This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 436 – Making 12 Short Films In A Year.
Welcome to Episode 436 of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger with sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing yet another UK writer director, Sheikh Shahnawaz who just did a really cool low budget crime thriller called Bluff. He’s also done a number of short films. So, we talked through his career how he was able to make this new feature film happened for himself, so stay tuned for that interview.
SYS’s six figures screenplay contest is open for submissions just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest. The final deadline is July 31st. So, it is approaching, if your script is ready, definitely submit now. We’re looking for low budget shorts and features I’m defining low budget as less than six figures. In other words, less than 1 million US dollars. We’ve got lots of entry judges reading the scripts in the later rounds, we’re giving away 1000s in cash and prizes. If you want to submit to the contest or learn more about it, just go to sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest. Also, this year we are running an in-person Film Festival in tandem with our screenplay contest. It’s for low budget films produced for less than 1 million US dollars. We have a feature and shorts category a lot of industry judges just like the screenplay contest, the festival is going to take place in Hollywood, California from October 7th to the 9th. If you have a finished film or would like to submit to the festival or learn more about it, you can go to sellingyourscreenplay.com/festival. You’ll see a link to FilmFreeway which is where you’re going to actually make this submission, we’re actually taking all of the submissions through the for the festival through Filmfreeway. So, you can find us on FilmFreeway as well if you’re already on that platform. Once again, if you want to learn more about this, just go to sellingyourscreenplay.com/festival for the festival and sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest for the screenplay contest. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leave me a comment on YouTube or retweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking or sharing it on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread word about the podcast. So, they’re very much appreciated. Any websites or links that I mentioned the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and then just look for episode number 436. So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m interviewing UK writer director, Sheikh Shahnawaz. here is the interview.
Ashely: Welcome Sheikh to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Sheikh: Thank you for having me.
Ashely: So, to start out, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up, and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Sheikh: So, I’m from a small city in the UK called Birmingham. And I was born and raised here. I got into film-making, well I was interested in making videos made them from a school project from age 15. And now as a naturally to go to college, I studied media production at college, I made some short, I’ve always been making little short films with my friends. And then I think it was around my second year of college I discovered the works of Martin Scorsese, Goodfellas and Wolf of Wall Street. And I was watching Wolf of Wall Street because that came out in 2014. And then I immediately after watched Goodfellas. And I realized, so this is what a director does. You could tell he was made by the same person even though they’re decades apart. And they’re about completely different subject matters. You know, one’s about, you know, Wall Street trader than the others about, you know, Italian mobsters. But they felt the same. I felt this connection between those two films and I often found out who Martin Scorsese was, and then I thought; Oh, so this is what a director does. And this is what I want to do. I want to make films like Martin Scorsese, when people go to cinemas they’re like that’s Sheikh Shahnawaz film, and that’s what I want for myself. So, that’s how I got into filmmaking.
Ashely: And so, talk about that. So, you see this movie, it really impacts your life inspires you. What are some of those next, like, give us some practical steps? So then, what are some practical steps of actually turning this into a career after you got inspired by this film?
Sheikh: I still don’t think I have a career on this. You know, it’s a weird career path. Because especially when you’re writing directing, you’re not sure if you even have a career if it feels like create. It’s just I want to make movie so how do I do that? What’s the first thing that comes to make a movie, you have to write screenplay. So, actually I taught myself how to write I know about a read Robert McKees story. I read Christopher Vogler’s Writers Journey and so many others screenwriting books, and I really absorbed myself into the craft of screenwriting. And that’s the first thing, focus on your craft, that’s what you can only do. When you’re starting out, if the only thing you really can do is focus on your craft, you’re not going to have a career unless you could take good. And then naturally, I wrote my, I wasn’t really having too much luck finding a job. So, I spent 2018 making a short film a month, as practice writing and directing, also, producing, maybe writing because I wanted to make a feature film in 2017. But I just didn’t have the skills of the writer to pull off a feature film yet. And then in 2018, I set myself the challenge of writing a short film a month and producing it. And from there, releasing it on a consistent basis. I was connecting with other people in the industry, people were hearing of me, and I don’t know if you remember, actually, but you actually were my first and only Patron subscriber when I was doing these short films.
