31 December, 2008

"Twelve tips for aspiring playwrights"

The Guardian:

"None of the tips I picked up was hugely revelatory, but they were plenty of motivational ideas. My time at the Royal Court was, if nothing else, a kick up the bum: a reminder that nobody else is going to sit down and write my play if I don't.

Those playwriting tips in full:

• People tell stories all the time. Look for them and you'll soon start spotting them everywhere, from newspapers to snatches of overheard conversation.

• Ask yourself what your story is. You could try summarising it in a sentence or two and sticking it by your desk, so you can keep it in mind.

• Get into the habit of writing. If you're short on time, try writing little but often.

• Overwrite, then cut. (Don't reveal in the first scene that Oedipus is sleeping with his mother.)

• Women tend to write subconsciously, men tend to plan more. Do whatever works for you.

• Give your main character obstacles to overcome. He/she should have changed by the end of the play, if only fractionally.

• What are your characters' wants and objectives? These might change from scene to scene.

• Make your characters extraordinary or larger than life in some way.

• Think about the subtext of your dialogue and remember that people often don't say what they want to say - or say the opposite of what they think.

• You might find it useful to "hot seat" your characters. Assume the identity of one of your characters and get someone to ask you questions about yourself.

• Read your play out loud to yourself.

• Don't send your script out immediately. Put it in a drawer for a week or two, then have another look at it and ask yourself whether you're sure it's finished."

Article in full

30 December, 2008

"Adapted screenplays confront dreaded voice-over"

Hollywood Reporter:

" "When it comes to adapting literary works for the big screen, British playwright David Hare says, one must be promiscuous to be faithful.

"You can't simply step your way through a book with perfect fidelity. If you do, the whole thing is completely dead," Hare argues. His principle was employed to varying degrees by all of this year's leading contenders for the adapted screenplay Oscar -- including Hare himself, who translated Bernhard Schlink's Holocaust-themed novel "The Reader" into script form.

Hare says the primary challenge with "The Reader" was the same one presented by most novels: the unspoken interior monologue in which characters freely express their thoughts.

"In cinema, there really isn't any equivalent to that, unless you use voice-over," observes Hare, who earned an Oscar nomination for his 2002 adaptation of the Michael Cunningham novel "The Hours." "Personally, I hate voice-over. I hate an actor droning at me, telling me all sorts of things that the screenwriter is too lazy to make obvious by writing scenes." "

Article in full

29 December, 2008

"Beer and wrestling matches fuel scribes' imaginations"

Hollywood Reporter:

"In the case of "Changeling," screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski had 6,000 pages of documents relating to the case of Christine Collins (played by Angelina Jolie), a woman in Los Angeles in the late 1920s convinced that the missing child returned to her by police was not her son. The challenge for Straczynski was shaping them into concise cinematic form, and for that he simply applied his stringent daily writing regimen.

Typically, Straczynski writes new material from about 8 p.m. until 4 a.m., crashes for a few hours, gets up and revises the previous day's work from about 1 or 2 p.m. until 8 p.m., then starts the process all over again. Once he had the structure of "Changeling" worked out, he was able to pound out the script in 11 days.

"I write 10 hours a day, every day, except my birthday, New Year's Day and Christmas," Straczynski boasts. "I've had two vacations in 20 years.""

Article in full

28 December, 2008

Soundtrack

Portugal. The Man - "Lay Me Back Down"



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Earl Greyhound - "S.O.S"



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Wintersleep - "Oblivion"



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Download free sampler featuring two tracks from each of the above

27 December, 2008

"It Isn't Fixed"

Held on Sunday 7 December, "It Isn't Fixed" was a day of visioning; of ideas and discourse around playwrights and playwriting: of future challenges and possibilities.

A day to inspire, affect and challenge current thinking and practice as a spur to better quality work generated in a broader set of contexts.

Writernet is winding up after 10 years, with another 13 years backstory before that as New Playwrights Trust.

What’s next?

To follow the conversations and join in, please go to

http://itisntfixed.blogspot.com/

26 December, 2008

Neal Purvis & Robert Wade, screenwriters, interview

The Times:

"Neal Purvis is living every teenage boy's fantasy - his alter ego is James Bond. As the scriptwriter of the past four 007 movies, Mr Purvis gets to decide who the world's most popular secret agent kills and who he kisses.

The 46-year-old is one half, along with Robert Wade, of one of Britain's most successful screenwriting partnerships. “To write a 007 film is a dream come true,” he says.

Being a scriptwriter may not be as glamorous as other dream careers, such fighter pilot or brain surgeon - Mr Purvis writes most of his scripts on a laptop sitting alone in a café - but it is just as difficult to succeed. It took Mr Purvis and Mr Wade many years to attain their success.

Having studied film and photographic arts at the Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster), he and Mr Wade - a Kent University graduate - decided to pursue their screenwriting dreams."

Article in full

25 December, 2008

"Zeigeist: Hopeful movies?"

Go Into The Story:

"Whether it's a trend in movies, a trend with movie critics, or perhaps both, there is something in the air just now about "hopeful movies." It all started on December 4th in the LA Times with this article called "Its' nervous-making time at Sundance" which include some choice quotes from the festival's programming director John Cooper:

Cooper says the slate of 16 dramatic competition films in the festival's 2009 lineup is not as esoteric and challenging as in recent years, when Sundance subject matter included drug addiction, mental illness and sexual degradation -- and those were the comedies.

Rather than craft depressing movies about such gloomy times, Cooper says, Sundance's writers and directors are turning toward more uplifting narratives.

"They looked at the world and said, 'We can't make dark movies. We need something hopeful.' There's a lot of romance -- people dealing with love and life and relationships. What they are really concentrating on is a better sense of story -- and ones that have real emotional impact," Cooper says."

"UPDATE: A lot of good points raised in comments. Trevor's main point about writing a good story being the best approach to market vagaries is good advice. That said, tracking the buying marketplace is potentially a valuable practice because it doesn't take that much time to work up a pitch or even a spec script based upon a current area of need / interest."

