A few things to recap / catch up on with you this week –
First – thank you very much indeed to all of you who have responded so insightfully and entertainingly to my 10 SCREENWRITING QUESTIONS from two weeks ago. These mini-questionnaires will appear at irregular intervals in this newsletter over the next few months. If you’d like to submit your own answers to these questions, IT’S NOT TOO LATE and your submissions will be accepted very gratefully.
Here are those 10 QUESTIONS again –
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?
I would also like to say a massive thank you to all 56 of you who so kindly sponsored me on my cycle ride on behalf of the Fulham FC Foundation from Fulham to Bournemouth two weeks ago. I raised £1,065 (the original target being £500). I really appreciate your generosity. It went to a very good cause, it was a great experience in beautiful weather and the icing on my personal cake was having my photo appear on the homepage of the Fulham FC website! – http://www.fulhamfc.com/news/2019/april/24/ffc-away-day-cycle-2019
I would also like to remind and update you about the 1 DAY INTRODUCTION TO SCREENWRITING COURSE that I’m running in London on Saturday May 18th. We now have 43 people signed up for this course, which is great – but there is room for more! I’m delighted at the line-up of industry guests we have for the networking / drinks event at the end of the day.
Even if I say it myself, this networking evening is alone worth the cost of the course (£95). (As well as the invaluable opportunity to meet these industry guests, it’s also a great chance for the writers on the course to meet and talk to each other – meeting and sharing experiences with other writers is such an important part of sustaining yourself as a writer). And a packed one day course including sessions with two of the outstanding, up-and-coming screenwriters in the UK as well as this networking evening is more than a bargain (it will certainly be a lot more expensive next time I run this course!)
To remind you about the two screenwriting guests, they are VINAY PATEL and ANNA SYMON. Vinay started in theatre and now moves between theatre and TV. He wrote the outstanding, epic, AN ADVENTURE, that was on at the Bush Theatre late last year. His BBC single film, MURDERED BY MY FATHER won the RTS best single drama award and was nominated for 3 BAFTA’s. And he wrote an episode in the most recent DOCTOR WHO series. Anna has a background in documentary film-making. She has written episodes on C4’s INDIAN SUMMERS. Her first ‘authored’ TV drama serial, MRS WILSON, has been nominated for a BAFTA for best mini-series; and her ITV series, DEEP WATER, is now in post-production. Both are alumni of the Channel 4 Screenwriting Course.
Guests for the networking evening have been added over the last couple of weeks; and confirmed attendees who have very kindly agreed to come along on the Saturday evening now include – seven writers who have been on the Channel 4 screenwriting course in the last few years, all of whom have had significant industry successes; and development executives / producers / script editors from these companies – BBC Films, BBC Studios, Tiger Aspect, Leopard Films, Unigram, Shiny Button Productions, Bryncoed Productions, Neal Street Productions, Big Light Productions, Firebird Pictures, Conker Films. As well as the insights and information these people can give you, it will also be really helpful for course delegates to make these industry contacts.
Last week I ran one of my regular Story, Character, Ideas masterclasses at the Indie Training Fund / ScreenSkills in London. For the most part this course consists of a series of exercises / games designed to help writers generate story ideas and create characters. I’m always delighted and amazed with some of the character creations that come out of these exercises. Here are a couple of examples of the characters who came into being through the invention of the course delegates –
Isaac – an orthodox Jewish man in his mid-40’s. Dresses in traditional Jewish clothes. On the day in question he was walking around carrying more boxes than he could manage, in a sweaty, anxious state. Isaac works in his father’s longstanding, traditional hat shop in Golders Green and hates it. His father looks down on him and has always chipped away at Isaac’s self-esteem. Isaac is not good at the job and has no real interest in it. Isaac is single and very private. He is not happy. But what Isaac is good at it is gambling. He is obsessed with gambling and has a real flair for it. It is an addiction but it’s one he is in control of – and over the last few years he has made a very decent income from his secret gambling that has supplemented the paltry income he makes in his father’s milliners.
Maud – is an unexceptional woman in her mid-50’s She lives alone. She divorced 15 years ago and has no desire to enter into a new romantic relationship. She is emotionally self-contained but at the same time dependent on having people who will listen to her – Maud talks A LOT and doesn’t really care to listen. Her current interest is bee-keeping which she has been into for the last few years. She will talk endlessly about it to anyone who will listen. Mostly this is to her resentful work colleagues – she is an administrator for an addiction charity. She used to be a regular member of an all-female book club but reading has had to take a backseat to beekeeping. She’s from the Midlands originally but now lives in the suburbs of Oxford.
Both these characters grew out of initial observation and eavesdropping of a real person on Euston station forecourt. They are a demonstration of how creativity can be opened up and facilitated by looking outwards at people / stories in the real world – as opposed to staring at a computer screen until your brain bleeds.
The next newsletter will be on Friday May 17th
All the best
May 3rd 2019