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Daily tips, strategies and insights from successful screenwriters and world class trainers.

Ten Fun Facts I Learned About Filmmaker Lynne Ramsey

Jun 29, 2020
 

by Fiona Hunnisett 

Nick Powell introduces Lynne Ramsay as one of the greatest living filmmakers and thats after only four feature films, but those four, of course, include the iconic “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and “You Were Never Really Here”. With her obvious talent and her natural, open manner, Lynne Ramsay is now firmly in my top ten list of filmmaking heroes. Lynne also clearly has a great working relationship with her cinematographer, Tom Townend, who also helped her write “You Were Never Really Here”. The interview with them both provides a fascinating insight into Lynnes filmmaking process and reveals what it was like to work with acting giants Joaquin Phoenix, Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller. Here are some fun facts’ I learned about Lynne from listening to this talk. 

  1. “You Were Never Really Here” was shot in only twenty-nine days due to ...
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My top 5 non-craft takeaways from The London Screenwriters' Festival Online 2020

Jun 26, 2020
 

By Guy Mannerings

For those of you who attended the first London SWF Online, you will know that it was an insane, fully-packed month of screenwriting goodness. For four weeks, we were treated to insightful talks from world-class industry experts and screenwriting professionals. There was a bond and energy between the delegates that transcended the physical distance between us, and we can all look back and think, "what a month!"

But it's important for it to not just be a month where we went to a bunch of talks on screenwriting and made some friends over Zoom. Rather than leave what we learned back in that month, it's important to carry that information forward and use it in our lives - both personally and professionally.

There is so much I learned during the month-long LSF Online, but there were some key non-craft takeaways that I found particularly useful to be reminded of, and I thought you all may benefit from these thoughts too.

So here we are - my top 5 non-craft takeaways from...

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The Last Story Editor: Christopher Lockhart (William Morris Endeavor)

Jun 22, 2020
 

We’ve all dreamt of it: swanning into a meeting with the most famous actors on the planet to put our words in their mouths. Well that’s Christopher Lockhart’s day job.

Willam Morris Endeavor (WME) is one of the oldest agencies in existence. And Christopher holds an important, and rather unique, role in it. If you have any ambitions towards Hollywood, this session is NOT to be missed!

What does the story editor do?

The first intriguing thing about Christopher is his job title: story editor.

Story editors date back to the earliest days of Hollywood, but are seldom found nowadays. Before the studio system, their job was to locate stories, approach the writers, and sometimes direct and edit the films. Later, they simply connected the material with the studio.

What Christopher does is something else.

Christopher connects scripts with actors. Specifically, the biggest actors. Rachel McAdams, Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Denzel Washington, Ben Affleck, Michelle Rodriguez....

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We don't change just because it's a good idea by Rebecca Jean Caroll

Jun 19, 2020
 

Script consultant, story analyst and “Inside Story” author Dara Marks notes that we are currently living what may be the greatest story of our generation.

We are on the cusp of change; what that change is we do not yet know, but as writers it is our job to chronicle that transformation. To “go inside” ourselves and our stories and embrace what we find to form an honest voice of expression. It is not our job to solve the turmoil, but we must open it up and relate to it on a personal and human level.

Dara cites story as a “human instruction manual for life” and that only through change can we, as readers or viewers, relate, connect and learn anything at all.

The world today is very unsettling, we are being told to “go inside”, and we hear the uncomfortable words “I can’t breathe”. Dara encourages us to respond to this metaphorical call to action in two ways.

  1. Go inside. Open up our stories. Discover what...
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Adele Lim on Crazy Rich Asians and representation in film and TV

Jun 18, 2020
 

by Akinna Aquino

After finding Adele Lim on a popular Facebook group used to share delightfully relatable memes between members of the Asian diaspora, I flippantly joked with my partner that I would reach out to her and ask if she would consider speaking at the London Screenwriters Festival. 

Just imagine what it would do for underrepresented screenwriters to listen to the woman who was part of making Crazy Rich Asians the monumental global success it had become. To my absolute joy and excitement, Adele Lim responded that she was happy to do a session with us and within a week we made it happen!

Adele Lim is a Malaysian-born American film & television producer and screenwriter who has worked on Lethal Weapon, Reign, Private Practice and, of course, the 2018 Romantic Comedy blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians. The session was moderated by Emma Ko, a British East Asian Screenwriter and Spokesperson for Equal Media for the Women’s Equality Party.

