Friday, 31 October 2008

Eurporscript Exciting Treatments Workshop

Last weekend, screenwriter Trevor Walsh attended another Euroscript workshop, this time about writing treatments. Here are his comments.

Last Saturday I attended the Europscript Exciting Treatments Workshop. The purpose of the day was to look in to treatment structure and ways of portraying the essence of the story in an exciting and emotive way, leaving the reader with the urge to read the script. One particular view of Charles Harris, which I found interesting was his philosophy that any writing problem can be solved using the GOATS principle. I will quickly break it down.

G is for Goals, the character needs a specific objective for the scene or sequence, for example his goal could be to leave the room to grab a coffee.

O is for Obstacle, the character should have an obstacle in his way, preventing him from leaving the room to grab a coffee. For example a locked door.

A is for Action, what action the character will take to exit the room. Will he try and pick the lock, will he call for help, will he kick the door in. His action will be born out of his character and can act as character exposition.

T is for Tactics, the options open to the character to achieve his goals despite his obstacles. As writers we have tactics for writing each and every scene, Charles recommends that we come up with three tactics for how we might treat the scene, the first may well be the best but who knows what magic may come out of exploring tactics.

S is for Stakes, what motivates our character to get out of the room. Why is it so important that he leaves at that moment rather than wait for rescue to arrive.

This is an interesting way of looking at it, not just for treatment writing but actually as we are in the process of writing. Definitely food for thought. But to be honest, overall I wasn't overly impressed with the workshop and didn't feel it was anywhere near as good as the comedy one I attended previously.

There's no doubt about it, writing treatments is a tricky business. I for one hate it, and most writers I know feel the same. Give me a script to do and I'm fine. Relish it in fact. But treatments are a whole different story. The biggest problem I think (and I am talking about mine as much as anything else) is that they are overally focused on plot. But reading a straight, 'this happens, then this happens, then this happens' document is probably nowhere near as exciting or satisfying as the actual story and script you are describing. A friend of mine actually has the opposite problem, in that her outlines and treatments are not plot cohesive enough but a full of energy, emotion and passion. We joked that if we could combine our brains we'd have the perfect treatment. So instead of embarking on what would surely be a dangerous operation, we wrote a few together and they are a marked improvement.

I think the important thing to remember is that not every plot point or script detail has to go into a treatment. (But always include the ending for my money - I know there are different opinions about this and some favour the cliffhanging end - but this is a risky choice.) As long as the story makes sense, you can leave some plot stuff out and put some emotion on the page. What does that mean? It means get across what the characters are feeling, how is the story impacting on them. Because this is why we will care about it.

It's tricky, but as a screenwriter treatments/outlines/synopsis are impossible to get away from. We all have to do them, and far more frequently than we'd like! So it's a shame Trevor didn't find this course so useful. And whilst there are plenty of script sources on the internet, sample treatments are few and far between. But they are worth seeking out and, as with anything in the writing lark - it gets easier and better the more you do it!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Some info

A couple of pieces of info that came to my attention today:

1) A Networking event, good value for a fiver I think.

Princess Anne Theatre, 195 Piccadilly - Thursday 13 November
BAFTA and Rocliffe are delighted to announce that David Parfitt, the highly acclaimed, BAFTA and Oscar-winning producer of Shakespeare in Love, I Capture the Castle, Much Ado About Nothing, The Madness of King George, and forthcoming feature A Bunch of Amateurs, will co-chair the BAFTA / Rocliffe New Writing Forum on 13 November. David is the Chairman of BAFTA, and before moving into film production, worked as an actor and theatre producer.

Pricing Information:
Public £5
BAFTA members Free

Click here for more information

We are extending the deadline for our pitch competition, so now you've got another two weeks to get those film ideas to us...

