Wednesday, 16 October 2013


On 15th September 2009 I posted this:

So grateful to so many people I can't name them all here - but four years and one month later, this appeared in Screendaily

Director John Goldschmidt has started principal photography in London on comedic drama Dough.

Umedia International handles world sales and will bring the project to market at AFM next month.

Yehudah Jez Freedman and Jonathan Benson wrote the script, about the unlikely friendship between an old Jewish baker trying to save his family bakery and a young Muslim refugee from Darfur trying to help his mother by selling cannabis.

Producers are György Gattyán, András Somkuti, Goldschmidt and Wolfgang Esenwein, with Bruno György and Geraldine East executive producing.

The cast feature Jonathan Pryce, Phil Davis, Ian Hart, Pauline Collins and Jerome Holder.

Goldschmidt’s Viva Films partnered with German producer Esenwein’s Three Coloured Dog Films to package and finance the project. The project has been set up as an official UK-Hungarian co-production with Budapest-based Docler Entertainment fully financing. Esenwein said: “We are extremely happy to be working with András and Bruno and Docler Entertainment and with the terrific cast and very high profile crew that we secured for this film. We hope that Dough will work as a feel-good movie for a wide audience of all age groups and from all cultural and religious backgrounds around the world, because the message of the film is that no matter how different people are and how many prejudices there are to overcome – in the end friendship can conquer all.”

The project shoots on location in London and at Budapest’s Origo Studios.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Funeral

Coming soon to the UK Jewish Film Festival

 Copyright © 2009-2013 BENIGN SAMUEL Art & Photography

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Discount to London Screenwriters' Festival 2013

As in previous years, my good friend Janice Day is offering a £24 discount to the London Screenwriters' Festival.

25th to 27th October 2013

London School of Film, Media & Performance
Regent's College

The list of speakers gets better every year  

For the discount code email me

Monday, 20 May 2013

Pears Short Film Fund

Every year the UK Jewish Film Festival gives away two grants of 10K each for 2 short films. This year, one of the those grants was given to friend and client Dave Herman. I read his script and really liked it, and I was made up for him when I found out he'd won.

But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly more excited by the fact that the other grant was bagged by... me.

The script is called The Funeral, and although I'm obviously not going to be giving away too many details at this stage, so far the team includes director Nick Green and the guiding hand of my boss at Viva Films, John Goldschmidt who will Exec Produce along with me.

We're in full Pre-Production mode and other members of the team, and of course cast, will hopefully be attached in the next few weeks, ready to shoot in July.

Something that has already been really useful to me is Danny Stack's advice, both on and off his blog, about the things he learnt whilst making Origin.

So of course I will try to do the same, as and when I can, because after all that's the whole point of blogs and a screenwriting community.

The film will premier at the Jewish Film Festival in November.

Everyone hold onto their hats...

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

New Screenwriting Websites

A couple of new websites have been created that I think are well worth a look for any up and coming screenwriter.
Run by Aaron Hubbard, it's a really simple but very interesting concept. Just interviews with UK scriptwriters. That's it. No ego, no self, no rambling on about dead prime ministers. Just a chat with someone doing the same thing we are, struggling with the same problems, finding different solutions, etc.
Created by Jason McKinnon, this looks like a monster of a site. I've only had a quick look around it so far but it seems like it has the makings of a great screenwriting resource.
Check them out


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award 2013

It's that time of year again. All the details and application form can be found here.
So as not to waste your time, remember you have to be a non US citizen and under 30.
Deadline is 1st July.
It seems like a million years since I won this, but I still remember it fondly as both an amazing experience and an important step along the career path.
Good luck.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Three of Us

This is a friend of mine's short film that only needs a bit more cash to be fully funded. I've read it, it's funny, but what's cool about this one is that for £50, you get a one-on-one session with the writer, Andrew Viner, to discuss and get feedback on one of your projects. 

And let's be honest, £50 is cheaper than most places you pay for written feedback. So to get a face to face session for that price, as well as other perks with just backing and being involved in a short film, is really good value for money.

I can also safely say that you will get top quality feedback from Andrew. I know this because I did my MA Screenwriting with him, have known him for almost ten years, and have co-written two features with him.

So to get involved, go here:

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Approach Shot

A couple of months into my new role at Viva Films, give or take and with a bit of time off for paternity leave :)

But I can confirm the rumours are true. 

