RICH List: Rich’s 10 Best Films.

Engross yourself in conversation with a director or writer-type for long enough and talk will invariably turn to motion picture faves, hates and Holy Grails. Finding out what someone slots into these cinematic pigeonholes can serve as a useful window into the creative soul of the listee.

Or it can red-flag the guy dressed like Brandon Lee in ‘The Crow’ touting his “whimsical” rom-com next to a stack of low-budget X-rated European slashers and Dario Argento DVDs.

Rich takes time out from drafting another short to indulge his passion for drafting lists. Then re-ordering them. Then changing the font. Then re-ordering them again. Then agonising over that second font choice…

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A film seemingly comprised from randomly generated elements: werewolves, psychopathic gypsies, a religious conspiracy, an incestuous longing, 18th Century France, and a heavily-tattooed, somersaulting native American kung-fu ninja! Strangely, it works. Even in French.

  1.  THE LORD OF THE RINGS – [all 3 films. I can have that as one choice, right?] – 2001, 2002, 2003

Firstly, for massive geeks like me, this is the equivalent of a pilgrimage. Fantasy taken seriously after all the “Muscles & Mullets” of 80s fantasy flicks. Peter Jackson treats them as alternative history and wrangles magic from a seamless blend of CGI, models and mattes, sets and stunts, and cast and costumes – ‘epic’ done right, in painstaking detail. Not a mullet in sight. Chris Waddle missed his chance.


An underworld urban myth of the devil in disguise played out across action set-pieces, intense interviews, and narrative sleight-of-hand. The whole cast plays a blinder, especially an Asian-Welsh Pete Postlethwaite. Features the greatest name in the whole of film history. “I am Keyser Soze. And so’s my wife.”


Fantastic story of a bunch mentally unwell vs. the medical establishment (read: misfits vs. conformity – the story was penned by ‘merry prankster’ Ken Kesey who pretty much wrote the book on misfitting) with a tour de force in unbridled mania from Jack Nicholson and a punch-the-air moment with a removable wash-stand. Nice shirt Chezzeroo!

  1.  MEMENTO – 2000

Back-to-fronty, twisty-turny and upside-downy… above all just an engrossing story from whichever direction you look at it and so clever with its chronology it has a Ph.D in timey-wimeyness. Watch the DVD – it includes a version of the movie edited to show the story ‘in the right order.’ Whoever thought Mike from ‘Neighbours’ would ever get so far?

Martial arts has worked wonders for Steven Seagal:  watch your lame ‘ex-Special Forces chef with wolf spirit guide’ pitch fall flat on its arse then chin-kick a studio exec through a window and – hey presto! – there’s $50million wired to your off-shore account for Under Siege 3…


Conniving, witty and waspish tale of decaying morals, reputations and social one-upmanship, with a ‘none more Malkovich’ performance from the rakish and razor-sharp Mr. M. Words used as weapons, love used as a landmine, all set in period splendour and dressed in French finery. Keanu Reeves gets a look-in too, just not a very big one:

     “Tell us what we should think of the opera, Chevalier?”

     “Woooah… it’s sublime, don’t you find… dude?”


Baffling, bonkers but brilliant. Does any of it make sense? Does that really matter? Possibly pretentious, possibly piffle but compelling viewing. A film to watch with your friends and play ‘Create Your Own Theory.’ A film with more questions than answers…or is it? Either you revel in the style or you’re holding the noose at the head of the David Lynch-mob.

  1.  GLADIATOR – 2000

A great film. A film with Russell Crowe in it. There’s not a large overlap in that particular Venn diagram but Crowe delivers here, in a blood ‘n’ guts tale of righteous revenge against a proper pantomime baddie. Not sure it will ‘echo through eternity’ but it will hold up well for a long time. A duck’s quack probably won’t echo through eternity either.


Not on the list. Knows exactly how to find you. Also cooks.

