Author Archives: Gary Thomas

Newsletters from Gary S Thomas

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Hopefully by now you:
Picked an idea you love / is close to you
Know how your story ends
Know who the character(s) are

Now is the time to put it altogether is scenes – or scene ideas. This is where the pro writers break out the brand new pack of index cards and start writing ideas for scenes. Check out this film about writing from The ACADEMY

HINT: In the best screenplays, one character wants something & the other character (or even themselves if its about one person) isn’t letting them have it.

If each scene is no more than 2 pages, that gives you five scenes to write out.

What happens in the scene?
What do the characters want – in a short film this could be the same in every scene, and the whole film could be about whether they get it or not.

Use a timer if you like, for 20- 30 minutes and think about what happens in each scene. Type it out, use pen & paper, use index cards if you like. I like the cards cos you can move them around.

What are your ideas for each scene? Let me know if you like!

best wishes

In feature & TV screenplay terms, each section can be thought of as an ACT of your script. Short films don’t have to be any different.
Feature film screenplay Acts:
OFTEN ACT 2 is split up into Act 2 A & B, otherwise there’s 60 whopping pages to think about.
In a 10 page (10 minute) script, you can divide that into 3, to give your acts.
Hopefully you’ve spent that last week thinking about which scenario you want to write about. Now is the time to puck one.
HINT: A powerful ending normally makes for a great film. (This is just one  component of the script)
By powerful, of its a comedy it could just be the biggest joke of the script, the funniest moment, the most dramatic, scary etc, depending on what type of film you want to write. Have a think about your ending and write some ideas for an ending for the next 20-30 minutes. (Set a timer if you like). Pick one and think over the next week how you might get there with the idea have.
Who is the main character? Are they on their own or is this a two character story? When ever you’re ready, write out some thoughts about your character.
For more info about me & what I’m doing, check out my website! 🙂
Gary’s Website

Hey, how are you?
The Imposter Syndrome and how to deal with it 

Do you ever feel this way, that you shouldn’t be writing, that you don’t know what you’re doing? You feel like you might be found out any minute? Like as soon as someone reads your script? 

Well, tons of us feel that way, often no matter how good things are going, that’s peak time for the imposter syndrome to show up. 


One way that I’ve found to deal with it is through meditation and positive thinking. Think about how things have gone well for you in the past, your success, and how you dealt with not so successful things. But mainly concentrate on your success and achievements. They don’t have to be big at all, just writing one page is an achievement for me sometimes. 

One other thing I’ve started doing is A & O’s. A & O is Achievements and Objectives. Make a list of all your achievements, which could be a simple as ‘wrote 1 page on new screenplay’. And then list out you Objectives for the following week. Let me know how you get on with this if you try it out!
— — 
Your next screenplay – 
I said I’d share a process where you can write a screenplay.

Your next screenplay could be a perfectly crafted short film by the end of the year. Imagine that! It doesn’t have to be huge and expensive either. 
Think about where you live. What conflict or arguments do you imagine have take place there? Is there anything from your own life that you want to reimagine?

HINT: Something that you care deeply about should be the subject of your screenplay. As long as you’re OK about writing it out. 

Imagine a two hander, what kind of conflict could it be about. Write some ideas down without censoring yourself & without editing. Maybe time yourself for 20 – 30 minutes of writing.

Are any ideas leaping out for you? Pick one to write about and try & think about where the story might lead to.
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Round Up Of 2020

Happy New Year to you all!

I actually started a blog on confidence & what happens to it when it goes. Like seriously, where DOES it go???
But I honestly lost confidence in it. Which sounds silly but is actually true. I feel like I lost a bit of confidence as 2020 started winding down. Its a mix of reasons really. But rather than concentrate on that I thought I’d focus on a different track.

