Where to guv…?

P1020029I went along to a BBC Writersroom event at BBC North, Mediacity recently as part of the Manchester Literature Festival. Kate Rowland (creative director of the Writersroom) was in conversation with TV writer and playwright, Stephen Butchard (five daughters, Alwaysandeveryone, House of Saddam, Vincent). What struck me is that this writer, like many others found his champion, in this case Kate Rowland, who encouraged him and connected him to commissioning opportunities and he started out in another medium, theatre. Read more about his journey into writing here.

I guess this is just true of any kind of paid work at the moment – and it may mean that a lot of talent, particularly writers who are shy and unconnected won’t make it past putting their words on a page (if we even manage that!)

Here’s a round up of current opportunities where writers might get connected and find their champion:

  • The London Screenwriters Festival – dust down your 1 pagers, go network with peers and industry folk, learn and pitch your work. If you went last year or are a shooting people member you can get a discount on the £300 entry fee. Be quick the festival kicks off on 28th October 2011. (tax deductable i would imagine)
  • Cofilmic film festival inspiring comedy talent through film in Manchester on the 31st October and 1st November 2011
  • 23 days and counting down to submit to Bluecatscreenplay competition. Finish off that screenplay or dust down and repolish an existing one.
  • Apply for Channel 4’s screenwriting course for drama. Deadline 1st November.  You’ll need a screenplay, stage or radio play and a CV.
  • Write a high concept idea (synopsis and treatment) for an animation feature with the Story Circus Competition.  Deadline 15th November 2011.
  • Short Screenplay Challenge 2011. Deadline for entry 26th October 2011
  • Get inspiration from others on how its done by listening in to the Writer’s Guild Podcasts

PS Check the small print for all competitions – particularly if they ask you to assign any rights to them. Upto you if you do or your don’t. If you are not sure, find out more!

I had some recent success with a short film, Cote D’Azur, that i worked on – it cost next to nothing to make (less than £500 and in-kind BBC kit) – and next year thanks to the Andfestival championing it, it will be screened during the Cultural Olympiad 2012 at live sites and big screens. Amusing that whilst i never managed to get any tickets to the Olympics, this film has found itself a place centre stage. So – i would also recommend teaming up with filmmakers you trust getting out and making a film. Cote D’Azur started as a 1 page treatment that the BBC people liked and then when we went to the velodrome and met cyclists to people, it innovated into what it is today. Indeed it only came to life for me, interviewing the cyclists and their families, and its from these interviews that i created an audio script.

There are quite a few networks and forums where you can make connections and ideas happen: check out –

Shooting People – independent film network – worldwide with some local meet ups and online listings

Future Artists – Salford Based with connections worldwide

Filmonik – NW based independents, making and screening

Rocliffe Writing Forum – BAFTA supported writing forum to get your scripts showcased

NorthWest Filmmakers Network – Facebook group

NorthWest Women in the Creative Industries  Facebook group

If that’s not enough to keep people occupied – how about hosting your own pop up film festival.

Speaking of film screenings, i’ve got a new job, half an afternoon a week. I am really excited about it. Every Monday, starting next week I’ll be screening films as part of Open Cinema at Booth Centre for the homeless.

So if you are passionate about film culture and ensuring everyone can enjoy films too, consider donating. The cost of a couple of movie tickets and popcorn would go far. If you fancy the experience of understanding homelessness a bit more and raising money at the same time join the sponsored Sleepout on 25th November 2011. Other ways to donate of course, here.


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