29 March, 2006

Bearded Ladies

For a free funny night out, try the Drill Hall on April 7 where the Bearded Ladies will be recording their final show for Radio 4.

Laugh loudly and often enough and you could end up on the radio. It's something to tell the grandkids:

"I was on a Radio 4 comedy show years ago, don't you know."
"Were you, Gran? What did you do?"
"Modesty forbids, kids, but rest assured I made an important contribution."

Also, the new Head of Radio Entertainment, Paul Schlesinger will be there and your enthusiasm would be appreciated.

Tickets

28 March, 2006

Writing for Women

Further to the report from the Women and Work commission suggesting more female role models in drama, John August's blog has this following quote from his 10 Things I Hate About Me :

"
4) WHAT’S THE ONE TIME YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD HAVE SPOKEN UP BUT YOU DIDN’T?

I did a rewrite of a movie for a pretty big producer. In the original script, the sister of the protagonist was a flight attendant. I changed her into a pilot, just because I thought it was more interesting. The producer insisted that I change it back, because, “That’s absurd. I’ve never seen a female pilot. I just don’t believe it.”

I know a female commercial airline pilot; I had recently been on a flight with a female pilot; four seconds of Googling could give me the exact statistics that I needed to prove that female pilots are not the Yetis of aviation. But I said fuck it, it’s not worth fighting about and changed it back. I regret not making my point, though it wouldn’t have really amounted to anything meaningful.

"

To my thinking there's two reasons for having the character be a pilot. 1) The role model reason - to show girls who don't know any female pilots that it's a career possibility open to them 2) But much more importantly, if we're being ruthless about serving the story first, there is the 'because it's more interesting' reason. The audience expectation is that women will be flight attendants and the pilots would be men. If as a writer you are thinking about and trying to avoid gender stereotypes and cliches then you are more likely to be trying to avoid cliches elsewhere in your script and making it more interesting. That applies not just to job roles but whether women or men are passive or aggressive; are leaders or followers.

Of course when trying to be different, it still has to be believable in that if both pilots were women and all the flight attendants were men then I would be thrown out of the story - unless that was an important element of the story itself.

Every character we write should be interesting because it improves our stories. We should be avoiding ciphers and stereotypes not for political correctness reasons but because scripts that rely on ciphers and stereotypes are more likely to be rejected as they're boring and script readers have read the same things and seen the same things too many times before. Sure, have the flight attendant be female - there's nothing wrong with that at all - but is she also a well rounded, fully developed character?

27 March, 2006

Jimmy McGovern interview


The Guardian has an interview with Jimmy McGovern, which includes his previously reported comment about not expecting much from ITV drama at 9:00pm which he now expands to BBC drama.

The other interesting thing is how, like Paul Abbott, he doesn't mince words about lazy writers. Even watching Brookside as a kid, McGovern's work stood out because of his hard work and dedication.

Although annoyingly the article fails to mention the theatre work he did before he got Brookie. When I met Jimmy in Manchester he told me he really enjoys working with the local communities helping to produce drama. And, by the way, it's so brilliant to meet your heroes and not be disappointed. When I met Woody Allen he punched me in the head and then kicked me in the kidneys as I lay on the ground. I only asked him for an autograph.

The Interview

26 March, 2006

NPA Workshops

How To Write A Ten- Minute Short
on Sunday 2nd April 2006 at 10.30am – 5pm
at The NPA Film Centre, 1.07 The Tea Building ,56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ.
£75 Non Members/ £65 Writers Guild/ £55 NPA Members

This one-day course focuses on narrative storytelling, not experimental film-making. Intensively hands-on, by the end of the day you’ll have completed the rough first draft of your ten-minute script. You’ll also have improved your basic scriptwriting skills in order to give you greater confidence to move on to longer lengths. Included in the cost is a script report on your completed ten-minute screenplay. Working alone, in pairs and in groups you will: Brainstorm, brainstorm – because the first ideas are rarely the best; Think up great twists – which lie at the heart of great storytelling ;beat out your plot – getting feedback until it works; create an intense ‘world’ for your script; create a cast of intriguing characters ;hone their dialogue until it reads like poetry ; ‘Goals’ and ‘arcs’ – what are they again? ; Genre – and now try writing something completely different. Designed for relative beginners to screenwriting and for (stuck) writers who would like to complete a piece of work. As Fenella Greenfield's workshops are intensively exercise-based, please come with pen and lots of paper.