I’ve been very fortunate (I don’t use the word luck) to have 2 successful arts council applications be successful this year, with one I’m just about to embark on.
But in terms of writing for this year, I’ve done a number of (mostly writing) courses, including –

Feature writing – Jan
TV writing – March
Incubator course – July
Limited series July / sept
1 month private mentorship on limited series Sept / Oct
Ultimate Writers toolkit – April
Voice lessons – for memoir reading – May
Manager class – May
UK TV writing – May
Pitch prep – Aug
Marketing intensive for writers – October
Authors on ramp – November
Start something new Nov / Dec
Consult wedding comedy Feb
Consult 1st 15 Connected Dec
Rewrite class – Oct
Sitcom writing – Oct / Nov
Free playwriting class (Danc) – Nov

Bloody hell! That’s a lot of writing, or you’d think. Most but not all the courses were through Roadmap Writers, based in LA, and obviously the one thing I had deal with was the time difference from the US to the UK. I wrote two screenplays up until end of July, both original spec TV pilots. After that, I kind of ran out of steam a little. Call it lockdown syndrome, call it whatever, I’m not sure why. But I’ve tried since then to keep on track. I’m rewriting the outline for my feature script, but also I shouldn’t forget what else I’ve done this year. My focus switched, somewhat unexpectedly, after I did the Ultimate Writers toolkit course, where I learnt how to market myself and my script to industry, including managers and agents.

In August I did Pitch Prep, again with Roadmap, and I learnt how to write and develop pitches for my screenplays, and I actually pitched to a couple of US based managers as part of the training.

I took a month of in September (sort of) because the time difference was catching up with me. But then in October I signed up to the Marketing Intensive, which is where I took everything I learned in Pitch Prep and writers toolkit. I researched managers and agents, and as part of the training, I pitched to 5 industry execs of my choice. I had pretty good feedback, with one of the execs requesting the script at the end of November.

It’s been really good, and I’ve gone from simply reading the screen, which is all I could do, and with lots of practice, recording myself pitching as if I was on zoom talking to someone, the outcomes have been very good. I don’t want to lose momentum with this, but it does get expensive. The other side of that is that it is really good value with Roadmap.

Now I need to make sure the new scripts for this year are industry ready before I move on. I really want to develop the other pitches for the rest of the scripts I have. And continue to build on that momentum.

New Funding For New Writing

Shutterstock / Guryanov Andrey

So last year, 2019, was an OK year work wise. I was checking and not including the Arts Council funding I got for my memoir in January, I did two further applications to the DYCP strand, both rejected. Since then I’ve been reliably informed that there’s a 5% success rate for those. I also did a Project grant application at the end of the year which was rejected, so sent a rewritten version back in January, which…
has been SUCCESFULL!

I think this is the first time that I’ve actually done a rewritten application, given my personal success – 4 out of 7 successful applications since Grantium online system (2016). And the first one of those, Sectioned, was a part 2 of that project, as ACE funded the filming and making of the work, but also the screening at Fabrica gallery in Brighton that year.

I also did part one and part two of a previous project, The Dog & The Palace, where part one was a R&D, and part 2 was filming the rest of it at Lancaster House (before the days of Netflix where they now charge a lot more for room hire!) And that was around the Olympics, when, sigh, there was money. Previous to 2016 all but one of my ACE applications have been successful.

Anyways, I digress. This new project is for my play on feminism, and talking to different people about their experiences and views of feminism, and looking at why it’s such a hot topic, especially in light of trans and gender discussions as well. It’s really an attempt to capture those discussions, and hopefully in 100 years time people will look back on this time we’re in currently and scream ‘why couldn’t we all just get along!’. And I’m not even going to mention the woman representing Harvey Weinstein. WTF??? Do you think she goes home every night after work and just cries? I dunno.

Anyway, again. My new play will be doing two nights at Wandsworth Fringe, which will mark the 5th year in a row I’ve put a play on at this festival. It’s called My Job Sucks, and is set around the world of a strip club. It’ll be on 22nd and 23rd May in the Arches in Putney.
Full details when tickets go on sale later this month.