Deadline EXTENDED to17.00pm (GMT) Friday 14th November 2008

Click here for more details.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Things we noticed watching tv this week 10 (spoilers)

You can all breathe a sigh of relief. I'm back. And although the DVR let me down with Imagine's Love Story episode (did anyone catch this - what was it like?) I've caught up on a few other shows. And because it's been a couple of weeks since I did this column, here is a round up of what's been on:

Sunshine was a three part comedy drama on BBC1 starring Steve Coogan as 'Bing' Crosby. He played a good guy who loved his partner and his son, but with the catch being that he was a compulsive gambler. I mentioned last time that it was refreshing to see a character who was, because of his addiction, potentially unlikeable, but had charm, wit and it was interesting to see what he was going to do next. The overall tone was a bit wonky, with moments of extreme pathos and moving scenes set to dramatic music, offset by the sugary child voiceover. There was also a crucial mistake at the end of the first episode. Crosby loses the family savings by betting, having promised his partner he wouldn't. It was then revealed to us, but not him, that he was the victim of a scam. This was a clumsy attempt to make us sympathise with him but it missed the point. In fact, when he discovers the truth and tells Bernadette, she says "so what? You gambled when you promised you wouldn't." Well exactly. Interestingly, Episode Two concentrated more on the drama, and not comedy, but what was important was that this actually helped the show. Without going for the laugh, it made the lighter moments funnier and they really did act as relief for the pathos. It's a fine balancing act and good writing. At the close of Episode 2 we are led to believe that Crosby has stolen his sons savings to gamble, only to reveal that he couldn't go through with it. He had finally recognised he needed help. The problem with this was that he attends a Gamblers Anonymous meeting within the first five minutes of Episode three and ta da, he's cured. He doesn't bet again. Doesn't even come close. So the drama, as it was set up to be, was over. It therefore needed to shift focus and became more about the grandfather's illness and death, and of course whether Crosby would be reunited with his family, which he was. But for all this, I actually enjoyed the series. It was well written and the performances were excellent. It had real heart and emotion. I wondered last time out why it was only going to be three parts? But in hindsight, with the character arc set up as it was, a 90-120 min one off might have served the story better.

Another show I'm enjoying is Sanctuary on ITV4. I checked this out because it's rare to get an original series on this channel (can they bring back the superb Friday Night Lights please!) and it's become a bit of a guilty pleasure. A cross between Torchwood and Primeval, it deals with a secret group finding and providing sanctuary for 'alien' like beings that take all different forms, whilst fighting off the attentions of darker forces. The high concept factor is that a lot of it is shot using blue screen technology. I know, I know, it sounds awful. But it's not bad. I think I'm a sucker for this sort of thing, but I like the ambition of the show and it's another one for the 'not every show has to be cops, docs or any other precinct for that matter' movement.

Speaking of which, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, is back for a second season on Virgin. Goodness knows what else this channel actually provides, but its worth it just for this brilliant show. The first season was awesome, and because of the disaster that was Terminator 3, it's easy to forget that the first two movies were fantastic. This series enhances the mythology and scope of the whole Terminator story, and it's breathtakingly written, shot and performed. It's a great example of the boldness and execution of American TV at its finest.

Finally, a special mention must go to Desperate Housewives. Like everyone else I enjoyed the first season, and stuck around for the second. But it became dull and I gave the third a miss. But for some reason I got back into it during the fourth and it had notable picked up. But the reason for the special mention has to be for the decision to whizz five years on for the beginning of season five which has just started. What a brilliant idea! Can you imagine a British TV series doing this? Whatever the motivation behind the decision, it immediately eliminates the danger of the show becoming monotonous again, allows for big changes in characters and provides interesting back stories to explore that we know nothing about. Very, very smart.

So what to take away from all that? Well, I think Sunshine showed the importance of tone and although 'comedy-drama' can mean all things to all men, it's not an excuse to chuck in an uneven mix of both. Picking the right format (one off, series etc) can also impact on the story telling. But it's the three US shows that again show that a certain boldness in creative choices can go along way. I think to be fair we have indeed come a long way since Russell T. Davies resurrected Dr Who, without which we wouldn't have the likes of Torchwood, Primeval, Merlin etc. But the success of these shows, and the US imports that I've mentioned, together with Lost and Heroes, prove there is an appetite for ambitious, original shows.

