Featured

BEWARE… you’re in for a SCARE

It’s no exaggeration to say that 2020 has been in a year full of twists and turns that nobody could predict even if they tried.

March 2020, was a different world. The Sirens were working tirelessly on an appealing application to secure funding from Arts Council England. Our first project would have been a series of short theatre plays set to be performed in a well-known Birmingham theatre.

We then received the news about the impending lockdown. Unsurprisingly our theatre project plans were put on hold, as a result. Although understandably disappointed, we were mindful of the impact that COVID-19 would have on everyone.

During isolation, we created #GoingViral, which was released on IGTV and YouTube in June. As the autumn months drew closer and a second lockdown was inevitable, we decided to create a new project using a different medium than we had used before.

Having proven our ability before with little to no budget, this time we decided to apply for funding again with the Arts Council England. A nervous waiting period ensued; then we received confirmation that the project got approved for funding. After jumping for joy on Zoom and a flurry of happy face emojis, it was time for the work to begin.

We decided this time to write for radio. After working in pairs for #GoingViral this time we chose to make Siren Screams episodes have individual writers. As we are becoming more established as a group, we felt that it was essential for each person’s voice to shine. We knew that the stories had to be creepy, unsettling and random.

The Sirens collectively had varying degrees of experience in the radio world, but we wanted to challenge and push ourselves as a group and decided to go for it. We studied the formatting of radio scripts and learned how to write for a non-visual medium. We shared scripts for feedback. Once everyone was happy with their final draft, production then commenced. 

Our Siren Screams producer, Scarlett, had this to say about the production process:

‘Honestly, it’s been a wild ride! From page to podcast in under three weeks was a challenge, but I have enjoyed myself. From the first read-through over zoom with our cast I knew we were onto something special. The vibe I was going for was The Archers meets Inside No. 9 and the talent I was working with just got it! With lockdown 2.0 imminent, I knew I had to plan to produce the project in social isolation. 

This involved mostly using voice actors with studios in their own home – recording as I directed over Zoom. I did this first, with the ever-constant professional Sean Connolly. After this, I was able to iron out the kinks in the process, that I then used with Miriam Sarin, Jon Buckeridge, David Robinson and Ellie Darvill. With Louise Osbourne and Carmen Capuano I managed to nip in with one studio session, graciously lent to us by Drew Roper of Yamination Studios before the new restrictions came in. Lastly, we myself and my partner Matt Whatton and Carys Jones recording our parts at our home having to create a soundproof space to record out of a tent, blankets and sofa cushions strapped to the windows of our flat – this felt much more like we were playing ‘fort’. 

“Then of course there was the editing process with David Birnie who I found through the Birmingham Conservatoire. Being unable to ever meet in person we used a combination of Zoom, voice notes, emails and Whatsapp to communicate. David able to understand and create magic from my notes even they were mostly me describing ‘feelings’ on drafts and sections as opposed to technical language –I have gotten so used to speaking to him every day it now feels weird that the production is over.’ 

We want to again thank Arts Council England for supporting our project. We also want to thank the cast and crew for lending us their voices and talent. And we want to thank everyone who has taken the time to watch our audio plays.

Watch all episodes of Script Sirens presents…Siren Screams on any link below.

Acast https://bit.ly/35xnghK

Apple Podcast https://apple.co/3kHpXSm

Spotify https://spoti.fi/2UkpvP4

Google Podcast https://bit.ly/3pzhvYZ

Featured

Meet the actors of #GoingViral

The time is nearly upon us, so get acquainted with our stellar cast!

We all know a Miami, the humble bragger that jets around the world without a care and values likes and retweets over genuine human experiences. This tragically vacuous content creator is played by Sarsi Grace.

Sarsi Grace | @Sarsi_Grace

Originally from Australia – where she did a number of short films as well as extra work for feature films – Grace recently began to venture back into screen work following stage credits in Side By Side By Sondheim and playing Shell Dockly in Bad Girls, with in-training roles in Heathers (Ms Fleming) and The Producers (Ulla).

We’re so excited to see Miami’s veneer removed by her reclusive housemate Daria, who has an… unconventional palette, much to Miami’s annoyance. Miami and Daria just can’t quite seem to see eye-to-eye – it’s a wonder their cohabitation has lasted so long!

Sinead Davies | @sineaddavies49

The endlessly patient Daria is portrayed by Sinead Davies. Hailing from Ireland, Davies trained at the Cumbria Institute of the Arts in Carlisle before moving to London to work as an actor.