Screenlab: Treatments, Synopses And Proposals - Mentoring Workshop
on Monday April 3 at 6.30pm-9.30pm
at The NPA Film Centre
Individuals: £55/ £45 Writers Guild (with project discussion) £45/ £35 Writers Guild (as observer)

Teams of two with projects - 50% reduction for second team member All sessions must be booked in advance. Places are limited. This mentoring workshop will focus on how to create powerful and engaging treatments for cinema and TV - for writers, directors, producers and script editors. Charles Harris is an award-winning writer-director for cinema and TV and one of the founders of Screenwriters Workshop. www.screen-lab.co.uk/

Script Yorkshire Writers Workshops

Write a Radio Play
Tutor: Guy Morgan
Saturdays 11am-4pm
April 8th & 22nd / May 6th & 20th / June 3rd.
Hull University, Hull.
Cost: £80 (£60 for SY members. £50 for those joining SY) '
Write a Radio Play' is for aspirant and emerging writers wanting to develop their skills by writing an original one hour team-scripted radio drama. Tutor Guy Morgan will lead five full day workshops from April through to June, where participants will invent characters, storylines and dialogue to produce a finished script. In between sessions Guy will liaise with writers via email to provide guidance and edit the script. The writers will also have the opportunity to be involved in the process of recording and producing the final radio play.

Write a TV Drama Series
Tutor: Marvin Close
Mon-Fri 10am-4.00pm.
May 15-19th
The Friary, Beverley, East Yorkshire
Workshop fee: £80 (£60 for SY members. £50 for those joining Script Yorkshire)
A 5 day intensive course developing participants' skills in creating & writing a notional new TV drama series. The course will offer students a hands-on experience from concept idea through to story development, to a scene by scene breakdown of a pilot episode script.

To apply for a place and to find out more about other Script Yorkshire writers workshops contact Rupert Creed on 01482-494785 or email: rupert.creed @ scriptyorkshire.co.uk

TAPS Writers’ Workshops

"TAPS is a charitable organisation established to run courses designed to nurture the best in up-and-coming film and television writing talent.

The courses consist of two modules: a weekend workshop led by industry professionals and a filmed showcase. The showcases are performed readings filmed with a professional cast, producer, director and technical crew in a professional television studio environment. The results are edited, again by an industry professional editor, and distributed on DVD to our network of active industry contacts. Our goal is to promote and support the writer, not just their work.

We are now accepting entries for our 2006/7 season, Full Length Script Development Course and Television Sitcom Course. This season will also see the launch of our ITV-backed Nations and Regions Courses, focusing on uncovering new writing talent from around the U.K., as well as our Continuing Series Course which will show established writers how to work within the format of an ongoing 60-minute series.

Please see the website http://www.tapsnet.org for downloadable course packs including full course information and application forms. "

Theatre Company Looking for One-Act Plays

"The LOST Theatre Company is inviting submissions for their 2006 One Act Festival to take place at the Courtyard Theatre, London from 11th -28th May. This annual event offers the chance to air new productions on the London fringe. They provide the venue, publicity and technical support; you provide the production.

For additional information: www.losttheatre.co.uk "

They are inviting entries for this year and and sending people to their website which hasn't been updated yet. Make of that what you will.

Drama Festival Call for Scripts

Norwich based scriptwriters and directors are hosting a new short drama festival. Please submit one-act scripts no longer than 30 minutes. Scripts selected will be performed over three days in May. Submissions must be in by 1 April 2006.

For additional information contact:
losingedgetheatrecompany @ hotmail.co.uk

25 March, 2006

Wanted: more women role models on TV

TV drama needs to do more to show women in positive and powerful roles, a new government report claimed.

The Women and Work Commission study claims that schoolgirls' career choices are hugely influenced by TV and adverts.

