Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Happy reading...

If you need an excuse for not writing, here's a long list of recommended recent writing blog posts from Complications Ensue.

Living the dream

Advice from Danny Stack on taking the plunge to be a freelance script-reader/writer.
...while script reading is great, it is poorly paid and it takes up a lot of time. When you first take the plunge, reading will be the only outlet to actually pay the bills (that is if you’re lucky enough to get work as a reader...). The standard rate nowadays for ‘coverage’ (a script report) in the UK is £45 and some pay £50 (like the Film Council). It's the £50 gig you want as reading 4 scripts in a week is £200. Not much but enough to pay the basic bills (very frugal living indeed). Reading 8 or 12 scripts is not uncommon, and more money obviously, but fatigue may set in especially if you're busy writing your own scripts or cursing level 22 of Crash Bandicoot on the PlayStation.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Writers' Guild of Great Britain website down

Due to serious technical problems experienced by our hosting company, Force 9, the Guild website is currently unavailable. We will post further information as soon as possible.

In the meantime, if you have a query about the Guild please contact admin@writersguild.org.uk

Writing Comedy on the Internet

Since we're still having technical problems with our main website, here's the report from the event last week.
The future for comedy writers is either incredibly exciting or incredibly depressing. There will be either a huge number of new opportunities or it will become impossible to make a living. The glass might be half-full, but equally everyone in the pub might have finished their drinks and be waiting for you to buy the next round.
That, at least, seemed to be the message coming from the Guild event in London on 23 November, ‘Writing Comedy on the Internet for Fun and Profit’. Organised by Dave Cohen, and attended by a packed house of Guild and non-Guild writers, it was a chance to take stock of new developments and hear about what the online future might hold for comedy writers.
The first speakers were Dougal Templeton and Tim Heming from E3 media and its subsidiary, Wildfire Communications.
In the summer they beat off fierce competition to win the contract to produce a new user-generated site called Soup that will form a major part of the BBC’s online comedy content.
The idea, as Tim, who will edit the site, explained, is that Soup will be “a showcase for original comedy material and will develop into breeding-ground and networking area for comedy talent.” The target audience will be 18-30 year-olds, people who perhaps don’t watch much TV but like viral comedy and sites like b3ta.
In fact b3ta seemed to be, in many ways, the inspiration for Soup since it will allow users to upload video (live action or animation), audio and visual gags. The big difference will be that content will be moderated so that it conforms to BBC Guidelines and, rather than being anonymous as much of this sort of content is on the web, the creators will be fully credited.
Also, there will be lots of tie-ins with other BBC comedy content and the BBC is promising to make at least some archive material available.
Soup will be launched in early 2006, and seed content is already being sought. Because it is seen as a user-created site, the plan is not, in the main, to make payments to contributors. However, Tim said that if people have content that he really wants to put on the site, especially if it is a series of pieces, he is open to negotiation. You can contact him on tim@wildfirecomms.co.uk for more information, but remember he is looking for produced audio, video or picture content, not scripts or ideas.
Both Dougal and Tim stressed that the BBC see the site as a showcase for new talent. Anyone who makes an impact on the site will attract the attention of producers, they said.


The second speaker at the event was Nick Hildred, a comedy writer who is currently producing a twice-weekly podcast, Whack My Bush
Podcasts are digital audio files that can be downloaded to computers and mp3 players. and, as Nick explained, the great thing is that it “provide a chance for writers to throw off the shackles and do it for themselves.” The audio comedy market is completely dominated by Radio 4, but anyone can, with a little bit of hard work, produce a podcast.
Well, in Nick’s case quite a lot of hard work, actually. “I have put in at least 50-hours a week since we started,” he said. And his writing partner has done about the same. The writing is just one part of the process. The recordings have to be arranged, recorded and edited – all of which is hard work.

