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 May & July 16th (in London, Cardiff, Bristol, Salford & Glasgow). More details, & how to book can be found on the TRAINING NEWS page of the Grand Scheme Media website



Hi There,

I’ve been lucky enough to spend ten days travelling in California. On my travels, I walked in (as a tourist) to the American Film Institute in LA, which just happened to be 10 yards down the road from my motel. One of the highlights of the trip was nosing around the AFI’s Louis B Mayer library which I wandered into and was surprised to be unchallenged by authority figures! They had some awe-inspiring exhibits – such as Martin Scorsese’s story-boards from TAXI DRIVER and original script pages from RAGING BULL. And more screenwriting books than I’ve ever seen in one place. Very exciting.

On my return home, one of the first emails I received was this from excellent screenwriter CLAIRE FOWLER. The serendipity of the timing of this email was too strange to ignore.

‘I’m in LA and am reaching out to ask for help making a film in conjunction with the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women. The DWW is committed to educating and mentoring directors to increase the number of women working professionally in screen directing…Because, basically, we females are rare beasts in the film and TV world. Jill Soloway, the creator of the hit netflix show TRANSPARENT will serve as Artist-in-Residence for the incoming 2015 participants, The FREE program provides mentorship, contacts, equipment and support to shoot a short, but we filmmakers still have to raise funds to shoot the films. Even with all their help, we still need $$ to get up and running! Which is why I’m reaching out. So far we have reached 28% of our goal of $15,000. If 100 more people contributed $120 each we would surpass it! Please find the link to my film’s fundraising campaign below, where you can learn more about the film (a love story, told in reverse). Check out our fabulous MAD MEN perk- 2 x tickets to a live screening of the finale with cast AND a mystery celeb reading directed by Jason Reitman (in LA).

OR, if you hate paypal, send direct to the AFI (just be sure to select the correct project! NOODLES) Thank you for your support! Claire’

This looks like a great pitch, with very impressive credentials and support – good luck to Claire with this project.

LAMPEDUSA by Anders Lustgarten

Another in my annoying habit of recommending shows after they’ve finished. This was on at the Soho theatre in April but it is also on at the High Tide Festival in Aldeburgh, Suffolk in September.

Not only was it a cracking piece of writing, it was horribly timely, as the name LAMPEDUSA became big news during the run of the play after 700 refugees died on their way to the island in April. Anders’ play dramatized the political and humanitarian outrage of the lack of intervention by Western governments as they universally turned a blind eye to this crisis, and allowed / enabled (and continue to do so) a huge and senseless waste of lives.

During the run-up to the election, politicians were notable by their cowardly unwillingness to discuss this issue in the media – not a vote winner. So for a period of a week or two, Anders became the go-to guy for sound-bites on this issue, appearing on BBC News, Sky News, even Russian TV, and he wrote an article on the subject in the Guardian.

His passion, intelligence and articulacy put the pusillanimous politicians to shame. The play and his humanitarian agenda demonstrated the power of dramatic writing. Anders’ writing always has a powerful political agenda, but not only was LAMPEDUSA instructive and timely, it was also a great piece of story-telling – moving and hugely engaging, and, in its ultimate faith in human kindness in the face of terrible, unnecessary suffering, it was inspiring.

A play that really affirmed how powerful in so many ways good dramatic writing can be.

The General Election.

Whatever your views of the outcome, the events around the election were so full of human drama. In the US I was able to watch ITV’s (shockingly bad) live coverage through the night in the US evening. There’s a real sense of the dramatic in the whispers around the close counts, in the theatricality of the result announcements, with victorious and defeated alongside each other on stage, and in the instant interviews after the results. While getting increasingly depressed about the political outcome, I was entranced by the personal politics – and so much stuff that I’ve read since (eg about the response of those MP’s who lose their seats) produces so many enthralling, emotional human stories.

One thing I observed on my US holiday – both while nosing surreptitiously around the AFI offices and library, and on my tour of Paramount Studios – was the lack of recognition screenwriters get – both historically and still today. From several corridors of AFI ‘Life Achievement’ awards at the AFI, and in all the awards on display at Paramount, there was barely a screenwriter in sight. The one real high-spot of screenwriting interest at Paramount was the old ‘writers house’ from the days of studio contracts – a large, rather lovely house entirely populated by writers contracted to the studios, churning out the hits of the day.

Until next week,

All the best




May 15th 2015