The highlight session of the day (apart from the Red Planet launch, natch) was a talk about UK showrunners. Our very own James Moran joined a panel that included Tony Jordan and Barbara Machin to discuss the pros and cons of the traditional US showrunner system that is gradually being applied in the UK. Everyone could see the benefit of having a writer as exec producer but there are some drawbacks, too, and it’s not to everyone’s tastes to oversee every last design, dot and comma.
Next up, a talk with writer David Lemon and Slingshot producer Uzma Hasan to talk about David’s new film, Faintheart, and to explain its unique development (Faintheart won the MySpace Movie Mashup competition). This was an interesting session, and overran by about 15 minutes, so Tim and I were a bit late for the Barbara Machin lunch that South West Screen had set up especially for writers based in the south west. I got a lot out of this one. Barbara was just as passionate, enthusiastic and eloquent as in her opening speech, and was very encouraging about ways to write for the big shows. Thanks South West Screen for the exclusive sit down!
The friendly and positive vibe of the festival is still running strong, and I get to chat to the inexhaustible Andy Conway (who edits the Shooting People screenwriting bulletin) as well as finally meeting the gentle giant that is Adrian Mead. Other unassuming conversations turn into potential schmoozing chats: “Hi, how are you? Are you a writer?” “No, I’m an exec at Warners.” “But you’re 12 years-old!”
There’s also the launch of TwelvePoint online magazine (formerly ScriptWriter magazine), and the TwelvePoint team are at hand throughout the festival to plug the magazine’s new format. A nice mix of articles, advice, news, blogs and forum (an opening article from Lucy about genre, no less).
Rock ‘n’roll script reader Evan Leighton-Davis (now of Ealing Studios) gets me to do a scriptbite session with him on script reading/editing but we face tough competition with James Moran’s packed roundtable which is already in full swing (and I wouldn’t mind attending either). Luckily, four or five people politely join me and Evan, and we shoot the breeze on the ins and outs of what it’s like being a script reader, and how you get that kind of work.
At the end of the day, 10 writers are lined up for the big pitching event which is to be held in the main tent. Poor bastards. But they each do a great job of holding their nerve and getting their pitches across. The winning pitch is easy to spot because it’s a comedy and the guy pitching it actually makes you laugh. Afterwards, it’s straight to the bar for much needed refreshments.
Jason Arnopp thinks the battery in his camera is dead and he leaves it on the table as he orders a drink. Fool! I take a sneaky ‘selfy’ and then run off to the Harvester with Stuart Perry and Tim Clague to get a fairly decent meal, surprisingly (although hunger is a great sauce). Then, back to the main tent until closing. And of course, on to Room 109 for Piers’s customary hotel room party (the duty hotel manager telling us to keep it down after two complaints, nice).
All in all, a very good day. Next, day three…