It cited research that showed how BBC1 drama Silent Witness - whose star is a female forensic scientist Sam Ryan (played by Amanda Burton) - had significantly contributed to an increase in women taking science-based degrees. Two-thirds of about 3,000 students on forensic science courses in the UK last year were female, it noted.

The report called for programme-makers to do more to encourage non-stereotypical portrayals of women at work to encourage girls to study for careers traditionally held by men. It added more must also be done to portray men as "parents and carers".

The commission, chaired by labour peer Baroness Prosser, called for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to set up groups of advertisers and key players in television drama, to tackle the issue.

Feature Script wanted on drug use and addiction

"Still looking for that elusive script we can make into our next feature. In this case we are looking for something gritty and real about working class youth and drugs. Black culture especially. Although will consider other cultures. Maybe even something based in the upper classes would be nice. The important thing is that it has a fall from grace and a rise to freedom which does not involve music.

Our other works have been well received and our new feature is premiering at Cannes this year. So good chance for a film to be made if nothing else. Synopsis and breakdown to Mat.

Sunipa Pictures, Unit 12, Level 4s New England House, New England Street, Brighton, BN1 4GH, 07798 600571 "

Requiem for a Dream is on More4 on Sunday night and that is one of the most interesting addiction films. Although not exactly an easy watch it is worth watching.

The Short Film Action Initiative

"We're looking for a few good short film scripts! Attention, screenwriters: Are you an English-language writer with a great short film script that you're dying to see get made? As part of its Short Film Action (SFA) initiative, BusinessFilm Elan is currently accepting short film script submissions. We're looking for intelligent, innovative projects with the following characteristics:

- 5 to 25 minutes in length
- Can be shot in locations available in France
- No complex special effects
- Can contain English, French, or no dialogue

We're seeking inventive, quality work: serious projects that you absolutely want to see get produced.
We want scripts that are polished and ready for shooting."

More details at: BusinessFilm Elan

Coming Up

"COMING UP is the only talent scheme currently in the UK where new film-makers have the opportunity to make an authored drama with a guaranteed network broadcast.

We'll be looking for bold ideas, strong voices, originality, ambition and wit. Each film will be for a ½ hour C4 slot and must:
  • Push boundaries in a way that wouldn't / couldn't be done in mainstream drama
  • Be contemporary
  • Be shot in 4 days on a limited budget
  • Be largely, but not exclusively, young and urban
Successful applicants will receive a fee of around £3,000.

THE SCHEME IS ONLY OPEN TO WRITERS AND DIRECTORS WITHOUT A PRIMETIME TV DRAMA CREDIT. "

More details and application form from the IWC website

Deadline Tuesday 18 April 2006

23 March, 2006

Crash versus Brokebank Mountain

I know people who are refusing to see Brokebank Mountain because they are not interested in a story about two guys doing it - and this is despite me calling it a 'must-see' and 'one of the films of the year'. Are they homophobic? Or simply not interested in the story. Or both? Just because homophobes don't want to see Brokeback Mountain it doesn't mean that everyone who doesn't want to see it is a homophobe.

It also follows that not everyone who prefers Crash to Brokeback Mountain as a moviegoing experience is a homophobe. It seems strange to have to state that as it seems pretty darned obvious but Turan in the LA Times and the author of Brokebank Mountain, Annie Proulx, in the Guardian are peddling that nonsense.

I am a bit insulted to be honest. None of my best friends are gay but I consider myself a bleeding heart liberal. I loved Brokebank Mountain but to be honest I loved Crash and A History of Violence quite a bit more. Josh Olson, the screenwriter of A History of Violence had a dig at Proulx's views in the letters page last Saturday, pointing out his film had better reviews.

Maybe I'm not a true proper liberal but forgive me if I'm more interested in condemning homophobic bullying of children leading to their suicide and homophobic assault and murder than in condeming those who don't want to pay their ten bucks to see two men snogging and shagging. Of course there is , obviously, some correlation between lack of positive gay viewpoints in the media and homophobia but once those positive viewpoints are out there, you can't force people to watch it or force them to like it. It's still art and it's still subjective.

