A one day SCRIPT EDITING course that I’m running at the Indie Training Fund in London, June 22nd.
TRIBUTE PODCASTS / ROBIN BELL WRITER INTERVIEWS
For the last few months we’ve been featuring and publicising one of these 13 dramatic monologues each week on social media. We’ve now finished this publicity drive and myself and the other writers are feeling a little bereft without this excuse to keep talking to each other about the monologues. We’re all very proud of them. I suppose one of the great things about the internet is that (as long as I keep paying the annual fee for the website!) they will be out there for the foreseeable future for anyone to discover. We have had so much pleasing positive feedback.
And one of the best things to come out of the project has been the weekly interviews that one of the writers, the excellent ROBIN BELL, has taken on himself to do with the writers of each of the monologues. Robin asked each of the writers some really smart, searching questions about the stories they’ve told and more generally about their writing. And the result is 13 really outstanding writer interviews. They go into the podcasts’ subject matter – examinations of life and death, and into each of the writer’s approach to the craft of writing these monologues. I’ve really enjoyed reading every single one of these interviews. I think they’re a great companion piece to the monologues. If you enjoy the monologues, the interviews will give you a further insight into them. You can find them all at –
LONDON SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2017
London Sundance seems to be a very well-kept secret – they don’t seem to be much good at marketing themselves. I’d heard nothing about this until recently – but the 2017 edition is on from June 1-4 at London’s picturehouse central. Sundance is a mark of quality – you can guarantee that pretty much all of the films will be really interesting. And there’s a good chance that some of these excellent films won’t get a UK distribution deal beyond Sundance – so this may be your only chance to see some very good films.
CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE 2017
We’re rapidly approaching the 2nd weekend of this year’s course at which the 12 writers come together to hear readings from each of their scripts, and then get feedback on their scripts. It’s always really exciting to see how these 12 exciting new projects have come together since the first weekend back in January, and to hear them brought to life by some wonderful actors.
There have been some notable successes by writers from previous years of the course recently – and it’s exciting to anticipate similar successes for writers on this year’s course.
VINAY PATEL (2015) won the RTS Best Single Drama Award for Murdered By My Father. JAMES FRITZ (2015) won the 2017 Tinniswood award for BBC audio drama (and TIMOTHY X ATACK (2015) was one of the other two nominated writers). JON BRITTAIN (2012) won an Olivier award for his play Rotterdam. ANNA SYMON (2013), having written several series episodes, gained a BBC TV commission for her original serial, THE WILSONS. BEN LEWIS (2015)’s outstanding THE LOUNGE has been nominated for an OffWestEnd theatre award. NAMSI KHAN (2016) is writing an episode of HUMANS (series 3). And CHARLIE COVELL (2014) has had her original series The End Of The F***ing World green-lit by E4 / Netflix.
There has been a lot of excellent, inspiring TV drama to watch recently. I’ve been particularly enjoying the culture shock double on Monday evenings of LITTLE BOY BLUE 9pm Monday evenings on ITV, followed by LOADED on C4 at 10pm. Tonally you couldn’t find two such different shows – but in their different ways they’re both great.
The clarity and simplicity of the story-telling in LITTLE BOY BLUE was so impressive. It had enormous emotional power in the way it told quite a simple story with such truth and dignity. The quality of the writing of the characterisations was reflected in the wonderful performances (particularly by Stephen Graham, Sinead Keenan and Brian F. O’Byrne).
Hats off to ITV for showing something this bleak and difficult in their BROADCHURCH slot. The writing by Jeff Pope is outstanding, as are Jon Brown’s scripts for LOADED – which as well as being laugh-out-loud funny is also quite a profound examination of the value of money, what it means to these 4 boys.
Some observations from LITTLE BOY BLUE – it was the detail that was so telling – the big stick DCI ‘Ned’ Kelly brandishes around the office is such a great character note; the scene of the dad returning to work in Tesco’s after the death of his son, the family sitting together in their dead son’s Everton-adorned bedroom – it’s all of these little visual details that added up to make this so moving and powerful.
And reminded me of something that came out of the first weekend of the C4 course, courtesy of an inspiring talk by C4 commissioning editor Liz Lewin (from writer Jack Lothian) –
‘The Statuette. A basic guide to giving objects emotional value. The classic problem of show don’t tell. Trying to show a character’s emotional state rather than have the character come out and say it.
A husband and her wife. It’s her birthday and he buys her a horrible gaudy statuette. He’s convinced she’s going to love it – she hates it. So already we’re giving the object value – it’s a symbol of their failing marriage and how he doesn’t understand his wife at all after all these years.
The wife chucks it in a drawer.
Then the husband is in a car accident. Bam! In a coma (or whatever). Doctor says he doesn’t know if the guy will make it. At the end of the episode the wife takes the statuette out of the drawer and puts it on the mantelpiece, pride of place. And we know in that moment that she still loves him and cares about him – it’s become a symbol of their relationship.
Obviously you can replace the statuette with any object or even a phrase or a place.’
I think this is great – such an effective, clear and simple illustration of how to give objects emotional value in a story.
The show I’m enjoying most at the moment – as I do with every series – is the wonderful BETTER CALL SAUL. The intricacy and cleverness of the plotting combines with the depth and complexity of the characterisations.
One of the things I love about the show is the economy, craft and circularity of the story-telling. Series 3 episode 5 opened with an initially quite baffling scene – Jimmy, brother Chuck and Chuck’s ex-wife having dinner together in Chuck’s house. But you know that if you stick with it, if you trust the story, everything connects and pays off. And so it was with this scene. By the end of this episode, the purpose of this scene was abundantly and brilliantly clear. And it’s even more satisfying when you have baffling scenes that are only paid off several episodes down the line.
You know that you’re in the safest of safe hands with BCS – you can just sit back and wallow in the flair, imagination and confidence of the story-telling.
A tweet from BCS writer / producer Gennifer Hutchison – ‘Remember, it’s unnecessary to have a character say exactly how they feel about something for the audience to get it. Be brave with subtext.’
Until the next newsletter on Friday June 2nd,
All the best
May 19th 2017