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In this newsletter:
- Two weeks until regular script entries close for Goldmine Awards
- C4 is investing in international drama co-productions
- Cut drama deaths, but get the brain thinking
- BAFTA Rocliffe new comedy writing competition
- Northern Ireland Screen calls for new scripts
- IFTA award winners
- WGGB teams up with The Black List to raise UK screenwriter profiles
- A worryingly real portrayal of a pitch meeting
- What is character, and how does it shape your writing?
- RTS discusses ‘Sherlock’ – watch the debate
- Emerging Auteurs scheme needs applications by April 14
- Questions from the Screenwriting Goldmine online forum
- Random Logline Generator
- Recent Commissions
Just Two Weeks Left For Regular Contest Entries
A quick note to let you know that there are just two weeks left to enter your Script into the Goldmine Contest at the regular rate of £32.
After that you will be into that last, late/”emergency” entry period of two weeks, priced at £38 – so if you have a script or two sitting in your bottom drawer you should definitely get round to entering them sooner rather than later. Please don’t pay more than you have to.
More details and enter your script here.
C4 Commits To International Drama Co-Production
Channel 4 has announced it is investing in international Drama co-productions as part of a new strategy to boost its commitment to original television drama.
“New co-production collaborations with both international and UK partners will sit alongside Channel 4’s award-winning range of bold, original home-grown drama commissions,” said the broadcaster.
Simon Maxwell is the new Head of International Drama, reporting to Head of Drama, Piers Wenger. Mr Maxwell will be responsible for commissioning a slate of “high quality, ambitious drama co-productions that embody Channel 4’s distinctive values and have international appeal.”
Mr Wenger commented: “A commitment to bold, distinctive drama is part of Channel 4’s DNA – whether that be original commissions like ‘Babylon’ or ‘Utopia’, or acquired shows like ‘Homeland’ or ‘The Returned’.
“The new co-production slate will bring international talent and their stories to Channel 4 and will also give British writers, directors and producers an international platform.”
Apparently the budget for home-grown drama is unaffected. So it’s all good news…
Screenwriter Challenges Propensity For Multiple Murders
Screenwriter Andrew Davies has raised the question of why there is so much demand for murder in drama.
According to the Huffington Post, the writer asked: “Why is it always genre now? Didn’t there used to be a section called drama? Does it all have to be… serial killers?”
Addressing the 40th Broadcasting Press Guild Awards at the end of March, he called for there to be a more thoughtful approach. “Let’s have more chilled and calm stuff, where nobody kills at all, or gets killed at all. Look how ‘Broadchurch’ maintained all that suspense with just the one murder, I loved that show. I was totally compelled by it. Great bit of writing and great performances.”
Apparently Mr Davies joked: “I don’t think anybody should be allowed to write dramas until they’ve killed at least three people themselves.”
He was being honoured by the BPG with the Harvey Lee Award for an outstanding contribution to broadcasting. He made his name in the 1980s with contemporary dramas for the BBC, but he is particularly known for adaptations.
Among his scripts have been ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’, ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason’, ‘The Three Musketeers’, ‘House of Cards’, ‘Mr Selfridge’, ‘South Riding’, ‘Bleak House’, ‘Middlemarch’ and ‘Little Dorrit’. He is currently working on ‘War and Peace’.
Chris Chibnall won the Best Writer Award for ‘Broadchurch’, which also took the Best Drama Series Award.
Read the full HuffPo article by Caroline Frost.
For the full list of BPG Award winners.
Bafta Wants New Comedy Scripts
The BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum has put out a call for comedy scripts from UK writers.
“Five projects will be selected to be showcased at the Guardian Edinburgh International TV Festival (GEITF) or the New York Television Festival (NYTVF). The chosen writers will be supported by BAFTA for the next year, introduced to key industry players and, where appropriate, introduced to writing agents.
“In addition, the top ten writers will receive passes to GEITF so they can benefit from the networking opportunities available at the Festival. The shortlisted writers will go on to be involved in a wide range of development opportunities including mini-forum workshops and events.
“This year, unlike other years, 25 long-listed writers will be given the opportunity to rewrite their work, over one week, based on industry feedback before the scripts are sent to the jury.”
Sounds good, so if you have written a TV comedy sitcom, animation sitcom or comedy sketch show series but have not had a full comedy show commission, you should consider applying.
Early bird entry is by April 14 and the final deadline May 19. To enter you must be a UK-passport holder or have been resident in the UK for the past five years.
Northern Ireland Screen ‘Opening Doors’ For New Scripts
Northern Ireland Screen is looking for feature Film scripts to develop for its New Talent Focus 2014-2015.
