Wednesday, 5 July 2006

In the meantime...

OK, so I'm taking my time getting around to writing up the Festival (as instructed by Danny the Stack). So, to keep you entertained while you wait, here is the official report, courtesy of Screen International....

First International Screenwriters Festival wins plaudits

Screen International staff in London
05 July 2006 04:00

The inaugural International Screenwriters Festival held last week in the UK town of Cheltenham has been hailed as a major success by industry figures and bodies.
The festival, in association with Film Four, and backed by Screen International attracted big names from around the world including Julian Fellowes, Nicolas Roeg and Alan Scott, William Nicholson, Olivia Hetreed, Tony Grisoni, Stephen Woolley, Debbie Isitt and Guillermo del Toro (Pan).
More than 500 delegates came to hear 110 speakers give keynote speeches, lead master-classes, and take part in panels, seminars and screenings.
"It was a fantastic festival in a fantastic setting, with a great, friendly and well organised team; making welcome opportunities for screenwriters to meet and discuss important issues with other writers and producers. We were deeply impressed," said David Thompson, Head of BBC Films.
Gladiator scriptwriter, Bill Nicholson was equally enthused: "I felt like a long-lost traveller who has been wandering starving in the wilderness, and stumbles upon a fertile oasis populated by people miraculously speaking his own language. We screenwriters need such nourishment."
Shirine Best, Head of Development at Brighton-based production outfit Spice Factory, believes the event will get bigger yet in coming years while Olivia Hetreed (Girl with a Pearl Earring) said: "There's a lot of talk about "development hell" but last week in Cheltenham was the opposite. The first Screenwriting Festival was a chance to listen to great practitioners sharing their secrets with their peers and most enjoyable of all for me - to spend time with other writers comparing notes, techniques, projects and horror stories. There was a great, laid-back, supportive, creative atmosphere. If there's a development heaven it might look like this.""It was a very open, positive and professional festival, and it was therefore possible to have a better quality of conversation with both speakers and attendees than is often achievable in London." Natalie Wreyford, Senior Development Executive, UK Film Council


Dom Carver said...

Sounds to me like none of them attended the New Writers' Day, that was really badly organised.

Pete Giddens said...

How about a bit of positivity from UK Screenwriters? We all love to moan, but it's such a self-destructive habit to fall into. Writing is hard. Making a living writing is harder. We know this. But do you know what, it's also fun and if you work hard and if you have good ideas and if you write a really really good script IT WILL SELL. Every producer I've ever met is DESPERATE for good scripts. If you can write one, then the world is your oyster. So let's hear it for the organisers of this Festival. They are trying to do something positive, to increase the UK writer's power and profile, to help new writers get produced. Let's repay their positive action with some of our own. I couldn't go this year, but goddamit I'll be there next year. Let's stop whinging and start applauding!

Paul Campbell said...

Who's whinging?!

Well, OK, maybe Dom was a little.

I'm with you, Pete. I had a fantastic three days at Cheltenham, and I'll be seeing you there next year.

Dom Carver said...

Pete, after spending £90 of my hard earnt cash, that should have gone towards my wedding, and driving for a total of five hours only to learn nothing that I didn't already know, I think I've earnt the right to whinge if I want to.

I agree the festival is a good idea and can become something great, but only if they learn from this year's mistakes.

Lastly, how can you applaud something you didn't attend? That would be like NOT going to watch X-men 3 and then telling everyone it's the best of the trilogy. Trust someone who did attend when they say the New Writers' Day sucked monkey's butt.

Pete said...

Hey Dom, no offence intended man. It's just that I also spoke to a couple of mates who went to the new writers day and they said that they really enjoyed it, the chance to have one on ones with experienced script editors, the writer-director (Dan Read?) who spoke about getting his first film made and the Pitching competition which sounded daunting, but quite revealing about do's and don'ts! I just didn't think people should be put off 'coz the only comment so far was a negative one. Surely even the most successful writers wouldn't say they had nothing to learn from meeting and listening to other practicioners of our craft?

BTW, I hear X-Men 3 isn't so good. But I'll probably check it out anyway, make up my own mind.

Dom Carver said...

I wanted to know if I was the only one who found NWD a waste of time so I emailed everyone. A good 80% said they felt the same and a few said they enjoyed it. It just wasn't very well organised and most people missed out the picthing sessions because the organisers messed up.

I do have high hopes for next year's festival though where I shall be attending the professional days :-)