Ashely: You know, I do remember and as I was preparing for this podcast, I was like, I wonder if it’s the same Sheikh. I do remember that.
Sheikh: You gave me $5 a month. You are the only person that gave me money every month. And I said, so before I closed the Patron I said, thank you to you, you are the only person that actually put money towards it.
Ashely: That’s hilarious. I really appreciated what you were doing, I did. Your shorts were good. And you were consistently pumping out. So no, I really did. I appreciate I was very glad to support you.
Sheikh: Because you didn’t know who I was. I was a stranger to you, this kid from the UK. And you were this huge guy in America with huge podcast, oh, wow, he’s giving me money.
Ashely: But I just want to be, when you said oh, you know, I don’t even know if I have a career. I’m not some guy with a huge podcast in America. I’m just some guy in his house, putting a podcast out there. So, I know. But those feelings you have. That’s the thing. We all have those same feelings like and sometimes I’m doing this podcast, I don’t even know if anybody’s really out there even listening, you know, it feels somewhat empty. And so, it sounds like that was some of your things. But I really applaud you doing. Let’s talk about that Patron a little bit, and just what you were doing with the shorts, you know how to doing a short a month for a year, how did that prepare you for this feature film?
Sheikh: I knew I wanted to make a micro budget feature film, I was inspired by the works of Stanley Kubrick, Christopher Nolan, Robert Rodriguez, their first film, you know, they didn’t wait around in the industry, they pull the resources together, they see what they what they had, and they made a film, you know, no matter what, and I wanted to do that. I didn’t want to wait on anybody. But I didn’t know how I was going to do that, because I didn’t know that many actors, I couldn’t really go up to people say, Oh, I’m making a feature film, you want to be part of it? Because they like who are you, have you ever done anything before? So, when I was making those short films, I was figuring out my writing process, how I would write to resources around me. So, for instance, one month, I’ll be like; Okay, what locations do I have access to or have access to a garage? Well, in America, you take garage, someone’s mechanics garage. And I thought, okay, what can I do in that location? What can I do with two or three actors quite quickly in a day? What kind of characters can I create pragmatically to fit certain tropes in a genre? So, if I’m telling a crime genre, obviously, there’d be criminals, but then there’d be a victim. So, I found three actors, two of them, I made them criminals, one of them, I made them a victim, and I put them in this location. And I figured out a story that I could tell in that timeframe of shooting it in maybe like, four, six hours. What I said; Oh, yeah, when I’m writing the screenplay, I’m also thinking about, okay, so if this is a six-page script, I know if this is 4 acts, each act has to be two pages. So, I’m being quite pragmatic. So, this plot, this beat has to happen on this page count. So I’m being pragmatic about why about story structure, and telling like normal industry practices, and because when you’re pitching a script to a studio, you know, those are the things they want to know that the act breakdowns, or the structure or the other arc, like what was the point of this story, the themes, the character, and being able to, it can’t be too wishy-washy, you have to be able to talk about these things, and be specific and I was doing that even though as these is just me writing these short films on my own. I was still thinking about those things. How would I pitch this to an executive, you know, what’s the title? What’s the market? How would I market it? So, I like to, I don’t know if you noticed, I like to use one word title just because I don’t like just, when you create in the post that you can center it. And it just looks a bit more branded, it just looks more marketable, but I’m thinking about those things in writing as well. I like to spend a lot of time just coming up with a logline. Because that’s the thing that people are going to see first. Like, I don’t actually spend that much time. I do actually spend that much time writing the film. I spent a lot of time just coming up with the concept, idea, the characters, how I want to market it? Why should people watch this film? Actually, putting pen to paper was my probably the shortest process, the time that I spent on the short film specifically, on the feature film now that I had to come up with a completely new writing process, that was all new to me.
Ashely: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s dig into your latest feature film. We’re starting to kind of talk about it now a little bit. It’s called Bluff. So yeah, one word title, just exactly like you said, maybe you can just pitch that to us, what’s the logline or just sort of what’s Bluff all about?
Sheikh: A London police officer goes undercover as a heroin addict in a small English town, and manipulates an unsuspecting local junkie into working with him for a dangerous drug dealer.
Ashely: And where did this idea come from? Yeah, no, that’s a good logline. So, then tell me, where did this idea come from? Where did it come as what’s the genesis of it?