However, each five minute podcast of Whack My Bush is currently receiving more than 10,000 downloads and the feedback, Nick said, had been excellent. The real test will come in the next few months as they try to persuade people to pay for what up until now they have received for free.
There was a high degree of consensus among the panel from the floor that the entertainment industry is undergoing rapid change. However, while everyone seems to agree that “content is king” it is not yet clear whether producers will be prepared to pay for it. People like Nick, who are doing it for themselves, might come to be seen as pioneers of a new and profitable way for comedy writers to reach a global audience. Or they might not.

'On demand' on the rise

On-demand media is certainly on the up, but are we really hearing the whole story? If high-consumption America can only offer an average of less than one on-demand TV show per day, then are we really talking about a fundemental shift? After all, I think it's probably fair to imagine that those people using PVRs to timeshift their viewing are actually relatively heavy consumers of the technology: this drives the average down among those who aren't dedicated users.
More from Bobbie Johnson at The Guardian's Technology Blog.

Children's BAFTAs

The winners of the 2005 Children's BAFTA Awards have been announced.

Drama on TV

The success of high quality, original TV drama series in America is having a knock-on effect on British TV, argues Benji Wilson in The Observer.
The sheer volume of goodies coming up on channels other than Channel 4 or BBC2 suggests a new mood in popular TV drama - the men and women who make our small screens glow, the suits in dark towers, appear to have realised that quality productions can get at least as good ratings as a C-list celeb masturbating a pig, and they won't go to hell in a handcart for commissioning it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

End of the movies?

The era of moviegoing as a mass audience ritual is slowly but inexorably drawing to a close, eroded by many of the same forces that have eviscerated the music industry, decimated network TV and, yes, are clobbering the newspaper business. Put simply, an explosion of new technology — the Internet, DVDs, video games, downloading, cellphones and iPods — now offers more compelling diversion than 90% of the movies in theaters, the exceptions being "Harry Potter"-style must-see events or the occasional youth-oriented comedy or thriller.

Anywhere you look, the news has been grim. Disney just reported a $313-million loss for films and DVDs in its fiscal fourth quarter. Sony has had a disastrous year, with only one $100-million hit ("Hitch") among a string of costly flops. DreamWorks not only has had theatrical duds but also saw its stock plummet when its "Shrek 2" DVD sales fell 5 million short of expectations. Even Warners, the industry's best-run studio, laid off 400 staffers earlier this month.
More from Patrick Goldstein in The LA Times.

Writing comedy for the internet

The future for comedy writers is either incredibly exciting or incredibly depressing. There will be either a huge number of new opportunities or it will become impossible to make a living. The glass might be half-full, but equally everyone in the pub might have finished their drinks and be waiting for you to buy the next round.
Read my report on the Guild's event looking at writing comedy for the internet. It includes details of the BBC's upcoming comedy website, Soup.

Shelf doubt

Susie Boyt in The Guardian agonises over how to organise her books...
No one in her right mind would display her wardrobe on open racks and shelves in the living room for all to see: the bad mistakes, the telling array of sizes, that dented tin of Doom to Moth, the smell of sweat deodorised. It would be more exposure than anyone could bear.

I've always felt a little like this about books too. Until now I have kept mine stowed away, around the walls in my office, in the bedroom, piled up on the landing out of sight, even under the beds. I've never felt books added much to any room visually, as long as you can always find one when you need one.

But recently I have had cause to revise my opinions: one of my daughter's friends asked her mother why we don't have any books in our home, and I'm not sleeping well because the stack of books next to my bed is so high that it is penetrating my dreams, where towers and precarious cliffs loom large. The upshot is that I now have 14 bookshelves near the front door where anyone who visits the house will see them, and I feel almost paralysed with indecision.
There's now a debate raging about the subject on The Guardian's Culture Vulture blog.

Unicorn Theatre

The Stage's Mark Shenton gets a sneak preview of the new theatre complex in London that is home to Unicorn Theatre for children.
Completed at a cost of £13.7m (of which £9.4m was construction cost), it contains two theatres – the main house Weston (seating 340) and a 120-seater studio, plus rehearsal studio and a purpose-built education space. The Weston offers a flexible thrust-stage configuration with blue bench seating curving round in amphitheatre style, on two levels (with a second circle for technical use only); it reminded me of Hampstead’s new theatre. The studio is simply a versatile black box.

