London Screenwriters' Festival

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Four Nights In August Contest … And We Have A Winner!

Posted on: October 7th, 2011 by Lucy V Hay 5 Comments

And here it is, what we’ve all been waiting for… not least the filmmakers who’ve been on tenterhooks all day to get going on the 4 Nights In August Filmmaking Challenge! [Details/Sign up here]

And somewhat surprisingly – for us, too! – we have TWO WINNERS.

That’s right, we just couldn’t decide between these two… They were THAT good. Here they are:

Dave Turner with EVERYTHING YOU NEED.

LSF’s director Chris Jones said of this script: “The challenge was always going to be moving an audience in a single page and that’s what Dave’s script does. It also remarks on the violence without becoming political and manages to evoke a loving calm amidst violent chaos. I can’t wait to see to the movies made from this script.”

AND…

Milethia Thomas with WHY?

One of the other judges, Final Draft’s Joe Mefford, said of WHY? “The writer did a nice job of setting a scene in just one page. Short scripts are too often tilted toward too much exposition or too much dialogue.  This writer did a great job of balancing dialogue and action. Also, the writer did a good job of telling the character’s story and not just using the character to mouth his or her personal opinions.”

Well done, Dave & Milethia! You win a free ticket to London Screenwriters Festival; mentoring from script legend Barrie Keefe; £125 each; a year’s subscription of Moviescope Magazine; a copy of The Knowledge; Final Draft ScriptXpert Analysis worth $300 and of course, most **importantly**: a lovely shiny award!!!

What’s brilliant about this result is this is going to create a REALLY interesting dynamic to The Filmmaking Challenge now – who will choose each film, what will they do with it, how will each turn out… And which story will win?? ‘Cos there REALLY WILL be only one winner in that contest!!!

I can safely say this has been the MOST DIFFICULT scriptwriting contest I have been involved in. The quality was SO high it just melted my brain. I’ve written to everyone on the shortlist to thank them for their entries and give them some brief feedback on what I LOVED about their work – ‘cos I really did love all of them!!!

And WELL DONE to each and every entrant of the Script Challenge, you really made me and my reading team – not to mention the judges – work our SOCKS OFF. Kudos!!! Feeling very emotional right now!

So now… are you ready? FILMMAKERS, GO MAKE THOSE FILMS…

Download them both here and make your choice!

GO GO GO!!!!

4 Nights In August Script Competition – Shortlist Announced!

Posted on: October 5th, 2011 by Lucy V Hay 2 Comments

 

There has been major deliberation going on here at LSF Towers – not to mention some screaming, crying and general fisticuffs as to WHO goes through from the longlist to the coveted shortlist of The 4 Nights In August  Screenplay Challenge.

As with the creation of the longlist, yet MORE hard decisions had to be made.  However due to the quality of the entries we were not able to whittle it down to  the final 5 as expected, so instead we have a final 12!

Without further ado then and in alphabetical order ONLY:

BIRTHDAY by Michelle Golder

BURNING BOOKS by Steve Irwin

EVERYTHING YOU NEED by Dave Turner

FATHER TO THE MAN by Liz Holliday

FOUR DAYS ERE THE FESTIVAL OF DEACON LAURENCE IN AUGUSTUS by Sara Atiiyan

I WITNESS by Gareth Turpie

IN HEAD by Jamie Wolpert

LOST & FOUND by Mikey Jackson

RIOTERS AT THE GATES by Jon Cronin & Anna Carmichael

THE GAME by Terence Barry

WHY? by Milethia Thomas

YOU by Dominic Brancaleone

What’s great about this shortlist is that each entry is very different in its own way, presenting very intricate stories that reflect the complex issues behind the riots. We have entries here full of light and shade; nostalgia; even comedy. The styles of storytelling too are very different, with dialogue and non-dialogue scripts; talking heads and even almost “war reporting” cinema-verite styles to name a few. Several have no human or animal characters in whatsoever.

