Bad Camp: New Concept Art + Publishing Update

A year ago I decided to adapt one of my early screenplays into a novel. Of course, I soon discovered that writing a novel is an immensely taxing endeavor that requires a lot of sacrifice and dedication to complete.

For motivation I tuned to Wattpad, a social storytelling site that allowed me to update chapters bi-weekly and build something of an audience to keep me putting words on the page. Looking back, I think that was a wise move. Not only are Wattpaders a lively and passionate bunch of readers, but the Wattpad staff are engaged, helpful and genuinely interested in giving indie authors a voice. As a write this, Bad Camp is on its way to 350,000 “Reads” and I am receiving a lot of great Alpha-reader feedback to help me through the editing phase.

The stunning painting you see below was created as a piece of concept art for the book. I think it’s an evocative image with a nice sense of wonder. It seems to invite the reader into a world that may be either beautiful, or dangerous. It was created by Clonefront Entertainment and, while it will not be the final cover of the book, it’s exciting to see my words come to life in such a vivid way.

Concept paiting created for Christopher Webster's YA novel, "Bad Camp"

Concept painting created for Christopher Webster’s YA novel, “Bad Camp”

Bad Camp will be published by Spirit Entertainment Group in the last quarter of 2014. It will be available in all formats.

Oh yes, and I am also proud that I was picked by IndieReader.com as a “hot” indie author to keep an eye on. I hope I don’t disappoint!

Columbus – Commonwealth

Here, for your listening enjoyment, are five songs from my forthcoming album “Commonwealth”. The album was recording under immense time and budget constraints, but there are some great moments in each of these tracks and I’m glad to report we’re gearing up for release.

Likely a digital release (available at all the usual suspects) will be followed by a physical pressing of some kind. We’re looking at options for vinyl, but its a pricey endeavor. Kickstarter has been floated around as an option to get pre-sales to fund a small pressing, but I have to say that I am surprised there are no press-on-demand outlets for vinyl like there are for book publishing, t-shits and CDs. A budding business venture perhaps? But anyway, that’s not why we’re here.

Columbus is Christopher Webster (Guitars/Voice), Jesse Sherburne (Drums), Matt Pahl (Lead Guitars) and Tony Baker (Bass). Songs written by Christopher Webster.

 

 

 

 

 

Nikolai Pigarev talks Cold Patrol at Nocturna 2013

Nikolai Pigarev was at the Nocturna Film Festival in Madrid Spain this past weekend screening and promoting his film Meteletsa: Winter of the Dead. Of course, the press were all over him like a dirty shirt, which meant it was a great time to plug his next flick Cold Patrol.

Here is the clip of Pigarev gleefully discussing zombie Polar Bears, parasites and secret Soviet Submarine bases. Hopefully we’ll see some good movement on the project.

Here is the entire interview:

Writers Guild Honours Idea Man

It appears my odd little screenplay “Idea Man” has been awarded third place in the Writers Guild of Alberta’s Screenwriter’s Initiative, which is an annual competition held in partnership between the Writers Guild of Alberta (WGA) and the Alberta Association of Motion Picture and Television Unions.

I wrote Idea Man in 2011 after a long year of reading nothing but Stephen King and becoming obsessed with the 70s as the era where a new kind of modern horror was emerging in both literature and film. In brief, the story is about a young writer in the 70s who has a knack for coming up with ideas, but who can’t catch a break. His agent insists he’s out of touch with the times (vampires are out, don’t you know?) and advises him that readers of the day crave something more real. When he meets a troubled teenaged girl, he sees an opportunity to use her for a novel and they forge a strange and secret relationship that serves each of them to both success and tragedy.

Sorry, no spoilers. Who knows, maybe the film will be made one day.

"Idea Man" takes third place in Writers Guild of Alberta's Screenwriter's Initiative competition

“Idea Man” takes third place in Writers Guild of Alberta’s Screenwriter’s Initiative competition

Since the win there has been some renewed interest in the project from a couple producers, but I have a feeling Idea Man is ripe for awards and not so much for the money men. But one can always cross their fingers.

