Co-teaching a FutureLearn course is fun

The VFX for Guerilla Filmmakers course is at the end of its 4-week run over on FutureLearn. There’s still time to sign up (after which you can go through it at your own pace), so do so now if you don’t want to miss out on free learning.

Having worked on the course for months prior to its launch, along with the mastermind Saint Walker, it was exciting to see it finally go live at the start of February. Each week unlocked new content and saw a massive flow of students sweep through the lessons. (more…)

I’m teaching VFX on FutureLearn!

Two exciting things are happening in February, the first of which is a free, four week course called Visual Effects for Guerrilla Filmmakers. I’ve written about FutureLearn in the past and have done a handful of their courses, so a VFX course is of course great news.

What’s even more thrilling, for me at least, is that I’m one of the educators on the course. To go from an eager FutureLearn student to co-designing a course has been a real privilege. The course goes live on February 8th and runs for four weeks. You can sign up any time between now and the end of the final week. (more…)

Starting to learn to program


I’m currently dipping two tentative toes into the murky waters of programming. Games programming, to be precise. I suspect games programming is quite a bit like normal programming but with more guns at the end.

That image above is from a game called Schism which I’m currently writing, based in the IAT Arms Race universe. It’s created using Twine, an engine specifically designed for writing Choose Your Own Adventure-style games. (more…)

Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Weeks 6, 7 & 8

Well, this is nice:

Tonight I completed the 8 week Start Writing Fiction course over at It’s been a fun and rewarding course. Though it’s aimed primarily at new writers, even for more experienced writers it offers something valuable: a reason to write regularly. Each week you’re given assignments and this alone has been fantastic – I’ve been more productive since the course began than I have been for a while.

So, time to share the final bits and pieces I created for the course. (more…)

Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Week 5

It was all going so well the first few weeks – but I’m really starting to slip behind. As I write this I’m halfway through week 6, despite week 7 theoretically starting today. But, then, that’s one of the liberating things about FutureLearn – you can go at your own pace. I’ll still get through the course, won’t miss anything, won’t be rushed, and will get the full benefit, but it is flexible enough to fit into a life containing a toddler, a job and a wife’s birthday.

It’s the polar opposite of studying English at university, where I’d rush-read the set texts, often not finishing them, just so I’d hopefully have something to contribute at a seminar – as a result, classic books were utterly ruined. Old education really isn’t the way to do it.

ANYWAY. Onto week 5’s various assignments, kicking off with…



Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Week 4

Here’s my work from week 4 of FutureLearn’s Start Writing Fiction course…

The main focus of week 4 was character and plot. I ended up with half of a short story which I may or may not finish at some point. Here’s what exists so far:

Hiding in time

“Ready or not, here I come!”

John scuttled beneath the porch, slipping down onto his belly and commando crawling his way forwards until he was completely concealed. He rolled over and lay still, squinting to see between the dark, wooden slats of the decking above. Sunlight bloomed around their edges.

Breathing as slowly as possible he strained his ears for a sign, listening out for the patter of feet or creak of boards.

“I’m going to find you,” Chloe called from elsewhere in the garden, clearly heading in the wrong direction. John grinned, proud of his hiding place. (more…)

Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Week 3

Week 3 has passed of the online writing course I’m currently doing, which means it’s time to share some more of my assignments.

EDIT: I completely forgotten I’d written a tiny character sketch in week 3, so here it is:

Emma said that the bruising would go down after a week but it had already been three days and her face was still a sweltering mess of reds and purples, occasional arcs of dull blue highlighting the swelling like whitecaps on breaking waves. “It was my fault, really,” she kept saying, over and over, mostly to herself as if even she didn’t really believe it.

And now back to the original blog post: (more…)

Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Week 2

Week 2 of the Start Writing Fiction course is now done (yes, I’m running a day-or-so behind), so here are my latest creations for the various exercises:

Best and worst writing space


Blessed Ludditian silence. Regardless of the validity of the term ‘Ludditian’, there’s no denying the creative power unleashed by simply disconnecting. Research is one thing but writing is another: it requires disabling the network adapter, hitting F11 to full screen the app and powering through, in the zone, no peripheral distractions. All other distractions can be surmounted save the internet: source of so many ideas yet saboteur of productivity.


The thing about distractions is that–funny cat! But when you come back to what you were doing, you find that you can’t quite remember what–new movie trailer! Anyway, as I was saying, what you need–wonder if that SSD is below £90 yet? Often I find myself losing my thread, fumbling about before–is that book out yet? Which reminds me that the new issue of Ten Grand must have been released. Maybe I should go and get another cup of tea. And a biscuit.

Expanded character study


Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Week 1

Having completed week 1 of Future Learn’s Start Writing Fiction course, I thought I’d post up the snippets of work I’ve generated so far.

Fact & fiction

First up, there was a fun exercise in writing a couple of paragraphs. The first required 1 fact and 3 fictitious elements, while the second needed the opposite.

1 fact, 3 fictitious elements

The first manned moon landing was in 1969, crewed by an international team of American, Russian and Chinese astronauts. This scientific achievement was only possible due to the stable political situation in the late 60s, resulting in unprecedented cooperation between previously antagonistic nations. Given what followed, the collaborative missions of the 60s and 70s are remembered as a golden age for human exploration.

3 facts, 1 fictitious element

Norwich is unusual in that it includes two cathedrals (of different denominations) and is known for once having a pub for every day of the year and a church for every Sunday. Despite its abundance of churches it nevertheless is known as the least religious city in the UK, most likely as a result of the violent unrest and religious purges of the late 1980s. (more…)