Hi There,


Our finely-tuned weekend course that spends day 1 on the craft and creativity of screenwriting, day 2 on the business of selling your work and yourself as a screenwriter.

Special Guest: BBC Drama script editor ESTHER SPRINGER. Esther has worked with a lot of the best and most successful writers working in the UK – writers such as Jack Thorne, Lucy Gannon, Adrian Hodges, Simon Nye, Bill Gallagher, Chris Chibnall and many other luminaries – as well as being in on the start of the Eastenders spin-off E20. So she knows everything there is to know about what it takes to make it as a screenwriter in the UK today.


Thank you very much for your responses to last week’s SIDE EFFECTS musings – and here’s the pick of them –

Very interesting post. Haven’t seen ‘Side Effects’, but I felt much the same way about ‘Trance’. Any semblance of character integrity and underlying logic thrown out the window for the sake of some weak twists.’

David Lemon

Yes. ‘Trance’ does look worryingly similar to Side Effects’ in that respect. Not one I’ll be rushing to see.

Don’t know that I disagree violently with you about Side Effects – no danger of limb loss to either of us (we’re keyboard warriors) – but thought I’d offer another perspective. What I thought Side Effects did brilliantly was something I very rarely experience in British TV or film – a rattling good story which drags you by the collar and pulls you through a tightly constructed yarn. Sure, it might be preposterous in some ways – no argument there. But that ability to create a rollercoaster ride is something I rarely experience with work from British creators. If you’re looking for someone who can do that, AND deliver rounded characters and credible emotions, then check out Joss Whedon.

Adrian Reynolds

Yes. Fair point Adrian. And I was just talking to excellent 4screenwriting 2013 writer Anna Symon who pointed me in the direction of Stephen Soderbergh’s earlier film ‘Out Of Sight’ that apparently really delivered on all fronts (character and story!). I say ‘Stephen Soderbergh’s film’ – but it was written by SCOTT FRANK.

Didn’t bother with SIDE EFFECTS myself after seeing the trailer.

Watch the trailer again and see if you can figure out from it:

What’s the tone?
What’s the genre?
Whose story is this?
David Bishop.

Very interesting! Thank you David.

I think – in the case of Side Effects -it’s a matter of personal taste. People can often hate genre movies for the very same reasons for which other people love them. But how much does personal taste affect one’s professional judgment as a reader or script editor? This in my view is why luck is such a vital element in a writer’s development. Is it really likely or even expected that a reader will recommend an otherwise excellent piece of writing that they don’t personally like or admire or even respect?

Sam Worthington

Ultimately all feedback is subjective isn’t it? And everyone’s opinion is different (as this sample of quotes demonstrates). Which is actually very consoling when you’re trying to attract interest in a script. It doesn’t matter how many people knock it back – you only need one person to get on board. At the same time, if a lot of people are giving you the same note on a script – then you probably ought to listen!

No, you’re not the only one who didn’t like Side Effects. It was a good premise…..but the story was spoiled by the supposedly clever twist. I felt irritated that I spent my hard earned money on going to the pictures to watch it. It’s 2 hours of my life I’m never getting back.

Tracey Jones

I had very mixed feelings about Side Effects. I completely agree about the last third – it was farcical and a real let down that he chose to turn such a nuanced character led piece into a plot fest. And, ultimately, that does make a mockery of the whole film as that’s what you’re left with when you leave the cinema…but….and yet…before that, particularly in the first half hour, I was swooning. I think there’s something about the way Sodebergh captures his characters, their emotions, the locations, I get totally swept into his world. All the more frustrating that he didn’t see it through. Either way, I hope he changes his minds and makes more films.’


A lot of John Yorke in the press and on social media this week – he has a very good PR company! – but it’s all cracking stuff. This article, for instance, from yesterday’s Independent is excellent –


Just booked my tickets for a day out at this year’s High Tide New Theatre Festival at scenic Halesworth in Suffolk – a great chance in early May to cram in (I’m going to three plays on one day on Sunday May 5th) some of the hottest new theatre writing in a beautiful part of the country. Hope to see you there!


MONSIEUR LAZHAR – continuing the character \ plot debate I started with SIDE EFFECTS, I also caught up this week with this superb film. The narrative premise is very strong – about a teacher helping a school-class come to terms with a tragic event (I’ll say no more than this in order not to spoil it for you). But after the big narrative hook at the start, the plotting is minimalist. There is very little in the way of dramatic events – but it’s a quietly beautiful and minutely-observed story driven by some lovely characterisations. I recommend it highly. The sort of film that doesn’t seem to get made in the UK.

Until next week

Happy Writing



April 5th 2013