Hello all you lovely people!
Well I’m currently experiencing a pretty hard climbdown from the London Screenwriter’s Festival 2018. So as a form of therapy, I thought I’d recap my experience and vital things you can gain and learn from this wonderful three-day event.
I decided to throw myself in at the deep end this year and start with the pitchfest. You have to book this a week in advance and it’s incredibly tense, but it’s your chance to practice pitching to industry execs and agents. I say practise because you mustn’t go in expecting success; follow ups are rare.
In fact, despite being my fourth festival I managed to bomb spectacularly this year. But if that happens you just have to put it aside and move onto the next one. If you learn to pitch well, you’ll be able to do it the day it really leads to great things.
As I said last year I find the Actor’s Table Read the most fun session, and this year I was able to return to it with my new TV pilot. The director was really on point, and seemed to know the material intimately, and with each run through the actors performance brought the script more and more to life. You don’t really realise what you’ve written until you hear the words spoken properly, which can be a huge relief or a welcome wake-up call in some cases; I found myself scribbling frantic revisions as the scene was playing out a couple of times, and had the biggest stupidest grin on my face each time.
Between all this of course, you had the incredible panels on offer. It was a pleasure to catch up with Scott Myers from GoIntoTheStory once again this year; his talks are always funny and insightful. I also met David Baboulene, whose panel may have fixed a script I have laying around from years ago (which I really must get back to now I think of it).
Being a huge fan of Yes Minister, I loved seeing Jonathan Lynn reminisce about writing the show with Lord Robin Butler, a civil service who helped them with research on it. While Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne are no longer with us, hearing these two discuss the show and the politics behind it was like seeing the spirit of the programme revived. When they realised the panel might run ten minutes late we all cheered; we could have listened to them spout lugubrious truisms about life in Whitehall for another day!
But perhaps one of the most momentous moments this year was the Doctor Who panel. At the end of this panel with Katy Manning, Pearl Mackie, Ingrid Oliver and Robert Shearman. Being a bit of a Doctor Who fan, I shared my attendance of this panel to social media. Afterwards, I took the opportunity to tell Robert how influential the episode ‘Dalek’ was to me as a teen all those years ago. And literally as I was finishing talking to him, my phone buzzed; it was Justin Hayward, a wonderful Brighton actor who performed in both my most recent short films.
These two went to school and performed together.
And before I knew it, I was chatting with the guy who made the Daleks awesome again about a friend we’d both worked with.
The morale of the story is connections. Everything you do in this world brings you closer to someone you wouldn’t believe. The more effort you put into making these connections, the better your chances will be. And for a hopeless optimist British screenwriter struggling to get it together in the Film and TV Industry, there are few better places to start than the London Screenwriter’s Festival.