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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Judge More Than Just The Book—Judge the Film

This is a guest post by Stephen Henning.

If it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words then why, as writers, do we even bother?

Well, simply because we love telling stories and readers adore immersing themselves in an exciting fictional world.

However, if you’re a self-published writer, it’s not easy to stand out from the crowd. It seems like everyone in the world is uploading a book to Amazon these days, which means it’s getting progressively harder to be visible as a writer. Therefore, we have to work harder with our marketing to get our books in front of people.

I’ve always loved filmmaking, and when I conceived the concept of my Class Heroes books I imagined the stories in very visual terms. So it wasn’t a great stretch to come up with the idea of making short films to promote the series.

Speaking as a reader, choosing my next book is a really big deal. I hate to be disappointed, and while I can get a feel for whether I’ll like a book based on its cover and blurb, I won’t really know until I start reading it. But if I could watch a short film -— something visual and immediate — then I’ll have a much better idea if the book (and indeed the author) is something I want to invest in.

So that was my starting point. Create something short, snappy and entertaining to get across the style, content and characters of the books.

Class Heroes is about two London teenagers, Samantha and James Blake, who develop special abilities after their school bus is blown up in a presumed terrorist bombing. After that, their problems really begin. I won’t tell you anymore, because you can find out for yourself in the films :-)

Instead, I’ll briefly talk about how I was able to make the films. I have to say, I’m proud of them. I think they’re entertaining in their own right. I wanted it to be as professional a production as possible, so the first thing I did was approach filmmakers that I knew and ask for help. What impressed me so much was how willing people were to help and be part of a creative endeavor. Most filmmakers are making money out of corporate videos and are longing to be involved in producing drama. Most young actors are working in theatre, for free and with no visual record of their work.

The more people I spoke to — musicians, actors, filmmakers, artists, location administrators and so on — the more people I found who were willing to be part of the production. And so the project snowballed.

One of my biggest successes was approaching an international parkour (aka free-running) organization, asking if one of their performers would be interested in/suitable for playing the part of teen-villain Lauren ‘Lolly’ Rosewood. And they jumped (no pun intended) at the chance to be a part of it. The result — an exciting chase around London by an MI6 agent and super-powered Lolly.

So that’s my message, really. Just try. If you want to do something, give it a shot and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I made four short films in all, plus an introduction and end sequence for a Class Heroes video game that I’m currently working on. There’s also a ‘Making Of’ feature, which is obligatory I think for any film release these days.

EBooks are the self-published author’s primary platform, and because eBooks are by their nature a multi-media product, I think it is only right and proper that we writers give our readers more than just the words on the page.

The films are complete. Please do watch and enjoy. 



As for me, after a year out making the films I need to get back to some serious writing. Class Heroes 5 won’t write itself, will it...



Stephen Henning is the author of the Class Heroes book series. He lives in the UK. Stephen trained as a journalist in Manchester, before moving into publishing, working for John Wiley & Sons as a journals editor. Stephen has contributed articles to the popular What Culture! website, and is currently collaborating on an independently funded romantic comedy film called With Love From Suffolk with the Film Suffolk organization.

You can find the Class Heroes books on Stephen's Amazon page.