Sheikh: So, when I was making these short films every month, one of them was about undercover cop. I did some brief research and why it needs to be what it’s like being an undercover cop in the UK. But I didn’t do that much. And I kind of forgot about that whole world. And when it came to 2019, when I finished my short films, and I wanted to make a feature film, and I was trying to come up with oh, what’s the topic? What’s the genre and subject matter that I could film on a budget? So, messing with VFX, obviously. So, what’s the genre without the VFX crime thriller, because I didn’t want to do a straight drama just because I the first film, I don’t think it’s very marketable, especially when you’re using unknown talent in the in the film. So, what genres are audiences willing to watch with unknown talent. Horror is the main one, but I’m not really much of a horror filmmaker. I enjoy watching horrors, but I’m not. That’s not what I want to be known as, as a horror filmmaker. Crime thriller film one memoir, and you those were going to be the genres. And then I thought about my short film about the undercover cop, I thought, okay, why if I do some more research on what it means to be undercover police in the UK, specifically in my and I found this memoir from an undercover cop who operated in the region of England I live in. I know, he actually was an undercover heroin addict. And he took down, you know, some huge notable gangs, I think he had like, over 1000 years of arrests prison sentence under his belt, and behind the people he took down. So, this is in my backyard. This is, you know, he operated in my own city. And I was noticing, because I’m from the inner city of Birmingham, city that I’m from in the UK, and I was noticing a lot of crime, I was mostly a lot of drug dealing, drug abuse, homeless people that are heroin addicts. And I thought, this is perfect, because this is what’s actually happening around me. So why don’t I make a film about this emerging a popular genre like crime and thriller with, you know, my budget, which is, you know, being able to shoot in my backyard with actors that live here, and also about subject matter that relates to what’s happening around me right now, in my city. I thought it was perfect. That’s the idea emerged, it was a solution to all my problems with getting making this micro-budget feature film.
Ashely: So, let’s talk about the writing of the script. So, then you kind of had a basic a rough idea, you knew sort of what you need what you had to shoot with. So, correct me if I’m wrong, when you went into write this 100%, you knew you were going to shoot it on a modest budget, correct? You’re going to shoot it yourself, you weren’t going to try and sell it or anything like that?
Sheikh: I have a second feature film that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make this one needed a proper budget, this one needed stars, this one needed the full works, but I was going to be able to make that one on my own. So plus was an answer to, okay, the industry is ignoring me. You know, what can I do on a budget on my own with my own resources to use as a calling card to show this is who I am, I’m a writer, director, producer, this is what I’m capable of. This is why, I made the film, it’s out there. You know, if you’re interested, I have a second script. So that was one of the thought processes behind making Bluff.
Ashely: So, let’s dig into the writing of Bluff. Just talk about you mentioned a little bit that you don’t spend that much time actually writing a script, you spend a lot of time just thinking through the things. Let’s talk about that process a little bit. Do you have a notebook? Do you do index cards? How much time and what does that process actually look like of just coming up with the idea that you’re writing scribbling stuff on note cards, or you scribbling stuff on a note pad? And then how long does that typically take you, you know, a month, three months, six months, and then how long does it take you actually write the script once you have all of this stuff thought through?
