London Screenwriters' Festival

So, What Do YOU Want?

Posted on: January 14th, 2011 by Lucy V Hay 2 Comments

Eastenders has got a lot of heat from fans for its cotdeath/baby swap storyline

So, we’re back! I had a blast at London Screenwriters Festival 2010 (read my account, here). We didn’t get *everything* right, sure, but we were learning on the job and the the festival was a big success, hence it returning this year – you can read speakers’ and delegates’ testimonials on the website here. We’ve got loads going on “behind the scenes” for LSF 2011 and you’re to be sure of some intriguing announcements in the near future.

At the moment we have a special deal going on – pay £24 a month in ten instalments, so you don’t have to shell out for your ticket all at once. Despite the various refund agreements in place, some people have said they’re still not sure about this; after all, what if we get a load of pants speakers or sessions people don’t want to go to?

But what’s brilliant about LSF I think is the ethos this is YOUR festival. As writers and filmmakers, you’re the people we want to talk to, connect with and inspire, because that’s what WE are too. So if you want to come to LSF, then why not help SHAPE it into the event you want?

Like you, I have LOTS of ideas of what could potentially make the “perfect” festival for me – so here are some of my suggestions for consideration to the likes of Chris Jones and David Chamberlain as they plot away in their cavern under Ealing Studios. If you like the sound of any of them, or have any suggestions of your own, then be sure to ADD THEM to the comments section here and make your voice heard! Let’s make OUR festival for 2011…


1) Fans vs Story Choices. In the last couple of years, thanks to the increasing use of social networks like Twitter and Facebook, we’ve seen the rise of fans challenging and changing the story choices made by writers and storyliners on the shows they love. Just recently, we’ve seen the furore over Eastenders and the cotdeath/baby swap storyline, plus we’ve seen fans go off the boil over the death of Ianto on Torchwood during “Children of Earth”. On the other end of the scale, fans have campaigned for cancelled shows to be reinstated or repeated, especially in America, proving to the networks certain shows do have fanbases after all. I would love to see a panel of working television writers discussing the nature of fandom – after all, without fans, no show could exist – and how much “power” fans should have “ideally”: how much is too much?

2) Successful Social Networking For Indie Film. Taking up the thread of social networking again, I would love to see a seminar or panel dedicated to successful models for building followings online for indie films. During the course of my own social networking for the likes of Deviation and of course The London Screenwriters’ Festival, I’ve seen much good advice on the likes of Mashable, but been very surprised to see little of it implemented, especially on Brit films. Instead I have seen many complaints from users – often fellow filmmakers – who say indie films offer boring updates or “spam them death”; on the other side of the scale, some indie film campaigns sink without a trace as they promise “not to bombard you with updates”! There must be a happy medium on this issue so indie films can take advantage of this fantastic, FREE, marketing tool.

3) Successful Social Networking For Writers. Social networking sites are often blasted as mere “procrastination”, but I happen to think they are VITAL in catapulting the amateur writer into the professional world. I often tell Bang2writers everything I have is due to the internet; as a single Mum, whilst I did work placements and worked for free when I could, it was my blog, “Write Here, Write Now” that got people’s attention. But when there are SO many blogs, so many tweeting writers, so many writers on Facebook, how can we use social networking to “stand out”? And why are so many blogs and accounts ignored or worse, considered a “bad advertisement” for a writer? I think a panel on considering the needs of the social networking world and how we “look” online could be a real eye-opener for writers.

4) The Psychological vs The A/Psychological: A Bestselling Novelist’s View. My ol’ mucker Julian Friedmann reckons us screenwriters should be writing novels as well as scripts and I totally agree with him. But moving “beyond” the image (the “A/Psychological”, if you like) and into the Psychological can be a daunting process for the screenwriter. After all, we’ve been training ourselves to use LESS prose, not more – and there are surprising elements to novel writing I never considered before attempting my own. With the success of Nanowrimo every year and so many scriptwriters confessing a desire to write prose, a look at the reality of WHAT gets on the page (rather than  just the “how”, the normal focus of such sessions it seems) I reckon this could be a real idea for LSF 2011.

5) Scriptreading Hell. End of the day, script readers and script editors are only human and have their pet peeves like anyone else. Whilst people might guess on story or beat choices – my now-legendary aversion to rape scenes as “beats” for example, I’ve harped on about it enough! – there are still errors writers make on a daily basis that alienate the reader RIGHT FROM PAGE ONE. Some of these errors are not errors at all, but calculated risks (like voiceover); others are based on seeing them way too much; others because the device in question has not been executed properly; others because said script, device, scene or page should BURN IN HELL. I would LOVE to get a bunch of script readers together with a bunch of hardcore writers who can take their scripts being put under the microscope like this before an audience, so we can really apply how a script reader might “see” a script, with real examples of real pages shone up on the big screen! (I figure this one would be a biiiiiiiig ask but could be really illuminating for all involved as well as the audience!).

So, like any of the above? Or would you rather have something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT? We can’t know ’til you tell us, so make sure you do…

2 Responses

  1. Peter says:

    Ideas for 2011.
    some sessions as mp3 so we can listen on ipods.
    Janice ran her session twice – perhaps others could as some sessions were so very full. The videos are great though.
    Progress reports – lots of people pitched at speed-pitching, be nice to have updates on those projects.
    Screening of a feature made by someone at the festival? Possibly a single different short film before each session. Five minutes watching a short wouldn’t hurt.

  2. Lucy says:

    Great stuff Pete, thanks for your input.

    Keep ‘em coming, folks!

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