Tuesday, 29 November 2011

LSF 3: In Conversation with Joe Cornish

After the Edgar Wright session there was a half hour break until the next one - In Conversation with Joe Cornish. So I'm hanging out with the very lively Adele Kirby who has been given permission by the festival organisers to get some short podcast interviews from speakers for use on another website. Cool.

Adele wasn't at the festival last year but I was. And more importantly, I knew where the Green Room was - the room the speakers get to hang out in for a bit of peace and quiet. So being the helpful fellow that I am, (and sniffing out a chance to get backstage passes) we trotted off to see who we could find to talk to. And we enter the building the Green Room is in, and who is sitting in a little Starbucks, all on their own, but Chris Jones, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish.

I'm not a shy person. Especially when I'm in this sort of environment. So we went straight in there, told Chris who Adele was, and was ready for a private chat with Edgar and Joe. Nor, it should be said, do I get particularly tongue tied when networking. However I wasn't expecting Adele to get her recording device out, wave it in front of Edgar, and go "so Jez, what questions do you have for Edgar Wright."

Cue gormless stare and birds tweeting. I really don't remember what I said. Some stupid babble about admiring his work, how old he was when he broke into the industry, how old he was now and what he has already achieved. Honestly it was awful. It was particularly ironic considering Edgar had spoken in his session about what it was like meeting and working with Spielberg - and how he didn't just blab about how much he loved Raiders but tried to connect with him on a shared love of film, David Lean movies, etc. And no disrespect to Edgar - but he's not Steven Spielberg. I mean I loved Shaun of the Dead, and liked Hot Fuzz. But I mean honestly, I just stood there like an idiot.

So here's a tip from me. You know you're going to the festival. You know by and large who is going to be there. If you have trouble sleeping like I do, spend some time lying in bed at night in the few days before the festival thinking about what insightful cool stuff you would said if you happen to bump into, see, stand next to in the toilet (use with caution that one) Speaker X, so you don't end up looking like a moron.

However I did get to apologise in advance to Joe Cornish, that if he saw me leave half way through his upcoming session, it wasn't because he'd bored me into an early exit, it was because it was Friday afternoon and I had to get home in time for the Sabbath. He was very magnanimous about it.

So hear are my notes from half of being In Conversation with Joe Cornish:

Joe was mugged in 2001 and had the idea for Attack the Block in his head for about 4 or 5 years. He got money from the Film Council and Film4 to develop what at that stage was just a 5 page outline and a 'mood book.' Joe loves to sketch and grew up in the eighties surrounded by that style of marketing. He'd created a book that tried to capture the feel and look of the movie and pitched with that alongside the outline. When we go to the movies sometimes all we see is the movie poster, the tagline and the premise. Joe began from there and fleshed it out from that starting point.

Attack the Block is a pretty straight forward chase movie so once he had figured out the inciting incident, why the aliens were chasing the kids, how to trap them in the block, and how to get the trajectory of going upwards, the rest was filling in the detail that was greatly informed by research.

Joe knew he had to go out and research that world. He grew up around those areas but would be lying if he said he came from there. He went to loads of youth clubs and sat down with a group of young people, switched on his tape recorder and talked them through the story. "You're coming home from football practice and you see this..." and Joe had visuals of the aliens sketched out by a friend of his in urban environments. And the kids just responded. Joe let them talk it out and asked questions; what would you do, where would you go, how would you defend yourselves, who would you want to defend, who would you be less interested in defending, if you went home to get something to defend yourself what would it be, who would be at home at that time of day, etc.

And once he'd done that they identified the pairs of friends who were sparking off each other in those larger groups and went back to talk to them again in smaller groups, often just asking about their lives, their interests, what was in their pockets, what they like on TV.

Because in part, Joe was terrified of actually sitting down and writing the damn thing. But also because Graham Linehan had once told him not to worry about not writing and to wait until your brain bucket is so full of stuff that you can't not write. And you never know what might be relevant to the story when you start working your way through it.

