So, what actually happened? I attended nearly twenty presentations, and heard people talking about most of the others. So, here’s a potted guide to what you missed if you didn’t attend this year.
Julian Fellowes – Becoming more commercially minded
Julia being his normal expansive self. No great insights, a bit rude to the previous day’s pitchers, but generally very entertaining.
Jimmy McGovern – his life and works etc
Good value straight-talking from someone who always talks straight.
Chi Coaching – tools for being successful
Didn’t attend. A friend who did walked out.
Tony Grisoni – discussing his film “Brothers of the Head”
Missed it. Nothing to report.
Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran – team-writing
The stars were joined by bewcomers Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby (25 Words or Less winners and writers of the Adrenelini Brothers). Entertaining and informative. Tip of the day – if you’re in a serious writing partnership, take out life insurance on each other.
Ashley Pharoah, Jimmy McGovern, Marks & Gran, Barbara Machin – long running TV series
General chit chat about writing for TV series. Good stuff.
Colin Brown (Screen International) – Hollywood double-talk
I didn’t attend this one. I think the general consensus was that it was interesting, but unsurprising.
William Nicholson (Gladiator) – working in Hollywood
I didn’t bother with this because I thought there’s not much chance of my ever working in Hollywood. But, apparently, I missed a corker. Inspirational stuff, apparently.
Kevin Loader – working with producers
A personal view. Interesting enough, but I wished I’d gone for Mr Nicholson.
Kevin Loader, Amelia Granger, Olivia Hetreed, Abi Morgan, Liza Marshall – Adaptations
Missed this one, and didn’t hear much about it one way or the other.
Mervyn Watson – Soap
This suffered for being up against the session on adaptation. He could have taken advantage of the sparsely populated room to make a more personal presentation. It was interesting enough, but a bit distant somehow. But it did mean that I bumped into a couple of other Doctors writers, and we immediately formed a little Doctors Support Clinic (Hi, Nell and Angela!).
Kate Ogborn, Liza Marshall, Arvind David – TV, cinema, DVD and new distribution models.
No feedback on this one, I’m afraid. The Doctors Clinic was in full session.
Stephen Woodley – adapting stories into movies
Guillermo del Toro – chatting
Missed this one too. I thought there was little point because I hadn’t seen any of his films and they didn’t sound like my kind of film anyway. And the company down by the marquee was good. Did I miss out! By all account this was the one to be at. Inspirational, apparently. Just like Bill Nicholson, apparently.
Opening party at the Marquee
Plenty of free booze.
Sean Steele (NRG) – test screening
The poor guy got the 9:00 slot the morning after all that free booze. Pity, because it was a good session on the how they do test screenings and what they can pick up. Interesting stuff.
Tony Marchant – Chatting about Iraq
I gave this one a miss because Julian Friedmann promised to talk about interesting stuff elsewhere at the same time. I’m sure it was very good.
Julian Friedmann – a lecture
Not for me, I’m afraid. I listened. I daydreamed. I wondered whether I could sneak out.
Debbie Isitt – improvising Confetti
Missed this one. Don’t know how it went.
Justin Trefgame, Nick Ostler, Mark Huckerby, Claire Moorsom, Richard Jobson – writers and script editors
Great session chaired by UKFC’s Jenny Borgars. Writers and the script editors they’ve worked with talking about how to make the relationship work.
Katherine Butler – FilmFour
Less useful than it should have been, maybe. Basically, we got some nice clips and the FilmFour pitch that they’re looking for genre with an edge.
Eileen Quinn and Judy Counihan – pitching
And pitching their own book on pitching (“The Pitch”). I bought the book instead. Which was very good. The session itself sounded OK, but one of them was a no show, so not quite as intended.
Drop in sessions with UKFC-approved script editors
A bit odd to have these when the sessions were only 15 minutes long and they hadn’t read any material. But I heard a couple of good reports back, about some interesting discussions. More mentoring than script editing as far as I could see.
Judy Couihan, Olivia Hetreed, Francesca Marciano, Katherine Butler, Phil Parker, and Marcia Williams – “where are all the women?”
Not sure whether they found out or not.
Paula Jalfon (Ingenious Finance) and Ed Clarke (Capitol Films) – attracting financiers to your script
Hmmm. Not sure whether it was worth sweating away to a little puddle of frustration just to hear that the things that attract the men with the money to a project rarely have anything to do with how great the script is.
Drop in sessions with Arista
I had a useful chat about their courses and what they offer.
Guy Jenkin, Gary Martin, Roger Beckett – why is film comedy so difficult?
I heard mixed reviews of this one. But, by accounts, for a session on comedy, it was dreadfully serious.
David Thompson – BBC Films
Possibly the biggest cheese at the Festival, the Head of BBC Films talked about what they get up to and what they’re looking for. I tread carefully when I say that he might perhaps have prepared his presentation with a tad more thought towards his audience. However, I don’t need to tread carefully at all when I say that he is an extraordinary and fascinating man.
David Hughes – development hell
I think this one was scheduled against David Thompson. I didn’t hear anything about it either way.
Gina Carter – financing difficult scripts
A wonderful woman, who agreed to read one of my scripts. Seriously, a useful, honest and very personal session.
James Hawes and Steven Moffat – Doctor Who Fest
Director and writer give live commentary over the top of an episode from Series One (the one where the little boy with the gasmask glued to his face keeps asking “are you my mummy?”) What’s not to love? Moffat also wrote the one with the clockwork bad guys – brilliant!
Hugh Stoddart and Sam Snape – model contracts for writers
Worthy stuff. But the poor sods were scheduled against Doctor Who and didn’t stand a chance. I’ve no idea how well the session went, but the two of them seemed to enjoy the Festival.
Terry Loane, Fiona Kinsell – Mickybo and Me
Great session with the writer/director of a great little film.
Charles Moore and Rachel Holroyd – getting a Hollywood deal
Didn’t attend, and didn’t get any feedback – sorry.
Justin Kerrigan, Mike Gubbins (but, actually, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the line up on stage, but then I did creep in late) – Ultra low budget
Quite interesting stuff, if you’re looking for a model for cheap film making that’s sustainable.
James Watkins, Jolvon Symonds, Rob Breen, Mark Duffield and nic Ransome – Horror
Not my genre. But it sounded like they were having fun in there.
Nicolas Roeg and Alan Scott – Cold Heaven
Writer and Director screen the film and chat. But I’m afraid I’d bailed out by then and got the train home.
Paul Welland and others – Sixty Six
Discussion of the film. Gone home by then. I hope they enjoyed themselves.
The overall conclusion?
A few teething problems, but an excellent line-up and a good effort all round. I’ll certainly be back for more.