By Olivia Hetreed, President of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain
I recently had the privilege of attending the Bryan Forbes Tribute put on by the National Youth Theatre, of which Bryan was, for many years, the enthusiastic President.
Bryan was writer and director of such films as King Rat, Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Whistle Down the Wind.
Through a series of recollections from family, friends and colleagues, punctuated by performances by present NYT members and illustrated by lovely photographs of Bryan on film sets and with his family, we were treated to a wonderful overview of a life lived generously and tirelessly in pursuit of the best work, enabling the brightest talent to shine and in a spirit of tremendous love and generosity.
From the opening, entirely unprintable anecdote to Nanette Newman's on-the-brink-of-tears final words, it was a funny, outrageous, touching and very appropriate memorial to a great man of British film and theatre.
Forbes was treasurer of the Guild in its formative years and in 1962 he won the Guild's Best British Comedy Screenplay Award for Only Two Can Play.
In 1969 Bryan Forbes became managing director of Associated British Productions, at that time the biggest name in the UK film industry. He was sent hundreds of scripts. He welcomed every contribution and then "asked everybody to believe that every single submission would be considered." Those writers who showed promise he directed to the Guild and he was clear that he wanted to make Elstree a Guild studio.
In his memory the family have set up a bursary for directors at the NYT.
Guild negotiates increases for writers
The Writers’ Guild has negotiated a 2% increase in minimum fees for BBC radio writers, backdated to 1 August 2013. The flagship rate for an original drama by an established writer goes up to £91.73 for two transmissions, while the fee for an episode of The Archers goes up to £920. Other rates include a scale between £183 and £374 for a 15-minute short story, and £10.58 per minute for abridgements. The new rates replace those implemented on 24 January this year and will be reviewed again with effect from 1 August 2014 - download full details (pdf)
There is also good news for playwrights working for leading theatres – minimum rates for the Royal Court Theatre, Royal National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company were increased by 2.2% with effect from 1 April 2013, bringing the basic rate for a full-length play to £11,759 - download full details (pdf)
Conference: 19 November, RADA Studios, London
The Guild would like to thank everyone who completed the online survey on bullying as part of the Creating Without Conflict Campaign. We have had a great response across the entertainment industry.
The campaign seeks to challenge bullying and harassment in the entertainment industries. The aim is to raise awareness, to work with employers to create effective policies and procedures that will protect staff and freelance workers from bullying and harassment and empower members to challenge and report incidents without fear of reprisals.
Our recent survey asked members about their experience of bullying and harassment in their industry. The aim was to see how widespread the problem is throughout the entertainment industry.
We will be launching the full findings on 19 November at the Creating without Conflict Conference which will take place at the RADA Studios in Central London from 9.30am to 4.30pm. The morning will explore the survey results and the afternoon will consist of discussion groups, giving members the opportunity to discuss in more detail the issues that have risen from the survey and look at ways of moving forward.
The conference is for members of Writers Guild of Great Britain, BECTU, Equity, Musicians’ Union and NUJ. It is free to attend and a sandwich lunch will be provided, but numbers are strictly limited.
A new script development project from the Writers' Guild, Central School of Speech & Drama and Leicester Square Theatre
The Guild is inviting emerging and established writers in the UK to take part in Playwrights’ Progress, an inspiring script development project, run in partnership with Royal Central School of Speech & Drama (RCSSD) and Leicester Square Theatre. The project (open to both Guild members and non-Guild members) will give eight writers the opportunity to develop their career paths. Four participants will be chosen to attend a three-day, intensive workshop to develop their scripts in progress. The best work from the workshops will be showcased by actors of the highest calibre, at Leicester Theatre to an audience of invited literary managers, 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, again in front of invited literary managers.
Funded by Arts Council England and the Writers’ Foundation (UK), this project has been set up by the Guild to promote writing through education and training. The scheme is open to all writers, at any stage of their careers, to enable them to work on their unperformed plays with professional actors, directors and 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 30 minutes). The text should include a cast list, essential production notes plus a resume/ scenario of the whole piece. A shortlist of contenders will then be drawn up and these will be asked to submit their full scripts for the final selection.
- Submit a brief biography of your experience and career to date, which must include at least one production for public performance or equivalent publication.
- Include a letter of application, of no more than 500 words, setting out your reasons for wanting to develop this piece, its potential as a drama and your aspirations for it. Explain why this experience would be valuable in terms of your personal development as a writer. This letter should include all your contact details plus a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish your script to be returned.
The initial read-through workshops will take place in the week beginning 3 March, followed by the three-day workshops on 1-4 April at the Bloomsbury Studios in London. The public showcasing at Leicester Square Theatre will take place in the week beginning 4 May.
Owing to the considerable task of selection, it will not be possible to offer a critique or respond to those candidates who have not been selected. But if you have any questions or need more information, please contact Richard Pinner.
Playwright Nick Wood on the advice he gives to aspiring writers
Whenever there’s a Q and A at a writers’ group I'm talking to, the same questions come up. What’s your routine? Where do the ideas come from? How do I get my work noticed? You try to be realistic, but you remember that once it was you sitting down there, asking the same questions, so you try to be encouraging too. Recently a letter came into the Writers' Guild from a Candidate Member asking for advice on how the Guild might help them get their work noticed and it was my job to reply. Here is what I wrote – which is what I also say at writers' groups.
Dear Candidate Member,
There's no simple answer to your question, at least not the kind of simple answer I wish I could give you and that you would like to hear.
There's nothing I can do, and there's nothing the Guild can do, because that isn’t the Guild’s job, because that isn't how it works, because there aren't any shortcuts. But, there's plenty you can do.
However, it will take persistence and patience and a willingness to accept the knocks and the criticism that will come your way. Be prepared for the disappointment, but if you believe in your work get over it and don't give up.
7-9pm, Derby Theatre Studio, Saturday 23 Nov 2013
An evening of insight & discussion, for anyone interested in new writing or pursuing a career as a writer, with wine and refreshments.
Meet our three distinguished Midlands guests who have all, in their way, been strongly influenced by their background and formative experience.
Amanda Whittington - highly successful local playwright, describes how she has to empathise with her characters, however notorious or extraordinary they may be. Her play about Judy Garland opens at Nottingham Playhouse in the New Year.
David Belbin - novelist and creative writing lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, tells how he keeps in continual contact with his community, especially the youth culture he works closely with, for his highly acclaimed young adult fiction.
Naylah Ahmed - award winning playwright, TV dramatist, BBC Radio producer, poet & short story writer, will talk about how her particular cultural background and Birmingham roots have inspired her work.
This event is a joint promotion of The Writers’ Guild with Derby Theatre Arts. Tickets £9. Concessions £6. Box Office 01332 593939 or www.derbytheatre.co.uk
FREE to Writers' Guild Members. Ring box office on 01332 593939 to book and bring membership card to collect your ticket.