Thursday, November 01, 2012

London Screenwriters' Festival 2012

Most of you will know that last weekend was the London Screenwriters' Festival. I love the buzz and company of this screenwriting shindig. I've attended every year, and prior to that, all the Cheltenham screenwriting festivals (well, except 2009). I've also been a regular guest/speaker/moderator since 2007 when we launched the Red Planet Prize for the first time.

Last Friday, I hosted three sessions. The first one was with Tim on 'Moving From Writing to Directing'. We've done this talk together before, at the Southern Script Fest, and in the presentation, we break down top 10 tips for writers who want to direct.
Having a co-host like Tim makes the talk fun and easy, especially as we know each other from the UK Scriptwriters podcast. I'm moderating the next session though: 'Leverage Your Life, Should You Write What You Know?' with none other than TV legend Jed Mercurio, writer/director hotshot Eran Creevy, BBC comedy sensation Adil Ray and Garrow's Law scribe Mark Pallis. So, let's just say I'm a little bit nervous. Plus, the session's in the main hall. I want to make the guests comfortable, and feed them conversation around the topic, and also include the audience when I can. When the time comes to speak, adrenaline takes over and, now, I have no recollection of what I said. A complete blur! But I do know the panel were terrific, and I think (I hope) the session went well.
Immediately after that, I'm the host for '50 Screenwriting Survival Tips'. This time I'm moderating a panel of 5 (Daniel Eckhart, Micho Rutare, David Varela, Richard Dinnick and Mark Pallis). I got them to give me 10 tips each beforehand, so I can feed them the list directly. And of course now I'm in my stride, so I can relax a bit and try to include banter to ensure the audience don't feel short-changed (it's the last session of the day, people are keen to get to the bar!).
We get through around 30 or 40 tips, not bad going, but there's a printed handout of the full 50 tips (actually, we had 60 tips, such was the panel's wisdom), and everyone leaves the room fully armed. I've been talking non-stop for 3 hours at this point, so I needs me a drink, stat. The campus bar duly obliges, and after a few sherberts, Tim and I manage to grab a bite to eat at a Turkish restaurant in Marylebone High Street, with Tim providing the whiskey nightcap.

Saturday and Sunday, I'm essentially off-duty, so I hang out and attend the sessions. Luke Ryan, from Disruption Entertainment in LA, shared his experience with 'How To Get Hollywood to Pay Attention (And Money)'. I also went to see Chris Jones and Jonathan Newman chat about 'Manifesting Success', which was very interesting (and revealing, from certain members of the audience!). The highlight of the day for me was 'Writing Comics for Fun and Profit' with the inimitable Tony Lee, a practical and insightful breakdown of what it takes to write a comic, and why it might appeal to some screenwriters. I've not eaten since breakfast so it's time for a swift curry (with Tim and Rudolf, fast becoming a tradition) before hitting the campus bar again, and then on to the Wetherspoons by Baker Street tube (which is a very impressive pub, by the way, no lie) with a good selection of delegates, friends old and new.
On the Sunday, I hang around the Pitchfest, to get a feel of what people are going through with their pitches. It was all nicely set-up and organised; a good positive vibe in the air rather than a pang of desperation! Tim and I then took the opportunity to record a UK Scriptwriters podcast, nabbing who we could in the green room. We managed to have a great chat with a variety of writery folk (Tim thinks it's our best podcast yet), and it'll be available soon to download/listen.

I wanted to stick around in the afternoon for the Mad Men session, and listen to Industrial Scripts talk tactics, but I chose to get an early train home so I could ease out the exhaustion rather than be utterly polaxed on the Monday! Bloody hell, I must be getting old, especially as I'm suffering from a tedious head cold since I came back; my preemptive departure not working!

Still, another terrific year for the London Screenwriters' Festival. Long may it continue. Well done to Chris Jones and his team!


Liz Holliday said...

Hi Danny! A first - didn't even see you in passing, let alone get to say hi! I'm just wondering if the '50 Tips' sheet is available anywhere for those of us who didn't get to the session? Cheers!

Danny Stack said...

Hi Liz - I'll email it over.

For anyone who wasn't at the fest but fancies the list, I don't think I can put it up here online (content for the fest) but it might be on other people's blogs/reviews of the fest.