Things I Learnt This Weekend – London Screenwriters’ Festival 2011

If any of you know me at all, you know that this is my favourite weekend of the year. The London Screenwriters’ Festival. This was the second festival that’s happened and I’ve been to both and I cannot even begin to try to explain to you how much I get out of this weekend. If you think you’re a writer, want to be a writer or an emerging filmmaker looking for writers and want to know what kind of cruel hell we go through when we write – GO TO IT.

In tradition of my other post-Festival blog posts (London Comedy Writers’ Festival, Guerilla Filmmakers’ Masterclass, Southern Script Festival), I thought I’d do the same thing with the London Screenwriters’ Festival. I was also asked to blog for LSF before the festival about ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ here if you’d like to read it.

Ten Things I Learnt At The London Screenwriters’ Festival

1. Know your ending and work towards it.
This pearl of wisdom came from David Reynolds, writer for Disney and Pixar (Finding Nemo, The Emperor’s New Groove, Mulan). He said that Disney always work toward the ‘Happy Ending‘, whereas Pixar work toward ‘Satisfying Conclusion‘. Either way, every beat of your story has to move itself toward that final note, whatever that beat may be.

2. Don’t be afraid to speak to the speakers.
Sure, there will be some people who will make a beeline for David Reynolds and Edgar Wright as soon as they’ve finished speaking (and, admittedly, I did have a great chat to David about The Emperor’s New Groove for about fifteen minutes as I completely love that movie) and it’s always really great to talk to people like that. But the speakers who are slightly less well known are worth talking to as well – perhaps even moreso because if you start chatting to them and are nice and civil and polite, you might end up becoming really great friends with them.

3. Buy Linda Aronson’s book.
That’s all I’m going to say on that one. Her books are here. If you want to read a great book on crafting a screenplay by someone who absolutely knows what they’re talking about, then do it. 

4. Although the first ten pages of your script are important, don’t forget about the rest of it.
Sitting in the ‘Your Script and the 20 Common Pitfalls’, it was Danny Stack who pointed this out. There’s a lot of emphasis about crafting your first ten pages to hook the reader, but if it falls down after that, the reader’s excitement turns to intense disappointment. Don’t let them be disappointed! Make your script the best it can possibly be!

5. Write a project different to your regular genre and it will make you a stronger writer.
David Reynolds compared this to exercising a different writing muscle. If you can refine your skills in different genres, they can compliment each other. But be wary of spreading yourself too thin over multiple genres.

6. Follow the Twitter feed for updates.
The #LondonSWF hashtag was getting a massive workout over the weekend – myself included. I tweeted a heap of advice from Linda Aronson’s session (there’ll be a blog post of my collected tweets up soon) as well as intermittently throughout others. But it wasn’t just me, there was Leilani and Neal who were shouting information from the rooftops and a heap of others chipping in from their sessions as well. Even if you aren’t on Twitter, you can still search on it and I would highly recommend doing so because in the next week there will be an explosion of blog posts (like this one) that will talk about everyone’s experiences at LSF 2011.

7. Be more original than everyone else.
This one sounds tough, but remember that you’re unique and the stories you tell are unique so don’t be afraid to let that shine through. Broadcasters and producers aren’t looking for a carbon copy of another movie that was released six months ago, they want a new spin on an old theme or an original story that has an audience. Don’t make your audience too niche, but don’t be afraid to indulge in the individuality of your story.

8. Be someone that people will want to work with.
I think this is a fantastic piece of advice for LIFE. Think about it. Who are you going to want to work on a project with? A group of friends who you get along with really well and know that you are all working toward the same goal or a group of people who annoy the heck out of you, ask stupid questions and who you can’t wait to walk away from at the end of the day? It’s a journey – so make sure you enjoy the company of the people you’re bringing along for the ride and make sure they like spending time with you too.