He filled up two A4 files of verbatim transcripts of what those young people had said to him and he typed it up himself, as if learning a foreign language, to get the slang and the rhythm right. He talked to people who had been mugged, talked to residents in the tower blocks. So when he was writing, if he got stuck he could pull something out of reality to help him out, and not have to make it up. But it was when they cast they were also testing the dialogue as the real acid test.

Obviously the movie is heightened reality and slightly simplified so it travelled abroad. Joe was aware that fantastic movies like Trainspotting and stuff from Shane Meadows has struggled in this respect (often using subtitles even in the US!)

There are two types of alien movies - there's withhold the monster type, which Joe loved in the eighties but there was a point in the late eighties where it started to get stupid because the creature was built up so much when it was finally revealed, it couldn't possibly live up to expectations. So the other sort is to reveal the monster early but play on the multitude. Similar to Gremlins, and perhaps the difference between Alien and Aliens. Joe wanted to start with a withhold the monster type thing, but show enough - and then play on the multitude later on. And that's kind of how Zombie movies work too. So they had to come up with something they could show, but not too much, and that's where the shadowy type thing came in. Joe knew they couldn't afford CGI creatures so in part it was a budget thing, but also as a film goer he was bored of movie aliens. He likes the real stuff, like Yoda in Empire Strikes Back, or in Gremlins. And as a kid it wasn't like he didn't believe in those things. In fact maybe even more so because they were actual physical things that were there. So in Attack the Block they had a guy in a suit, and then used low fi CGI to actually remove detail, rather than add it. But it was a big sticking point in development. People often asked how are you going to do this and all these creatures. So they had to kind of prove it could be done.

There were still things they couldn't afford to do. There was a sequence of them fighting the aliens up the side of the block in a kind of Errol Flynn balcony type thing and they had scouted locations and story boarded it and about a month before the shoot realised they couldn't afford it. And it was tough then for Joe to maintain the momentum and geography of the story. But he was reading a book at the time about the making of Star Wars and an anecdote that George Lucas wanted a planet for Darth Vader and a separate spaceship - but they couldn't afford both. So he combined the two. And Joe reckoned okay, if the Death Star can come out of a budgetary restraint, then he could figure out his thing. But it was really like a maths problem and he hates maths. Was always better at creative writing.

Joe took a Robert McKee course when he was 24 and read all those books - but they actually gave him writers block because it made him feel like everything he wrote was wrong somehow. And every time he wrote something he would compare it to some sophisticated template and it wouldn't fit - and that actually held him back for years and years. He felt somehow he wasn't good enough etc. But working with Edgar on Ad Man really taught him to forget all that. He reiterated Edgar's advice - don't let it be a chore. If it becomes a chore then you are doing something wrong. Why not enjoy it? Or, maybe a better question, why are you not enjoying it?

And unfortunately, that's round about where I had to leave.

I was back at the festival on Sunday and the first session I went to then was Hollywood Pitching, with Jonathan Newman, Stuart Hazeldine and David Reynolds.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

LSF 2: In Conversation with Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright was the second session I went to. I kinda felt bad for the other speakers in this slot because Edgar was a late addition to the festival line up and judging by the fire risk size of the audience, a lot of people had clearly also made a late switch.

Edgar Wright made his first film, A Fistful of Fingers, when he was around – staggeringly – the age of 20. But by his candid admission, the film was powered along by its own naivety and if anyone had stopped to think about it, it probably wouldn’t have happened. It’s not the greatest film of all time and didn’t turn out the way he planned or it was in his head. He doesn’t like to badmouth it, because a lot of good people that he still knows and works with worked on that film. But he realised he was trying to run before he could walk and was more obsessed by the idea of making a film before he was 20, then getting the film right.

It’s 78 mins long and they had to actually pad it out to make it that long. Which was another thing that he learned. Make sure the script is right first. The edit room is the final draft, but you can save yourself a whole lot of trouble by getting it on the page and the script right first. The film actually got a small release and came out the same weekend as Golden Eye. That’s what you are competing against. It doesn’t matter how much less it cost to make. It’s now in the cinema and that’s the competition. And that’s worth keeping in mind.