For the opening weekend we choose which movie to see based on genre, what mood we're in, who we're going with, what the critical reaction is and what the story is about. We all have different worldviews and we mostly tend to see things we can relate to directly and two guys getting it on is only relatable directly to a very small percentage of the population. One can hope, from a liberal perspective, that a universal story about love can transcend barriers of sexuality - as well as race, disability, faith, etc but that isn't always going to happen.

22 March, 2006

Playwright quotes

Frank McGuinness:

"Violence - there's no theatre without it is there? Even the most genteel comedy of manners, if you look at it, has a murderous side there somewhere. Drama thrives on change and there ain't no more forceful agent of change than violence."

Simon Gray:

"I quite like to know about the worlds which the characters bring with them to the stage. There are playwrights who seem incapable of creating characters who have a past or a present other than what is stated about them."

"I don't find my politics dramatically interesting so why should an audience? I write the kind of play which I'd like to see myself. For me a play is a way of expressing life and giving it some kind of shape."

Quoted from interviews with The Stage

Verity Bargate Award - Advance Warning

The deadline for the biennial Soho Theatre Verity Bargate Award will probably be in August. Rather than wait until the the award is officially announced, I'm outlining my ideas now and researching them. I'm dying to tell you what they are but I won't. It's not that I don't trust you - I do, with my life - it's just that talking to much about an idea can kill it a bit and make it harder to write. Especially when your so called partner and friends are non-plussed about it: "Is that it?"

Luckily, theatre is probably the most free of the scriptwriting arts and so don't feel too restricted regarding subject matter or genre or even structure. It can be something personal to you and what you want to write about and how you want to write it.

While you don't have to take into account commercial breaks and censorship, and you can play with structure and non-naturalism, I wouldn't recommend throwing out the dramaturgy rule book entirely. Give your imagination full-reign by all means but I find it works best with some structure - however basic - and good characters.

If you want to write for the stage but feel you can't because you don't watch much theatre then I'm not accepting that as an excuse. Sorry. Firstly, see what amateur shows are on, they'd be cheap and a good introduction. Secondly, I'd recommend reading some playscripts at your friendly neighbourhood library. I believe the Verity Bargate winners have been published. If you're used to writing for a camera with lots of sets and lots of characters then perhaps the stage seems restrictive but reading those scripts will show you just how much you can do and also show how every writer is different and you can just be yourself.

Personally I can't get over the habit of minimising the sets and minimising the cast list in my plays as I feel it's more likely to be produced. However, the theatre bosses are crying out for big new plays by new writers which they can run alongside Shakespeare on the big stage and not be put away in the smaller studio. The choice is yours. Or rather the choice is within the idea you have as I think each idea suggests the genre and the best way to approach it.

The Playwriting Seminars

One of the classic web resources - tells you everything you need to know

20 March, 2006

Playwrights' Studio, Scotland’s National Playwriting Competition

"Read something inspirational lately? Something which moved you? Write a scene which has been inspired by a novel of the last sixty years and paint a picture of life for you in Scotland today.

IGNITE is a national playwriting competition aiming to find undiscovered voices for the Scottish Stage. Using a contemporary piece of literature as inspiration, we want you to write a short play scene (not an adaptation of the original source).

The winner will receive six months focused dramaturgical and directorial support, advice and training to develop their scene into a full length play, which will be given a rehearsed reading as part of Glasgow City Council’s Aye Write Festival in February 2007.

Entries will be judged anonymously by our Creative Director, Julie Ellen, and by our Associate Playwrights. The deadline for entries is 31 August 2006, and winners will be announced at the end of September.

To enter the competition go to www.playwrightsstudio.co.uk and download an entry pack. "

16 March, 2006

Comedy Lab - Advance warning

Channel 4's Comedy Lab is due to be announced soon. Rather than rush write a script a week before the deadline based on the first idea I think of, as usual, I'm beginning to think of new ideas now and revisiting my ideas book.

I need an interesting fresh premise but more importantly I need fresh characters and a fresh central relationship. I also need something that can be considered for BBC3 in the unlikely event it isn't snapped up by Channel 4.

