Hello. You look lovely today. Is that a new blouse/shirt? My name’s Dave and I write the Army of Dave website. Have you seen it…? Don’t worry, you don’t have to be polite.
I will be attending the Screenwriters’ Festival next month as a finalist in the subtly titled ‘The Son of the Pitch” contest. Nine others and I will stand before a panel of Giants of the Industry and an audience of hundreds of our peers, attempting to impress them with nought but a microphone and our wits to aid us. Or, in my case, a microphone and a slightly befuddled expression.
Now I’ve typed that out, I’m wondering why I agreed to this voluntarily. Anyway, think of this as a prologue to the story. An amuse bouche to the main course of a post-festival report. A beginning to a strained metaphor. Or is it a simile?
“How did this buffoon land such a plum opportunity?” I hear you say. “It’s obvious the man can barely string a sentence together. I mean, he doesn’t know whether he’s using metaphors or similes.”
I’m glad you asked me that, dear reader. Have I mentioned the blouse/shirt…?
Back in November 2008, the Screenwriters Festival website ran a competition in which you would submit a 25 word log line for a film concept and a 150 word synopsis expanding on that log line. The short list, with all names removed, would then be passed to readers at Film Four who would choose the final ten to come to Cheltenham and pitch the idea in public.
I sent in four entries. Three were lovingly crafted over a period of days, each word carefully chosen for it’s emotional impact. The fourth I knocked up with a hangover on the morning of the day of the deadline.
I’m sure we can all guess which entry was chosen for the final ten. Would you like to read it? Okay. Here it is:
In The Name of Light Entertainment
“When a ruthless children’s television presenter blackmails and murders his way up the light entertainment hierarchy, only a bitter celebrity obsessed cop can stop him!”
Bored yet? Why not try the synopsis?
“Hugo Jarvis is swimming in the fame backwater that is children’s television. His life is an endless round of sex, drugs and sticky-backed plastic. The only people who recognise him on the street are under ten years old and he hates kids. All he wants – NEEDS – to be is a star.
After accidentally killing his boss in an argument, Hugo finds himself in the limelight. He begins to blackmail, murder and sleep his way to his own Saturday night show.
Nobody suspects that this charismatic, charming man is a modern day Richard III. Nobody, that is, except DCI Clive Stanley. Bitter that the BBC has once again rejected the script for his gritty police drama, he stalks Television Centre and is onto Hugo.
In a darkly comic look at celebrity culture, will Clive stop Hugo before his show airs, or will they join forces for the sake of their careers?”
And – surprisingly – that didn’t get me an injunction, but an invitation to the Screenwriters Festival launch party (which I won’t bore you with now, but you can read about here.) where, at the bar, people asked insightful and intelligent questions about the plot and character development. All I could do was shrug my shoulders and say “I dunno”.
Yes, I really should go and do some more work on this idea.
If you’re attending the Screenwriters Festival, please come and say hello. You all know which pitch to vote for, right? If you’re unable to come along, I shall return – Lucy willing – with an article detailing my very public humiliation with minute, excruciating detail. [Yes please! And since you admittedly did so little work on your winning pitch when I had an ENTIRE DRAFT done for each of my three pitches, I might pelt you with something smelly at the SWF an’ all! – LV]
ABOUT DAVE: Dave is a comedy writer – no, really – with two optioned feature scripts to his name. His comedy-drama “Is This Music?” was selected for the TAPS ‘Finding the Writer’s Voice’ workshop and was a runner-up in the 2008 Red Planet Screenwriting Contest. He also writes the Army of Dave site, which he finds helps him deal with modern life without resorting to shouting at the oncoming traffic.
Are you going to The Screenwriters’ Festival? Dave and I will see you there… Let us know in the comments section or on Facebook, where most of my comments have decamped to recently! Not my Facebook friend? Then click here.