  1.  GROUNDHOG DAY – 1993

No-one does hangdog like Bill Murray. Or multiple suicide. (No, I can’t listen to ‘I Got You Babe’ without wanting to top myself either). A perfectly structured comedy with gags galore. Even the presence of Andi MacDowall doesn’t put me off this one. I can watch it again… and again… and again… and again…


Peter O’Toole being all English and Arabian and conflicted in his loyalties all at the same time. Deserts, dust and received pronunciation. And a man on a camel who takes a really, really long time to arrive – but then it is Omar Sharif and the casino’s at least 3 days ride…



Silence of the Lambs; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Apocalypse Now; The Exorcist; The French Connection.

Citizen Kane? Never seen it. Probably shouldn’t admit that.

On Collaborations [Or “Scripted Togethernessess”] – Pt. 2

Rich shows the other side of the coin… and it’s ‘heads’.  Or rather, ‘two heads’.

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Firstly: yeah, what he said [Part 1]. Co-writing works for us for a numbers of reasons and can yield advantages which might be worth thinking about if you’re a ‘lone-wolf.’ Or a lone Wilf.

Often Andy and I start work on HALF an idea and because there are two of us, it becomes a WHOLE idea… whereas if there’s just one of you, it might remain a HALF-arsed idea for a WHOLE lot longer. You might not even think it’s half an idea, just the beginning of a fragment of a teensy bit of an idea. But share it with your co-writing mucker and see what happens. Your co-writer has an idea that latches itself onto your first idea, which in turn sparks something else and before you know it, there’s a plot unfolding. And if nothing happens then you were right, it wasn’t even half an idea and you’d be better off moving onto something else.

Never under-estimate the value of having someone whose job it is to listen to you spout out your half-ideas and add useful suggestions about how to mould them into something whole or just into… something. Someone who can ask you searching questions like:

  • Why did the killer use the candlestick and not the rope / revolver / lead piping / mechanical egg-whisk?
  • Wouldn’t it be better if that character was an old woman instead of Tom Cruise?
  • Do we HAVE to have a llama in this scene?

Someone to work off, so that between you, you can tease out what the story, or scene, or character really needs. Or someone who will just say to you:

Er… No.

Sometimes you just need that. But it’s better coming from someone you trust, someone with a vested interest in making your manuscript as good as it possibly can be. The deal is of course that you have to put that trust in too. It doesn’t work if you get in a huff about your golden egg of an idea being cricket-batted by your writing buddy rather than transformed into a delightful soufflé. It only works if you aren’t too precious about your writing; if you are, screenwriting might not be for you in all honesty. This is a collaborative business and it pays to be flexible. Bend in the breeze. Like a ninja. A bendy ninja.

Having another PoV alongside your own is also an instant benchmark; you can tell instantly if your partner is excited by your suggestion, has suggestions of her/his own or stands staring at her/his shoes whilst tumbleweed rolls past with some plaintive harmonica. This is especially important if you need to get a sense of whether something is funny or not—much harder to do when you’re on your own, reeling off your one-liners to yourself to see if you crack up (or just crack).

ANDY:  …so it’s basically a Jane Austen-y type period romance that ends with a Mafia/Yakuza gun battle at a dolphinarium.

RICH: …??!?

ANDY:  Right.  I’ll just pop the old coat on and be off then…

Andy and I have been mates for more than 20 years, which helps. It means we share a sense of humour and frames of reference, most of which fall under guitar-bands, cartoons from the 70s and savoury snacks. This gives a kind of short-hand that helps us to short-cut rather than short-circuit.

But more than this, having a writing partner does make you GET ON WITH IT. Sure, play ideas ping-pong, act stuff out to see if it works, wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care… as long you’re being productive. When there’s two of you in the room, the process can take many forms. Even if one of you isn’t in the mood, you feed off the energy of your other writing ‘twinnie’. When I write on my own, the risk of an energy crisis is greater than an OPEC embargo – the ideas ping-pong has no ping, just pong, and the lure of noodling around in the Twitter-verse instead is too great to resist.

Having a mate to write with helps you encourage/cajole/beat great work out of one another and there’s definitely a sense that you don’t want to let your co-writer down… or let them write all the best bits.


