The Blog, News and Updates

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

Ten Things I Learned About Period Drama from Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes

May 12, 2020
 

By Leilani Holmes

During this incredible Downton Abbey script to screen, John York mentions to Julian Fellowes that the opening clip of Downton is what he uses as the example when he teaches writers how to begin a period drama. The multi award-winning drama became relevant to millions of households during a time when period drama was not very popular. The experience and techniques Julian brought to creating a brand new period drama are great things to consider when we begin to write our own. How much information to include, how to reveal it and how to make it relevant to a modern audience are important skills for us all. Here are ten things I learned from this session which helped me when crafting my own historical stories.

Rooting drama in time using world events.

Gosford Park had been a successful film with a subtext of the end of a way of life in the UK. When revisiting that world of country house living, Downton Abbey was set in 1912—20 years prior to Gosford Park and 20...

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30 day DEADLINE: Are you ready?

May 12, 2020
 

By Graham Bradshaw

Pat begins this session with his hands up, professing, this isn’t the only way to go about getting your zero draft in. But my goodness the 50 minutes that follow will certainly shape some opinions, and hopefully some budding screenwriting careers. Even for those out there with a tried and tested method, the process sounds like what writing should be -- fun. So let’s run through it. These are my key take-aways from Write a screenplay in 30 days with Pat Higgins.

Give yourself targets!

First, Pat asked us to put two dates in our calendar; a start date and an end date. However daunting 30 days may be, Pat certainly gives you confidence, not only is it possible, but it’s something he’s done before and will do again. A great note from Pat here is, if you can have an accountability partner you should. TELL PEOPLE you’re doing this. Nobody likes to look a fool.

Slow down to speed up.

The thing I found most exciting about this session is the...

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The Screenwriting Legends YOU Need in YOUR Living Room by Lynda Kennedy

May 12, 2020
 

By Lynda Kennedy

What a weekend. I had a beer with David Goyer on Friday, wine with Dave Reynolds on Saturday and a late lunch with Paul King on Sunday. 

It’s not every day you get to welcome such screenwriting legends into your home. Well, I say that, but for the next year that’s exactly what you can do thanks to London Screenwriters Festival 365; an online extravaganza bringing you some of the most brilliant people working in film and TV today. 

If you’re not familiar with the names I so shamelessly dropped, you will be with their work. David Goyer creates the stuff of legend. Literally. Bringing Superman and Batman to the big screen, he gave Heath Ledger’s Joker the immortal line: ‘Why so serious?” The man is a genius, yet he finds plotting just as painful as the rest of us. (Did I just say that Yippee out loud?) He did, though, offer excellent advice on how to push through the pain barrier. Spoiler alert: It involves a 20 page...

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Paul King: What I learned writing ‘Paddington’ by Cassi Camilleri

May 10, 2020
 

By Cassi Camilleri 

Stories are trial and error, and that is a maxim writer director Paul King practically opens this session from the London Screenwriters’ Festival with.

There is an awareness of the tribulations (Paul uses apt descriptors such as ‘agony’, ‘painful’ and ‘tearful’) that the craft brings with it that is refreshing.

Even more invigorating are some of the exercises and revelations he blows through in quick succession through this whirlwind of a talk. Here are three I thought were particularly wonderful.  

1. Start with what you like.  

From the very first meetings, to the messy middle where Paul threw away all the work done and started over three times, down to the reshoots, the thing Paul was constantly asking himself was ‘what do you like?’ and ‘why?’

He used those as references to hone in on the tone and feeling of what he wanted his film to be. His pitch ended up being...

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David Goyer in Conversation: Takeaways via Batman Quotes

May 09, 2020
 

By Alexis Howell-Jones

Having scribed films and TV about iconic characters including Batman, Superman, Sandman and Leonardo Da Vinci, David Goyer had (unsurprisingly) some great stories to tell about his experiences working in Hollywood. 

Here are some takeaways from his entertaining, extensive responses… 

Getting into Hollywood 

Alfred: “Endure, Master Wayne” 

David answered various questions about his journey to Hollywood. The big message was the need for not only screenwriting talent, but also persistence and luck. This said, his story on how he ‘got lucky’ was really persistence in disguise. Consistent bullheadedness was what caused his luck!  

He rammed that point home with specific advice: “Accept that rejection will happen, and doggedly persist.” Even as a professional filmmaker with miles of success, he still has projects that he hasn’t been able to get off the ground for various reasons. The key,...

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A Life in Movies and Other Writing Adventures Interview with Christopher Hampton

Apr 20, 2020
 

By Nick Boocock

As a writer, director and producer – but, of course, primarily a writer – Christopher Hampton offers a uniquely rounded perspective on the different disciplines behind the camera. What really comes across in this session is an empathy towards the demands and needs of differing talents – an appreciation that everyone is different, each to his/her own method and no one is wrong. Which, in the best possible sense, a nicer way of expressing William Goldman’s time-honoured mantra “Nobody knows anything”.

Working with authors

One of the biggest creative minefields that must exist in the world of the professional screenwriter is that between the author of an existing property and the screenwriter who has been hired to adapt their work for the cinema. Hampton talks here about his relationship with Ian McEwan, the author of ATONEMENT, himself no stranger to screenwriting having adapted several of his own works (THE INNOCENT; ON CHESIL BEECH...

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