The big TV news this week is the return of Spooks. But I realise that all I've been talking about in this slot is TV. So whilst I'll certainly be tuning in to one of my favourite British shows, I think it's time to catch up on some movie watching. So come back next week to find out what I've been watching.

Monday, 20 October 2008


So from the Jewish New Year, there is basically a month of festivals. Which is very nice indeed. But add that to the normal weekly Saturday Sabbath, when we don't work, it means every time you turn round it's time to put your pens down and laptops away. Not helpful for building work momentum but that's ok.

Alas, the problem is, the blog suffers to. I'm sure you have all been grinding your teeth waiting to find out what we've noticed from watching tv this week. But unfortunately lack of time means you'll have to wait a bit longer. But the DVR is safely set for the conclusion of Sunshine, Sanctuary, and an edition of Imagine tomorrow night on BBC1, focusing on why love stories resonate so much, year after year. So anyone writing one, like I am now, should definitely try to catch this.

For now, it is time to return to my temporary booth, called a Succah, where we have been eating our meals for the past week. Well, except when it is lashing it down. Which is quite often in this country. We may be nuts but we're not completely mental.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Tranter misses the point

The following is taken from Broadcast.

Just before leaving her post as BBC Head of Fiction, Jane Tranter issued a parting shot against the "fetishisation" of single drama. Tranter criticised as "anachronistic" calls to revive strands such as Play for Today to address social issues. "There's a very good place for the single play on TV, but you can also get it in the theatre and in the cinema," she said. "Neither theatre or cinema can do a six-part series." Singling out stripped Peter Moffat's five-part drama Criminal Justice, Paul Abbott's six-part thriller State of Play and Peter Kosminsky's 1999 serial Warriors, Tranter added: "There's an imaginative shape, form and scheduling to TV drama. There's a fetishisation around the single play that's undermining these pieces. "When people talk about risk, they talk about singles, but it is the least risky thing you can commission. A great big chunk of something new – that's risky."

As my title would subtly suggest, I think she has missed the point. Tranter was often accused of commissioning to her taste, and nothing else, but as I don't know her, I have no idea whether this is true or not! But in terms of risk taking, it's not about size, it's about pedigree. For the sake of this article, let's leave aside the quality of something. Because no one sets out to write, commission, produce and broadcast a bad piece of television. Of course we all know that it doesn't always work out, for whatever reason, but I think we can hope that the intention, at least, was there.

So I assume that Tranter is not talking about quality either. Because of course, series or one off, she would only commission what she deemed to be excellent work. So this is purely about risk taking. Why, therefore, is a series from established talent like Paul Abbot, Peter Moffat and Peter Kominsky, riskier than a one off like Fiona's Story from someone with no apparent track record like screenwriter Kate Gabriel? By the same token, is one off God On Trial, from the experienced Frank Cottrell Boyce, riskier than commissioning Harley Street, created by virtual newcomer Marston Bloom? (Yes I was critical of Harley Street, and I didn't think another medical series was bold commissioning, but the fact that it was from an inexperienced writer was its one saving grace.)

I think you can see where I am going with this. "Taking risks" has become a buzz word that people, particularly commissioners, like to flock too, because it shows how bold and talented they are. But taking risks, real risks, is not limited to whether something is a six part series, a one off, a controversial subject matter or whatever. It's also about who you are backing to deliver the content. What would be far more beneficial for the industry are more risks in giving newer writers a chance to write on a high profile series, and ultimately given the chance to create their own.

