Short poetry on the themes of migrants and refugees is sought for a new photobook by Brunel University photographer and artist, Chris Dundon-Smith. Brunel University is currently supporting Chris on the photojournalism project, 21 Miles. The photobook and poetry will form part of a multi-media installation at Ambika P3 Gallery in London (Nov 2022) and will then go on tour at a selection of galleries in 2023.
21 Miles is a multimedia documentary project that aims to describe the experience of the perilous twenty-one-mile journey across the English Channel, made by those seeking safety and asylum in the United Kingdom.
The video and audio installation uses a single photograph taken in the middle of the English Channel and combines it with over 400 smart-phone audio recordings taken from actual Chanel crossings, and the artist’s own recordings while on location.
In addition, the video installation is supported by a photobook that focuses on the physical and emotional signs and traces this demanding and terrifying journey leaves behind.
This is a non-profit passion project to raise awareness of the current situation and dangers facing people crossing the English Channel. Unfortunately, this is not a paid opportunity and very much aimed at those seeking to contribute to the cause due to an interest in the project or in writing poetry on the subject. There will however be the opportunity to feature in the photobook and the installation, and attend shows, as the work tours after the Ambika P3 show. There will also be a copy of the photobook provided to any successful applicants.
The poetry can be already existing work on these themes, or something new based on the work itself. The deadline for submitting will be 4th October 2022.
Every year, The Brunel Writer Prize is awarded to the student with the highest graded article submission for the Creative Industries module on Brunel University’s Creative Writing Programme. This year’s winner is Nathalie Brundell who provides creative writers with some useful tips on the thorny issue of transferring fictional characters from one’s imagination to the page. Congratulations Nathalie!
Hearing Voices? Fear not, Writer
Like a search history filled with creative torture techniques, a writer with voices in their head is usually a good thing.
But sometimes, those voices can get a little too loud. We’ve all been there. Scented candles burning, movie scores playing softly, a steaming cup of your favourite drink – yeah, you’re ready. In fact, your fingers are itching, so you open the document and…
There it is. The dreaded, blank page. And that blinking cursor – the worst torture technique discovered yet. Well? Come on, then, it says. Show me what you got. I can do this aallll day.
As the seconds pass, your palms grow sweaty. Maybe… Maybe you’re not cut out for this, after all. You can’t even come up with one sentence that doesn’t sound like complete, utter garbage. And what if people hate it? Who could blame them – you have no clue what you’re doing! And…
Yeah – those voices.
Of course, none of the garbage they spew is actually true. It’s just fear, worry, perfectionism – whatever you want to call it. And while that ancient reptile brain of yours is just trying to protect you from excruciating, public shame… it’s also keeping you from actually writing.
In other words – you wanna finally finish a manuscript? Here’s how to beat those nasty voices in your head.
1. Create a Character
If there’s one thing we writers love, it’s a flawed character. So, get to it – give that shrill voice a name, a face, a personality. Who are they, and what are they afraid of?
Like that voice that just won’t stop criticizing you. Let’s call him Curt, shall we? Can you see those thin glasses he’s wearing, and that slick, villainous suit? Looking down at literally everyone?
Well, look closer. Maybe, someone told him long ago that the only way to make your way in the world is through perfection. Flaws and weaknesses? He sniffs them out like a trained dog, because if he can keep pointing out other people’s faults, maybe he doesn’t have to deal with his own.
A pure ray of sunshine.
But I’m sure you can do even better than that. So, crack open your notebook. You don’t have what it takes. People will hate it. Your dream is silly and embarrassing. Who are the people saying these things, and why?
Take your time with it, and make it good – after all, you’ll be seeing a lot of these guys in the future
2. Make Friends
Alright, so you’ve got your characters. Now what?
Curt, the haughty, judgy critic. Selma, the middle-aged woman with enough worries to give her a heart attack. Gordon, the “lazy” slug who would rather scroll social media, because if he actually tries something he might just fail at it.
Shake hands, acknowledge them. These people aren’t going anywhere, so there’s no point ignoring them anymore. Instead, get comfortable around them.
3. Take Back Authority
These flat, nasty characters – are they the ones writing the book, poem, script? No. You are.
