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Friday 20 September 2013

Writing for the BBC

According to Twitter there was a big booze-and-canapes soiree for BBC writers last night. I didn't get an invite.

Maybe this is why...

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Brooligan's How-To Book of the Day

Although in all seriousness I can't recommend it...

Thursday 12 September 2013

The Returning Drama Series

As well as its full-time MA studies the London Film School runs a number of part-time courses for screenwriters and filmmakers. They're professional training so they're not cheap, but if you've reached a point in your career where you can make use of industry insight then they can be of real value.

In November/December there are eight places available on this one, aimed at developing ideas for returning drama series and covering six workshop days and three masterclasses.
In this series of workshops we will be working with professional television writers, ideally with at least three broadcast TV credits, on developing original drama series Bibles for shows that can then be pitched to the British networks.
I'll be giving one of the masterclasses and I ought to be held up as Mister Bad Example, given that some of the best shows I've worked on never made it to a second season. It's hard to think of them as returning dramas when they didn't return. But everything eventually ends in cancellation, is my attitude, and anything you can get away before that counts as a win.

(The other two Masterclasses will be given by Lucy Gannon and Ashley Pharoah, whose returnable dramas have a track record of actually returning)

Some years back I laid out my own money on a MediaXchange weekend of panels and exercises with American showrunners, and it completely changed my attitude to the business. It would be at least a decade before I'd be able to put any of what I learned into practice, but now I'd seen what a professionalised writers' system looked like and the hunger for something better - for a system where you didn't just write a script but went on to steer it though production, and where work that was asked for always had to be paid for - never went away.

Going Again: Creating and Developing Returnable Drama Series LFS, November/December £800

The London Film School is situated in Covent Garden, down a side-street past the Pineapple Dance Studios and what I remember as a quite decent Mexican restaurant.

I believe the course will be followed by a networking booze-up some time in January. Or that might just be in my imagination.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

To Hull and Back

Hull's on the shortlist of four for City of Culture, 2017. The bid submission's going in at the end of this month and when asked if I'd support it with some kind of personal statement, here's what I wrote:

The Hull Council Ratcatcher and his Support Team
I came to Hull in 1972 to begin what would prove to be the most important years of my young life and future career. My time with the University's Drama and English departments wasn't a hasty syllabus of printed handouts and "reading weeks" but a real, eye-opening, immersive education in which the city itself played a seamless part. In the cinema club under the Central Library I had my first sight of the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, and shook the hand of Peter Cushing. Heard my first live Mahler at the Philharmonic. Chose a favourite picture at the Ferens Gallery (Alexander Slaying Cleitus, Daniel de Blieck - not for the action, but for the control of space). Hull Truck was a young theatre company laying the groundwork of a national reputation while Hull's touring venues played host to a range of guests and visitors, from the fledgling Actors' Company revival of a rare Chekov with Ian McKellen, to the awesome old-school stagecraft of Morecambe and Wise.

Hull was famous, then and now, for producing students who found it hard to tear themselves away. Though I left at the end of my time, I'm proud to maintain some links. I've life membership of the Friends of the Gulbenkian (the University's unique purpose-built teaching theatre). All my drafts and working papers go into the care of the Hull History Centre, a state-of-the-art archive at the forefront of international research into the challenges of long-term digital storage. Every year I swear I'll revisit the unforgettable fair, and someday I will.

Why City of Culture 2017? These have been hard decades for the creative life of every British town but in Hull there's a significant cultural infrastructure to be saved, preserved, restored and reinforced. I'm one of the many who have been equipped by the partnership of city and university to take that spirit forward. I'd like to see it continue through further generations; I can't imagine a better investment, or a finer legacy.
I sense your curiosity about the choice of picture. I was actually looking online for a shot of Hepworth's Arcade on Silver Street, one of my favourite places in the city, when I came across this image of the Health Department's ace ratcatcher on the History Centre's website.

If I have to explain further, then we're probably both wasting our time.


Thanks to Mark Healey for this Hepworths Arcade pic, taken on Saturday.
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