Entry London Screenwriting Festival Film Challenge




October 23rd, 2011


This past week I have had the very great honor to be involved in making a short film for the London Screenwriting Festival Film Challenge.

For me this meant having to be in front of the camera (yes that is me!) and trying to direct my rather offbeat vision for this script. Adrian made an excellent DOP, my actress daughter, Amy, did a grand job of voicing both the actor and the news reporter in the background. I then had several hundred digital photos to crop out the background and process to look like drawn cartoon, a bit like Hotel Dusk. The stop motion was a lot of fun and was inspired by Doug Savage's Phantom Mountain.

But the best bits overall were filming our very own mini riot and the rather macabre fire scene at the end. Starting to put it all together in Adobe After Effects was very much a rush job just a few hours before the contest deadline, especially since this was the first day I ever used the program!! Meanwhile Amy edited the video and the sound as well as fulfilling the role of  a very efficient production manager, keeping me on track with what I still needed to edit, process and animate!  We literally uploaded up till the last second. It was high adrenaline in the office that day as we counted down the megabytes as they uploaded.

So now it's good to have a little rest before catching up with all the work I missed last week, as well as preparing for my trip to London for the London Screenwriters Festival next weekend. It will be good to get there if only to have a rest!



Fixed: “Cheatin’ Uh?” WordPress auto upgrade problem



July 9th, 2011


Some time ago (I don't actually know when) I ceased to be the admin of this website. In fact for the longest while the site has had no proper admin at all. Even though I have admin status I lost all ability to carry out certain admin functions (such as viewing, adding or deleting users, upgrading WordPress, and  exporting the blog etc). Any attempt to view the user settings was met with the response "Cheatin' uh?" which has to be worthy of a prize as one of the most useless error messages.

wordpress cheatin' uh? error messageBoth the cause of the problem and the solution evaded me for a long-time. Many people have tried and failed to find a solution on the WordPress forums (which let's face it are frustrating places to look for help at the best of times) but eventually persistance paid off. The solution - for my problem at least - was found here thanks to ywamer.

To start I logged into phpMyAdmin and made a backup of my database - just in case.

Next I went into WordPress settings and made a note of all the options on each page under Settings. These will need to be recreated manually when the fix is complete.

Next step was exporting my database (excluding the troublesome wp_options table - just leave that one unchecked). Save the .sql file onto your computer.

Once I had safely downloaded my data as well as making a note of all my settings, I then dropped all those tables that related to the WordPress install that had the problem. This option is slightly different to Ywamer's solution because he suggested deleting the database altogether - I couldn't do this because I use the same database for my Alien of the Day artwork too. (If your database only contains tables for your WordPress install then you can safely delete the entire database - although you will have to recreate it - but if you have any other installs utilizing that database you will need to only drop the tables for your WordPress install.)

Once the tables were dropped I opened the website in my browser and was faced by the WordPress install screen. After typing in the name, usernames, passwords etc that it asked for, it proceeded to install a new WordPress and recreate the default tables in the database.

With that step complete, I now selected those tables again EXCEPT for the wp_options table and dropped them.

Basically at that point wp_options is the only table left.

You can then import the .sql file that you downloaded earlier. With those tables imported and the wp_options table from the new install you should have a complete set of WordPress tables in your database.

Going back into your WordPress in your browser should find everything as it should be - your posts as they were together with a functioning Users menu, export options and Auto Upgrade option.

Apart from a few tweaks (reapplying my site's theme, reactivating plugins, reentering the Akismet API key, and double-checking my settings) my site was back to normal - except that now I am a proper admin with proper admin powers again! 🙂

Upgrading the site (to WordPress version 3.2) was then exceedingly simple as I now had the automatic upgrade option, rather than "Please Notify the system administrator". (Previously the only way I could upgrade every time was to use FTP to delete every file in the root, wp-admin and wp-includes folders and then upload the new WordPress files manually.)

Hope this helps! If you have any questions please either leave a comment below or reply via the feedback form and I will do my best to help/explain.

