THE 2 PHILS WRITING & SELLING A GREAT SCREENPLAY, London Oct 11-12
My two day screenwriting course with screenwriter / script editor Phil Gladwin (currently Head of Development, Bentley Productions), running in London on the weekend of Oct 10-11 with guest speaker ESTHER SPRINGER (Head of Development, BBC DRAMA).
NB Have a look at the web page for some lovely testimonials from our May course.
I’ve finally come to the end of my 3 month, 8 venue script-editing course tour of the UK, taking in Newcastle, Belfast, London, Brighton, Bristol, Salford, Glasgow and ending this week in Cardiff.
And while I haven’t exactly been living the rock star life-style on my travels, I’ve had an absolutely brilliant time and here are some of the reasons why –
The people I’ve met.
I’ve met a huge range of very nice – and very interesting – people on the courses. Mainly writers, a lot of script readers and aspiring script editors, producers on the hunt for knockout scripts, and many others – a sports journalist, a classical music producer, a karate teacher turned screenwriter , with a particular penchant for rom-coms (there’s a story in there!), an agent for stand-up comics, a writer / reader with a parallel life as a globe-trotting nurse. And delegates from many of the top independents and broadcasters in the UK – several from the BBC, Red Productions, Fremantle, Fiction Factory, Leopard Drama – and a number of very interesting independent producers. My head is spinning with all the fascinating, brilliant people I’ve met. Oh – and someone from a top London financial management who informed us that the Conservative party are indeed forging ahead with the wholesale sell-off of the NHS!
The places I’ve been.
As an addictive runner of 30+ years, the 6 months that I’ve recently spent injured has been frustrating to say the least. So it’s been an enormous pleasure over the last few weeks to be back running (very slowly) and discovering so many different cities of the UK – and every run wherever I’ve been has been without exception in lovely evening sunshine – along the seafront in Brighton; on a sporting pilgrimage in Manchester; along the River Clyde through Glasgow Green, past swarms of Celtic supporters; around College Green and alongside the River Avon in Bristol, and on Wednesday evening in the lovely parkland and along the River Taff (and around the Swalec cricket stadium) finishing by Cardiff Castle.
And before I was back running, walking on the Quayside in Newcastle looking at the very impressive Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (where we held the course) and the Sage building. I’ve seen lovely parts of towns that I’d never otherwise have seen without running. And it’s a great way to wind down after sitting on my backside pontificating all day.
And in Newcastle I saw the first preview of an excellent new play, WHAT FALLS APART by a writer I knew (the excellent Torben Betts) starring an actor I knew (the equally excellent Nigel Hastings – who moonlights as a top-class script reader / editor). And in the bar afterwards I met the theatre’s artistic director Max Roberts and talked to him about one of the writers he has mentored, whose first two plays his theatre has commissioned and produced – Paddy Campbell, who was at the time in the middle of this year’s C4 screenwriting course , and has since delivered an outstandingly good, hugely original script.
The hotel cooked breakfasts (which explain the running!)
The guest writers.
It’s been great catching up with some old friends with whom I’ve worked in the past – Adrian Mead in Glasgow, Stephen Churchett in Brighton, Anna Symon in London and John Fay in Salford. AND meeting several writers new to me, Michael Chaplin in Newcastle, Tim Loane in Belfast, Caleb Ranson in Bristol and Russell Gascoigne in Cardiff – all of whom were hugely generous in agreeing to spend an afternoon as script editors’ punch-bags, and were all full of insights about the development and writing of the scripts in question. It’s been fascinating to see the huge variance in approach of all the writers as they talked through their experiences on one particular production, and to see how they fielded notes from the trainee script editors. And learning about what it takes to thrive and survive as a successful screenwriter in the UK TV industry. All of these writers need a tricky mix of a thick-skinned, philosophical approach – while at the same time being open and sensitive enough to be at their best creatively – a very tricky balancing act.
It’s been very kind of all of them to agree to be confronted by a room full of sometimes as many as 16 script editors, all of whom have notes on their script! But the generosity and willingness to give back to the industry is one of the reasons all of these writers have had so many successes (as well as obviously being very talented writers in their different, individual ways).
But above all what I have enjoyed has been the camaraderie and fun of meeting so many like-minded screenwriting enthusiasts in every corner of the UK, all trying to forge a career in this uncertain but exciting craft of story-telling.
I have learnt a huge amount in the past few months – conversing about writing and creativity teaches me so much about story, about dramatic writing, about what’s important and what works, about where ideas come from, and about the focus and ambition you need to be successful as a screenwriter or script editor.
Until next week,
All the best
July 24th 2015