Sheikh: Obviously, with the short film there are different formats. So, I didn’t spend that much time writing, there’s more conceptualizing. And then quickly putting hashing something together. With a feature film, you can’t cheat those things, you have to put in the time and effort. So, it took me about eight months all in order to write from January to August. I think January, the whole of January, I think I spent researching and learning everything I could, listening to interviews, watching interviews, or reading books, a lot of books, I worked for my research, I went mainly to books, and then spending actual time with them, real heroin addicts and drug dealers, and I’m from the Ghetto. Actually, I don’t know if you know this. So, finding a drug dealer wasn’t too hard, I spent some time with drug dealers and I spent some time with heroin addicts and I learnt about their life, how they got into taking drugs, or even the drug dealers, how did they get into dealing drugs, what are the challenges they face and learning more about the intricacies of that work, but when I’m writing the screenplay, I can put all this authentic information into the script that I knew other films couldn’t have done. You know, with Martin Scorsese, when he made Mean Street, it was really authentic to him to the life he was living where he was growing up, I thought I had to do the same with my film. You know, it’s so easy for an undercover cop Crime Thriller to fall into certain tropes and cliches that people have seen in other films. And I had to find a way because the films that I was referencing, they were from the 80s, and 90s. And a lot of the things have been sort of done before. So, I had to figure out a way to make it sing to modern audiences, how can I take that style of filmmaking, and bring it to a modern audience and make it contemporary. So those are things I was thinking about in the screenplay, in terms of the eight months, I think, a month researching, I spent a lot of time just thinking about characters, and plot beats just in my head for another month, I started putting pen to paper into the third and fourth month. And I think in the fourth month, at the halfway point, I figured out this huge twist in the film, and the film has a nonlinear structure, as well. And halfway through the writing process, I realized I need to do this nonlinear structure now. I didn’t want to make it a gimmick, I wanted because I’ve long been a fan of films like Reservoir Dogs and momentum with this backward structure. I didn’t want to have a gimmick of a nonlinear structure for the sake of it. And I think halfway through writing, I realized, you know how in a story, you have an arc, character arc, I realized in my story, there’s two arcs, one in the first half or one in the second half. So rather than showing it in a chronological order, why don’t I show the first and second half at the same time. So, between these two halves of this character’s life, and then the fourth to eighth month was figuring it out, banging my head against the desk trying to figure out how to make split the structure work, because I kind of wrote myself into a huge challenge of trying to because I didn’t want it to be a gimmick, I wanted it each seem to mean something. And I think the fastest process, I remember was especially the last week, I could just write like no one’s business, I could write non-stop. But I know all the way from the first to six months, it was really slow. It was me just procrastinating, spending time researching, twiddling my thumbs thinking I don’t know what to do next. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow. Because in the last few months, I’ve really hash it out. Yeah.
Ashely: And so, what is your development process look like after you had this script on for a month, do you have some other writer friends, some other filmmaker friends, some actor friends? What did the development process look like? How did you get notes? How did you do any edits, or were you pretty much happy with your draft and you went into production?
Sheikh: Because it’s a nonlinear structure. I didn’t want to finish writing the screenplay and then rewrite it. So, every time I sat down to write, I would go from the beginning to whatever point I have written up to you and rewrite that. So, I was rewriting every time I sat down to write and then spend the first hour rewriting what I had written up to that point, and then carry-on writing. So, when I finished the first draft, there’s pretty much that’s fine. Other than changing bits of dialogue after doing a reading session with actors, the first draft was pretty much the final product. I sent it to maybe one or two people to actual screenwriters. I didn’t want to send it to my friends and family who have you know nothing about filmmaking, or what did you think of my story, and they’re obviously going to tell me; Oh, yeah, I really enjoyed it. I sent it to two writer friends. One of them said the, the non-linear structure is pointless. And the other one really loves it. So, I already knew, okay this was going to be a little divisive. But, you know, I think that you got to play to your strengths. And I felt like, I listened to his feedback. Listen to the one he didn’t like and the one who also liked it, figured out what I could do in my filmmaking process to make sure to address the writer who said he didn’t like the nonlinear structure, he thought was little pointless, just didn’t make it kind of logical. But I knew when I was, when it came time to filming it, those trips. And the reason for the nonlinear structure, I have to film them the cuts between different timelines in a certain way, so I don’t lose audiences, and it doesn’t feel pointless, you have to feel like instead of, it’s like, a little like math, I didn’t want the audience to hear the number four, I wanted it to be like, here’s the number one. Here’s the number two. And here’s the number one again. And then to get to the conclusion of four, if that makes sense.
Sheikh: And that filmmaker when the story, that writer when he watched the finished film, he was happy that I didn’t listen to them. And I kept it. I played to my strengths, and I stuck to my gun.
Ashely: So, then what were some of the steps? Okay, you had a script you liked then take us through going from script actually getting this thing produced? Had you already, like, as you’re writing it, you already knew what locations? How did you go about getting a cast? You know, what is the crew like this look like? And how did you just get everything together? Was it self-funded, maybe talk us through that process a little bit.