Whenever you hear from people who work in development or even from agents for that matter, at say something like the London Screenwriters Festival, more often than not you will hear comic stories about how people have approached them to read their work. 

They all swear they are not making them up. And why would they lie, what would they have to gain? So I assumed it was true, but in the back of mind I still felt deep down that surely people can't be that.... erm... misguided.

But it really does happen. People really do send emails, for example, with just the title of their script, a pitch paragraph and then a closing line saying something like if you would like to read the script please feel free to contact me - or something like that. 
That's it. That's the email. Not even a Dear So and So. (Probably because it's been sent out to dozens of people)

That's just uncool. It's unprofessional. But more than that, you're not exactly doing yourself any favours. Because you are swimming against the tide. The competition is fierce. We should be doing everything we can to stand out, but not in a bad way (and not in a crazy, over friendly kooky way either I might add.)

Now. Here's the secret you may not have heard before. 

If the pitch paragraph is blinding. If it completely blows you away, there's no way anyone would cut their nose off to spite their face and not ask to read the script just because the introductory email sucked. Because no one wants to miss out on the next big thing. No one.

But how likely is that? Even if the script is amazing; pitch paragraphs, a little synopsis, call it what you want, are incredibly difficult to write and/or do justice to a 100 page screenplay you have poured your heart and soul into. 

So give it some help. Don't come across badly in an email that will mean if everything else is equal, and it's between you and the next email who took the trouble to personalise it and say a bit about yourself or whatever, and not seem like they are doing you the favour by sending you the email in the first place.... 

Well, you get my point. I'm sure none of you do that. But the rumours are true people. There are some out there.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Lazarus Machine

If you back one Kickstarter project this spring, back this one.

Why? Cos it's gonna be awesome.

(And no, it's nothing to do with me, I've just given script feedback a few times)

Monday, 11 February 2013

A couple of juicy opportunities

Employer: BBC
Location: London - Broadcasting House
Duration: Attachment/Fixed Term

With over 350 hours of in-house output a year, BBC Drama Production is making some of the most original, diverse and highly acclaimed television. These range from continuing drama such as Casualty, EastEnders, Holby City, and Doctors to series and serials such as Silent Witness, Luther and Silk, to name just a few!


Reporting to the Head of Talent Management in the first instance, you will work in close conjunction with the Producers to provide editorial and research support to the development team. You’ll be advising on all script matters connected with all stages of the production from the initial ideas stage, to amendments and to the shooting of the script. Generating creative ideas as well as long term story ideas, you will work with the production teams representing the writers’ interests, ensuring their consent to script changes as well as ensuring the scripts are editorially correct and carrying out the necessary checks.

Where necessary you’ll be restructuring and generating new storylines within your script as well as turning around creative drafts in short spaces of time. You’ll be expected to take steps to identify and encourage new writing talent and to maintain an up-to-date awareness of emerging talent.


People working within Drama Production are a talented, experienced and creative bunch. To join them it’s really important you have knowledge and understanding of new writers, copyright law, writer’s guild agreements, script sources and know the potential of emerging talent.

To be successful you will have substantial script-editing experience and a keen interesting popular entertainment, in particular drama.

You will have excellent communication, relationship building, team working and creative skills.

Drama production can involve long and unpredictable work patterns and pressure to meet tight schedules so you will need to have a flexible approach to their working day.

You can apply for this role and learn about how we do things at the BBC, by visiting

Alternatively, please call 0370 333 1330. Textphone 02890 328 478.

Apply to: BBC Recruitment

2. BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum
2013 Spring Call for Submissions

The format remains the same: three ten-minute script extracts will be selected from applications sent from emerging writing talent all over the country, which are performed by professional actors in front of a live audience and critiqued by a high profile industry guest from the television drama world. The event takes place on 13 May at BAFTA headquarters, 195 Piccadilly in London.

Early Bird Closing Date for submissions on 22 February 2013.

Final Closing Date will be 18 March 2013.

Full details of how to apply can be found on

Monday, 4 February 2013

From Gate Crasher to Gate Keeper?

One of the things I was alluding to in my New Year's post has now been finalised. As of now, amongst the other things I do, I will now be working as Head of Development for Viva Films.

As I mentioned at the beginning of January, it takes me in a slightly different direction, but in truth, it really continues and builds on what I've already been doing for quite a while.