Actually, although you can send your script directly to Channel 4, by sending it to an independent production company they will develop it, if they like it obviously, before submitting it themselves. That's another advantage of starting early. If you have one or two finished scripts ready when the competition is announced then there's plenty of time to try and get prodco interest first.

The Comedy Lab is quite eclectic; there have been straight single set dramas, documentaries, single camera gentle comedies, single camera wacky comedies, satirical drama. Although, thinking about it, I don't recall an audience sitcom.

So feel free to do something other than a traditional sitcom and blur the boundaries between genres but they would obviously love a funny, popular, narrative comedy. If you know established performers then try and hook up with them. But even if you don't know them, it might be worth a shot pitching something to them. For instance I like Russell Brand and maybe I have a comedy quiz show that he would be perfect for. Maybe my sitcom simply has to have Lucy Porter in it. They might tell you to take a run and jump but they might say yes.

One or two of the last Comedy Lab season had series potential but others worked as one-offs only. Having an idea sustainable over at least six episodes is preferable and more likely to be commissioned but don't let that put you off submitting a one-off if that's all you have.

I loved the Meet the Magoons comedy lab, when not many seemed to, but the subsequent series was extremely disappointing and ended up being C4's worst performing comedy series ever, if I recall correctly. But it's still useful to see what made them commission it. Take away the subjective humour (mainly homophobia and male nudity) and there are things to learn from the premise e.g. regarding the workplace and the family. The same with successful comedies like Phoenix Nights. Often we're too busy laughing to work out how they did it, so maybe watch an episode a few times. Maybe do a transcript of one. Does the humour rely mainly on plot or character? What are the key relationships? How many characters are there? How many locations? What's the main one? Is the humour subtle or wacky or a mixture of both?

While it's useful to analyse good shows, and maybe bad shows, I think it's important not to over-analyse and to stay true to our own unique writer's voice. If you've been rejected a lot you might lose faith in your abilities and think the solution is studying and copying successful sitcoms, - whether you like them or not. I think the solution is studying them but transferring the good principles learned into our own work, our own worlds, our own humour.

Channel 4 comedy producers brief

Short film script wanted

"A Producer and Director team are looking for short film scripts to get their teeth into and develop this year. We are looking mostly for strong character pieces but we are open for surprises, we will leave the rest up to you. We will be able to offer a small amount of payment to the script that we go ahead with.

Please don't forget to attach your details as we may need to contact you.

Please send to jon.j.brady @ gmail.com
(making the subject of your email 'SHORT FILM SCRIPT - your name' ) "

InterACT Theatre Company looking for new play

"I am looking for a new play for my theatre company to perform. At present I have only been looking at published work, but am now thinking of doing a fresh new play that has not yet been published.

I am looking for something ideally modern, although this is flexible. A mixed cast gender cast preferable 18-30's. It would be nice if the sets were fairly simple but again this is flexible.

I am looking to perform it Essex and then if it is successful take it to a London venue.

As the Theatre Company does not have that much funding the pay for the rights to perform it will be low (but it will be something!). HOWEVER your script will get exposure and you will have a chance to see it come alive.

If you are interested could you in the first instance send me a synopsis of the play and character breakdown, if I like the sound of it I will ask to see more.

Send them to renbigby @ hotmail.com

Thank You, if you have any questions please e-mail me. "

Rachel Corrie

"Practicum Theatre are accepting play submissions that reflect the thoughts behind the recent ban of My Name is Rachel Corrie from the New York Theatre Workshop (to read the article go to www.practicumtheatre.com/submissions/). The plays should be 10 minutes or less and 8 - 12 pieces will be chosen for a central London showcase in May.

Possible themes include: censorship, America, protest, racism, freedom of speech, democracy, Rachel Corrie, Israel and Palestine, propaganda, media control, invasion of privacy, fear.or whatever this article inspires in you.

They say New York said nothing. Let's say something in London.

Submissions along with a cover letter and CV are due 1 April, 2006 to
info @ practicumtheatre.com.

