Saturday, May 31, 2008

Writers' Guild Awards 2008 – call for nominations

It is now time to send in your nominations for the Writers' Guild Awards 2008. All members of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain are entitled to nominate in all categories - so don't miss this opportunity to put forward those plays, programmes, productions, prose and game scripts that have really grabbed you over the past year.

The award categories are as follows:
  • Best Short-form Drama (TV)*
  • Best Soap (TV)**
  • Best Drama Series (TV)
  • Best Comedy / Light Entertainment Series (TV)
  • Best Screenplay (Feature Film)
  • Best Radio Play
  • Best Play (Theatre)
  • Best Play for Children and Young People (Theatre)
  • Best Videogame Script
  • Outstanding Contribution to Children's Writing
* Short-form drama is defined as being broadcast in a maximum of three parts.

** Soaps are defined as high volume long-running TV drama series with more than one new episode broadcast per week.

Please note: for the purpose of clarification as regards the television categories, Best Short-form Drama and Best Drama Series may include adaptations.

There will also be a Best Book Award, for which submissions will be sought from publishers. For more information about this award and how it’s run, see below.

Please note: all awards will be given to the writer(s), not the production as a whole, so please make your nominations based on the quality of the writing not the standard of production.

Nominated writer(s) must be British or work in Britain. Eligible programmes / plays / games etc. must have been first released, published, performed or broadcast during the period 1 June 2007 - 31 May 2008 inclusive.

If you have any questions about this, please contact the Guild office.

If you would like to nominate in any or all of the above categories, please email and quote your Guild membership number. Please make it clear which writers you are nominating in which categories.

Nominations may also be submitted via post to the Guild office. Please address nominations to 'Writers' Guild Award nominations', Writers' Guild of Great Britain, 15-17 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JN

The deadline for nominations is Monday 14thJuly 2008 and the shortlist will be announced on Friday 19th September 2008.

The shortlists and winners in each category will be chosen by the relevant Guild Craft Committee or an appropriate jury appointed by the Guild's Executive Council.

There will also be a Lifetime Achievement Award which will be awarded to a Guild member by the Executive Council.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

BBC Trust approves increase in network TV production in the nations

From the BBC Trust:
The BBC Trust has approved plans that should lead to a significant combined increase in network television production across the English regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Trust agreed that in future the BBC should adopt more challenging targets for measuring and meeting its targets for network production in the nations by using Ofcom's definition instead of the existing BBC one.

Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story

I missed Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story (written by Amanda Coe and starring Julie Walters) last night but in The Guardian, Nancy Banks Smith sings the drama's praises and reflects on a bygone era.
It opened with Mrs Whitehouse cycling to church past picture-postcard cottages and whitewashed picket fences (oblivious to the occasional wife with a black eye). The background music was a jaunty version of "Ma's out, Pa's out. Let's talk rude. Pee, po, belly, bum, drawers." We might have had better luck with that one in the Eurovision Song Contest. She was 50 and looked as if she should be advertising Fairy soap, but she would soon meet the tsunami of the 60s head on.

Hugh Carleton Greene was a journalist who had reported the German invasion of Poland to the sleeping Poles and had seen all he ever intended to see of censorship. He was director general of the BBC throughout the 60s, arching over the decade like a great greenhouse. Under his beneficent protection, fresh talent flowered extravagantly: Till Death, Z Cars, the Wednesday Play and That Was the Week, which was modelled at his suggestion on pre-Nazi cabarets. They stopped the world. On certain nights the nation swarmed home like bees to the hive and, next day on the bus, buzzed of nothing else. I felt then, and have not felt since, that television really mattered.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Web companies target copyright

In The Register, Andrew Orlowski looks at why the failure of the much-hyped web 2.0 to make money means that companies are trying to roll-back copyright protection.
As it happens, I'm in favour of copyright reform too - but it's predicated on gathering more money for creators, not propping up serial business failures .... So the next time you hear the ritualistic whining about the trouble copyright holders cause plucky internet startups, remember who really needs who.

Richard Crane on The Quiz

On the Guild website, Richard Crane writes about his new play, The Quiz, and his inspiration, Dostoyevsky.
The pure light that glowed for the writing of The Quiz was a naked flame. It was the first play I’d written for 13 years and I felt any moment the flame might fizzle out and I’d left in utter dark darkness. But it was also a signal that I wanted to write the most singular, simple and concentrated of shows. And also the cheapest.
The QuizDavid Bradley in The Quiz by Richard Crane

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kureishi attacks writing courses

From Charlotte Higgins in The Guardian:
The celebrated novelist, screenwriter and playwright Hanif Kureishi has launched a withering attack on university creative writing courses, calling them "the new mental hospitals".

Kureishi, himself a research associate on the creative writing course at Kingston University in London said, "One of the things you notice is that when you switch on the television and a student has gone mad with a machine gun on a campus in America, it's always a writing student.

