London Screenwriters' Festival

Archive for November, 2011

Come to the London Screenwriters’ Festival 2012 for £24 a month (10 months)

Posted on: November 16th, 2011 by Chris Jones No Comments

Due to overwhelming popular demand, we are offering the recurring £24 a month payment plan for the London Screenwriters’ Festival 2012. Spread the payments over 10 instalments between now and October 2012.  Use the button below to sign up.

 

We will in due course contact you to join the relevant online groups for the 2012 festival. As a bonus, we will be sharing some of the 2011 seminars in the 2012 group, so you will get access to some of the best sessions from this years festival. So be sure to join that group when you get the emailed invite.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Chris Jones
Creative Director, The London Screenwriters’ Festival

Q&A with Ben Williams ~ Producer’s Assistant

Posted on: November 4th, 2011 by Leilani No Comments

 

Ben Williams is Producer’s Assistant to a leading UK Producer as well as screenwriting and directing his own films, most recently a beautiful tale of fandom and friendship in his short film “The Fan”.

It struck me chatting to him over a cuppa at the London Screenwriters’ Festival, what an important link between Producers and screenwriters (not to mention everyone else on a film) that a Producer’s Assistant is, and yet how little we really pay attention to the people who do this work and what the job itself is. So I asked Ben to answer a few questions for us to tell us a little about his work and he was kind enough to share a few thoughts.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your work as a Producer’s Assistant and the sort of things it entails on a day to day basis.

Day to day, my job entails a multitude of tasks, from the complicated to the basic. We’re a small company, so I take on most things, from emptying the bins to preparing important legal documents. For the most part, it’s all office-based, administrative tasks – hardly the glamorous things I think some friends imagine. Film companies spend 99% of their time trying to get projects off the ground, and I’m around to help with all the necessary steps that make that happen.

 

Does your work change drastically when you are in production?

Yes. It’s sort of the difference between war and peacetime! The core roles as assistant remain the same, but the context changes, and you take on more tasks for other people. On our latest production we were based mostly on location, sometimes in very remote and difficult places. I kept on assistant-ing as normal, but I’d also be helping out elsewhere on the production. There’s no set formula to it, but I found myself meeting actors at the airport, scouting locations for wrap parties, arranging translations of dialogue, keeping in touch with historical advisors, preparing casting materials for the director, keeping abreast of changes to the script and writing change logs for the crew – and lots of other things. Generally, someone was always looking for help, and I was able to offer myself on quite a few occasions. I do regret trying to run a mini-fireworks display on my own, however. And once asking whether any of the camera crew wanted a cup of tea. But you live and learn.

 

What’s the most fun thing about your job?

There are loads. I’ve worked away from home for four months, living in hotels and meeting the most amazing people. On other occasions, I’ve met Oscar winners and world famous actors in the flesh. On a completely different level, I’ve been made responsible for the running of an office, which I really enjoy. The constant, day-to-day nature of it is enjoyable, too. Some days not much goes on, and in a way I enjoy that too.

 

What is the least fun?

Petty cash receipts.

 

 

How do you deal with contact from those attempting to make unsolicited contact or pitch ideas?

It’s unfortunate, but we really can’t read unsolicited ideas – most film companies can’t. From the outside looking in, this might seem a bit harsh, but it’s for good reason. If someone submits an idea to us that’s similar to one that we’ve been working on, and we read it, we leave ourselves open to lawsuits if that film goes on to be a success. Traditionally we would return paper scripts unread, but in the world of email that’s harder to do – especially as some people presumptuously attach the script anyway! – but the same rule applies. In all communications, though, we are always polite and considerate, and I hope helpful.

 

You also write and direct in your spare time, is there one thing you’ve learned from working with your boss that you will always take into your own work?

Definitely an eye for detail. Interrogating the minutiae of every part of your project might be tiring, and often rubs some people up the wrong way, but it always pays off. Questioning one arrangement may lead you to discover an even deeper misunderstanding, for example, that could go on to harm your project and cost you money. As long as you stress that you’re not out to get or undermine someone, it’s a very useful habit to get into.

 

What do you think are the most important things to nail when writing a screenplay?

I’m hardly an authority! Generally, it’s pleasing yourself. I have a minuscule attention span, so if I can read and re-read the same thing a hundred times and still find it entertaining, there’s a very good chance that others will too.

The best scripts I’ve ever read end up being sort of invisible. It’s weird, but in these cases the subject matter is so strong that your imagination gets fired up and you lose yourself. It’s like being trapped in an exciting fog.

 

If there is one piece of advice you could give screenwriters about working with producers, what would it be?

Let them in, and listen to them. At the point of delivery, you might baulk at their advice, or it might sound ridiculous or totally misguided. But if you take it onboard, and perhaps even draw out the meaning (because, let’s face it, no one really nails what they mean in the first sentence), you’ll find the process incredibly rewarding and your script will so much stronger as a result. Remember: good producers are always on your side. Feedback can feel combative, especially if done verbally, but that’s just how it is. Bad writers will raise their defences and ignore everything. The good ones listen, and take note. This takes guts, and thick skin, but there will always be something useful for you at the end of it.

Cheers Ben, for taking time out to speak to us. Ben’s latest short film “The Fan” can be viewed online.