For more information, go to www.practicumtheatre.com "

13 March, 2006

Crazy about horror films and want to write your own?

Golcanda Films and the Script Factory, which has been offering screenwriting courses for ten years, have set up a horror scriptwriting competition to pump fresh blood into the genre. The winner will receive a £1,000 advance on a script option to make a horror film.

You must be a new screenwriter who has not already sold or had a feature film screenplay optioned. You will need a completed feature length horror script or be an extremely quick writer.

Deadline: must be posted by Friday 17 March 2006

On March 9th
scriptdoctors Bella Coates and Ludo Smolski hosted an online surgery to help you fine tune your script at The Times .

Genre (pdf)
Rules/application (pdf)

Cracker writer attacks ITV drama

Link

06 March, 2006

Edinburgh Short Film Scheme

STREETWISE FILMS

Edinburgh's High Definition Short Film Scheme

a picturesque old town... tranquil suburbs... lush greenparks... pipers skirling by the waverley... haute couture on george st... concrete jungles on it's edge... spilled kebabs in the cowgate... hoods up by the chippy... a beggar hunched in a doorway... triumphant cries in gorgie or leith...edinburgh's strange and diverse collection of streets and characters all lead to one place... cracking ideas for a short film

Applications are now invited for `Streetwise Films' a new micro budget HD short film scheme for Edinburgh. Five films, either drama or documentary, with the most imaginative response to the theme of `the streets of edinburgh' will be commissioned. Think of simple but exciting,compelling, powerful and on the edge stories.

UKP 500 to cover expenses will be provided to the winning entrants. Rehearsal space, production support, HDV camera equipment, sound equipment, Avid HD post and pro tools dubbing facilities will also be provided free to each successful film.

Individuals or teams may apply, with ideas being no more than 15mins.

For a short application form,please email streetwise @ piltonvideo.org, or download at www.piltonvideo.org or call 0131 343 1151.

For short drama entries, no more than a one page synopsis or a finished script is required. For documentary, no more than a one page synopsis is required.

Closing date for applications is 5pm Friday April 14th 2006

South-East Screenwriting MA

As well as the usual crop, Thames Valley University is this year offering a brand new "Creative Screenwriting MA", to start October2006 - "a unique blend of craft and creativity". It offers students the chance to explore and expand their creativity within the field of screenwriting. It is specifically designed forthose who wish to develop a unique voice and write original material, yet do so with realistic expectations of the industry. In addition to in-depth exploration of essential and effective techniques to allow students to develop strong attractive ideas in a fast and professional manner, we will also examine process to see what makes, not just good writing, but good writers. A large degree of creative collaboration and feedback will nurture students through an intense but inspiring process so they can emerge as creative, confident and professional screenwriters.

We strongly believe creativity can be taught and that good scripts come not just from good technique but from good ideas and committed voices who know what they want to say. Many Screenwriting MAs focuson technique or vocational skills but TVU's Creative Screenwriting MA aims to marry the best of Screenwriting teaching with the more writer-focused tradition in Creative Writing tuition, to teach strong skills in a context that challenges students to take responsibility for their own careers and learn how to expand creativity and develop all-round techniques to manage their writing process.

A range of approaches, from creative exercises and discussion, to theoretical perspectives and industry contexts, will encourage students to innovate with convention and hone script analysis skills. Students will investigate the nature of narrative, reflect on process and explore imagination to create work which fully expresses their particular talents. The course also allows students to sample unusual techniques such as team development, co-writing and working with actors, and a number of specific techniques to expand creativity. Class-based work will be substantially supported by a specially designed on-line learning environment which will give added value to the course modules and function as a 24-7 writer's support, withfeedback processes, extensive collection of writing exercises and electronic Writing Coach.

TVU has excellent links with industry and a large percentage of its video graduates have gone on to work successfully in TV and film. The Creative Screenwriting MA will offer many networking opportunities and present sessions with industry practitioners and guest speakers on a regular basis, as well as offer the chance to attend an international writing workshop in Europe during the summer term.

This will be an intense but rewarding course, for those who already have some writing experience and a clear commitment to building a sustainable and fulfilling screenwriting career.