Focussing on theatre and working on new writing, in March she starred in Save Your Kisses For Me at the Drayton Arms Theatre. With previous roles in The Secret Garden (Mrs Medlock) and Cymbeline, she is also a singer, violinist and – since lockdown began – a guitarist too!

But an introvert can only tolerate so much from a tirelessly extraverted housemate, so some more composed company is highly appreciated. Enter the semi-level headed Damien.

Adam Fray

With over ten years experience in the film and TV industry, Daria’s cousin Damien is played by London-based actor Adam Fray. Having starred in Hustle, Citizen Khan, Danny and the Human Zoo and Deadtime, Fray has also worked behind the camera as a producer, videographer and comedy content creator.

During a lockdown Zoom call about “something to do with Miami”, Damien and Daria’s grandma Joyce is a persistent interruptor, one who hears enough of their conversation to make her panic and slink away to make a private call of her own.

Rebecca Easen | @RebeccaEasen | contact: info@redtalentmanagement.com

The lovable Joyce is portrayed by Rebecca Easen, who has over 20 years experience playing lead and chorus roles in musical theatre. She began acting only three years ago after attending Script Siren Louise Osbourne’s class Acting for Screen.

Since then, Easen has starred in several short films and recently performed in Conscious, an original play performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Playmill Festival in London.

A trembling Joyce grabs her phone and waits for her sister, Beth, to answer.

Jenny Stokes

Tightly wound with no filter, Beth is played by the formidable Jenny Stokes, a Midlands-based actress of TV, stage and film whose projects include Doctors, Tinned Goods, Holding Baby, Carpet Fitters and Crimewatch.

Stokes has also written and performed as her comedy alter-ego Dolly Grip in a one-woman show at the Edinburgh, Birmingham and Henley-on-Thames Fringe Festivals.

We may or may not discover the troubles with Miami, but one person isn’t taking her absence from social media casually. A Miami super-fan, Phoebe fights to find Miami and uses her famous hashtag to form the campaign #whereismiami999. After making slow progress, she begins to turn her attention closer to home…

Kitty Underhill | @kittyunderhillx | Contact: bookings@crumbagency.com

The obsessive Phoebe is played by plus sized model and London-based actress Kitty Underhill. With a range of performing experience, Underhill has starred as the title character in short film REP, The House of Bernada Alba (Martirio) and quirky comedy A Glass of Nothing (Tallulah). You can also catch her in the music video for Blonde and Bryn Christopher’s ‘Me, Myself and I’.

Show our wonderful cast some love, by watching all four episodes of our debut project #GoingViral on Script Sirens’ Instagram from 7pm on Monday 8th June!

Signing off,
Script Sirens x

Featured

An important announcement…

So yes, we’ve been teasing you, as of late.
The keener-eyed amongst you may have spotted our clues… we can’t wait to share what we’ve been chewing over with you, after all!

Well today, we are excited to announce our very first Script Sirens project… #GoingViral!

We mentioned in our last blog post that the current COVID-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown meant that our intended debut project has been put on hold, and rightfully so. Like most of you, we were completely thrown by the situation and had to take time to sit and reflect on our new way of life.

After this, we decided as a group that we wanted to continue being creative despite what was happening in the outside world – and this meant we had to adapt. Whilst social media and the online world had previously felt like something which we needed a detox, it was now the much-needed tool on which we had come even more reliant – to keep in touch with family and friends, to work and also, to entertain ourselves from the ever-revolving, mentally tolling news cycle.

The music industry had been quick to embrace the Instagram Live stream as a means of engaging with fans, but so far the arts industry has been completely thrown. Why not then utilise the social mediums of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more to show what can be achieved with this technology, creating remotely, independently, and yet still together.

Planned and co-written over two weeks and produced and filmed over a further two weeks, #GoingViral is our first foray into performance and, with such a quick turnaround, shows what can still be achieved and that 2020 as a year need not go to waste.

We’re excited to share more on the logistics of the project at a later date as we are currently in production, but what quickly became clear is that each part of the individual pre-production approached this in ways most preferable to them. This included an “in-character” live writing session (courtesy of Google Drive!), something that we would never have thought to try, but was quick, successful, and immensely gratifying!

Our audition, casting and rehearsal process occurred entirely on Zoom, which will be the basis of our episodes, along with Instagram Live and a more traditionally artsy self-taped episode to close. As technology isn’t always 100% reliable, we’re hoping that any technological mishaps will add charm and reliability, for anyone faced with a buffering screen!

#GoingViral is set in our present lockdown situation, but is not about COVID-19. It is instead about how elements of life still continue during such crisis, for better or for worse.

