I’ve been running my script consultancy for quite a few years now and have always thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s particularly exciting to see a project develop and improve over several drafts, especially when I then feel able to recommend that script to suitable industry people. But there comes a point when the batteries need refreshing and I’ve decided to give myself a couple of months proper break over the course of this summer. I have a very full list of scripts to feed-back on up until the end of this month and then I’ve promised myself a script-free July and August. You are still very welcome to send me your projects in the meantime to secure your place in the script queue – but on the understanding that I won’t get to them until after Sept 1st.
And my final NEWSLETTER before Sept 7th will be in two weeks time on June 29th.
CHANNEL 4 COURSE 2018
The Channel 4 course is over for another year. Please come back to the newsletter at the start of September for more news about the 2019 course and for details of when the entry period will be open.
Last weekend saw the 12 writers and their script editors come together at Channel 4 with the results of their labours from the preceding 5 months. 12 hugely exciting scripts. On the Saturday a day of readings of a section of each script by some brilliant actors to give the writers the chance to hear their words come to life off the page; and on the Sunday 4 eminent guest script editors came to give their feedback to the writers. On both days the response to the scripts was deservedly and overwhelmingly positive.
I couldn’t feel more confident that these 12 writers are going to make a big splash in the industry, which has led me to think about what it is about these particular writers that will make them successful (and in quite a few cases they are already well on the way) and what lessons can be learnt from them.
First, they all have something powerful and particular to say. All of their scripts feel distinctive and unique. The stories they are telling feel personal to them, they all feel like they have a strong personal agenda, and from reading each of the scripts you get a strong sense of the writer’s voice and identity. Consequently the scripts feel challenging, like they’re pushing back boundaries rather than being constrained by them.
And as people and writers there is a collective and individual confidence to these writers. In general they have strong opinions about what they like and don’t like, and there is a steely but also playful determination about them. I also think (if it’s possible to generalise about 12 such different writers) that there is a quiet well of humanity at the heart of their writing. It’s exciting to see such a talented group of writers launching themselves into an industry that is hungry for new voices.
On 5 July at Rich Mix (London), Shooting People will be hosting their free SHORT CUTS Summer Event and are very excited to be joined by the award-winning writer, director and actor, Desiree Akhavan. Desiree will explore her journey from making hit web series The Slope to critically acclaimed features Appropriate Behaviour and The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival this year. This event also marks the next round of SHORT CUTS, a career development competition that gives filmmakers the chance to win £1k in film funding, industry mentorship, filmmaking equipment and prize packages. Register for your FREE ticket.
RECENT TV DRAMA HIGHLIGHTS
What A VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL teaches us about DRAMA IDEAS – this is a story that has been in the public domain for a long time. An absolutely extraordinary story that has so much to say about this country, the establishment, prejudice, intolerance, ignorance and political hypocrisy – a story that was out there, waiting to be told. It took writer / journalist John Preston to shine a light on it before the BBC commissioned the Russell T Davies version. And the first showing of the 1979 documentary about the case was also fascinating.
The 4 part serial was a delight in many ways – in particular for the flair and humour of RTD’s writing.
When you watch this, a big question is – why has nobody told this absolutely mind-blowing true story before? It feels like a story that demands to be told; and even though it happened in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, it stills feels so relevant to today. But there are SO MANY of these sorts of stories out there in the public domain, begging to be told. True stories that absolutely captured the public imagination and that are ripe for dramatization and further exploration. As writers you should be seeking out stories like this.
This 5-part adaptation of the novels of Edward St Aubyn by David Nicholls has, IMO, been one of the best bits of drama on UK TV for some time. It has great production values – the direction and acting are superb – and the writing is wonderful. These are dark, difficult stories but I thought all 5+ hours were completely compelling. Here’s a very interesting video interview with David Nicholls about the process of adapting the novels –
And here’s a very good review / appreciation of ep 3 (although probably advisable not to read this until you’ve watched the episode!)
TIM ATACK / BRUNTWOOD PRIZE
And finally this week, an excellent article by 4screenwriting alumnus TIM ATACK about his writing, about his winning of the 2017 Bruntwood Prize, and about ‘being an emotional artist, about thinking of emotion as a kind of driving logic when making stuff.’ This is a cracking piece of writing about writing. And Tim’s success is hugely deserved. His writing is original in the extreme and very brilliant. And he’s wonderfully modest with it.
The next newsletter – and the last one before Friday Sept 7th – will be on June 29th.
All the best
June 15th 2018