For more information, go to www.tvu.ac.uk or email the course leader (zara.waldeback @ tvu.ac.uk).

05 March, 2006

The Million Pound Story


I don't know... this is certainly intriguing but will it work? It might be fun trying, though.


"The Million Pound Story is an online collaborative writing project which is open to the entire global online writing community. The concept is very simple - we are offering contributors the opportunity to take part in a unique writing project which, if successful, will be turned into an interactive DVD. The characters, plot, theme, setting will all be put to the online community we hope to attract and you will decide how the project should develop.

The aims and background to this project are outlined in detail on our site http://www.millionpoundstory.com but to put it simply we aim to achieve the following:

Develop an online story which can then be developed into a DVD based product.

Raise the finance though the sale of advertising space and donations to develop the finished story and pay all the creative and technical professionals needed to achieve that aim.

Generate as much media and public awareness of the project as we can.

Create a profit share with all those who contribute to the development of the online story. Those who contribute to the online story will be entitled to a share of upto 50% of any profits generated by the sale of the DVD product."

Does it Have Legs?: Creating Long-running TV Series, Serials and Sitcoms

Katharine Way will be tutoring a workshop focusing on how to create long-running TV Series, serials and sitcoms. The workshop will be on Saturday 11th March 2006 at 10.30- 17.30 at the NPA Film Centre, 1.07 Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ.

This introductory one-day seminar will look at the form of the series/serial and explore: structuring long-running stories; creating unforgettable series characters; writing series proposals; writing pilot episodes; common pitfalls. We will look at successful examples (both scripted and broadcast) and define what makes a series work, and why series fail. Extensive written notes will be provided.

Tickets cost £65 Writers Guild/£55 NPA members/ £75 Non members For more information contact wildkat @ wayk.freeserve.co.uk or to book please call 0207 613 0440.

The Worldwide Week of Playwrights

"The Worldwide Week Of Playwrights will take place from March 20th to March 27th 2006. You can follow the essential part of the programs through the live stream on www.auteursdelombre.org (presently under construction).

Most of the content will be live-recorded and uploaded via WebTV, with reruns every morning thereafter. Some content will be transmitted sy different times.

Playwrights, theatre and cultural structures who cannot transmit their videos, lectures or debates in a live manner should indicate the links to their recorded footage (extracts or complete recordings of their works) in order for them to benefit freely of the tens of thousands of internet viewers across the world.

You may also send us the physical video sources, with a written authorization for their transmission, for them to be uploaded to the website during the week of demonstration at the following address: AEC La Castellane / 216, boulevard Henri Barnier 13016 Marseille – France."

World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People 2006

"On March 20th, every year since 2001, the World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People has been celebrated all over the world by the international community of theatre practitioners for children and young people.

The main purpose of the World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People is to attract attention of a wider public to the art of theatre for children and young people.

Events during the World Day may be special performances, open rehearsals, lectures, exhibitions, articles in newspapers and magazines etc, etc. Events are primarily organised by national ASSITEJ centres or by theatre companies or theatre organisations.

ASSITEJ UK (the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People) would welcome any feedback to info@assitej.org.uk on how members added to the pool of world experiences. It all helps to raise the profile of the arts, ASSITEJ UK 's work and of our children."

New indie on the lookout for shorts

Catch Productions is a newly established indie. Myself as director and Lisa Charles as producer have been working in the industry for many years. We have a background in documentary and have in the past five years or so branched into drama.

We are currently engaged on a big budget drama-doc for BBC's History department. In the past we have produced a number of docu-drama's, 3 x half-hour shorts and 15 min short called The Nugget Run which was screened in competition at the Foyle Film Festival. The Nugget Run was also recently selected to play on Propeller TV's new channel.

Later this year we plan to take on more documentary work but would also like to get another short film off the ground. With this in mind and being fully aware how long these projects take to get up and running we wanted to see if there were any Shooters out there who had worked up scripts that they are happy to share. The point being that it might just get made.

Similarly, we are interested in going into partnership with anyone with good, strong documentary ideas.