Article in full


24 December, 2008

"On Women in Playwriting"

by Mia McCollough

On September 7th, 2008, an article appeared in the New York Times, written by Charles Isherwood, declaring this season on Broadway to be a “Male, Male, Male, Male World.” He proclaimed that this season the “wives and mothers” were taking a backseat to the men. After seething for several minutes, I got on-line and wrote him a letter asking him when exactly was the season where we wives and mothers and daughters have not taken a backseat to the men. I don’t know Charles Isherwood. I don’t honestly believe he meant to insult every woman working in American theatre with his article, and yet, he did. And though he may remember me not-so-fondly if he one day reviews one of my plays, I felt it necessary to tell him to knock it off.

This is part of the problem with sexism in theatre. Most people who work in theatre consider themselves very open-minded and forward thinking. I don’t believe the establishment is riddled with sexist men making decisions that are meant to keep me down, hold me back and prevent my stories from being told. I believe the problem is more systemic than that, because women artistic directors are just as guilty of not promoting women playwrights and directors as their male counterparts.

First, I believe that we are programmed to expect and accept the male narrative far more than the female narrative. Most of Western Literature has been written by men and from a male perspective. What a story is and how it is told - was designed by men. Women tell stories differently and we perceive the world differently. We often veer away from the hero whom all the other characters orbit around. We tend to be more inclusive and have our stories balanced amongst several characters. Maybe it’s the nurturer in us, giving all our characters a chance to be heard.

Of course these are generalizations. Many men write plays in what I would refer to as the female narrative and vice versa, but in general the rule holds.

I believe that when a storytelling method bucks against our expectations - which are built on hundreds of years worth of literature - the story itself is too easily dismissed by artistic directors and critics (though not usually by audiences). This is not merely an issue of men foisting their expectations on plays written by women. I do this to myself, with my own work, over and over. I will write something that takes a serious detour from the “well-made play,” and then hold it up to the standard of the male narrative and wonder why this round peg I’ve created doesn’t fit in the square hole. I constantly need to remind myself that there is no formula for telling a story; that I must not limit myself to all that I was taught, to all that has come before me.

The second big problem we women face is that we are, still, programmed to be polite. We apologize for things, and censor ourselves far more than men do; and unfortunately this transfers to our art, and it shouldn’t. Art is not and should never be about politeness. Raw or refined, it should be a true expression of feeling. This will lead to another problem, I expect. When women stop being polite and really delve into the experience of being a woman, a whole lot of unpleasantness tends to rise to the surface. Throughout history we have suffered far more than our male counterparts. When we peel away our politeness, a whole lot of suppressed ugliness is bound to reveal itself. I don’t know whether or not this raw honesty and ugliness will be embraced by the artistic establishment. I do know it makes for some great theatre. Paula Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive,” is a perfect example.

I believe we can deprogram ourselves from this oppressive politeness. We can approach our work unfettered by someone else’s expectations. The next hurdle is to be more assertive. I was told that, at Chicago Dramatists, nearly half the Network Playwrights are women, and yet only a quarter of the scripts submitted by Network Playwrights are by those women. This is a serious problem and I’m certain it is not an isolated occurrence. If we want to be produced in equal numbers, we must submit in equal numbers. We must not sit around asking for permission to submit; waiting for someone to ask us for our play. We must put it out there, produce it ourselves, if no one else will have it. And then we must reach out to the women around us and invite them to see. Women are ticket-buying the members of most households. We need only entice them, and they will come.

via Chicago Theater Blog

23 December, 2008

Free Intellectual Property Events - London

Own-it organises regular events and workshops covering IP issues for creative people. The majority of our events are free. You must register with us in order to make a booking.


How not to get ripped off: Enforcing and Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Date: Wednesday 14 January 2009
Time: 6:00 to 9:00 (presentations from 6-9pm followed by drinks and networking until 9pm)

Location:
Podium Lecture Theatre
London College of Communication
Elephant & Castle
London SE1 6SB (map)

Being copied and someone else ripping off your creative ideas is a major concern once you start to sell, publicise and promote your creative work. You need to protect your ideas and make sure you know what to do if someone does actually copy or makes money from work that is rightfully yours.

This seminar will offer a basic guide to the law, covering the steps any creative professional should take in order to stop somebody else stealing or otherwise using your work without your permission (including copyright, patenting, trade marks, licensing and design rights.)
This event is for new Own-it members who haven't attended an IP event previously. It's a basic guide to the law.

Full details and booking



Exposing Yourself - all you need to know about self-promotion in the digital world

Date: Wednesday 21 January 2009
Time: 6:00pm to 9:00pm (presentations from 6-8pm followed by drinks networking until 9pm)

Location:
01zero-one
Westminster Kingsway College
Hopkins Street, off Berwick Street
Soho
London W1F OHS (map)

Some people believe that you are not a real creative contender if your visual work is not on the internet… and whether you have your own website, use stock libraries, portfolio websites, or display your work on YouTube, MySpace or Flickr, you are also competing and struggling for attention with a vast number of other creatives showcasing their visual work on the internet and trying to get new business and new clients.
So how do you cut through the jungle to find the clients you are happy to work with? We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of visual libraries, what to look out for before signing up to a portfolio site and whether user generated websites are just about exposure, trust and good will or really do provide a longer term business opportunity.

Full details and booking

Professional Screenwriter by Danny Stack

Just in case you've missed this essential series:

22 December, 2008

"What have multicultural arts policies done for us?"

The Guardian:

"I recently spoke to a young British Muslim playwright about the attention he was suddenly getting from a few mainstream theatres and TV companies. He is one of many plucked from the north of England via numerous schemes designed to "discover British Muslim voices", and he's in two minds about the belated interest in what he may have to say. On one hand, he is grateful for the opportunities presented to him; on the other, he is concerned about the type of stories he is asked to develop for commissioning editors and artistic directors. He told me that he wants to write stories about love and relationships. Instead, he has been "encouraged" to write stories about being a British Muslim, full of angst in a post-7/7 Britain."

