by GABRIELLA APICELLA
“This is YOUR Festival!” Chris Jones’ rousing opening to LSF 2013 set the optimistic and energetic tone that would power through last weekend, inspiring over 700 people to be the best writers they can be!
As a regular partner of the London Screenwriters Festival, Euroscript is always delighted to play such a big part, and this year, that was bigger than ever, with 13 Script Doctors seeing over 100 people in one-to-one appointments. To put on such a big operation, we called in help from some of our favourite and most insightful industry friends Merle Nygate, Gary Sutton, Jacqueline Haigh and Marcella Forster. Together we each read the outlines, treatments and crucial first 10 pages of script for all of our “patients” before spending an hour on giving development advice and setting clear goals for next drafts.
We always receive a massive range of material, covering every genre from fantasy epic to gentle rom com, and patients are also eager to practice their pitches before squaring up to producers and agents. There is a palpable rush of adrenaline from everyone in the room when appointments are in session, descending into a library-like calm in the snatched moments in between, as Script Doctors meditate on their next patient’s work. While we were seeing more people than ever before, so the quality has also leapt up, and over the three days, all of the Doctors became caught-up in the excitement of reading an absolutely brilliant script!
With the intensity of feedback the Doctors give, and the level of attention-to-detail required, it is also crucial that everyone gets a little bit of downtime. Naturally the opportunity to sit in on as many of the exemplary sessions as possible is irresistible. As a group, we managed to vicariously enjoy some fantastic festival moments, as Doctors returned from breaks (caffeine in tow!) From listening to Joe Eszterhas’ no-nonsense charismatic drawl to the invaluable tips on maximising impact from Pilar Alessandra.
And because we’re a multi-talented bunch, a couple of us got our moments on the stage as well.
Comedy guru and all around Zen legend Paul Bassett Davies caught up with friends Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton (in front of an audience of about 100!) and managed to put his signature on a few copies of his novel “Utter Folly” – (a book so hilarious it even made Jack Dee crack a smile!) before returning to Doctoring duties at the Script Clinic.
Meanwhile, it was my very first time presenting at London Screenwriters Festival, and I ran a case study about my first time as a producer on a short film I’d adapted the script for:Honest Lies. With actor / director Emma Croft, and some essential behind the scenes insight from editor (and fellow Euroscript Board Member) Fenella Greenfield, we laid bare the haphazard and exhilarating process of putting together a short film when your producer (that’d be me) doesn’t even know what camera lenses do! It was terrifying to show the film to industry peers, but receiving such positive feedback made it all worthwhile!
We always enjoy seeing so many familiar faces each year: those of friends, people who have been on our courses and used our consultancy services, and those who have won our competition. Also, meeting vibrant new talent attending the festival for the first time demonstrates what a bright future there is for screenwriting, nurtured with care and positivity by the London Screenwriters Festival, and we’re honoured to play a part in it!
While there are so many standout moments from this year’s festival, and several invaluable pieces of advice I came away with, the final word must go to Mr Joe Eszterhas, who inscribed his book to me with perhaps THE coolest dedication a feminist female-character writing screenwriter could ever have!
THE ONLY PLACE TO TALK ABOUT THE CRAFT OF SCRIPTWRITING.