- Kathie

Post Script:
One problem with WordPress 3.2 is that you need to be running MySQL 5.0. For many Media Temple users this required a support ticket to upgrade MySQL before the WordPress update could go ahead. Once that was done it was a normal upgrade for all my WordPress sites. Note: You may need to upgrade to PHP 5.2.4 too if you are not running it already. 🙂



Progress is sweet!



July 8th, 2011


Well I passed the first year of my MA in Screenwriting (from Bournemouth University). It's been a helluva year. I have personally achieved so much and surpassed so many obstacles along the way. As well as the excellent tuition on the course, I must add that my sense of achievement is also in large part due to my study of CBT and mindfulness, and the excellent teachers I have had along the way there.

In the coming year on the course I will be writing a full-length feature film, and as part of the residential course last week I got the opportunity to pitch my movie script to Ivanna MacKinnon - producer of Slumdog Millionaire, among many others. This was a wonderful experience which I also enjoyed a great deal. Pitching a film, although in principle not that different from public speaking or delivering a spec for a book, was something that held major fear for me. Not exactly sure why but it probably has something to do with the number of movies and TV shows I have seen over the years which depicted a character pitching a film, often with hilarious or disastrous consequences. Luckily as usual, life is nothing like what we see on the screen. It was very easy to do and there were no gaffs or pratfalls involved. And what's more I got some really good feedback for my idea. What more could I ask?

But because 'wanting more' is the very foundation of all human civilization and achievement, what kind of hero would I be if I just settled for that? Not much of one. So instead of just setting out to write the script that I pitched as part of the course I plan to write it in my own time (since it is a fairly straight script) and attempt to do something more experimental under the tutelage of the university lecturers for my Masters. Something more psychological appeals to me, perhaps with an alternate structure.

My research at the moment is focusing on human emotion and the nature of aggression and violence. Of course I will be looking at a female protagonist (or maybe anti-heroine?) for this study. I attended a particularly violent combat course recently as the only female there and I was very interested in the difference in how women are taught by society to react to anger and just how much it takes to tip that anger over into violence or aggression. With an increasing number of violent perpetrators in the UK being female - or female gangs - this is very interesting to me. What has brought about this change in society?  More thoughts on that as I progress in my research, I'm sure!

So that's me updating my blog!

Progress is sweet. I would always recommend to writers that they document their progress along the way - and don't forget to include how you feel about it. That way you learn to appreciate the gifts the universe has given you along the journey - which in turn will make the next gift easier to spot! 😀

Happy writing!



“Hand-Span/Brain-Pan”



May 31st, 2011


"Hand-Span/Brain-Pan"
by Kathie Kingsley-Hughes

As I sit, my elbows
resting on the desk,
eyes tight shut,
head-in-hand,
I am struck by
the narrow
width
of my temples
between my thumb
and forefinger.
Is this all I am?
The entirety of
my being contained
within a
hand-span?

I could live without
ear, leg, appendix, arm,
bowel, fingers, tongue,
hair, eye, tonsil, breast,
kidney, tooth, lung.
Not one of these things
is essentially
me. If it was lying
on the desk before
me, I would no more
feel that I was
there, instead of here.

Yes, there is more
to me that
keeps me living, but
all that is me thus
is contained within
my hand with
some mere warm offal,
attached.
And yet, if I had not
a hand,
if I am not
also hand,
I would not
know this;
could not
measure,
my brain-span
thus.

What is me?
Am I hand or
am I brain-pan?
Perhaps I am
both, and
neither.



Outlook 2007 and Internet Explorer 9



April 18th, 2011


Hmmmm have noticed that since I've upgraded to IE9, Outlook is continually crashing (and restarting). You can also reproduce the fault by clicking

Tools | Trust Center

I've tested it on three machines (both 32 and 64 bit) and does it every time.

I've done some searches but so far no one at Microsoft seems to be aware of this bug.

My only hope right now is to reinstall Outlook 2007 although if I'm going to do that I might as well save my time and upgrade to the newer version (something I've been procrastinating for ages!) I will let you know if it fixes the problem!

Update: Upgraded one machine to 2010 and it didn't fix the problem. It's likely that it's an add-in problem. Unfortunately add-ins are found within Trust Center. Running Outlook in safe mode doesn't seem to help.

