Monday, 22 November 2010

postheadericon Wearing two hats at the London Screenwriters' Festival - Pt.2

So its three weeks post-festival and I'm sure many of us are continuing to make new contacts from those three days, corresponding or meeting up with people we connected with. Last week I met up with fellow speakers Jamie Wolpert (top, last minute addition to the Meet the Gatekeepers panel) and Chris Hill (Writing for Young Audiences). Both, I discover, are lovely people who I fully intend to induct into my clan!

Weird link - both have been news stand extras in different feature films; Jamie as a vendor and Chris a customer! (and we all turned out to be NFTS alumni)

Turning prior aquaintances into proper connections was a main highlight of the festival, where I enjoyed hanging out with writers and developers including Catherine Skinner, Tim Clague, Danny Stack, Lucy Hay and Evan Leighton Davis. I caught up with old pal and one man literary machine Andy Briggs and got to meet other entertaining writers like Daniel Martin Eckhart, comedy writer Nathaniel Tapley and Alice D. Cooper. In the bar on the Friday and Saturday nights I also enjoyed meeting American/slash/northerner James De Marco and sharing a jar with fellow festival veterans Piers Beckley and Dominic Carver.

On the first day Tim Clague was my guide to discovering ‘the secret room’, or what should more properly be called ‘the containment area’ - its basic function being a place where speakers can be coralled, before being led to their sessions. If you didn’t have access you can rest easy in my report that most people only passed through here briefly. It was a good place to get a coffee though and possibly run into someone interesting. I had a chat with script guru Linda Aronson and on the last day met the panellists for Writing for European Markets and USA as they gathered to plan their session. (This was a panel I actually suggested on a survey that came round many months ago – so go me!).

My festival highlights among the sessions include Writing for Young Audiences – an area where I felt qualified to join in the interesting discussion. Also listening to Tony Jordan, Nicola Schindler and Tim Bevan. Its always great to get tips and insights from the big hitters.

By the time our Meet the Gatekeepers session rolled around toward the end of the last day I was ready to take my turn on a panel. Before we started we thought we’d have trouble filling our 90 minute slot, but the time sped by and it seemed like we only scratched the surface of the topic, (perhaps a posting for another day). I ended the festival making a number of further good contacts from within our audience.

For me writers' festivals are primarily about building connections and sharing inspiration and insight. Apart from the genuinely fascinating topic of the writer’s voice, the other relevant issue of the festival for the emerging writer is of course; how to break in, form relationships with producers and work with these relationships once you have them. Where one subject is as welcome an indulgence as a warm bath, the latter is more like a cold shower. Its not exactly pleasant, but potentially invigorating, to confront the reality of the challenge ahead and be sure battle plans are firmly in place.

This was supposed to be the subject of today’s post, but to avoid a blog of infinite length; more shortly.


Tim Clague said...

It isn't officially called the secret room! It is the green room. Even though it isn't green. But then it isn't secret either.

Sarah Olley said...

I call it the secret room, because I had no idea where it was until you showed me!

Sarah Olley said...

Its not on the map you see. Oooh, secret!

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Sarah Olley
Hello. I'm a UK based script editor, development producer and writer working in film and TV. You can visit my professional website at: and the developers' group I co-host and organise at:
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