CREATIVITY FOR SCRIPTWRITERS 1 day course London Saturday Feb 7th 2016
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 REGINA MORIARTY writer of the award-winning MURDERED BY MY BOYFRIEND (BBC).
THE TWO PHILS GUIDE TO WRITING AND SELLING A GREAT SCREENPLAY
Weekend course London March 19 – 20 2016
A course for screenwriters of all levels of experience. Run by script editor / producer / trainer PHIL SHELLEY (runs the Channel 4 screenwriting course) and writer / script editor / screenwriting guru PHIL GLADWIN (Screenwriter, script editor, runs ScreenwritingGoldmine comp). With special guest speaker, literary agent MATTHEW BATES (Sayle Screen).
DAY 1- The craft of screenwriting
DAY 2 – The business of screenwriting.
I’m delighted to announce that, as above, I’m organising two more courses for early 2016. It’s worth pointing put that for the last two years every one of these courses has sold out some weeks in advance, so if you’re interested, it’s advisable to book early. We had quite a few disappointed writers from our October 2015 course, who left it too late.
You might like to think about giving a place on one of these courses (or some script feedback) to the screenwriter in your life?! A great kick-off to their writing ambitions for the New Year.
CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE 2016 : ‘FICTION FRAZZLED’
I dedicated the whole of November to try to do full justice to the 1400 scripts we received for the 2016 C4 screenwriting course.
Last week one of my readers asked me if I was feeling ‘fiction frazzled’ which is a fair description of how I do feel! At the same time it’s a hugely exciting experience reading so many scripts from so many talented writers. The huge frustration of the process is that we have to disappoint 1380+ applicants. We have now contacted the 25 writers for interview so if you haven’t heard from us, I’m afraid your script wasn’t short-listed. You should console yourself with the knowledge that many outstanding scripts / writers didn’t make the cut – apart from anything else, it’s mainly a matter of numbers!
Having said that, there are a few scripts that, for me, stand out from the crowd. I’d like to think that this is based on a thoroughly objective, analytical, quantifiable response to a script, built up over years of experience spent working with writers and on scripts. But I’d be kidding myself! This was brought home to me this year – as it is every year – by how often I disagree with my script readers. I work hard to find the best script readers I can – the script readers go through almost as tricky a selection process as the writers, and I have to turn a lot of very good readers down. And then choose the best 2 script readers to work on the course as trainee script editors.
But as readers we all inevitably bring our own baggage / agenda to the scripts we read. So for instance this year, my most experienced and trusted reader – the one whose reports I always find instantly engaging and readable and with whom I generally agree – gave a ‘C’ to a script that think is one of this year’s top 3 scripts. (As well as writing a report on each script, I ask my readers to mark them A, B, C or D: A – definite contender, B – worth considering, C – not bad but not quite and D – don’t consider.) Luckily I’d already read this script so this writer made it through to the interviews. At the same time, this reader gave another script an ‘A’ (one of only 4 A’s he gave to the 200 scripts he read) calling it, ‘the best script I’ve ever read for C4… absolutely brilliant.’ I read the script and considered it a ‘C’ ie not in the top 200 scripts from this year’s submissions.
And this from a reader who I continue to rate very highly. Every year we have on the course at least one writer whose script only got C or even D from the reader – either in going through the reports, there is something about the synopsis or comments that intrigues me enough to read the script, or it’s a script that I’ve already read and liked.
So you should console yourselves with the fact that, as objective as we try to make the process, there is inevitably a high element of subjectivity in one’s response to a script. And you ultimately only need one reader / company to like your script, no matter how many other people don’t share that view.
But how you respond to knockbacks and critical responses to your scripts is such a key part of being a writer. You need to find that very tricky balance between sensitivity and resilience – two qualities that are sometimes contradictory!
So what common elements stand out in the scripts from the 25 writers we’ve invited for interviews? (while it’s still fresh in my mind for another year)
I’d say, from this year’s successful scripts, there are three key elements –
One of the key things is that the scripts have a humanity to them. Many of them are stories that re-examine the human condition in surprising, original and emotionally engaging ways. (Being emotionally engaged by a script is the key indicator of its success).
The second element is CHARACTER. So many of the best scripts have at their heart a memorable and engaging character (or characters). Characters with engaging and identifiable flaws – which comes back to the theme of ‘humanity’. Sometimes these characters are objectively unlikeable – but thoroughly engaging nonetheless.
And thirdly, STORY. A writer’s ability to have you as a reader wanting to keep turning the pages, wanting to know what’s going to happen next, having the ability and instinct to generate narrative tension. I say ‘instinct’ – but I do believe this is about technique and craft, and that this is a skill that can be developed and improved by working on your craft, and thinking about how stories work on a fundamental and technical level.
In any case, to everyone who entered, I want to say a big THANK YOU – it has been a hugely enjoyable and exciting month reading the scripts. And please keep on persisting – you’re in this for the long haul!
Until next week
All the best
Dec 4th 2015