Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Cheltenham Screenwriting Festival: Dont's and Don'ts

Number 1: Don't lose your voice halfway through the proceedings. It makes networking more challenging.

Number 2: Don't neglect the unobvious activities available. Like playing croquet. I met just as many lovely people while playing croquet at the festival than I did at the specific networking events. Some would stop and look at the group of us with our mallets and say "Goodness, you're playing croquet", and friendship and career success would then swiftly ensue for all involved.

Number 3: Don't expect to be able to get a decent Martini within walking distance of the Golden Valley Roundabout in Cheltenham.

But that's enough negatives...

Hello there. It's taken me days to recover, but it was wonderful! Cheltenham 2008 is being covered on many many blogs, but I'll add my two-penneth here in overview, and then some anecdotes and notes over the next few posts. Some of the highlights for me were as follows:

* The Scribomeet Social on the first night. Thanks and kudos to Piers and Jason.

* The psychiatrist who interviewed Ronald Harwood and started one question with the statement (I paraphrase a little): "Screenwriters can be divided into those with mild Aspergers and those with dangerous Aspergers", which became a sort of catchphrase when I reported it back paraphrased (a lot) to various people who weren't at the session as "I'd like to ask the Oscar-winning screenwriter Ronald Harwood: why are you so mental?". Said shrink also told us that his wife had told him off for always watching (and I don't paraphrase at all) "those Nazi films".

* Stephen Woolley and Kevin Loader's informative session on producer/screenwriter working relations.

* Finding out that I fancy Kate Harwood, Head of Drama Series and Serials at the BBC, to a degree that makes me feel just a little bit ashamed. I don't know quite why.

* Witnessing Dan Turner lose his KFC virginity.

* Being sat behind Mike Leigh in one session, and realising he's soooo tiny, you could fit him in your pocket.

* Tony Jordan's wonderful stories - including a lot about playing solitaire when you're supposed to be writing, snot in computer keyboards, and being bored enough in his hotel room to watch "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang". And why not.

* Piers and I stealing the leftover biscuits from the Screen Agencies abandoned room, dispensing some (rather good) advice about screen agencies to someone who popped their head around the door, and finally escaping through the window.

* Jane Tranter bringing a tear to my eye by showing a BBC drama showreel that was so good it was emotional.

* Laura Mackie doing the same with judicious clips from shows like Cracker.

* Meeting TV's James Moran and then witnessing him, The Turner and The Arnopp create Horror sequel "The Exorcist - The Fifth". Coming to a cinema near you... well, one day. Maybe.

* Meeting so many wonderful people, some for the first time, and some for the first time since last year.

* The live pitching event, Croquet, Terry Pratchet, Nigel Planer, Marks and Gran (who were turning up for a day just as screenwriters wandering around, not even to be part of any particular session), The Birth of The Dark Arrow...

...I could go on and on. But I've leave it for another day. See you soon.


Jason Arnopp said...

Behold, the Arrow!

You're on my latest blog post, sir, advertising a certain horror sequel... *terrible laughter*

Dave said...

Hello Stuart

Stolen biscuits and Croquet you say. Couldn’t make it this year, piggy-bank being filled in readiness for 2009.

Did you remember to take Mike Leigh out of your pocket or are you going to carry him around like a lucky charm?

You could get him out at parties and say, “Look, look how tiny Mike Leigh is”. And they would say “Ooooo isn’t he tiny”, and you could say “Yes he is”...Yeah that would be cool!