BBC Writersroom Q&A

BBC writersroom are hosting a Q&A to tie in with the launch of this year's Dennis Potter Award at The Royal Court, London Monday 5th December 2005 at 5pm to 6.30pm.

On the panel will be Tony Grounds (writer of BBC dramas 'When I'm 64', 'Family Business' and 'Births, Marriages and Deaths'), Sharon Foster (last year's winner of the Dennis Potter award, and writer on 'Babyfather'), Kate Rowland (the BBC’s Creative Director of New Writing) and Jeremy Howe (Executive producer, BBC Drama).

The session not only ties in with the launch of the 2006 Dennis Potter Award but is an open discussion with the writers of their experience of writing original drama.

Entry for this event is free and is open to all writers, but please book early to avoid disappointment. If you would like to attend please contact the Royal Court Box Office on 0207 565 5000, for an unreserved ticket. To avoid queuing on the day, it’s advisable to collect tickets in advance from the Box Office (and/or to arrive half an hour before the start if possible). Tickets can only be reserved up to an hour before the event.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Censoring Marlowe

It was the surprise hit of the autumn season, selling out for its entire run and inspiring rave reviews. But now the producers of Tamburlaine the Great have come under fire for censoring Christopher Marlowe’s 1580s masterpiece to avoid upsetting Muslims.
More from Dalya Alberge in The Times.

Hacking Google Books

Despite reassurances to copyright holders, the new Google Books programme allows you to view (albeit in a roundabout way) more than 90% of many books online says Demir Barlas on Line56.

Download Funland Episode One

The script for Episode One of BBC TV's Funland, written by Simon Ashdown and Jeremy Dyson, is available for download from the BBC Writersroom.

BitTorrent strikes a deal

The movie industry and the man behind BitTorrent have signed a deal they hope will reduce the number of pirated films shared on the downloading network.

The deal covers films found via the bittorrent.com website run by Bram Cohen - creator of the download system.

It means bittorrent.com must remove any links to pirated films made by seven Hollywood movie studios.

As it only covers the bittorrent.com website it is unclear what overall effect it will have on net piracy.
More from BBC News.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

New Radio Drama Agreement signed

The Writers’ Guild has signed a new Radio Drama Agreement with the BBC, coming into force on 1 January 2006 – after more than four years of negotiations.

Guild Radio Committee Chair Alan Drury said: “The previous agreement was for a pre-digital world. As developments such as internet streaming and BBC7 occurred, they were dealt with by further agreements and licences. The result was Jarndycian complexity. All the extras are now part of the new agreement, and attract an increased fee.”

The main anomaly is the digital channel BBC7 using programmes commissioned before the end of 2005, where the current, separate arrangement will continue. Under the agreement a Radio Forum will be set up which will meet twice yearly to deal with new developments in radio and any fine-tuning the new agreement needs. A lot of contractual complexities have been streamlined, and the BBC has accepted it has no claim on a number of subsidiary rights.

Procedures for the BBC’s further exploitation of material are clearer, and decision making times have been shortened. The question of format rights has, at last, been directly addressed.

The parties to the agreement are the BBC, the Guild, the Society of Authors and the Personal Managers’ Association, representing writers’ agents. The Guild will be issuing a lay person’s guide in the next few months. Drury commented: “For radio, it’s been an epic process.”

Writing Comedy on the Internet for Fun and Profit - 23 November (reminder)

Don't forget that if you can get to Camden People's Theatre on Hampstead Way (just over the road from Warren St and Euston Square tubes)tomorrow evening, the Guild is running an event looking at writing comedy for the web. All the details are inthis previous post.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Adapting Harry Potter

For six years, [screenwriter Steve] Kloves has left his own kids for weeks at a time to care for his magically challenged foster children in the U.K., put all his other projects on the backburner to take care of Harry. For six years, he has thrashed around in a world created by another writer, teasing movies from complicated books of increasing girth and violence then turning the scripts over to another fellow to direct.
The challenge of adapting JK Rowling's Harry Potter books for the big screen, by Mary McNamara in The LA Times.