The longlisted entrants who did not get through to the shortlist this time however must not despair – they placed in the top 16% of the contest, no mean feat at all when we had so many entries. And they have no idea how close to fisticuffs Team LSF REALLY came…

Don’t forget you can see inside the spec pile as a whole for the contest by clicking here.  And here’s a blog about coping with rejection for anyone who needs it. And stay away from windows for at least 24 hours! ; )

NEXT ANNOUNCEMENT: The Winner!!! Coming VERY soon… Watch this space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Nights In August – A Look In The Spec Pile

Posted on: October 4th, 2011 by Lucy V Hay 6 Comments

A small change of plan – whilst we’re waiting for the longlist to get whittled down, we’re going to give you an overview of the script pile and how it looked to our readers during the Four Nights In August 1 Page Screenplay Challenge.

We had a MASSIVE 241 entries, a HUGE response! To put into perspective, our previous 1 page contest for April’s Comedy Festival, “Laugh A Minute” had 97 entries. Even our Short Script Challenge for last year’s LSF main event couldn’t come close at 115 entries.

First, the boring stuff. As with our Laugh A Minute contest, there were lots of people NOT READING THE BRIEF! Shockingly, quite a few people submitted scripts in files other than the requested PDFs, with .doc the favourite. In addition, some entries were submitted that were LONGER than one page. For some entries, it was obvious what had happened – a line or two had “fallen off” the page to the next when converted to PDF, which was no big deal. But several were MUCH longer, even up to three pages!

Interestingly, the number of female entrants was a little lower in this contest than Laugh A Minute or The LSF Short Script Challenge last year, with women appearing to make up approximately 60% of 4 Nights In August entrants. In contrast, it was a rough half/half split in the previous two contests.

Very few scripts were actually CALLED “Four Nights In August” (though there was no reason they *had* to be). Some titles were weird and wacky; others poignant. Probably the most frequent titles that appeared (other than the expected “Riot”) were variations of words and phrases like SHATTER, FRAGMENT, LONDON’S BURNING, MOB, LIKE FATHER LIKE SON, FRACTURE, BLAME, LOOT, CONSEQUENCE and CHANCE. Interestingly, not one entry was called I PREDICT A RIOT! Plenty of people used the Martin Luther King quote on their title pages however, “A riot is the language of the unheard”.

Following yesterday’s announcement of the longlist and the flagging up of “infeasible” scripts, a couple of people have emailed or messaged me to ask why this notion was not included in the rules. The main reason: ‘cos it wasn’t a rule! As with all script contests, “feasibility” was just ONE element scripts were scored on, so inevitably some scripts that scored low for feasibility still went through to the second round, whilst others that scored highly did not. We announced the Filmmaking Challenge at the same time as the screenwriting contest so scribes could have all the facts on what was happening next, but it was not a requirement, since there would obviously be *some* leeway for directors and teams to “re-imagine” events in the story… BUT it was also worth remembering we wanted the winning script to be available to every filmmaker, “no-budget” or not – and not just professionals with access to lots of equipment and contacts. In addition, I also asked my readers to consider whether “re-imagining” stories for safety’s sake  as well as individuals’ inevitable personal interpretations would end up with filmmakers making completely different films from what was intended on the page of the winning script. It was a VERY difficult balance and obviously my readers could only use their own judgement on all of this, but it was not something they or I took lightly.

In addition to “feasibility” then, the readers scored for the usual such as presentation, story/structure and “other” (sometimes visuals/arena was noted here, but also dialogue, in case of non-dialogue scripts – and there were many, given the brief). As ever, the usual issues with format raised their ugly heads, particularly an over-reliance on bold and capital letters for “impact”. Almost without exception these actually interfered with the “flow” of the read, so it really is worth thinking about. Check out my comprehensive Format 1 Stop Shop here or take a look at Danny Stack’s “screenwriting bullet” on format he posted recently, here.

We also looked at how the reader was affected by the message, tone or “point” of each script, noted “impact” on the score sheet. Given the seriousness of the riots, we received more scripts than we anticipated of a comedic nature, which was a pleasant surprise – and some were genuinely amusing or even laugh out loud funny. Inevitably however, the vast majority of the scripts were very serious in tone with specific moral messages or statements about society. The readers tended to feel the stand-out entries were the ones that managed to show some kind of contrast or balance to their stories and the complex issues behind the riots. No mean feat in just one page!