So, establish your authority. They can stay, sure, but they better know their place.
They likely won’t back down at first. But in time, you’ll learn how to recognize who is speaking, and how to talk them off their ledge. Selma, for example, probably just needs someone to settle her nerves – some kindness and reassurance goes a long way.
Curt, on the other hand, just needs to be told to shut up every once in a while. And Gordon? No distractions for him. That comfort zone really is his kryptonite.
In other words, put them in their place. ‘Cause if you can learn how to take control over those inner voices?
The Pandemic Era shifted our livelihoods, causing many of us to stay home for longer than we would have liked. Covid, the new World Heavyweight Champion, reigned supreme with no clear end in sight. But in that time, and after lots of introspection, Zoom calls and head scratching, the world started turning. The minds of 2021’s Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy class started churning those old rusty cogs again to do what we love. To write.
It is my honour to be a part of such a tenacious bunch, and to have personally designed the cover and name for our star-studded project. The online poll held for the anthology’s name was an exciting contest I knew I couldn’t miss out on. I studied previous anthologies in the series, like Wizards, Werewolves & Weird Enginesand Robots, Rogues & Revenants, and knew that alliteration had to be carried forward. But the theme? My featured story explores the Islamic myth of Jinn, a human-like race only invisible and made of fire. It was from this idea that I wanted to capture the eeriness and fear I had of them as a child, which led to the inspiration of the name. A race of invisible monsters, causing chaos without us ever knowing… aha! Myths, Monsters & Mayhem!
Before designing the book cover, I had no experience in digital drawing, except in editing existing works. I wanted to create something that carried the tradition of the previous covers, whilst adding my own artistic flair to it. I was playing games such as the action-adventure hit Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and had recently gotten into the Islamic-historical series Resurrection Ertugrul, so I wanted to see if I could combine the barbaric Vikings from the game and mountainous, tribal landscape from the series. Hence, I hand-drew the mountain backdrop, with waves crashing over it symbolising chaos. The warriors dotting the cover were an homage to the stories featured, and the intimidating demon on the left was a nod to the Jinn. When learning of our plan to donate to NHS Charities Together, I knew I wanted the wash of blue from the waves to be more apparent, so I added the blue magic graphic to the eyes and hands of the warriors on the cover as a tribute. The cover of this anthology was a new venture for me, as were many of the stories for the writers. But life is about taking those leaps, and when you have the courage to do so, you share those spoils with the world.
We bring to you explorations of myths, tales of grotesquely intriguing monsters and fragments of absolute mayhem. From the kingdoms of ancients to facing fears, you are in for thrills and chills like no other. Gear up for a collection of provocative madness.
Myths, Monsters and Mayhem is the perfect jolt you need right now, whether that be a spark of creativity for a dormant idea or an actual jolt of fright. Oh yes, this isn’t a book by the beach. Welcome to the world of mighty fights, strange encounters and gruelling, gripping tests. All fun times, I assure you. Each story ignites something different in you, and with each of our champion writers showcasing their finest works to date, your eyes will be racing page to page for more.
The world may not be completely back to normal just yet but, for a moment, join our world where fantasies are realised. Smile, laugh and cry with us as you explore this stellar book we’ve had so much joy in creating. We hope this anthology, and our previous anthologies, inspire you like they have inspired us. Who knows, maybe there’s a writer in you, impatiently waiting to burst through with myths, monsters and mayhem of your own?
Having lived abroad for 8 years, Faizan Ahmed had the pleasure of experiencing a myriad of cultures. Faizan is an aspiring Game Designer and Creative Writer. Enthused with a passion for wrestling, superheroes and historical fiction, he channels his experiences to create compelling content for a variety of media outlets. Follow his journey to become a WWE Wrestler on Instagram: @sher.khan.official and catch the latest in his life: @ahmedfaizan68
Every year, The Brunel Writer Prize is awarded to the student with the highest graded article submission for the Creative Industries module on Brunel University’s Creative Writing Programme. This year’s winner is Gatlin Perrin whose article offers some insightful tips on navigating uni. Congratulations Gatlin!