Article in full

Meet the Radio Indies - BME only - London

via Paul Boakye
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Date: Thursday 29 January 2009
Time: 11am – 5pm plus drinks afterwards. Lunch included
Venue: Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS (map)

The purpose of this day is to bring black and ethnic minority professionals together with executives from independent radio production companies to provide professional advice and guidance, create new contacts and networks and break down barriers that too many ethnic minority workers experience in the creative industries.

The event will feature:

  1. Keynote presentations from BBC Commissioning Editors, BECTU’s Move on Up project and the Radio Independents Group.
  2. Workshops to find out how to work more effectively with radio indies.
  3. One to one sessions for you to meet executives from a range of independent radio production companies.

Independent radio production companies make programmes for the broadcasters, particularly the BBC, and produce programmes from individual writers and producers. Working with radio indies is a key route into the industry and engaging with these executives provides a whole new set of opportunities.

BBC commissioning editors will be attending on the day and available for an informal chat whenever they are free. Representatives of BBC local and regional radio stations will also be there ready to advise on opportunities in their radio stations.

The attached brochure and application form contains more detailed information, including a list of those executives who are participating on the day. When applying for this event, simply indicate which of the executives you would like to meet and we will set up appointments for you.

To register for this event please complete the application form and attach your CV (and any MP3 demos you might have). You can use the application form in the brochure or use the electronic emailable application form.

Please email response to mdykes@tuc.org.uk, no later than Wednesday 7 January. Alternatively, send postal responses to:

Matt Dykes
SERTUC
Congress House
Great Russell Street
London
WC1B 3LS

21 December, 2008

Soundtrack

Wiley - "Cash In My Pocket"



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Lily Allen - "The Fear"

20 December, 2008

David Scarpa, "The Day the Earth Stood Still", interview

WGA:

" In an era where an almost scientific focus on structure dominates the scripts for many of Hollywood’s biggest films, David Scarpa -- the scripter behind the giant new Keanu Reeves-starred remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still -- is refreshingly, even shockingly simple in his approach.

While so many screenwriters today are obsessed with systems and metrics for structure, Scarpa seems to think if you have a good story, structure is the last thing you need to worry about.

“If you’ve written the perfect little campfire tale, then it will work out,” says the Connecticut-raised and NYU-schooled scribe. “That’s why pitching can be so helpful. If you can verbally tell that campfire story and grab your audience, then you can tell it in a 120-page screenplay. You have to understand your story on that simple fundamental level, otherwise you will have trouble with the whole process.”

“It’s not a math equation,” he continues. “In a sense, the structure is implicit -- it arises naturally out of storytelling. Those early cavemen all the way up to Mark Twain never thought in terms of structure. The problem is writers now are trained to put the ‘structure’ first when they should let it come out of the story and characters they’re trying to explore. I think structure comes last.” "

Article in full

movieScope magazine


"Missed an issue? New to movieScope Magazine? Want to check out what we are all about before subscribing to the Print Edition? Here’s your chance!

The Digital Edition of movieScope Magazine provides an exact replica of the Print Edition, which allows you to print, zoom and search for text, add personal “sticky” notes, bookmark relevant pages, and much more.

What are you waiting for? It will cost you nothing but 2 minutes of your time to register!"

19 December, 2008

"50 Useful Google Apps for Writers"

Learn-gasm:

"Writers, especially those who work from home or who juggle busy schedules around multiple assignments, have a lot to manage–note pads, sticky notes, brainstorming lists, correspondence with clients and editors, and even personal documents and materials that take up a lot of space and time. With its new applications and tools, Google continues to make it easier to manage all that. Below are some of our top picks for the most useful Google apps for writers."

Article in full

18 December, 2008

"Are there upsides to the downturn for film?"

Screen Daily:

"The film market needs to change. I have been told it will never change but two years ago the same thing would have been said about the financial markets."

So says Gennaro Buonocore, managing director of media markets at electronic interdealer broker Icap. The company has put its money where its mouth is and is turning its attention to independent film.

The notion there are upsides to the downturn is intriguing. For all the wishful thinking that cinema can ride the recession by cashing in on its role as an escape from day-to-day misery, cutbacks are already biting across the industry.

Job losses have been announced at Viacom's NBC Universal, retail closures in the UK have hit vital distribution of Christmas DVDs and all at the end of a year in which markets have been limping along.

At the very least, the brief, if unrealistic, period of hope that saw hedge funds pump $12bn into Hollywood looks a long time ago. Restructuring and cost-cutting are taking precedence over the innovation in which so much hope had been invested. But are there ways in which the industry can actually gain from a recession?

The argument goes beyond the important but facile point that when people are miserable they have historically enjoyed the escapism of the movie house. Even if that is true, box-office queues do not make for a healthy industry in general - except in the important respect that it reminds the industry that demand for entertainment is increasing even if our capacity to service it is being tested.

Talking about green shoots before the main recession kicks in seems counter-intuitive. Yet many of the critical issues affecting film were in place before the newspapers began churning out news of bank crashes and mortgage crises."

Article in full

17 December, 2008

Project Development - Feature Screenplays (First Draft)


"I had never written a script before but after taking this course I now have a feature script with an established producer. I can't rate it highly enough!"
 Pavel Barter, Screenwriter

Who is it for?

The course is for screenwriters, filmmakers, development executives and producers who who are working on a feature film and who want personalised tuition as they develop their outline into a first-draft script.

How does it work?

The course consists of 8 x 2 hour seminars held over an 8-week period.

Writers start with a one-page synopsis. Each week they are given a project-related writing task after each seminar to develop their story and to help them put it down on paper. By the end of the course writers are expected to have written a 10-page treatment / step outline which will form the basis of their first draft.

Rather than just explaining screenwriting principles, the seminars workshop writer's ideas under the following headings:
  • Introduction: how ideas are developed into feature scripts

  • Character: external and internal conflict

  • Structure - establishing lines of tension and building towards jeopardy

  • Project identity - the influence of genre and tone

  • Charting the progression of character arcs and character development

  • Sub-plots and secondary characters

  • Scene writing (1) - building scenes, heightening tension

  • Scene writing (2) - dialogue.

