Friday, 29 April 2011

2 minute screenplay competition - deadline Monday

Virgin Media Shorts is just around the corner and Trev Walsh at White Tiger Films is running a competition to find an entry.

Details can be found here.

I've done a fair bit of reading work for Trevor and he's a committed filmmaking learning his trade. This is a great chance for an up and coming screenwriter to work with someone as dedicated to making something that will stand out from the crowd, and using that as a springboard for bigger and better things.

It's not like anyone's going to work Friday. Something about a wedding. So plenty of time to get scribbling.

Good luck.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

It's funny, because it's true

No I'd rather stand, thank you. Sorry it's late but I wanted to get the girls settled down for the night.

Yes they're sharing Emma's bedroom. Still awake of course, I could hear them chattering away as I slipped out.

Yes I know they shouldn't be left alone in the house that's why I want to get this business settled quickly.

I've brought over the film script you unwisely rejected. The one about the producer whose daughter is kidnapped by a psychopathic screenwriter.

All you do is get it made. You own the company, you're head of production. Just do it. Naomi is a lovely kid. Hear what I'm sayin'? Don't worry, I'll see myself out. Goodnight.
(Roger McGough)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Juliano Mer-Khamis ‎1958 – 2011

I keep politics off this blog. It's not what it's about and therefore I don't think it belongs here. The only exception is when it impacts on writing and the arts. Unfortunately, this is one of those occasions. Last week Juliano Mer-Khamis was assassinated when he was gunned down in his car, sitting next to his 4 year old son, outside the Freedom Theatre he ran in the town of Jenin. By all accounts this professional hit was carried out by gunmen who were supporters of Hamas.

I didn't know Juliano. I never met him. I have read a couple of interviews with him and some of the statements he made. And therefore it's entirely possible that had I met him we would have strongly disagreed on pretty much everything. One declaration that his mother wasn't treated in an Israeli hospital when she was in labour and nearly bled to death because she was married to an Arab I can only assume to be an outright lie. Being somewhat accident prone I have been in Israeli hospitals many times. And not only are Jews who are married to anyone at all treated, Arabs themselves are treated in exactly the same way.

Nevertheless, Juliano ran a theatre dedicated to giving Arab youth something else to do, and presumably keep them away from being indoctrinated by the extremists around them. It caused controversy because it staged 'Western' plays and allowed women and girls not only to attend, but to participate too.

And so he was murdered. In cold blood. By his brethren. This despite the fact the he was vehemently anti-zionist, fully supportive of the Arab cause, uprising, worryingly so quite frankly for someone like me looking on. But this wasn't enough for some of his brothers in arms. He ran a theatre that was based on the arts, and liberal values and culture. And so apparently he deserved to die.

He was killed by fellow Arabs because he ran a theatre. And Israel are supposed to make peace with these people, who hide behind women and children in Gaza, firing their rockets, and killing even their own people when they disagree with them.

But apart from letting the horror of that sink in, one other strange thing struck me. Where is the outcry? Where are the open eds and letters and boycotts from the Ken Loach's, Mike Leigh's and Caryl Churchill's of the world - who are never slow to display hopping mad outrage when Israel inadvertently kills civilians when trying to defend its citizens from Hamas terror attacks - and thereby also displaying their complete ignorance and/or deliberate bias.

But this is one of their own. A director, actor, writer. Slain in cold blood for his artistic beliefs. It certainly wasn't for his political beliefs. And yet the silence is deafening.

I am at a loss to explain this. Is it because it doesn't fit into these people's mantra and agenda? Is it because it would highlight just what sort of people we are talking about here? Is it because it would make attending rallies with people holding placards saying we are all Hamas or Hezbollah now just that bit more repugnant than it already is? Dammit, why did it have to be Arab terrorists who killed him. It would have been so much more convenient had it been some Jews.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I've gone online, searched around, and missed all the open letters and statements of dismay from the artistic elite in this country. Maybe it's a Google conspiracy.


I'll just leave you to decide.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Let the cluster**** to Elstree begin

Applications for the 2011 BBC Drama Writers Academy will be open on 7th April until 5th May 2011. Please see the BBC Jobs website for an online application form. Now in its seventh year, the Writers Academy is a major initiative aimed at discovering and training the next generation of writers for BBC One’s flagship shows: EastEnders, Casualty, Holby City, and Doctors. The scheme works as an apprenticeship for writers.

The first part involves a three-month course taught by John Yorke, Controller of Drama. Writers then complete a broadcast episode of Doctors, and if this is accepted they then complete commissions on Casualty, Holby and EastEnders. Eight writers are selected out of hundreds of applicants to undergo the intensive 15-month programme designed to equip them with all the skills necessary to write successfully for BBC Drama. The course entails classroom training, lectures from the country's best writers, instruction in all aspects of television production, and direct writing experience on the four Continuing Drama shows.

What the Academy enables us to do is to attract writers with interesting and original voices to television. Many of the Academy writers come to us from Radio or Theatre backgrounds. Previous graduates have gone on to become core writers for Casualty, Holby City, or EastEnders, and also to write for other shows for the BBC and elsewhere. Over 80% of course graduates are still in constant work with us.

Entry requirements

You are eligible to apply if you have been paid to write for television, film, radio, or theatre. Along with your online application form, you will need to send in an original sample of your writing plus proof of a professional commission. The online application forms can be completed through the BBC Jobs website - after 11th April 2011.

The course breaks down as follows:

An introduction to writing for continuing drama series 13 weeks training made up of: Classroom lectures accompanied by intensive writing exercises, analysis, and individual tutorials, led by John Yorke. Guest lectures from leading British TV and film writers including Richard Curtis, Tony Jordan, Jimmy McGovern, Peter Bowker, Tony McHale, Sarah Phelps, and Barbara Machin. Workshops in all aspects of television production including directing, scheduling, production management, casting, and more. During this period each writer will also write an episode of Doctors.

Writing for broadcast

At the end of the 13 weeks, if their individual Doctors episode is greenlit for broadcast, each writer will rotate across EastEnders, Casualty, and Holby City, writing a broadcast episode on each show.

At the end of the 15 months, each writer will have written for each of the four shows. The BBC also has an option at this time to guarantee further commissions on the shows.