Rachel Zadok

If you've never seen the point of entering writing competitions, Rachel Zadok (interviewed by Jasper Gerard in The Sunday Times) might change your mind. Earlier this year her unpublished novel was shortlisted in Richard and Judy's 'How to get published' contest. Now she's been shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award.

Breaking the block

Advice on overcoming writers' block from romantic-comedy screenwriter, Billy Mernit.
Sometimes in my bleakest moments what I want to tell a writer who says he's got writer's block is, hey, who held a gun to your head and said, go be a writer? Hey, if you're having such a hard time of it, and you just can't write...

Stop. Give it up. Don't do it anymore. If it hurts, why bother? Like, do we need another writer? In this town?! Please - study medicine, join the peace corp, find something useful to do with yourself - more writing gigs for the rest of us, man, you'll be doing us a favor.

Writing feature film synopses

Advice on Complications Ensue.
When I write a synopsis, my goal is to tell a story. Not necessarily the same story as in the movie. It's more the story that the movie would be if it were that length of story. I take out stuff that's too complicated for the length. Sometimes I replace it with simpler stuff that's not in the movie.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

US Guilds call for product placement controls

The Writers Guild of America west and East have called for a code of conduct to govern the growing use of product placement on TV and in films.
"The weaving of paid-for product advertisements into the storylines of television and film raises serious ethical questions,” said WGAw President Patric M. Verrone. “The traditional standards & practices governing commercial product placement are increasingly being swept aside in favor of product integration and branded entertainment. In their race to the bottom line to create the so-called new business model, network and advertising executives are ignoring the public's interest and demanding that creative artists participate in stealth advertising disguised as a story.

“The public has a right to be informed that they are viewing de facto subliminal advertising - and creative artists have a right to exercise their creative voices when required to participate in such advertising."
The LA Times has more coverage.

In response to the Monsterists

David Farr in The Guardian responds to the group of writers calling themselves Monsterists who want to see more writers commissioned to write large scale plays with big casts. Such plays, argues Farr, who is artistic director at the Lyric Hammersmith, are perhaps better left to collaborative work rather than the single writer.
As artistic director of a large-scale theatre, I am often engaging with a young audience who have a phenomenal visual sophistication and relatively little literary sophistication. My mission is to use one to help develop the other. The fragmentary, often self-referential narratives in film and music educate a modern audience to want similar formal complexity in theatre. This is much easier to explore in a rehearsal room than in a writer's office.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sharman leaves CBBC

Alison Sharman, Controller of CBBC since June this year, is to join ITV as director of factual and daytime.
The post for Controller of CBBC will be advertised next week, following the announcement that Alison Sharman will be leaving shortly to join ITV.

Richard Deverell, currently Chief Operating Officer for CBBC, will care-take the role until the new appointment is made.
More from the BBC.

American Guilds reach new agreement

For a large portion of my first year on the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, west, I was involved in an effort to mediate a serious dispute with the Writers Guild of America, East.

If the notion that there are two WGAs sounds stupid to you (much less the idea that they’re fighting), well, join the club called “everyone else in the world who is rational”.
Craig Mazin at Artiful Writer gives his verdict on a new agreement between the two American Guilds.
Meanwhile, The LA Times reports that "Unnerved by mounting anger within the unions representing actors and writers, Hollywood studios are already girding for potential strikes two years before the first contract even expires."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Non-linear storytelling

The growing trend for multi-narrative films, discussed by Stephen Farber in The New York Times.

Alfred Shaughnessy 1916-2005

Alfred James Shaughnessy, former Writers' Guild member and the principal writer of 1970s ITV hit Upstairs Downstairs has died. He was a Guild member for 40 years, joining in 1961.