Introducing @whereismiami – our Instagram influencer has built a large following with her travels around the globe, but her trip to Bali was cut short, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak. She has to return home to London for the first time in months. Miami projects an affluent lifestyle to her followers, but behind the lens she is much less so; she shares her London apartment with her flatmate Daria as she cannot afford it without the additional rent. Miami and Daria are very different people, and whilst chalk and cheese may work out, this is not one of those cases.

Keep your eye on our social media over the coming weeks to get acquainted with Miami, Daria and the other characters of our world. We hope you’re as intrigued to see where our story goes, as we are to share it with you.

Signing off,
Script Sirens x

Featured

Introducing… Script Sirens

You may have seen the name “Script Sirens” floating about. But what is a “Script Siren”, and who is a “Script Siren”?  
Well, if you’ve come this far then we presume that we have some things in common.

Script Sirens is a collective of writers situated in Birmingham, UK.

Our founder, Scarlett, was tired of looking for a supportive film and TV-focused writing group in the West Midlands in what is still, predominantly, a male-oriented area of the arts. 

So, she set one up, and – using her contacts to put the word out – found what can now be considered the core founding members of the group. You can learn a lot more about them over on our Meet the Sirens page.

Every member – founding or otherwise – is invited to share and support our core values.

We pride ourselves in being an inclusive group free from discrimination: we want our members to know that they are in a safe and nurturing environment, where ability and age never come into the equation. We have a clear focus on promoting female and non-binary writers and are a trans-inclusive space. 

We are especially keen in developing writer’s voices who are from areas of society that are often underrepresented on screen or stage, be they of a lower-socio economic background, BAME, disabled or otherwise marginalised; we have members who use writing to heal from mental health issues. 

Members of Script Sirens are a healthy balance of younger to older female voices. It is fantastic that the industry is now pushing for female voices, but we are aware that focus tends to be on the young. This leaves many of those older voices, who were left out before, still in that same position. It is only right that the world has access to old and new stories that can equally be conveyed from new perspectives. 

Although many of our members have worked and achieved success in the industry, we are firm believers that no matter where you are in your writing career, the established can learn from the novice and vice versa. 

Our monthly meetups have a section reserved on the agenda for script and pitch development; we encourage our writers to share work in advance ready for peer to peer feedback.

Do you think you’d find a home with Script Sirens? If all of the above resonates with you, then keep an eye out for future meetups and RSVP (if it’s your first time attending, please email!) In the meantime, do follow us on social media: you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @scriptsirens ♥

We look forward to meeting you and sharing our creativity with the world.

Signing off, 
Script Sirens x

The 2020 Siren Review

2020 has been a lot. And we all know why. Now that that’s out of the way let’s move on. This year the Sirens have grown in many ways. We want to thank everyone who has supported us and worked with us this year.

Here’s is a little snap shot of Script Sirens’ 2020...

Creative career achievements in 2020

Scarlett Kefford: I’ve had a few creative career achievements – which is kind of mad considering everything that is going on. Making #GoingViral on zero-budget during the strictest period of lockdown was an achievement in itself, but getting my RTS Award nomination for Breakthrough Off Screen for producing the series was most definitely a highlight! I was also delighted to win Arts Council Lottery Funding to make Siren Screams, and honestly, it was just a joy to handsomely pay my writers and creatives for their work. I also came top 5% in the BBC Writer’s Academy submissions at the beginning of the year but unfortunately just missed out on getting an interview. I’m also very proud to have spoken on many industry panels about disability diversity in the screen industry.

Alexandra Taylor: Recorded, edited and published episode one of Beneath the Waves, the 8-part audio drama Carmen Capuano and I co-wrote. Available on Podbean, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. I also used lockdown to turn a poem I wrote years ago into a short film, starring my housemate and her dog.

Annabel Brightling: I got hired as a staff writer for the supernatural series Seaview. There isn’t a writer’s room system in the UK as there is in America. However, working on Seaview has given me hope that the industry is changing. Co-writing episode one of #GoingViral with Scarlett was fun. I made the final five for the Galton and Simpson Bursary. I recently got accepted onto the EastEnders Writers Shadow Scheme.

Carmen Capuano: I launched Emmeline Productions Limited with fellow writer and producer, Louise Osbourne, as we wanted to create a company that was both female-centric and with sustainability at its core. I wrote the final three books in my ten-volume sci-fi series, The Owners. The entire series is being prepped for publication in 2021. I also wrote two short children’s books, several films and TV shows, and acted in my audio drama – the first acting I’ve done in thirty years! In short, it’s been a strange but productive year!