Sheikh: Okay. So, at the beginning of the writing process, I already knew who the main actors that were going to be in it. So, I told them, listen, I’m going to spend the next, I think I told them four months writing the script, we ended up being eight months. But they kept waiting, where’s the Sheikh, where’s the script going to be done, I want to read it. I told them I’m going to write the script around you guys as the leads. And they’ve already seen my short films, I’ve worked with them on my short film, so they know what I’m capable of, and they trusted me. And so, they waited eight months, I think one initial actor had to drop out so I had to replace one role when I finished writing, but other than that, it was the actors that I wanted from the start. And when I was writing, I wouldn’t write in locations that I knew were going to be impossible to find, you know, generally I wrote two locations I knew I could either film in for free or film in for very cheap, there was maybe one or two set piece locations that were a little hard to find. But I didn’t think they were going to be impossible, like filming in a pub, someone is in bar or someone’s function room, because all those big locations. And I knew because there were businesses, they might have an issue with me taking over for a day or two. And I knew because I didn’t have a budget, I wouldn’t be able to compensate them or anything like that. But luckily, from asking around within my network, I was able to find a location and filming them for free. The actors, they all work on deferred payments. And they get a share of the producers’ pool of the profits. What else is in, terms of crew, you’re looking at the crew.
Ashely: Well, I know you had like a wardrobe, and I did notice you were the editor and the cinematographer. And so, we I want to talk about that a little bit. But you did have like a hair and makeup or costume. There was a few other people. But you were running sounds like you were running sound as well as running the camera.
Sheikh: The hair and makeup. I think we only needed to make-up artist for one day, a proper one, because it was a special effects. I think that was it. And the hair and makeup and all the other days was the actors doing it themselves, changing their hairstyles, or figuring out their costumes, whatever they already owned. So even in the script writing process, I made sure that the actors were wearing, it was clothes that they already owned. Because I knew I was doing this on a very limited budget. I think all in all, I spent $2,000 on the film by the end. And that was mainly on feeding the cast and travel, any other expenses or products and stuff like that. And I think, yes, by having a limited crew and limited cast, we could go to these locations and film very quickly. Or in some locations just steal them just because it’s a little handheld camera. I use the Sony A73. So, it just looked at we were making a YouTube video or a vlog. I think there’s only one occasion where we’re filming in a hotel. It was me and the lead, the one actor, and they’re like, why you doing, oh, we’re filming a travel vlog and they left us do it. And we were done in five minutes, and we left. No one ever bothered us. Because we could move very quickly and efficiently and get what we needed. Yeah.
Ashely: Yeah, yeah. So no, that’s a great, that’s a great story. Yeah, so like these hotels and stuff you’re talking about. Those are literally just you didn’t have any relationship with anybody that worked there. So, you just went in there.
Ashely: Perfect. Perfect. Yeah. So, let’s talk about, once you’re done the film, did you take it to some festivals? You’re coming through me now that you found distribution and stuff. Did you enter this into festivals? What was sort of your plan once you got it done?
Sheikh: So yeah, we did the typical stuff submitted to all the top festivals hired a publicist to make sure it was being seen by the festival directors and the top programmers and that’s when I had a bit of a wake-up call to what it’s like in the industry, you know. I’m a kid that made a film on his own, you know, with his own resources, and it’s not the 90s anymore where, you know, someone like Robert Rodriguez can shop rock up to finance with El Mariachi and become a huge hit. And, yeah, we’ve got rejected from every film festival we submitted to. And it was a bit of a tough pill to swallow because I thought making the film would be enough, that just like a mirror, like if all I could do was make a good film, a great film. And that would be enough to stand out. But then that’s when I had the wake-up call where, you know, who you know is quite important, what production companies or institutions are back in the film. And because I made this film in the UK, these top festivals, really and truly, they’re only going to program the British film that the BFI, the British Film Institute here, whatever film they submit to these top festivals, because why are they going to risk upsetting their BFI and all the money and networks and contacts and press and publicity that institution at the BFI will bring to the festival over me, some kids who made a film on its own granted, regardless of how good the film is, or not. And that was a bit of a wake-up call. But thankfully, the film is out there now. It’s connecting with audiences that have had great feedback. It’s doing really well, great reviews. It’s connecting with strangers around the world. You know, they’ve reached out to me and told me this film really touched them. It made them cry. Because there’s this one older woman, older white woman, you know, I would have thinks she’d be into a film like this a crime thriller, and she said she lost her son-in-law to heroin addiction, and my film made her cry. And she had no connection to me. I don’t know how she discovered the film. I have paid ads running, I’m doing all the typical press and marketing. That’s why I realized so quick as a filmmaker to be like, oh, I want to be rich, famous. I want to be a big director. But then it just reminded me why I wanted to make this film is to connect with audiences. As a filmmaker, you don’t make films for yourself. You make them for audiences, you don’t make them for the industry. You make them for people who want to want to stop. Yeah.
