London Screenwriters' Festival

Archive for the ‘Storytelling’ Category

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

The Comedy Broadcasters: NOW What Do They Want?

Posted on: October 28th, 2011 by Lucy V Hay No Comments

While everyone was swooning at the feet of Edgar Wright this afternoon, I was in an adjacent room at a superb, informative discussion about the state of British tv comedy, called The Comedy Broadcasters: NOW What Do They Want?, hosted by Paul Bassett-Davies. Guests included Mark Talbot of Hat Trick and writer-producer Jeff Atkinson and Chris Sussman, comedy commissioning executive at the BBC.

Paul started by apologizing for the lack of women on the panel. The good part of the story is that the female member of the panel couldn’t attend because she’s very busy with a project in production. Since there’s such an emphasis on pitching at the Screenwriters’ Festival, Paul opened by asking the producers present what they are thinking when a writer comes to them with a pitch. The first, universal answer was “Is it funny?” You would think that would go without saying, but apparently not. In my case, the simple and obvious often eludes me. It’s nice to be reminded. The rules for comedy pitching – and indeed writing – are no different from drama. Producers are looking for a page turner. Is there a character that they really want to know about. Writing comedy is more than “just writing jokes” and they said it was easy to spot when somone was just trying to do “funny” without a character or a compelling situation to back it up.

I’ve already heard several speakers today talk about the importance of finding and adhering to your own voice. Again, comedy is no different. Jeff Atkinson said that in Britain, we are lucky to have writers who have maintained a clear voice and that it was important not to lose that. There’s a certain amount of faith and courage that it takes to stick to that original voice – especially when writers are so eager to please producers. But the faith that you believe in what you are presenting really shines through, it would seem. Jeff Atkinson has been working with Jo Brand’s “Getting On” and cited that as a prime example of a show that has something to say first of all, a unique personal voice (Jo Brand did once work as a nurse, like her series character). That conviction, combined with personal experience, and in Jo’s case talent and real experience, produces something quite memorable.

How does a comedy writer get their work to these guys (and others like them)? The BBC looks at scripts almost exclusively through production companies. So if you want to pitch a BBC series, hook up with a production company first. 25% of their comedy material is developed in house, but even these are likely to be farmed out to production companies once they’re fully developed. Another advantage of going to a production company instead of the BBC is that if the Beeb says no, that production company can always go to someone else. Writers can often approach production companies themselves. Mark Talbot said that Hat Trick’s policy is that they never read unsolicited manuscripts – but not really. Officially, most UK companies do not read unsolicited work, but the truth is they probably do, if you approach them in the right way. It was also repeated that, from a producers point of view, a submission from an agent is no guarantee of quality. An agent will not get you a commission. You will do it. But when the deal has to be made and money comes into the picture, that’s when having an agent is essential – and when it will be no problem finding one.

It’s a boom time potentially for British comedy now, especially with Sky putting so much money into comedy. There was some disagreement on the panel about the value of online content as a calling card for writers. Some said you should never write for free – there’s always a way to monetize it. Others said it was a useful investment if what you had was really going to attract attention. There was a consensus that there is a new kind of writer coming down the pike – especially as transmedia/cross-platform content takes greater hold. Don’t be shackled by traditional restraints, was the message. Don’t self edit.


Neal Romanek

Announcement: LSF Advanced Mentor Programme Candidates

Posted on: October 23rd, 2011 by Lucy V Hay No Comments

Last week The LSF Advanced Mentor Programme was announced: delegates were invited to apply for a script workshop or “Lab” with either Linda Aronson (Non-Linear & Multi-protagonist); David Reynolds (Family Audiences) or Gub Neal (TV Drama). We had nearly 50 entries for just a few places in each Script Lab and as ever, my readers & I had some difficult choices to make!

Without further ado then and in no particular order, here are the LUCKY participants and their scripts who will take part in the Script Labs, which will happen during the festival next weekend:


Nell Denton, THE JAZZ TSAR





David Gilhooly, ROUNDABOUT


Darrin Grimwood, MYTHOS.