"The writing courses, particularly when they have the word 'creative' in them, are the new mental hospitals. But the people are very nice."
This was at the Hay Festival. Sounds like a fun session.
The author also said that when he goes to his desk each morning to commence writing, he thinks to himself: "Why am I doing this? Shall I commit suicide."

Lowell Peterson is new WGAE Exec Director

The Writers Guild Of America East has announced that Lowell Peterson has replaced Mona Mangan as Executive Director.
Lowell comes to us from the firm of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, where he has been a partner since 1995, specializing in all aspects of labor law practice. He has extensive union experience, including work with the AFL-CIO, UAW, Communications Workers of America, NABET, and Laborers, among others. Representing laid off workers in the Enron and WorldCom bankruptcies, he won tens of millions of dollars in severance pay, and in many other cases he has defended unions from attacks on organizing and other activities and successfully litigated against employers for evading contract obligations.

Lowell succeeds Mona Mangan, who has retired after many years with the Guild. The officers and council are very excited about his arrival. He's a strong union man with a keen interest in and commitment to our membership as well as a vision and mandate to help our union grow in new directions, building on our successful strike and the solidarity it helped us achieve.

Comedy College winners announced

The BBC have announced the winning writers for their Comedy College development programme. Micheál Jacob explains all on the Writersroom blog.

I suppose the most frequently asked questions are - why them, what makes them special, and what was the process.

To deal with process first, the assessment worked as an inverse pyramid, starting off with two of us, extending to a further two, and culminating in a panel of six people - including me - voting for the writers they felt impressed most. The writers with most votes were interviewed by me, Kate Rowland from the writersroom, and senior colleagues from the comedy department. Of the chosen six, I had previously met only one in a writing context.

As to the why them question, the answer is quite hard to put into words. Walter Pater, the 19th century aesthete, wrote that all art aspires to the condition of music. For me, good writing sings, and what was common to the all the work of the final six was the fact that they sang, not just to me but to people with quite diverse comedy tastes and backgrounds. Some were Martha Wainwright, some were Mahler, but they were all funny, accessible and felt like only those writers could have written them.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Michael Frayn interview

In The Times, Benedict Nightingale talks to Michael Frayn about his new play, Afterlife, that opens at the National Theatre next month.
The subject this time is Max Reinhardt, the pioneering theatre producer who also renovated the Baroque palace in Salzberg where movers and shakers now meet to debate world affairs and, bizarrely, much of The Sound of Music was shot. Afterlife itself doesn't open until June 10, but Frayn has just published his intro to the play in a collection of theatre essays called Stage Directions; and there he cites descriptions galore of Reinhardt. He was convivial, withdrawn, bountiful, hypersensitive, courageous, fearful, quarrelsome, kindly, indecisive, bold, the Jew who refused Hitler's offer of rebirth as an Aryan - and, as all this and more, a worthy Frayn protagonist.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Writing for romance

On the Guild website, Naomi MacDonald reports on the Writers' Guild and DACS getting together for an evening of romance. T
here was a real mixture of work showcased: hilarious, racy, honest, reflective, serious and touching - and obviously, romantic - in equal measure. There were songs, monologues, a script plus a very brave and hilarious account of Lauren Kemp's attempts to persuade one of her ex-boyfriends' new girlfriends to read her piece at the event. There were a lot of laughs and some really tender moments.

Just to add an extra element of fun (and risk!) to the evening, all attendees were given a badge with the name of a famous 'arty' person, or character from literature, and instructed to match up with their 'other half'. The Princess and The Pea found each other, as did Pat and Frank Butcher, Gilbert and George, Francis Bacon and John Edwards.

The sexism of Rowling-bashing

In The Guardian, Bidisha says that the latest round of attacks on J.K. Rowling are motivated by an unwillingness to accept that women can write serious "speculative fiction".
Readers who rave about the scope of Lord of the Rings, in which a club of white men flee (a) a big burning vagina and (b) some black guys in hoods, are simply unaware of the awesome complexity of Katharine Kerr's Deverry sequence of Celtic fantasy novels. They hail William Gibson's prescience, oblivious to Marge Piercy's prophetic sci-fi masterpieces Body of Glass and Woman on the Edge of Time and Liz Williams's intelligent, knotty novels like Darkland.

Speculative fiction - whether that is historical epic, space psychodrama or telepathic warrior quest - has always been about infinite possibilities. Why is it so hard to imagine a world which acknowledges the importance, multitude and sheer brilliance of its women writers?

Neil LaBute interview

In The Independent, Rhoda Koenig talks to Neil LaBute about his play, Fat Pig, which has just opened in London.
LaBute, 46, seems comfortable in his skin. He has the fluent speech, affable manner, and underlying firmness of someone good at his former occupation, teaching. The geniality cracks only when I say later, that it will be hard for me to ask my next question without being insulting. "Then don't," he says. It's a command, not a suggestion. I ask it anyway.

