Monday, October 31, 2005

Westway RIP

Westway, the eponymous medical centre of BBC World Service's soap opera, closed its doors for the last time on Friday as the programme ended after eight years.

The announcement that the twice-weekly programme was to end was made in April, when World Service commissioners decided that, in a revamped schedule focusing more on news and factual programmes, there was simply "not enough room" for it. More from BBC News.
Comment: The Guild protested when plans to axe Westway were announced. It was a popular show with a worldwide audience.

BBC commissioning

Thanks to Guild member Danny Stack for discovering new online advice from the BBC about their commissioning process across all formats.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Learning to write

Janet Sutcliffe in The Guardian reveals the challenges and frustrations of life on the Creative Writing MA at UEA.
When I started at UEA I thought I would wholeheartedly recommend such an MA to anyone. Despite claims that all writing graduates are taught to churn out work in the same (ie the tutor's) style, nobody teaches much of anything at UEA. That's not a bad thing. But the MA is not an easy option. The sceptical journalist had it wrong: these courses are more likely to stop people writing than to foster wild fantasies about living off royalties.

In the end, it didn't quite put me off. Now I know where my novel is heading, I don't panic when a first draft is drivel (and it is always drivel), and most of all I understand that writing is mostly a question of hard work.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Five act TV drama?

DMc has noticed that shows like Lost are going to five acts. It certainly feels that way sometimes. But maybe what we're seeing is just metastasizing teasers?

As for comedy, yes, I think it's all three acts now. Not so much to squeeze in another commercial, but to accommodate more story. Three acts just feels more natural. The old two act shows really drag when you watch them now.
More from Complications Ensue.

Funland writers interviewed

Simon Ashdown and Jeremy Dyson, the writers of the new BBC series Funland, interviewed for BBC Writersroom.
As writers how do you maintain your original voice without compromising it for schedules or producers?

Jeremy: It's not something that I think about - the job is just to do what you do. We were lucky; one of the things that attracted us to this project was that we were given freedom - we were just left alone to do it. This is much more common in comedy than drama.

Simon: It's not the norm in drama - you have to fight for it. It also depends on who the producers are because there are producers who want to be authors, who want to put their stamp on it which makes your freedom harder to retain. We were lucky in that we were given the space to do what we wanted to do.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Microsoft joins book search plan

Microsoft has joined a Yahoo-backed effort to digitise the world's books and other works to make them searchable and accessible to anyone online.

The software giant said it would work with the Open Content Alliance (OCA), set up by the Internet Archive, to initially put 150,000 works online.

The move comes as Google faces growing legal pressure from publishers over its own global digital library plans. More from BBC News.

National Television Awards

It was a good night for writers at the National Television Awards last night, even though there is no specific writer's award. Doctor Who, known as a writer-led show thanks to the high profile of the creative force behind the new series, Russell T. Davies, was voted Most Popular Drama and its two leads, Christopher Ecclestone and Billie Piper were named best actor and actress.

Perhaps surprisingly, after critical maulings and low ratings, EastEnders was voted Most Popular Serial Drama. Tony Warren, the creator of Coronation Street, was presented with a special TV Landmark Award.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

BBC Writing Academy

The BBC's latest initiative to develop new TV writers has selected its first eight writers. Danny Stack was almost one of them.
A couple of days later [after being short-listed and interviewed] I get a phone call from the Beeb. A phone call is good - rejections normally come in letter form - but this call is to tell me I wonÂ’t be part of the scheme. ItÂ’s as I expected so IÂ’m not too downbeat. However, my agentÂ’s three other clients all get offered a spot (even the guy who said his interview was just as bad as mine). Jesus, my interview must have been The. Worst. Ever. Must try harder.

Another self-published success

Following a story earlier this year, Louise Jury inThe Independent highlights another author who has made a success of self-publishing.
Mark Robson, 39, who began writing when bad weather grounded his DC10 in the Falkland Islands, has been snapped up by the publishers Simon and Schuster who are to publish his novel, Imperial Spy, in the spring.