Many scripts shared essentially the SAME STORY, despite being written by different, unconnected people – as flagged up in advance by (non-judge) Linda Aronson in her blog post on coming up with ideas for the contest. This is of course made it even HARDER for individual scripts to stand out in the pile. There were no less than FOUR stories or story elements that appeared multiple times:

1) Young people set up *as* looters, only for the final reveal to show them as part of the riot clean up.

2) People you would not expect looting – the elderly were a firm favourite, followed by the police.

3) People criticising parents for not raising their children “right” – only to see their OWN child partaking in the riots and looting.

And finally:

4) Interestingly, a small but significant number of entrants wrote very visual scripts from the POV of an inanimate objec in the riots, such as weapons and aerosol cans, but also household items helping the clean up operation, ie. mops, buckets, etc.

This also backs up my notion of what I call “zeitgeist scripts” – screenplays written by unconnected people, at a specific time, usually because of something that’s happened in the news or a particularly popular show or film doing well. So next time you’re tempted to think someone’s “nicked” your idea, remember this!

4 Nights In August Script Comp – Longlisted Entries!!

Posted on: October 3rd, 2011 by Lucy V Hay 6 Comments

So we had a whopping 241 of entries for the Four Nights In August Competition! To say we were surprised is an understatement. Traditionally, script calls with very specific and difficult briefs like ours usually attract a small amount of entries and our readers initially predicted 50 – 60 entries, yet we received well in excess of this with a WEEK to go before the deadline. Amazing!

As ever, we’ll give you a look inside the spec pile, but first we will announce the top placing entries and their writers. All of the scripts below made it through the first round, gaining a second read. In NO particular order then:

BROOM by Dan Rogers
YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY by Debbie Moon
CHOICE by Gavin Harrison
SHATTERED by Lewis Swift
LOST AND FOUND by Mikey Jackson
OLD NEWS by Nicholas Buss
THE CHOICE by Kristi Barnett
AMY By Louisa Fielden
BURNING BOOKS by Steve Irwin
IN HEAD by Jamie Wolpert
KALAMATA by Hugh Prior
YOU by Dominic Brancaleone
PIRANHA by Kevin Pacey
SPLIT by Alexander Roy
HANNAH & GEORGE by Chip Tolson
FRACTURED by Lynne O’ Sullivan
BIRTHDAY by Michelle Golder
KIDS LIKE US by Martin Thelwell
WASTE by Bev Prosser
WORD ON THE STREET by Christian Hayes
OPPORTUNITY NOX by Stephen Atherton & Ian Gilbertson
WHY? By Milethia Thomas
EVERYTHING YOU NEED by Dave Turner
AFTERSHOCK by Christina Tring
BULLSEYE by Tom Kwei
CONSEQUENCE by Anne Marie Fry
4 NIGHTS IN AUGUST by Mark Hodges
FATHER TO THE MAN by Liz Holliday
THE ARROGANCE OF YOUTH by Sheila McGill
CAUSE & EFFECT by Jordan Sheehy
THEM & US by Daniel Hill
TWO FACES by Joseph Ackroyd
THE FLAME OF MY ANGER by Bella Nova
THE GAME by Terence Barry
RIOTERS AT THE GATES by Jon Cronin & Anna Carmichael
CHOCOLATE by Lizzie Mason
I WITNESS by Gareth Turpie
HOME INVASION by Christopher Bevan
FOUR DAYS ERE THE FESTIVAL OF DEACON LAWRENCE IN AUGUSTUS by Sara Atayiian

Please don’t be despondent if your script didn’t make it through the first round. As ever, there were some hard decisions to be made – I know competition readers always say that, but that’s ‘cos it’s TRUE! But don’t take my word for it, here’s some “insider info” from our readers about scripts that did not make it past the first round, yet they still loved:

Asib Akram, YESTERDAY’S NEWS. Our reader said, “I would have loved to have put this one through, but the petrol bombs just made it infeasible for the second phase of the contest, the filmmaking challenge.”

Karena Marie Satchwell, AMATEURS. Our reader said, “Brilliantly executed dialogue, the transitions from character to character were fab – but with so much smashing of property, it was just unsuitable for the filmmaking challenge.”