Thanks to Jamie Wyld who’s supported me on a number of these applications through ACE access fund, and thanks to Arts Council England too.

All the writing!

A guy surrounded by paper
A guy (actor Graeme Dalling) sitting on the floor surrounded by paper

I love writing and I love learning. This year has been a pretty good year, all in all. Currently I’m writing more than I have for a while.
I came across RoadMap Writers a couple of years ago, and since then have taken quite a few classes with them. I chose classes based on what the subject is and who the tutor is. All their tutors work in the industry, mostly in LA, so everyone is very connected to the film and TV industry there.
I’ve found their courses to be really good, always enjoyable, and the knowledge has been super useful.
This month, I’ve been doing my first private mentorship with someone who works at a management company, and I’m also doing a development 101 writing class, where we’re developing material – characters, outlines, etc for a pilot which we’ll go away at the end of the month and write the actual script for.
Ultimately, I like learning different ways of working, and they’ve both taught me different process’ which is useful.
With both classes, for the different projects, we’ll have very detailed discussions about character and story. The development class is actually really good as although it’s a group class, where normally there’s at least four students, this one there’s just two, so we both get lots of time with the exec to talk through our ideas.
So by the end of both classes, I’ll have enough to write two half hour pilots, which will add to my portfolio of spec scripts. A third one, which I finished already, based on a feature idea of mine, I’ve just sent to one production company and am going to email it to another, along with a couple of agents.
It’s interesting that I spoke to another writer at a networking event a while back and he spoke highly of the 30 page spec script – they actually have a lot going for them, especially if they’re good. They’re a quick read, and easy (most of the time) to digest, especially over a feature script. Something new for this year also is that I’ve been getting out there in the TV industry more, and am planning to send my new spec to a few places and hopefully it may even get me some meetings.

Producing Course

Way back in February I attended a producing course run by producer Richard Holmes. It was a one day course run by London Screenwriters Festival. I took a whole load notes and thought I’d share my thoughts about it here.
There was a lot of great information, and Richard was very honest about his work as well as telling us one or two things that shouldn’t leave the room (so I won’t be telling you about those!)
Some of the stuff, with myself having been a few years, I already knew, but it was the personal experience and anecdotes that really helped and filled in the gaps of knowledge.
It was great to hear about his success stories out of the 11 or so films that he’s been able to produce, 3 or 4 of them made a profit, and there was some variety in his work too.
He also told us about his experience with investors, and how if you do a presentation to just four people, then those four will know others who inevitably will have money to invest.
That to me is the trickiest bit – the finding of investors. I’ve personally been close to working with people who could potentially find investors, and now looking back I’m glad I didn’t, because nothing was ready, which would have been. Major problem if someone asked to read a script!
Now I’m in a much better position and know exactly what my next steps are. I sort of new in coming to the course I don’t really want to be a producer, but I’m still fascinated by the idea of it. I think because I, like some other filmmakers, became a producer by ‘default’ on a few of my shorts. But as much as I’m interested in it and have my own production company (so in a sense would be at least a ‘co producer’ on anything I do) it’s always great to work with a team, and work with someone else to take most of the producing work on. Not to mention the budgets!
Overall though Richards course was really useful in clarifying things, especially expectations when it comes to being a producer.
You can follow Richard on twitter at

The Randomness of All Things

I attended a writing workshop the other day, in Sutton library run by Rachel Sambrook. It was pretty good & I was impressed by how well attended it was. We had some exercises to do but the first one was simply introducing ourselves. There was my friend Richard & I, a couple of others who’d written quite a bit, and the rest were just beginners.
I was all prepared with my laptop to arrive & work on my book, it was a writing class after all. But then we were given a couple of writing exercises that were pretty good. One was writing a list of failures, as one of the points Rachel made that there were no real failures in writing, & this is true especially when you’re starting out – don’t focus on the pressure to have something that works straight away. Then after a couple more exercises we did some free writing.
After the workshop we went to Nandos, and one of the participants who was very friendly joined us. This really impressed me actually because it’s not easy to just meet new random people, especially as the workshop was only an hour during lunch time. So the 3 of us ended up in Nandos, and Aridja turned out to be just starting out as a vlogger. She got her camera out & started recording about meeting us & having Nandos, and she came across as very natural on camera. We ended up talking about Oprah, and saying who ever gets to meet her first can tell her about each other. So watch this space!


