Literary managers' forum 2012

on Friday, 11 May 2012 07:20. Posted in Podcasts

A recording from the Writers' Guild's annual meeting of literary managers from across the country. 

Also available as a podcast on iTunes, or via the Writers' Guild app for iPhone and iPad.

See also John Morrison's report from the event

New guidelines for comics, cartoon strips and illustrated stories

on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 09:25. Posted in Books and Poetry

Guild launches Guidelines for writers and those working with writers in the comics, cartoon strip and illustrated story industries

Written in consultation with writers working across the comics industry these new guidelines provide an overview of the rates and conditions writers should expect. Be you an industry veteran, or looking to sell your first work don’t sign a contract without reading this document first.

Download the guidelines (pdf)

John Ford Ireland - Film Symposium

on Sunday, 06 May 2012 08:55. Posted in Film

Dublin 7-10 June

John Ford Ireland presents a four day event focusing on film and filmmaking, inspired and informed by the work of Irish-American director John Ford and his ongoing influence on contemporary cinema.

Leading filmmakers and creatives including directors Peter Bogdanovich, Jim Sheridan and John Boorman and writers Patrick McCabe, Colin Bateman and Paul Fraser will participate in a varied programme of industry events, masterclasses, lectures and screenings.

For more information or to register for a Season Pass go to

Stephen Wyatt interview

on Sunday, 06 May 2012 10:04. Posted in Podcasts

Darren Rapier talks to two-time Tinniswood Award winner Stephen Wyatt about his writing for radio, stage and television.

Available as a podcast on iTunes, or via the Writers' Guild app for iPhone and iPad.

Edited transcript

How did you get started as a writer?

I was always obsessed with writing. I was the sort of kid who filled up notebooks with plays and bombarded the school magazine with endless articles. But when I started to study English Literature, first for O Level, then A Level and then at university, the creativity rather dried up. I became very self-conscious and it was only towards the end of my university time that I started writing again. I did a PhD and began a career as an academic, but it was not for me and, quite soon, and I gave it up and became a freelance writer.

Have you found the PhD to be useful in your writing?

In some ways; it was in 19th Century popular theatre and so gave me a very broad idea of what theatre can be. It has also been of practical use. I did two radio series of adaptations of stories by W.S. Gilbert, which we called Gilbert Without Sullivan, and that was directly drawing on what I discovered during my PhD.

I understand that you got involved with the Footlights at Cambridge...

Yes, I directed a Footlights review called Every Packet Carries A Government Health Warning. But I realised I wasn’t really a light-entertainment writer or producer, it’s just not my temperament. Then I got a job as writer-researcher with the Coventry Theatre and Education Team, which I did for a year was quite difficult for me because it was a very new sort of world, but it did mean that I really learned to think about the purpose of each show.

Direct action – a gathering of the Writers’ Guild and Directors UK

on Tuesday, 01 May 2012 09:30. Posted in General

meetingA report, some musings and some things to come, by Andy Walsh

An introduction by Anne Hogben

This event was the third successful gathering of members of the WGGB and Directors UK. The last one was held, along with producers from PACT and actors from Equity, at BAFTA during the London Film Festival last October. That was a different, more structured, type of event. All participants had to submit a proposal in writing in advance, about a project already in development so it was aimed at members of all four organisations, e.g. a writer with a script looking for a producer, a director looking for an actor, or a producer looking for a director so it can had a Speed Networking feel to it ('I am a … looking for a ….'). I was delighted to get several messages afterwards from Guild members who had attended telling me that their projects were moving on as a result of brief encounters made that evening. I hope we can organise something similar during the 2012 London Film Festival – running from 10–25 October. I’d welcome any suggestions from members about holding a similar event during the LFF.

Anne Hogben is Deputy General Secretary of the Writers' Guild

The Elizabethan alchemist and enigma Dr John Dee noted that by mixing writers with directors in a darkened room one could create gunpowder. Four hundred years later and the appearance of a writer’s name on a mobile phone leads to a moment of prescience…what is to follow for the next half hour will be war stories. ‘Director steals credit, plot ravaged and twisted beyond recognition and the swine never even bought a round.’

Age rage

on Friday, 27 April 2012 07:34. Posted in TV

Frances Greenwood is fed up with being considered too old to write TV drama

‘“I work in TV”; just saying it gave him satisfaction……Secretly, he liked the fact that it was one of the better-looking industries, and one that valued youth. No chance, in this brave new world of TV, of walking into a conference room to find a group of sixty-two-year-olds brainstorming. What happened to TV people when they reached a certain age? Where did they go?’

(from One Day, by David Nicholls, Hodder and Stoughton, 2009)

Sixty-two years old? That’s me. And I didn’t go anywhere. In fact, I spend a lot of my time brainstorming ideas for TV. OK, so I’m usually doing it alone in my study, but I still have a brain and it still storms.

All over the UK, there are older writers like me who, once the brainstorming is over, struggle to be heard. Of course, there are some older writers in TV, but they are in a tiny minority of an industry increasingly dominated by two main groups.

First, there are The Heavyweights - not many of them, but they’re pretty much guaranteed a slot somewhere on TV. They start with one successful TV series, and now there’s no stopping them. And good on them, I say! These are our top-notch writers, who are rightfully occupying their thrones at the peak of the scriptwriting Parnassus. They are there because they’re good -- bloody good. They’re also lucky. And I use that word advisedly, not in some mealy-mouthed, bile-spitting way. They’re lucky because, having written that one breakout series, there will be no stopping them – for the moment. (I will come back to them when they’re 62.)

Next on the pile are The Young Turks. They are aged somewhere between 20 and 35 – or even 40, if they can sell themselves as younger than they actually are. Basically, the younger the better. They swarm all over television drama, eager, energetic, confident, full of ideas. They write Hollyoaks, Skins, telly for Young People. Now, however, they also write Holby, Casualty, Doctors - telly for the not-so-young. Why? What has happened here? Well, as far as the BBC is concerned, some of the flak has to be directed at its Writers’ Academy. Again, this is not a personal attack on its creators, for whom the idea must have seemed to tick a vast array of boxes marked compliance. But, just to give you a flavour of its intentions, here is part of the Academy’s call to writers put out last year:

‘The Writers’ Academy is a major initiative aimed at discovering and training the next generation of writers for BBC 1’s flagship shows: EastEnders, Casualty, Holby City, and Doctors. The scheme works as an apprenticeship for writers.’ This call for applicants also included a quote from a writer, who says: ‘Writing for television can feel like running across a muddy field at night being pursued by man-eating pigs - the Academy gives you a torch.’ Well, I have news for him: those are not man-eating pigs, they are grey-haired writers. As one agent recently told me: ‘You just have to do the maths. Seven years of the Academy. Eight graduate writers getting an episode each of Doctors, Holby and Casualty. If they keep on getting employed by these shows, that’s a total of 56 new writers pushing out 56 writers who were already there.’ Although the Writers’ Academy is open to people of all ages, and some of more mature years do get in, the emphasis is inevitably on youth. Another TV agent told me that he has difficulty selling even his 30-year-old writers, such is the demand for the ‘next new bright young thing’.