The session begins with...

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Marc Jobst is the bridge between script & screen By Lesley McGlynn

Jun 09, 2020

There are worse ways to kick off an LSF chat than to the sight of a leather clad Henry Cavill & his sexy chin dimple, amirite?!

It got us all fired up for our chat with Marc Jobst, director of the popular fantasy series THE WITCHER, Netflix’s DAREDEVIL, and the psychological thriller-horror HANNIBAL.

By his own admission, having one of the best jobs on the planet makes Marc feel unbelievably privileged. Though it is a double-edged sword of excitement and dread. On some days pinching himself because of his luck, while admitting to the odd sleepless night mulling over how to manage the pressure and deliver scripts to screen. For every script you reinvent the wheel, he says. You have to love the ride and embrace the adventure.

Moulding a story to marvel at

DAREDEVIL was Marvel’s first interconnected TV series created for Netflix. Marc describes the exciting early days of Netflix and their ethos to ‘Free The Creatives’. They want to be a...

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Finding the Heart of Your Story w/ John Yorke By Abbie Heath

Jun 07, 2020

Disclaimer: I’m a John Yorke fangirl. I’ve read his book Into the Woods many times – it’s covered in post-its and scribblings and I won’t begin a script without it. I’ve heard him talk at the LSF before and taken his brilliant two-day course. And this session was still the one I was looking forward to the most – because there is always more to uncover and learn, and John is one of the most articulate and inspiring teachers around.

A wild ride

John’s LSF365 talk is like one of those Disney rides that straps you into a cart and hurtles you through a wonderous imaginary world, where you're so busy absorbing all the exciting things whizzing by, you don't realise you've been out of breath until the end.

Rather fittingly, those rides are also a journey, with a beginning, middle and end -  and they take you through a story at breakneck speed. Here we’re not looking at characters from childhood films but passing...

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Clive Frayne's How-to-guide on Finding and Fixing the Flaws in Your Screenplay

Jun 06, 2020

Clive Frayne came into Sunday night spreading some amazing encouragement and knowledge in a session I will refer to as the “Economics of Screenwriting”. 

This session gave us some prime points to streamline our process and minimize unnecessary rewrites. Learning to analyze scripts this way can become essential in conducting informed conversations with producers or executives and tackling issues from the root - all of which will result in a smoother timeline and reduced frustration. Instead of offering specific solutions, it will present you with opportunities. 

The first thing Clive made clear was that character and plot are so interconnected that you can’t take away one from the other without it turning into a different story. Brilliant, right? Well I’ve compressed the rest of his amazing insights into a practical guide.

Of course, if you watch the full session you’ll get a deeper understanding of each concept. I advise you to not...

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Discussing 'Pontypool' with Tony Burgess by Teresa Bailey

Jun 06, 2020
 

Genesis

Pontypool was born when Tony Burgess was scouting for a picture for his first book. Lost and frustrated, he took a photo of the town he was in: Pontypool. He noticed the word ‘typo’ in the middle of the town name…‘Typo’ led to the idea of a virus linked to language and he wrote the novel “Pontypool Changes Everything’. He set this aside to write the film. Free of any obligation to the original material, he wrote something new but ‘in the universe’ of the book. 

The writing process

Tony’s  uses ‘a form of very fast improvisation’ he calls automatism. He feels his way, intuits, not knowing what is happening. He also prefers to start with character, developing them by 'killing time with them', he says. Then he writes ‘with the speed and dynamics of it actually happening.' If structure happens, it’s because it evolves.

Director Bruce McDonald let him...

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Vertue, Moffat and Gattis strike again: On writing DRACULA!

Jun 05, 2020
 

Writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, alongside producer Sue Vertue, are television royalty. 

With their lengthy run on Doctor Who, overseeing both Peter Capaldi and Matt Smith’s Doctors, the global mega-hit Sherlock, which catapulted Benedict Cumberbatch into the stratosphere, and now Dracula, a slice of prime-time horror that never relents, they are still at the top of their game. 

Their insights into the complexities of writing and producing these hits are invaluable to all writers. 

Pitching

“I think Mark and I are pretty good at pitches now,” says Steven. “But I do worry for writers who aren’t. You don’t need to be good at pitches to be a good writer.” 

“Most writers are introverts anyway,” adds Mark.  

“You can see amongst the people whether they’re listening or not,” says Steven. “Some think their job is to look mean, and that’s really hard. You don’t want...

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