9. Help others – be generous.
I think this is another wonderful piece of advice. Don’t think about what others can do for you, think about what you can do for them. I had a lot of people ask me if I would read their scripts and give them feedback, I offered to read a lot of scripts and give them feedback and I have every intention of doing so should anything hit my inbox. I love reading scripts and I love helping to try and strengthen the stories so why not? Speaking of being generous (as a deliberate tangent), have you had a look at our crowd-funding campaign yet? Jump on the bandwagon! There’s plenty of room! There’s also presents.

10. STORY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.
I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again. At the end of the day, nothing matters unless the story works. You can have the most unique characters/setting/actors/cinematography/editing in the world, but if the story doesn’t make any sense, it shatters the illusion. Spend time crafting your story. Get to know your characters. Give it the time it deserves to be the best it can possibly be and then it’ll (hopefully) shine.


I’ll stop banging on about LSF now, but it’s my favourite weekend of the year for a reason. Not only did I get to spend three and a half days with some of the most creative people in the UK and Europe and people who are going to join them, but I also made a whole heap of new friends and well as catching up with some old ones I hadn’t seen since the Festival last year. The staff did an amazing job and thank you to all their hard work over the past few months getting it all off the ground – I know 2012 is going to be even bigger and better!

Now, it’s back to reality and I have a list a mile long of things to get done this week before the next set of rehearsals for ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’. It’s thanks to LSF that this whole journey even started and I’m ready and raring to get going and make it the best that it can possibly be.

Links

The London Screenwriters’ Festival
 
David Reynolds
Edgar Wright
Linda Aronson
Danny Stack

Follow Leilani on Twitter
Follow Neal on Twitter
#LondonSWF search on Twitter

Our IndieGoGo campaign!

Things I Learnt This Weekend – Guerilla Filmmakers’ Masterclass 2011

Hola! It’s Tuesday and I’m currently in the aftermath of a jam-packed weekend following the Guerilla Filmmakers’ Masterclass. I find that after big events like these, it always takes a few days to get back into the swing of things, email all those people whose business cards you snagged and deal with reality which has this habit of charging ahead whether you want it to or not.

The weekend was fantastic. Chris Jones really knows his stuff – get your hands on his Guerilla Filmmakers books or his online short courses if you want to hone your low/no budget filmmaking skills – which I knew anyway, but he’s a great speaker as well. I think it was a bit of a wake-up call for some people as to exactly how much effort goes into making a film but sometimes I think that’s the best bit. You get to test your commitment to the project. If you’re not fully committed, it’s going to fall over.

As for the things I learnt, I learnt a lot. A lot will become relevant as I move through pre-production, production and post (oops, spoilers!) so I won’t touch on too much of it here. As is likely to happen over weekends like this, I met other filmmakers and other people interested in moving into becoming filmmakers. With a project hanging in the balance, I offered it up to see if anyone would be interested in coming on board to help me out and see if we can’t get ‘Friends’ up off the ground again. And there was definitely a bit of interest floating around. So I’ve sent the script off to see how we go. Watch this space.

For now, I think there’s too much to cover in one blog post, so I’m going to cover the top three things I got out of the weekend that I think is important for a filmmaker in any capacity to know. If you want more info, Chris makes everything REALLY accessible via his website, so follow the links and learn from his wealth of experience!

Top Three Things I Learnt This Weekend At The Guerilla Filmmakers’ Masterclass:
(in no particular order)

1. Films are all about audience connection.
You’re in the cinema. Munching on popcorn. Whispering to your mate as they screen the trailers of films that you’re only half interested in. Then the lights fully dim and you fall silent, your eyes lock onto the screen and there’s that moment of silence where absolutely anything is possible, anything could appear on that screen in the first second of the movie you’re watching. And no matter what it is, you’re willing to go with it, to see where it takes you. That moment is the beginning of the film’s connection with the audience. The audience will always want your film to be good. Chris pointed out that in that moment, your film has exactly the same chance of success of a James Cameron film.

So whatever you do, don’t sever that connection. Make sure there’s no plotholes to make your audience trip up, don’t push the story into ridiculousness so that they stop believing in what’s happening on the screen. What happens in front of them in that cinema is a universal truth – for two hours, the projected light on the screen is the ultimate truth and the audience will always believe it. But push them too far, the connection gets broken and the audience gets disgruntled with the story. And no-one likes a disgruntled audience.