Edgar got his first break through meeting Matt Lucas and David Walliams, which led to a TV directing job. And that was more like going to college. It was a second chance to learn his craft. He was only directing at this stage, having had his confidence knocked and taken a back seat from writing. Some early advice he got had come back to haunt him – don’t make a spoof as your first film. And you’re too young to be a comedy writer. Go out and live your life a bit first. By the time Shaun of the Dead came along, he and Simon Pegg thought they had. Zombies aside, it’s essentially kind of autobiographical, about wasters living in North London.

Edgar didn’t hesitate to say that professional relationships have been key to his success. Meeting someone like Simon, even before they did Spaced together, Edgar knew he wanted to do a film with Simon in the lead.

His writing process changes from project to project. Watching movies and documentaries can be useful – but sometimes it’s procrastination. However one of the great things about Hot Fuzz was the research with the police. Ride alongs, tours of regional stations, etc. There’s always something brilliant you’ll get out of research. Even for a comedy. There are bits in that movie that are so silly or little lines here and there, but they are the result of something someone said. With Shaun of the Dead there wasn’t much research to do because they were living those lives. But they’d never been police officers so thought they should.

When Edgar moved onto Scott Pilgrim, the tone attracted him and reminded him of Spaced. They never did a third series of that but he still felt he had an itch to scratch and liked that world of magical realism.

Edgar and Joe Cornish actually wrote on Tintin in 2008 – which shows how long animation takes. It was a different experience because he was just being paid as a writer. Not only were you working for Spielberg and Peter Jackson, but you have the books to live up to and be faithful to. Spielberg is like an icon – but he creates a great environment, which makes you feel free to suggest things, even certain shots, etc.

Then came the questions:

How many drafts does Edgar usually do?

For Fistful – clearly not enough. For Shaun, it was quite a long process probably through something like 10 drafts. It was with Film4 and then that collapsed and they had to go round to everyone, getting no after no, until Working Title. But it was a scary time because he’d been devoted to that and it’s like putting everything on black and if it doesn’t land, you’re broke and wasted three years. He turned down a really good proposal to direct a TV series because he was concentrating on getting that movie off the ground and when the producer heard this, she said if I had a pound for every time a director said that… And it was like wow, that’s how it is. That’s how hard it is.

What is it you think that Working Title responded to that the others didn’t?

Maybe they’d seen Spaced. But it’s difficult to get the tone across in comedy on the page. A lot of people who read the Shaun script, which is pretty much exactly what you see on screen, if you didn’t know what the style was going to be like, and thought it might be quite broad, Carry On style, they just didn’t get it. Some actors passed on it who they were really banking on because they just didn’t get it. On the other hand. Bill Nighy, who hadn’t seen any of their stuff, got it straight away and he was in.

What kind of development process do you go through when you start writing a script?

Different with Tintin and Scott Pilgrim, and even (the upcoming) Ad Man because comics exist. But him and Simon map out beat sheet in 3 act structure, flip chart, page per scene, keep writing on a flip chart until nothing left to write and you have to start on the script page one. Some of it never makes it into the film, just a chart about a character, what do they like, back story things, etc. It’s just good to get it all out there. Write it all out in a room together. But Edgar does go back to those screenwriting books, especially if he’s blocked. There’s a point where you’ve got to put those books away and just write. Read them once and put them away. This past summer he wrote something on his own for the first time in ages and that was tough because there was no one to bounce off. So he would find a couple of people who were sounding boards.

Before Shaun, he and Simon watched films they liked and tried to match them up to traditional structure and books – and it was interesting. Because some do and you can learn from that, but then again a lot don’t. But it’s an interesting exercise to take your favourite films and break them down.

You Exec Produced Attack the Block, how much involvement did you have with that?

Edgar met Joe ten years ago and similar to when he met Simon, wanted to do something together. Joe had never written a screenplay but they worked on stuff together and then he went off to write Attack.

What value do you think it would have to go into the world and say I’m a writer-producer, (not writer-director) and seek talent to put the big picture together?