Some chalk and cheese just feeding off each other’s cool and diverse ideas, yesterday.

Also, being in a team means the work tends to take shape a little quicker, though with one caveat: that you actually DO THE WORK. That means, no faffing* around, chatting about the footie, girlfriends, boyfriends, girl-boy friends, footie friends, or just last night’s drunken shenanigans**. Unless of course it leads to you actually writing a scene about exactly that. Co-writing can be great if it gives you more focus, but beware that it can derail your best intentions too.

It also helps if you divvy up the workload: if one of you is in full-flow on a full-blown flight of fancy, the other needs to grab pen/paper, PC, Dictaphone or camera to make sure the outpourings are recorded somehow, somewhere before they flutter away like rainbow-coloured sparkle dust in a gust of Satanic hell-trump. Or, if one of you does dialogue better, the other takes care of the structuring and scenic ‘book-ending’. And so it moves forward, as it does for me ‘n’ him, alternating the lead-and-follow:  Holmes and Watson; Bodie and Doyle; Terry and June.

But we always, ALWAYS, take turns making the tea.

[* faffing is a word. Yes it is.]

[** also a word. Official.]

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As always, if you want to know more about our scripts or wish to explore the possibility of filming one, have a browse through our LOGLINES section or strike up a conversation via our contacts in, er… CONTACTS.



Pints And Productivity: 1 Skype Call, 2 Lagers, 3 Scripts

Not a ‘lads-mag’ Jane Austen but a look back at how an online chat and a couple of postprandial meal softeners took us from 0 to 3 scripts before closing time and the last of the Bacon Fries…

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We’d arranged a Skype call with director John at 7:30 to discuss the progress of two of our shorts as well as the finer points of life, work and funding in John’s fresh new Glaswegian fields. We rattle through the preliminaries in a few short minutes:

  • the scripts are still sexy;
  • a production team is being assembled;
  • Scotland is supernaturally cold;
  • John’s bed is supernaturally messy (cheers, Skype…)

John distracts us from his tousled duvet with an eminently sensible plan for funding and filming going forward then advises he’ll be shooting low-to-no budget in a month or so with his new team: do we have anything ‘dialogue-y‘ we could punt his way for two characters in a single location…?

Not at 7:45 with full tummies and an eyeful of ‘crime scene’ bedroom we don’t, but give us some pointers and we’ll see what we can rustle up.

John likes what we do so bats the creative ball deep into our half of the court. He chuckles through our funnies in the right places for the right reasons but he’s also big on ‘dilemma’ and disarming twists and switches. He’s worried he’s being too vague in sketching out what is admittedly a pretty sketchy wish list but we don’t see it that way: give us a pirate hat, a lolly stick and a kilo of cubed beef and we’ll give you the daring deeds and hairs-breadth ‘scapes of buccaneering wooden terror Captain Stroganoff. It’s just got to be short. And cheap. And half the cost again.

DIRECTOR: So what have you got I could shoot in a day?

WRITER: The 25th Century. A space station perched on the outer ring of Saturn. Two gigantic space millipedes…

DIRECTOR: Okay, let me just stop you there a second…

In a final, inadvertent master stroke before returning to the remains of his detonated digs, John forwards over two headshots of actors he’s eager to work with and gives us plenty of time before the shoot to mull everything over. Now we have a spare couple of pub hours and some smouldering publicity portraits to pin a few stories and situations on. Lining up a couple of cold-filtered imagination lubricators, we make short work of making short works.

Between Premier League predictions and strategic micturitions (possibly not a real word…), we flesh out two single-location comedies and a spellbinding little dramatic short that owes much to Rich’s willingness to wipe the smile off what started life as a cast iron belly laugher but ended up with a sizeable lump in its throat. Thinking only in shillings and pence, we cook up an irritable vampire, a double-booked werewolf, a private investigator obsessed with the photographic clarity of a cheating husband and a cosy, cuddly conflab about home improvements that’s anything but. All this at 10:00 from nothing whatsoever at 7:30.