OK this works: Solution (at least for now) - uninstall IE9. I did this by:

Windows Control Panel | Programs and Features | View Installed Updates

SelectWindows Internet Explorer 9. Click Uninstall.

If you try this always back up first! The system will need to restart in order to complete the process, so make sure you save any unsaved work.

PLEASE NOTE: I've moved this thread over onto PCDoc instead as it breaks my Vexentricity 'no tech' rule 😉 If you're still affected by this problem, please check for updates by following the link.



Changing Medium



April 17th, 2011


Like many writers I'm grappling with issues in regard to my 'transition' to the role of screenwriter. Several people have expressed confusion that, because I'm already a writer, switching to writing solely for the screen should be no big deal for me. I guess I can see where they are coming from. To me though, it is much harder.

I am still in the stages where I find writing for the screen challenging, if not difficult. It's said there are four stages of learning, from unconscious incompetence (where you have no idea what you need to know in a given subject), conscious incompetence (realizing you don't know what you're doing), conscious competence (you're starting to get the hang of things, but you still have to think carefully in order to do it), through to unconscious competence (it all comes naturally - you don't remember the steps, you're just dancing!)

I'm hovering in between those second and third stages. This nomansland is an uncomfortable place to be and the only way to get out is through learning and practice. This is what prompted me to say that I am going to switch (for a while at least) to writing solely for the screen. And that takes a lot of discipline especially when you're not comfortable in a given medium yet.

I get ideas for stories all the time and yet, as they come up, I'm finding it hard to commit to writing these in the medium of script. It feels like a waste of a story! There, I said it!

Of course, the choice of whether a particular story is best written as a prose or script should depend upon what best serves that story. My big vexation perhaps is that most of my stories are probably better suited to the former than the latter. Yet I know it will take dedication to progress further in this field. The price of a few stories still feels quite high!

I hope deciding to write ALL my stories as scripts will be good medicine when it comes to learning the craft. Even if it isn't what's best for the stories.

Yet! 😉



Can a tech geek become cool enough to work in tv and film?



April 16th, 2011


Can a borderline aspie tech geek transform themselves into a sociable screenwriter?

Can it be done? I ask myself this a lot. Whilst I can say that I'm trying to do this, I have no idea if I can actually achieve it. Writing this is the first step of trying to change what most people would consider very fundemental aspects of personality and character.

Most people like me tend to find a 'spot' in life where they can stay safe and secure. I found mine along with my husband in writing tech books, designing and programming multimedia sites and developing and teaching technology courses. It was awesome. We achieved it all together. We were a great team. He then got a job elsewhere - who can blame him for taking a great opportunity when it came along? Eventually it was taking up all of his time leaving no time for our projects. I carried on alone but gradually felt more and more sidelined as his half of our last name became more known than mine. We still worked together of course, that has never changed, but I was more and more like his assistant. And yes, this grated a little, or more truthfully, a lot. Striking out on my own was frankly terrifying. But I had seen so many wives in my position just give up and become a permanent fixture in their husband's shadow. I remembered my own mother telling me that I had to do things differently to her and to the previous generations of women in my family. And I had to teach my daughters the same.

Out of the blue in 2009 I signed up to do a Masters degree in Screenwriting. I can honestly say that I do not know from where the impotus to do that came. It was something that was not on my radar. I have written articles outside of tech of course and I consider myself, like most geeks, to be a full-blown story junkie (which I've written under a pseudonym until quite recently). But I really had no idea where the idea to embark on a screenwriting course came from. That I was accepted onto the course was an even bigger surprise. But apparently working in one area of the media easily translates - at least on the surface - into other areas of the media. According to one staff member at the university I seemed like the right fit as screenwriting is a combination of technical writing and story. From my point of view of course it did not look nearly so cut and dried. Starting out I realised I had a vast chasm to cross. Two years later, I still do.

