The Writers’ Guild Wales is hosting a television screenwriting event with top screenwriters and producers. Come and hear the professionals talk about how they made it in the industry and what drives them onwards and upwards. Q& A session to follow. The speakers include writers Rob Gittins, Debbie Moon and James Moran and producers Philip Trethowan (Touchpaper TV) and Nikki Wilson (BBC).
Date: 13 June3-8pm,
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Admission: free to Members, £10 non-members, £10 at the door
Refreshments provided. Places limited to 50
More information and bookings: http://writersguildwales.eventbrite.com
By Nick Yapp
Bryan Forbes, who died on 8th May at the age of 86, was a key figure in the history of cinema for more than 30 years. With John Mills, Richard Attenborough and Kenneth More, he was one of the band of actors who refought much of WW2 on the back-lots of British film studios. He was a master of most cinematic trades – a screenwriter, director, producer and key executive, becoming Managing Director of Associated British Productions in 1969.
But he was also one of the group of screenwriters who met at 7 Harley Street in London on 13th May 1959 to create the Television and Screenwriters Guild (TSG), a forerunner of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. With Ted Willis as Chair and Forbes as Honorary Treasurer, the Guild embarked on an ambitious programme of events to recruit members, among them a series of lectures on writing for the cinema. The lectures were held at the National Film Theatre (2 guineas/£2.10 to attend the whole series, 5 shillings/25p for each individual lecture). Forbes was in illustrious company – other lecturers in the series included the film critic Dilys Powell, the director Karel Reisz, and John Trevelyan, then Secretary of the British Board of Film Censors.
The TSG became the Screenwriters Guild in 1961, with Forbes continuing as Treasurer. The early Sixties were dubbed the years of 'Fun and Aggro' by members of the Guild, but times were financially hard. Forbes was a man of vision with high hopes for the Guild’s future. 'We should aim for a staff of at least ten,' Forbes told Guild members, 'so that you can have the sort of service you expect.; That dream has yet to come true, but Forbes worked tirelessly to strengthen the Guild’s financial position, repeating over and over again his mantra: 'We must find more money from somewhere.'
His most ambitious plan, and one that still sets the adrenalin going at the thought of ‘what if it had come true’, was presented to the Guild in 1969. EMI had just bought Associated British from Warner Brothers and had put Forbes in charge. He took his work seriously and was incredibly conscientious about scripts submitted to him, reading up to ten scripts a day even though he found on average that 80% of them were unusable.
To quote from The Write Stuff (the history of the Writers' Guild):
'What Forbes wanted were ideas for low budget, original, comedy films which didn’t fall into the "dreaded mid-Atlantic category". He welcomed unsolicited material, and asked "everybody to believe that every single submission" would be considered. Those writers who showed promise he directed to the Guild, and his great ambition was to make Elstree a Guild studio.'
With Carl Foreman, who had succeeded Willis as President of the Guild, what Forbes hoped to achieve was a Guild shop within the entire British Film Industry, along the lines of what the WGA had set up in the United States. It never happened – well, it hasn’t happened yet – but the 1960s were in many ways a Golden Age for the Guild. The prestigious series of Annual Awards Dinners held at the Dorchester Hotel from 1961 to 1970 helped raise the profile of the Guild to an enormous extent. And it was fitting that in 1962 the first ever Best British Comedy Screenplay Award went to Forbes for Only Two Can Play – a screenplay that was also nominated for a BAFTA that year. From 1971, when he resigned from Associated British, Forbes divided his time between the UK and the USA. The Guild lived on, in no small part thanks to the pioneering work that Bryan Forbes had put in from its earliest days.
If such titles existed as ‘Hero of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain’, that awarded to Forbes would have been First Class.
Nick Yapp is author of The Write Stuff, the history of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain
Tributes paid to writer and director who was prominent member of the Writers' Guild
(A photo taken at Bryan Forbes's home in Virginia Water - complete with blue plaque in his honour - in the summer of 1997. From left: his daughter Emma Forbes, grand-daughter Lily, Bryan Forbes, Alison V Gray (former General Secretary of the Guild), Alan Drury (former co-Chair of the Guild), Rosemary Anne Sisson (former Chair and President of the Guild)
The writer and director Bryan Forbes has died at the age of 86.
