Talks on writing can be useful and fun. Usually if they're fun, they're useful - at the heart of all entertainment is a sense of play, and the art of the Art is learning to play to a purpose.
On the positive side, I attended a MediaXchange event in London in 2002 in which a bunch of American showrunners, producers and staffers dissected their system for a UK audience. I'm convinced that it was the start of the path that has brought me to here. I don't think I was working on anything at the time, which means I wasn't earning, but it was still the best use of 250 quid I could have made.
The downside is that there are a lot of books, courses and how-to's out there that ain't worth a bucket of warm spit. Some of them even have diagrams. They're the worst. The best, cited by just about anyone who knows anything, is still William Goldman's memoir Adventures in the Screen Trade. And it doesn't purport to teach anything at all - it's a mix of autobiography and personal war stories. What it teaches, by a kind of osmosis, is professional attitude.
Which leads me to a simple conclusion; when somebody's telling you stuff about writing, check out what they've written.
Which in turn leads me to William Akers, who's dropped me a line about his forthcoming talk at the Met Film School, and who I'm happy to report is The Real Deal. His screen experience goes back to The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, which was the first feature directed by my old friend Stuart Orme.
Described as An intensive and informative workshop with William M. Akers, author of "Your Screenplay Sucks! 100 Ways To Make It Great", the talk runs from 6.30 until 8.30pm on Thursday 2nd July 9 at the Met Film School, Ealing Studios, Ealing Green, London W5 5EP.
Tickets are a mere £15. You can pay on the door or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.