I'm not talking about handouts. Remember we are not talking about quality here. That has to be a given. Rubbish work should obviously not pop up on telly just because it's from a twenty year old. But if the scripts are good enough, then the writer should also be deemed good enough, old enough, young enough, experienced enough... whatever. Back the talent, not just play safe with the track record. Now that would be a risk worth taking note of.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Things we noticed watching tv this week (spoilers)

With everything that's been going on, I haven't watched as much telly as usual! But, having missed it first time around on BBC1, I caught the beginning of the Damages re-run on BBC4. I'd heard good things about it of course, but wow, I was immediately very impressed indeed. Episodes are being shown in blocks of two, so in under 120 minutes of screen time, I am already hooked.

Continuing our discussion about caring about morally questionable characters, Damages comes up with two absolute gems. I guess the protagonist of the show is actually Ellen Parsons. She's the Tom Cruise of The Firm character; a young, idealistic lawyer unaware of what the hell she is getting into. But far more fascinating to watch are Patty Hewes, her ruthless boss played by Glenn Close, and Arthur Frobisher, the man she is taking to court, played by Ted Danson (doing something we've never really seen from him before?). Very quickly, the intricate twists in the plot made us feel sympathy and revulsion for both characters in equal measure. First you were on the side of one, then the other. It's mighty writing and it did make me wonder, yet again, why we can't do more of this over here?

It can't be that the audience won't like it, because we lap these shows up when they come over from the states. I don't believe we don't have the writers, although it's true that maybe enough of the newer ones aren't getting a chance. We probably don't have enough risk takers in commissioning, but even that seems a weak excuse. Take Sunshine, on BBC1 with Steve Coogan. I will be talking more about this show next week but I happen to like it, in terms of what it was and what it set out to deliver. But it was all so frothy and cuddly. It's about a guy, a good guy at heart, who loved the people around him, and yet also has a gambling addiction that makes him betray them, and us as the audience, at every turn. The show didn't need to be horrible and grim and depressing. But some complexity might have been a good thing. Does it need, for example, the annoying, sugary voice over from his young son? What is this actually adding. The most poignant moment of the first episode was the sequence where opera music played over it and we saw Coogan lose all their savings and teeter on the edge. But tonally, it was completely out of sync with everything that had come before it.

But as I say, I liked the show and it's only 3 parts (another weird thing - can we not make longer running series either?) so I will be tuning into the rest. Can't wait for the next installment of Damages though. Saturday night, BBC4

Saturday, 11 October 2008

strikes and gutters

It's been an interesting couple of weeks, that's for sure. Before I get into that, I just want to thank everyone who posted congratulation notes here, on facebook, sent emails and texts. I knew my family would be over the moon, and I knew my friends would be delighted, but for people I don't know or only know through the industry and cyberworld, to take the time to send a message, that was really special and I was genuinely touched.

So it all started 2 weeks ago... when I cracked a disc in my back. It's called a prolapsed disc and it's when a disc cracks, the jelly oozes out and rubs up against the nerve, causing, well, you can imagine - squeamish? It's the third time I've done it, to the same disc each time, and it's a bloody nightmare. It means I've been pretty laid up since, and did not help me enjoy my Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. I was depressed, down in the dumps, questioning anything and everything about what I believe, what I've done, and what I'm doing in my life. A few days later I got the news that I won the award.

Does one ever expect these things? No, probably not. But I can safely say this was totally out of the blue. After I was shortlisted for the RPP, I thought here we go, this is it. This will propel me on the career path. And I failed to get onto the next two schemes I applied for. On this occasion, I discovered that I hadn't made the five person shortlist for the 4Talent Award in the dramatic writing section. Good luck to those that did, but you know what my submission was? The Red Planet script and The Storyteller - so pretty solid work I think! Which just goes to show, you pay your money you take your choice.

This is a subjective business. Success or failure is so often dependent on the opinion of a few individuals. But I think what has been reinforced is that, on spec at least, you write for yourself, first and foremost. The job is then to find other people who like it! Trying to do it the other way around is unlikely to work.