Olivier nominations

Guild member Mike Leigh is among the writers nominated for Best New Play in the 2005 Olivier Awards. The full list of nominees is:
  • 2,000 Years by Mike Leigh (National Theatre)
  • Bloody Sunday Richard Norton-Taylor (Tricycle)
  • Harvest Richard Bean (Royal Court)
  • The Home Place Brian Friel (Gate Theatre, Dublin/Comedy Theatre)

Competing for the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright are:
  • Ryan Craig - What We Did to Weinstein (Menier Chocolate Factory)
  • Nell Leyshon - Comfort Me With Apples (Hampstead Theatre)
  • Simon Mendes da Costa - Losing Louis (Hampstead Theatre/ Trafalgar Studios)
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 28 November.

"Daleks have feelings too"

British TV drama is suffering from an overwhelming need to preach, argues Mark Ranevhill in The Guardian.
[The] teaching of moral values is spreading across the TV drama spectrum. The wards of Holby City now live by the same principles, as do the cops at Sun Hill. Even Billie and the Doctor had to learn this time around, in a way that Tom Baker would never have done, that "Daleks have feelings too", and "you can travel in time but you mustn't forget your family". It seems there's nowhere in time or space, or the TV schedule, that can fully escape what they call in American sitcom script meetings "hugs and learning".

AOL to launch online TV

Internet giant America Online (AOL) has announced plans to launch a free online television service by early next year.

To be called In2TV, it will feature programmes from sister Time Warner company Warner Brothers.

The service will be organised into six channels, divided by genre, such as comedy, drama, and animation.

It is not yet known whether it will be available to AOL users outside the US. Rival internet firms Yahoo and Google plan their own online TV services. More from BBC News.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lucy Lumsden named as BBC Controller of Comedy Commissioning.

Lucy Lumsden has been named as the BBC's Controller of Comedy Commissioning.
The newly created role will see comedy and entertainment commissioning separated for the first time.

Lucy takes on responsibility for commissioning comedy from both in-house and the independent sector.

Reporting directly to Jana Bennett, BBC Director of Televison, Lucy has a seat on the TV Management Board alongside Jon Beazley, recently named as Controller Entertainment Commissioning and responsible for the UK's largest entertainment slate.

Writing Comedy on the Internet for Fun and Profit - 23 November

More and more people are turning to the web to make their comedic mark - and some are finally making it financially worth their while.

On Wednesday 23 November, the Writers' Guild will host an event where you can meet three people who have already made their mark on the web.

  • George Poles created the hugely successful Welcome To Albia blogsite, recommended by The Guardian under their 'top 10 comedy websites'.
  • Nick Hildred writes, edits, produces and even occasionally performs in Whack My Bush, the weekly satirical online show that in a short space of time has attracted more than 30,000 listeners a week.
  • Dougal Templeton runs a publishing company who have just won the contract to produce a new BBC comedy website - BBC Soup, that launches next year, and is actively seeking writers to work on it.
The evening will be hosted by Guild member comedian and writer Dave Cohen, there'll be plenty of time for questions and a chance to network.

The event takes place at Camden People's Theatre on Hampstead Way (just over the road from Warren St and Euston Square tubes). Meet for drinks from 6.30pm on Wednesday 23 November. Talk begins at 7.45pm. Tickets are £5 for Guild members and £10 for non-members. For further information, or to book, contact Naomi MacDonald on naomi@writersguild.org.uk

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Davies defends Bleak House

Guild member Andrew Davies has defended his adaptation of Dickens's Bleak House after an attack from Philip Hensher (who said, basically, why bother with an adaptation when you can read the novel.) The Guardian has the full story, and lots of comment.

Meanwhile Davies continues his dominance in the world of classic adaptations. As BBC News reports, he will be writing at least one of ITV's upcoming Jane Austen dramas as well as a BBC version of Sense and Sensibility.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

If your film comes out on DVD

Advice on recording interviews for DVD extras, from Charlie And The chocolate Factory screenwriter,John August.

We can all dream...

US Networks to launch video-on-demand reruns

In separate moves, the CBS and NBC Universal television networks said yesterday that they would start selling reruns of their top new shows within hours of their broadcast for 99 cents an episode through video-on-demand services on cable and satellite.