But unlike most newly signed writers, Mr Robson has already published more than 30,000 of his books himself - after his first attempt at writing was rejected by every literary agent and publisher he sent it to seven years ago.

Encouraged by friends and family who loved the story, The Forging of the Sword, Mr Robson found a printer, commissioned an illustrator and proof-read and typeset the book himself.

Wolf Rilla obituary

Wolf Rilla, who has died at the age of 85, accurately defined himself as a writer, filmmaker and television maker. He published six novels, directed 24 movies, notably Village of the Damned (1962), and was active in television from the brave days when the BBC's pioneer service was resuming at Alexandra Palace in 1946, after a wartime closedown of six and a half years.

As its first drama script editor, charged with seeking out plays and stories that could be enacted live in cramped studios, he alighted with glee on a taut thriller taking place in one room. Alas, the BBC did not rise to his recommendation, and Frederick Knott's Dial M for Murder went on instead to enjoy a long West End theatre run and a Hollywood production by Alfred Hitchcock.
More from The Guardian.

Monday, October 24, 2005

When drama becomes comedy

Alex Epstein on Complications Ensue considers the point where drama becomes comedy.
I heard once that Chekhov considered his plays comedies, and produced them as such. If you've ever directed them (I directed one Chekhov scene in a class once), you notice how they start out as almost nothing at all, but build as you work on them with the directors ... into broad farce. His characters are fundamentally ridiculous people in ridiculous situations. Too bad most directors never get the memo...

Free speech under attack

Censorship battles once focused on books, but today the performing arts are under attack, especially works that mix drama and documentary. David Edgar argues that free speech must be preserved if artists are to be protected from a witchhunt.
More in The Guardian.

Film distribution via the web

In The New York Times, John Anderson profiles internet movie distributors, IndieFlix.
As cheaper technology and a seemingly inexhaustible hipness quotient have led to more filmmakers and films being produced, theatrical distribution has become more expensive, the outlets more cautious, and the returns on investments more dubious. The Internet has absorbed some of the spillover, although the bigger success stories - notably, the political films of Robert Greenwald ("Uncovered: The War on Iraq," "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism"), or "Faster," a highly lucrative motorcycle documentary narrated by Ewan McGregor - have been niche movies with a core audience.

So what about more general fare with no stars, budgets or hope? That's where IndieFlix, founded by Ms. Andreen and her business partner, the filmmaker Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi, comes in. Directors submit their films, which are then posted on the Web site (www.indieflix.com). When users log on and click to buy the films that capture their interest, IndieFlix burns them onto a DVD and ships them out. The price for a feature-length film is $9.95.

Ms. Andreen's motto: "Own a movie for less than a movie ticket."

All new wga.org

The Writers' Guild of America, west have revamped their website.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pinter's heirs

When Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature last week, he was the first British playwright to win the accolade in more than 50 years.

This is not to suggest there have been no decent playwrights, aside from Pinter, since the 1950s.

But it does give rise to the question of which, if any, current playwrights might become household names in years to come.
More from Victoria Lindrea at BBC News.

Second-hand sales surge

A first-of-its-kind study on used books reveals that sales last year topped $2.2 billion in the United States - an 11 percent gain from 2003 - and represented 8.4 percent of total consumer spending on books.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we could double that 8 percent over the next five years," said Boris Wertz, chief operating officer for online book retailer Abebooks. "I don't think that's unrealistic."

Though used book sales have traditionally been associated with quaint and musty shops, growth on the Internet surged by 33 percent to $609 million in 2004, according to the study, while bookstore gains were only about 4.5 percent.

That compares with relatively flat sales of new books over the past few years.
More from Jeffrey Goldfarb on Yahoo News.

Moving Stories


Do you fancy writing a new drama for BBC local radio? Do you live and/or work in the North East or Cumbria, Yorkshire or Humberside?