Julia Andersen, THE LEFT HAND

Nick Horwood, GURK THE SLAYER.

 Norah Henderson, CHUBB & PETER KING


 Sophie Petzal, SANCTIONED

Dominic Carver, WHITE KNIGHT

Tom Kerevan, WRECKERS

Paul Goetzee, OUT ON A LIMB

Steve Turnbull, MONSTERS.

Richard Wheildon, I AM YOU

Many, many thanks to all who entered and especially to those who didn’t make it through *this time* – all the entrants demonstrated impressive CVs and packages (ooo er, missus) and for them and indeed any other interested parties, here’s a brief overview of the pile:

Looking Out For Linda. The entrants submitting for Linda Aronson’s workshop were the most hotly contested, plus this was a VERY strong bunch indeed. There was some fantastic risk-taking in terms of storytelling, with ingenius methods of breaking up the narrative and character introduction. However, some ideas/premises were quite similar, meaning there was literally a hair’s breadth between applications at times and quite a lot of soul-searching for our readers. The scripts and writers that often made it through in this section were those with strong visual flair and that elusive “je ne se quois” in terms of grabbing the reader’s attention via an unusual, intriguing or shocking hook in the first instance.

Remembering the (Family) Audience. Bizarrely, sexual nudity, drunkenness, swearing and general bloodshed played a major part in many of the David Reynolds’ submissions. Despite Reynolds  being responsible for the likes of Finding Nemo, there was a dearth of talking animals, fish or supernatural elements like friendly ghosts which the readers predicted at the beginning of sifting the pile. Here the scripts and writers that made it through usually demonstrated a child-like charm or tone seen in the likes of Roald Dahl (even if there were no children in it); the gothic overtones of Tim Burton or an important element of family life, ie. Christmas, birthday parties or fantasy stories.

Identity Crisis. The TV scripts were some of the most accomplished in the pile, both on the page and in terms of previous development, but some premises *felt* quite familiar, especially with reference to existing stories and/or series. Others had a bit of genre crisis, making them difficult to place in the schedules writers claimed they were suited to. The scripts that made it through this round were those with a strong identity, with writers who had managed to visualise their story worlds not only in the script, but in the production bundle.

Once again, many thanks to ALL who entered and to the mentors for making this initiative possible, I hope to see ALL of you at some point during the festival!

Positive & Negative Deadlines by Michelle Goode

Posted on: October 23rd, 2011 by Lucy V Hay No Comments

Deadlines: “The latest time or date by which something should be completed.”

Deadlines. We have all come up against them at some point or other, be it a school assignment or a bill payment. But when it comes to writing it can take on two forms: professional and personal.

Professional deadlines will inevitably be important. If you’re contracted to complete a draft by a certain date, you’d be wise to do so. If you work as a script reader or editor, you’ll also have deadlines you will need to stick to lest you upset your clients.
However, as writers we also set ourselves personal goals and these can take on two forms: positive and negative.

Positive deadlines:

  • I’ll write each evening after dinner for at least half an hour
  • I’ll spend an hour each weekend reading writing-related literature
  • I’ll complete my short script by the end of the week
  • I’ll get this draft sent off to a script reader by the end of the month
  • I’ll get this feature script finished in time to enter the XYZ competition

These sorts of deadlines are fabulous – you’re positively reinforcing the need to be proactive and the art of dedication. You’re not being unrealistic and you’re training yourself to work within limited time-frames. Give yourself a pat on the back!

Negative deadlines

  • If I don’t get short-listed for a competition by the end of the year I’ll give up entering them
  • If [3 x production companies] give this feature script a pass then I will put it in the bin
  • If I don’t get paid work by by next birthday I will give up writing altogether

The “if” deadlines. Dangerous territory… By giving yourself these sorts of deadlines you are setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s like basing your career on chance and superstition.

