Thursday, July 12, 2007

Festival: Day Three

The third day of the Festival was the first day of the Professional Sessions, and that got underway with a typically informed and enthused speech from William (Bill) Nicholson, who surely is our equivalent of William (Bill) Goldman. 'Bill' gave everyone a heads up about the European Screenwriters' Manifesto, and that respect for screenwriters is necessary in the business. However, he stressed that we (screenwriters) needed to earn this respect, and not wait for it to be handed to us just because we choose to pout in the corner. In other words, work hard at understanding the system and embracing the development process, and then we may get offered a little bit more respect and admiration. When 'Bill' sees his contract that outlines the various steps of his deal (1st draft, 2nd draft, 2nd draft revisions, 3rd draft etc), he forgets all about it, and instead, throws himself into the process, ensuring that he's the writer from start to finish, whatever it takes, no matter how many drafts, revisions or polishes. He wants to be known as the 'Problem Solver', not the 'Problem Writer'. Hear, hear.

A session called 'Writers' Health Check' followed Mr Nicholson's speech where Olivia Hetreed, Paul Brett (Prescience Finance), David Kavanagh (Irish Writers' Guild) and Valentin Tubau picked up on the European Manifesto for screenwriters' rights. This provoked a lively and interesting debate. The wording for the screenwriters' manifesto is quite bold and strong, so it'll be interesting to see what snowballs from here.

Next up was Michael Goldenberg (writer of the latest Harry Potter) talking to Tanya Seghatchian, new Head of Development at the UK Film Council (and former producer/developer of the Harry Potters). They discussed Mr Goldenberg's career and writing approach, and how he tackled the script for the ever growing pains of Harry.

Then, I went along to 'British Comedy Abroad', a funny and insightful talk from Sarah Smith, Creative Director at Aardman. She talked about how, like Pixar, they like to take on the character and story approach to their films, rather than the shoehorned plot and gags technique which can sometimes happen. To illustrate her point, she showed clips from Bambi, Flushed Away, Toy Story, Wallace & Gromit and Shark Tale.

The day was only half over, but I was on my way home (time to get back to work!). Hopefully some of the other bloggers will pick up on the remainder of the Festival and what some of the selected sessions were like. One thing is for certain; the screenwriters' festival is here to stay, and preparations are already underway for next year's line-up. Can't wait.


Dominic Carver said...

Good posts, Danny.

I'll be there next year with out doubt.

Anonymous said...

Have you signed the manifesto?