I saw the play Emilia yesterday, and my god am I glad I did. I noticed the reviews, (twitter is normally where I keep up with these things) and noticed it was at The Globe Theatre, but I never got to see it there, despite all the buzz around it. Then it transferred to the West End and so I booked last week to go this week. The play follows the journey of poet Emilia Bassano, who was apparently quite close to Shakespeare in the 1600’s, but also a writer in her own right who never quite found the means, and follows her journey through the times. I’ve read reviews saying that some of the claims the play makes about her life are quite contentious, but I’m not too worried by that personally (others have made the same claims too).
What was most interesting to me about the play, aside from some of the cast being disabled – and in quite prominent roles too
is that it used a lot of narration to tell the story, which makes me quite happy.

My first play was a one man play, so it was all narration, and then in developing my play The 49, it was a mix of narration and scenes. My new play, which I’ve called Comfort In The Voices Of Me, is all scenes. Writing the early drafts were a bit like pulling teeth, because I often struggle with writing long scenes, especially coming from a film background. But seeing Emilia, which filled my heart with joy and made me very happy, for various reasons, was a mix of both narrating directly to the audience and scenes. There were also three actors playing Emilia, at different ages, and they were also introduced at the beginning of the play. I’d love to go much more in depth in to the different types of theatre, particularly in relation to narrating directly to an audience vs not doing it. There’s no reason for narration in any play with more than one actor, but I like using it as a style, and Emilia used the technique very effectively and was equally as entertaining.
I do hope the play gets another run soon. If it goes on tour I’m definitely seeing it again.

Emilia was on at The Globe before transferring to Vaudeville Theatre until 1st June, and is written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm.

This One & The Next

I was doing box office on the penultimate day of Wandsworth Fringe 2019, having done my own show Hidden for the past 2 days. This was the 4th time I’ve done WAF in the 10 years it’s been running.

It’s been good to revisit my play ‘HIDDEN’ again, especially with Niall Phillips directing.

I feel like Niall totally got the play, as did actor McKenzie Alexander. He brought a performance that I haven’t seen before. Not afraid to do the gay parts of the script, and was believable in the new parts about being born with a deformity.

It’s also been interesting to see where to expand the play, and wonder whether something is only a 45 minute piece, whether it could be longer without feeling forced.

With Niall I also talked about what to do with it next & indeed, why we do theatre in the first place.

For me, I think it was about becoming a produced writer with a longer piece of writing. Sure, I’ve made short films & got funding for them, as I have with my memoir and Hidden this time round, following R & D funding in 2013.

But what’s the next step? And is it the same for every theatre maker? I’m not sure it is, but that’s a whole other blog! But the next step for me is to make a choice.

Well, actual next step for me is to start sending my book out to agents. I feel like it’s definitely ready for that.

Then on the play writing side I want to develop THE 49 into a longer play. But with my next film, I don’t just want to make another short film shot on a Canon 5D. Next step for me I think is to work with crew who’ve made feature films, so a great DOP, and then a ‘star’ name. I most want to make something next that the industry takes notice of.

So that’s the next challenge. To do something that makes a big ‘splash’. To work with really great people, and to get noticed. This could be a lot of people, or more realistically, it could just be a few people in the industry that will know my name because they saw my work. And one thing leads to another, which leads to another, and you just keep going. I think the people that keep going eventually get to the ‘top’.