So, what if those production companies “passed” on your script but gave encouraging feedback? Readers need to be harsh in their judgement when it comes to sifting through the spec/competition pile, but that doesn’t mean they don’t see potential and it doesn’t mean that, with a few revisions, your script wouldn’t have the chance of being given a “consider” or a “recommend”. Anything is possible if you work at it.

We all get frustrated when things don’t go our way, but if you are passionate about becoming a writer it’s essential you keep going and keep positive. Rejection is a big part of being a writer; for amateurs and professionals alike. It’s impossible to give yourself a deadline to succeed, because success comes in many shapes and forms and it takes time.

At the beginning of 2010 I decided I would be really organised and have a cork board with a sheet of paper for each month, onto which I’d write deadlines and enter as many competitions as I could. I wrote a bit but months passed, life got in the way (y’know, houses to be bought and decorated and all that) and guess what? The cork board remained empty. For the whole year. I only entered three initiatives. Rubbish, right? No. Sure, I felt like I’d let myself down given the big plans I’d made, but I realised that I had still achieved a lot throughout the year and that there would be more opportunities ahead. Sometimes you just have to get over your shortcomings and appreciate what you do achieve, however small a step it is on your journey.

If you feel yourself starting to think of those dangerous “if + negative” deadlines, turn them into positives by changing the “if” to “I’ll aim to” and the negative to a positive; “If I don’t manage it I’ll + positive”. So instead of “If [3 x production companies] give this feature script a pass then I will put it in the bin”, you can re-evaluate this as “I’ll aim to get my script to 3 x production companies. If they all pass on it I will get more feedback, re-work it and then try again”.

The London Screenwriter’s Festival will leave you feeling educated, rejuvenated, energised and raring to get going as fast as your writing/typing hands will allow. You will be setting yourself challenges and goals. Setting yourself personal deadlines will help you keep focussed, but you must remember not to set negative deadlines; only positive ones. And if things don’t go entirely to plan, allow yourself to re-evaluate your deadlines and don’t be too hard on yourself.


Michelle Goode is a script reader, editor and writer. Trained in script reading and proofreading/copy-editing, Michelle has read for The London Screenwriter’s Festival and Hollywood-based Screenplayreaders and also offers her services to individual clients via her script reading service Writesofluid at Read her blog here and follow her on Twitter here.

What Not To Write by Ellin Stein

Posted on: October 19th, 2011 by Lucy V Hay 3 Comments

Between working one-on-one with writers as a script consultant and working in the development departments of off-Hollywood companies like Miramax and Zoetrope, I’ve read quite a few scripts. While their virtues are all different, the same mistakes come up over and over again.

This list will probably be familiar ground to anyone who’s ever taken a screenwriting course and these problems obviously occur most often in scripts by inexperienced writers. But not always – you’d be surprised how often they turn up in scripts submitted by top agents.

Reading a script is a bit like getting in a car with an unfamiliar driver. If you set off smoothly and the driver seems to know what he or she is doing, you’ll relax and enjoy the ride. But if within five minutes the car stalls out, you’re thrown forward by sudden braking, and the driver swerves to escape a collision, you’re going to stay tense through the whole trip. As a writer, you want to encourage the perception that you are in full control of your medium so the reader assumes you know what you’re doing and stays receptive. I don’t believe in prescriptive formulas for screenwriting, and I hope anyone reading this will remember rules were meant to be broken, but avoiding these common pitfalls will encourage the reader to approach your script in a state of expectation, as opposed to dread.

1) NO LOOKING, NO NODDING, NO ENTERING, NO EXITING. Many writers don’t bother to hone the interstitial business, the paragraphs between dialogue. In fact, every word you write is a chance to show the reader you can create dramatically compelling narrative that pulls us into the story and makes us want to keep reading. Don’t use the business to describe meaningless action like walking or glancing, unless it reveals character or sets up a significant development to come. Nodding does not reveal character – give the character a line so we know why they’re agreeing. Similarly, why tell us someone enters? If they speak in a scene, they’re obviously there. On the other hand, “John enters the room, unaware that his coat is on fire,” will keep us reading.