Film and script excerpts are selected with the participants' projects in mind to give greater focus.

The course is limited to 8 participants.

Price

The course fee is £ 195 + VAT. The fee includes all materials and light refreshments.


When and where?

Start date: Wednesday 14 January 2009; time: 19.00 - 21.00. Then every Wednesday evening until 4 March

The next course will be held at:

Initialize Films, Studio 2, Imex House, 42 Theobalds Road, London, WC1X 8NW (map)

Registration

To book, please download the registration form from our website www.initialize-films.co.uk and submit to the address given on the form. For further information see our website or call 0207 404 7020.

Feedback examples

"As an ex-development executive at American Zoetrope I found the Project Development - Feature Screenplay course to meet a high standard of professionalism. Regular homework, individual feedback, class discussions and deadlines encouraged me to write on a regular basis. The small peer group of writers were very inspiring and we found our instructor, Ian Davies, to give quality feedback on each of our works in progress. Overall I found the experience very rewarding."
 Finley Glaize, Writer / development exec. Finley was a participant on the Project Development - Feature Screenplay course

"The course completely revolutionised how I thought about my screenplay. For example, after we did a session on characterisation, suddenly I could create characters with depth, and I could show the complexity of my characters visually. Even though I have read lots of books on the art of scriptwriting and tried to apply what they say to my writing, this course gave me far more than all of them put together, it made my writing vibrant!" Kothai Kanthan, Writer-Director - participant on Project Development - Feature Screenplay course. Kothai was recently selected as one of 25 new talents by Screen International.

16 December, 2008

"Downloads undermine UK television and film"

The Times:

Film and TV producers call for action to stop illegal online file-sharing


"Sir, We are a group of UK film and TV producers, directors and writers who have made some of the UK’s most innovative and distinctive moving pictures and television programming. Our output entertains millions of people, employs tens of thousands in the UK’s creative sector, attracts foreign direct investment, wins awards and creates billions in revenue.

We are very concerned that the successes of the creative industries in the UK are being undermined by the illegal online file-sharing of film and TV content. At a time when so many jobs are being lost in the wider economy, it is especially important that this issue be taken seriously by the Government and that it devotes the resources necessary to enforce the law.

In 2007, an estimated 98 million illegal downloads and streams of films took place in the UK, while it is believed that more than six million people illegally file-share regularly. In relation to illegal downloads of TV programmes, the UK is the world leader, with up to 25 per cent of all online TV piracy taking place in the UK. Popular shows are downloaded illegally hundreds of thousands of times per episode.

We are asking the Government to show its support by ensuring that internet service providers play their part in tackling this huge problem.

The creative economy — of which film and television is part — comprises 7 per cent of the total economy, and is growing faster than any other sector. This is partly due to the ability of film and TV producers and their sponsors to continue contributing to the economy, creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and securing a return on the investments they make — all of which is now threatened by the widespread availability of illegal, free content.

Internet service providers have the ability to change the behaviour of those customers who illegally distribute content online. They have the power to make significant change and to prevent their infrastructure from being used on a wholesale scale for illegal activity. If they are not prepared to act responsibly, they should be compelled to do so.

Sir Alan Parker, Ken Loach, Kenneth Branagh, Mike Leigh, Nick Hytner, Richard Curtis, Richard Eyre, Terry Jones, Jon Thoday, Howard Brenton, Peter Bennet-Jones, Robert Fox, Lynda La Plante, Allon Reich, Andrew Macdonald, Ann Skinner, Barnaby Thompson, Bharat Nalluri, Caroline Hewitt, Charlie Higson, Damian Jones, David Heyman, Duncan Kenworthy, Giles McKinnon, Graham Broadbent, Guard Brothers (Tom and Charlie), Hilary Bevan Jones, Iain Softley, Jim Sheridan, Joe Burn, John Madden, John Maybury, Jonathan Cavendish, Justin Chadwick, Liz Karlsen, Lloyd Levin, Luc Roeg, Lynne Ramsay, Marc Samuelson, Mark Huffam, Mark Mylod, Mary Richards, Michael Kuhn, Nicky Kentish Barnes, Paul Berrow, Pail McGuigan, Paul Webster, Paul Welland, Richard Jobson, Robert Jones, Robyn Slovo, Roger Michell. Rupert Sanders, Rupert Wyatt, Sarah Radclyffe, Simon Bosanquet, Simon Channing-Williams, Simon Curtis, Simon Mcburney, Simon Relph, Stephen Daldry, Stephen Woolley, Susanna White, Tristram Shapeero, John Willis, David Aukin, Jon Thoday, David Sproxton, Murray Ferguson, Nicola Schindler, Jonny Persey, Andrew O’Connor, Andre Singer, David Strachen, Magnus Temple, Jed Mercurioo, Waldemar Januszczak, Jon Blair, Peter Berry, Ashley Pharoah, Matthew Graham, Ben Richards, Simon Beaufoy, Steve Morrison, Paul Smith, David Frank, Eileen Gallagher, Jimmy Mulville, Charles Wace, Roy Ackerman, Alison Rayson, Tim Haines, Jasper James, Daisy Goodwin, Alex Graham, Gareth Neame, Addison Creswell, Andy Harries, Mike Watts, Lucinda Whiteley, Malcolm Brinkworth, David Smith, William Burdett-Coutts, Tony Jordan, Sebastian Scott, Phil Morrow, Michael Waldman, Simon Nye, Frank Deasey, Peter Morgan, Bill Nicholson, Abi Morgan, Charlie Parsons, Peter Moffat and Simon Moore "

15 December, 2008

Deadlines Calendar



I have upgraded from the usual Google home page to the customisable iGoogle. I have added a few 'gadgets' which include Gmail, quotes, a translator, news, sport, space invaders and, most relevantly to this post, Google Calendar.

