Helping you tell better stories

Helping you tell better stories;

closer to your vision than you ever dreamt possible.


Marketing is Story, and Story is Marketing

Okay, so somehow this blog is nearly a decade old. Time for an end-of-decade round-up of readers' favourite posts. Let's start with Pre-Greenlight Marketing (PGM) which is my take on upstream marketing for the film industry. You can have all the story skills in the world, but if you're not combining them with a knowledge of the business (and your market niche within the business) you're almost certainly wasting valuable time and money.

Some of these lessons also go back the other way, of course. Beyond the obvious areas of writing narrative-led advertising copy, or capturing audiences with compelling and relevant content, the notions of Fractals and Holding to the Edges to stand out, are just two of many examples of how storytelling can inform the larger picture of your campaign, and relationships with your customer. 

Bear With Me

  Who is your customer? Who is it really?

Seth Godin on why marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department

  The most important marketing seminar you'll ever watch?


  Consistency of message, whatever the medium.

The Four Necessities of a Strong Logline

  An incredibly powerful tool for creating the strongest possible story, and selling it.

Similar but Different

  Arguably the most important concept in script development.

Is Your Film "Remarketable”?

  Advertising is no longer reliable. Why are people going to talk about your film?

Legwork 10 Step Checklist

  My company's proprietary checklist before we'll greenlight.

There is no more room in the middle

  In a saturated market, you have to be at the edges to stand out.

Legwork Films

  Introduction to my PGM consulting company.

Festival Marketing

  Why, after 23 Cannes Festivals, I might be able to help you land a buyer.




The Four Necessities of a Strong Logline

A little while ago* I wrote about The Four Necessities, which I still stand by as one of the greatest storytelling shortcuts there is. I mean shortcut in the responsible way of turning in great pages sooner, not half-assing your job. Starting with a protagonist, an antagonist, an inciting event, and a moral need, it's possible to weave an incredibly tight story... and without them it's extremely time-consuming, maybe even impossible in some cases.

With this stong kernel at the core of your story, John Truby identified (if there's an earlier source let me know) that you can be up and running extremely fast, and your story is resilient to a multitude of bombardments during development.

Since I wrote that blog post I've been meaning to get around to a follow-up covering how a powerful logline of 20-45 words could / should / would be made more powerful by integrating The Four Necessities. Today I'm waiting in for a delivery, so let's see if I can finally get through it. Shouldn't take too long.

Screenwriter William Martell wrote a very clear explanation of a good logline here and I've no reason to go over well-trodden ground, so if you're not 100% sure what I'm on about you should read that first.

Putting it all together, then, shouldn't be hard. We're looking for one or two sentences which contain a protagonist (or group), a force of antagonism (or several), and an internal and external thing to overcome (moral need, and external challenge).

  • When two children go missing in his sleepy rural home town a hard-drinking metropolitan journalist suspects his own brother may be connected.

Protagonist: a journalist
Antagonist: his brother; small community
Inciting Incident: children go missing
Moral need: fish-out-of-water protagonist...
... likely has rough-edges; trust issues
... left this small town for a reason

To really hammer home the point of my original post on the matter: it's not enough that each of the four necessities be merely connected to one of the others; each must be as tightly and intimately connected to the others as possible, so as to maximise conflict and drama.

So the better your antagonist knows your protagonist the more power s/he wields over them. How about the inciting incident? Okay, whose children? If you wanted to you could write it even tighter and make the children those of the journalist, his brother, or someone else very close.

There is however usually a trade-off with the number of intimate connections you can make while still encompassing everything within a reasonable logline length. In search of the optimal balance I've often crafted a few dozen loglines focusing on different aspects of the story for precisely this reason, but that's another great aspect of crafting and analysing your story at this level of granularity first; the time it would take to discover your optimal kernel with screenplay-length iterations would be onerous, not to mention tedious. At a few sentences long at most, you can roll through numerous permutations in a single afternoon.

Here you really do have an incredibly powerful tool not only for creating the strongest possible story, but also for selling it, and that's what we're all here for at Animal Electricity.

Happy writing!


* aaahh what's eight years between friends?

See also: Fractals: Your Story at Various Scales

Festival Marketing

'Festival' to most filmmakers means Cannes...

... and with just three weeks to go many of you will be scrambling to get your projects market ready.

I've now been 23 consecutive times, so I know what works and what doesn't. This week I inked a deal with a man who produced six $50m movies this decade. Three weeks ago I signed a writing deal with an established UK-based producer. An Australian producer is flying in to Cannes to meet with me about a sci-fi we're developing together, director and finance are waiting patiently for the script.

Four-page documents are extremely powerful. For those patient enough to read them they present the story in sufficient detail to understand character, motives, and tone. For writers and producers they contain just enough granularity to maintain momentum throughout the development process; not too onerous to write or to read for fast-turnaround changes to complex story beats.

