In defence of The Working Playwright

on Friday, 02 November 2012 09:37. Posted in Theatre

The editors of two new Writers' Guild booklets for working playwrights have defended the publications from criticism that 'they advocate a way of working in which the writer holds the lion’s share of power and control over the creation of work.'

The criticism, published online on Exeunt, came from writer and director Selma Dimitrijevic. 'I have a feeling,' she wrote, 'that someone is aggressively and stridently attempting to execute a pre-emptive strike against an imagined cohort of directors and producers lying in wait to do unspeakable things to me and my play.'

In a response also published on Exeunt, the editors of the booklets, David Edgar and Amanda Whittington, argued that Dimitrijevic misunderstood the booklet's intentions. They point out that the two booklets have very different purposes. 'Engaging with Theatres,' they explain, 'arose out of wide-ranging discussions with playwrights and theatres, and describes the many ways in which playwrights now work with companies, in various forms of development (mentoring, attachments, seed commissions, workshops, rehearsed readings), as well as in alternative forms of playmaking, from site specific performance via portmanteau plays, various forms of collaborative development and working with schools and in communities.'


on Sunday, 28 October 2012 18:35. Posted in Film

Darren Jones on how his experience as a film editor has informed his scriptwriting

darren-jonesI grew up with TV rather than books. Books became important eventually, but the moving images and the stories that spilled out from that small screen were the ones that first captivated my imagination. I always wondered how it was done and if, maybe, I could do it too. That never left me, but later, as a young teenager on the Isle of Wight, I feared it was only a dream, and probably an impossible one. All that exciting media stuff seemed to happen in Hollywood, or at a pinch, in that semi-mythical place, ‘London W12 8QT’. Even that felt a million miles away at the time. True dreams have a habit of inspiring perseverance however, and eventually I did scrape myself into film school.

I was always wrote (mostly bad) short stories, short scripts, kids’ plays. I was interested in making up and telling stories, but telling them with visual media – after all, I wasn’t taking an English degree. Film school exposed me to other areas: photography, sound, working with actors – and, of course, film/video editing.

Guild welcomes tougher controls on collecting societies

on Friday, 26 October 2012 18:42. Posted in Books and Poetry

The Government has published proposed new minimum standards for copyright collecting societies – including ALCS, the organisation that makes payments to writers for photocopying of their work, education uses, and broadcasting by overseas cable TV services.

This is a major step in revamping copyright law to tackle the new digital environment, and is welcomed by the Writers’ Guild.

Barcelona to host biggest screenwriter conference

on Friday, 26 October 2012 18:39. Posted in Film

Second World Conference of Screenwriters takes place on 9 and 10 November

The Guild is gearing up for the biggest-ever international conference of screenwriters next month. The Second World Conference of Screenwriters will be held in Barcelona on 9 and 10 November.

The conference brings together more than 150 screenwriters and their representatives from more than 30 countries around the world to discuss issues of common interest with a focus on the impact of new technologies on the production and distribution of the stories we write.

Read more about the agenda and speaker on the World Conference blog

Winds of change

on Monday, 22 October 2012 08:17. Posted in Theatre

Writer and producer Ade Solanke on the African new wave


It’s made Afrobeats a global sensation and Nollywood the second largest film business in the world. Now the vitality and verve of Nigerian popular culture is set to burst onto the English cultural scene.

One day in August a friend tweeted, ‘D’Banj is playing on EastEnders,’ and I had to stand still for a moment to process the news. An African song on a British soap about the East End but with no African characters? What the Dickens?!

But if you’ve been paying attention, it’s no surprise really. More like the first gust onto these shores of a massive wind of change that’s blowing worldwide; a wind generated in Africa but equally propelled by the energies of the Afrospora – the African diaspora – especially its younger generation.

Afrosporans, Afropeans, Afro-Saxons. They live in London, New York, Paris, Munich, but are keen to connect with their roots as much as they are in - and into - western culture. The result? An explosion, a veritable renaissance of African culture, mashing up and remixing African, American and European influences.

How to self-publish your book

on Thursday, 18 October 2012 10:51. Posted in Books and Poetry

Screenwriter and first-time novelist Ølivier Nilsson-Julien on what he learned from The Guardian Self-Publishing Masterclass

olivier-nilssonForty-eight participants arrived at The Guardian HQ in North London on a Saturday morning in June. Rebecca Swift from The Literary Consultancy started proceedings by asking about our backgrounds and it appeared that most of us had tried a traditional publishing route before turning to self-publishing: a published crime writer wanted to break with the pre-formatted crime books being churned out; an established author of self-help books had decided to publish independently for increased royalties; a serial novelist was fed up with the lack of control in publishing – essential information had been taken out of her last novel by the publisher without her consent, and the cover was horrible. It was obvious from talking to fellow writers that a wide range of genres and interests were represented. There seemed to be extensive industry experience and most participants had some degree of professional writing background.

Paperbooks tanking, ebooks taking off

The quality of the participants seemed to reflect the competitive nature of publishing. In fact, Swift told us that publishers usually rely on one or two bestselling authors to fund their whole business, which is why taking on a new title isn’t done lightly. During her session on ‘Evaluating and pitching your book’, Kate Roden of Guardian Books gave us some humbling figures. According to Nielsen Book Scan, only 76 print books sold more than 100,000 copies in 2011; 106 between 50,000 and 100,000; 465 between 10,000 and 50,000; 389 between 5,000 and 10,000; 2,000 between 1,000 and 5,000; 1,000 between 500 and 1,000; and 1,700 up to 500 copies.

‘Paperbacks are tanking and being replaced by ebooks,’ according to Roden. Confirming this trend, publisher and marketing specialist Edward Pettitt predicted that by 2015 e-books will represent 50% of book sales. To give an indication of the growth of self-publishing, he added that since 2009 there are more self-published than traditionally published books in the US. In 2010 there wasn’t a single self-published book in the Kindle top 100. In 2011, there were 18.