Katie Mccullough Talks and Writes

Words will get written here and some videoblogs will appear. You don't have to look but it would be nice if you did.

Whiteboard Wisdom/Reminder June 3, 2012

Something so simple, but I’m prone to forgetting. Writing is written to be read. Someone’s taken the time to spill their head/heart/gut on the page. Give those words the credit they deserve, it’s not a race. 


How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Deadlines May 29, 2012

My freelance job has increased over the last few months which I won’t complain about because a) I love it and b) this means more people are paying me. Niceness. But what this means is that I suddenly have to approach the time I dedicate to writing differently. And by differently I mean more structured. And by more structured I mean actually having a plan. Some weeks I have a whole day to attack the different projects I’m juggling, other weeks I have a sparse few hours each evening to select the most important script to work on.

This is what I do and so far I’ve beaten every deadline with loads of time to spare. Sizeable chunks my friend. Simple as that. I’m not breaking new ground here, I’d like to think that most people do this. But this is the method that I use to juggle and it’s the most effective approach so far. I used to dedicate whole weeks to different projects but that was when I was writing to my own time scale. Now I’ve got people asking for work I’ve had to change and refine it. My most cherished writing tool, the humble whiteboard, becomes littered with the week ahead broken down into the days with corresponding items on the agenda to do. And they’re achievable things. A day’s breakdown recently was as follows:
* Sketch down some ideas for that person
* Re-read draft 3 of that film script
* Research that particular myth
* Print out the map for that recce
* Think about a title for this play


But the important thing is I write down small chunks of stuff to do for each day that I know are possible for me to actually do. The point of this exercise is having the foresight to know you can achieve them. What will happen is that the chunks will be so small in comparison to tackling your project as a whole, that you’ll more than often end up doing the next chunk because you’re motivated and focused. And that next chunk you might’ve planned it for in a few days time or the following week, but it doesn’t matter, this is a good thing. If you’re ahead of yourself things can only get better and your morale will be lifted. If you’re falling behind it’s because your chunks are cut too big or you suck at actually writing something that interests the author: you.
We all need a deadline whether it be self-imposed or if someone else is banging a desk demanding it by five o’clock. I’ve never actually had someone banging a desk but I’ve had someone sending me an email asking for the latest draft… I’d say that’s the modern day equivalent. The best thing to do is embrace that deadline and treat it as your deity. Take it out for a spin, show it the sights, buy it a drink and take it to bed because it’s going to fuck you either way. It’s just up to you whether it’ll be good or bad and if you’ll come back for more.

[I look pretty vacant in the photo, I had just planned a whole narrative over five whiteboards…]


Collaboration March 19, 2012

I’ve been asked a lot over the last few months about how I can be so busy with different projects. My response is that I actively seek collaborative partners so I keep creatively stimulated. The other major influence for me wanting to delve into the collaborative process with projects like Ship Notes, Simone, Nascent Collage .etc. is because it makes me do work. By including other people you’re actively spurring them on to do work and therefore creating an environment where you too have to respond. In essence you’re not wanting to let anyone down. So you do the work. If only for that reason alone, it makes me work hard. Some people may not like that approach, but it works for me. It keeps it simple transaction.

“If you don’t do the work you will let someone down. So do the work.”

And voila! I do the work. It actively engages your brain with the notion that if I do A then B happens. It’s something we already know but it’s putting it in a different context. I apply it to all areas of my work. In my own theatre work I’ve gone out of my way to avoid doing what I need to do, we all do it. For me a lot of my work is off my own back which means there are no enforced deadlines or definite productions so I meander through the weeks and come up with excuses. But because I’m juggling different projects it makes me focus in on what I need to do. It crafts its own work schedule.

Binshit is not a word. But it’s part of the creative process of elimination…

“I’ve got to respond to so-and-so’s part of the project and then I want to do some brainstorming on my play, oh and by that time the other so-and-so might have got back to me with their next chunk of the project so I’ll look at that…”

Overall it makes me aware I’m generating work for myself. And that’s how it should be. It makes me feel like I’m doing something and keeps me busy. And when I say busy I don’t mean it just in the literal sense, but I mean creatively busy. I’ve been lucky in that so far two collaborative projects have worked so well that the end fruition will be displayed to the public. But that should never be the end goal essentially – if you embark on something only because of the end result you’ve got your perspective all wrong. Fair enough you may have a project you want to release into the world, but the thought has to be put into it otherwise it’s a hollow shell of what it could be. And that ‘thought’ translates as work. It should be an area of your life devoted to keeping yourself creatively fresh and bouncing off ideas with people, helping someone else out of a creative funk and being a support but through your work. The idea should always be, “let’s create an environment where we can fail and it doesn’t matter”. Nothing should be sacred, nothing should be too polished otherwise you’re not really listening to each other. It should be one big experiment, nothing is concrete. Not only will it allow you to explore areas that you might not have pondered on before, but it will also heighten your awareness of working with other people either in the same medium or a different one.