In early 2006 BBC TWO will screen The Lost World of Colour/The Open Road presented by Dan Cruikshank. This new series will tell the story of an experimental colour film made in the 1920’s of a journey from Lands End to John O’Groats.

Inspired by this early road movie, BBC local radio is looking for a new 15 minute radio play from the North East and Cumbria and one from Yorkshire and the Humberside, based around the theme of Moving Stories. Your play should feature a journey, arrival, departure or travel element.

The winning radio dramas will go out across BBC local radio stations, including Radio Newcastle, Radio Cleveland, Radio Cumbria, Radio York and Radio Sheffield in January 2006.
The closing date is 2 December.

More from BBC Writersroom

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bruntwood Playwriting Competition

Advance publicity in today's Guardian for "the Bruntwood Playwriting Competition, a national contest to discover and celebrate Britain's best writers for the theatre".

Run by the Manchester Royal Exchange, entries will be open to all and anonymous, with a first prize of £15,000. Submitted plays must not have been previously produced.
"In the same way that the Booker is the public face of literature, we're hoping that this award can revitalise playwriting as a craft," said Braham Murray, one of the Exchange's artistic directors..."We're encouraging epic plays - the bigger, the better."
Full details will be available next month.

DVD reliance forces library closures

Over-dependence on profits from DVDs and videos has led Buckinghamshire county council to cut 18 staff jobs and plan the closure of eight branch libraries.

The county council lost £400,000 a year income when the entertainment industry raised prices by 300%, said a report to Buckinghamshire county councillors. The county already spends less on new library books than anywhere else in Britain.

The cuts are among the worst in any library service for 20 years. Yesterday the libraries campaigner Tim Coates accused the council of relying on "fools' gold".
By John Ezard in The Guardian.

Monday, October 17, 2005

End author photos!

Frances Wilson in The Guardianthinks writers should be read but not seen...
Author photos are always embarrassing, either for the author or the reader, not least because of the seduction they strive to achieve (which is by no means exclusively sexual). It is embarrassing for authors to choose or have chosen a flattering picture of themselves - which process often involves disregarding current age or agreed likeness - and embarrassing for readers to be confronted by such importunings. In this sense the author-photo differs from the mass marketed iconic images of writers such as Shakespeare or Beckett or Virginia Woolf, which offer not a personal invitation to intimacy but an official statement of fact: this is what a Great Writer looks like. Where the author-photo fails to seduce it tends to repel or at least to irritate the reader, and the reading of the book becomes a negotiation with the author's image; is he or she cleverer or less clever, as attractive or less attractive, more or less insufferably narcissistic, than he or she looks?

Selling the rights

While novelists might dream that selling film rights will bring fame and fortune, the reality is normally more mundane, reports Danuta Keane in The Times.
Iain Banks sold rights to The Wasp Factory and ended up with no film and in litigation to get them back. In 2004 the $47 million production of Deborah Moggach’s Tulip Fever, starring Jude Law, was set to be the biggest British film of the year until it was pulled four days before shooting when a tax incentive closed.

It is a seam of rich disappointment for authors, not least because that seven-figure deal rarely materialises. Most receive only £500, because what is sold is an option, not the rights. For a fixed period, options give a producer exclusive rights to develop the project. If investors are wooed, they acquire the rights, calculated at between 1 and 5 per cent of the film’s budget; so on a £50 million film, an author stands to make up to £2.5 million. But authors should curb their enthusiasm, according to the screen agent Julian Friedman. “The percentage of books that make it to the screen is tiny, there are maybe only 2 per cent where rights are purchased.”

Paul Schelsinger is new Head of Radio Ents

Paul Schlesinger is to be the new Head of Radio Entertainment, the BBC announced today.

He will be responsible for all in-house comedy and entertainment programmes on BBC national radio.

