Learning, opportunities, theatre, TV, Writing

The Stuff I Do (yippee)

Wonderful week last week, with lots of goodies coming at once.

On Tuesday, I reviewed Michael Boyd (former RSC Artistic Director)’s new show, The Open House, for Bristol 24/7. You can read the review here.

Greg-Hicks-Father-Lindsey-Campbell-Daughter-Crispin-Letts-Uncle-Ralph-Davis-Son-1600x900
The Open House, Theatre Royal Bath – photo by Simon Annand

Then I popped on a train, feeling all intercontinentally high-flyin’, wrote my review on the tracks & when I woke up (some sleep happened somewhere), I was in King’s Cross on  my way to the C21/Script Angel WritersRoom, which ran as part of the International Drama Summit at Content London 2017.

Very merrily, my latest TV pilot spec script – written in a 10-day deadline frenzy in September – was highly placed in the C21/Script Angel Drama Series Script Competition. And this is how I won a place on this full and excellent day.  In three groups, we developed a new show from concept to pitch. Each worked closely with an experienced show-runner: Versailles’ David Wolstencraft; Follow The Money’s Jeppe Gjervig Gram; False Flag’s Maria Feldman and Shades of Blue’s Adi Hasak.

The 9-6 day seemed like it was eaten whole in one big bite: Have we finished? Where did it all go?! 

That’s in no small measure due to a cracking task-led structure, but also a bally marvellous working group. So often,  writers work in holy isolation but here we had to listen, respond, respect and hit a deadline with a goodie. (What do you mean, “did we?” Of course we did!).

Anyway, it was yet another of those weeks where I stand, grin and kalloo-kallay my lucky stars to be able to do the stuff I do. I saw and reviewed great & thought-provoking theatre (heading to London in the new year, I believe) and worked with a great international group of merry writers and producers. And we all learnt from our group’s ace showrunners, Jeppe Gjervig Gram & Adi Hasak, with the sharp and steady Hayley MacKenzie of Script Angel’s hand on the tiller.

What a cracking week.

 

Learning, Shows, TV, Writing

Fingery-Pokery – The Artist’s Way

scan0056I heard about it.

I saw it in a friend’s vast personal library.

He said “Here, take it.”

It sat on my shelf for a year.

I started it.

Wow.

I’m reading / doing / taking / following The Artist’s Way. It’s a course in a book. I’m fed up of feeling my work is stale, fed up of the negative pixies who get to party when I get  statistically likely “thanks, but not today” emails, and I’m fed up of the whispering mists of pessimism and poverty.  And that’s enough indulgence in evocative eurghhhiness.

Because this 12-week thing (I’m reaching the end of week 5) is great! Jolly! Freeing! Happy-making! OH, MY GOD. I’m the Me I that adult me thinks I was when I was 7! (Creating for creativity’s sake, full of curiosity, mischief, devil-may-care fingery-pokery).

Talking of “God”, it/s/he crops up a fair amount in this book, but don’t be put off. While author Julia Cameron has a strong faith, she encourages readers to think about their own “god” – whether that’s the “creative force”, a muse, or a deity.

So much good shit is going down – as they say here in the streets of Bath all the time – and it’s not all about improving The Writing at all. But WHAT a relief to….

  • LIKE my drafts the next day
  • not to be put off by a roughly sketched scene, but see its glimmer
  • have optimism and glee
  • feel not a twinge at others’ hard-won successes (yes, shameful – it was only ever tiny, but ouch, I wanted that Jellytot!)

It’s a bonkers example, but I applauded – actually clapped at – the telly at the end of this week’s Line of Duty. See what I mean? I’m so proud to be loosely in the same profession as Jed Mercurio, how could I not? Ditto the finale of Chris Chibnall’s Broadchurch. Hats off to them and the creative teams around them.

Anyway, I’m also …

  • taking action, instead of putting up with repeated promises that turn to bog-all
  • bolder with my dreams, such as going for “front of camera talent” instead of “director” as my role at Channel4’s Bristol PopUp last week (yep; I presented, and I loved it).

So – is this intriguing you? Be warned. There’s a crocodile. Week 4 is “reading deprivation” – no TV, films, books, papers, voice radio, mags, emails, social media…

It is hard.

It is great.