I should have also said that in this two week period came Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. We fast for 24 hours and spend most of that time in shul, praying and repenting for all our sins over the last 12 months. It's intense. If you believe in all this stuff, like I do, it's very intense. And I don't think I have the easiest ride so I often wonder what God wants from me. I don't have the hardest either, there are of course many people with more problems than I. But that is no consolation to me (that would be weird, right? I've always had a problem with the 'there are those worse off than you' argument. Well yes, I know. Am I supposed to draw comfort from other people suffering more?) But as my mate, Toby, said last Friday, "I like the fact that when you were talking about having problems with the Big Man last week, a few days later you get this amazing news." I'm not proselytising! Like I said, you pay your money you take your choice.

So what did I learn, or rather, have been reminded of, over these last two weeks. There are always going to be ups and downs, personally and professionally. Bring on the next two weeks. Like my good friend Jeff 'The Dude' Lebowski would say, it's all strikes and gutters.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award

I'm delighted and unbelievably grateful to announce, first and fastest on this blog, that I've won the Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award!

Unusually for me, I'm a little bit speechless but, in case I never win anything ever again, I want to thank my workshop group for helping me slog it out and develop what was a difficult script to write.

I'm being flown to New York towards the end of November to take part in the International Emmy's Festival and will of course keep everyone updated with everything I get up to, right here!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Things we noticed watching tv this week 8 (spoilers)

This weeks column is dedicated to one of my favourite shows of recent years, now back for a third season. It is of course, Heroes (BBC1 & 3).

I think season one of Heroes was possibly the most addictive debut series I've ever seen. I stumbled across it on the Sci-Fi Channel, before BBC even had a sniff of it, and was hooked straight away. Like we've mentioned in recent weeks, in particularly with Lost in Austen, it's such a simple idea, albeit developed extremely well, but for some reason, most of us only see that in hindsight. That is what is separating us from Tim Kring at the moment! Well, that and the opportunity of course. How is the basic concept of Heroes any different from X-Men? Evolutionary genetic mutations have meant that some of us have super powers, and some of us don't. It's pretty simple, right? Come up with a bunch of interesting characters and powers, and you're half way there. That's true to a certain extent. But in other ways, you're nowhere. Heroes is not a character piece. It's a thriller and the plotting is so important. In actual fact the perfect demonstration of this is the difference between Season One and Season Two.

In Season One, the writers used dramatic irony to fantastic effect. We often knew just a little bit more than the characters, but still had a million questions of our own to keep us coming back each week. And there was always an active question, a cliff hanger, at the end of each episode. The other crucial factor was that although the different characters had their own mini goals, we knew, even before they all did, that the overall end game was to stop New York from blowing up.

By Tim Kring own admission, there were many mistakes in Season Two. But probably the biggest single one was not having an overall season goal for all the characters. The story about the virus that gets out and destroys virtually all of mankind was superb, as was Peter's trip into the future showing this desolate landscape. But it all kicked off far too late. For too much of the series the stories of many of the characters seemed unattached to anything else going on. In the end, the writers' strike probably did the show a favour by forcing to bring it to a hasty close. The virus was destroyed, the world was saved, and Nathan was about to reveal the truth about the powers some now had... only to be gunned down by an unseen assailant, giving us the perfect series cliffhanger.

So Season Three opened with the revelation that what Nathan told the world caused a fraction in it, a war between, as X-Men would put it, mutants and non-mutants. So Peter travels back from the future to shoot his own brother, thus keeping the secret. I've watched the first two episodes, and my main concern is that we are in Season Two danger - i.e. that the overall world saving thrust of the story is yet to be revealed. We are told that there is a butterfly effect due to Peter coming back from the future, and by him changing things, more and more bad stuff is going to happen. But at the moment it is confusing and lacking focus. There is also much talk of a formula, possibly a genetic modifier to give people powers, and Suresh is experimenting with one whilst Hiro is chasing a stolen piece of paper containing another. New characters are being tentatively introduced whilst the familiar ones all jostle for position. Needless to say, I think things need to be brought together into a cohesive whole... and fast. The thing that was so impressive about Heroes 1, was that although it was built on a foundation of active questions, I never felt confused as to what was going on. The same cannot be said about another show based on the same principle. Lost confuses more often that it delights and for this reason many have just become fed up with it.