As you can see from the picture above, my own calendar dates are in red and the Deadlines Calendar's are in blue. If I click on the link to that horror contest, for instance, then I can read the full calender entry without leaving the page. You can also set email reminders.

The Deadlines Calender has been updated with loads of things including the best of the US screenwriting contests, a major British feature screenwriting contest I've never heard of before but mostly playwrighty opportunities.

Piers has adapted a novel for the stage and Lucy - the script reader's script reader - has posted stuff on theatre and hints she might give playwrightering a go. While we may have ambitions to have our own primetime series on BBC1, we should maybe consider other arts as well. Stories are stories. Although Helen and Lara are going way too far with writing novels. Subtitles are bad enough, I can't be expected to read a whole book.

Although, having said that, the easiest way to get a film made is to write it as a novel first and insisting on being employed to write the first draft of the screenplay as part of the option deal. But I digress.

Some of the competitions I've added are for short plays or have specific themic requirements. Even if we don't win or not even bother sending the finished script, it won't be a waste of time as we have learned by being stretched and challenged. It can go in our portfolio to be re-worked or sold in the future or inspire a different story in a different art form.

Should we actually manage to get a reading or performance, then there is nothing like working with actors and a director to improve our craft. In theatre everyone's trying to get at what your story is and what you want to say - including the director.

This is my page of playwriting linkage, as featured in the 'Highlights' thing on your right.

There are stage opportunities due at the end of December and in January which are ideal for the upcoming holiday season. I'm not suggesting being anti-social and locking yourself away but we can ration the time we spend with relatives. We can spend the rest of the time outlining or writing our scripts.

In fact, if you're lucky, there might be a Corrie/Easties type revelation over the Christmas dinner in your household which might prove useful:

"Pass the sprouts, dad."
"Actually, I'm not your real dad. And I used to be a woman."
"Hold on, I'll just get my pen."

14 December, 2008

Screen Lab course by Adrian Mead

"Are you currently writing short stories, novels or plays, and have you ever wondered what it takes to write for Film and TV? After the success of last year's course, Scottish Book Trust is pleased to announce the launch of Screen Lab 2009.

Screen Lab will show you exactly what it takes to break into one of the most competitive and lucrative areas of writing. Here's what just a few of last year's attendees had to say:

"Thanks a million for three amazing days."
Jim Sullivan

"This week's Screen Lab was motivating, energizing and of immense practical use."
Shelagh Young

".. inspiring, accessible and practical! Your enthusiasm was infectious and the guests who came along (especially the actors) were fantastic."
Mandy Lee

"Very energising as well as enabling and enlightening."
Grainne

The Tutor

Screen Lab will be led by award winning writer and director Adrian Mead. Over a packed three days Adrian will take you through the realities of the script development process and the strategy you need to adopt in order to break into the industry.

Find out more about Adrian and read reviews of his book ‘Making it as a Screenwriter' at http://www.meadkerr.com/


Course Details:

Times: 9:30am - 5:00pm
Dates: Friday 20 February, Saturday 21 February and Sunday 22 February
Venue: Scottish Book Trust, Edinburgh


Application Criteria:

Screen Lab is open to writers at all stages of their career.
Applicants who have not followed the application guidelines will not be considered.
Successful applicants must commit to attending the entire Screen Lab

Application deadline:

Monday 2 February 2009 "

More details and how to apply

Soundtrack

Constantines - "Hard Feelings"



Still Flyin' - "Good Thing It's A Ghost Town Around Here"

13 December, 2008

BFI events



Monday 15 December 2008

Gurinder Chadha in Conversation

________________________________________

Wednesday 17 December 2008


From Word to Image: Storyboarding and the Film-making Process
One-off free workshop to develop your visual storytelling skills.

_______________________________________

Monday 5 January 2009

Preview: Slumdog Millionaire + Q&A with Danny Boyle

_______________________________________


Tuesday 13 January 2009


The Guardian Interview with David Hare

_______________________________________

Friday 16 January 2009

TV Preview: Being Human (Episode One) + Q&A with Toby Whithouse

_______________________________________

Wednesday 21 January 2009

The League of Gentlemen in Conversation

_______________________________________

Time Management for Writers

Literature training:

"Banish those time bandits and make time for your writing with the help of this no-nonsense guide to time management. The second in the literaturetraining 'Briefings' series.

Time management theory was developed for business leaders to help them prioritise their tasks and work more efficiently. Author Debbie Taylor explains how armed with a few basic principles, a good slug of zeal, and a lot of heavy-duty black bin-liners, you really can create space for your writing."

"1. Intro

Time Management Theory was developed to help business managers utilise their time more effectively and so free up more time for thinking creatively and developing their businesses. Here I have adapted its principles to the needs of the writer.

Time Management is really very simple. Armed with a few basic principles, a good slug of zeal, and a lot (I mean a lot) of heavy-duty black bin-liners, you really can create time for the important things in your life.

A business friend explained it like this: Imagine your life as an empty bucket, and the important things you would like in it as stones. Visualise putting the stones in the bucket until it’s full - family, job, friends, health, home, sleep, money, writing… Now visualise the less important things as gravel; things like hobbies, clothes, acquaintances, holidays, fine food, housework. Can you fit them in too? Of course you can: in the spaces between the stones. Now take the trivial things - surfing the net, eyebrow tweezing, watching Big Brother. These are the sand, and of course they fit in too, in the spaces between the bits of gravel.

Now take a new bucket and put the sand in first: right to the brim. How are you going to fit the stones in? Well, time management is about putting the stones in first."

Download pdf


via Lianne

12 December, 2008

The 2009 PAGE International Screenwriting Awards


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12 December 2008
PAGE Award Winners in the News
Now in its sixth anniversary year, the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards competition continues its track record of success: discovering and promoting some of the most talented new screenwriters from across the country and around the world. Since receiving their prizes, many PAGE Award winners have gone on to land writing assignments, secure representation, and sign option agreements on their winning scripts, and several now have movies in various stages of production and release.
In the latest news:
The Irish adventure-fantasy script FAIRY CHILD, by 2008 Bronze Prize winner Eoin Rogers, is now in development with Cannon Production, Ireland, and NightSky Films, New York. Eoin has also been hired to write an action flick for director Dave Roddham, and he is working on a Celtic fantasy feature for BreakThru Films.

