By Piers Beckley
The screenwriters' festival is being held in a new venue this year, but despite that the red-shirted runners were able to direct people around the place without one single monster-related incident. Which is rare, as connoisseurs will know.
In a way the word "festival" is a bit of a misnomer, suggesting screenings and awards - or, if you prefer, drugs and lasers - but what it really is, is a four-day screenwriting conference.
Which is actually a lot more useful to a writer.
This year there are more than a hundred speakers over the four days. There are panels, lectures, launches (such as the Guild's own good practice guide for screenwriters - more of which anon) and networking both formal and informal.
There are two main reasons for coming to any conference, whether it's for science, art, literature, barbering (according to our taxi driver last night, Cheltenham recently hosted a barbers' conference), or screenwriting.
One is to find out best practice and news - that's mostly covered by the lectures.
The second is networking. And contrary to what many people believe, networking isn't trying to find someone with money and pushing your masterpiece into their hands - it's learning craft from those further along than you, and talking about it with other people at the same level you are, whether that's someone with a dozen credits or someone who's only just set pen to paper.
That's what really happens at a conference of any sort, whether it's for science, art, literature, barbering, or screenwriting. Talking with people you know and don't know in the gaps between lectures, and in the pub after the day is over, about your work, and theirs, and what's going on in the world in which you all work.
And it's those conversations that make an event like this worth coming to.