I’m not saying that everyone reading this should instantly fire off an email to a whole bunch of people demanding they work on a collaborative project. But I do suggest mulling over if there’s someone you know in a different creative field who might be open to the suggestion of ping-ponging some ideas. You never know where it will lead, but I bet you anything you’ll learn something from it. Whether it’s never to do it again or not is another thing. The absolute worst that could happen is that it doesn’t work for you. It’s just an idea. 


Moving On Or At Least Taking A Step Back (Sometimes…) March 24, 2011







On the film side of things there’s a project that I’m extremely excited about which is called, “SOUTHBANK UNSEEN“. It’s going to be a collection of short films from the perspective on different people along the Southbank and in tandem it’ll be getting scientific advise from top neuroscientist Geraint Rees. As most of you know one of the jobs I do is that of Film Festival Distribution and it’s a job I thoroughly enjoy. I scout out different festivals all over the world and submit my client’s films into festivals whilst building up dialogues with the programmers and coordinators. I’ve been specifically asked to be involved with this project in that capacity, but I’m also taking on the role of Publicist. What captured my interest about this project is the amazing amounts of how interactive it can be. The approaches to getting it to an audience are limitless because of the variety of the films.


Collectively SOUTHBANK UNSEEN can be marketed as an entire project meaning that they could be entered in to festivals worldwide. There are a higher concentrate of experimental festivals that are art-led and explore installation territory abroad which means we’ll have an ever increasing audience across the board. There are genre specific festivals that call out for documentaries such as DOXA Documentary Film Festival (Canada), One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (Prague), Sundance Film Festival (USA), Edinburgh International Film Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival (USA), London International Documentary Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest, the list goes on. All of these are established festivals with opportunities for further distribution that can add more interest to the project and propel it further. This is my job.



SOUTHBANK UNSEEN brings together an amazing team, who are all working for the love:


Deva Palmier an award winning filmmaker, directing.

Fionn Groegor an excellent production manager, producing.

Jes Benstock an award winning filmmaker, co-producing.

Prof. Geraint Rees a world renowned neuroscientist, our scientific adviser.

Karoline Moser an outstanding editor and head of Editing at the Met Film School, editing.

Julian Stewart Lindsay an outstanding composer, who has worked with the best, composing.

Alastair Sirkett a top sound editor, designing the sound.

Marianne Agertoft a top costume designer, taking care of the costumes.

Katie McCullough who is amazing at publicising projects and clued up on international festivals, is publicist.

Nick Ward who has worked on numerous London Consortium TV shoots will be working in the crew.


London Consortium TV are offering to crew the shoot with students and provide the second camera and sound equipment.


The project has so many fantastic people attached and I’m excited for the outcome. Unfortunately (as most people are encountering right now) we had our funding application rejected. With so many brilliantly qualified people involved and everyone passionate about the idea, we were disheartened. But we’ve decided to go ahead and make the films regardless, just on a lot smaller budget than planned. We’re asking for a very small sum of money to be raised via IndieGoGo to cover catering, travel expenses, insurance .etc. The details that people forget are vital to any film shoot. We’ve been lucky enough to get equipment and editing facilities given to us free of charge, now it’s just tying up the loose ends so the project can run as smoothly as we’d like.


For those new to IndieGoGo it’s a donation site that’s international. Similar to WeFund that Box Of Tricks used for Word:Play4, but with this site the total doesn’t have to be reached for the donations to reach the project. There are particular donation amounts which will provide you with either credits, DVDs, private screenings and other quirks. This really is a project that I am excited about, because we’re making it because we want to. We’ve already secured our premiere to be at the BFI as part of the Mayor’s Thames Festival and to have the film screened on the exterior wall of the Southbank Centre and on top of that are in talks for other innovative ways to screen around the Southbank. We’re all invested and more importantly we have an audience already. I can’t divulge the finer details as yet, but when I can it’ll be electric! Please spare what you can, be it £5 up to whatever. Be a part of the collaborative process and help the arts at the same time. It’ll make us happy, you feel good and an audience appreciative of being able to see the finished product. Please share with those that might be able to help.







Go on, you know the drill… July 16, 2010

Somehow I’ve not grown tired of these (yet) and this by far has to be the most creative I’ve got. And that’s said with the loosest of terms.



This week’s venture was sponsored by my limited working selection of Sharpie pens, Ed Harcourt being so wonderous to put instrumentals of his songs on the new album (this was Heart Of A Wolf), ultimate procrastination, a lie-in and an admiration for proper mimes and puppeteers and an over-riding wish to be able to draw properly.


(Just in case you think I’m megally stunted in maturity all is explained with the first one of these I did which is here…)


I’m sorry… Ask me how many… July 9, 2010

… Saturdays I have left to work. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of this soon.



This post was sponsored by backwards writing, Atlas by Battles, the thunder fly that decided to die behind my iMac screen, a cheap imitation of sugar free Red Bull and an extremely dry sore throat.