For radio Schelsinger has produced shows including People Like Us, Absolute Power and The Sunday Format.

On television his track record includes My Life In Films, Wild West and Broken News, as well as the TV versions of both People Like Us and Absolute Power.

Creative Archive placements

Arts Council England is inviting established artists in any medium to apply for one of two placements to produce new work inspired by BBC archives.
The placements, which will last for four months, will be funded by Arts Council England and hosted by the BBC. They are to be advertised in the national press and will invite artists to manipulate, mix and share BBC and other archive material to create a series of new artworks and, in doing so, develop their professional careers in a new environment.

One of the artists will work with unrestricted access to the BBC archive material, the results being exhibited within the BBC. The other artist will work with content that is available to the public under the Creative Archive Licence and will be exhibited and available for download though the Creative Archive website http://creativearchive.bbc.co.uk/

The aim of the project is to highlight and stimulate the creative possibilities of the Creative Archive Licence, a collaboration between the BBC, the BFI, Channel 4, the Open University, TeachersÂ’ TV and the Community Channel. Under the licence, the public can download moving images, audio and stills and rework them creatively for non-commercial use.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Spielberg to develop games

Steven Spielberg, who worked his magic with ET, is now looking do the same with games giant EA.

The acclaimed film director has agreed to develop three original games with EA's Los Angeles studios.

Work has already started on the first of the three projects, which EA says will be a next generation game which appeals to a broad audience.

The deal is a further sign of how Hollywood and the games industry are moving closer together.
More from BBC News.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Pinter wins Nobel Prize

Guild member Harold Pinter has won the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Nominated for the award by the Guild, Pinter is celebrating his 75th birthday this year.
The Nobel academy said Pinter's work "uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms".

Pinter is widely regarded as the UK's greatest living playwright.

The academy's citation said: "Pinter restored theatre to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretence crumbles."

His spare style, full of threatening silences, has given rise to the adjective "Pinteresque".
More from BBC News.

Update: You can watch a video of the announcement and hear a short interview with Pinter on the Nobel Prize website.

West End ownership

At least three-quarters of our 40 West End theatres have changed owners in the last seven years...
More from Mark Shenton on The Stage Newsblog.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Booker prize and parties

Congratulations to John Banville for winning the 2005 Man-Booker Prize for his novel The Sea. He's interviewed today by Emma Brockes in The Guardian.

Meanwhile in The Independent John Walsh goes behind the scenes...
After, everyone piled across London to Soho, where the after-show parties had been underway since 9pm. Seasoned literary liggers who weren't invited to the Booker dinner knew the order in which to go. Start with the Faber party (publishers of Sebastian Barry and Kazuo Ishiguro) at the Union Club because they have the best canapés, and move on to the Cape party (for Julian Barnes) at Soho House. When - horrors! - Barnes was denied the prize, they departed, like bats from Hades, and made for The Groucho, where the Picador party for Banville was yards from the Penguin thrash for Ali and Zadie Smith.

By 11.30pm, when Banville arrived to loud cheers, The Groucho Club was heaving. Despite Zadie Smith being the book world's current darling, her party was apparently "blowing tumbleweeds" according to one reveller. It would seem that everyone prefers a winner.

Jerry Juhl

Jerry Juhl, who wrote the scripts for The Muppets and created Fraggle Rock, has died at the age of 67. There is an obituary by Christopher Reed in The Guardian.
Even puppets need a scriptwriter when they become big business, and one of the biggest was the Muppet Show, seen on TV in 100 countries. One of its main attractions was the witty dialogue, the work of Jerry Juhl, who has died after a brief illness at the age of 67.

