans for the two and will be going out for finance soon.
I had never thought of myself as a producer before, I have always been a writer and still am. Of course I have worked with producers, even for a year was on the board of the New Producers Alliance. Then in founding and as first CEO of Euroscript I became partly a producer. Euroscript’s initial status was as a creative Europe MEDIA programme, and, de facto, the company remit was script development working with European production companies, as well as developing and marketing, our own scripts and writers.
Creative Europe MEDIA is the EU initiative for training, development and production in the European film industry. You will see its logo in the credits on many film and TV projects. It also supports independent cinemas to ensure a wider film distribution.
So there was a history leading me to Twelve Chairs, but I needed a business partner with an investment and finance background so I could continue as a writer, rather than switch to becoming a full time businessman.
Now Twelve Chairs is a new independent company, with Phil and I bringing in new talent and investment for our projects. And I can continue as a writer as well as a producer. More information is available on our company website.
What kind of scripts/material are you looking for?
We are looking for great ideas for film or TV, and crossover media, in any genres, low to medium budget. Initially we ask for a one page synopsis. You can submit through our website Twelve Chairs Films.
What is your own background in writing and film?
I was writing from childhood and had articles, short stories and poetry published in my teens. Then I sold a film treatment and decided to do an MA in Screenwriting and Documentary. I continued to write and had a book published Dancing in the Waves. In Euroscript we worked developing scripts in different European languages with writers and production companies. Three films went into production, including the feature film, Little Ashes, and a number of Euroscript project writers were optioned for feature films during that time.
I set up the MA in Screenwriting at Birkbeck College with Emma Sandon ten years ago. Again the heart of the degree is project and script development towards a student’s portfolio of work. Students have gone on to make shorts, work in television and have been commissioned and optioned on feature projects.
Outside these organisations I have worked privately as a script consultant on feature films, including, Starred Up, Dermaphoria, and most recently on The Birdcatcher. Today I am working on Twelve Chairs’ projects as well. Along the way I have always written articles, short stories and poetry, and have been a part of many other projects.
What do you think of the current film scene?
I am confident that the feature film will always be the premier communication for original ideas. The advance of television with cinematic series, the enormous success of the games industry, and the new possibilities of the web, to my mind, only raises the importance of what feature film can do in all forms of film.
In the last two decades, television, in particular some very successful US and Scandinavian series, has become more cinematic. And the Games industry is continuing to advance the complexity of character. Meanwhile, despite the competing forms of media and new distribution outlets like Netflix and on line film, cinema audiences have increased. I still see the feature film as at the cutting edge of the medium.
There are two reasons for this. First, a feature film can address anything. It is unconstrained by genre or audience, it tells universal stories from all different perspectives. It can take you anywhere.
Second, a feature film has a resolution. The resolution is essential to a film and to any story. And the resolution to a story makes meaning. Without a finite story, without an integral focus, we are watching snapshots of life, and as illuminating as they may be about how life is, they do not offer the same clarity of why life happens. A resolution, even an open or ambiguous ending, completes and leaves us with a retrospective understanding of the narrative. And if the resolution is good, then it is deeply satisfying.
Yes true, writers hold a mirror to the world, but also we should have something to say. In a way feature films are the personal and a very wild form of documentary. Exciting, extraordinary, and showing deeper truths of life. All of us love stories and we need lots of story endings to know how life works and what our life can be.