2. Make a film that is honest.
Remember what I said up there two seconds ago? Movies hold a universal truth within them. The audience respects that. Make a film that is honest and it will instantly connect with people because they recognise the truth.  Be true to the story, be true to yourself as a filmmaker and that truth will emerge on the screen. That’s not to say that the characters can’t be liars, theives, manipulators – not at all. Don’t force it to be something it’s not, don’t try to be something you’re not and that truth will shine through.

3. Why?
The big question of the weekend. Why do you want to make films? No, really, why? If you’re in it for the money, you’re going the wrong way about it. Become an actor – but even that’s a hard slog. Really examine why you want to make films. And even then, do you want to make films or do you have to make films? Understand who you are. Understand what drives you. Understand what you want, not what your ego wants. Then you might be ready to be thrown into the deep end.


Three points don’t really feel like enough – I filled at least ten pages with notes and Chris was racing through the slides like we were running three hours behind schedule (which we might’ve been!). Like I said, a big chunk of it is more production based which I’ll come to once I’m further into production with ‘Friends’.

One last piece of advice, if you don’t know anyone film-orientated but want to get into making films, definitely go to an event like this near you. It’s too much of a waste not to and let yourself be inspired then harness everyone’s enthusiasm to make something great! Then you can call yourself a producer! For every person I met who had experience making films, there was someone else who had come just to get a feel for it. Most of all, don’t be afraid to talk to people! You never know who you’ll end up meeting. This time around I met several people I knew from Twitter, a handful of Irishmen, a bloke who directs the German Lord Voldemort and a guy who plays the double bass. How can I complain about that?

Links:

Chris Jones’ Website

A Bit of a Speed Bump

It’s been a bit quiet on the blogging front for the past week or so due to lack of internet access and other various bits and pieces that are bubbling away in the real world which keep getting in the way of my virtual world. I hope that you’re all having wonderful fun whichever world you live in.

I, however, have hit a bit of a speed bump.

Things have been happening behind the scenes that I haven’t yet been blogging about. We were in talks with a Director of Photography (DOP) to come on board for the project and I had been daydreaming about locations and soundies (although I always daydream about locations and soundies). But as nothing was really concreted in as yet, I thought I’d stick with blogging about writing for the moment and as things got rolling closer and closer to production, I’d have more production-like issues, excitements and let downs to tell you all about.

Last week I got an email from Oli, my producer. He told me that, as all good producers do, he’d filled his plate entirely for the next few months. With various other things going on, it meant that he couldn’t get around to seriously concentrating on ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ until July. He wanted to give me the option of taking it to another producer as he understood I would want to get the film made and it wasn’t fair on me to be waiting on him.

So now I have a bit of a dilemma.

I wrote ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ nearly a year ago. In the space of a year, I cannot even begin to describe how much I’ve learnt about writing and how much I feel that I’ve improved. I read the current draft of ‘Friends’ last night, having felt in February that it was as tight as it could possibly be, and found myself cutting scenes, tightening dialogue and making it stronger again.

However, I do want to make something. But I kind of feel that myself, as a writer, can write something better. That’s not to say I don’t love my ‘Friends’ script any less, I simply feel that if we were going to wait until July to shoot, in the interim I could write something new, fresh and sparkly to create a new excitement to run with. I don’t know if I’d be able to find another producer to come on board and really kick things into gear over the next month.

So I’m torn between plugging away at ‘Friends’ or writing something new.

Watch this space.

BY THE WAY:
Do you remember that Guerilla Filmmakers’ Masterclass I mentioned a couple of weeks ago? Well, I managed to nick a discount code! The price is £119 for the weekend, but if you submit PARKER as the discount code as payment, you’ll get it knocked back to £65!

The things I do for you guys.

Seriously though, it’ll be a fantastic weekend and with the discount it’s an absolute steal. All the details are here. Go and get a ticket!

