Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Festival / Snorefest?

Today I attended the New Writers Day at the Cheltenham Scriptwriters' Festival 2006. When it was originally advertised I didn't fall into the category of Professional Delegate according to the wesite's guidelines - "This part of the Festival is generally for writers who have been optioned, produced or who have a projects that has been accepted in competition by recognised screen development agencies." So I signed up for the New Writers Day at £90.

I received an email a week before asking me to fill in a tick list of the sessions I wanted to attend - "Please find attached a tick sheet containing the session for Tuesday 27th June. Would you be able to tick which ones you are interested in and return to me, we want to make sure that everyone will get to the sessions of their choice." When I got there I was told that people had to sign up to the pitching sessions on their arrival, something as far as I was concerned I had already signed up for on the above tick list. I was told that this was not the case and that all the pitching sessions had now been booked up and I couldn't get on one. This was the main focus of my day and I was quite furious that I wasn't allowed to attend when as far as I was concerned I had already booked my place.

To make matters worse the rest of the events/presentations were basic at best, not really geared to what I would call New Writers trying to break into the industry. The guests simply went over stuff I already knew. It was all basic stuff aimed at people who have just decided to take up writing and not those who have been writing for some while and want a little more insider knowledge to help them along.

Most of the presentations were 45 mins long and so hurried that they were brushing over large chunks of information. The question and answer sessions at the end lasted no longer than 10 minutes allowing for 2-3 questions only. The delegates were then hustled out like sheep to the next presentation by a woman with radio and headset/microphone.

14.00 - 14.45pm Getting in - A Pitching Case Study the fourth presentation was by far the worst. The first 20 minutes were taken up by the presenters telling us their bios, which we already had in our welcome pack. They then talked about how shit the industry was at letting talent in for the next 15 minutes and then during the last five they answered two questions from the audience.

I staid for one last presentation on the legal side of things (contracts, etc) and was treated to a slide show that was brushed over so fast I didn't have time to make any notes. By this time I had had enough and I left for the two and a half hour journey home.

It was a total waste of time as far as I was concerned and I will be writing an email asking for my money back.

UPDATE: I think my lack of enjoyment can be put down to my expectations. Having a degree in scriptwriting I knew pretty much everything that was covered at the New Writers' Day. I was kind of expecting the day to be aimed at those writers who hadn't yet had a sale/commision/option. I wasn't expecting it to be aimed at those people just taking up the craft. 75% of the people who have contacted me seem to agree.

I have been reliably informed by Danny Stack that the Professional Delegates Festival is a winner. I shall be attending that next year.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Forty Key Scenes

Maybe I should have posted this before everyone started their 14 day feature challenge? It's a simple device I use to plan out a script to make sure it flows properly. Here's how it works.

Key scenes are the major turning points in your script, inciting incidents, points of no return and major character obstacles. Simply put they are the important points of plot and character development for your main story.

They should roughly be spread out like this; 10 key scenes for act one, 20 for act two and another 10 for act three. Key scene 10 should be your first turning point and the end of act one, key scene 20 the second turning point and the midway point, key scene 30 is the third turning point and the end of act two, and key scene 40 the final scene.

If you write a paragraph for each key scene you then have a rough layout of your plot. Of course you don't need to stick exactly to the 40 scenes, these are just a guideline to the key moments in your plot. Other scenes should be inserted to cover sub plots, build and show character and move the plot along.

I hope you find this a useful tool as I certainly have.

Monday, June 05, 2006

14 Days And Counting

It has begun. 14 days to write a script, or in my case to rewrite a script. OK, I'll be honest it's actually 12 days as I've only started this morning.

The quickest I've ever written a feature script was in three months. That was Sins of The Father for my final year project at university. We had no other choice than to finish it in those three months but at least we had six months to prepare for it before we started.

The reason I chose to do a rewrite instead of starting a new feature script is that Mr. Valentine has so far taken something nearing four years to complete. Not that I've been writing it for four years, it's just that most of that time it has been sat gathering dust. I've decided to lose one character and a couple of subplots to make the film tighter and give it a better, more logical ending.

I am very interested in the write a feature in fourteen days idea and I think I'll even give it a go again sometime soon. I do have a feature idea ready to go so this is just the motivation I need to get it done. The only reason I haven't before is that I was reluctant to spend another year or so writing one and not doing much work on other projects. I think I'll give myself the two weeks before my wedding to complete it that way I have a self-imposed time limit and two weeks off afterwards to clear my head before I read it.

I had better crack on with this one now though, so I'll see you all soon.