Hi There,


I am very pleased to announce that I will be running my 2 DAY WEEKEND SCREENWRITING COURSE in London twice this autumn.

As before these two-day courses will focus on both craft and career and will each include three guest speakers.

On October 12-13 the three guest speakers are screenwriters NATHANIEL PRICE and ANNA SYMON and literary agent JULIA TYRRELL. Nathaniel and Anna are both alumni of the Channel 4 screenwriting course. Nathaniel has written on TIN STAR, the BBC’s forthcoming NOUGHTS & CROSSES and has loads of projects in development; Anna is another of the rising stars of UK TV drama screenwriting. She wrote the critically-acclaimed and BAFTA-nominated MRS WILSON and has her own series DEEP WATER debuting on ITV in August. Julia runs her own very excellent boutique literary agency, Julia Tyrrell Management, and will be able to offer an in-depth insight into the industry and where the opportunities are for screenwriters.

On November 16-17, the guest writers are also 4screenwriting alumni – ARCHIE MADDOCKS and CHANDNI LAKHANI. Archie is hugely in demand as both a stand-up comic as well as a screenwriter and theatre writer. He has written on Sky’s forthcoming sci-fi series, INTERGALCTIC and has a number of really interesting projects in development with some of the top UK production companies. Chandni has written on the forthcoming THE DUBLIN MURDERS (BBC/RTE) and formerly worked as script editor for Charlie Brooker’s company, House Of Tomorrow – where she worked on BLACK MIRROR. The agent for the November weekend is still TBC.

All the details about both courses are on my website, as well as testimonials from my previous 2-day course from June. This last course sold out within a day of the newsletter being sent out. I had a long waiting list from the June course so, as of 11am on Thursday, I had already sold 15 of the 40 places on these two courses. Each course is limited to a maximum of 20 people – so that the courses can be as inter-active as possible – so EARLY BOOKING is advised. Based on past form, these two courses will sell out very quickly.

I don’t normally wander into politics BUT – the horror and outpouring of collective grief on social media in the last few days has been hard to ignore. How the f**k did we as a country get to a point where we are represented by this public school charlatan? Troubled times. I refuse to believe that this is who we are as a country – but we have to do something about it because the horrific mess created by the Etonian scumbags should not be what this country is about. End of sermon.

Film and tv drama has a lot to live up to. I was lucky enough to be at the cricket World Cup final at Lords on July 14. The one thing all those around me agreed at the end was that there has never been another cricket match like it and there will never be. Not in the World Cup final, the ultimate high stakes game. The narrative development of the game was so well plotted. Brilliant tension that just kept ratcheting up. Several of the events in the last half hour of the game were beyond the imagination of the most fantastical script. One more example of the wonderful dramatic complexities of the narrative of sport.

I’ve been reading a lot of scripts recently trying to clear the decks for my summer break and wrestling with trying to help writers improve their work.

We all need inspiration and my inspiration came from the film YESTERDAY. Discussing the film with a group of budding script editors in a course this week at Fremantle we were forced to observe / acknowledge the defensiveness and reluctance with which people in the world of TV praise a Richard Curtis script. Lots of sentences beginning ‘Well I have to say….’ ‘I know it’s very silly but…’

But whatever you say about him (yes I’m doing it too) he is a brilliant story teller who has written several films which – despite what the critics might say – have become movie staples, modern classics, the sort of films we return to for viewing after viewing – 4 Weddings, Notting Hill, About Time – and now Yesterday. His films are funny, charming, sentimental (and I mean that very much as a compliment) and they have an underlying humanity and optimism which – in the current desperate political climate – is so welcome. But above all, they are beautifully-crafted examples of story-telling.

His films have life-affirming messages. Yesterday seemed to be saying that the world would be an infinitely poorer place without The Beatles and other great artists who are so deeply embedded in our daily lives that we take them for granted – which IMO is true of Richard Curtis. His back catalogue is deeply impressive and his TV shows and films (not to mention his charitable work through Comic Relief) are a brilliant achievement- but he tends to be looked down on because his films are comedies (and because he and his films are posh?). Richard Curtis and Boris Johnson represent the two very different ends of the scale on the spectrum of posh!

I was also lucky enough to get a ticket for Helen Edmundson’s adaptation of Andrea Levy’s SMALL ISLAND at the National Theatre. At 3 hours 20 mins, this started slowly but grew and grew and by the end I was absolutely riveted. It was a beautiful, epic but intimate piece of story-telling that had a real resonance for today. The scenes in which the newly-arrived, optimistic immigrants arrive in London and are told by their work colleagues to fuck off back home were chilling – and doubly so in the light of recent events. (It was a story that inspired you to continue the fight against the racists and fascists.)

This and THE LEHMAN TRILOGY (another 3 hour+ National Theatre epic) are by some way my two favourite theatre show of the last few months. It’s strange how 3+ hours can pass in a flash whereas I’ve been to a few 90-minute plays in the last few months that have felt never-ending.

HIGH TIDE THEATRE FESTIVAL Aldeburgh, Suffolk Sept 10-15

I have once again booked to see a whole host of shows at the always excellent High Tide Theatre festival – a brilliant showcase for new theatre writing in the UK. The line-up for this year once again looks outstanding. BUT sadly Walthamstow Council pulled the plug on their part of the festival at very short notice so the week in Aldeburgh is the only chance to take in High Tide this year. I highly recommend it.

Vinay Patel – Patelograms. I have recently subscribed to Vinay’s weekly musings – and it’s always a cracking read. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, one of the things he talked about was the writing of treatments and outlines for TV – which was fascinating and really helpful.

This will be my last newsletter until Friday September 6th – I am giving myself a summer break and also cutting back on my script-reading until September. I hope you all have a relaxing summer and I’ll be back in September!

One of the things I am aiming to do over the next month is finish the TRIBUTE series 2 submissions. Apologies it’s taken me so long to read them but it’s been a very busy few months,

All the best



Twitter: @PhilipShelley1

July 26th 2019