Things I Learnt This Weekend – London Comedy Writers Festival 2011

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know that I went along to the London Comedy Writers’ Festival on the weekend to review the event for Step2InspireTV. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, this weekend I went along to the London Comedy Writers’ Festival on the weekend to review the event for Step2InspireTV. I’m not going to rehash that post at all (click here if you’d like to read it though) as that’s a general overview of the entire festival with a couple of tips from each session I went to. Here, I wanted to go over the best points for me (a la the Southern Script Festival post here).

I’m just going to get into it.

Top Ten Things I Learnt At The London Comedy Writers’ Festival This Weekend:
(in no particular order)

1. Sessions aren’t always the most important thing.
‘What’s that?’ I hear you ask. They aren’t?’ I’m not saying that you should buy your ticket and go to no sessions, because listening to Jessica Hynes and Stephen Mangan take deliberately opposing viewpoints on a question to get a roaring laugh out of the audience is always worth it. But if I hadn’t (accidently) skipped the 2pm sessions on Sunday, I wouldn’t have ended up finding myself chatting to a bunch of fledgling producers, newly inspired by the American Independents Day session running alongside the Festival and swapping business cards with people looking for low-budget scripts. I have no doubt that I would’ve learnt something brilliant if I went, but there’s no point in being brilliant if no-one wants to make your films.

2. Speak to as many people as you can.
This is a hard skill to learn. As I said in my Southern Script Festival post, I had a huge crash-course in ‘networking’ last year at the London Screenwriters’ Festival (running again in October this year and it will be phenomenal). This year, the sun was out and I was in a fantastic mood to see a bunch of familiar faces so it was incredibly easy to talk to new ones. I skipped around, joining circles, gently interrupting conversations, talking to strangers who were trying to eat their lunch in silence. There were all kinds of writers/directors/producers who were working in television/film/web/radio – it just opens your eyes to all the possibilities that are out there. For instance, I met a fellow Aussie who used to write gags and jokes for Rove: Live when it was on television. In that instant, I realised that there are all sorts of comedy ‘live’ shows like that on Aussie television that I hadn’t even considered I might be able to write for when I get home.

3. Actors can tell in the first 5 pages if your work is rubbish.
That’s coming straight from the mouths of Jessica Hynes and Stephen Mangan. To get good actors interested in your work, the key is clarity: of character, of location, of what’s going on. The most important part of luring actors in is your characters. I thought of it this way: write a character who you would like to play. Even if you’re not an actor, would you secretly want to play this on screen? If you were the best actor in the world, is this a character you would want to have on your IMDB page? If not, perhaps you should figure out why.

4. The funniest characters are deluded.
Not in a negative way. What this means is that the characters honestly believe that everything they do is for the best. They aren’t hamming it up, there’s no cheeky wink to camera to try and heighten the joke – the character is played as straight as they come. That way the humour arises from the way that the slightly more ‘normal’ characters react to them. Think about it. The funniest characters live in their own worlds, completely oblivious to what’s going on around them and how people perceive them. Borat, Barney (‘How I Met Your Mother’), Sheldon (‘Big Bang Theory’) – there are heaps more, but those three are example enough, really. That gap between actual reality and a character’s reality gives an actor a chance to play. And that’s what actors like to do best. Play.

5. Write/Make what you’re passionate about.
Forget the zombies, the Vampires, the current trends in cinema. Chances are that by the time your film is finished, the fad will have finished and you’ll be behind the times. Write what you’re interested in, what you’re passionate about. If you do that, you’ll write something strong and compelling and that’ll be enough to get the ball rolling.

6. Work out your story before you work out your jokes.
This nugget comes from the fabulous Robert Popper. In his session, he talked about story and character being more important than the jokes. Work that stuff out first, then move into writing the humour into it. Most humour arises from setting and character, so figure out who and where before you try to make the audience laugh so hard they fall off their chairs. If you start off with a joke and try to build a premise around it, it’s much harder to sustain for any longer than a sketch.

7. The best pitches contain…
This was a piece of advice from Jonathan Newman which I found valuable because pitching is often one of the hardest things to do.