Edgar has never been in that position but it could help. It might give you more control and power. The easiest way to get your script to the screen the way you see it, is to direct it yourself. That’s not to say it can’t work the other way around. But if you’re just a writer on your own, especially in Hollywood, you can get screwed over. That could be by a director, or an actor, who just decides to improvise around the dialogue. And you’d be surprised how often that happens. So the more power you have, it’s going to help. But if you’re really precious about something, do it yourself. That’s what Tarantino did. He was always very protective over his scripts and there were ones he was happy with and ones he wasn’t as happy with. And now he’s not ever written or is ever likely to write for anyone else.

What mistakes have you made?

Edgar said he didn’t really think Fistful through. He was really passionate about making a film but wasn’t serious enough about it. Everyone worked really hard but when he got a second chance with Shaun, he was determined not to mess it up and to make sure he got on screen what he had in his head.

What advice would you offer to screenwriters starting out today, or have writers block and just not getting where they need to get?

Edgar has had writers block and then you’ve got to treat the writing as something you love and not a chore. Go out and watch a movie and don’t feel guilty about it. Read other stuff, try and get inspired, even if it’s got nothing to do with what you’re working on. Do research and find something that sparks something off. Get feedback, which could do the same thing. In terms of starting out, probably two ways to do it. Either have a very strong, personal voice, or really zero in on what you want to sell. In LA it’s completely different. A lot of people over there it’s about writing the script but then also selling the script. You almost have to be a great salesman. So sometimes it’s a question of what kind of writer you want to be. Do you want to be recognised through your voice and be distinct that way, or do you want to be known as a writer who can turn their hand at lots of different things and genres. (Like Billy Wilder – so not a bad thing – it’s not being a sell out.)

And perseverance. A lot of people seem to be waiting for a hand out to get something made – but it never comes. You’ve got to go out and make it happen.

A cool session. And appropriately enough, next up, we're in conversation with Joe Cornish.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

LSF 1: Another 50 ways to break into the business

Apologies for the lateness of my LSF write ups - but the story begins... with a sequel. The follow up to last years 50 ways into the Industry. That session was extremely well attended, a great all round chat about the business, but only covered about, erm, 9 ways in. This year, chairman Danny Stack had other ideas. He had a list. A list dammit. Of all 50. And he was determined to guide Martin Gooch, Vadim Jean, Chris Hill and Bernie Corbett through it.

#1 Get a job as a runner or as an assistant to a producer or agent, etc

MG started off as a runner. He had no connections to the film industry but that's all he wanted to do. He went to America, couldn't get any work, came back here, did a degree, still couldn't get any work, so went to Soho, became a runner, and it all started from there. "I could've saved 4 years of my life." As soon as he did that he started to meet people. And he still works today with people he met then, 17 or so years ago.

VJ first job on a movie was as a runner - or actually a driver, going up and down the motorway ferrying people or equipment around. Most useful skill as a runner - reading an A-Z. (Although to be fair to Vadim runner technology, i.e. satnav, has come along way since his day.) You have to work for free to start with. Most of the people who come and work for him are rubbish because they have no common sense. But if you can make yourself invaluable, be the best runner ever, most of those have gone on to get paid work from him.

MG noted a lot of people in the audience looked a bit, erm, old, perhaps for a runner position. So forget about it, just go out and make a film!

#2 Join a writers group

CH - writing is a solitary endeavour and when you're starting out you might not have any contacts in the industry. And it's a way to meet other people etc.

#3 & 4 Online media, social networks, blogs, etc

DS You have to be careful how you present yourself, because it's a public forum and you don't want to end up looking like an idiot.

# 5 Write a script

VJ Because if you haven't actually got a screenplay to show, you're not a writer, you're a fantasist. Just write. If it's rubbish then throw it away. But you've got to do it.

MG Get into the habit of writing regularly, even if you don't feel like it. Write another script and another one and another one. Just one isn't going to be enough. And you have to rewrite and refine all the time.

DS Online distractions are just that. It's not working. Writing is working.

MG Turn the internet off. Martin isn't a morning person (and neither am I) His shoots start at 8am whereas most start at 7:30am (which still seems pretty early to me!) But when he's writing he starts at 9pm and goes onto 2am.

#6 Do as much as you can.

MG The only way you can get on in the film or TV industry and learn the skills you need is to do stuff. Be proactive.