The Year So Far

McKenzie Alexander stars in Hidden, Directed by Niall Phillips, Friday 17th May & Saturday 18th May in London. Photo by Gary Thomas

It’s been a busy period for me recently, as I had 2 big events in April – a  film networking party, and then the screening of 2 films I directed – Extra Time, written and produced by Mark Lever, and our fan made Doctor Who episode, written and produced by Richard Holliday with Mark as DOP.

It was great to see both films in front of a good turn out of people. We hired Wimbledon Theatre Studio Space, a really nice studio theatre, and had some 50 people in the audience. What was also great was to gauge the audiences reaction while they were watching both films, some of whom were in the industry. We had feedback forms and the next step will be to go through them and see where improvements need to be made.

The party I mention was one of the last days of Talent Campus, which I did this year. Talent Campus is sort of part of the London Screenwriters Festival – Chris Jones runs it and it was pretty epic to be involved in. ‘The Crucible’ is the name they give to the party where they invite industry and we, as a group of writers, get to meet industry folk who we can collaborate with in the future. It was great to be able to attend this, and I made  some good contacts there. During Talent Campus we wrote 3 pitch documents, one for film, one for TV and one ‘passion project’. I’m on page 40 of my feature script now, a wedding comedy, which I’m enjoying writing. My TV project will take a while longer, as that’s a six part series.

My passion project was a short film script I’d like to direct in the same vein as the wedding comedy. I’d love the wedding comedy to be my first feature as writer – director.

On Sunday I saw Hidden in rehearsals for the first time with Niall Phillips directing. I took a step back from directing this one after Edinburgh a couple of years ago, and it’s on Friday 17th at 7pm & Saturday 18th at 2pm, upstairs at The Cat’s Back in Putney. It was great to watch Niall work with actor McKenzie Alexander.

The show will be on as part of Wandsworth Fringe, which I’ve done for the past four years now, which is always great to be involved in. It’s on at The Cat’s Back, in Putney, on 17th at 7pm and the 18th 2pm.

Would be great to see you there!

Get tickets here:

The Inheritance

Photography by Marc Brenner

It’s taken me a while to write out my thoughts on The Inheritance  play. I think when a ton of people say something is so brilliant and it is, it still makes you wary of being another of those many people to say it.

My initial reaction was oh, how did this even get made, it’s about writing. And it is that. At least that’s how it starts. But very soon it becomes something else. It’s funny, poignant, moving and emotional. It’s about gay lives, but actually, in many ways, it’s about all our lives.

The play opens with a writer trying to work on his next project. In the script they are simply called Man 1, Man 2 etc… but they soon develop character names. I’d forgotten when I saw part 1 that it was kind of Howards End, and EM Forster was one of the characters. This is where it becomes special – and enchanting.

The story focus’ on Toby Darling, and his boyfriend Eric Glass. We watch their lives unfold, and I think the reason it’s been a hit, is if you really think about plays or films about gay lives, there aren’t that many good ones. So that this is better than good, makes it a must see, and as a writer it’s something I aspire to.

The extensive 2 part play (6hrs 35mins total) fills in some of the gaps missed out in Angels In America. It’s an incredibly positive portrayal of gay lives, of gay men living (and not living) with HIV & Aids, and it’s all weaved in through E M Forster’s Howard’s End, along with Maurice as another major influence. But despite that, or even because of it, it’s something truly original.

Covering time, we watch as the gay men watch the Clinton V Trump election unfold, as their optimism wanes, and as their fears are confirmed. This in fact mirrors a lot of the play. We see their highs and lows, their best times and their worst. We see how they meet, get engaged and split up, how they interact with all their friends.

The reason it works so well is that it’s all the things people have said about it. It flows and examines our lives, loves and losses. It’s relatable to people of almost any age. It shines a light through a microscope of how we live. Both in the past and in the present. It’s stunning, and I wish it could run in a theatre forever.

The Inheritance is on at London’s Noel Coward Theatre until 19th January. Written by Matthew Lopez & Directed by Stephen Daldry.