The 2008 PAGE Silver Prize winning drama FIREWORKS, by U.K. scribes Hannah Robinson and Jonathan R. Hall, has been optioned by Concept Entertainment and Hannah is contracted to direct. Hannah and Jonathan are now represented by Frank Wuliger at the Gersh Agency in L.A.
The supernatural thriller GOD SQUAD, by 2008 Bronze Prize winner Stephen Carter, has been optioned by director Matthiew Klinck. Stephen has been signed by Zero Gravity Management.
Sarah Knight of Jo Films has optioned SHADY CREEK, by 2007 Silver Prize winner Russell Gilwee, and the movie is now officially in pre-production. Russell has just been hired to write another script for Jo Films.
As a result of his 2007 PAGE win, Marc Conklin was signed by Beloved Management, and his Gold Prize winning comedy DEADBEAT BOYFRIENDS has now been optioned by L.A. producer James Rich, Jr.

2005 Silver Prize winner Janet Lin is now a staff writer on the FOX TV series “Bones. Her episode “The Skull in the Sculpture” aired November 5th.
And 2005 Bronze Prize winner Martin McSweeney was recently commissioned to write an episode of “Seacht II” for Sterling TV. The show will air on BBC-TV and TG4 in 2009.
Entries are now being accepted in the 2009 PAGE Awards competition. This year, the PAGE judges will once again be presenting a total of 31 Awards in ten different genre categories. The winning screenwriters will receive cash and prizes totaling over $50,000 - including a huge new $25,000 Grand Prize - as well as extensive publicity and industry exposure for their winning scripts.
Most importantly, the PAGE Awards competition is judged entirely by working professionals in the film and television industry, so all contestants have the opportunity to get their scripts into the hands of Hollywood insiders currently in search of new talent.
For more information about the 2009 PAGE International Screenwriting Awards competition, please visit: www.pageawards.com

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    Early Entry Deadline: 15 January $39 (£26, €29)
    Regular Entry Deadline: 1 March $49 (£33, €37)
    Late Entry Deadline: 1 April $59 (£39, €44)

5 Reasons Why Not to Write What You Know:

ScriptXray:

"You’ll most likely be told to write what you know from dozens of screenwriting books, screenwriting professors, seminars, fellow students, and probably even strangers while preparing to write a screenplay, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a story analyst in Hollywood, it’s this:

If we all wrote what we knew on a first hand physical experience level, we’d be bored out of our minds!

Before we go any further, let’s just say that there are two ways you can look at the phrase “write what you know”:

1. Set out to write about your physical experiences and observations in life as an individual.

2. Set out to write about your thematic experiences and observations in life as an individual.

So which is it?

If you picked the first, consider yourself aging at an incredibly rapid speed until there’s nothing left but a dusty old pile of bones. If you picked the second, and I think we can expect a quote from The Last Crusade here, “You’ve chosen … wisely.”

If you’re thinking about arguing this point … just … don’t. I’ve read far too many screenplays based on the first example to give you the time of day. Simply put, the phrase “write what you know” is a misinterpreted phrase. More often than not, many people will encourage you to write all about your summer at camp, your first year in college, the non-adventures you and your friends share, but the fact of the matter is that there’s more to it than that.

It’s all about theme."

Article in full

11 December, 2008

"How to Network"

Doug Eboch:

"Last post I discussed networking mistakes. This time I’m going to take a more positive approach to the subject. Networking is important in the film business. This is an insanely competitive business. There are so many people trying to break in, the “buyers” are always overwhelmed. You need to build advocates for your work to break through the clutter.

The most important thing is to be engaged. If you sit in your apartment pounding out screenplays all day it will be hard to network. You need to be out there meeting people. The best places to network are where industry people congregate. Okay, maybe you can’t wrangle an invite to the Paramount holiday party but there are other things you can do. Go to film festivals. Join groups like Film Independent (in LA, IFP in NY) and Scriptwriters Network. Take classes. Get involved in an equity waiver theater company where you’ll meet aspiring actors and directors. Really, if you love film so much, why wouldn’t you want to do those kinds of things?"

Article in full

10 December, 2008

Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe - Writers Special

Screenwipe has always been good but now Brooker has made, arguably, the best TV show about writing ever; it's essential viewing for all new writers.

To quote Laura:

"Instead of the usual half hour of different subjects, this 50 minute episode was dedicated to TV writing, and the wonderful Charlie interviewed some very notable guests: Russell T Davies, Tony Jordan, Graham Linehan, Paul Abbott, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain. (No ladies, sadly.)

They talk about their own writing processes and it's interesting to see the differences in the way they write and approach a screenplay. For some, outlining is imperative, for others it's not important. Some can't write without exactly the right characters, for others the characters simply pop into their head, fully formed."


It stopped being available on iPlayer last night, unless you've downloaded it, in which case you get to keep it for 30 days.

Luckily, it's still available on YouTube for ever.


Part 1



Part 2



Part 3



Part 4



Part 5

09 December, 2008

Fourth International Screenwriters’ Festival 2009


Tickets for the Fourth International Screenwriters’ Festival 2009 go on sale at 17.00pm on Tuesday 9th December 2008. Buy now and save £50.00, go on treat yourself or a loved one for Christmas.

Early Bird rate is £196.00 for two days and £339.00 for four days (prices inc. new Vat rate 15%.) prices will increase by £50.00 per ticket at the end of April. These tickets are limited so now is the time to buy and guarentee your place at the Festival as they sold out pretty quick for SWF'08.

Our programme is still in development and we are planning subjects such as:

‘Conversion Tactics’ – Adapt your writing skills for different mediums; i.e. Film to TV, TV to Film, Radio to TV, Radio to Film, Novel to Film/TV, etc. We explore transferable and additional required skills.