#7 Join the Writers Guild

#8 Network. Things like the festival, obviously, but also Q&A screenings.

#9 Most networking things are rubbish. (Apart from LSWF obviously!)

It was suggested most of the time the people in the room are not the people you want to talk to. But I'm not sure I agree with this one. And to be fair the conversation then went onto a tangent that everyone can help everyone. Danny has got jobs through other writers he knows and Martin, if he isn't available for a job, will pass it onto other directors he knows.

#10 Read lots of scripts

#11 Get feedback on your own scripts

Not from friends and family. Everyone needs feedback but be careful who you get it from. Feedback from someone who doesn't know what they are talking about can be really damaging.

#12 Have a portfolio of scripts

Doesn't have to be features. Shorts too. MG's best short is 3 pages long. A really, really good short film is worth more then a bad feature.

#13 Screenwriting degrees and MA's

Access to filmmaking equipment is more available these days but in terms of meeting peers, learning the craft of writing, etc, these courses can be really useful. My own opinion is that there are some wonderful courses out there, that teach you a great deal, you'll meet really good people, and they also get you access to the industry. But there are also a lot of rip off courses out there too that are both a waste of time and money - so be careful and do your research.

#14 Don't give up the day job - or just yet anyway.

BC Save up and maybe take 6 months off to write. He knows a lot of people who have left their jobs to devote their time to writing and hoping a career will follow. But real life isn't always as straightforward as that.

MG Spent most of my life being skint. Whilst as a runner, a camera loader, a DP, whatever. And most of the time he'd be doing other jobs alongside that. (And he wouldn't tell anyone what they were!)

VJ runs a company that's a full time job. Producing and directing is his day job. But he writes, the passion projects, on trains and planes.

CH has a maths degree! He did some work as a tutor so figured he might as well use it. He saves up and then lives on bake beans for a couple of months.

DS It's tough but you can't use the fatigue from the day job, only to come home and put the kids to bed etc, to not write. It's really, really hard but that's what we've got to do.

MG A lot of people don't schedule in thinking time. Writing notes, going to see stuff, research. It's almost as important as the actual writing.

#15 Read the industry papers like Screendaily and Broadcast.

DS You can get a few people together and get a joint subscription and then read the content online.

#16 Get a job in a Distribution or Sales Agency to see the cutthroat decisions on which films get made and why.

CH It's generally not about the script, more about casting. But it's interesting to see which scripts cut the mustard and informs, to some extent, what he writes now.

VJ is 50/50 on this. On the one hand it's great to know this stuff and you have to write for the market. But so often the best stuff he reads does not come from this mindset.

#17 Get your autobiography out of the way.

BC When people are starting off in writing they often draw on their own experiences, which isn't necessarily a bad thing to do. But you need to get it out of your system. As a writer you're going to work on lots of projects. And that one may not be as interesting to others and you think it might be.

VJ Having said that, he's seen scripts based on someones life where it does have an emotional truth and does happen to be universal and it was the best thing that particularly writer had ever done. A lot of scripts he sees don't ring true because the writer isn't bringing any of their own life experience to the story.

MG Research is fun. He's spent a day on a London ambulance and in the London sewers.

DS Write what you know is an incomplete sentence - it should be write what you know about the human condition.

#18 Just ask and just do it

MG Because we're all obsessed with emails, the letter is coming back. He's had much more success with a letter. A poorly written email or letter is a very bad sign. As is getting an email with the body of the text in one font and the name in another - so obviously cut and pasted!

#19 Write and make a short film.

MG It's easier than ever. People approach him all the time to make their film and he just thinks well why don't you do it.

VJ The first time he took a script and shot it was a massive revelation. In the cutting room there was that horrible 'but that script was brilliant on the page' moment. And he got rid of it all except one line. Write a two page script, get a camera and shoot it. Because you'll learn so much and it will improve your writing more than anyone else. Unfortunately, not enough film execs have had experience actually making a film.

#20 Learn about contracts, copyright and industry practice.