Ashely: Yeah, for sure. So, I noticed with your trailer, it comes up with indie rights. I just signed with indie rights earlier this year with my film The Rideshare Killer. I’m curious, how did you end up signing within your rights? Or is or do they just have one portion? Do you have a UK distributor? Talk us through the sort of your distribution a little bit.
Sheikh: I’ve been following indie rights for a very long time since maybe 2016 when I had this crazy idea of making a micro budget feature film, I would just do all these podcasts indie film, hustle, Alex Ferrari, and he’d bring on Linda to his show and it was crazy to think that there’s this opportunity for me to make a film and indie writes can get it on these platforms. And it can be, I came up with the plan that in from since 2016, if I make a micro budget feature film, I work in the rights to distribute it and hopefully generate some revenue and pursue filmmaking full-time. And it was over the course of making my feature film where I thought okay, let me try the festival route. Let me try see if any bigger distribution companies will be interested in it first, so obviously, Indie rights naturally, we’re happy to take it on and bring it to audiences worldwide. And I was incredibly happy because it’s finally out of enough audiences.
Ashely: And you came to me through a publicist emailed me that had you guys, how did you get the publicist? Is that something you pay for? And I’m really asking halfway just for my own film. I’m curious kind of how you were able to get on my radar as maybe I can get my film on other people’s radar in the same way.
Sheikh: I knew marketing was going to be key. Because I’m not disillusioned about the kind of film I have. I have a film with no stars, no recognizable talent, no recognizable filmmakers. The strength of the piece is that it’s a genre film. And a very well-done genre film. It’s very marketable. So, what can I do? Okay, I need to do paid ads, I need to obviously create all the key assets for marketing, poster, the trailer, the teaser, social media, and as well as that try to make some buzz within the industry. So, like I mentioned, when I was doing the whole film festival phase of the film with the submissions, I hired a US publicist to help me get it in front of these top programmers. Obviously, that didn’t work out. Well, now that the films out there, I knew I had to have a publicist to get me to help me get critical reviews. Help me market the film within the industry, as well as general audiences being able to find that press, so when they Google the film they can see oh, it looks legit. This has reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, it has all these press releases on the news, oh, I might give it a watch now, like, stuff like that is very important. Because it’s not enough to just put the film out there, like even when I was in my depressive phase, when I’ve been getting out of these festivals, I was looking at all the films that they programed that year, or the years before I thought, I’ve never heard of any of these films from the years before. So even if you get into Sundance or South by Southwest, or Cannes, there’s a good chance that nobody will still watch your film. So that scares the living daylights out of me. So, I thought I don’t want to be one of those filmmakers. What can I do to get eyeballs on my film, I’m going to be really aggressive with the marketing, so I actually raised up 5000 pounds of investment to market the film. So, to put that into perspective, I spent $2,000 producing the film, but I’d probably spent maybe $7,000-8,000 marketing, because that’s how important marketing the film is. Because if nobody knows about your film, you don’t have a creator. You’re dead in the water.
Ashely: Yeah. Sound Advice. Yeah, those are amazing numbers. You know, and people really should listen to that. So, I just like to wrap up the interviews by asking the guest is there anything you’ve seen recently that you think is really good? Anything maybe a little under the radar, HBO, Netflix, Hulu, anything you’ve seen recently that you could recommend to a screenwriter?