The move follows ABC's recent deal to make several of its shows available for paid downloads on Apple's latest iPod portable music and video player. This is the first time the CBS and NBC broadcast networks have tried to be paid directly for newly broadcast shows rather than just rely on advertising revenue.
More from The New York Times.

Update: There's some interesting commentary on this story on Complications Ensue.

Harry Thompson 1960-2005

Comedy producer Harry Thompson, well known to writers on shows including Have I Got News For You, has died at the age 45.

There are obituaries in The Guardian, The Times and The Independent.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Authors call for book fund for blind people

Leading authors have called for the government to act to help end the "book famine" faced by the blind.

Crime author Ruth Rendell and Gosford Park writer Julian Fellowes are backing a Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) call for government funds.
More from BBC News.

riskybiz blog

The Hollywood Reporter has a new(ish) blog, RiskyBiz, by Anne Thompson. Trailers, reviews, links and plenty of industry gossip.

Lloyd Webber buys back theatres

Andrew Lloyd Webber is taking back full control of his theatre empire by buying out the venture capitalists who owned half of the business for the past five years.

And with total control over his fiefdom, he is set to press ahead with a five-year, £10m refurbishment of his eight theatres, which include the Grade I listed Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and the London Palladium. (A ninth, the Gielgud, is leased from the impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh.)
More from The Independent.

Monday, November 07, 2005

BBC plans interactive youth soap

The BBC is to launch Wannabes, an interactive web-based soap opera about young people in Brighton, in 2006.

Wannabes will follow the trials and tribulations of a group of youngsters attempting to start creative careers in music, television and film.

Two episodes will be available online each week, with interactive elements enabling viewers to influence content.

The project follows the launch of Jamie Kane, an online game involving a fictional pop star.

Produced by independent company Illumina Digital, the show - aimed at 14- to 18-year-olds - will begin in the spring and run for seven weeks.
More from BBC News.

John Fowles dies

Writer John Fowles, author of The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman, has died at the age of 79.
More from BBC News.

Friday, November 04, 2005

BBC comedy apprenticeships

Good Old Auntie. Never one to discourage new talent, she has set up a £150,000 apprenticeship scheme to nurture new TV comedy writers.

Writers will be chosen from candidates that have contacted the BBC with fresh ideas during the various Talent competitions.

Successful candidates will be paid £10,000 each for the pleasure of shadowing programmes during their entire production, during which time they will learn from the shows' writers as well as contribute to any discussions about scripts.

If this scheme is a success it is expected that every new in-house comedy will have an apprentice writer attached
More from Paramount Comedy.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bruntwood Playwriting Competition launched

Further to reports last month, the Bruntwood Playwriting Competition was launched today.

Organised by Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, the competition is open to all (entries are anonymous), with a first prize of £15,000. Submissions must be full-length unproduced plays.
This is a unique opportunity for anyone, aged 18 or over, to enter their original, full-length stageplay in a competition which aims to reward the best plays by writers across the country.

You can be anyone, of any experience, living anywhere in the UK and Ireland. You might never have written a play before. Or, you might have written lots. The key thing is, that entry is totally anonymous, so the competition is absolutely fair and inclusive to everyone.
The closing date for entries is 30 April 2006.

National Novel Writing Month

It's November...it's NaNoWriMo - your chance to start (and finish) the book that you keep putting off.

Shakespeare on TV

The difficulties of updating Shakespeare's plays for TV, in a thoughtful article by Mark Lawson in The Guardian.
A writer putting a contemporary copyright line on a Shakespeare play has four main problems, which, like Olympic dives, increase in degree of difficulty: setting; names; plot; language.
A new series of updated Shakespeare starts on BBC ONE next week.

Leo Lehman 1926-2005

Playwright Leo Lehman, a member of the Writers' Guild since 1962, has died at the age of 79.

Leo Lehmann was born in Breslau, Germany on 18 November 1926. He was brought up in Kalisz, Poland until his family fled, along with other Jewish relatives, from the Nazi invasion. At the end of the War, Leo arrived in Scotland with his parents as refugees. In 1949 he became a British citizen.