Submissions can be made by “Northern Ireland resident writers new to feature film”. Which seems to mean in this case writers without a writing credit on a produced feature film.
They want films that can be made on an “ultra low” budget of £225,000 or less, so the script must take this into account.
“Scripts whose ambition exceeds the practical possibilities of ultra low budget filmmaking will be deemed ineligible. Your challenge is to think imaginatively within the constraints of a limited budget so avoid writing period pieces, high action, special effects.”
NIS will be hosting two free screenwriting seminars to help people prepare their application.
After that, “up to four scripts will be chosen by a panel comprised of the BFI, Film 4 and Northern Ireland Screen for development between September 2014 and April 2015 with the intention of selecting one for further development and, hopefully, production between April 2015 and March 2016.”
The deadline is 12.00hrs on Friday 1st August 2014.
Get details of how to apply, and how to format the script (requiring Courier 12 point font) and synopsis (a treatment is not required).
Ifta Awards Announced
The Irish Film and Television Academy has announced its 11th annual award winners.
The Script Film award went to writer and director John Michael McDonagh for the black comedy ‘Calvary’.
Stuart Carolan won the in Script Drama Award for ‘Love/Hate’, a crime drama set in Dublin’s criminal underworld.
‘The Fall’, created by Allan Cubitt, took the award for ‘Drama in association with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’.
For the full list of winners.
Writers’ Guild Gb Scheme For Members To Post Scripts On The Black List
The Black List is a list of screenplays not yet made, but highly rated by film industry development executives. Since it began in 2005, it has identified some 225 scripts that have been made into films, including ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘The King’s Speech’.
The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has announced that it is joining forces with the Black List to raise awareness of UK-based writers in the worldwide film industry.
“The Black List also offers a membership site for industry professionals that functions as a real-time screenplay recommendation engine, allowing executives across the world to find the scripts that they want to make,” says the WGGB.
“The Guild partnership with The Black List allows members to list their scripts on The Black List site for free, raising their profile and helping more of their films to make it into production. The Black List site will also contain information about support and resources available for Guild members.”
How Not To Have A Pitch Meeting
All good parodies have a high degree of truth in them. An example of a nightmare scenario, one of many that scriptwriters seem to find is actually a reality – the pitch meeting from hell – was wincingly portrayed in the BBC-centric comedy ‘W1A’ last week.
The writers’ meeting was brilliant – so accurate. I loved how the writer’s pitch sounded exactly the sort of thing executive producers hate and would never commission, as well as the commissioning executive (at least) who hadn’t even read the scripts and yet was commenting on them. It was a masterclass in how to be rejected without ever having heard the word ‘No’. Beautifully done. And I have to confess, I’ve been in that meeting many times.
Kudos then to writer and director John Morton for showing it like it can really be.
To see the episode, (available until 10.29pm Wednesday 16 April on BBC iPlayer) click here.
Writing Your Characters
For those interested in the use of language, Radio 4’s ‘Word of Mouth’ is well worth listening to. Last week, as part of the Radio 4 Character Invasion Day, Michael Rosen chaired a discussion on what makes a great character on the page, or in performance.
Among the discussion was how to create a character. Eavesdropping gives ideas for dialogue and ways of speaking, and can help illuminate writing, said Helen Cross. She also described how far to go in basing characters on real people, and how subtext can be used – a character saying something and then doing something else.
Andrew Hilton discussed what Shakespeare’s characters reveal in their dialogue. He argues that it’s not so much about verbal tricks or tics, or about fixed characterisation; instead, it is about revealing the temper of the mind and the heart of the character at that moment, and how it changes.
Asked about Othello, he said: “I would never say Othello is a jealous man. I would say that at a moment in the play he becomes jealous to the point of being homicidal, but he is not a ‘type’ of a jealous man. That’s not interesting.”
There’s also the point about what the actor will bring to the dialogue, something that a novel has to show in writing.
Listen to the half-hour programme.
If you just want to hear how a character can have more than one voice, there’s a 3 minute clip of Helen Cross reading an extract from one of her novels.
RTS Analyses The Success Of ‘Sherlock’
The Royal Television Society has posted the video of its panel discussion on ‘Sherlock: Anatomy of a hit’.
It looks at how the Sherlock Holmes stories were updated for the 21st Century (Dr Watson invalided out of the war in Afghanistan being just one area of topicality) and how modernising a classic still requires a thorough knowledge of the work to be updated.