The first residential course in 2009 for me was a real trial and I baulked at the first fence. I didn't have enough personal understanding of why I was there, my social skills were rubbish and being in a foreign environment for long days was just too much for someone like me - I was suffering the social consequences of working via the internet and writing within a partnership for over a decade. I resolved to spend the next year working on my social skills, improving my fitness and learning more about the world of the arts - which felt like a vast chasm in its own right from my safe perch in the world of science and technology. I joined a gym, went out to undergraduate classes in literature and screenwriting run by my local university's extra mural studies department and I took Open University courses in Creative Writing.

I made it through my second run at the residential course (mostly by being blatently honest about the difficulties I'd had the year before and by explaining where I'd come from in the world of shut-in geekery). In the first year of my course I have worked on understanding the nature of writing for the screen, and I'm at the stage now of realising just how very much more there is to learn. During the year I've continued to work on my people skills to some degree, but again it seems like the more I learn the more I realise I need to know. I've taken courses through Raindance and attended the London Screenwriter's and Comedy Writer's Festivals. And now as I near the end of the year, I sense that I am that much closer to venturing into the world with a qualification in screenwriting and with some aspiration to use it.

Of course any form of writing is largely a solitary activity and I am comforted that nothing really changes in that aspect of my life. But working as a screenwriter means sitting at large conference tables in crowded rooms thrashing out ideas and storylines. Screenwriting is also in large part about networking, which means meeting and socialising with all kinds of cool, artistic people. These people have Macs (and not because they want to use them to compare operating systems or for testing; these people ONLY have Macs!) They eat at exotic restaurants, wear designer labels and name-drop furiously (how DO they remember SO many people, let alone their work and connections?) I'm not a social person. I find social occasions very stressful and, like most people with the same problem, I try to avoid them.

I ask myself often why the hell my brain is betraying me by choosing to go into a field that is in direct violation of the number one rule of socially inadequate geeks: avoid going into social situations, unless it's with other socially inadequate geeks.

I will be honest, at this stage I cannot imagine that I will ever be able to cope, let alone that this could ever come naturally enough to be a normal part of my life. But I also believe that I can change this. I am intelligent, great at analysing and very capable of learning new things. I have a lot of personal development skills that I've put to good use in getting to where I am already. So it should be possible!

Which brings me to my purpose for writing this. To ask the question of my fellow nerd-kind: can a tech geek become cool enough to work in tv and film?



Changing Labels



April 8th, 2011


Yesterday. Momentous day. I decided that I'm going to put all my eggs in the proverbial basket and go full time on the screenwriting in one ginormous, hell-bent-for-leather, all-out struggle. I have another year on my MA Screenwriting course (assuming I pass this year) and I'd really like to say that I gave it my best shot.

For the last year I've been praying to the twin gods of past and future jobs. I've teetered on the edge of leaving behind my past life as a tech writer. And let's face it, mixing THIS many metaphors it's obvious I'm cut out for bigger and greater things! ;P

Anyway here's me, signing off from the past.

ps. BTW I changed my employment status on Facebook to 'self employed screenwriter'. I'm assuming Facebook actually interprets this as 'unemployed' because it immediately filled my sidebar with adds for PHP and C# Development jobs.

Oh ye of little faith Mister Zuckerburg...

pps. I'm off to the London Comedy Screenwriter's Festival tomorrow. Excited!



“More is Less” – First Poem NaPoWriMo



April 1st, 2011


"More is Less"

......................................
..........Cut-out-the-pauses..........
.........Leave-no-white-space.........
.....Push-the-furniture-together......
....Park-the-car-against-the-wall.....
...Crowd-life-right-up-around-you.....
...Build-yourself..a..little-fort.....
...From-pillows-books-and-blankets....
....Place-everything-within-reach.....
.....Stick-paper-onto-the-windows.....
......Shape-a-hat-out-of-tinfoil......
.........Lock-the-world-away..........
.......... Breathe-shallow............
......................................

Read more National Poetry Writing Month poems from The §purious Collective.



Nearly NaPoWriMo!



March 21st, 2011


It's nearly National Poetry Writing Month again and I will once again be participating in the poem-a-day extravaganza of verse.

This year I'm hoping I will get some time to do some more animated rhymes as well as (hopefully) bleeding the theme of poetry over onto Alien of the Day. (Aliens write poetry right??)



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