The best pitches contain:
+ context
+ character
+ location
+ a sense of irony (the ‘and/but’ twist at the end of the pitch)


If you cover these four points in your one-liner, that’ll be enough to keep a producer hooked to tell them a little more about the story.

8. Don’t be afraid to write likeable characters.
As much fun as it is to write characters who are dark and violent, it becomes risky if they aren’t likeable. The audience wants to care about the characters, so you can make them dark and violent but don’t alienate the audience from connecting with them. There’s nothing worse than killing off a character in your script and having no reaction from your audience. You want them to be bawling their eyes out! Which leads me on to…

9. Make the comedic moments HILARIOUS; the dramatic moments HEARTFELT.
These two points come from the minds of co-writers Jamie Minoprio and Jonathan Stern. I thought it was a great point in any kind of writing – not just comedy. Push the moments to the best that they can be to really get a reaction from your audience.

10. It is never about us. It’s always about the audience.
This gem was from none other than Chris Jones, who I’ve talked about in previous posts. But this is something that I always think about when I write. Not necessarily during the first draft, but when it starts shaping up, I try and look at it from an audience’s point of view and then really push the material to get the right reaction. If I want them to gasp in this spot, I need to heighten this tension. That joke’s just a giggle, how can I make it a roar? Think about your audience – after all without an audience, you have no film.

There’s my top ten(ish – there’s some great other tips on my Step2Inspire post) tips from the London Comedy Writers’ Festival. It was a great weekend in all – capped off by the announcement that I was going to come on board as deputy moderator for Euro Scriptchat (a weekly event on Twitter for writers and filmmakers). For now though, I’m going to sort through my business cards, catch up on my sleep and wonder why the chicken did cross the road. It’s a toughie.

Links

London Comedy Writers’ Festival
Alli’s Step2Inspire Review

London Screenwriters’ Festival

Speakers
Jessica Hynes
Stephen Mangan
Robert Popper
Jonathan Newman
Jamie Minoprio
Jonathan Stern
Chris Jones

Things I Learnt This Weekend – Southern Script Festival 2011

I can now tick Bournemouth off my ‘Places to see in the UK’ list.

For those of you who don’t know, this weekend just gone was the Southern Script Festival (SSF) in Bournemouth. It was the very first one this year, held at Bournemouth Uni (famous for it’s screenwriting course, among other things) and organised by the students there – which is no mean feat. Considering they had a fair whack of people show up, a free lunch buffet and four rooms to co-ordinate each session between, everyone did a fantastic job. I certainly didn’t feel a hitch in the proceedings so if anything did go catastrophically wrong, they hid it well.

Having met a few students from Bournemouth Uni at the London Screenwriters’ Festival last year and managing to keep in touch via email and the wonderous nature of Twitter, I decided that I’d head down (or is it up?) – the wonderfully cheap price making it an easy sell. It was a fantastic weekend and the weather was gorgeous – I even managed a stroll along the beach after the Festival finished on Saturday!

As I Tweeted throughout the event, I was asked to put together a blog about the top ten things I learnt at the Festival.

So, without any further ado:

Top Ten Things I Learnt At The Southern Script Festival This Weekend
(in no particular order)


1. Networking is key.
Networking can be a fearsome beast. It does take awhile to really get into the swing of things properly. I had a huge crash course in introducing myself to strangers (some may say ‘butting in’) at the London Screenwriters’ Festival because I only really knew people from my Twitter family but not in real life. The amount of people I spoke to at SSF who didn’t have business cards or stuck amongst the group of people they knew without branching out was quite high. Most of the industry people I spoke to had business cards, which I swapped for mine but I gave away all of mine over the course of the weekend. I didn’t get as many back as I gave away. It’ll be interesting to see if I actually get any emails from those people or whether my cards gather dust in their bottom drawers.

And never be afraid to ask someone for something. The worst they can say is no and then you’re left exactly where you were but you know not to ask them again. The best they can say is yes and then you’re off and racing. But you never know until you ask!

