01 May 2012
Posted in General
A 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.’
Writers’ conversation often, understandably, focuses on the bad news - after all conflict is at the heart of all good drama. Spend time at the Guild, an organisation born out of discord, and your view of the discord is magnified, for dispute is the day-to-day fare of the Guild. In such an atmosphere it becomes easy to forget that although there are countless nightmare projects out there, things don’t have to be this way. So, while the ingredients in this one darkened, subterranean room had explosive potential, the alchemy worked differently.
Instead of combusting, writers and directors huddled together expounding a shared love of character. Fellow scribes failed to compete with each other, choosing instead to drag directors across the room to meet someone else who might be right for their project. Cards were swapped, introductions were made, ideas were shared. Certainly, there was a queue at the bar for nicely chilled social catalyst, but the main intoxicant on offer was a collective passion for drama. The magic was that of the creative process.
I have no idea if lasting relationships were made that evening, nor what the fate of the various projects discussed will be. What did emerge was a reminder of why we all do this. That writing doesn’t have to be a fight. That the Guild can be about more than just the negative aspects of our industries. As the Guild continues its work, I hope that we can do more to balance these positives and negatives through initiatives such as the Filmmakers' Alliance with D-UK and PACT. The fight is important, but while conflict lies at the heart of drama, it doesn’t have to lie at the heart of the creative process.