Another problem, and one that many a tv series has faced, is the level of threat facing the characters. No one really big has been killed off in Heroes, and it's set in a dangerous world. The same can be said about Lost. The trouble is catch 22. They create great characters that we all love to watch, and resist killing them off. In fact, can anyone significant in Heroes actually be killed off?? Nathan has already been brought back from being blown up in a nuclear blast and shot. Peter and Sylar seem pretty invincible, and whilst examining her brain, Sylar tells Claire he couldn't kill her even if he wanted to as she can't die! It's a tricky situation because it decreases the stakes, but it's one that The Sopranos and 24 handled well. Those shows could function as long as Tony Soprano and Jack Bauer lived. Anyone else was expendable! I think some brave decisions need to be made in Heroes, because when you think about it, what has Nathan, for example, done since the season one finale?

But all being said, this series of Heroes has got off to a cracking pace and I really hope they right the wrongs of the previous season. Overall the show is fantastic and I am still loving it. It's a great example of how to construct compelling, addictive, television.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Script Reading on the Blog **Update**

It's been a month since I launched my own script reading feedback service and it's been really interesting to see how its developed. I started it because I felt that most of the services on offer were extremely expensive for writers, who often work in isolation, to get consistent, quality feedback on scripts.

And by the response I've had it's clear that there is certainly a need for it. I had initially said that for the time being at least, I would only read scripts. But as well as features, I had enquiries to read thirty minute scripts, first ten pages and one pagers for Red Planet, as well as general outlines. And being that I can't say no, I didn't turn anyone away! It's not a purely altruistic gesture of course. I get paid a reasonable but not exorbitant fee, which still comes in handy when it's time to pay the rent. But let's be honest, it won't make my fortune - hopefully my own screenwriting will do that! But the point is there was a genuine desire for constructive feedback. And I have an equally genuine desire to help people improve their work. As I've stated many times, I sit on both sides of the desk and know how useful it is when I receive feedback about my own work. And it really is in everyones interest for the slush pile out there to be better and better. It will produce a more profitable British industry and garner more respect for our screenwriters.

But I wouldn't be a very good feedback service if I didn't take on board feedback about the service! I myself have realised that whilst the front page logline, table and brief comments are useful, the overall mark is pointless and stupid. So that has been removed! There was also a general feeling that the synopsis wasn't as helpful as I thought it would be, especially in projects that are still in early stages of development and finding their feet, as it might be deemed as too prescriptive. So this too has gone. Instead, the report will be more focused on development notes; what's working, what's not, and a look at characters, theme, genre, structure, dialogue etc. This was felt to be the most important aspects in developing the project and I am happy to oblige.

However there was one further element to my service, a bit of a gimmick some might argue, but an honest attempt to get attention for other writers. Each month the best script and writer was going to get coverage on the blog. But this hasn't worked so well and I hold my hands up to making a mistake. The problem was this. Most of the reading I have done previously is for production companies. And so by the time it reached me, the script was 'finished' to a certain extent. It was therefore easy to take a pile and judge them against each other. That after all was the whole point. I would recommend which ones were worth the executives reading themselves. But at Script Reading on the Blog, I am quite rightly seeing work at all different stages of development. It's impossible, futile, and counter productive to judge a first draft script against one that is in its fourth or fifth draft. What's more important is I help the work, at whatever stage, improve and develop further. So the competition element of this service has been scrapped and it's a lesson learned for me.

Nevertheless I hope the service goes from strength to strength. What's important is that the fees are still the lowest around and everything is turned around in under a week!