Anyone interested - please e-mail at catchsp @ btinternet.com

We look forward to working with you.

Michael Wadding.

02 March, 2006

BBC3 orders six sitcom pilots

BBC3 orders six sitcom pilots
Helen Groom
02 March 2006 07:50


BBC3 is to commission six new pilot sitcoms to run as a 'comedy playhouse' in a bid to uncover the channel's next comedy hit.

BBC comedy commissioner Lucy Lumsden is ordering the programmes from a mix of in-house and indie producers. The pilots, which will target a pre-watershed audience and be filmed in front of a studio audience, will be screened later this year with the best being given a series commission.

One has already been commissioned, and is being produced in-house and written by Robin French and Kieran Quirke, whose credits include BBC3 comedy Man Stroke Woman.

"It's like the comedy playhouse thing which the BBC used to do many years ago," said a BBC comedy insider. "It did the same thing with Seven of One with Ronnie Barker, which led to Porridge and Open All Hours."

Source: broadcastnow.co.uk

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It's also like the Comedy Lab Channel 4 have been running for several years. One startling difference is that all the BBC shows will be pre-watershed and multi-camera; a format which has been called dead a few times recently.

The problem is that with single-camera comedy you can get away with smiles and don't need laughs but in front of an actual audience you do need actual laughing out loud. Most of the recent Comedy Labs could have played as Drama Labs. The other problem is that making a show pre-watershed instantly cuts off the supply of easy sex jokes and you're forced to work harder to be funny - which is not entirely a bad thing.

If you have just had a dark humoured obscene comedy rejected, I'd suggest trying a lighter family studio one - just to see if you can do it. There are many classic British studio sitcoms which prove it's not just the Americans who can do it. Maybe yours will be the next classic.

01 March, 2006

C4 keeps faith in Peep Show

C4 keeps faith in Peep Show
Dan Wootton


Channel 4 has recommissioned low-rating Friday night comedies Peep Show and The IT Crowd.

The future of Peep Show had been hanging in the balance since the third series of the comedy dropped to an average of just 1.3 million (6%) viewers, despite an extensive marketing campaign.

C4 sources said director of television Kevin Lygo wanted to secure its stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb for a sketch show. However the duo will now return for another 6 x 30-minutes series of the sitcom.

It is unclear when the fourth series, made by Objective Productions, will go into production or be scheduled.

C4 head of comedy Caroline Leddy has also green lit a further 8 x 30-minute episodes of new Talkback Thames Friday night comedy The IT Crowd, which will air next year.

The main cast will return, along with series producer Ash Atalla (The Office).

The series debuted on 3 February at 9pm with an unremarkable 1.8 million (7.5%) viewers. But C4 said the average weekly audience is 2.6 million, including a Saturday night repeat.

Source: broadcastnow.co.uk

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No sooner had I commented in my blog that it was wrong for Peep Show to be cancelled, then Channel 4 have backtracked. Putting modesty aside, I take full credit.

I'm also glad The IT Crowd has been renewed as it is nicely structured with great characters and premise although the lack of consistent funny is a problem. That may simply be solved by us getting to know the characters more.


BBC to bring back Play for Today

BBC to bring back Play for Today
Geoff White

The BBC's drama department is to revive the Play for Today concept of the 1960s and 1970s, commissioning six one-off plays from new writers for BBC1.

The Wednesday Play series ran from 1964 to 1970, succeeded by The Play For Today which ran until 1984. The strands became a launch pad for new writers and also aired some of the first television work by veteran writers such as Harold Pinter.

Classic works to come out of the strands include Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party and Nuts In May, Dennis Potter’s Cathy Come Home, and Alan Bleasdale’s The Black Stuff, from which Boys From The Black Stuff was created.

BBC drama commissioning controller Jane Tranter said the new project was in its early days and aimed to encourage a diverse range of voices. It is pegged for a 9pm slot on BBC1, and the first results are expected to be broadcast next year.

The decision follows the surprise success of The Afternoon Play, launched by former controller of daytime Alison Sharman and now in its fourth series.

Source: Broadcastnow.co.uk