J Mockridge, OUTSIDE LOOKING IN. Our reader said, “A great idea with an interesting twist, but I was unsure of how it could be “translated” by MANY filmmaking teams without making an essentially identical film each time.”

Nikki Edwards, FRAGMENTS. Our reader said, “This one stood out for its simple yet effective structure… However this script scored low in feasibility too due to the need to break into a car AND break a shop window. Much of the first half of the script would have needed to be modified by filmmakers.”

Christopher Schiller, STAY HOME, STAY SAFE & Harry Loney, TOCK. Our reader said, “They both fell down on feasibility, but they both stood out for me because I really enjoyed them.” (Sometimes it really is as simple as that).

These are just a handful of the great scripts we received – and perhaps already you may see why your entry did not make it past the first round, as “feasibility” for no-budget filmmaking teams was key to ensure scripts progressed … If not however, don’t worry: I will be composing an in-depth “look in the spec pile” as usual later in the week, so keep your eyes peeled!

Team LSF are working very hard now to whittle down these longlisted 39 entries a shortlist and our next announcement is just days away. Good luck!

Success stories from the festival

Posted on: September 20th, 2011 by Chris Jones 1 Comment

Henry placed 2nd out of 115 entries

It’s said you have to “speculate to accumulate” – and this certainly seems true in building your career as a screenwriter and/or filmmaker. It seems there are companies, initiatives and organisations everywhere just begging for your hard-earned cash, promising you training and opportunities in return. But are they worth it?

We can’t speak for the others, but we think London Screenwriters Festival is! We subscribe to the notion that we’re “all in this together” – and we designed the festival, its ethos and everything within it (including the schedule) on the basis of what WE’D like to have access to, as well! We got tired of expensive courses and schemes that offered time-limited opportunities to their delegates; we wanted to create a whole NETWORK for ours, not just in our private group but across social media and blogs, where people could meet and foster creative partnerships for years to come. The motto of London Screenwriters Festival is “inspire, educate, connect” on this basis.

But don’t take OUR word for it. There have been many success stories from last year’s festival already. We asked Henry Fosdike, the second place winner of our Short Script Challenge 2010 his thoughts on LSF and what he’s been up to since the festival…

“… Prior to the LSF, I hadn’t entered many competitions.” Henry says, “I was just starting my final year at Bournemouth University studying Scriptwriting for Film and Television and had decided that entering contests could be beneficial to my writing as it’s all feedback at the end of the day.”

Henry entered his dark short THE DECISION into our contest: “The original concept was for the job interview scenario to involve killing someone, a bit like those tough and violent movies that Asia have become so well known for (Battle Royale, Oldboy, etc.) The final ending only came as I was already writing it when I had a, “Oh hang on!” moment where everything suddenly came together.”

LSF’s readers noted Henry’s lean style of scene description and economical dialogue, scoring it highly on nearly all counts, meaning his script was number 2 out of a whopping 115 entries. “Naturally there was a tad of annoyance when I realised I was only one script away from winning,” Henry admits, “but that soon passed!” Henry won a ticket to the festival and was personally congratulated on stage by TV screenwriting legend Tony Jordan.

But that wasn’t it for THE DECISION, for new film production team White Tiger Films picked it up shortly after the festival, gaining Henry his first production credit. Director Trev Walsh and Henry got together after both posting on LSF Festival Organiser Lucy V’s “Film Shorts Club”, a registry of people interested in collaborating on short film. “The fact it was runner up in LSF’s contest peaked my interest,” says Trev. Like the readers at LSF however, Trev is complimentary of Henry’s writing – and his understand of logistics: “It was the writing itself and the fact that logistically it could be short with a tiny budget and in a great location I already had access to.”

There were lots to learn on the journey from the page to the screen for both Henry and Trev. “I learned a hell of a lot through the production process, a real baptism by fire.” Trev explains, “There were inevitable mistakes made during filming, but overall I am pleased with how it came together in the edit.” Henry agrees. “There wasn’t much editing of it that needed to be done, but there were a couple of slight changes for logistical purposes, including changing the gun from a pistol to a shotgun. It’s all the better for it.”