So here's a breakdown of what's now on offer from Script Reading on the Blog:

Film or TV scripts between 70-120 pages = £35 (over 120 pages will be £40)
Film or TV Scripts up to 70 mins = £30
Script extracts, for example first 10 pages (useful not just for RPP) = £15
Short Film scripts up to 15 mins = £15
Story outline/synopsis/treatment = £15

And if any of the above doesn't quite fit with what you'd like, email for a quote.

Please note: Follow up discussion, either on email or over the phone, will not only be allowed, but actively encouraged, and free of charge!

Look forward to reading you work.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Euroscript Comedy Writing Workshop

Last weekend, screenwriter Trevor Walsh attended the Euroscript Comedy Writing Workshop. Here is his report!

Knock Knock, Who's There? The chicken, The chicken who? The chicken who crossed the road to attend Euroscript Comedy Workshop. It remains to be seen if my joke telling improves as a result, it can't get much worse than this opener.

The first day kicked off with an examination of joke structure, covering the various methods of creating gags and one liners. We brainstormed a random list of famous characters, followed by a list of landmark settings. My effort: What's the difference between Jordan and the Pyramids? One has protruding man made structures visible from space, and the other can be found in Egypt. OK not a great effort, but in my defense we were only given 5 minutes to come up with this gag and the mornings caffeine hit hadn't kicked.

This format pretty much set the scene for the rest of the day, a mixture of structure and theory lessons with practical writing exercises and presentations to the group.

Things got very interesting when we were asked to pick a news story from the days papers and expand on it to write a satirical sketch. I teamed up with a cool Muslim guy called Sec and we picked the news article about the Muslim fundamentalist hate preacher who's daughter was found to be a lap dancer. With a premise like that the sketch writes itself, however Sec came up with the excellent idea of a subversive sketch using the format of Channel 4's The Family and setting it in the household of the hate preacher at the point he finds out about his daughters new profession. This was our chance to test the boundaries, by the virtue of Sec being a Muslim we had carte blanche to be as politically incorrect as we wanted, and didn't we ever! Needless to say it went down well.

Saturday afternoon was dedicated to character development. We were split in to writing partnerships again and given random character traits and a set up to explore. Once we had a good handle on displaying character types through dialogue we were asked to write a stand up comedy monologue.

It’s a technique used by many a stand up, to focus inwardly at things we hate about our appearance, then things we hate about our habits and personalities, finally things that have frustrated us recently. We then flipped these around to find the positive benefits for the items we just listed. I found this to be an excellent method for getting the creative juices flowing.
We were then asked to choose a character trait and view some of our personal observations through the lens of this character. My character was a young, slightly paranoid, sarcastic, cynical, impatient version of me. People who know me may argue this is a good representation of me but I disagree profusely… at 30 can I still be considered young?

Overnight, we were asked to brainstorm interesting comedic characters for day 2 and Sunday was devoted to Sit Com writing. It was a practical day to hone the skills developed through Saturday. We were asked to brainstorm settings for a sit com, two lead characters with high comedic conflict potential and two supporting characters. My sitcom idea, Broken Records - An independent record label run by a cynical, sarcastic producer/owner who's very serious about making his label a success. His dad, an ex 70's rocker takes the artistic director role, and they are in constant conflict over the label’s output. The idea was ultimately fleshed out in to some initial opening scenes for a pilot episode.

Overall I felt this Euroscript course is heavily TV focused but I believe it also had a lot of insightful information for feature writers looking to inject a comedic edge in to their scripts. The heavy and sometimes intense requirement for participation is not for everyone, but I highly recommend writers with an interest in comedy to give this workshop a go. Euroscript are running another Comedy workshop spring next year, check their website for details.

Thanks, Trevor. I'd like this to become a regular feature for this site. Obviously I will always report on events I attend but I can't go to everything! So I welcome guest blogs from anyone and everyone who wishes to report on a course, workshop, lecture or networking event they have been to. Just email me at the regular address!