2. Lucy Hay knows her shit.
(I did kind of know this anyway, but shhh.)

I feel somewhat cheated because the schedule got swapped around on Sunday and so Lucy’s session and Chris Jones’ session clashed. I was torn, but opted to go to Lucy’s session on script-reading and spec scripts – mostly because I’m planning to head to Chris Jones’ Guerilla Film Makers Masterclass in June (tickets are £60 until the end of the week – go go go!) and I know it’ll be just as (if not slightly more than) amazing as his session – and I’m a huge fan of Lucy’s Blog. I’m really glad I went, because it was EXACTLY what I wish I’d been taught about writing when I went to university. It wasn’t even anything too radical or outlandish – it was almost pointing out the obvious, but sometimes you can’t see the obvious when it’s right in front of your face.

Lucy talked about the hive mind of writers – how similar scripts can get written at the same time for no particular reason (one year there was an influx of witch burning scripts, for instance) or sometimes they’re triggered by current events (she’s expecting a heap of natural disasters in the next few years because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan). Most valuable for me, she talked about the most common scenes or moments that turn up in scripts that she reads. I have to say, I was guilty of a few of them but now that I’m aware of them, I can look at them more critically and decide whether they actually lend themselves to the story or whether they’re just there for the sake of it.

3. Collaborations and co-writing can be wicked.
The good kind of wicked. I went to a fabulous session with the wonderful Tim Clague, who I’d met last year at the Screenwriters’ Festival who talked about working with other writers to punch out a lot of ideas. He gave us a concept and told us to come up with a collection of ideas for a sketch show. I’m going to throw it out there and say that a lot of the ones that our group came up with we were pretty happy with and we found that often someone would suggest one idea and that would spark an idea in someone else’s head. With other writers or filmmakers, you can work faster and keep each other focused on the task at hand – as Tim pointed out, no-one had gotten bored and wanted to check their Twitter or Facebook halfway through brainstorming.

4. Trust your instincts and don’t sell yourself short.
This wasn’t any particular session but definitely something I needed to remember. Stuck in a slightly precarious position with a producer I’d been working with, I thought I’d ask a few people who produced professionally and had had a heap of their work produced their opinions on my situation. They were fantastic and gave me really great, genuine advice and reminded me that the most important thing in this industry when you’re starting out is to protect yourself. Not in the way of having your work stolen from you (Lucy pointed out that in her ten years of script-reading, she’d never heard of a credible case of a producer stealing a writer’s script), but just ensuring that the producer is going to do right by you as a writer – especially when there’s little or no money involved. Get the producer to sign a document agreed on by the two of you that says if the producer doesn’t do anything with your script in a year/two years/whenever, it comes back to you and belongs to you once again. What it boiled down to for me, though, was the fact that more often than not people want to encourage up and coming writers and if something doesn’t feel right, something probably isn’t. Trust your instincts and do what you have to to protect yourself in that situation.

5. Don’t be obsessed with perfection.
Writing is a messy business. For me, it is, anyway. It’s about finding the common thread in the mess and putting it together to make it neat and tidy and make sense. The wonderful thing about writing is that there are such things as rewrites. I know so many writers hate rewriting – I don’t. I love re-writing (but I’m weird, I love getting constructive feedback as well [I don’t mean ‘That was really good. I liked reading it. Hey, wanna go out and see Rango later?’ but real feedback]). For me, I’m all about getting the best story possible and if that means I have to do fifteen rewrites, then I’ll do fifteen rewrites. But a lot of people get nervous by the blank page because they feel as though once it’s written, it’s final.

It’s not final. Remember that. Everything can be changed until the film is up on the cinema screen. You’re allowed to change your story if something isn’t working – it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around.

6. Rules are your friend.
Each genre has certain rules and conventions that are expected of it. I’ve spoken a little about these before but in a romantic comedy you expect the happily ever after, in a horror you expect most of the characters to die. These are ingrained into the audience so use them to your advantage. Lull them into a false sense of security that they think they know where they’re going and then surprise them. But the key is to know the rules before you can use them as tools. Lucy (yeah, I keep going on about her, but I wouldn’t if she was rubbish) put it this way –

When a builder builds a house, he doesn’t stand there and say ‘I’m going to put this together however I want.’ He builds the foundation of the house and from then he adds in all the other bits and pieces he needs (kitchen, bathroom, bedroom) and some of the things he wants (basement, garage, swimming pool). Writers should think no differently. Every genre has conventions that are the foundations of the genre and you need to know those as writers.

