British screenwriter Tim John on making the move to Hollywood
I’d read plenty of books about how to write Hollywood screenplays, but never found one that also described what living there would be like. So I decided to write one. Adventures In LaLa Land chronicles the seven years I spent riding the rollercoaster.
How does real life compare to reel life? Do the stars create more drama off-screen than on? Is the local social network really full of desperate housewives? How do writers find work?
My main reason for going to Hollywood was that I had always loved films, so wanted to be right at the heart of the industry. The tricky thing was knowing when to go. Given the colossal gamble the film business is, it's hardly the sort of move you want to risk when you have young children and a bank manager to support, as I did. Having said that, in some ways the choice was made for me because I was ‘let go’ from my job as a London copywriter when the agency was taken over by another group. Everyone who, like me, was part-time, was let go. What a strange phrase ‘let go’, it implies you'd been chomping at the bit, bursting to break free.
The annual London South Bank University, Writers’ Guild and IGDA talk - 4 December
Interactive writing is not screenwriting. From character creation to plotting, format to structure, from root to interactive branch the process of creating a story and delivering the script has evolved from the skills needed to deliver linear onscreen experiences.
In the annual London South Bank University, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and IGDA talk, a group of experienced games writers Ed ‘Brink’ Stern’, Tom ‘FTL’ Jubert, James ‘Deus Ex’ Swallow and Andrew ‘Fable:Legends’ Walsh will examine a variety of techniques used in videogames writing and explore how they have used them in their own projects.
Date and Time: Wednesday, December 4 at 7 pm
Location: Keyworth Centre, London South Bank University
As always, we’ll head to the pub for a few Christmas drinks after the talk!
Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/570224703050027/
New report says the creative industries are a hotspot for bullying
Creating Without Conflict report author Cathy John (right) with Anne Marie Quigg
The worlds of the media, arts and entertainments are often seen as glamorous, but a survey of 4,000 workers has revealed these industries are hotspots of bullying, with more than half of those questioned (56%) saying they had been bullied, harassed or discriminated against at work.
People who contributed to a survey, commissioned by the Federation of Entertainment Unions, ranged from household names, top screenwriters and performers to those at the beginning of their careers.
The results showed shocking levels of ill-treatment and inappropriate behaviour and a culture of silence, with only a third of those suffering bullying and harassment reporting the incidents.
A Writers' Guild West Midlands event - Wednesday, December 11, 7.30pm - 9.30pm
In recents months two important chairs have been filled in BBC Radio Drama. Sean O'Connor has taken the reins at the The Archers. Meanwhile Jessica Dromgoole is helming the landmark World War I drama, Home Front. Sean and Jessica will join us to talk about their shows, the craft of Radio Drama and opportunities within the industry.
Sean O'Connor was a producer on The Archers in the late 1990s, before moving on to TV shows such as EastEnders, Hollyoaks & Minder. He has also directed extensively in theatre, including his own adaptations of Vertigo, Marnie and Romeo & Juliet, as well as producing a film version of Terrence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea. His book Handsome Brute was published this year.
Jessica Dromgoole has directed in theatre and radio, winning various awards including the Prix Italia for Original Radio Drama, a BBC Audio Drama Award for Best Audio Drama, and a bronze Sony Radio Academy Award for Best Drama. Between 1988 and 1991 Jessica was Artistic Director of the Finsborough Theatre, since when she's been New Writing Co-ordinator for the BBC.
This event is FREE to members of the Writers' Guild and £5 for non-members. Attendees are invited to a festive drink in The Mailbox afterwards.
Submissions for Guild's exciting new development scheme close on 16 December
Update: entries have now closed. The successful entries have now been selected
The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain is inviting emerging and established writers throughout the UK to take part in Playwrights’ Progress, an inspiring new script development project, FREE to the chosen participants with all expenses paid. This is a major promotion run in partnership with Royal Central School of Speech & Drama and Leicester Square Theatre.
The project (open to Guild and non-Guild applicants) will give eight writers the opportunity to progress their career paths. Four will be chosen to attend a three day, intensive workshop to develop their exciting new scripts in progress. The best work from the workshops will be showcased by actors of the highest calibre at Leicester Square Theatre to an audience of invited literary managers, agents, directors and producers. Four other writers will be selected for the ‘potential’ of their draft plays, which will be given a read-through by Central’s alumni, involving invited literary managers etc.
Funded by the Arts Council England and The Writers’ Foundation (UK), this is open to all writers, at any stage of their careers, to enable them to work on their unperformed plays with professional actors, directors & dramaturges of the highest calibre. To apply, candidates should:
- Submit one hard copy plus an electronic copy of a draft of an unpublished, unperformed dramatic piece. Initially this needs to be the first act only (drawn from a full-length script of maximum running time of 2 hours 20 minutes).
A shortlist of contenders will then be drawn up, when full scripts will be requested. So please…
- Submit a brief biography of your experience/career to date, which should include one public/ workshop performance or equivalent publication or broadcast.
- Include a letter of application (max 500 words) giving your reasons for wanting to develop this piece, its potential as a drama and your aspirations for it. Also your contact details plus stamped, addressed envelope for your script to be returned.
The read-through workshops will take place in London the week beginning 3rd March 2014, followed by the three day workshops 1 - 4 April. The public showcasing at Leicester Square Theatre will take place on the 9th May.
Paul Herzberg on the development of his play The Dead Wait, now showing at The Park Theatre in London
I left South Africa in 1976 after returning from the Angolan border as a conscripted soldier. The country was caught in volatile times: Black Consciousness had exploded in the townships, the Portuguese had fled Angola and Soweto was in flames.
The war in which I had been involved, set to continue for another 13 years, was like no other in that it was almost entirely secret. Soldiers were forced to pledge their silence. The apartheid authorities were determined that word did not get out as to what was going on beyond the Namibian border. It was South Africa’s Vietnam.
Long after I left I began a conversation with a man on a British train. He told me of an incident involving his nephew as a young soldier in the border war. While on an Angolan mission his unit had captured a wounded black freedom fighter. The unit commander had it in for the soldier and suspecting their captive might be important, ordered the soldier to carry him on his back until they reached the border for interrogation.
The freedom fighter whispered into the soldier’s ear as they moved through the bush and in the mayhem a bond began to grow. The commander responded to their unlikely friendship with catastrophic results.
This image, ally and foe locked together, haunted me. Using my long absence from the country I found a way to build a play round that anecdote, to connect it to contemporary South Africa. The notion of these two older men — an iron-willed Afrikaans officer and a black freedom fighter doing battle for the soul of this callow white kid — while around them a war is raging, was simply to tantalising to ignore.