Captain Stroganoff – Benedict Cumberbatch perhaps…?

As writers, it feels great to be able to layer something as substantial on so disjointed a collection of bones in so short a space of time. However, much as I love the image of the fast-thinking, finger-clicking screenplay ninja, looking back I realise just how much was already ‘there’: a director who connects with our writing style; a host of shared ideas and fragments finding new reasons to be thrashed out; a couple of faces to stick in a room and characterise; crisps and lager. The movie-making cogs may at times move slower than a lazy glacier handcuffed to a radiator handcuffed to Terry Waite, but the wait on one project shouldn’t detract from the excitement of beginning another. Next time out we’ll hit the cognac on empty stomachs, set fire to the director’s bed and hammer out an award-winning, multi-season series about a bunch of pals living together in the same West Village apartment block. Perhaps we’ll even call it ‘Pals’.

As for Captain Stroganoff, he’s way too meaty for the shorts.

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As always, if you want to know more about our scripts or wish to explore the possibility of filming one, have a browse through our LOGLINES section or strike up a conversation via our contacts in, er… CONTACTS.

On Collaborations [Or “Scripted Togethernesses”] – Pt. 1

Andy takes first hit at this…

There’s a lot of ‘creative difference’ here at Rich Teasers, but it hasn’t led to a fractious feud of call screening, social media un-friending and mutual no-eye-contacting at beer meets and barbecues. It comes from learning that in spite of those differences and the impediments other writers might identify in the practice, “collaboration” isn’t such a dirty word after all.

Skidmark“, however…

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Introduce yourselves as a writing ‘team’ to some script scribblers and they adopt the kind of expression one does when handed a Tupperware box of raw giblets and sick. They don’t agree with it, you see. It doesn’t work. It stifles creativity or makes the pure idea an ugly hodgepodge of half-formed characters and cross-purpose narratives. Reactions oscillate between ‘mildly perplexed’ and ‘Westboro Baptist’:

  • “So who does the writing and who makes the tea?”
  • “Oh, so you’re the brains? And you must be… the other one?”
  • “Do you settle plot arguments on a dice roll or with swords?”
  • “They were shaving people’s heads for that sort of thing back in the day.”
  • God will not long suffer this rank sorcery… OUT, ACCURSED DEVIL, OUT…!!

the assumption being that any genuine gold we may have mined between us will inevitably dilute down through argument and obstinacy into a patchwork jumble that succeeds only in missing its own point.

But it never does. We collaborate on every piece of writing at Rich Teasers – we always have. Howsoever the seed of an idea germinates and grows into a thick-rooted, castle-bearing beanstalk, it does so in the knowledge that the collaborative aspect of its development has made it a stronger thing than it would have been if nurtured alone: now it’ll bear a castle and an adjoining Waitrose.

WRITER: Hey, I hear you guys write together?

RT: That’s right. Hi, we’re…


Knowing each other for such a long time certainly helps but it doesn’t guarantee that twin-like synchronicity of cause-and-effect where one of us walks into a door and the other gets a bloody nose. We still have wildly different ideas about what makes characters and circumstances engaging and worthy of further exploration. Rather, it’s a ‘trust thing’ that turns our creative differences into useful development tools. We trust that however much our raw and vulnerable newborn ideas are prodded and poked at, the consequences of sharing will always be rewarding, surprising and definitive. Neither of us worry that our beautiful bouncing babes will be slighted in the same fashion as the rancid Tupperware box – and perhaps that’s what separates us from some of the resolute lone-wolves out there…?

More and more, we draw on our differences to create opportunities, the legacy of which is a confidence to share and a determination to explore any idea from any angle to find that ‘buzz’ that puts us in the same creative groove. When Rich initially pitched My First Week [see LOGLINES] as a rom-com, I was staring into the sick and giblets, gently humming “The Girl From Ipanema” and climbing aboard the mind train to Happyplace. But as averse to the genre as I am, I knew Rich would have a take on it that’d beat most others all ends up and that he’d trust me enough to know that ‘working on it’ wouldn’t mean chucking the whole thing on the fire first. The result was an idea that had us both hooked and which had its entire storyline fixed by the end of the same afternoon. How very different things would’ve been if Rich had wrapped his kid in cotton wool and kept mum. How very different my own drafts would be without the collaborative cherry-topping they’ve all finished with.