First place went to Entanglement by Jason Filiatrault, while second place went to Jordan Scott for Rock N Roll is Here to Stay.
Links:
Writers Guild Announcement

Bad Camp on Wattpad

UPDATE: In less than two weeks on Wattpad, Bad Camp has received over 1500 “reads” and I have received a bevy of helpful feedback. I’d say it was the right place to stumble through a first draft. Plus it’s been relatively fun to boot.

Wattpad. What you’re looking at is an interesting new model for serialized publishing and potentially a huge market of young readers. Tuned-in writers like Boing-Boing’s Cory Doctorow have published on the platform (Little Brother) and a number of user-generated content has been picked up by major publishers (a quick search about The Kissing Booth will tell that story).

Enter my own novel, Bad Camp, which, after much mulling, I have decided to serialize as a bi-weekly novel on the literary network.

Bad Camp is serialized novel published bi-weekly on Wattpad.

Bad Camp is serialized novel published bi-weekly on Wattpad.

Since this is my first novel, I figure that, like Dickens, this kind of publishing will allow me to wander a bit within the chapters. Once the novel is completed, I can then see the whole thing, make some creative decisions and edit it down for the eBook market. Also, I hope that the public exhibition of it all will push me to finish the thing in a timely manner. That’s the plan anyway.

Then there’s the whole crowd sourcing thing. If readers provide feedback that makes the story work better then I see that as a win.

Read Bad Camp on Wattpad.

Porcelain Raft

My iPod died the other morning and I was forced to listen to streaming radio. Good god, I can’t stand streaming radio. Being forced to wade through scores of crap bands and their tedious indie tracks is like torture. Having no control over the playlist is not at all for me. The only bright side is that when a good tune hits it really stands out and can be like a breath of fresh air… Like “Drifting In and Out” from Porcelain Raft.

Porcelain Raft (Mauro Remiddi) channels shoegaze and psychedelia

Porcelain Raft (Mauro Remiddi) channels shoegaze and psychedelia

I guess “Drifting In and Out” was also featured in the 2012 comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever, starring Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg.

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Winter Walk

We took the twins out for their first winter walk around the block last night. What an ordeal getting them ready and into their stroller, but worth it once we hit the beautiful snow lined streets just as the sun was setting. And fresh air is a must when you’re cooped up inside most of the time with newborns.

Verity and the twins lead the way.

Verity and the twins lead the way.

Script Tips #1

Joss Whedon recently shared his Top Ten Writing Tips which I’ll wager seasoned writers will agree with and new writers will take heed of. Personally I’m not surprised that Whedon chose “Finish it” as his first and most important tip. Writing a screenplay is always a marathon. Getting to the end is the toughest part, but you really can’t see the forest from the trees until you get there.

Joss Whedon shares his tips on tackling screenwriting

1. FINISH IT

Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.

2. STRUCTURE

Structure means knowing where you’re going ; making sure you don’t meander about. Some great films have been made by meandering people, like Terrence Malick and Robert Altman, but it’s not as well done today and I don’t recommend it. I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes ? The thrills ? The romance ? Who knows what, and when ? You need these things to happen at the right times, and that’s what you build your structure around : the way you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, coloured pens, anything that means you don’t go in blind is useful.

3. HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY

This really should be number one. Even if you’re writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs. The number of movies that are not about what they purport to be about is staggering. It’s rare, especially in genres, to find a movie with an idea and not just, ‘This’ll lead to many fine set-pieces’. The Island evolves into a car-chase movie, and the moments of joy are when they have clone moments and you say, ‘What does it feel like to be those guys ?’

4. EVERYBODY HAS A REASON TO LIVE

Everybody has a perspective. Everybody in your scene, including the thug flanking your bad guy, has a reason. They have their own voice, their own identity, their own history. If anyone speaks in such a way that they’re just setting up the next person’s lines, then you don’t get dialogue : you get soundbites. Not everybody has to be funny ; not everybody has to be cute ; not everybody has to be delightful, and not everybody has to speak, but if you don’t know who everybody is and why they’re there, why they’re feeling what they’re feeling and why they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’re in trouble.

5. CUT WHAT YOU LOVE

Here’s one trick that I learned early on. If something isn’t working, if you have a story that you’ve built and it’s blocked and you can’t figure it out, take your favourite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It’s brutal, but sometimes inevitable. That thing may find its way back in, but cutting it is usually an enormously freeing exercise.

