Prolific is Not Enough

I used to call myself a ‘prolific’ writer. I still do, sometimes, but I waver about how true it is nowadays.

See, I still produce a LOT of content. Thanks to the various methods I’ve honed and stuck to over the years, my words-on-page-per-day count is still pretty goddamn high (especially considering that there are an awful lot of other factors at play in my life). The thing that’s changed is the percentage of those words making it out into the public in one form or another.

For example, I started writing a book about screenwriting a couple of years ago. I genuinely intended to get the book written and out in a few months. I used to be pretty proficient at getting something produced, getting it ‘good enough’ and getting it out into the marketplace. Somehow, though, my screenwriting book still needs a good sort and a polish. Three years after I started writing it, it’s been seen by precisely nobody.

This would have destroyed the ‘me’ of 20 years ago. He’d seen too many promising careers lost to procrastination and perfectionism. People who’d let ‘perfect’ become the enemy of ‘good enough’ and had somehow gone from decade to decade without letting their projects grow up and leave home. People who’d lost the ability to finish something and move the hell on.

I don’t think that’s me, even now. I’m pretty sure that the screenwriting book will find its way out to the public sooner rather than later, and that its delay is just down to the fact that I’ve got so many other damn projects at varying stages of completion. That’s what I think. What I hope.

We’re going to lock The House on the Witchpit in the next few weeks, closing the lid on a movie that I’ve been shooting on and off for five years now, and which has already been publicly premiered twice despite the fact that the latest scenes for it were shot just last month. Maybe Witchpit has let a sickness into my bones: permission not to finish things.

If that’s the case, I’m revoking that permission. I’m reclaiming my ability to see things through to completion. Reclaiming the title of being the guy who actually finishes the damn things, gets them out to the public and moves on. Because being prolific is a good trick, but it’s not a good enough trick.

It’s not just the words you make, it’s making sure that they reach their destination.

2020 and Beyond

Bloody hell, 2020.

I wrote a dice-based role-playing game called 2020 when I was a kid. Got all my friends to play it. In the game, everyone was flying around in cool spaceships and trading exotic space goods. The reality is a bit more down-to-earth, but isn’t it always?

Got a great year ahead, and I’m intending to get as much stuff done as possible.

First order of business is a couple of gigs to kick the year off. On Thursday the 16th I’ll be bringing my ‘Write a Movie in 30 Days’ talk to Milton Keynes, then on Saturday 18th I’ve got the horror-based variant ‘Write a Bloody Movie in 30 Days’ over at the mighty Horror-on-Sea festival in Southend.

The first half of the year is also going to be crammed (crammed, I tell you) with pre-production for our sensational horror musical Powertool Cheerleaders vs the Boyband of the Screeching Dead…

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We’ve got eleven awesome songs written, a script full of gags, gore and heart. We’ve been assembling a killer cast. Still a LONG way to go if we’re going to get the film in front of the cameras in July (which is the current plan) but I’m feeling quietly confident. It’s going to be awesome.

Elsewhere this year, I’m hoping to finally get my screenwriting book (also called ‘Write a Movie in 30 Days’, like this year’s live show) finished and out on the shelves. It’s been sitting nearly completed for way too long now. I’ve also nearly finished a children’s novel that I started writing in order to keep my kids entertained, but which might now find a life outside of the Higgins household. Because I really like it.

I hope that your 2020 proves to be a huge success, and that you find joy in the things you do.

Don’t forget to hug each other as often as possible. Life’s pretty goddamn short.

 

 

Birmingham Film Festival INCOMING

On Thursday 7th November I’ll be bringing Write a Movie in 30 Days to the wonderful Birmingham Film Festival!

You can grab your ticket here for the insanely low price of a FIVER.

Yes, nuts isn’t it?

Just click my smiling face, and I’ll see you there. It’ll be the only Birmingham date for the talk, which covers all sorts of tips and tricks to get you up and running with your screenplay. Trust me, it’ll be cool.

See you there!

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Write a Movie in 30 Days

Oh my God, it’s another new live show already!

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New dates will be announced over the coming weeks, but the first announced date (Colchester, September 18th) is on sale NOW by clicking the image above.

Don’t Give Up (Slight Return)

That was me at Horror-on-Sea earlier this month, delivering the gospel of never giving up.

You can tell I mean it.

I try not to stand on stages, or in lecture halls, or whatever, and say things I don’t mean. My sign-off line of ‘my conscience is clear’ (which I seem to have used for 9 years now, which shows how insanely time flies) is tied to that, I suppose.

You can tell I mean it, and you can probably also tell I’m tired. Not just because I’m just finishing up an hour or so of talking non-stop, but because not giving up is exhausting.

When I wrote that final piece of advice for the 2019 show (the last of 50 bits of advice scattered through it), it was as much for me as for anyone in the audience. My career over the last 15 years has had an awful lot of points at which I’ve nearly quit. Funnily enough, they often seem insignificant in the past tense.

One stands out, though.

Some time after we’d shot TrashHouse (my first movie), I hadn’t been able to sell it to a distributor. I’d sunk a huge chunk of savings and over a year of my life into something that looked unlikely to ever see screens other than those of cast and crew. This was before YouTube or streaming sites; there wasn’t even a way of allowing people to watch it for free.

I can remember dropping in and visiting my parents, having a coffee and announcing very calmly “I really blew this, and I think I’m done”. At that moment I not only thought I’d never get to make another movie, I also thought I’d never write another script. I looked out at the rest of my life stretching ahead of me without screenwriting and filmmaking at the heart of it, and I actually made peace with it.