Sheikh: In terms of recently, I don’t know if it’s under the radar, but it hasn’t been doing that well in the box office, which kind of upsets me but the Northmen, the latest Robert Edges film. It’s a little art house. But it’s done really well and it is different. And although I’m a fan of mainstream films, as well, it’s nice when a studio takes a chance on a slightly unusual film, and gives a blockbuster budget. And I really recommend people just to watch that, to see that, you know what, it’s, you can still make these a huge budget intellectual properties that up on the surface might not attract mainstream audiences, but are really well-done films. It’s not impossible. You don’t have to make the next Fast and Furious film or Marvel film to have a creative, still make these, you know, completely unique, high budget films like The Northmen. And I think it’s getting there in terms of the box office. And I really hope it does well. I think you’ll do well, when it moves to the streaming phase.
Ashely: Yeah, so yeah, that’s a great recommendation. I haven’t seen that one. So I’ll check that out. So how can people see Bluff? Do you know what the release schedule is going to be like?
Sheikh: It’s already out there. It came out last week on the 28th. So, you can go to Bluff-movie.com to find more information and film and where you can watch it. You can follow the film on Instagram, @bluffmovieUK. And you can also follow me on Instagram @cinesheikh.
Ashely: Okay, perfect. Perfect. Yeah. And I will round all that up for the show notes. And we’ll put that in there so people can click over to it. Well, Sheikh, I really appreciate you coming on my podcast and talking with me. And I can say honestly, you know, I get a lot of these publicists sending me things and I just watched the trailer and your trailer caught my interest. I thought, oh, this does look like a really cool movie. So, I think I saw something in there. So, I applaud you for putting together good film. And same thing with the Patron, I get emails all the time for people, Hey, kick into my Kickstarter and Patron. And I rarely do, you know if something strikes me interest.
Sheikh: I don’t know how you found my Patron because I never really, I don’t think I reached out to you.
Ashely: I think you must have maybe mass email me or something. And I just want to watch one of your shorts and thought, oh, this is pretty good. So, I’ll go ahead and kick into it. So, you know, I commend you on doing that. A part of this business is just persistence and hustle and and you definitely have that. So, congratulations on getting all this done.
Sheikh: Thank you. Thank you again for actually giving me money on Patron.
Ashely: I think it only ended up being about $15. But you’re welcome. And I hope it did help. So, perfect. Well, I really appreciate it.
Sheikh: Take care.
Ashely: Well, take it easy. Bye.
SYS is from concept to completion, screenwriting course is now available just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/screenwritingcourse. It will take you through every part of writing a screenplay coming up with a concept, outlining, writing the opening pages, the first act, second act, third act and then rewriting and then there’s even a module at the end on marketing your screenplay once it’s polished and ready to be sent out. We’re offering this course in two different versions. The first version, you get the course plus you get three analyses from an SYS reader. You’ll get one analysis on your outline, and then you’ll get two analyses on your first draft of your screenplay. This is just our introductory price. You’re getting three full analyses which is actually the same price as our three-pack analysis bundle. So, you’re essentially getting the course for free when you buy the three analyses that come with it. And to be clear, you’re getting our full analysis with this package. The other version doesn’t have the analysis. So, you’ll have to find some friends or colleagues who will do the feedback portion of the course with you. I’m letting SYS Select members do this version of the course for free. So, if you’re a member of SYS Select, you already have access to it. You also might consider that as an option. If you join SYS Select you will get the course as part of that membership too. A big piece of this course is accountability. Once you start the course, you’ll get an email every Sunday with that week’s assignment. And if you don’t complete it, we’ll follow up with another reminder the next week, it’s easy to pause the course if you need to take some time off. But as long as you’re enrolled, you’ll continue to get reminders for each section until it’s completed. The objective of the course is to get you through it in six months so that you have a completed power screenplay ready to be sent out. So, if you have an idea for a screenplay, and you’re having a hard time getting it done, this course might be exactly what you need. If this sounds like something you’d like to learn more about, just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/screenwritingcourse. It’s all one word, all lowercase. I will of course a link to the course in the show notes and I will put a link to the course on the homepage up in the right-hand sidebar.
On the next episode of the podcast, I’m going to be interviewing another real do it yourselfer Neil McKay. He just did a cool low-budget psychological film, psychological thriller film called Trip again, he’s a guy who just made things happen for himself. He did a couple of short films. And now he has this feature film which he wrote, directed, produced and even edited. So, he’ll be talking about all of this on the episode next week. So, just keep an eye out for that. That’s our show. Thank you for listening.