BC Gets a lot of calls from people who have people interested in their script, but they have no understanding at all of the nuts and bolts of how contracts work and what rights they have, etc. There are books you can read. It's not particularly simple or interesting but it will repay itself. And if you are going to be a professional, you need to know this stuff. People seem to be overly worried about plagiarism, which is very rare, as opposed to Producers coming along with rip off contracts, buying up rights for no money, etc.

DS Producers will exploit you basically if you don't know what you're doing and you don't have an agent.

VJ - doesn't do that.

#21 Make the first 3 pages of your script amazing.

VJ It used to be ten. He doesn't use readers because he wants to read it himself. And the slate is big and the spec pile is massive. It comes down to a very basic do I want to know what happens next? Robert McKee and all that is useful to know the basic rules and especially when you get stuck. But what it basically comes down to is do you want to know what happens next and that has to be captured within the first 3 pages.

MG There isn't enough time to read everything. He picks up a script and flips to the back to see how long it is. If it's over 90 pages it's bloody hell. (And by the way ALL people reading scripts do this.) And if it's in the wrong font and spelling is awful, then forget about it.

CH Used to be a script reader and could tell within the first page whether it was going to be good or not.

VJ You're competing against everyone else, people who have far more of a track record than you and with scripts and a writer that he knows he can take to a broadcaster and get a commission. So you have to force him to read the whole of your script by having a brilliant opening 3 pages. This is even more the case in TV. In film it's easier to make a feature from a new writer. But the principle about the script remains true.

#22 Have a story

Following on from that, it should really go without saying that a brilliant opening will only get you so far. It may well convince the reader to read the whole script. But if that doesn't stack up, it's going to count for nothing.

VJ A lot of screenplays have no story. They don't have that basic fairytale element, a beginning, middle and an end, something that takes you on a journey. Are people actually going to want to see this thing you've written? Have a story. He writes most of his stuff with other people and he's working more and more with writing teams. Because it's great for bouncing off ideas etc. And it can also be more fun.

#23 Get an agent.

VJ They are a gatekeeper of sorts. And it protects both parties. You might think your idea is really unique but very often it's not. For some bizarre reason every broadcaster at the moment seems to be working on something with a nanny. And it's not that they've stolen it from anyone. But fashions come in cycles.

BC Famous catch 22. Can't get any work until you've got an agent, can't get an agent until you've got work. There's a lot of truth in that. On balance they are helpful to writers. It's a relationship and a good one won't just be about reading your contracts. They'll read your work, talk about what you are working on, what you are working on next, give you feedback, etc. Don't rush into the first agent. Try and establish yourself a bit first so you can control that.

DS You don't need one, until you get one. You should be too busy and too proactive with your own writing. (I'm actually about to sign with an agency so I will speak more about this in a separate blog post soon-ish.)

#24 Go to Cannes

MG has been 11 times, and next year will be his 12th. He sold a screenplay this year at Cannes so it can happen. He sets a budget for £500, finds somewhere cheap to stay and eats everyone else's food.

BC You can't just turn up though. You have to get accreditation. The Writers Guild can do this but only to bona fide candidates.

#25 Maintain contact with your network

DS Every few months keep in contact. Not just hi how are you just checking in. But ask about what they're doing, if there is anything you could work on etc. Obviously be cool and polite about it.

#26 No money, no work, no £1 options, no deferred fees.

BC Very dogmatic about it, don't do any work unless you're getting paid. There are some grey areas especially when you're starting out. But we are talking about a multi million pound industry where people get paid for what they do. And that's the whole basis for a professional career. £1 shows no serious commitment to the project. They'll be taking taxis to meet financiers and buying dinners so why can't they pay you? If your script is under option you can't do anything else with it. Very occasionally, he has known producers to take an option on a film to stop it getting made, because they have something similar in development (This was, perhaps in my own naivete, completely shocking to me!) A lot of producers around live a fantasy life, hoovering up projects, when they don't have the skills, contacts, experience to do anything with it.

CH £500 shows a certain level of commitment. He's been in both positions, and the £1 option is often there at the beginning and can be tempting to get the ball rolling.

