10 SCREENWRITING QUESTIONS – AN INVITATION

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1 DAY INTRODUCTION TO SCREENWRITING COURSE May 18th London.

Thank you to everyone who has already signed up for this course. I have booked a BIG room so there are still some places available. To recap – it will work both as an introduction for newer screenwriters but also as an inspiring refresher and kick-start for more experienced writers. We have two fantastic – both BAFTA-nominated! – screenwriters as guest speakers – VINAY PATEL (Murdered By My Father, Doctor Who) and ANNA SYMON (Mrs Wilson, Indian Summers). And the day concludes with a more informal networking event, which will be attended by several screenwriters who have graduated from the Channel 4 screenwriting course and are already making an impact in the industry; and script editors / development executives from some of the top UK productions companies (eg Tiger Aspect, BBC Films) – all of whom are there for you to meet and ask questions of. All the course details are on my website – http://script-consultant.co.uk/one-day-introduction-to-screenwriting/

Hi There,

This week, I have set myself – and answered – 10 QUESTIONS ABOUT SCREENWRITING. The point of this is to inspire YOU to do the same. Please view this newsletter as an invitation. However experienced / seasoned / knowledgeable you are (or not), I would love to receive your answers to these same 10 questions so that I can include them as a regular feature in these newsletters in the future. Thank you very much!

Here are those 10 QUESTIONS –

1Why do you write?

2 A book you’ve enjoyed that you’d like to tell us about.

3 The best TV / film (screenplay) of the last year and why.

4, 5 Which (2) writers / scripts inspire you and why?

6 What are the best internet resources / podcasts for writers?

7 What are the best books for screenwriters?

8,9 2 pieces of advice for writers

10 When and where do you write?

And here are MY answers to the questions –

1Why do you write?

Hmm, well I don’t write nearly enough and I keep meaning to find the time to do more of it because when I do, I find it hugely fulfilling. Most of the (little) writing I have done in the past year or so has been on my phone on a tube train returning home from watching a show that has inspired me to write! I write when I feel inspired to, when I am in a heightened emotional state. But I understand that real writers don’t / can’t wait for that to happen – writing needs to be a daily habit!

2 A book you’ve enjoyed that you’d like to tell us about.

Two books recently that I have really connected with – Middle England by Jonathan Coe. I think Jonathan Coe is a fantastic writer. This is an ambitious book about England in the grip of Brexit paralysis – but, like all his books, is rooted in engaging, brilliantly observed characters and relationships. The other book is an autobiography A Life Of My Own by biographer Claire Tomalin. It’s beautifully written and – while quite under-stated – describes a life of huge emotional peaks and troughs. Both these books have great heart and humanity.

3 The best TV / film (screenplay) of the last year and why.

I could say any of the episodes of FLEABAG, series 2, which IMO, has been a work of screenwriting genius – but I fear that is a bit too easy / predictable. So I’m going to cheat here and break my own rules by mentioning 4 other projects! On TV – PATRICK MELROSE and SUCCESSION, both of which in their different ways were absolutely outstanding. And in the cinema, two little-publicised films, THE FIGHT, written, directed by and starring the wonderful Jessica Hynes; and HAPPY NEW YEAR COLIN BURSTEAD, written and directed by Ben Wheatley, with a fantastic ensemble cast – a vicious, funny and very engaging dissection of a horribly dysfunctional family get-together – still available to watch on BBC iplayer!

4, 5 Which (2) writers / scripts inspire you and why?

Two random choices out of God knows how many I could have plumped for – King Of Comedy, a Scorsese film written by Paul D Zimmerman. Probably my favourite Scorsese film. I love the unsettling, warped tone and it’s a brilliant critique of celebrity / stalking that is still hugely relevant today; and one of Michael Frayn’s lesser known plays, MAKE AND BREAK, that I saw several times in the West End a very long time ago starring Leonard Rossiter and Prunella Scales. A study of a very mundane UK company that makes doors and partitions, it’s all about the wonderful characterisation and relationships. These were two of the (many) formative scripts that made me want to work in the world of dramatic writing.

6 What are the best internet resources / podcasts for writers?

John August and Craig Mazin’s scriptnotes podcast is constantly inspiring and entertaining. And the BAFTA guru website is packed full of invaluable stuff. And as I was writing this, I received another excellent email from ‘The Play Ground’ from Nick Hern books – this time advice from playwright Stephen Jeffreys (who very sadly recently died) about playwriting and his forthcoming book which I’m sure will be great – Playwriting: Structure, Character, How and What to Write by Stephen Jeffreys.

7 What are the best books for screenwriters?

One I came across relatively recently that I have a lot of time for is THE ART OF SCREENPLAYS by Robin Mukherjee – an excellent combo of story-telling principles and practical advice from a writer who has extensive and recent industry experience; and two books by Rib Davis that keep getting reprinted for very good reason, ‘Writing Dialogue For Scripts’ and ‘Developing Characters For Script Writing.’

8,9 2 pieces of advice for writers

Don’t second guess the market – write exactly what you want to write – ie be distinctive and be yourself.

Go out into the big, bad world to find your characters and your stories. There is so much in the world that is inspiring and infuriating – be outward-looking. Your writing needs to reflect the world you live in.

10 When and where do you write?

As above, I seem to mainly write on tube trains on my telephone!

I hope very much that my answers will inspire / spur you into writing up and sending me your own answers to these questions. Thank you very much and I will look forward very much to hearing from you.

Finally this week, a gentle reminder that as you read this, I am (hopefully) sat on my bike churning out the miles from Fulham to Bournemouth, raising sponsorship money for the Fulham FC Foundation. I want to say a massive thank you to so many of you who have sponsored me. It is very kind of you and will be a great motivating factor to get me through the pain barrier! If you’d still like to sponsor me, for a very good cause, it’s not too late!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/philip-shelley

The next newsletter will be on Friday May 3rd.

All the best

Phil

PHILIP SHELLEY

www.script-consultant.co.uk

www.tributepodcasts.co.uk

Twitter: @PhilipShelley1

April 19th 2019

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