Cassiah Joski-Jethi: I completed the BBC New Creatives scheme with my first audio drama Détente. I shot my BFI Network short film Catch A Butcher, and made a short film I’m Not Fine in lockdown.

Holly Louise Psaliou: Certainly, writing my first ever feature film and completing my MA in Creative Writing. Once I wrote that first big project it gave my confidence to continue writing my extended projects. #GoingViral and Siren Screams were also fantastic opportunities, and being selected for an exciting writing project that I’m looking forward to its release next year.

Kayleigh Watson: Secured Arts Council funding for the Young Empress – a short film/ music video, which has been my first time writing and producing. Siren Screams and #GoingViral were good to add to my portfolio and a lot of fun! I launched Manifest and got a range of ad hoc work through that. I added Clash and Loud + Quiet to my clips.

Louise Osbourne: The first piece of writing that I’ve ever had performed at Transition Stage Company, Enter Stage Write as one of five finalists. I set up a production company, Emmeline Productions with Carmen Capuano and produced, co-directed and performed in a short film Leap that got great feedback. #GoingViral and working alongside the Script Sirens has been wonderful too.

Melina De Niro: Although my efforts to write have proven slow this year due to my ongoing mental health issues, I did win one of six places for the Free Read competition held by Writing West Midlands. It has been a fantastic prize for me to win. I received priceless feedback on my twisted love story manuscript. I endeavour to work on my manuscript and share a polished and disturbingly beautiful love story.

Miriam Sarin: Finished my first novel – JUST!

Favourite Films Of 2020

ScarlettBaby Teeth. Female written and directed and produced *chefs kiss* I saw back to back with Tenet and was much more enamoured by Shannon Murphy and Rita Kalnejas’s gloriously colourful and sweetly painful story than Nolan’s overhyped offering (and I shocked that my big-time Nolan fanboy partner not only agreed but said so aloud first!).

Alex: I’m not a massive film watcher, I can only remember one film I’ve watched in 2020, and that was How to Build a Girl. I enjoyed it. Mainly because I related very strongly to the main character, but I’m hesitant to recommend it as I strongly disagree with writer Caitlin Moran’s views on trans rights.

AnnabelParasite. I haven’t laughed and thought about a film so much before. My second has to be Blindspotting. It had the rhythm and intensity of a theatre play at some points, which I loved. I wheezed with laughter at the boat scene. The t-shirt scene took me to the other extreme and had me crying and distressed. A great sign if a film can make you do both.

Cassiah: It has to be Parasite which I loved so much; I saw it in the cinema twice within two days! My runner up would be Saint Maud which I went to see alone on the day before our local Cineworld closed ☹️

HollyFinding Your Feet – I watched this film for the first time simply on the basis that I love anything that’s centred around siblings. This film is so heart-warming and tender and explores a beautiful story about two sisters who bring the best out of one another – it’s also very funny. And of course, Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie and Timothy Spall, as always, were on top form.

Kayleigh: I wrongly presumed Parasite was a horror going in and it was so much more. With Little Women, I wasn’t expecting to alternate between laughs and cries as much as I did (multiple times). I need to watch those both again.

Louise: I loved two, JoJo Rabbit and Little Women.

Mel: Sorry everyone, I’m still stuck on Joker. I cried through that movie. It is a movie that certainly resonates with me.

Favourite TV Shows Of 2020

ScarlettSchitt’s Creek. OH BEBE! Life changing, wholesome hilarious goodness. Proof that those idiots that say “you can’t joke about anything anymore” are just not that funny.

Alex: It will come as no surprise to you at all – Supernatural. To quote murderous Greek God Caliope from the show’s 200th episode: “Supernatural has everything – life, death, resurrection, redemption, but, above all, family. All set to music you can really tap your toe to. It isn’t some meandering piece of genre dreck, it’s… epic.” It’s hard to capture in a few words all the reasons I love it, but at its heart, it’s about love, family and keeping on fighting, no matter how hard life gets. And monsters. Lots of monsters.

Annabel: A few. Tiger King, What We Do in the Shadows, The Boys, Grand Army, and Spinning Out. I mainly love stories with obsessive characters that are willing to destroy themselves to achieve a goal.

CassiahErased, a mini-series anime from 2016 which was recommended to me – such an amazing show! I would highly recommend if you do or don’t watch anime.