  • I went to bed when I was tired
  • My bum wasn’t glued to the sofa
  • I did some great piano playing
  • I did some brilliant (of course!)  writing.
  • And now, I carefully choose what to watch at night (1 hour; maximum 2 if it’s quality drama or comedy), like picking a quality chocolate or drink. I pay attention, rather than lever open my ears and eyes to have shit poured in.

Which is nice.

😉

Alex

TV

Women in TV

I’ve just read a great piece about women in TV written by Emma Reeves,  a show creator, playwright and WGGB award winner, into her research with the Writers Guild of Great Britain. Thanks to Philip Gladwin at Screenwriting Goldmine for letting me share it here.

Here are some headlines:

  • Analysing data from the five main channels over a five month period,  70% of all prime-time drama credited to a single writer was written by male writers, and 30% by women writers.
  • There was only 1 week when slightly more drama (55%) was written by women than men. But there were several weeks when 75% or more of prime-time drama episodes were written by men.
  • Of 106 episodes of Eastenders, for example, 70 were written by men – almost exactly 2/3 of available episodes.

So, what’s going on? Click through (no commission or gain to me!) and have a read:

https://www.screenwritinggoldmine.com/why-dont-more-women-write-for-tv/

 

Learning, TV, Writing

Some sharin’ – great TV writing resources

All quiet on this south-western front of late, I know. I’ve been putting my 6-hour working days (school hours for small ones) to good writing use, then throwing in some extra after beddy-byes. All guns have been pointing at a new TV pilot, strengthening my screenwriting muscles and learning everywhere I can.

So, without giving anything away about boring old plot stuff (YAWN)* I thought it mght be handy to point any writers out there towards the handy  – invaluable – resources I’ve been using.

And my imagination, but you couldn’t afford it 😉

Anyway, this stuff is – combined with the other glorious sites on my blogroll (to your right, I believe) – seriously invaluable. It requires some spend of dosh as well as effort, but this is my career. I seriously recommend you check these out if you’re serious about screenwriting. We’re learning a craft and that takes more than just talent. It takes learning!

* So “not” yawn; I love this world I’m playing in. It’s been months now and I dream it. One of us just won’t let go of the other.

Learning, TV, Writing

The Awful Art of Unwriting

[stories] squareI’m not entirely sure why but er, um, I haven’t written a speculative  screenplay (plays, I have done) for err, um, five years. There you go. I have no more secrets.

What the merry heave-ho have I been doing? ‘Cos I’m pretty sure I call myself a writer a lot of the time.

There’s been some very masterly prevarication going on*; so good, I didn’t really see it. I mean, I’ve been busy doing writerly things, including theatre script-writing. The wise counsel of script consultant Philip Shelley last week made me blush: “Before all else, get yourself a new calling card script.” That’s what I’m working on at the mo (this is my break after a 5h stint, I promise!)

But I’m here ‘cos I wanted to show you how EASY it is not to write your new spec script, day after day…for a very long time indeed, without even noticing.

Here’s Gill’s Blush-Making Guide to Not Being an Unwriter:

  1. A great theatre show might get your work some attention from screen professionals, BUT it isn’t a screenplay
  2. Doing courses and reading experts’ blogs are not writing your screenplay
  3. Treatments are not your screenplay
  4. Teaching writing isn’t
  5. Housework CERTAINLY isn’t (tho’ parenting, love, loss and life all do help)

These are all things you rightly want (scripts onstage, networking, learning craft, working with writers, a clean home & a balanced life). They are ALL GOOD. But I did them AND I AIN’T GOT NO SCREENPLAY. And I do very much want to write – er – screenplays.

So, don’t let those other things eat up your screenplay-writing time. Just throw them some nuggets if you must…

JKR housework

* Here’s the answer to how my five years got eaten. I’ve writ a very big play about “quantum mechanics ‘n’ life ‘n’ shit”, crowdfunded £2,000 R&D for it (thank you, again!); worked in Whitehall for a year (and various other clients the rest of the time); writ & run GLITTER KNICKERS (see earlier posts if you managed somehow to miss that one); escaped a Helen Archer-style scenario (you either get that or you don’t) & raised a 2,3,4 and 5 year old (the same human, in ever-changing form). I’ve done well in competitions, written 3 film treatments, run a writers’ group, had a few smaller shows on of existing work, written & pitched several treatments and done lots of reading about writing. And bought a house. So that’s the to-do list done. Now it’s time for the er…what did I come in here for?