6. LISTEN

When I’ve been hired as a script doctor, it’s usually because someone else can’t get it through to the next level. It’s true that writers are replaced when executives don’t know what else to do, and that’s terrible, but the fact of the matter is that for most of the screenplays I’ve worked on, I’ve been needed, whether or not I’ve been allowed to do anything good. Often someone’s just got locked, they’ve ossified, they’re so stuck in their heads that they can’t see the people around them. It’s very important to know when to stick to your guns, but it’s also very important to listen to absolutely everybody. The stupidest person in the room might have the best idea.

7. TRACK THE AUDIENCE MOOD

You have one goal : to connect with your audience. Therefore, you must track what your audience is feeling at all times. One of the biggest problems I face when watching other people’s movies is I’ll say, ‘This part confuses me’, or whatever, and they’ll say, ‘What I’m intending to say is this’, and they’ll go on about their intentions. None of this has anything to do with my experience as an audience member. Think in terms of what audiences think. They go to the theatre, and they either notice that their butts are numb, or they don’t. If you’re doing your job right, they don’t. People think of studio test screenings as terrible, and that’s because a lot of studios are pretty stupid about it. They panic and re-shoot, or they go, ‘Gee, Brazil can’t have an unhappy ending,’ and that’s the horror story. But it can make a lot of sense.

8. WRITE LIKE A MOVIE

Write the movie as much as you can. If something is lush and extensive, you can describe it glowingly ; if something isn’t that important, just get past it tersely. Let the read feel like the movie ; it does a lot of the work for you, for the director, and for the executives who go, ‘What will this be like when we put it on its feet ?’

9. DON’T LISTEN

Having given the advice about listening, I have to give the opposite advice, because ultimately the best work comes when somebody’s fucked the system ; done the unexpected and let their own personal voice into the machine that is moviemaking. Choose your battles. You wouldn’t get Paul Thomas Anderson, or Wes Anderson, or any of these guys if all moviemaking was completely cookie-cutter. But the process drives you in that direction ; it’s a homogenising process, and you have to fight that a bit. There was a point while we were making Firefly when I asked the network not to pick it up : they’d started talking about a different show.

10. DON’T SELL OUT

The first penny I ever earned, I saved. Then I made sure that I never had to take a job just because I needed to. I still needed jobs of course, but I was able to take ones that I loved. When I say that includes Waterworld, people scratch their heads, but it’s a wonderful idea for a movie. Anything can be good. Even Last Action Hero could’ve been good. There’s an idea somewhere in almost any movie : if you can find something that you love, then you can do it. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter how skilful you are : that’s called whoring.”

Via: Whedon.info

The Moons

England’s long legacy of keeping the sights and sounds of the British invasion alive continues with The Moons, an amazing group led by modster, Andy Crofts.

England’s Moons channel the best of British mod

Dig the fuzz tone in the middle eighth of their single “Double Vision Love“. An homage to The Music Machine’s “Trouble” (Here)?

Cold Patrol in the News

With The American Film Market in full swing the producers of Cold Patrol are out spreading word of the project in L.A. and, as luck would have it, the project’s unique arctic setting and high concept have piqued the interest of some movie media.

Cold Patrol in Hollywood trade pub Variety November, 2012.

While I still remain on the fence about whether the team should have revealed one of the film’s monsters (*spoiler alert*), its zombie Polar Bears, it seems to be a big part of what has got word of mouth going, so I suppose I may have to give over on that one.

As a writer you tend to be precious about maintaining a certain purity in terms of how a viewer or reader will consume your story. You weave mystery and signposts that you hope will not be compromised, but I’m learning that you have to give a little to get a lot in return.

What I will say, is that for anyone who feels like military dog sled teams and zombie polar bears sounds, well, strange, the story is actually grounded in reality, character driven and very much rooted in the best genre cinema has to offer. How these creatures exist and why they pose a real threat is entrenched in an intriguing human and historical mythology we developed which opens up a whole world of storytelling possibilities.

The plan is to shoot next spring. Here’s hoping the next CP update brings confirmation of that!

Besides the Variety article above, these fine outlets were kind enough to be supportive of our project:

Screen Daily
Twitch Film
The Wrap
Bloody Disgusting
Shock ‘Till You Drop
Joblo
Horror Movies
Quiet Earth
28 Days Later Analysis

Thanks to you all.