20 SCREENWRITING QUESTIONS – JAN SMITH

Posted by admin  /   June 26, 2015  /   Posted in Screenwriters and Industry Interviews  /   Comments Off on 20 SCREENWRITING QUESTIONS – JAN SMITH

SCRIPT-EDITING / DEVELOPMENT COURSES

Funded by Grand Scheme Media & Creative Skillset, I’m running a series of very affordable 2 day script-editing workshops, with some excellent, experienced guest screenwriters, around the UK between now & July 23rd (in Salford, Glasgow and Cardiff). The next one is in Salford July 1-2. More details, & how to book can be found on the TRAINING NEWS page of the Grand Scheme Media website

http://grandscheme.tv/

NB There are still places available for my Salford course, next Wednesday & Thursday.

INDIE TRAINING FUND SCRIPT EDITING ESSENTIALS

A one day script editing / development course in London 10-5 on Thursday July 9th.

http://www.indietrainingfund.com/courses/production/script-editing-essentials/

 GUARDIAN MASTERCLASS / LONDON WRITERS WEEK

 As part of LONDON WRITERS WEEK at Central St Martins / The Drama Centre / University of the Arts London, I’m running a three hour Guardian Masterclass on ‘SCREENWRITING & SCRIPT-EDITING’ on Thursday July 9th 6.30 – 9.30.

There are quite a few really interesting-looking sessions on dramatic writing in this first London Writers Week – including John Yorke on ‘The Secrets Of Screenwriting’, Fin Kennedy leading a panel on ‘The Future of Verbatim Theatre’, ‘Writing for Theatre’ with Ola Animashawun and ‘Exploring Gender in Writing’ with Lucy Kerbel

http://www.theguardian.com/guardian-masterclasses/2015/may/28/london-writers-week-screenwriting-and-script-editing-with-philip-shelley-writing-course

 

 

Hi There,

As well as the above courses I’m delighted to say that we’re also doing another of our 2Phils ‘GUIDE TO WRITING & SELLING A GREAT SCREENPLAY’ 2 day weekend courses on Oct 10-11. Our special guest on the 2nd day is BBC Drama Production head of development Esther Springer, one of the most experienced and respected script editors in the industry who has worked with many of the best UK TV screenwriters in the last 10 years, and has a great reputation for nurturing and encouraging new writing talent.

Phil Gladwin and I had a great time in May running the first of these courses for 18 months – and we’re delighted it went down so well with the screenwriters on the course. If you’re looking for some positive information on the course, go to the sales page and see the many new testimonials in the right-hand column.

We limit the numbers to a max of 20. The last two courses have sold out a couple of months in advance – so early booking is advisable.

http://www.script-consultant.co.uk/screenwriting/

This week, 20 SCREENWRITING QUESTIONS with screenwriter JAN SMITH, one of the big success stories from our 2 Phils Screenwriting courses (as you may have read in my newsletter of Feb 20th this year!) – although I’m sure Jan would have done just as well without our help! Anyway these are definitely words of writing wisdom. Thank you very much Jan…

WHERE DO YOU WRITE ?

Anywhere I can. With three kids and two dogs I’ve cultivated the sensibilities of a police horse.

WHEN DO YOU WRITE?

Anytime I can (see answer 1)

WHAT SORT OF STORIES EXCITE YOU?

Complex, three-dimensional characters facing a moral dilemma.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF BUILDING A GREAT CHARACTER?

I wish I knew. Book agents often insist on ‘likeability’, but I think that can be a red herring in a script. ‘Watchability’ is a better word.  An audience has to stick with a character – even when he/she does something awful.

2 WRITERS WHO HAVE INSPIRED YOU AND WHY

Historically – Charles Dickens. The consummate entertainer, and he had a social conscience. I think that’s as important for a writer as a grasp of grammar and syntax.

Lately – Nesbo and other Scandi-noir crime authors. Economy.

2 TV SHOWS THAT HAVE INSPIRED YOU AND WHY

Historically – The Beiderbecke Tapes (and sequels). Alan Plater’s work is toe-curlingly pleasurable to watch.

Lately – Orange is the New Black. Bold, economical  storytelling, with characters you can imagine having a life outside the show. And it’s FUN. Even at its darkest.

2 FILMS THAT HAVE INSPIRED YOU AND WHY

Historically – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  Who needs dialogue?

Lately – Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and Grand Budapest Hotel. Just breathtaking.

1 THEATRE SHOW THAT HAS INSPIRED YOU

I’m embarrassed to say I don’t see much theatre.  A combination of being stuck in the sticks and having an upbringing where going to the theatre was something other people did.

DO YOU OUTLINE BEFORE YOU START WRITING?

I used not to. I used to tie myself in terrible knots, and waste a lot of time on rewrites and/or unworkable concepts.  Now I do tend to outline  (working in tv I have no choice anyway – I have to turn in scene by scenes) But for my own spec writing, at the very least now I like to know the beginning and the end. And the mid-point turn. And the Act breaks…

1 PIECE OF ADVICE FOR SCREENWRITERS JUST STARTING OUT

Don’t be too shy/proud to learn from other people. Pay for it if you need to. It’s an investment in your future.

WHAT SHOULD THE FILM \ TV INDUSTRY BE DOING FOR SCREENWRITERS THAT IT ISN’T?

Apart from treating them a little less like a disposable commodity? (although, to be fair, I’ve been pretty lucky so far) Free booze! Free chocolate! Free BUPA!

WAS THERE A SPECIFIC MOMENT THAT MADE YOU START WRITING AND IF SO WHAT WAS IT?

I’ve always written.  But it was only when I lost my job 18 months ago that I made a full time commitment to screenwriting. As Goethe said ‘the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too’. Turns out, he’s right! But jacking in the day job isn’t something I’d necessarily recommend as a strategy.

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D KNOWN THEN THAT YOU KNOW NOW?

Nothing. The discovery is part of the process. Stops you from getting bored.

WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT THING ABOUT SCREENWRITING?

Conjuring emotion from a blank page.

WHAT IS THE MOST ENJOYABLE THING ABOUT SCREENWRITING?

Conjuring emotion from a blank page.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF (AS A WRITER) FIVE YEARS FROM NOW?

God knows.  At the moment I’m still earning my newbie stripes. Wherever I do end up, though, I’m determined to enjoy getting there.

AND FINALLY – ONE SURPRISING (NON-WRITING RELATED!) FACT ABOUT YOU.

One of my ancestors fought at the Battle of Flodden (on the Scots side). Incredibly, he was blind. Less incredibly, he was killed.

Thank you, Jan!

PS If you (yes – YOU) would like to share with me (and several thousand other interested screenwriters) your own 20 questions – please take these questions and email me your answers (Philip.shelley@script-consultant.co.uk) and, in advance, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

NB I still have several more of these excellent screenwriting interviews up my sleeve, that I will be sharing with you over the next few months.

Until next week

All the best

Phil

PHILIP SHELLEY

www.script-consultant.co.uk

@PhilipShelley1

June 26th 2015

 

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