‘Short Films’ – We examine writing for Short Films in all their glory, from 3 to 20 minutes. One specific short film will be de-constructed as we illustrate the various stages of development and production. From the initial script, through it's developed, to production to finally distribution and marketing.

‘Scripting the Timelord’ - The UK's most successful science-fiction series gets some sessions all to itself. Jumping through time ourselves we take a look at the various writing outlets for the Doctor which include not only the various TV series, but audio cds, comics, novelisations, animation as well as the spin-offs 'The Sarah-Jane Adventures' and 'Torchwood'.

'Script Market' - Will return in 2009 where we will offer the opportunity to Delegates to help broker their spec scripts to Agents, Producers, Development Executives and TV Comissioners. We will announce the entry date in late January, so please don't send anything to us yet.

'Networking' - Much like Dizzy Gillespie we want you to come and blow YOUR OWN trumpet with a series of facilitated networking opportunities where it's up to you to make the contacts that will advance your writing.

'Workshops' and 'Masterclasses'- More training in 2009 with workshops and masterclasses designed to help you with various elements of the scriptwriting process: treatments, outlines, pitching, planning will all be made easier. We will also summerise the best formating software, writing packages and help books.

'Scriptbites' - The highly successful session-ettes will return as our speakers make themselves available to talk to small intimate groups about varying subjects such as adaptation, writing partners, training and script editing to name but a few.

'Speakers' - We expect another strong line-up and are currently approaching some of the big names in UK and International Scriptwriting to come and share their knowledge, stories and war stories. We are also looking at attracting UK Agents, Producers, Developers and Commissioners so that you can discover what is going on in the industry and where your project might fit. Previous guests have included Guillermo Del Toro 'Hellboy II', Diana Ossana 'Brokeback Mountain', Mike Leigh'Happy Go Lucky', Kay Mellor 'Fat Friends', Stephen Frears 'The Queen', Olivia Hetreed 'The Girl with a Pearl Earring', Ronald Harwood 'The Pianist', Jane Tranter - Head of BBC Fiction, Dr. Raj Persaud - psychologist and Laura Mackie - Head of ITV Drama.

For travel and accommodation as well as speaker updates and other information please go to the website - www.screenwritersfestival.com


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I was hoping to attend the festival next year but they have shifted the venue to Cheltenham Ladies College. I'll have to ask my brief if my injunction could be suspended for the event. It was all just a big misunderstanding anyway.

The King’s Cross Award for New Writing 2009

"The Courtyard is delighted to announce that the 5th King's Cross Award for New Writing has formally launched and entries will be accepted between now and the closing date, 1 May 2009.

The Award, which is open to writers of all levels of experience resident in the UK or Republic of Ireland, seeks imaginative, original work which explores the unique possibilities of writing for the stage.

Thanks largely to the commitment of the Courtyard's Artistic director, June Abbott, to promoting new writing, the Award has grown since its inception in 2003 from a modest local contest with only 27 entries to one of Britain's key national new writing competitions. In 2005, the Award received nearly 300 entries and this increased to 400 in 2007.

The Award is now biennial, rather than annual, and the winning playwright will be awarded with a full professional production by leading directors and designers at our new Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton. This superb state-of-the-art 150-seater venue with separate 80-seater studio and bar facilities is a cultural beacon and the main arts facility in this vibrant, metropolitan community.

Our Award panel in previous years has included such prestigious individuals as noted playwrights Debbie Isitt, Robin Soans and Mark Ravenhill, the National Theatre's literary manager Jack Bradley, leading theatre critic Aleks Sierz, and Nick Quinn from top literary agents The Agency.

The Courtyard's 2007 dramaturg, Melanie Branton says,"We want to bring the work of the top-class writers whom we are now attracting to the attention of more directors, writers and literary managers and offer a prize which will help them with their long-term career development."

Several winning and shortlisted writers from previous years have gained a literary agent as a direct result of their involvement in the contest, and several of their plays have since been mounted in London and beyond. Additionally, a book of audition speeches, compiled from outstanding entries to previous years' Awards, is currently being planned.

Entries may be sent, marked "King's Cross Award 2009" and accompanied by a £6 entry fee (made payable to The Courtyard Ltd) and a large SAE for return of script, to:

THE COURTYARD THEATRE, BOWLING GREEN WALK, 40 PITFIELD STREET, LONDON, N1 6EU

Full rules and conditions and further details may be found here

Please note that telephone calls or enquiries regarding The Kings Cross New Writing Award 2009 will not be accepted."

08 December, 2008

Writers Guild Awards TV Nominations Announced

Deadline Hollywood Daily:

"The Writers Guild of America, West and the Writers Guild of America, East today announced nominations for outstanding achievement in television, radio, news, promotional writing, and graphic animation during the 2008 season. They will be honored at the WGA’s 61st anniversary awards show to be held on February 7th with simultaneous ceremonies at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles and the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City

TELEVISION NOMINEES


DRAMATIC SERIES

Dexter, Written by Scott Buck, Daniel Cerone, Charles H. Eglee, Adam E. Fiero, Lauren Gussis, Clyde Phillips, Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, Tim Schlattmann; Showtime

Friday Night Lights, Written by Bridget Carpenter, Kerry Ehrin, Brent Fletcher, Jason Gavin, Carter Harris, Elizabeth Heldens, David Hudgins, Jason Katims, Patrick Massett, Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, John Zinman; NBC

Lost, Written by Carlton Cuse, Drew Goddard, Adam Horowitz, Christina M. Kim, Edward Kitsis, Damon L. Lindelof, Greggory Nations, Kyle Pennington, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Brian K. Vaughan; ABC

Mad Men, Written by Lisa Albert, Jane Anderson, Rick Cleveland, David Isaacs, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Marti Noxon, Robin Veith, Matthew Weiner; AMC

The Wire, Written by Ed Burns, Chris Collins, David Mills, David Simon, William F. Zorzi, Richard Price, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos; HBO

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COMEDY SERIES


30 Rock, Written by Jack Burditt, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Donald Glover, Andrew Guest, Matt Hubbard, Jon Pollack, John Riggi, Tami Sagher, Ron Weiner; NBC

