London Screenwriters Festival – summing up!

I have just spent a three day weekend at the London Screenwriters Festival.

Overall it was a very enjoyable and I met quite a few writers – all of whom were very friendly –  most also starting out, and in the same boat as me. As well as attending numerous workshops, panel discussions and interviews – that you can read about in the other posts…

The first time organizers did fantastically well to put on such a festival and I would definitely consider going again.

London Screenwriters Festival – Day Three

First off –  went to see Chris Jones interview Eddie Hamilton – a film editor who worked with Matthew Vaughn on Kick Ass and various of his other movies as a producer. Also with Guy Ritchie. He was very interesting  on editing and on how he reads spec scripts for friends projects and gives feedback from an editors point of view.

Then there was – a comedy writing panel discussion with – Dean Craig, Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil chaired by Paul Bassett Davis. This again was a great informal discussion on writing comedy, process and how to get into it as a career. 

In the afternoon I went to Chris Jones talk – Winning your first Oscar – a bit of a hyperbolic title – but as Chris pointed out every year some unknown does win an Oscar for a short film/animation – so it is within the realms of possibility. The talk was about making and distributing Gone Fishing – his brilliant short – and how they planned a festival campaign with a view to maximizing their chance of an Oscar nomination. They end up sixth on the shortlist, just missing the nomination. But his  views on how to work the film festivals ‘system’ were interesting and pragmatic.

Then I went to a talk on crime writing. This was something I know nothing about and a random choice. I thought they might talk about crime structures in features, but it was mostly about developing concepts for long running crime TV shows and how to keep them interesting and varied. I found it a little dull as it’s not really my area of interest.

I didn’t stay for the very end of the festival, but overall it was a very enjoyable three days and I met quite a few writers – all of whom were very friendly –  most also starting out, and in the same boat as me. 

The first time organizers did fantastically well to put on such a festival and I would definitely consider going again.

London Screenwriters Festival – Day Two

Started with – in conversation with Barry Keith on the Long Good Friday. I arrived late and just caught the end of this. They showed some clips from the movie – I have seen it, but a long time ago – in my mind I had it mixed up with Mona Lisa. Barry Keith was very interesting and talked on writing about social issues for theatre in the seventies and eighties.

Then – Non Linear Story telling with Linda Aronson who had lots of great tips on structuring non linear and multi protagonist stories. She was trying to cram too much material into her time slot and it became a bit much for me in the end. I think she should have stuck to the basics more but having said that I left with a few stand out revelations about structuring these kinds of movies.

After that I took a break – I needed to stop brain overload. I went for lunch and chatted to a few people.

In the afternoon – there was a brilliant panel discussion on writing for young people, which was much more informal and chatty. Panelist – Danny Stacke, Gayle Reynard, Chris Hill, Andy Briggs. There was lots of advice from the panelists on breaking into shows for young people. Be it animation, childrens drama or teenage drama shows like Skins.

London Screenwriters Festival – Day one

I Started off seeing – Tim Bevan in conversation with Michael Gubbins. A very interesting potted history of Working Title going from My Beautiful Launderette to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – and there was me thinking they only produced Richard Curtis/Bridget Jones/ Rom-coms and Bean movies. Tim Bevan also talked about the Film Councils demise and how he thought this was a regretable decision (which he would as he ran it) but he’s yet to hear from Jeremy Hunt what the alternative is going to be.

Then I saw – in conversation with Gub Neal ( ex C4 – now an indie producer) and Ben Stephenson (drama commissioner for the BBC) . It was interesting to hear about how the commissioning process worked at the various TV channels and what they looked for. Both had good things to say about the state of TV drama.

Then I went to Kate Leys workshop on script editing and process. Which had some good tips on script development – I have written up in another post.

Then meet the BBC writers room – which was all about finding your voice, and also about BBC writers room submission process. By this time my brain was pretty fried.

The day ended with Chris Jones interviewing John August over skype. It was slightly surreal seeing this projection of a big talking head from LA , Chris said it was rather like the Wizard of Oz. John had interesting things to say about working practices and being a Hollywood writer. I am already an avid reader of his blog and think he gives good down to earth advice.

Finally ended with a drink in the bar and met a few more delegates. Everyone seems very friendly and open to chat. I have met quite a few people already. A good – if mind frying first day!