The creator of the Muppets - the name comes from marionettes and puppets - was Jim Henson, who died in 1990. However, the contribution Juhl made to the success of the Muppets was acknowledged by Henson's daughter Lisa, now co-chief executive of the Jim Henson Company, who said: "So much of the humour, irreverence, caring and heart began with Jerry. He was, in many ways, the real voice of the Muppets."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Digital rights

An interesting seminar yesterday hosted by the PMA (Personal Managers' Association) about rights in the digital age. I've written it up for the Writers' Guild website.
Tom Loosemore, a senior manager in BBC New Media, was fresh off the plane from a big internet conference in San Francisco. The atmosphere there, he said, was not far removed from the infamous bubble of the early 1990s, but beneath the hype there were a number of significant developments.

Perhaps most notable, Loosemore said, was the increasing convergence of the internet and media industries. Google and Yahoo, now see themselves as being in the media business, and their profits are greater than those of the American TV networks combined. They also innovate very quickly in response to consumer need and technical change.

Pinter's new play

Guild member Harold Pinter celebrated his 75th birthday this month with a new play, Voices, on Radio 3. Alice Jones talks to him in The Independent.
Radio is not new territory for Pinter - he wrote his first radio play, A Slight Ache, in 1958 - and there is little doubt that as a medium it is eminently suited to his style, where each word is hand-picked for maximum, often disturbing, effect. The metallic voice of Lloyd Pack's mountain guard [in Voices], rasping: "It's forbidden," jars with the hazy recollections of Rebecca from Ashes to Ashes (played by Hille), watching "the man I'd given my heart to... tear all the babies from the arms of their screaming mothers".
If you missed the play last night you can hear it for a limited time via the Radio 3 website.

How to be a writer in Hollywood

First, according to Hollywood Machine become a writers' assistant. And even that can take years...
If I could go back in time and do it over -- I would have tried to transition from the p.a. gig into a writers' assistant position, OR I would have majored in creative writing at Northwestern and gotten the writers' assistant job from an alumni connection immediately after graduating, OR I would have written American Beauty when I was 12 years-old because Alan Ball hadn't even thought of the idea yet and I could steal it and become a child prodigy.
Thanks to Complications Ensue for the link.

BBC wants licence fee increase

The BBC wants to increase the licence fee by 2.3% above inflation to boost its digital services and other output.

The corporation is to present its bid for the next licence fee settlement to a House of Commons select committee.

If the government accepts the BBC's proposal, the licence fee would rise by £3.14 per year from £126.50 to £150.50 by 2013, not allowing for inflation.

BBC director general Mark Thompson said the rise would fund the switch-over to digital TV and BBC on-demand services.
More from BBC News.

Helpfully (?!) BBC News offers a prominent link next to this story to an item from July detailing the bounuses received by BBC executives.
Stephen Dando is the director of BBC People, which was formerly human resources and internal communications. He is responsible for all BBC people and organisation issues.

His division is taking one of the biggest hits in the job cuts with 1,730 going under the umbrella of professional services.

His salary for the year was £245,000, with a bonus of £65,000.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Waterstone's & Faber Wow Factor results

At the start of the summer, Waterstone's and Faber announced a competition for new children's writers called The Wow Factor.

I've noticed that a number of people coming to this blog have been searching for the results, so I tried to find them. Nothing on the Waterstone's website. Nothing on Faber's (except an announcement saying that they no longer accept unsolicited scripts for anything other than poetry.)

Finally, on a discussion forum for viewers of ITV1's This Morning, comes the news that winners were announced on that show last week. But there's nothing I can see on the This Morning website either.

Makes you wonder how either Waterstone's or Faber ever actually sell any books...

Update: There's an article in The Guardian about two short-listed writers but I still can't find any official information online.

Brainstorm

How do you organise ideas and research for new projects?

Brainwave is an application that says it can help. I've just downloaded the free 30-day trial - there's also a very good demo.

I saw a link in Guardian Online and was attracted by the fact that it is text only, and created by two British programmers rather than a multi-national corporation. Looks simple to use but potentially useful.

Be interested to know what anyone else thinks, and any other products you've found useful.