I’m paraphrasing, but that was the general gist. Once you put in everything the genre needs, you can start adding the other parts you want – as long as they fit. A builder isn’t going to put a cash register in a residential house – neither should you write a serial killer into a romantic comedy – unless you’ve already built the basement with all the various tools and industrial strength bleach in the corner.

7. Endings are about choices.
Coming off the back of my previous post about endings in short films (part II coming up soon), The Writer’s Avenue held a session about writing for theatre – although there’s obviously a lot of overlap between theatre and film. The most important thing I took away from this fabulous session was that the ending of your script – be it theatre or film – is about the character having to make a choice between two high risk situations. This point, for me, was great. I’m working on a romantic comedy script at the moment and I’ve been worried that my ending is still embedded in cliché. Realising this fact meant that I had to really look at the choice that my character makes to break the two of them up so that it really feels final.

8. How to beat writer’s block.
I’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to writer’s block – I usually force my way through it to write something (because even if it’s no good, it’s still words and it’s not final and I know I can rewrite it. Plus, the core idea of what I’m writing might be good enough to salvage and use again) – but John Foster spoke about ways he knew of to get around writer’s block. One way was freewriting. I’d only heard of this relatively recently and it’s basically ten minutes of stream of consciousness, non-stop writing. Even if you get stuck, write that over and over and over until another thought forces its way in. You can have a topic or you can write whatever you want. But it works as the equivalent of warming up before a running race – it gets the cogs turning and the brain kicking into gear.

9. Having an awareness of production can help you as a writer.
It’s weird, this had always kind of been my plan. Even before I knew I wanted to be a writer, I knew I wanted to write but I was realistic in that I knew it was very difficult to make a living out of it. So I figured I’d get into production, build up relationships with directors and producers and offer to write things for them. This being my plan of attack when I was 16 years old. Mind you, it’s working out pretty well for me so far – I went to uni and studied film and television production and have been working in it ever since. And since I’ve got to London, the friends I’ve made over here (ranging from producers to directors) have started asking me to write scripts or work on ideas for them. Knowing how much things will cost and being really familiar with post-production because of my editing skills is a definite advantage to writing something low-budget friendly and feasible.

10. Nicholas Cage never dies.
I swear, between Charlie and I, we tried to kill off Nicholas Cage – first with John Travolta shooting him in the head and then crashing the bus, but he’s like a cockroach – he never dies. Someone was always eager to revive him. But it’s okay, because Henry and Brian Cox watched the Earth be sucked into a black hole, before Joe mercifully ended it all by fading to black.

Make no sense? Doesn’t really to me either and I helped write the thing. It was an attempt at a collaborative scripting session, with every writer adding a line of the script. But under pressure we’re not entirely original so we ended up with Nicholas Cage, John Travolta, Dennis Hopper and a few others starring. Either way, it was a fun way to round off the Festival.

BONUS THING I LEARNT THIS WEEKEND:
11. Bournemouth Uni hoodies are really warm.
Yeah, I bought one. But at least I’m more original than the people who come back from London with an Oxford Uni jumper having never actually set foot in the university.

At any rate, I technically studied writing at Bournemouth Uni this weekend and now I have the jumper to prove it:

Links:

Southern Script Festival
London Screenwriters’ Festival

Lucy Hay’s Blog – if you want to write – READ IT.
Follow Lucy on Twitter
Join Lucy’s Bang2writers on Facebook

Living Spirit Pictures – Chris Jones
Chris Jones’ Film Workshop – if you want to make films – GO TO IT.
Follow Chris on Twitter

Tim Clague’s Blog
UK Scriptwriters – Podcasts with Tim Clague and Danny Stack

The Writer’s Avenue