Holly: I have to go with two. Firstly, Devs. I’m a big fan of Alex Garland’s work and his very cerebral approach to science fiction; what starts off as an intriguing thriller turns into a philosophical narrative about life itself. Secondly, Defending Jacob. I particularly enjoyed its different angle in approaching the crime genre, but I can’t say what that is without touching on a major spoiler.

KayleighI Will Destroy You deserved all the praise and hype that it received – groundbreaking. Also, I belatedly binged all of Hannibal in an unhealthy short space of time.

LouiseThe Queens Gambit, I also loved The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel.

Mel: There’s a few; I loved What We Do in the Shadows it’s great to see that the series are just as creative and funny as the original movie. American Horror Story would be the next TV show I would pick, extraordinary supernatural stories with great visual style. And then The Walking Dead because who doesn’t love Norman Reedus shooting zombies in the head with a crossbow.

MiriamNew Girl. Rewatching this has been good tonic for lockdown. I have found I just want to laugh this year, to not be too serious, and that has kept me sane!

2021 Goals

Scarlett: I would really like to bag myself an agent.

Alex: My ultimate aim is to write for continuing drama, so I’d like to make some progress in that area. I’ve always got a lot of projects on the go, in different stages, and it’ll be interesting to see which ones come to fruition in 2021. One is a major new multimedia project based on fan fiction. It’s in the very early ‘plotting out’ stage at the moment, but I’d hope to get a first draft written by the end of 2021. I’m also working with a director friend on a short film script, which I hope we can get funding to make. When lockdown struck, I was in the middle of a feature script, and the whole Covid situation threw me off track with it. I’d like to get back on track and finish that as well.

Annabel: Secure more paid writing work. To find out more about BFI NETWORK x BAFTA. I want to have more drama scripts to balance out my comedy scripts. So my other goal is to finish my one hour historical crime drama (still in the research stage). And rewrite my original one hour drama pilot.

Carmen: In 2021 I intend to get the books in my backlog actually published, and hope to make several films and TV programmes.

Cassiah: I’ve been writing a new feature so I would like to finish that before Christmas, and can pursue developing my first feature next year. I’m in post-production on Catch A Butcher so I hope to complete it and get the festival run underway. I have a few other opportunities and pushed-back projects for next year, so I’m just hoping they manage to go ahead with everything going on at the moment!

Holly: Complete my novel – I truly believe in this particular story I’m telling and am really enjoying what I’m writing too. Also, looking forward to future projects with the other members of Script Sirens.

Kayleigh: Hmm. To keep expanding my portfolio of projects and continue collaborating with other creatives. Take a plunge and write a TV pilot, and attempt to rekindle my first love of prose!

Louise: To see my work out there and finally be playing parts that I have created and also potentially through the production company actually helping the charities associated with my stories.

Mel: My goals are to work on my skills as a writer and to work on my book. I hope to become a credible writer…one day.

Miriam: Definitely to get an agent and sell my book. I know that most people don’t manage to do this on their 1st book, but I’m going to try!

Watch #GoingViral

Listen to Siren Screams

We wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas break!
Signing off,
Script Sirens x

A COVID-19 related update…

Hello friends, you’ll have to forgive us; it’s been a bit quiet over here. 

Yes, we’re in the middle of a Situation, one that has forced us all to recheck.
COVID-19 has sent shockwaves throughout the world and, plainly, the arts industries have been no different. 

With the majority of people finding comfort in visual mediums these past several weeks, you may have wondered why Script Sirens haven’t been active online. Had we had our way, we would have been well into the production of our first project right now after months of writing and planning. If things had gone to plan, we would be announcing it to the world and promoting it with full vigour! Alas, this was not meant to be, and we’ve had to take pause, gather ourselves, breathe and reassess. 

Things may be different from what we have envisioned of 2020, but that doesn’t mean that our year is null and void. After all, what is the point in calling ourselves creatives if we don’t intend to creatively problem solve as well as entertain, albeit, through a camera lens. 

In ways we hadn’t imagined we are navigating art, writing, production and performance in this self-isolation / social distancing new equilibrium that we find ourselves in.

Yes, that means phone calls, Zoom meetings, Messenger, Slack and many email threads. It also means poor internet connections, robot voices and much chasing – but thrice goes the charm!

We have pulled together to add to the numerous other arts that society has turned to: art is both comfort and truth. Are you excited yet? We are, and we can’t wait to share what we’ve been chewing over with you! Hopefully, you find it as innovative, medium pushing and thrilling as we do.  

You can get involved by spreading the word and letting us know what you think soon – we can’t wait… 

Signing off, 
Script Sirens x

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started