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London Screenwriters Festival

October 29, 2012

Horror is where it’s at

I’ve just got back from an exhausting but brilliant weekend at London Screenwriters Festival. It was my first time and a total hairpin bend of a learning curve. Here are just a few of the things I learnt.

1. I should have a crack at writing for radio.

There were loads of really inspiring sessions but the ‘Should you write for radio’ was unexpectedly motivating. The speakers, R4 commissioning editors Jeremy Howe and Caroline Raphael, writer Katie Hims and producer David Tyler argued that radio and feature film writing are more closely related than you might think.  The possibilities in radio drama are almost endless. Radio scripts are cheap to make: you could write a forty five minute drama set amidst the Battle of Trafalgar if the right sound effects can be found.  Jeremy Howe said the BBC is looking for more comedy and horror, which brings me onto…

2. I should write a horror script.

Low budget horror is the best way to get a feature film writing credit, period.  But…

3. You can do *almost*anything on a low budget with a bit of ingenuity.

Producers Signe Olynyk and Bob Shultz gave a really insightful case study on how they made their forthcoming movie ‘Below Zero’ for very little money. Set decorating including mixing food scraps with powder paint and daubing it on the walls of a disused slaughter house.

4. Hollywood execs and producers aren’t really that scary.

5. Pitching isn’t that scary.

The aforementioned Bob and Signe brought their Great American Pitchfest concept over here, to create the first Great British Pitchfest at the festival.  The concept is simple: a load of producers, execs and agents sit at rows of desks and pitchers queue up for a five minute speed pitch at whoever they want to talk to.  I was absolutely bricking it before hand, but it turned out to be rather fun.

6. The Full Monty was, at one point, going to be set in Detroit.

And other revelations. Hearing screenwriter Simon Beaufoy talk was one of the highlights of the festival, and he seems like a very nice man.

I can’t recommend the London Screenwriters Festival enough for anyone who writes scripts.  The LSF team did a fantastic job organising this year’s festival and I met so many cool people.

Anyway, better get back to that screenplay…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2012 5:52 pm

    Good reportage HJ. Thanks!

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