Viva Films and John Goldschmidt in particular are people I've come to know very well over the last few years and my transition is really one from being a freelance help to the company - as well of course as writing for them, to taking on a more active, day to day, official position.

I believe British films should make money, because that is the only way to grow a sustainable industry. Box office returns are impossible to predict, despite what Sales Companies would have financiers believe. But at the very least, we need to try and make films that people actually want to go out and see. But I also believe films should have something to say, even if that is just in a general thematic sense, and not a didactic message.  

And I don't think those two are mutually exclusive. I think Viva Films has an incredibly exciting slate that is trying to do that and I also hope there is room to add one or two projects. But overall, it was very clear early on that theirs was a philosophy and vision that I shared, and so taking this role was the logical next step.

It's up to me now to find a balance between what I do and how I divide my time, and I will definitely continue working on my own projects because that's what I love and that's why I got into any of this in the first place.

What it might mean, as I suggested in January, was that I blog less (and to be honest it's been slowly declining for a while!) Time management is very important, especially for freelancers and in my screenwriter guise, that's what I still am. So sometimes things have to give and in truth I was running out of steam with this blog anyway.

But it did occur to me that most of the blogs I follow are by screenwriters and script readers/editors/consultants. Very few, if any, are by people on the other side of the desk. And I've learnt an incredible amount about the industry from my relationship with Viva Films, that has undoubtedly influenced and helped my writing. So, as the whole point of this blog in the first place was to filter down useful information, tips and advice, to writers coming up behind me, it seems like there is still scope to do that, but maybe from a slightly different angle.

Having said that, the film industry is a precarious business. Just when things look like they are in the bag and greenlit, multiple rugs can be pulled from under you. And I think especially because it's a creative industry, confidentiality can often be paramount. So naturally I will be extremely careful about what I say and when I say it. But hopefully some useful things will still emerge, even if it's just every now and then.

Happy writing.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Walk the Line screenwriter in town

If those new resolutions of writing more etc, are beginning to wane, this might be of interest.


This is a unique opportunity for UK writers to work with an inspirational writer and practitioner. Gill Dennis is Master Filmmaker in Residence at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, and co-writer of the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line (2005).  He will be running a two-part workshop for eight writers (working in two smaller groups).

This course is suitable for screenwriters working on a feature or short film script, as well as novelists and/or short story writers who want to adapt their own work for the screen. 

There will be two workshop meetings for each group of four writers, plus a one-hour individual meeting with Gill for each writer.
  • Gill will read all the scripts in advance. Participants will be asked to read and discuss the work of three other writers.
  • The first meeting will be on Saturday 18 May. Group 1: 10.30am -1.30pm, Group 2: 2.30 – 5.30.
  • On Sunday 19th and Monday 20th Gill will meet each writer for a one-to-one meeting to set objectives for rewrites.
  • The two groups will meet with Gill again on Saturday 1 June (same times) to discuss the resulting revisions and changes.

GILL DENNIS's screenwriting credits include the Oscar-nominated film WALK THE LINE (2005); RETURN TO OZ (with Walter Murch, 1985); RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE (TNT, 1996); and an original mini-series, HOME FIRES, named as one of the top ten television events of 1987 by Time Magazine. He also worked on scripts such as THE BLACK STALLION, APOCALYPSE NOW and POLLOCK.

His current projects include FOREVER  with director Tatia Pilieva, now in post-production and SPANISH BLOOD with Aza Jacob, starring Jennifer Lopez and John Hawkes, which will be shot in the Spring.

As Master Filmmaker in Residence at the American Film Institute, Gill has mentored many of the new generation of American filmmakers, including Jonathan Levine (THE WACKNESS), Jacob Estes (MEAN CREEK), Goran Dukic (WRISTCUTTERS), and Aza Jacobs, whose feature TERRI screened at last year’s London Film Festival.

If you’d like to take part in this workshop please send a short writing sample together with a covering letter telling us something about you and your writing and the screenplay you are developing. No attachments. Paste text in the body of your message and email to this address:
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. If you are accepted, you will be asked to pay a deposit to secure the place, and to send in a full draft of your screenplay by mid to late April 2013. The balance of the course fee will be payable before the start of the course.

DEADLINE:  applications before 31st March.


Watch a clip of Gill Dennis talking about scriptwriting on You Tube HERE