DIY Series – Writers using Digital Media with Adrian Reynolds

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Next in our DIY projects series for Memories of the Future we chat to local writer, Adrian Reynolds, about various collaborative projects including graphic novel, Dadtown, and short film, White Lily.

You have many projects on the go, tell us a little bit about your background?

I had a wisdom tooth removed after being a student in Sheffield. Thanks to pills and booze I wrote a Raymond Chandler style application for a job at an ad agency. By the time the effects had worn off, I was employed. And though I tried to get out, nobody would have me until I was headhunted by another agency. I figured if you’re going to play in that world, do it in London. Which allowed me to attend the London Cartoon Centre.

Marvel Comics liked a story I’d written, and asked me to pitch. I never heard back from them. Looking back, I’m grateful for that, because I wasn’t ready for the opportunity personally or in terms of skill. Then I was made redundant from the ad agency, which led to me coming up to Nottingham.

I learned scriptwriting at the Sandfield Centre. Had a play put on about what I was experiencing in Beeston – DJs, drugs, and dole. I wrote my first film treatment based on that story, which won me a meeting with Tim Bevan, who produced Four Weddings and a Funeral.

All of which was kind of OK, except I wasn’t happy and things weren’t working. That led to adventures in mental health. And it’s since going through all that, and to the other side that things have got better for me. Which explains why I’m so busy now.

What is Dadtown?

A science fiction story I came up with years ago when I was tiring of writing naturalistic low budget drama for filmmakers who never actually made films. I took a week out, came up with this insane script involving an unsuccessful space colony ruled by a despotic mayor, whose unhinged daughter tries to take him down assisted by a clone of her dad that’s physically 7 years old. Earlier this year, I met the amazing Mike White, another advertising refugee and now Confetti computer game tutor. He’s brought Dadtown to life not just with his art, but with an imagination that’s brought the whole thing beautifully alive. He’s working with his student Jessica Parry, who’s the grown up sensible one out of us despite being less than 20. Her colours are a joy to behold.

How is Dadtown manifesting a presence at Memories of the Future?

In the form of free postcards with 5 different designs, and 4 purchasable posters.

What is White Lily?

A short SF film that Tristan Ofield will be directing before Christmas. The Kickstarter we did to raise the money to make it will tell you more –

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/whitelily/white-lily

White Lily features Siddhii Lagrutta and David McCaffrey, two great actors I worked with on Making Sparks, a supernatural thriller serial coming soon in app form featuring Merveille Lukeba of Skins – see makingsparks.tv

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You seem to be involved in various collaborations (e.g. Mike White, Tristan Ofield). Do you like working with other people on things? What do you feel you get out of it?

While I can and do write prose, there’s not nearly as much pleasure involved for me as there is in opening up a story to the input of others, whether they’re actors, directors, artists, or musicians. It means the work gets to evolve in ways it would never have done with just one person making all the choices, and that excites me. It also means I’m making decisions that make me as much a producer as a writer in some respects, which is an interesting learning curve. And it all involves me being out of the house more, which is something I’d recommend for writers.

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You recently headed a successful Kickstarter campaign for White Lily, how did you go about this?

By plugging myself online for a month and drinking a lot of coffee.

Any tips or useful links for others looking into crowdfunding?

You’ll know you’re dong things right when you start to get unexpected results – in our case, things like a tweet from Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones; and support from Elizabeth Karr, the generous-spirited producer of an indie Philip K Dick adaptation, Radio Free Albemuth.

Also: it will be very slow in the middle, and you’ll worry whether it’ll succeed. That’s normal, and the time you have then gives you the opportunity to rally support for the finale.

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You’re doing a talk at Nottingham Writers’ Studio as part of ‘Words of the Future’ (a tie-in with Memories of the Future). What will the talk be about?

It’s a look at how you can create opportunities for yourself as a writer in digital media, mostly. We’re at an amazing point where a whole new landscape has opened up, and though there are some fixed points in it and ways of doing things that are seen as the norm, it has the vibrancy of a border town where people from different tribes converge to make something new. Film and TV are in the hands of gatekeepers few get to encounter, and the money at stake is enormous. Online you can make comics which don’t obey the conventions of the page, use Twitter to create immersive storytelling worlds that others get involved in, do an insect soap opera on YouTube. That’s a fraction of what’s possible, and nobody can stop you – if you’ve got the right attitude. All of this relates to being introduced to a tree in Florida that was the second wife of William Burroughs.

Do you think writers who have a background working with e.g. graphic novels, video games or films are ahead of the game in terms of getting into new media?

Potentially. It’s all about the individual, and the opportunities they perceive and create.

Will geeks inherit the Earth?

If I have anything to do with it, we will.

Many thanks to Adrian for answering our questions.

For more, and to contact Adrian, check out http://about.me/adrianreynolds

More on Nottingham Writers’ Studio Workshops

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