As well as being a noted screenwriter of films such as The League Of Gentleman and King Rat, and directing films including The L-Shaped Room, Forbes also wrote books, acted and was a founder-member of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain (WGGB).
Forbes was Treasurer of Screenwriters' Guild (the forerunner to the WGGB) from 1959-1962 and President of the WGGB from 1988-1991. He won Guild awards in 1962 for Only Two Can Play and in 1964 for Seance on a Wet Afternoon
Paying tribute to Bryan Forbes, Writers' Guild General Secretary, Bernie Corbett, commented:'Bryan Forbes was one of the pioneers who set up the Writers’ Guild. He may be remembered now mostly as a great director and film executive, but at heart he was a writer and he never forgot the vital role of the writer. He was on the writer’s side. If film and TV writers now enjoy fair contracts, good fees and royalties and residuals, and proper recognition in their industry, that is the legacy of Forbes and his trailblazing colleagues, and that is why we will never forget Bryan.'
Cheryl Taylor, Controller of CBBC, in conversation with award-winning children’s TV writers Debbie Moon, Jonathan Wolfman and Emma Reeves.
A Writers' Guild event, Friday, 14 June, 2013 from 7:30pm, Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham
Our panel will discuss the state of the children’s TV industry, and explore opportunities for children’s writers within the BBC and beyond.
Tickets are free to Writers' Guild members and £5 for non-members. To reserve your place visit the event booking page.
Cheryl Taylor (pictured, above), Controller of CBBC Channel, worked her way to a Commissioner’s role at Channel Four via stints in Comic Relief and BBC Entertainment. At Channel Four she commissioned Spaced and Black Books as well as the first Derren Brown extravaganza in 2000. After a spell as Head of Comedy at Hat Trick Productions she returned to the BBC Comedy Department overseeing award-winning shows such as Gavin and Stacey, The Royle Family and A Matter Of Loaf And Death. Cheryl became BBC Comedy Controller in 2009 and commissioned shows including Citizen Khan, Mrs Brown, Twenty Twelve, Cuckoo, Watson and Oliver, Hebburn and Bad Education. She was appointed Controller CBBC Channel in 2012.
Debbie Moon is a film and television writer living in mid-Wales. She has had over fifty short stories published, and her novel, Falling (Honno Press) was shortlisted for Welsh Book Of The Year. She has written for CBBC's The Sparticle Mystery, and is the creator and lead writer of the RTS-award-winning CBBC fantasy drama series Wolfblood. She also has a couple of feature scripts, and a supernatural drama series, in development.
Jonathan Wolfman came to CBBC from the independent sector to script edit series one of Tracy Beaker Returns and stayed with CBBC in-house drama to script edit the next two series, as well as The Dumping Ground series one, Wolfblood series one and two. He has also overseen scripts for the animation series Pet Squad.
Emma Reeves is a versatile writer working in adult drama, children's drama, radio and the stage. In 2011 Emma was nominated by the Writers' Guild for Best Children's Television Script for Tracy Beaker Returns: What You Don’t Know. In 2012 Tracy Beaker Returns won the Royal Television Society award for Best Children's Drama with Emma’ nominated script Money.
To reserve your place visit the event booking page.
Theatre Centre invites applications to its two key prizes, the Brian Way Award for Best New Play and the Adrienne Benham Award.
Brian Way Award 2013
Deadline: 31 May 2013 at 12 noon
To promote and celebrate the achievements of playwrights who write for young audiences, Theatre Centre runs the Brian Way Award for the best new play for children and young people.
The prize money is intended to give the winner the time and space to develop a new play without the pressure of deadlines or a commissioning brief.
This year’s award is for a new play which was professionally produced between 1 October 2011 and 31 January 2013. The winner of the award will be expected to undertake an ambassadorial role for Theatre Centre.
Applications may come from the writer, the writer’s representative or the producing company.
Adrienne Benham Award 2013
Prize: £2,000 seed commission and attachment
Deadline: 7 June 2013 at 12 noon
Theatre Centre offers the Adrienne Benham Award, a £2,000 seed commission, to support the work of a promising playwright interested in exploring the Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) sector to develop brilliant new plays for young people, but who has little experience in this field.
This award is intended to steer gifted writers towards young audiences by giving them a seed commission and attachment to Theatre Centre to develop an original idea for young audiences.
Applications may come from the writer or the writer’s representative. <>pFull details on both awards: http://www.theatre-centre.co.uk/events/awards/