Category Archives: advice

London Screenwriters’ Festival 2011: The Aftermarth

It seems that quite a few of us are suffering from a huge comedown after the magnificent London Screenwriters’ Festival at the weekend. I’m only now digesting and dissecting all the emotions I’ve been through and this is my attempt at making sense of it. God help you!

For me, I think it stems from going to last year’s LSWF (2010), still very much living in a non-writing world where I knew very few writers in person and I was still solely working on my own projects. It was something that quite dramatically changed there and then and for good. I think I’m only just realising it now.

Thanks to the delegates I met and the inspiration and encouragement that the festival never fails to supply, I joined a group of delegates that, via twitter, started meeting up monthly for Script Chat drinks. This was incredibly important as it enabled me to maintain and build on a number of relationships I had started at the festival. Soon, these weren’t just other writers but collaborators, friends and some people found love (ahhh). Because twitter was at the core of this, communication with these new-found friends turned quickly from occasional to daily (writers, by definition, have A LOT of opinions and things to share!). Also, I’ve had the pleasure of working with quite a few of them on various projects.

So the difference between attending LSWF 2011 over LSWF 2010 was that I wasn’t just going to it knowing a few people that I had last met 12 months ago. I was going to it with a lot of familiar faces and friends, which is great when you want a balance between meeting new people and kicking back with friends. In fact, it was beneficial to meeting new people as “oh, you should meet…” became a popular phrase over the three days. Most of all, I realised that because I communicate with these people so regularly (and more often than a lot of my own friends) I wasn’t going to LSWF 2011 from a non-writing world any more. The connection was so much stronger and I enjoyed it even more.

So as well as missing being inspired everyday, learning priceless lessons and belonging to the asylum, I miss being around new and old friends. But you know what? I’m taking them with me and so should you.

This is really a message about the power of networking. A case-study, if you like. I hope people don’t fall into that trap of just writing a nice email to all your business card contacts only to exchange shorter and shorter emails until they fizzle out. See if they are on twitter, Skype or live nearby. Getting a group together is even better, there’s less pressure on individual relationships as you can just mingle. I don’t live in London but still come in just for Script Chat. Also, the LSWF Ning network is made for keeping in touch. It’s your delegates-only Facebook.

Whatever the case, try and find an informal way of staying in touch regularly. Make it part of the world you want to live in.

There will be more semi-delusional posts from me in the coming days, so thanks for reading.

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Rob Grant’s Comedy Writing Tips

I was meant to do this before the London Comedy Writers’ Festival but a horrible bug struck me down for some weeks, causing me to miss the actual festival itself!

Anyway, here are my notes from Red Dwarf c0-creator (and therefore Legend) Rob Grant… Continue reading

Barnaby Thompson Q&A

I’ve been asked by quite a few people to give them the highlights of the insightful London Comedy Writer’s Q&A with the Head of Ealing Studios Barnaby Thompson and Head of Development Sophie Meyer. Of course nothing beats being there but I did make notes and here is a summary of the chat they had with Festival Director Chris Jones.

What type of film are Ealing Studios look for? High-concept and culturally specific films. So films like Full Monty and Four Weddings and a Funeral are prime examples of this.

Continue reading

The Best Comedy Writing Books

I was recently asked on twitter (I actually have a human follower?) what comedy writing books I would recommend and thought 140 characters is probably not going to do my answer justice. So you get a wordy blog post instead. Continue reading

Confession: I Failed…

Hello, my name’s Anton and I failed. This is an open confession disguised as a big kick up the butt for me to sort out my writing. BBC’s great initiative Laughing Stock closes this week and I won’t be sending anything in despite it being exactly the sort of opportunity I should be taking.

I have no real excuse, I knew about it from late last year. I had three pilots in various states of completion and I chose one early. I started working on it and then I allowed myself to get absorbed by other things instead of working my socks off. Even going into last weekend I had a plan to get it done but a bout of flu and a family visit put paid to that. But it shouldn’t have because I should have done the work earlier. I really let myself done.

However, it’s taught me a BIG lesson. My perception of time and balance of work and writing is way out of sync. I used to be able to do a full day of work and a couple of hours writing in the evening but not any more. Age and the energies of being a new Dad have seen the back of that.

So I’m making big changes. I found I can do a few hours of work in the evenings no problem, so I’m going to swap a couple of hours of writing into my working day. And my punishment is to finish all three pilots before working on any new specs. Two of them have to be done by the end of March.

I will allow myself to work on a radio play that might suit the stage having had a very positive discussion about it. I’ll also try and get something on BBC Radio’s Newsjack to get some credits for 2011.

This failure has hit home more than any other. I don’t want to be seven years down the line and still making the same mistakes and excuses. I don’t even want to be seven days down the line and feeling that. So this post is also a statement of intent.

I believe anyone can change. Just don’t say ‘starting from tomorrow/next week etc.’ Start from NOW. Now I am an organised writer. It’s up to me to keep that title.

The Production Office LIVE! Tonight 7:30pm!

It’s the best online live show for film makers on the planet! I’m the podcast producer. That first sentence is in no way influenced by the second!

Watch it tonight: 7:30pm:
http://www.productionoffice.org/

What’s Next?

So the London Screenwriters’s Festival 2010 is over , knowledge has been absorbed, contacts have been formed, so what is next for this writer?

No seriously, I’m asking you. Answers on a postcard… bye.

Ok, ok. The truth is I learned A LOT from the sessions at the festival and my next step is to assess the projects I’ve got on the go and see if they fit with the distribution tips I picked up in London.

Then I need to finish off the scripts I have in various stages of development (if they still fit the distribution matrix). I need completed samples/spec scripts not three or four first drafts of a good idea.

I have too many ideas and get too passionate about them, dropping projects instantly just to get started ‘on the one’. Of course every new idea is the best ever. Mainly because it exists in such a small form: an idea. You haven’t got into the mess of plotting, structure, characters or (the most damaging aspect) writing the bastard thing. First drafts do suck, not all of it, but a lot of it. And it makes your genius idea very, very mortal. It’s a lot easier to move on to a fresh new idea. DON’T DO IT!

I also had a meeting about a ‘dream writing job’ last week. Unfortunately, that bubble has been burst. The director, who has written the script, wasn’t interested in someone clearing up a far too messy, unfocused and busy script. He wanted a jokes-smith to heighten the comedy. We had completely different visions for the script. A shame but I wish the project well.

On the upside, I’m free to crack on with my scripts so good day!