A Degree In Creative Writing

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The first of this month, February 2016, marked the start of my Open University degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. So, as I embark on this new chapter in my life, I figured now was as good a time as any to begin the blog that I have been wanting to write for a couple of years. Firstly to share some of the knowledge I have gained through my experiences as a so called entertainment industry ‘professional‘, secondly to express some of my thoughts and feelings on the current state of said industry, and thirdly as a means of practicing and improving my writing.

What better way to do that than simply to write?

But before all that, perhaps I should begin by introducing myself. My name is Mark. I am a lover of stories, be they told through film, writing, a dance, a piece of art, or music. The myriad of different mediums are too numerous to list. I am a trained singer, dancer and actor and have been working in the entertainment industry around the world for 20 years. I have worked on short films and feature films, voiced for commercials, computer games, corporate training and educational videos, read the news for online media, performed on stage in plays and musicals, in theme parks as a face character and parade artist and most recently I have begun narrating audio books for a number of different authors.

Mark Stenhouse and the cast of Monster Rock. Singapore, 2009.I have also begun creating my own work. My first film, Lift, that I wrote, directed and acted in, was screened at festivals both in the UK and internationally. It went on to be nominated for 5 awards including Best Cinematography, Best Script and Best Original Score thanks to the wonderful musical talents of Liam Brock, who as well as writing and recording the film’s soundtrack, also helped me produce and ultimately film it as the camera operator. Our efforts were rewarded as the film won a Special Mention at the 2014 London Lift-Off Film Festival as well Film of the Month via Big Screen Bradford. Lift is now available to watch on cable and can be seen on Sky Arts in the UK and Ireland until August 2016.

Other projects of my own that I am currently working on include Moonchild, a fairytale short film that is currently in the ‘editing room’, Beyond the Dark, a sci-fi short that is in development and has had some great concept art drawn up, and Feathered Friends, a children’s animated series based on the short stories ‘The Hens of Terrace Mews’ that is also currently in development.

Writing it all out like this makes me realise two things. One, that I have actually done quite a lot over the years, and two, that I really shouldn’t be as broke as I am.

That is one of those ‘state of the industry’ topics for later.

Mark Stenhouse & Liam Brock win Special Mention at the 2014 London Lift-Off Film Festival.So now that introductions are out the way and you have a general idea of things, you may be wondering what it is I am actually hoping to write about.

Well, I want to share what I have picked up through years of teaching myself through trial and error. That way you won’t have to have quite as many temper tantrums as I have in the past, though no doubt there will still be some!

To begin, there will be tutorials for effective video editing, tips on forming your shots, some basic colour grading, as well as guides on how I go about recording, cutting and mastering my VO spots and audiobooks. As the topics I will be discussing are not tied to any one piece of software, but rather are simply techniques that can be utilized in a number of different ways across various platforms, I will try to use free software to demonstrate whenever possible. This way it will ensure that anyone who wants to learn the techniques themselves will be able to give it a go without having to spend a penny, or worry about what DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), NLE (Non-Linear Editor) or other such pieces of wondrous, ‘do it all’ software they might need.

As I take my own projects through the various stages of production I will share their progress, as well as some of the processes I go through in order to drag them kicking and screaming to the finish line.

As well as all that I will be writing sporadic reviews on any books that I read, films, TV or anime (yes I watch it, you should too if you want to see some truly masterful storytelling) that I find time to watch, as well as any new (essential) gear that I purchase for my home recording studio or film making purposes, mainly because I just enjoy talking about that kind of thing.

I have also already received requests for some posts on how to go about setting up your own blog or website on wordpress (which I use for all my sites), as well as how you can move your old blogger or tumblr accounts over to the new platform. Although these posts are a little off topic to my general theme, people will no doubt find them useful, so expect to see those quite soon.

A pre-VFX still from MoonchildSo there it is, the master plan. Thanks for sticking with me this far. I am off to start writing some of the aforementioned posts, so whilst you wait, why not follow this link and watch some of the short films from Sundance 2016 over on the No Film School website and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Or if you are already working on a project of your own and are desperately in need of some music, then check out the Ridehouse portfolio over on audiojungle. We are adding more tracks all the time, and if you don’t see quite what you’re after then get in touch and let us know. We would be happy to discuss writing a track just for you.

That’s all for now. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and make sure to subscribe so I can let you know when there is a new post available.

Till then, take care.

MS.

The Hens of Terrace Mews - Feathered Friends Concept Art

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