2) DON’T SOUND LIKE A MEMO. A variation on the above. Make sure your writing in the interstitial paragraphs is involving. So, “as John comes into the living room, everyone else falls silent. He opens the closet door, then steps back in horror – there’s a moldering body inside” is fine. “John enters. He walks over to the closet and opens the door. He notices a body inside” while accurate, will send us to sleep.

3) DON’T BE TOO FLOWERY. At the same time, don’t try to be overly poetic or “literary”, like this line I’ll always remember for the wrong reasons (from a script sent in by a big agency): “the moon chases its orbit across the sky.” You want to set the scene without being overly descriptive but at the same time give us any significant or telling detail. Show your talent for dramatization by describing characters and scenes in pithy, vivid prose.

4) NO TREADING WATER LINES. Like the interstitial paragraphs, dialogue must pull off the trick of sounding naturalistic while in fact being highly crafted. But it’s possible for dialogue to be too naturalistic. You have very little room to tell your story, so every line needs to count. Make sure it needs to be said, and at that particular moment, for a reason. Don’t have characters saying something just to have something to say. It happens all the time in life, but this is art. Not that every bit of dialogue has to be laden with significance, but every line should tell us something about how the character feels, or wants other people to think he feels, or should advance the story. Of course, it’s all right for a character to say things like “really?” or “ummm” if you want to make the point that they’re kind of a boring person without anything interesting to say, or that in these particular circumstances they want to say something innocuous.

5) NO PASSIVE VOICE. Writing 101. “The envelope is torn open” hardly has the dramatic impact of “he rips the envelope open”.

6) BE SPECIFIC. “Maybe some laundry on the floor”, “the action goes something like…”, “they discuss his trip”. You’re the writer, this is a universe you’re creating, so don’t leave it up to other people to fill in the blanks. The first draft will be the only place where what you say goes, so make the most of it

7) BUT NOT TOO SPECIFIC. Don’t direct. Even if you’re planning to direct the script yourself, even if you are a director who’s turned to writing, for purposes of the script you are only the humble writer. This means being very sparing with directions, both for the camera and for action. You make a story cinematic by revealing character through action, not by specifying camera angles or every little detail of what happens in the shot. Tell us what’s essential for moving the story along and leave out the rest. The director, if that ends up not being you, is going to ignore all your brilliant ideas anyway.

8) LET THE ACTORS DO THEIR JOB. By the same token, don’t tell us what the actors’ expressions should be, unless it’s not what we would expect, e.g. “as the coffin is lowered, there’s a faint smile on her face”. Write the scene properly so we know what the characters are feeling and then trust your actors and director.

9) NO KEEP OUT NOTICES. There’s no need to put copyright notices, “Registered with WGA”, “an original screenplay”, etc. on your cover page. It goes without saying you’ve taken all the necessary precautions, and to stress the fact evokes a high school notebook with “Private property! Do not open!” on it. You want to give the impression you have no need for such warnings because if anyone were to be so stupid as to try to rip you off, your lawyer, manager, and agent would be on them like a ton of bricks. In any case, your problem is far more likely to be getting potential financiers to read through your script to the end rather than their being so enamored of it they want to rip it off.

10) TYOPS. No one’s going to pass on a totally brilliant script because of a few spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, but they don’t help matters. For one thing, typos create an impression of carelessness, and if you can’t be bothered to care passionately about every word in your script, why should anyone else? Secondly, grammatical errors or poor usage (unless intentional in the dialogue) suggest you are not really in command of your craft. As noted above, you don’t have to be a great literary stylist, but if you don’t seem to know when sentences just don’t sound right, the reader will lose confidence in you (I know Quentin Tarantino is dyslexic and the original script for Reservoir Dogs was far from a model of spelling and grammatical correctness and was written on the back of a cocktail napkin or something, but I’ll bet Lawrence Bender cleaned it up before it went out. It’s also true that many producers, in the tradition of Sam Goldwyn, wouldn’t know incorrect usage if it fell on them, but development staffs tend to attract English majors, who care about these things).