He studied English at Southampton University and took a postgraduate education degree at London University during which time he met Elizabeth. They married in 1952.

He became a language teacher and began his writing career in his spare time. The 1950s and 1960s saw success on the stage and at the BBC with plays such as Epitaph and Who Cares. In the 1960s and 1970s Leo was prolific in his writing for the German stage and television including plays The East Wind (1967), Chopin Express (1971) and Left-handed Corkscrew (1975).

Leo was a keen historian and wrote stage plays such as Servitus Laval and Trotsky. In 1982 he adapted Janina David's autobiography A Square of Sky which won the Adolf Grimm Gold Award.

In his last years Leo suffered from Parkinson's Disease, but managed to retain both his sense of humour and his passion for his work.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

BBC One competition for new writers

Announcement on BBC Writersroom of a major new competition:
From Summer 2006, the BBC hopes to transmit 6 x 60-minute plays on BBC ONE.

This opportunity will give six new writers the chance to have their original and authored work broadcast to a primetime audience. We want a good mix of writers, and this can include writers who are completely new to television.

About the plays
  • They can be about anything. We want a good mix of subject and tone, but they should have a strong story and be character-driven.
  • They must be mainstream, contemporary and UK based, but they should be bold and ambitious and want to challenge, question and provoke.
  • We are looking for ideas that are from the heart - on a subject, or exploring an issue, that you are passionate about.

About the writers
  • The writer must have no credits for original authored drama in primetime. Off-peak original drama credits or other series credits will not preclude the writer from being considered - neither will the fact that they are so far entirely un-produced on television.
  • The writer does not need to have an agent.
How to submit
  • We will accept submissions of a one-page pitch until the end of November 2005. Pitches longer than one page will NOT be considered.
  • All pitches should be supported by an original screenplay of at least 60 minutes. It is preferred that this be a separate piece of work from the idea submitted, and will be used as a gauge for your writing talent only. A professionally produced radio or stage play will be accepted if it is all you have, but a screenplay is much more useful to us and any other type of work may result in you being unsuccessful.

Submissions (one-page pitch and screenplay) can be e-mailed to: kimo.morrison@bbc.co.uk.


You can only submit until the 31st of November. Ideas received after that date will NOT be considered.

Unsuccessful entrants will be notified.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Victor Miller interview

Yale graduate Victor Miller was a playwright with a Kojak novelization under his belt when mutual friends introduced him to writer-director-producer Sean Cunningham (The Last House on the Left). The two immediately hit it off and started making movies together. With the indie phenomenon of Halloween, Cunningham and Miller tried to decipher its formula of success and, in following the Halloween treasure map, they found gold in a horror franchise that is still lurking in the shadows (and putting a little ch-ch-ch in fans' hearts) 25 years later. Although most people's 80s nostalgia runs to parachute pants and Dexy's Midnight Runners (themselves a pretty scary concept), Miller's script for Friday the 13th brings back wistful memories for horror aficionados young and old. As it turns out, Miller recalled it all fondly as well.
Screenwriter Victor Miller interviewed by David Konow for Creative Screenwriting.

National Theatre of Scotland

The National Theatre of Scotland(NTS) has announced it's first programme, for Spring 2006.

A year after the appointment of its first director, Vicky Featherstone, NTS is working with venues across Scotland (it has no permanent venue of its own).

Writing in The Guardian, Featherstone says:
Scotland, for better or worse, has no great weighty theatre tradition behind it. There is no Shakespeare or Marlowe, no George Bernard Shaw or Wilde. Today we have Liz Lochhead, Anthony Neilson, David Greig, Chris Hannan, David Harrower and Zinnie Harris - all of whom are working with us in different capacities. Scottish theatre has always been demotic and vital, led by great performances, great stories or great playwrights. This is a chance to start building a new generation of theatre-goers as well as reinvigorating the existing ones; to create theatre on a national and international scale that is contemporary, confident and forward-looking; to bring together brilliant artists, composers, choreographers and playwrights; and to exceed our expectation of what and where theatre can be.