CREATIVITY FOR SCRIPTWRITERS 1 day course London Saturday Feb 21st
A course for scriptwriters in all media – TV, film, radio, theatre – designed to help you generate exciting ideas and characters, and give your creativity a boost with a day of fun, stimulating writing exercises. Run by TV drama script editor, producer and script consultant PHILIP SHELLEY with guest speaker writer REGINA MORIARTY.
NB There is now only ONE place left on this course.
I had a very enjoyable time last weekend in Dublin running two script development courses. I’m ashamed to say I’d NEVER been to Dublin before and it was great to experience a new city – especially such a vibrant, friendly one.
I’ve been lucky enough to run a few courses in the last year or so in various cities around the world and it’s always a fantastic experience to meet writers, producers and script editors from other cultures and to hear their take on different ways of working and different industry set-ups. And in particular it’s great to hear about the different sorts of stories they tell. The 20 delegates on my Saturday course had a lot of very impressive credits and experience from feature films and TV drama – including one of the two co-writers of that big UK TV comedy hit THE BRITTAS EMPIRE (which ran to 7 series on BBC1) with whom it was particularly good (and surprising) to catch up because in my former life as an actor, one of my last roles was in this show!
The energy in the room made for a very enjoyable day, helped by the fact that many of the people on the course already knew each other. It brought home to me how much writing talent there is in Ireland – but also how there isn’t yet a huge industry in Ireland for home-grown writing, directing and acting talent. Some high-profile TV shows and films are shot in Ireland, but there aren’t enough opportunities for home-grown talent. Many brilliant writers and actors have to move to the US and UK to build a career.
There was a fair smattering of people who worked on Ireland’s two current soaps – the long-established FAIR CITY (RTE) and its new commercial rival on TV3, RED ROCK, which has been set up as a co-venture between UK indie Company Pictures and its Irish counterpart, Element Pictures.
My Sunday was spent at the RED ROCK production offices working with some of the show’s script team. It was fascinating hearing about the setting-up of a brand new soap – the show has been up and running for only a few months – and learning about the creative processes on the show – and how the creation of characters, stories and format are translating into something that really seems to work on screen and has so far received a very positive response.
It was interesting to hear about how the show sources writers and works with them, and how rapidly the characters and stories are developing in this most exciting period of development of what all hope will be a very long-running venture. One of the more experienced writers on the Saturday course suggested to the two young RED ROCK script researchers that they should be keeping a diary of their time on the show, recording the creation and growth – and inevitably at times bumpy and adrenalin-filled ride – of what hopefully will go on to be a part of the Irish TV scene for years to come. Other producers, script editors and writers will be incredibly interested to learn about the development of this new show, and the lessons learnt along the way. Hopefully the show will continue to be a major boon to Irish writing, directing and acting talent – fingers crossed!
Personally it was great to meet one very talented Dublin writer (who has written a lot of FAIR CITY episodes and is already making a mark at RED ROCK) whom I had originally ‘met’ through my website, to whom I’ve given feedback on several of her (excellent) scripts. I’m continually grateful to the internet’s reach, how it enables me to make these sorts of connections, introducing me to talented writers like this.
As Don Letts said in last weekend’s Observer magazine, ‘Technology is great; people are shit. Look at the Arab Spring or Africa, where technology is a vital line. How are we using it?’
And on the theme of writing talent, it was great to discover from chatting to the Red Rock script team that one of their most valued new writers was someone I first met on one of our ‘Two Phils’ screenwriting courses in Glasgow. I then worked with her on several of her spec scripts before introducing her to the literary agent who now represents her. It’s very gratifying and exciting hearing how she’s become a successful, professional screenwriter.
And speaking of my courses with Phil Gladwin, after an 18 month hiatus, I’m delighted to say that we will be running another one in London on May 9 + 10 – with guest speaker Matthew Bates, from the Sayle Screen literary agency. Details are now up on the website – and it’s remarkably good value at only £159 for the full weekend.
OPENING EPISODES – BETTER CALL SAUL + CATASTROPHE
I’m currently working with three writers who are creating brand new Channel 4 series ideas on this year’s Channel 4 screenwriting course – so how the best opening episodes work has been occupying my mind recently. Two really interesting ones that I’ve seen in the last few days are BETTER CALL SAUL and CATASTROPHE.
It was great to be able to enjoy a new story back in BREAKING BAD territory. Episode one was good – but the 2nd episode was even better. And I’m now waiting impatiently for my next fix this coming Tuesday.
But I thought the opening episode of CATASTROPHE was outstanding. Written by its co-stars, Sharon Horgan (more Irish talent) and Rob Delaney, who play characters called ‘Sharon’ and ‘Rob’, this was predicated on a very familiar narrative premise – a relationship built on casual sex and an unplanned pregnancy – but the story-telling was exceptional. The first episode had a deceptive lightness of touch while at the same time racing through the story, economically setting up the two characters, their unlikely relationship and the dramatic proposition at the heart of the series – added to which, it was laugh-out-loud funny.
Very impressive, very enjoyable – and an object lesson in the writing of a first episode.
Until next week,
All the best
Feb 13th 2015