Also, while imperfect punctuation is hardly going to undermine your credibility, not putting question marks at the end of questions in the dialogue or putting question marks where they don’t belong suggests you’re not really hearing how the dialogue will sound when it’s spoken as opposed to written. Similarly, the grammar police will not be monitoring your comma use but how you use commas indicates you’re hearing (or not) how a line will be phrased and you’re aware that actors need to breathe now and then. Finally, lots of exclamation points do not add dramatic excitement.

The problems I’ve mentioned are all very easy to avoid and it doesn’t require an enormous amount of talent to do so. Unfortunately, getting them right is no substitute for the ability to bring a story to life. The perceptive reader will have noticed I’ve avoided dealing with the big issues, like creating believable, involving characters who get up off the page and walk around, or tight, fast-moving structures. Those things are hard to get right. It’s more like the difference between showing up for a job interview in a torn T-shirt and dirty jeans or looking sharp. It doesn’t really affect how qualified you are, but it never hurts to make a good first impression.


Find Ellin on Twitter here and via her website and blog, here.

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:


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.”


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


FATHER TO THE MAN by Liz Holliday


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 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
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
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
CAUSE & EFFECT by Jordan Sheehy
THEM & US by Daniel Hill
TWO FACES by Joseph Ackroyd
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

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!

Why YOUR story IS important and you SHOULD tell it…

Posted on: September 28th, 2011 by Chris Jones No Comments

My good friend and film maker Oli Lewington posted an interesting article on his blog yesterday, posing the question ‘does it really matter if people do not see your work?’ The main thrust being (and I paraphrase) ‘in the act of creating art, is an audience important? Does in fact longing for an audience impact on creative integrity negatively?’

I have never seen myself as an artist.

I remember giving a lecture at Oxford University when I made this statement and there were audible gasps from the audience who clearly felt that film making IS a profoundly important artform. I ended up in a long and heated debate with a very serious young woman who was determined to make me see that I was an artist.

My position is simple.

I am a storyteller. By definition that means I need an audience.

And therefore, on a deep and profound level, yes it does matter if my work is seen or not.

This conversation goes to the heart of the art versus commerce debate that rages so fiercely in European cinema.

As a storyteller, the audience is my boss.

If I were an artist, my ego, my id, my subconscious etc. would be my boss.

Of course when you allow the audience to dominate, you end up with empty and shallow stories that ironically audiences will avoid.

And when you allow art to dominate, you end up with pretentious, impenetrable and boring nonsense.

So for me the trick is this. Allow my artistic instincts to inspire me, give me a unique spin on a story or situation, then get up close and personal with the audience. I always try to respect their intelligence, demand their attention and continually attempt to surprise, enthral and captivate them from second to second.

Anyone who has heard me speak about the importance of ‘stories’ to our culture, our psyche, our global health, will know that I passionately believe that what we contribute to the world is of significant importance.

Storytelling is fundamental to being human and helps us understand the world and get through our tougher days.

It’s easy to sweep popular culture and ‘movies that move us’ to one side, to make way for more ‘artistic’ work.

But I say to all storytellers and film makers, whatever genre you work in, be it drama, horror, comedy, sci-fi… don’t be fooled. What you do and offer IS important, IS significant and DOES require an audience.

And remember, that same audience also NEEDS YOU AND YOUR STORY!

If you are a storyteller, it is your duty to tell your stories. It’s an ancient and sacred tradition, so don’t underestimate its power or trivialise the act.

Keep your eye on the ball, tell the story you need to tell with passion, brevity, integrity and push your craft to the edge… and ironically, you know the critics may start to hail you as an artist. Oh and remember to come to the London Screenwriters’ Festival in October! (get 10% discount with code CHRISJONESBLOG)

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author