 

 

Leilani Holmes

www.leilaniholmes.co.uk
www.twitter.com/momentsoffilm
www.momentsoffilm.blogspot.com

Writing Comics with Tony Lee & Harry Markos

Posted on: November 1st, 2011 by nromanek 1 Comment

Image from Markosia's "The Young Sherlock Holmes Adventures"

The Sunday afternoon session Writing Comics, hosted by comics obsessive DJ Iyare Igiehon, featured a discussion with writer Tony Lee and head of Markosia Publishing Harry Markos. The session was well-attended, with a big helping of genre writers – a couple game writers too – seeking ways to develop their stories through graphic novels and comics (“sequential art” as Scott McCloud dubbed it).

Tony has been writing for 25 years, and doing comics for 8 of those. He’s been a novelist, a screenwriter, a writer for audio drama, and a comics writer. One of his first points was to note the tendency for screenwriters to think its easy to write comics, assuming that comics are simply the illustration of a screenplay. In fact, comics writing is its own special beast. In comics, you are writing for still images, not moving images. The reader supplies the motion and the pace – the time element – that is taken for granted in movies. Comics exist outside of time (like a sculpture or painting) and in linear time (like a story or music) simultaneously – and it’s the reader who gets to choose which side he or she wants to inhabit. Screenwriters love the potential of graphic novels, both Tony and Harry recognized, because the medium allows them to realize the most outrageous, outlandish spectacles in a way that would be budgetarily impossible outside a movie directed by Jim Cameron.

The business of comics is no less difficult than the movie industry. Harry said that he gets 100 projects a month submitted to him. He might like five of them. And from there might contact the comics creators and pursue things further. Unlike the moving picture industries who rely on “writers for hire”, a business like Markosia relies on writer-artist teams. Writers hoping to see their stories realized, will need to partner up with an artist and create half a dozen sample pages to submit. Sending just a script to a comics publisher is a waste of postage (or bandwidth).

In the comics world too, that word “collaboration” appears, a word which many neophyte writers seem to fear so much. While there is more opportunity for fine-tuning and control in a graphic novel or comic, simply because the scale of the thing is smaller, it is still a collaboration – between the writer, artist, colorist, letterer, and publisher. As Tony said, “The artist is not there to do everything you say. They are not your art bitch.” And in truth, if you knew anything about art, wouldn’t you be doing it yourself anyway? Markosia Comics is also seeking collaborators in its business, people willing to establish a long-term relationship with a company. People thinking they can swoop in with their script, get an easy adaptation, then swoop out with something they can sell right to a studio are considered scoundrels of the worst kind.

The collaborative aspect of comics creation – no different from any other creative industry – thrives on trust. Harry said that Tony is an exceptional writer, but he has also come to be a friend and great deal of trust has built up over time. He knows that Tony will deliver consistently, and to a high standard. And Tony has never missed a deadline. You hear it again and again – and again, in comics – submitting your material on deadline is as important – or more – than its quality.

There’s not much money to be made in comics, that much was clear. Markosia and other indy publishers look to the long term for making profit – towards possible film/tv, digital, and print rights, for example. The revolution in online publishing has been great for comics. Readers who might have had to travel dozens of miles (hundreds in some parts of the world) find a comic store can download comics digitally from anywhere. Whereas a brick & mortar store might decide to keep only the hottest titles on the shelves, and then only for a short time, digital downloads are perpetually available. And, of course, there are no variations in color reproduction in a digital copy – the book you download looks as good as the one the creators uploaded to the publisher (as one obsessed with image quality, I especially like this aspect).

There are no “blockbuster” comics that are going to suddenly pay off everyone’s mortgage. Even writers working full time at DC or Marvel, Tony said, need second jobs. And the current industry is especially brutal. In DC’s restructuring of their entire superhero universe, many titles were ended or combined, and as a result, many writers were let go. Now those comics writers – veterans who have been at it for many years for many publishers – are now competing for jobs and attention – and a lot of them are probably dusting off those  brilliant ideas they’ve had sitting on the shelf for years. So competition is fierce, for a fairly tiny pie.

But nothing is going to keep some of us away. When I relocated to the UK, two of the books I packed in my bags and brought on the plane with me were Burne Hogarth’s adaptation of “Tarzan Of The Apes” (one of the best graphic novels ever made) and “Panel One: Comic Book Scripts by Top Writers”. That Tarzan adaptation was one of my prized possessions as a kid – and it still is. It introduced me to three life-long loves: visual storytelling, illustration, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. And when all’s said and  done, isn’t love why we’re in this in the first place?

 Neal Romanek

www.nealromanek.com
@rabbitandcrow

Four Nights In August Winners Announced at LSF 2011

Posted on: November 1st, 2011 by Chris Jones No Comments

After fourteen days of film production and 24 entries, we have a winner! Anil Rao, who shot Milethia Thomas’ screenplay, ‘Why?’ won the film challenge at the London Screenwriters’ Festival 2011 (pictured here are Anil and Milethia).

Judges comments included Eddie Hamilton (X-Men editor)…
‘Very cinematic, excellent use of camera, composition, editing and music… a tour de force, and for me the clear winner.’

Producer Jeremy Bolt (Resident Evil Franchise) commented…
‘Subtle and visually bold. It made you think and the boys performance was very believable ­ and understated. I also thought editing, cinematography and music were very strong.’

Congratulations to you both, and also to David Turner who finished joint first with Milethea in the Screenplay contest.

You can watch all 24 entries here…
http://www.livingspiritgroup.com/film-challenge-2011

Chris Jones