Having just spent a couple of very full and inspiring days at the London Screenwriters’ Festival (#londonswf on Twitter) I thought I would write a few words on the train back to York.
As last year, an overwhelming sense of friendliness and helpfulness pervaded the whole event, particularly amongst fellow writers with whom I managed to spend plenty of time discussing many things, both writerly and not. New friendships were forged and existing ones were re-energised with great vigour. Living on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds is wonderful for getting my head down and writing but can leave me feeling a little isolated at times. Connecting with other writers is important for my mental well-being.
The organisation of the event was superb, not only for the way the schedule ran so smoothly but in the quality and variety of the sessions, talks, panels and especially the numerous speakers. Considering how much had been packed into the weekend I’m sure all the paying delegates must have found it incredibly good value for money.
The Games Writing Lab, a workshop I gave, made me a little nervous as I’d never actually given a workshop before. I did a lot of preparation and made plenty of notes and the time flew by as we got into discussion about the participants’ various ideas, how they related to game development and how they might be taken further, improved or adjusted to bear in mind the connection between story gameplay and the perspective of the player. I should never have been nervous at all as I thoroughly enjoyed it and, from the feedback I received, the participants found it valuable, too. Many thanks to everyone for taking part and making it such a pleasure to run. There may be another one next year.
There was a slight scare before we got started – I managed to smack my mouth with a chair I was moving which split the lip and bled quite a bit. Thankfully, the bleeding stopped very quickly and it didn’t prevent the session starting in any way.
I spent my time between attending some of the panels and talks and spending time in the green room soaking up the wisdom of other talented people, which is definitely one of the big benefits of being a speaker at the event.
Although the general feel of the weekend was pretty positive, there was a bit of an odd tone in one of the panels I attended. Considering the title of the panel was very up-beat, the panel cast a dour view on the whole of their advice, led by the tone set by a well-known agent. They gave the sense that there was no point anyone ever trying to write for television because it was too hard to get into. The session was mostly saved by the timely remark of Rebecca de Souza from Tiger Aspect who pretty much told off the panel for being so negative and said that they were always on the lookout for new writers, but qualified it by adding that they would only consider scripts that came through an agent. Quite rightly, she was given a round of applause for this more positive contribution. The tone changed a little following this but I felt there was some concern about the value of the panel over this. Personally, I can’t help but wonder why writers would want this person as their agent with such a negative point of view. I’m very thankful I have a very positive agent – Kelly Marshall – who’s realistic in her outlook and advice, but still very positive.
I’d like to thank many people for making my couple of days incredibly precious and delightful (in no particular order). Chris Jones, Judy Goldberg, Lucy Hay, Chris Hill, Linda Aronson, Richard Dinnick, Tony Lee, Karen Krizanovich, Tim Clague, Danny Stack, Rudolph Kremers, John Dower, Lin Coghlan, Martin Korda, Heather Taylor, Mark Pallis, Pilar Alessandra, Hayley McKenzie, Zach Gutin, Charles Harris, David Bishop, Kulvinder Gill, Eoin Rogers, Geoff Searle, Lucy Moore, Asher Pirie, Rhys Howell, Scott (who’s surname I forgot, sorry), lots of others who have momentarily slipped my mind, all the volunteers who were brilliant and those who kept the green room supplied with coffee and biscuits.