Made peace because I’d given it my best shot. Made peace because I’d genuinely thrown everything I could into it, and my massive gamble hadn’t paid off.

This story has become a punchline to an anecdote I sometimes tell onstage (“I added three seconds of nudity and sold it to the very next distributor to watch it”), but it was something a lot more profound than that. The desire to quit resurfaces all the time. Every time a project collapses or someone in a comments section tells you to kill yourself, that glimmer of despondency flickers your internal resolve. Your motivation often feels like a pilot light threatening to go out. That’s the day-to-day version of ‘not giving up’. It’s just what you do.

The TrashHouse one was different because of that sense of peace. In that moment, at least, it wasn’t just that I felt like giving up. It was that I genuinely thought that I already had, and it was only inertia carrying me forward.

I think about that sometimes, but I also think this:

Don’t give up.

Don’t give up.

Feel like giving up. Think about giving up.

Then don’t.

My name is Pat Higgins and my conscience is clear.

So You Want to Write a Screenplay?

My webinar from last week was a checklist of things to think about when starting to write a screenplay. It’s packed full of useful advice about everything from software choices to character development.

Check out the archived version on YouTube at the link below.

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FREE Screenwriting Webinar

I ran a little live test some months ago on Facebook Live, which was dipping my toes in the water to see whether webinars would be a good fit for what I do. Looks like the answer was ‘yes’, so I’m going ahead with some more.

I ran another test one last week, and the first official webinar is coming up this Friday (14th December) at 9.30AM GMT. It’s hosted over at expertise.tv and will cover the checklist you should be going through before embarking on a new feature film screenplay.

It’s going to be packed full of stuff, plus you can ask questions and get quick answers. It’s going to be great.

SO, make sure you grab a ticket from this link right here, and I’ll see you on Friday.

 

Am I My Brand?

Goddammit, I don’t know. Help me out.

Back when I started out in the shallow end of the film industry (where I’ve been splashing around for the last decade and a half, never venturing into the deep end but never actually getting out of the water), my brand was easy. My brand was Jinx Media.

Jinx as a brand happened organically. I wrote an unpublished novel called Jinxing Mosquitoes, which led me to start branding things as ‘Jinx’ if I was stuck for a name. Thus, when I set up a comedy club in the late nineties along with some like-minded friends the ‘Jinx’ brand was a no-brainer. The Jinx Comedy Club ran for three relatively happy years in my home town of Leigh-on-Sea, providing me with my first ever experience of standing on a stage talking to people. We used to get acts like Micky Flanagan and Gary Delaney onstage in a room above my local pub. We charged £3.50 on the door, it was great and it meant that I registered jinx.co.uk back when internet domain names were expensive but loads of good ones were still freely available.

Jinx.co.uk ran as a comedy site for several years, with some terrible topical puns and the sort of visual jokes that regularly got us cease and desist letters (yes, letters) in the post from brands who weren’t yet used to seeing their logos get satirised online. We used to update every fortnight, then less often, and then we kind of fell dormant. I still remember our debate as to whether to run an update on the week of 9/11. We opted not to, but I was always blown away by the sites that did. That was a tougher gig than we were ready for.

Once the website stopped updating and the club closed its doors for the last time, I wasn’t sure where the brand would go next. However, when my wife and I made the decision to set up a company in 2003, I can’t really remember ever seriously considering anything else. Jinx it was.

And so, Jinx Media became the brand associated with all of my early micro-budget movies, my chapters of the Death Tales films and, much more recently, The House on the Witchpit (the film I destroyed onstage after its premiere). I knew where I was with Jinx. To a certain degree, I was it and it was me.

Over the last few years, though, things have been a bit different. I’ve not only been doing live shows under my own name, separate to the Jinx brand, but I’ve also been doing a lot of writing gigs for other people. Obviously, any scripts I sell to third parties get made by companies other than my own (the brilliant sale I made a few months back will likely result in a movie without Jinx branding anywhere to be seen), and my micro-budget work has very much taken a backseat over the last five years or so.

Thus, this site. My name, front and centre.

The Jinx site has been a bit neglected, in fairness. The Twitter account is still relatively active, tweeting out never-before-seen photos and, lets face it, retweeting a bunch of my own stuff. The website, though, only really kicks into gear when something happens with Witchpit or with one of my old movies.

So, am I now my brand? Does it actually make sense to try and plug ‘Pat Higgins’ as a creative entity, rather than the individual products that I get associated with? I’m honestly not entirely sure. I’m still working it out. Feels daft to ‘double up’ and end up plugging both the company on one hand and me on the other.

Speaking of which, go and watch my 2018 live show on Amazon Prime. I should have worked out a more subtle way to get that plug in, really, shouldn’t I?

I’m zcarstheme on Twitter, which again seems like a pretty crap piece of branding that I feel I should probably change if I’m putting myself at the centre of my own image.

Tweet at me, anyway. Advice gratefully received.

 

Watch FEAR & FILM on Amazon Prime NOW!

So, you missed the live shows?

Well, we’re proud to announce that the version of FEAR & FILM from the 2018 Horror-on-Sea festival was filmed, and is available to watch RIGHT NOW on Amazon Prime. It’s free if you’re a subscriber, or can be rented or bought if you’re not.

It was the first performance of the show we ever did, so forgive me for any stumbles or cock-ups along the way.

Just click the image below. We really hope you enjoy it.

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