So what’s next for Henry and Trev? “Having just graduated, I am currently spending my days writing all sorts – a novel, a number of screenplays and a play. When I’m happy with the back catalogue, I shall go about trying to find an agent and hopefully go from there!” Says Henry. It’s more of the same for Trev, too: “I am currently in production on an ambitious short film with huge production values, Big Pink, which is aimed at Cannes 2012.” Big Pink was even written by LSF’s Short Script Challenge winner, Laurence Timms!

So was it all worth it? Henry thinks so – and recommends the festival itself, too. “I got some great tips from a wide variety of speakers – Linda Aronson being my personal favourite – and a chance to meet new people who are all just as passionate about writing as I am! Some of these people have become firm friends so I’d definitely recommend it to anyone pondering whether or not to attend.”

Laugh A Minute – We Have A Winner!

Posted on: March 23rd, 2011 by Lucy V Hay 4 Comments

First off, many thanks for all your entries – all NINETY SEVEN of them! There were entries from all over the UK and as far afield as Canada and the USA. Most followed standard spec format, as specified by the contest rules. There were still some curious variations: centered, underlined and/or bold dialogue seemed the biggest issue of those entries using the correct font (Courier) and otherwise OK format.  Stories included  supermarkets, family life, children, office life, baby sea lions, germs, fatherhood and God and Jesus even put in MULTIPLE appearances!

So without further ado, here is Team LSF’s Top 25 (in alphabetical order):

Allison Parker – DOMINOS
Amy Butterworth – JESUS AT THE DVLA
Andy Wooding & Mark Steele – THE KING’S SPEECH 2
Bernadette Groves – CLIFF
Charlie Boddington – JIM’LL FIX IT
Christiana Brockbank – ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS
Dylan Spicer – HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Elinor Perry Smith – GLORY HOLE
Graham Inman – SCENARIO
James Armstrong – AQUAPHOBIA
James Dwyer – PRAYERS ANSWERED
James Hickey – BAD DAD
Jared Kelly – BANANAS ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT
Jilly Gardiner – YELLOW ROSE
Joe Slack-Smith – MUSIC SELECTION
Keith Storrier – FATHERLY DATING TIPS # 1
Kulvinder Gill – THE DANGERS OF TWEETING
Pamela Jane Geddes – WHERE’S YOUR TEETH?
Paul McIntyre – FIRING A PIG OUT OF A CANON
Paul Nash – WHITECHAPEL
Paul Schofield – MAN’S BEST FRIEND
Robert Gately – GET THE HELL OFF
Rosie Mathieson – FUCKACIA
Sandy Nicholson – PRIVACY SETTINGS
Stephen Brown – SWAT

From this impressive list, the team had the VERY difficult task of selecting a top 6, which ended up being (in no particular order):

Rosie Mathieson – FUCKACIA
Amy Butterworth – JESUS AT THE DVLA
Christiana Brocklebank – ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS
Jilly Gardiner – YELLOW ROSE
Keith Storrier – FATHERLY DATING TIPS # 1
Paul McIntyre – FIRING A PIG OUT OF A CANNON

As you know, there are TWO winners of the Laugh A Minute Comp, so here they are:

Keith Storrier wins first prize for FATHERLY DATING TIPS # 1, so receives £50 and a free ticket to The London Comedy Festival in April. Keith’s one pager tells the story of a father who makes a CRINGE-MAKING faux pas when advising his daughter about meeting with a potential boyfriend. Team LSF described it as “laugh out loud funny” and “entirely plausible”.

and

“Highly Commended” is Jilly Gardiner for YELLOW ROSE, who receives a free ticket for the festival. Jilly’s script is about two hard-of hearing pensioners who go on a blind date together. Team LSF called it “amusing” and “sweet, yet sharp.”

Well done to both our winners – but also to the rest of our Top 25 and ALL WHO ENTERED. The contest totally went beyond our expectations in terms of entry volume and quality and that’s ALL down to you guys. We’re sorry we can’t provide feedback on the rest of the entries this year, but the festival is right around the corner – do you have your ticket yet?? Check out the blogs, Twitter and Facebook for the various discounts available.