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Guest Post: The Story Engine 2010 pt 3 by Helen Bang

Here’s Helen’s final set of notes from The Story Engine. Enjoy!
The Future of Shorts

Panel: Rebecca Mark Lawson, Samm Halliday, Dany Stack, Carol Machin

With the scheme-based model of short film making on the verge of changing, the panel discussed success stories and speculated on how the future might look.

Rebecca – has the shorts contract with the Film Council, Digital Shorts, etc.
Samm – producer of drama for cinema and gallery installations
Danny – filmmaker and screenwriter
Carol – Northern Film and Media

There was a bit of discussion on the history of shorts, eg. the 10 minute, £10K films. Other schemes were looking for ‘auteurs’ and sidelined writers.

Danny said that you should just get out there and do it as only directors ever get mentioned, not the writer.

The Film Council receives a huge number of applications, figures of 800+ were quoted. But if you can take care of your own patch they may come to you. Shane Meadows’ approach was mentioned.

The Completion Fund is for when you get to the rough cut – it’s money to finish your film, not to make a print.

Samm: engaging with the film industry at some level is important or you’ll end up on the outside. Thrown them a bone. Make sure it goes to festivals. Don’t be afraid to share stuff, the “my homework” syndrome. What’s your strategy – who are you going to show your film to.

Neil Marshall was mentioned – look up ‘Dog Soldiers’.

Now to the important stuff. Cuts. Decisions are going to be made on schemes this September. There will be cuts elsewhere too.

Think internationally as far as you can. Think big.

Be clear what you want to get out of making your film; is it for yourself? To play at festivals? To tell a good story? Think very big – BAFTA, Oscar-nominations etc.

It’s a tiny, tiny audience you need to impress. YouTube is full of too much rubbish – be cautious of placing work on here.

Ideally have a relationship with a producer or director before going into a scheme or you can end up getting bruised.

Beware of producers who really want to direct. You must write shorts if you want to make them.

Don’t limit yourself to your own region in terms of applications etc.

Try to get discovered, play a longer game. Hang around film sets and find out how it works.

A Writer’s Journey

Kate Rowland, BBC Creative Director of New Writing in conversation with Karen Laws.

Karen wrote a winning calling card script, The Powder Room, which didn’t get made but led on to other things.

‘Beware the kids’ was a radio drama she wrote dealing with the 21st Century family.

Writer’s Academy; writing on soaps is being a mind reader of the script editor.

Find your problem, then your metaphor, then the plots.

Keep developing your portfolio. Write, write, write.

Karen’s sitcom got to a reading but no further.

There was a description of the Academy experience – extremely full-on, hard work. Full days at Elstree followed by homework. All the writers’ efforts were projected onto the wall for everyone to see and were taken apart.

Advised not to put all eggs in one basket, ie. don’t rely on one script.

There was a question from the audience about plays with a rural setting – Kate agreed it is a problem because of The Archers so they have to be very different.

She said there was a moving away from grim to more comedy. And advised to think visually! She also said would be TV and radio writers should watch and listen to everything, lots don’t.
Some good advice there. Thanks Helen for all your hard work. *Applause*

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