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The Long Distance Screenwriter, Part Two

As promised, part two of my notes. Hey boy, hey girl, Superstar DJ… Here we go!

Skillset. Adrian recommended in the first instance that all writers familiarise themselves with the work and opportunities available through Skillset. Knowing what one can get funding for and how helps writers make decisions and book training, courses etc that *could* make all the difference to their career. However, it’s surprising how few writers know exactly how Skillset works or what they fund. So go check it out!

Film Festivals. Film Festivals can be a great place to network and get new leads from, even if you’re not actually showing anything (a film that is, eeeugh, I heard that at the back!). Everyone knows about Cannes and all the other “biggies”, but there’s a fair few out there that may surprise you. Heard or gone to any of these?

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. Practically impossible to pronounce, this festival hosts over 220 features and documentaries and is expecting Renee Zellwegger this year to present her new film.
Austin, Texas, US. The only one on this list I had actually heard of, but only because James Moran went last year and ate much meat and shot guns during the showcase there of his movie Severance!
Dinard, France. Though hosted in France, this festival is dedicated to British Cinema! Check it out.
Galway Festival, Ireland. Around for a whopping nineteen years, The Galway Film Festival “promotes and showcases the very best in new and classic Irish and World cinema.”
Tribeca, NY, US. I knew De Niro had his own prodco, Tribeca, but not that he hosted a Film Festival in Manhattan as well. When does this fella have time to star in movies?

And of course there is the lovely Edinburgh Film Festival.

Film festivals offer a great opportunity not only to get your face and work “out there”, but in helping you know what’s going on too. That’s why it’s worth checking out those smaller festivals too. Whilst I was in Edinburgh at the weekend, there was a film festival in nearby Leith, where there was a free showing of Mead Kerr’s Night People and a Q&A with Adrian and Clare afterwards, giving my friend Elinor and I even more time to grill them! Smaller film festivals also give new filmmakers and writers a great opportunity to show their shorts, Brief Encounters in Bristol the most obvious that springs to mind. Genre-related film festivals, like The Compass of Horror or The World of Comedy may enable writers to find likeminded filmmakers or writing partners for collaboration. Equally, writers wanting to try something new could find all the information they need at a festival like Animated Exeter, The Radio Academy’s Radio Festival or The Harrogate Crime Writers’ Festival. Let’s not forget the Screenwriters’ Festival,Cheltenham, now in its second year either. There’s so much out there. Whilst many of these fests are expensive, there is the old saying, “you have to speculate to accumulate.” Writing alone in your bedroom just doesn’t cut it. Remember there are bursaries and funding to be had from your local screen agency and if you’re really broke, target those smaller fests first. When I participated inThe Compass of Horror last year, most events were about £3 each if you didn’t want/have time to go to all of them. There were opportunities to see Nigerian horror cinema, a commentary on GINGER SNAPS by a real psychologist, even a Q&A with director Richard Stanley on his fabulous DUST DEVIL. You can’t grumble – and that’s before you use the event as a platform to pimp yourself out! ; )

Short Films, Screen Agencies And Opportunities. Adrian recommended all writers get short films made. You can do this by targeting your local screen agencies; most run schemes that will enable you to get both training and your work made, including Digital Departures, Digital Shorts and Microwave. The usual lament came up: “But you have to live in the area to access the scheme!” but Adrian made the point that if a writer wanted to access a particular screen agency, all they need do is find a Producer who lives in the area they want to access. Writers should contact Producers through The New Producers’ Alliance: it’s a fact of life that an organisation like the UK Film Council will pay more heed to your application to the Development Fund if you have a Producer attached, so find one – they want credits as badly as you, remember.

Adrian went on to say that Northern Ireland Screen admits it has stacks of cash (“twelve million squid!” I have written in my notes with a big ring around it, I hope it’s the right amount, can’t remember!) it needs to get rid of and though Scottish Screen have since cancelled running all their own courses, they still have people providing the training for them, so might be worth checking out. Equally, Scottish Screen in conjunction with BBC Scotland are on the lookout for 60 minute Single Dramas; the proposals are in this september, you need to have a producer attached and the budget for your drama must be $450,000 or less. Scottish Screen are also working in conjunction with GMAC, Glasgow Media Arts Access Centre, which is running a shorts film festival and calling for submissions right now. Finally, Initialize Films will be running a VERY interesting course for writers very soon; rumour is, it will be for writers who need that little “push” into professional writing. Ten will be selected for the writers’ course and ten Producers and Directors will be selected for their prospective courses in a big attempt for all thirty to “bridge that gap to market”. I’m definitely intrigued about this and you can find the Initialize Films website here.

Right! That’s the last of my written notes, but I will back tomorrow with some thoughts on the afternoon panellists at the course. Ciao…

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7 thoughts on “The Long Distance Screenwriter, Part Two”

  1. You blamed me??? Er… well, that’s ok! I’m not scared of that Mead bloke. Just cos he’s twice my size. And used to be a bouncer. And knows Karat —

    I’ll be in Rio if anyone needs me…

  2. Funny should say that Jase ‘cos I actually do, which is intriguing since in my house, with so many hungry mouths to feed, a small saucepan is absolutely no use at all… ; )

    BTW, you still up for that Power of Three? Getting perilously close to wrapping up a draft of my sexy new 25 WOL…

  3. Hell yeah. Bring on the Lucy! E-mail it when you’re ready and gimme a deadline. It’s the only language I understand. 🙂

  4. Good advise about shorts.

    I have a theory that short films could become commercially viable when VOD and all that malarkey comes in.

    there’s no money in shorts now, cos people arent gonna go out to the cinema, or buy a DVD, for something that’s 15 minutes long.

    But if people can download shorts for, say, a quid a time, then maybe there will be a market there in future?

    Still, what do I know.

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