THE TWO PHILS WEEKEND GUIDE TO THE CRAFT AND BUSINESS OF SCREENWRITING
May 16-17, London.
Phil Gladwin and I are delighted to be re-launching this two day course after an almost two year hiatus. We originally decided to put this course on the back-burner because we were both getting too busy with other things (you will empathise when you read Phil G’s account of his working life over the last 18 months below!). But we’ve both had a re-think because we missed running this course. It has always been a lot of fun doing it and we’ve always got great feedback.
So we will be holding it again over the weekend of May 16-17 2015 at Birkbeck College, Malet St, London. (NB This is a weekend later than advertised last week)
There is a fuller description of what the course involves (+ writer testimonials) on the website
also the various bonuses of the course – including a free copy of the excellent new book THE ART OF SCREENWRITING by Robin Mukherjee (IMO one of the very best, most inspiring, new screenwriting books in the market in the last few years) to the first 10 people to sign up.
Special Guest for the weekend is literary agent MATTHEW BATES, from Sayle Screen. Matthew has spoken on the course before and is always excellent value. He works at one of the top literary agencies in London (Sayle Screen represent 2 out of the 12 writers on this year’s Channel 4 screenwriting course) and as a literary agent working at the heart of the industry, Matthew has invaluable access to and knowledge of all sides of the industry, and an almost unique insight into the opportunities available for screenwriters in the UK market at the moment.
An overview of the course – on Day 1 we try to cover all aspects of the craft of screenwriting, with particular emphasis on what we have learnt from our respective experiences as producer / script editor and writer / script editor with all the different creative talent we have worked with, and from the many and varied projects and shows we have both worked on.
On Day 2 we focus on the equally important other side of a screenwriter’s life – how you empower yourself as a writer, how you use the skills you have as a screenwriter to forge a career, how you get work and make those all-important connections to the people who have the power to employ you.
I should also point out that we are now offering this course at the extremely reasonable price of only £159 – for a full weekend , with guest speaker, we both think this is seriously good value.
A writer who attended one of our courses – in Glasgow back in November 2011 – has very kindly written a short piece about her experience on the course and since. JAN SMITH’s is one of many success stories we are delighted to have had from writers who have done our course.
Over to Jan –
‘November 2011. My job in advertising sucked, and I was looking for a way out. Although I’d had a couple of novels published, I knew I’d struggle to earn a living that way. But what else could I do?
Then a friend told me the Two Phils were coming to Scotland. After I’d checked them out (Who are they? A Fringe act?) I realized their visit was the perfect opportunity to discover what screenwriting was about.
There was a mix of people on the course, ranging from complete newbies like myself, to those looking for agents and even a few with credits already under their belts. I learned a lot – not just about the nuts and bolts of screenwriting, but how to come up with ideas and collaborate with others. The course culminated in a pitching session – we all had two minutes to pitch an idea to the Phils. Mine was a tv series I’d had floating around in my head for a while. It got a big thumbs-up.
That weekend was nothing less than a watershed for me: I realized that screenwriting was what I wanted to do. The following year I spent every spare minute working on two spec scripts. When they were as good as I could make them, I sent them to Phil Shelley. It was tough. He gave me a LOT of notes. But I was learning all the time. Learning how to put words on the page, how to structure, and how to bring characters to life. When he thought my scripts were ready, Phil suggested I send them to agent Julia Tyrell. She took me on.
My first gig was an episode for BBC’s Doctors, and shortly after that I was introduced to Peter McKenna, showrunner for Red Rock, Ireland’s new continuing drama. I’ve now written six episodes for the show, and have just been commissioned for two more. With another couple of projects in the pipeline, I’m finally happy to call myself a professional screenwriter.
There have been downs as well as ups – difficult notes, cancelled holidays and near-misses for commissions. I’m still learning. Still making mistakes. But if you were to ask me if there’s anything I’d rather be doing, I’d have to say HELL NO. I’m so glad I checked out that Fringe act in Glasgow.’
When one of the writers we’ve met through our courses, or through my website, has this sort of success, it really is very exciting (and hugely deserved in Jan’s case – she is that ideal combination of very talented but also very grounded, ambitious, focused and good to work with / collaborative).
And now some words from Phil Gladwin about the work he’s been doing over the last 18 months –
‘It’s been a while since we last ran one of these courses, and in that time a lot has happened.
In September 2013 I started as Series Script Editor on a CBBC show called The Dumping Ground. That involved managing a team of ten writers and steering the whole ship towards completing 20 half hour scripts in approximately ten months. Given that each episode had two stories, and each story was effectively self-standing, that was a simple matter of finding forty stories that worked, and were funny, and poignant, and engaging, and sufficiently varied and fast paced and so on and on… (!)
I finished on that show on a Friday in August 2014, went to a lovely Greek Island called Skyros to teach a screenwriting course for a week, and then came back to England on the Saturday to begin as series script editor on the next series of New Tricks.
At which point things got REALLY busy.
New Tricks is a surprisingly difficult show to get right. That blend of wry, world-weary humour, a story that runs for an hour, and has emotional impact in the present while unpacking a cold case from the past, a full hour of screen time, the fact that they have already had 100 episodes of the show… all of this makes it more complicated than it might at first seem. 12 or 13 hour working days in the production base at Hayes, plus three hours a day travelling, became the absolute minimum.
But, you know, all things are possible, and five months later we had four excellent episodes finished out of the ten.
At which point I moved to take up the job of Acting Head of Development at Bentley Productions.
Bentley is a well-established indie. They make Midsomer Murders, and have done since the dawn of time. Though Midsomer is astonishingly successful in the UK, (and is Britain’s most successful drama export – attracting more views than “The Killing” in its native Denmark apparently!) Bentley want to break out and make some new shows – and until the end of this year it’s my job to help them do that. Finding new writers and new ideas is going to be a lot of fun. And I won’t miss the 7 am starts in Hayes.
I’m really looking forward to sharing all this experience on the course in May.
Big thank yous to Phil and Jan for sharing their work experiences!
Until next week
All the best
Feb 20th 2015