From Freshers to Final Year: How to Do University
by Gatlin Perrin
Getting through university is difficult, and anyone who says otherwise is lying. Wherever you’re at with your uni journey, here are fourteen no-nonsense tips and tricks for getting from Freshers to final year with the majority of your limbs intact.
1. There is a room on the second floor of the library filled with study cubicles. This is the perfect place on campus to cry. Don’t ask me how I know this.
2. On the third floor of the library is the mental wellbeing centre, where you can ask for counselling. They also give out free stress balls, which can be used as projectiles if you prefer a more violent approach to problem solving.
3. Some people will tell you that you’ll make friends for life during Freshers Week, and those people deserve to be punched in the face for causing unnecessary stress. That group over there who are all laughing and hugging aren’t “friends for life”, they’re drunk. You will find friends when you find them.
4. If you live in halls, remember – everyone has their own idea of what “sharing” is. The statement “help yourself to anything in my fridge” is a grenade that’s just had the pin removed. Padlock everything. P.S., everyone also has their own idea of what “clean” is, so get ready to discover at least seventeen different species of mould on a dinner plate.
5. Mind your own business. If I’m not judging you for only having attended one lecture the entire year, you don’t judge me for literally crying with relief when a lecturer tells me my assignment wasn’t awful. This is a no judgement zone.
6. When in second year, do not compare yourself to the first years. They’ll always seem more talented, more composed and somehow better looking than your year. Try not to take it personally.
7. When in third year, do not compare yourself to the previous third years. They also had no idea what they were doing, they just hid it better.
8. Buy a dictionary. This is because whatever year you happen to be in, none of the words on the assignment brief will ever start to make sense.
9. Kidneys go for an average of around £5000 on the black market. You can survive with just the one but you’ll need at least six if you keep doing your weekly shop at Sainsbury’s. Lidl is your friend.
10. Third years, buy an umbrella. This is because as soon as you enter your final year you will notice the vast storm cloud of “life after graduation” approaching in the distance. It’s coming faster than you think.
11. In that vein, if anyone asks you what your career plans are for after graduation you are required by law to push them down the stairs. Refer back to tip five.
12. Having mental health issues at university is like contracting an STI: more people have them than you think, you shouldn’t be ashamed but you still need to do something about them before they get worse. Refer back to tip two.
13. Get hopeful. This is because you have to – what’s the alternative? You’re not the only one who didn’t get that internship or won’t get the first they wanted, and this does not mean that you’ve failed at life. Focus on you.
14. Keep focusing on you. The most important part of university is to get out of it alive. Drink water. Get some sleep. Talk to someone when you need help. You’ve got this.
The initial idea for what became The Grim Reaping of Harvey Grieves arrived in 2015. It was the start of my first screenwriting module at Brunel, and I had to come up with an original idea for a ten-page short screenplay. Our tutor, Max Kinnings, had been very fair, giving us a week to produce just a title and logline to share with the class. Being completely unable to think of a dramatic idea I could do justice to in only ten pages, I decided on a comedy about an old man running away from the Grim Reaper. Quirky, right? Original? Fun? I certainly hoped my peers would think so because the only thing rivalling my fear of sharing my work is the eternal need for validation.
Though the insistence on having us share severely unpolished ideas with the class took me some time to recover from, that second year screenwriting module was one of the most enjoyable and – perhaps more importantly – most useful of the course, and for one reason in particular. Far more than any other, this module stressed the importance of developing an idea and editing your story before even starting the first draft, ensuring that major issues are resolved before they become deeply embedded in a full-fledged script. It’s something that has helped me a lot in my writing post-graduation, and something I wish I had kept in mind while writing my major project in third year – but the less said about that, the better.
So, I wrote the script, I wrote an essay about the script (why, Brunel?), I handed it in and… I got a B+. Not bad. I guess it was actually kinda funny. After that, the script just sat in a drawer (well, on a USB, this is the 21st century) for a few years, I graduated, didn’t write a thing for a shamefully looooong time, until…
2018. I’m back home with my parents in the North, I have no job, no social life, and no local production company wants to exploit my unpaid labour in exchange for ‘experience’ (believe me, I tried hard to persuade them). In my attempts to find creative opportunities that may help me scrounge something resembling a career, I sign up to a script surgery being run as part of the Independent Directions (INDIs) festival in Leeds. The only problem is since I have barely written a thing since graduating, I have no new scripts to submit, only that old thing gathering virtual dust in the digital drawer. My assigned reader was writer and actor Gaynor Faye, and her feedback (along with the fresh eyes that come after not looking at something for years) gave me a new perspective on the script and a new desire to work on it.