In discussion are Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat who created and wrote the series, Ben Stephenson (BBC controller, drama commissioning), producer Sue Vertue, and Amanda Abbington, one of the actors. It was chaired by Tom Sutcliffe.
The video is 80 minutes long.
Emerging Auteurs – Apply By April 14
The Emerging Auteurs 2014-15 scheme is looking for applications from emerging writer/directors in Northern Ireland.
‘Emerging auteurs’ in this case means people who have written and directed three or more short films or documentary programmes financed by public film funds or national broadcasters.
Applicants “are invited to submit up to three feature film ideas, in factual or fiction genres to be produced in live action or animation.” It is intended that one will be chosen for development under the guidance of Northern Ireland Screen’s Script Consultant and Short Film Executive.
Emerging Auteurs is a joint initiative between NIS and the BFI Net.Work. The schemes aim is to “work with the best of the emerging writer/directors from Northern Ireland to develop feature projects that exemplify their unique vision.”
There are a number of other entry conditions, and the deadline for receipt of applications is 17.00hrs on Friday 11 April 2014.
On The Forums
CKJLR has raised the issue of how screen headings should be written in a script to show continuity of time and whether the description “immediate” is needed.
Damp has asked how the plot summary/treatment should be laid out or written for a movie script that is non-linear.
Eudis has asked about the syntax for repeating dialogue that has been used previously in the script, for example with someone trying to remember what had been said.
Eudis has also asked about how important logical consistency is in a movie, and how much artistic licence can a screenwriter employ.
James Rayner is a UK-based writer who has written a script that he says could only work in the US, so is wondering whether he should try and raise interest in it only in the US, or try pitching in the UK and elsewhere.
Stuck For Ideas? Have You Seen The Logline Generator
Yes, yes, this may have been around for years, but I’ve just stumbled across the Random Logline Generator. And it’s great!
For example: “A sad zombie tries to impress a tiny scientist.”
“A paranoid singer doesn’t get along with a traffic cop in the time of the Dinosaurs.”
“A hot dog seller borrows the clothes of the snobby roommate of a preacher in a massage parlor.”
Channel 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios have commissioned an 8 x 60minute original drama series for 2015, to be produced by Kudos. ‘Humans‘, written by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, is based on the hit Swedish sci-fi drama ‘Real Humans’.
“Set in a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a ‘Synth’ – a highly-developed robotic servant that’s so similar to a real human it’s transforming the way we live. When a rushed-off-his-feet suburban father of three buys a refurbished second-hand Synth, he hopes it will relieve some domestic pressure and paper over the cracks of his marriage. But sharing their life with a machine has far-reaching and chilling consequences – for this Synth, the cuckoo in the nest, is harbouring an extraordinary secret.”
Channel 4 has started filming ‘Glue‘, created and written by Jack Thorne: “Overton. A tiny village in the English countryside. Farming is its beating heart. Race-horses are its bread-and-butter. But beyond the rolling hills and behind the stable doors lies a green and not-so-pleasant land…
“Bored kids play chicken on top of silo machines that can cut your hand to slices no thicker than the ham in your sandwich. The same kids play at grain-barn-jumping – deadly, if your lungs fill up with the tiny bullets of wheat. Now someone has played murder.
“When the body of a local teenage boy is found underneath the wheels of a tractor, the villagers in this remote community – his friends – are forced to open up their world and watch their secrets spill out. Secrets that will change their particular brand of country life forever.”
BBC 2 has announced ‘One Child‘, a 2×90-minute drama written by Guy Hibbert. “‘One Child’ crosses the world as a young Chinese-born woman adopted by Anglo-American parents struggles with who she really is and where her loyalties lies.
“Mei, a first-born Chinese girl adopted by an American mother and British father, is asked to return to her birthplace, Guangzhou, when her birth mother desperately seeks her assistance in saving her son. How far will Mei go to help the woman who gave her away and the brother she’s never met? This drama takes a new look at what it means to be family.”
ITV has revealed more details about ‘Prey‘, a three-part drama created and written by Chris Lunt. “Prey follows the story of a man on the run, who is desperate to clear his name for the sake of his family.
“Detective Sergeant Marcus Farrow [is] a well-liked copper who is wrongly accused and arrested for an inhumane crime. Narrowly escaping police custody Farrow becomes an outlaw and begins a high-stakes game of cat and mouse across the city with Acting Detective Chief Inspector Susan Reinhardt.
“As a wanted killer, Farrow has few allies, however one thing is certain, for the sake of his family, Farrow is prepared to do things he never thought possible. And he won’t rest until he knows the truth.”
There is a ‘first look preview’ on the ITV website.