Friday, October 07, 2005

ITV "must own youth shows"

ITV director of programmes Nigel Pickard has said the broadcaster will need to invest more in the ownership and production rights of programmes in order to save children’s shows, which are being threatened by a lack of money because of falling advertising revenues.
More from Liz Thomas in The Stage.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Can Ruth Rendell break America?

Dinitia Smith in The New York Times speaks to the prolific and bestselling British author Ruth Rendell as she seeks success in America with her new book, 13 Steps.
How does Ms. Rendell get inside someone like Mix [the central character]? Well, she has read all of Freud, for one thing. "I have read everything," including all of Proust, said Ms. Rendell, who never attended university. "Reading taught me how to write."

That Proust should be invoked by a mystery writer might seem odd. But Joyce Carol Oates, who also writes mysteries, under the names Lauren Kelly and Rosamond Smith, sees the mystery as a literary form, like the sonnet. "It gives you a certain liberty, working within a structure," she said. It distills language and emotion."

The state of British poetry

An in-depth analysis of who's who and what they're writing about, by John Mullan in The Guardian.
So what preoccupies the nation's poets - aside from obtaining the university posts teaching creative writing that now sustain many of them? The Forward prize was explicitly set up for writers who reach out to a "general readership", and it does seem that the poetry of natural description is often what general readers are perceived to want. Last year, Kathleen Jamie won with The Tree House, the poems in which enacted a minute scrutiny of nature - flowers and trees, birds and wild animals. Alice Oswald has certainly shown herself to have appeal: her collection Dart, first published in 2002, has had five-figure sales - an extraordinary achievement for a book of new verse by a previously unknown writer.
Update: The Guardian also has an interview with Forward prize winner David Harsent.

"I'm Shakespeare!"

From BBC News:
An Elizabethan diplomat named Sir Henry Neville was the real author of William Shakespeare's plays, a new book claims.

The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare says the courtier, nicknamed "Falstaff" by close friends, used Shakespeare as a "front man".

The book by Brenda James and Professor William Rubinstein contains a foreword by Mark Rylance, artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.

Bruce Stewart

Bruce Stewart, former co-Chair of the Guild, has died at the age of 80. The Guardian has an obituary.
Stewart ...[wrote] more than 200 plays and scripts for radio, television and the stage. He had one play put on in the West End of London, at the Duchess Theatre in 1970. This was The Hallelujah Boy - with Alan Dobie in the title role - and it focused on worker priests in France. But Stewart was a versatile writer, who also tackled science fiction. His work included the children's television series Timeslip (1972) and a horror film, The Hand of Night (1966), a "vampire film without blood". He also contributed many episodes to The Onedin Line, Secret Army and Sherlock Holmes.

National Theatre Studio

Maddy Costa in The Guardian goes behind the scenes of the National Theatre Studio, where work is developed away from the public gaze.
One playwright who has benefited from the Studio is Gregory Burke. He first came here on a year-long attachment following the success of his debut play Gagarin Way in Edinburgh and at the National in 2001. When he arrived at the Studio, Burke admits, "panic set in. I wasn't a writer in any way, shape or form; although I had a lot of bravado about writing my second play, I didn't know what I was doing." Primarily, the Studio gave him a sense of community. "I got to know loads of other writers - Roy Williams, Moira Buffini, Richard Bean. We would go out once a month for a spurious 'artistic meeting' that involved going to the pub for five hours. After a week of staring out the window doing nothing, it was reassuring to know that everybody else had been doing exactly the same thing." Without that, he thinks, "I probably would have gone back up to Scotland and not even have bothered to write."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Guild Variety Night cancelled

The Variety Night scheduled for 5 October has been cancelled due to a number of last-minute withdrawals by participants. Apologies for any inconvenience caused. The next Variety Night will take place on Monday 5 December 2005.