MG Works for free for himself and his mates - anyone else has got to pay. If you came in and did the plumbing, you get paid. Or at least get them to buy you are really nice lunch. People are exploiting our love of film.

BC A lot of small budget projects will work on deferments and that means later on, not non existent. Get something in writing what will come back to you if there is a profit. Partnerships are more common. If you trust the producer then fine - but get something on paper. It will save a lot of lawyers fees later on.

DS Producers come to him with no money, but with a one page agreement that if there is to be any development money or other money, you get a slice of it. So there is a bit of a carrot there - they're not just taking advantage.

(This is quite an interesting and far reaching topic and I will try and do a longer blog post on it soon-ish.)

#27 Never give up

BC In any given year there are around ten thousand film scripts floating around the industry - and one hundred get made. Those are your chances. So you have to absolutely love it.

MG The magic, the love and the passion is the most important thing. If you don't have it, stop now. Because it's really, really hard. But when you do see your name on the screen credit it's the best thing ever.

That was the end of the first session I attended. And yes, we only got just over half way. But it was a fine effort and these are my paraphrased notes. So apologies to any of the panel involved if I have misquoted anyone.

Coming next... In Conversation with Edgar Wright, Wright, Wright

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

And all your RPP questions answered

Courtesy of Danny Stack - here we go...

1. What is a single play?
A single play is a one-off story. For the purposes of the competition, this would be a one-off 60-minute TV script (typically 50 pages min - 80 pages max). In general, pilot scripts are more popular and common for submissions to the competition but feel free to submit a single play if you don’t have an idea for a pilot script.

2. What is a pilot script?
A pilot script is the first episode of a potential new TV series.

3. Will you accept 30-minute scripts or feature length (90-minute+) scripts?
No. 60-minute original TV scripts, please.

4. Is there any particular genre you’re interested in?
We’re interested in great writing, and don’t mind what genre it comes in.

5. Can I submit an adaptation I’ve written of a book/game/other source?
No. Original scripts only please, even if you’ve adapted from your own book/game/other source.

6. What’s a logline?
A logline is a brief description of your story idea. For example, ‘A British cop gets sent to the Caribbean to solve murders.’ A logline shouldn’t be mistaken for a tagline e.g ‘In space, no-one can hear you scream’ (from Alien).

7. Should the 100-word synopsis summarise the script, or the series as a whole?
Whatever you think best represents the idea, story or script.

8. For the first round of submission, why just the first ten pages of a script?
It’s a truth universally acknowledged in the industry that the first ten pages of a script indicate a great deal about a writer’s talent as well as how the script is shaping up.

9. If my first ten pages end in the middle of a scene, should I submit additional pages?
Please submit the first ten pages only, regardless of where the scene ends. Similarly, please do not send the full script at the first round stage. These will be immediately disqualified.

10. Can I enter more than once?
Writers can enter once as themselves, and once as part of a co-writing team. Multiple entries from an individual will result in disqualification.

11. Can I get feedback on my first ten pages, or on my script?
Unfortunately, due to the large number of submissions received, feedback cannot be given for scripts that are unsuccessful.

12. Should my script end on a cliffhanger?
That’s up to you, and the story!

13. I’ve rewritten my script that got rejected last year. Would it be a bad idea to resubmit it for this year’s competition?
Not necessarily. If the script represents your best writing, then feel free to resubmit.

14. When is the deadline?
16th January, 2012.

15. Should I wait to write the rest of the script?
We strongly advise that you write the entire script, as there will be little turnaround once we request the full script to read.

16. Can I submit a script that has been optioned by another producer or production company?
We want original scripts that have not yet been optioned or produced. If your script gets optioned (or an offer) whilst in consideration for the competition, please get in touch to let us know.

17. What happens if my first ten pages get through to the second round?
We will request the full script. Once all of the full scripts have been read and assessed, we will make a longlist of the scripts/writers we wish to put forward for the competition’s final stages.

18. What are the competition’s final stages?
A shortlist will be compiled. Tony Jordan and the other judges will choose a winner. We expect this to be around Spring 2012.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Red Planet Prize

It's back :)

The Deadline is 16th January 2012.

Mark it in the diary folks.

Good luck!