So I did. And then… back in the drawer. It didn’t come out again until this year when I submitted it for feedback at the recently-formed Northern Screenwriters Table, an online writer’s group that meets bi-weekly to feedback on members’ scripts. The response was very positive, and even before the meeting went ahead, I received an enquiry from one member asking if I had spoken to a director or producer about having it made.
Up until this point, I had always considered production for this script to be a non-starter. All the advice on making short films says to keep it simple, with one location and a limited cast. They don’t say ‘how about a chase across town involving a hospital, a bus, and an ambulance?’ I had no experience in making short films, and this script seemed too complicated, too expensive to make. This changed when Simon came on board because now the project had a producer with experience compiling budgets and who knew how to go about sourcing the necessary funding. Of course, the process of making the film cannot go ahead until that funding is secured, and at this stage, nothing is certain. We have applied (and continue to apply) to a number of industry sources, and are asking individuals to invest in the project through Kickstarter, where we are offering a selection of perks (such as exclusive merchandise and behind-the-scenes access) to backers.
The journey from that class in 2015 to here has been a long one, and with any luck, it will end up longer still, seeing the project through production, post-production, and the festival circuit. Most of it until this point though, has been spent with the script sitting untouched on my computer, so I suppose the moral of the story is (and this is something I am still reluctant to learn myself) – your work goes nowhere if you never show it to anyone. And if you do… perhaps you’ll find someone as passionate about it as you are.
You can follow the project on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) at @harveygrieves.
Alice Lassey graduated in 2017 with a first-class honours degree in Theatre and Creative Writing. An aspiring filmmaker, she currently writes on film at her blog Extended Cut (www.extendedcut.co.uk) alongside developing script and prose fiction projects. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @alicelassey.
Every year, The Brunel Writer Prize is awarded to the student whose article submission for the Creative Industries module on Brunel University’s Creative Writing Programme is the highest graded. This year’s winner is Perri Wickham. Perri’s article shows how she used the various skills acquired through the Creative Writing course in an exciting industry environment.
HOW MY SHORT FILM ‘LONDON MADE ME’ FEATURED ALONGSIDE RAPMAN’S ‘BLUE STORY’ SCREENING
by Perri Wickham
During an unproductive day of tapping through Instagram stories, I came across the LDN Filmmakers application. The week-long course was organised by the Mayor of London and Digital Cinema Media to help applicants write, direct, and produce a short film. I immediately swiped up, excited to put my screenwriting skills to use outside of my Creative Writing degree, to finally get behind the cameras, and to connect with aspiring filmmakers.
The application process was straightforward. I had to write down my personal information and in 250 words, explain why I wanted to participate. I felt this was a fantastic opportunity for me to get equipped with new skills as I had never made a film before, and to put my vivid imagination into action. A week later, I received a notification to say that I was successful.
Industry members from Chocolate Films Production led the training at Genesis Cinema. During the introductory session, they gave us a brief to base our plot on London. They told us that each of our films would feature alongside the screening of Rapman’s new movie ‘Blue Story’ at Genesis, which turned the pressure up a notch. ‘Blue Story’ is an adaptation of Rapman’s 2014 YouTube series of the same name that explores gang rivalries in London.
I teamed up with six participants, and we were allocated a mentor for support. We brainstormed ideas about what London meant to us, and how we could capture our message cinematically through the plot as well as visuals.
Initially, there was a miscommunication on our first idea, as everyone had slightly different visions, which was confusing. Thanks to our mentor, we managed to narrow it down enough to pitch to the other groups and their mentors. Receiving feedback was essential as it helped us to clarify our concept and make it appropriate for younger viewers, as our film was going to be screened in schools.
My group and I decided to tell the story of a protagonist, who on her way home, reflects on London’s vibrant culture and how it shaped her into a successful adult, using flashbacks of her past. It only made sense to add an inspirational spoken word poem to talk the audience through her journey. Since I am a poet, I volunteered to write and perform the voice over.