Entourage, Written by Doug Ellin, Jeremy Miller, Ally Musika, Steve Pink, Rob Weiss; HBO

The Office, Written by Steve Carell, Jennifer Celotta, Greg Daniels, Lee Eisenberg, Brent Forrester, Dan Goor, Charlie Grandy, Mindy Kaling, Ryan Koh, Lester Lewis, Paul Lieberstein, Warren Lieberstein, B.J. Novak, Michael Schur, Aaron Shure, Justin Spitzer, Gene Stupnitsky, Halsted Sullivan; NBC

The Simpsons, Written by J. Stewart Burns, Daniel Chun, Joel H. Cohen, Kevin Curran, John Frink, Tom Gammill, Stephanie Gillis, Dan Greaney, Reid Harrison, Al Jean, Billy Kimball, Tim Long, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Bill Odenkirk, Carolyn Omine, Don Payne, Michael Price, Max Pross, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, Matt Warburton, Jeff Westbrook, Marc Wilmore, William Wright; Fox

Weeds, Written by Roberto Benabib, Mark A. Burley, Ron Fitzgerald, David Holstein, Rolin Jones, Brendan Kelly, Jenji Kohan, Victoria Morrow, Matthew Salsberg; Showtime

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NEW SERIES


Breaking Bad, Written by Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Patty Lin, George Mastras; AMC

Fringe, Written by JJ Abrams, Jason Cahill, Julia Cho, David H. Goodman, Felicia Henderson, Brad Caleb Kane, Alex Kurtzman, Darin Morgan, J.R. Orci, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Zack Whedon; Fox

In Treatment, Written by Rodrigo Garcia, Bryan Goluboff, Davey Holmes, William Meritt Johnson, Amy Lippman, Sarah Treem; HBO

Life on Mars, Written by Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Scott Rosenberg, Becky Hartman Edwards, David Wilcox, Adele Lim, Bryan Oh, Tracy McMillan, Sonny Postiglione, Phil M. Rosenberg, Meredith Averill; ABC

True Blood, Written by Alan Ball, Brian Buckner, Raelle Tucker, Alexander Woo, Nancy Oliver, Chris Offutt; HBO

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EPISODIC DRAMA – any length – one airing time


“Don’t Ever Change” (House), Written by Doris Egan & Leonard Dick; Fox
“Double Booked” (Burn Notice), Written by Craig O’Neill & Jason Tracey; USA
“Gray Matter” (Breaking Bad), Written by Patty Lin; AMC
“Pilot” (Breaking Bad), Written by Vince Gilligan; AMC
“Pilot” (Eli Stone), Written by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim; ABC
“There’s Something About Harry” (Dexter), Written by Scott Reynolds; Showtime

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EPISODIC COMEDY – any length – one airing time

“Believe in the Stars” (30 Rock), Written by Robert Carlock; NBC
“Cooter” (30 Rock), Written by Tina Fey; NBC
“Crime Aid” (The Office), Written by Charlie Grandy; NBC
“Crush’d” (Ugly Betty), Written by Tracy Poust & Jon Kinnally; ABC
“Succession” (30 Rock), Written by Andrew Guest & John Riggi; NBC
“Vote for This and I Promise to Do Something Crazy at the Emmys” (My Name is Earl), Written by Greg Garcia; NBC "

Nominations in full

"Oscar Roundtable: The writers"

Hollywood Reporter:

"Nearly a year after they walked off the job in a 100-day strike, six screenwriters met at Crustacean in Beverly Hills to talk about their work in a discussion moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's Jay A. Fernandez. In attendance were Dustin Lance Black (Focus' "Milk"), Jenny Lumet (Sony Pictures Classics' "Rachel Getting Married"), Thomas McCarthy (Overture's "The Visitor"), John Patrick Shanley (Miramax's "Doubt"), Andrew Stanton (Disney/Pixar's "WALL-E") and J. Michael Straczynski (Universal's "Changeling").

The Hollywood Reporter: How are you guys with discipline?

John Patrick Shanley: When I write the first page, I'm fantasizing about finishing, and that is the propulsion that drags me through a screenplay. It makes me keep up the narrative pacing. I also know that if I think about what I am going to write in advance, and then I write fast, you're going to feel that when you read it. You're going to feel the action of forward propulsion. You can do anything once you have a first draft, but if you don't have a first draft, you're screwed.

Andrew Stanton: So you don't go back?

Shanley: I go back. Sometimes I'll write the first five pages over and over again, which is pleasurable to me, to get a deeper sense of the world. But once I get into the narrative of it, I want to get to the end. To establish style, worldview, sense of place, I might really go over the first few pages a lot.

Stanton: My mantra is: Be wrong as fast as you can. Because I have to have the liberty to know it doesn't have to work so that I'll just keep moving.

Jenny Lumet: The nature of my life: There are screaming children involved. I don't have a choice about when I work, so I have to fail really fast. There are three hours in a day when I can write. Those are the three hours where I have to fail miserably.

Dustin Lance Black: Getting going is tough. I'll stare at blank screens, and I'll check my Web sites and blogs. But once I get going, it's six hours in the morning, then lunch, and then six hours after that, then dinner. I get really obsessive. But I just plow through it. For me, that first 10 pages, I really get detailed, detailed, detailed. And then it's just kind of a disastrous mess.

Stanton: I heard David Sedaris say that he tried to be on a writing schedule once and all he would do is find himself in the mirror looking at his hair, trying to see what it would look like parted in the middle. I thought that encapsulated writing the best way I'd ever heard.

J. Michael Straczynski: I found a long time ago that if you have a compulsion, discipline isn't necessary. I have to be at the keyboard. I'm there 10 hours a day, every day, and if I'm not, I get nervous and twitchy. My wife and I took our first vacation in 20 years and she said, "You're gonna go to London. You're gonna have a good time and not do any writing." Within two days I was vibrating so badly that I got a little notebook in the pharmacist's and was in the bathroom working on my next novel."

Article in full