Rebecca Miller interviewed

American screenwriter Rebecca Miller, interviewed by Dylan Callaghan for wga.org.
Screenwriting has different demands than fiction. I continue to write fiction and I find it is very useful to write things in prose before they become screenplays so that I know what people are thinking and can come up with their actions. Screenplays rely on drama — on something happening, on conflict — whereas fiction can be very interior, as well as a storytelling medium.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Small screen to game screen

Paul Hyman in The Hollywood Reporter looks at how American TV series are being adapted as video games.
In "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," gamers are presented with three murder cases -- which is the reason the game's rating was bumped up to an "M" -- and they choose which order they intend to solve them. Each begins at the crime scene where Detective Goren is briefed on the basics of the crime. The rest of the game involves collecting evidence, determining what is relevant, interviewing witnesses, sending evidence to the crime lab, conferring with Capt. Deakins, getting warrants and, of course, interrogating suspects.

Nestle Prize shortlist

The shortlist for the Nestle Prize for children's writing has been announced, and, as The Independent reports, the biggest surprise is the inclusion of first-time author Emily Gravett whose book Wolves was originally created as a project for her degree at Brighton University, which she finished last year.
Julia Eccleshare, a children's book editor, said: "This year's shortlist reflects the remarkable quality of children's literature published today. There was an amazing array of books submitted this year, from fairy stories and historical novels to witty picture books and tough emotional tales." This is the 21st year of the Nestle Children's Book Prize which has previously recognised writers including J K Rowling and Lauren Child, who have each won three times.

The other contenders are The Whisperer by Nick Butterworth, Michael Rosen's Sad Book by Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake and Corby Flood by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, in the six to eight years category; and I, Coriander by Sally Gardner, The Scarecrow and the Servant by Philip Pullman and The Whispering Road by Livi Michael for nine to 11-year-olds.

Stephen Gallagher interview

British screenwriter, Stephen Gallagher, interviewed on an excellent American writing blog, Complications Ensue. This is part one of four, and though it is mainly concerned with explaining the British commissioning system to Americans, it makes interesting reading for Brits as well.

Stephen dropped me an email to mention Complications Ensue and also to recommend I Find Your Lack Of Faith Disturbing, another very enjoyable American writing blog.
It seems that one of the sub-genres of the screenwriter blog is the pitch post. From what I can tell, everybody's a fucking expert on pitching projects. Everyone's got a song, a dance, a corkboard, some Willy Loman trick. I love John Rogers's recent post on pitching television and I even found myself using the term "story lens" in a meeting. Of course I have no idea what "story lens" means and there's a pretty good chance I used the term incorrectly. But whatever. It's not like these people know what I'm talking about half the time anyway. In fact, if I make the classic mistake of asking for that second Diet Coke, there's a good chance I'll do at least one five minute caffeinated riff about whatever's within my reach on the coffee table.

The truth is, I pitch like a drunk sailor. In my twelve years of Monkeydom I cannot remember EVER selling an original feature idea in pitch form. I've had meetings that resulted in me getting hired for jobs, but I'm pretty sure that a) I already had the job going into the meeting and could only have lost it or b) my competition had been arrested for child endangerment earlier in the day.

August Wilson dies

August Wilson, who chronicled the African-American experience in the 20th century in a series of plays that will stand as a landmark in the history of black culture, of American literature and of Broadway theater, died yesterday at a hospital in Seattle.
More from Charles Isherwood inThe New York Times.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Guardian Profile: Alan Bennett

The Guardian has published a profile of tea drinking, biscuit eater Alan Bennett.
He still doesn't think of himself as well read. 'Even at university there seemed no time to read,' he says. 'Or at least no time to read a book all the way through.'He didn't read Dickens until he was in his late 20s. 'I was on the boat home from New York where we'd been doing Beyond the Fringe and I read Bleak House. I didn't feel like I'd encountered something revelatory, I was just pleased to have got through it.' "
I know that feeling. Well, without the glamorous aspect of the travel back from New York. Or of getting through the book. Or of being pleased, thinking about it.