THE TWO PHILS : WRITING & SELLING A GREAT SCREENPLAY
My two day screenwriting course with Phil Gladwin, running in London on the weekend of Oct 10-11 with guest speaker ESTHER SPRINGER (Head of Development, BBC DRAMA) IS NOW SOLD OUT.
A big thank you to Guv Rait for pointing me in the direction of the latest original Netflix series NARCOS.
For work reasons, I spent last weekend watching the entire series of a successful ITV police procedural show; and then treated myself to ep.1 of NARCOS. The contrast was a bit shocking. NARCOS was epic, ambitious, full of flair, pace, humour, violence and colour – and was really about something, had something big and important to say. Whereas the ITV show…wasn’t.
It really brought home to me how high the bar is raised now and how we all need to be telling the most exciting stories, and telling them with wit, verve and flair. There were shades of GOODFELLAS in NARCOS in its brilliant use of voiceover. In the recent courses I’ve run, there has been lots of discussion about how to use voiceover – NARCOS ep 1 was an object lesson.
THE LONDON SCREENWRITERS FESTIVAL Oct 23 – 25 2015
I seem to have got myself heavily involved with this year’s LSF – and I’m very much looking forward to it.
I’m going to be running a SCRIPT LAB about CREATING DRAMA SERIES (as I have for the last 2 years).
I’m running a session in the festival about the CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE, where I’ll hopefully be joined by someone from the Channel 4 drama department and at least 2 writers who have done the course in the last couple of years. And you’ll still have a week after this session to submit your script.
AND I’m going to be a mentor on the SCREENWRITERS TALENT CAMPUS which is a new initiative for this year, to work with writers over a period of several months and then help them find a home for their script at the end of the process. This seems to me anexcellent new scheme, and it could be a real career launch-pad for the writers taking part.
As ever the LSF offers so many great opportunities – to listen to talks from some of the biggest names in screenwriting, to hear part of your script read by professional actors, to pitch to potential employers, but above all to meet your peers and to celebrate the craft of screenwriting.
www.script-consultant.co.uk is also one of the official ‘partners’ this year.
AND if you haven’t already booked, you can get £25 off your ticket with discount code PSHELLEY-LSF15X
I hope to see you there!
AND, particularly if I’ve done some script consultancy for you, but even if not, and you’d like any advice on screenwriting and the industry, and you’d like to meet up at the LSF, please drop me an email.
Finally this week, here are some notes from one of the sessions from January’s 1st weekend of this year’s CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE. A huge thank you to excellent script editor TOBY BRUCE for taking these notes. More to follow in the coming weeks –
This first session was with writer JOHN FAY. John is a very experienced and excellent writer – for Channel 4 he was lead writer on 2 series of THE MILL, and he has many TV credits – CORONATION STREET, CLOCKING OFF, TORCHWOOD, MOVING ON, PRIMEVAL and many other shows.
‘He came second in Radio 4 writing competition, behind Lee Hall.
– He wrote his first play at 16 and got 1st professional job at 34 so had an 18 year apprenticeship.
– In those 18years he did a 3 year drama course and spent a lot of time on the dole.
– He has a MASSIVE pile of rejection letters.
– There are 55 treatments on his current computer and of those only 8 or 9 have got anywhere.
– Formed a theatre company with a bunch of unemployed mates.
– The best experience for a writer is to see your work performed, only then will you really know what bits are awful, if it’s too long etc.
– Even started writing a novel.
– One of the best learning experiences for any writer is to read the work of great writers. He remembers the first time he read a Paul Abbott script and thought “Ah! So THAT’S how you do it”.
– Writers are respected more on Coronation Street than most other shows.
– On Corrie, he had to write a script every 3 weeks which was good for his discipline
– It also taught him how to reinvent familiar set-ups, such as the “breakfast” scene.
– Respect and Communication are two of the most important elements to working well with a writer.
– The worst show-runners are the ones that make the other writers on the show run 26 miles and then take the baton from them just outside the stadium so they can take the plaudits on the final lap. Sometimes they completely rewrite the script after the original writer has put in all the work and done loads of drafts. If you’re going to do that, why make the first writer run so far in the first place?
– On The Mill he tried to make sure he and the writer ran the last lap together.
– Writing 6 episodes requires a lot of material therefore it’s good to have more than 1 writer, to get “other brains on the case”.
– Anything more than 4 episodes and you probably need a writing team.
– The character of Esther in The Mill was the epitome of a Channel 4 character, giving voice to the underdog.
– He often finds he over-plots his treatments and makes them too long.
– Writing pitch documents is a completely different skill to writing a script as pitch docs can often feel more like advertising.
– But they’re very useful for making you think about WHAT the show is.
– Research gives you things you could never think of yourself.’
Until next week
All the best
Sept 11th 2015