After receiving training on how to use film equipment, we solidified our storyboard, then set out to film in Stepney Greene. The first day turned out to be experimental, and we decided to extend our filming location to Stratford as it had more landmarks that would benefit the visuals. We spent the next two days knuckling-down, ensuring that we had enough footage to make a high-quality final draft.
The final day of the course was crucial, as we had to complete a rough draft of our edits and create a shot list for Chocolate Films, who would polish it. We had a guest visit from Amani Simpson, the creator of his autobiographical short film ‘Amani’, and one of the main actors, Ellis Witter. It was inspiring to see a director who had no experience, establish connections, and gain enough funding to compose a successful short film with over one million views.
On the 24th November, I attended my first red carpet premiere in Hollywood. Okay, it was at the Genesis Cinema. Watching my first short film on the big screen was a powerful experience, as I was able to witness how a project, I made in under a week could transform into a dynamic yet professional piece.
LDN Filmmakers taught me that if you strongly believe in your vision, it is possible to execute it with the right equipment, no matter the time constraints. Now that I’ve gained confidence as a filmmaker, I am determined to make my mark in the film industry, and that starts now.
You can find Perri’s short film “London Made Me” on LDN Filmakers.
Perri Wickham is a flourishing Creative Writing Graduate looking to make her mark in the Entertainment Industry. Hailing from Southeast London, where the trains run slower, Perri currently freelances as a blogger for Fledglink, a journalist/comms assistant for Brits + Pieces, and writes poems as well as scripts in her spare time. If she goes MIA it means she’s working on a special project. Her material is very audacious!
In May 2020, Britain went indoors and stayed there. Out of this sudden extreme burrowing came a flood of tweets and Insta posts documenting the myriad of activities the country was using to keep itself occupied while the world outside shut down.
Some people learned to knit. Others took up yoga.
We, the Horror, Sci Fi and Fantasy module class of 2020, wrote a book.
Robots, Rogues and Revenants is an example of what happens when a group of writers are told to use their imaginations during possibly the most anxiety inducing period of their lives. And when you read the anthology of short stories for yourself, you’ll get to experience first-hand the kind of book a global catastrophe makes.
While it’s nice to have something soft and comforting during a time of such ridiculous uncertainty, some of us decided instead to really lean into the catharsis of creating something even scarier than the situation we were already in. I’m not exaggerating when I say this book contains a deliciously wide variety of nightmares, from the relentless pestering cries of the undead to the best canned meat you’ll find this side of London.
And I’m warning you now. There is gore. Lots and lots of gore.
You won’t be safe from it in the non-horror genres either – even our high fantasy authors decided to splatter a sizeable amount of blood on their pages, mixing magic with deaths so bloody they would make George R.R. Martin squirm.
But don’t worry about it too much. If gut squeezing, bone snapping horror isn’t quite what you’re into at the moment, we can respect that. When locked inside for months on end escapism is the name of the game, which is why entire pantheons of gods live in this book. Feeling terrified by the present day? Go back centuries to a time where deities and fairies mixed with mortals. Or maybe you’re simply missing the present we had only a few months ago, and just one more party will do – no problem. The amazingly cosplay-able rave witches of London have got your back.
And there’s the future, of course, where you’ll be provided with a service that allows you ownership of a late loved one’s memories – and in that vein I should really warn you that one or two stories will definitely have you wiping away a tear. Sadness is a catharsis too, and who doesn’t need a good cry while the outside world upends itself?
There is something wonderfully unique about Robots, Rogues and Revenants, not just in what it is but when. This book is a time capsule of a group’s imaginations during a global pandemic. Real life will always influence the stories we produce, making each story in this anthology probably the strangest insight into the strangest time a lot of us have ever or will ever live through.
Chloe Perrin is a North Walian writer living in West London. Her writing has been featured in previous anthologies such as Hillingdon Literary Festival’s We Are Here and Brunel University’s Letters to my Younger Self, and her one act play The Ghost We Live With was produced by Studio Brunel in 2019. She hopes to continue creating funny, strange, and oddly depressing pieces until someone finally stops her.