“Thus for ALL collaborators…!”

This attitude of openness has also held us in good stead when it comes to the kind of conversations we want to be having as screenwriters: conversations with film makers.

The director loves your script – loves it – but after circulating it around her equally admiring team of battle-ready movie makers, she thinks there’s some adjustments you should make to really nail this sucker to the wall. You could snatch up the prized manuscript and tell her and her team of sycophantic ingrates that they wouldn’t know gold if they were left to drown in an Olympic-sized pool of the stuff… or you could accept that even gold needs a good solid buff to accentuate that mesmerising dazzle and crack on with your edits. After all (and with apologies to Ernest Hemingway), while the first draft of everything might not always be sh*t, it’ll never be the one that gets to actually be something. And yours may not be the only footprints in the sand.

Over to Rich

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[Do you write with others or are you a creative Greta Garbo? Have your collaborative efforts improved your end products or left you wishing you’d pushed on alone? We’d love to hear about your experiences so comment away or tweet us at @RTscripts]


Liking Coffee Is NOT A Character Trait

Rich takes writers to task who measure themselves by their caffeine intake…

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WARNING: contains mild snarks.

I ‘like’ coffee. And tea. And an encyclopaedic drinks list of beverages hot and cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, still and sparkling* and so on and so forth. Taking on fluids is a chief criterion for staying alive, isn’t it?**. How would a Bedouin get to draw his pension otherwise?  It’s rather like saying “I like air“. Everybody drinks something. Probably many different things. As it’s one of the most abundant and popular libations on the planet, coffee is quite likely to be one of them. Hardly marks you out from the crowd though, does it? I drink coffee. I love coffee! But I hope to Christ it’s one of the least interesting things about me, otherwise pour me a flat white, colour me boring and move on to someone with a better handle on what makes them interesting.

…but which of the coloured wires would diffuse the bomb in time?  “Christ,” thought Bond, “I could murder a latte…”

So, writers, a humble suggestion: maybe don’t emblazon “drinks coffee” across your Twitter profile, blog bio, or worse, your book bio, however true it is. Because boring. Because beige. Because beverage. Yeah, writers aren’t always blow-away interesting in person (conversations tend to begin, middle and end with their books), but don’t fall into the bland-trap of advertising the fact. Think of something else to say. Or say nothing.  “I like coffee” is a wide-armed, open-mouthed biographical yawn stretch, an admission you’ve drawn a blank on anything better to say about yourself. Worse, it pretty much amounts to saying “I am a dull and unimaginative writer. Buy my book. It features people who love coffee.”

So maybe think outside the cafetière.

Or lie, of course. You write, yes? You have an imagination? Then cook up a few curiosity-piquing whopperoos. When I’m asked to review books by unknown authors, I’m far more inclined to read the one by ‘shark-wrestling, fire-eating pogo champion’ Writer A than deadpan ‘coffee connoisseur’ Writer B.  Even if ‘shark-wrestling, fire-eating pogo champion’ Writer A sounds like she puts away more coffee than perhaps is good for her. The point is she damn well sounds interesting, so I’m guessing her characters might radiate a little of that bouncy, fish-wrangling fire too.


Drinks coffee. Still interesting.

It doesn’t hurt to jazz it up a little. Start with your coffee. I’ll have a goats’ milk skinny triple-whipple mocha-choco Americano cappuccino with almond syrup and Dream Topping. And, yes, my characters are interesting.

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not champagne though – way overrated; gives me heartburn and makes my breath smell like ‘horse compost’.

** so is letting them out the other end, but no-one ever states ‘I love to pee’ as an insight into their character, do they?