Related: Script Consulting — What is it? Who does it? Who is it for?

Story comes first

I advocate for a one-page introduction, a two-page outline, and a four-page treatment. I'm also a huge fan of the logline, which should convey the Four Necessities in fewer than thirty words if possible.

If you can go to festivals and markets with all of those presented nicely — professional poster artwork and a director's look book certainly help — then you're way ahead of the rest of the pack.

So let me know if I can help you with any of the above.

To your success!



Make Your Film

Guest post by Dom Lenoir.

Two UK filmmakers, Dom Lenoir and Giles Alderson, have embarked upon a new venture to bridge the gap between independent and big-budget films and also to explore the mindset and approaches of how people really got there, which you don’t often see at other panel events.

It is called #MakeYourFilm

Both are filmmakers with provenance:

Dom Lenoir
Giles Alderson

Here is an overview of the events and their contact information.

Make Your Film is a new London event that myself and Giles have created to present and run together. Giles already has a lot of amazing success stories from a wealth of independent and studio level filmmakers through his filmmaker's podcast and from my side I already ran a film course with Matt from Camelot Films about the stages of producing your film at a high level.

Running this new event came about because we wanted to help other people in the indie world get their films made. There is such a lot of negativity and barriers to getting features made, and the status quo is very limiting in telling people what they should aim for: - such as what genre you have to do, whether you have cast at a certain level, if it has to be minimal or “contained” etc. What we have found through our experiences that if you are willing to be resourceful, and are passionate about making films, that you can take the stories you want and get them made and we want to inspire people to see the ways people have done that.  Our approach to show this is by showing the challenges our panellists have faced, their unique and different ways of approaching the producing of their films and at the same time building a positive framework of people who want to create great stories and films and can collaborate to do so.

The main focus of our first event was about making your first feature and our guests had all achieved amazing things: the panellists' films starred some amazing talent:: - Adam Morse’s film Lucid stars Billy Zane (Titanic), Jenna Suru’s film L'Âge d'Or, which she stars in and produced herself and is impressively set in 1960s France/LA, Phin Glynn’s film You, Me and Him stars David Tennant.

In terms of Giles he did his first studio film with Millennium called The Dare and myself, I just completed Winter Ridge starring Alan Ford (Snatch) which we independently produced and got into 25 cinemas's entirely ourselves.

The atmosphere was incredible on the first event night, people were incredibly positive and saying how charged they now are to go off and get projects made and how different and insightful it was compared to a lot of panels that just look at success stories. It's surprising how many talented people just need a push, or to hear a different way of looking at things to renew their drive and get something moving after having had a setback or being told their project was not possible. Having had a challenging time ourselves on projects in the past we wanted to give something back and give something useful to the film community. Each event has a different theme; we will be tailoring them to hit some interesting areas as we move through each month.

We’re actively collaborating with other networks and sponsors as well so it isn’t just our own event but a collaborative venture. There are some amazing companies joining us and some really high level speakers, so it’s really exciting how quickly it’s expanding.

You can follow us on all the social media pages and keep up to date with our next event on March 5th as we announce new speakers on the Facebook page and also the filmmakerspodcast where you can also get your projects shouted out sometimes on Twitter to help get the word out there too.

You can also follow what we are up to on our projects with - Dom Lenoir and Giles Alderson respectively as well as our recent features on twitter, instagram and facebook: @winterridgefilm and @thedarefilm

Our first announced guests are Fizz and Ginger Films who are currently premiering their latest movie The Isle in L.A.

Tickets here for our March event:

ABOUT the Make your Film hosts:

Dom Lenoir - Directed & produced his 1st feature age 20 and achieved his goal of 3 features before 30 yrs old with Winter Ridge starring Alan Ford (Snatch, Lock Stock) and Oscar winning sound designer Glen Freemantle (Gravity) which had a 25 screen cinema release and 16 festival awards. Doms back catalogue includes international shooting in Sicily, Scotland, Austria, Spain and Germany, showing an ability to create high production values and focus on acting led drama.  His work is very much story and character led, delivering heightened drama and thought provoking messages within his films. His next film in development We Called Him James is written by Daniel Graham whose last script attracted and featured Willem Dafoe.

Giles Alderson - Giles was born in Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK. He has recently directed studio film with Millenium 'The Dare' and 'The World of Darkness feature films. He starred in the films, I Want Candy, The Torment, The Harsh Light of Day, The Damned United and is the founder of Gold Films & Figi Productions where he has produced and directed eight award winning films including, 'The Heart of the Forest', '47 Cleveland' 'Taken' 'Barry Brown' and the first 3D short drama to be filmed in the UK 'Sportsday 3D'. He is now in prep for his drama feature 'The Nobodies' and is in post for his writing and directing debut the psychological horror feature 'The Dare' starring Richard Brake, Alexandra Evans, Richard Short, Bart Edwards and Robert Maaser for Millennium Films and B2Y.