Wednesday, October 31, 2012

LSWF 2012 - The Report

I think I've recovered. My eyes are open at least and I have little more energy than I've had over the last couple of days. Who knew absorbing information was so exhausting.

I'm glad to report LSWF 2012 was a superb event, a big improvement on last year, something I thought was going to be impossible. And for the first time the festival sold out. Fantastic news!

I traveled down on Thursday early afternoon to sneak in a couple of meetings before early registration kicked off. The first meeting was with Johnny, the director of my feature Faith. He loved the second draft and only suggested a few minor tweaks. All good. Then I had a meeting with an agent. I was very nervous but soon calmed down when I met Christina. She bought me a pint and we were soon chatting like old friends. An hour later she offered to represent me. I nearly exploded with excitement!

This actually caused me a little problem. I had planned to pitch to agents on the Friday afternoon pitching session and didn't know what to do. Luckily I had brought with me a few one page pitches so I was able to pitch to producers. Always be prepared. The pitching went well and I had interest in a TV detective series and a joint feature project a major Hollywood type said he loved. Let's hope I hear back from them both.

On Saturday it was Justin Young's Holby script lab. Last year I was lucky enough to be picked for the Gub Neal session, which was awesome, but I have to say Justin's session blew me away. He explained what they looked for in a writer for Holby, how the scripts were written, the deadlines for each draft and the writing cliches to avoid. It was a very informative session and really encouraged me to send a sample of my work in. I put my agent on that task.

If you are planning on going next year then seriously think about the script labs. They are a great way to learn about a specific area of our industry and it's a more personal session too. I would highly recommend them.

Next up for me was the Clues For Success: writing detectives for film and TV. I'm a huge fan of Matthew Graham so I might have come over as an obsessive fan boy...I tried not to...but I might have dribbled a bit when I shook his hand. It was a great session which highlighted the importance of research and how much fun it can actually be. Who wouldn't want to go on patrol with officers in the back of their car, blue lighting it around town, cracking crime and keeping the streets safe. Awesome! I'll be ringing my local police station later.

Now you all know I'm an advocate of networking, so here's a lovely tale of how to take advantage of an opportunity. I was in Julian Freidmann's session on Writing For TV: why the goggle box is the best place to carve a career. Julian was being negative about new writers and TV, informing us that new writers would never get their own series commissioned for TV. I noticed the woman next to me was going mad, swearing under her breath and shaking her head.

When Julian opened up the floor for questions the woman next to me grabbed the microphone and stated her name was Rebecca de Souza from Tiger Aspect and that she disagreed strongly with what Julian was saying. She went on to inform the room that Tiger Aspect had just commissioned two shows from new writers and they were actively crying out for new talent, as long as they approached through an agent. When Rebecca sat down I leaned over and said, "Jolly well put," handed her my card and told her, "I'll get my agent to call you." I even impressed myself.

I would like to point out that I think Julian was trying to say completely new writers are unlikely to get their show ideas commissioned, where as if you have a credit in film and not TV then you have a good as chance as anybody.

Last on my list of ace sessions was Simon Phillips: Writing With Characters, where he discussed the changing points in screenplays and how if you don't use them properly the director and actors might interpret them differently. This was a particularity helpful session which gave me a greater insight into the notes Johnny gave me for Faith. It helped me see where he was coming from with some of his questions. A very involved talk and one for the more advanced writer I think.

And then of course there was the networking. I had so much fun chatting to old friends and people I had met for the first time. I used to hate networking, now I absolutely love it and can think of nothing better than approaching a complete stranger and striking up a conversation. It was so nice to meet many, many lovely writers and to witness their passion for the job I love.

On the whole the feedback on the festival was positive. There were a few complaints about there not being enough sessions for writers who's careers are more advance and who are now veterans of the festival. I also heard someone complain the speakers spent too much time talking about themselves rather than their insights and experiences with their craft. I disagree. I hunted down some excellent sessions which I not only found informative but which also recharged my writing batteries for the busy year ahead.

If you didn't go this year make sure you do so next. See you there.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Why are you reading my blog?

You should be preparing for the London Screenwriters' Festival next week.

You're still here.


Stop procrastinating.

Seriously, go away.

Look, if you don't get a shift on you won't get the most out of the festival and someone else who has prepared will advance their career, while you have to go back to working in McDonalds when the weekend is over.

You're going to start preparing now?


Get on with then!!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Sometimes I put a lot of pressure on myself and it's a silly thing to do.

I don't know why I do it. Maybe it's because I'm afraid of failure? Or maybe it's because I love writing too much? Or maybe in my desire to be helpful I don't say no often enough? Or maybe it's because I'm driven? Whatever the reason it occasionally brings me to a grinding halt.

Then I feel guilty because the crippling self doubt takes over and I actively avoid writing. I play Xbox. I watch DVDs. I mess about on Facebook and Twitter. I'll read a book. Or I'll just go and have a kip. Pretty much when I'm in that state of mind I'll do anything to avoid putting words on paper.

My wife has helped with that. She printed out a list for me of all the great things that have happened in my career over the past couple of years and made me pin it to my cork board. If I have a moment of self doubt all I have to do is look up and the list is there to remind me I'm actually rather good at what I do.

I've never missed a deadline, but even taking just a couple of days off makes it difficult for me to catch up. I always work to a tight schedule. I manage it though. Again I don't know how. I just do. For me to let anyone down is unthinkable. But I love deadlines and always work at a hectic pace. I can't work any other way.

So I'll plod on. I'll work evenings. I'll work weekends. I'll work late in to the early hours of the morning. I'll get it done. Because it's what I do. Even if there is something good on the telly. It's what us writers have to do. It's who we are. It's how we make ourselves stand out from the wannabes.

Get your head down and get on with it. I will be!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


I've read Johnny's notes, discussed the changes with him and agreed the direction the rewrite of Faith will take. Now all I have to do is sit down and make those changes.

I've lived with this story for many years during which it has changed, grown and morphed into something entirely different from my initial idea. The new draft will make further significant changes, changes which will both enhance the story and complete it. I'm very excited about it.

I'm never precious about my work. I know a film is a collaborative work and I always listen to ideas of how my work can be taken forward. I then weigh up each idea, assessing its impact on the story and characters. If I'm happy they will improve the screenplay I will implement them. If I feel they don't add anything, or detract from what I'm trying to achieve, then I'll let the person know my reasons for not making those changes. Hopefully they'll understand and agree.

It just so happens Johnny and I are on the same page with Faith and I agree with most of the changes he wants me to implement. In fact most of them I have thought of before and have wanted to make for some time. Now I have the opportunity to do so.

The one suggestion I didn't entirely agree with I'm still going to implement because it will improve the chances of the screenplay getting the funding needed to take it forward into production. The reason I'm happy to do so, despite my objections, is because Johnny explained the reasoning behind his suggestion and I agreed his argument made a lot of sense.

Better get to it.