A shameless plug this week, as the opportunity has presented itself.
Last weekend Phil Gladwin and I ran our weekend screenwriting course, ‘How To Write And Sell A Great Screenplay.’ And today the newsletter consists of the testimonials we’ve received in the last few days. Apart from the very nice things the writers have said, there are also a couple that give you a pretty comprehensive and useful guide to the weekend’s contents.
We’ve now done this course about 12 times and, with the help of some very good, constructive feedback from the writers who have attended, have worked on honing and improving it. We think this is now a pretty strong course, and the testimonials we received after last weekend back this up. And we certainly enjoy running it.
For me, the highlight of this last course was the session with CHRIS CHIBNALL (writer of the excellent BROADCHURCH). As you’ll see from the testimonials, Chris was great value – inspiring, generous and very entertaining. We cap guest numbers at a max. of 20, so the courses are small-scale and personable, and our guests are generally willing to be frank and forthright in the insights they give to our writers about what it takes to achieve success, and Chris was no exception.
I met Chris when he was on the first ever Carlton writers course I ran in the late ‘90’s. And then I produced his first TV script at Carlton, a brilliant 25 minute monologue, ‘Stormin’ Norman’, about a tube driver, played by James Bolam, reminiscing about life on his last day at work, driving the length of the Central Line from Ruislip to Leytonstone. It was clear then that Chris had real talent as a writer and, almost as importantly, a brilliant attitude – positive, energetic and very good at getting on with people. It was great this weekend to hear about all his very well-deserved successes since (and gratifying to know I played a small part in getting the ball rolling).
In November we have the wonderful LUCY GANNON coming to talk to our writers, who I know will be equally inspiring.
If you want a taster of just how good she’ll be, have a look at this interview she did for me, a few weeks back
A big thank you to all the writers who gave us these testimonials, and for letting me put them in this newsletter.
‘The two day course on writing and selling screenplays was an intense mix of creative sparks and solid insider knowledge. Phil Shelley sagely guided the group through techniques to create story and character ideas from the world around them. Then Phil Gladwin authoritatively laid down a focussed writing process to turn them into robust pieces of saleable work.
That was just the Setup. Crisis and Resolution followed with the nerve wracking One Minute Pitch session before the final act revealed the promised land of success. In this case it was in the form of guest speaker Chris Chibnall – unassuming, approachable and a thoroughly nice guy. After he had gone it was almost a shock to be reminded of his likely financial worth…
This was no self help, feel good creative writing course, this was honest, testing and yet gently encouraging. There was no ‘nice little short story to take home’ created here but a proper sense of just how to produce something good and the hard work it would take to convince others it was worthwhile. Then there was the group itself, a diverse bunch who quickly gelled into supportive buddies and finally gave me a proper reason for joining Facebook.
As a writer struggling to reconnect with the professional writing world, the course did for me just what I had hoped. It re booted my motivation and re sowed the seeds of networking. Thoroughly recommended.’
‘Having made the decision to do the screenwriting weekend, I was not disappointed. Right from the off, there was a sense that the weekend would deliver as much as it promised. Very quickly it became apparent our instructors not only knew screenwriting inside out, they were also aware of how they should nurture and instruct writers to become better practitioners in their craft.
A good example of this occurred early on the first day when the group – which comprised complete novice to the more experienced – were asked to share a screenplay idea inspired by a news item they had read just recently. As we each took turns reading out our ideas to the group, nothing could have prepared us for what came next as our instructors encouraged us to rethink our ideas using a simple strategy in which elements were changed within it. Three minutes later – as the group fed back these new ideas – there was not one storyline that had not been radically improved as a result of going through this process. The best thing is that the strategy may be used time and again to take average ideas and make them great.
Aside from the fact that a great idea for my next screenplay came out of this session, the afternoon activity of developing complex characters (through observation) also proved priceless. My chosen subject – a man I observed downstairs – seemed less than inspiring. However, when paired with a character (observed by another writer) the two of us soon had the beginnings of a remarkable screenplay idea. As we were encouraged to develop the character’s encounter further (and we fedback to the others) we soon realised that the idea not only excited us but the group as well. Again, another screenplay with a unique storyline which hopefully I will collaboratively develop with her in the near future.
There are so many other things that could be said here about the weekend. Everything from the practical ‘hands-on’ of how to develop a writing career, to the one minute pitching activity, to the way to network, to the unique insights into the industry given by the guest screenwriter who came to talk to us – what a treat! In closing, if you’re serious about developing as a screenwriter and you only have money for one course this year, this is the one to be on. I’ve been on a few and there are those who know their craft and those who have a grasp. The two Phils fall into the former. Well worth the money!’
‘The Two Phils workshop taught me fresh approaches to creating characters and ideas, showing me techniques that I had never considered before. It included proactive workshops that gave you the chance to test your own imagination and even give your own pitch! The workshop gave an insider’s view of what the industry is really like and the best way to develop your career as a writer. What I most loved about the workshop was the other budding writers I met and the enjoyable weekend we spent together. Thank you for a great workshop.’
‘The Two Phils weekend workshop is full of creative story techniques and practical career advice for writers of all levels. From developing characters and creating story ideas to perfecting dialogue – the Two Phils offered a number of valuable hints and tips. We had a challenging session developing verbal pitching skills and the sessions dealing with the business of screenwriting were an excellent guide to what it takes to break in. The charismatic and entertaining guest speaker Chris Chibnall was open and honest about his career and experiences. The course has reinvigorated me and I have big plans for my current slate of projects! Big thanks to my fellow writers who contributed to my enjoyment of the weekend.’
“The Two Phils weekend screenwriting course is a great practical introduction to the art (and business!) of writing for TV. A friendly, open and supportive environment, this is invaluable for anyone wanting to start or boost a screenwriting career.”
‘The Two Phils – Telling it like it is.
Want to know a great trick for developing gripping characters without writing pages of biography? Or the formula for taking a good idea and making it a great one? And how about insider tips for networking, which ANYONE can use to make those all-important contacts? Then you want to know when the next Two Phils Screenwriting Course is being held.
In years to come there will be big-name screenwriters and showrunners who, when asked what inspired them and got them started, will point to this course. That could be you.’
‘You’re very unlikely to find a more instructive, practical and honest workshop on the craft of screenwriting than that fronted by The Two Phils. They are genuinely interested in putting you on the right path and giving you the requisite skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the business today. Rarely have I spent my money more wisely. Thank you Phils.’
Until next week,
All the best
Oct 4th 2013