In the preface to Fat Pig, LaBute writes that he once lost 60 pounds, only to turn into a "preening fool" who spent his time exercising rather than writing. The anxiety that motivated his overeating – as well as his writing – had disappeared. "I'm not saying creativity is entirely linked to personal unhappiness, but..." LaBute waves away the idea that he has to be unhappy or angry to write. "I live peacefully and manufacture the anger."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

BBC apology for defamatory Waking The Dead

From Tara Conlan for Media Guardian:
The BBC has apologised on air and agreed to pay legal costs over an allegedly defamatory episode of BBC1 forensic drama Waking the Dead.

A recent storyline in the hit show featured a villain who had a similar name and background to a former Guards officer, now security boss, Jonathan Garratt.

The episode of Waking the Dead, Duty and Honour, broadcast three weeks ago on BBC1, revolved around a corrupt former Guards officer called John Garret who helped set up security firm Apx Solutions – a company which specialised in working in Iraq.

As well as the Waking the Dead character having a similar sounding name and background to him, Garratt's firm Erinys is one of a just a few British security companies working out in Iraq.
Waking the Dead Rupert Graves as the fictional John Garret in Waking The Dead (photo: BBC)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Moffat to take over from Davies at Doctor Who

Russell T. Davies, the man who reinvented Saturday night TV as lead writer on Doctor Who, is stepping down from the role, says the BBC. He will be replaced by Steven Moffat who, as well as creating comedy series Coupling and writing the screenplay for the upcoming Tintin film, has also written several award-winning episodes of Doctor Who.

Davies will work on four more Doctor Who specials to be broadcast next year, before Moffat takes over for the next series in 2010.
Steven Moffat says: "My entire career has been a Secret Plan to get this job. I applied before but I got knocked back 'cos the BBC wanted someone else. Also I was seven.

"Anyway, I'm glad the BBC has finally seen the light, and it's a huge honour to be following Russell into the best - and the toughest - job in television. I say toughest 'cos Russell's at my window right now, pointing and laughing."

Lead Writer and Executive Producer Russell T Davies says: "It's been a delight and an honour working with Steven, and I can't wait to see where his extraordinary imagination takes the Doctor. Best of all, I get to be a viewer again, watching on a Saturday night!"

Jane Tranter, Controller, BBC Fiction, says: "Scripts and writers are at the heart of what BBC Drama is all about, and especially at the heart of Doctor Who. The past four series have been brilliantly helmed by the spectacularly talented Russell T Davies.

"As Lead Writer and Executive Producer, he has overseen the creative direction and detail of the 21st century relaunch of Doctor Who and we are delighted to have his continued presence on the specials over the next 18 months."

Book launch 2.0

A YouTube video that's actually funny... (Thanks to Brantley via PersonaNonData)

Faintheart at Edinburgh

faintheartIt's been announced that Faintheart, written by Guild member David Lemon, will premiere on the closing night of the Edinburgh Film Festival on 28 June.

As David says on his blog, it's great news - although a shame that the idea that the film was essentially written by MySpace users seems to be taking hold.

The truth, as David explained in an article for the Guild, is slightly different. The film was written and well developed before it won the £1 million MySpace competition.
I must admit that when we won I became worried that the interactive element would mean people I never met being allowed to change the story out of recognition. I felt that with all the extra producers now on board, I’d have more than enough script notes to be dealing with without some 16-year-old from Arkansas e-mailing me to say “U suk and so duz ur script”.

Fortunately, I was allowed to suggest the scenes which would be made open to MySpace, so the changes suggested were of the genuinely helpful dialogue polish variety rather than the sort of radical structural change that gives writers ulcers.

Harry Thompson Comedy Bursary

From the BBC Writersroom:
BBC Radio Comedy is offering a unique opportunity for talented people to train in all areas of comedy production during a one-year bursary named after (producer) Harry (Thompson).

Successful applicants will be given the opportunity to make their own programme ideas happen and work on a range of existing comedy programmes, with the potential to reach millions of listeners.
Full details are on the BBC Jobs website.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Silver Sony for Wyatt

Congratulations to Guild member Stephen Wyatt whose Radio 4 drama Memorials To The Missing won a Silver at last week's Sony Awards. The judges described it as:
"Powerful, moving, informative and uplifting were just some of the adjectives used to describe this beautifully assured production. The various strands of the drama were masterfully woven together, forming an utterly original treatment of an unjustly-neglected aspect of Remembrance Day."
Commenting on the Award, Stephen said:
"I'm pleased that the Sony Awards still find a place to celebrate the many achievements of radio drama. It's also good news for writers that the Sony UK Station of the Year was Radio 4. "
The Gold Award for drama went to Q & A written by Ayeesha Menon.

Amazon power could be good for authors

On, Sramana Mitra argues that Amazon's move into publishing (which has been criticised as heavy-handed) could help authors by cutting out the middlemen of agents and publishers.
Amazon is poised to revolutionize the book printing business through vertical integration. Let’s look at the numbers. Assuming that Amazon already pockets 50% of the retail price of a book, it could directly engage with authors and cut out the middlemen: the agent and the publisher. That would free up 30% to 40% of the pie, which can easily be split between Amazon and the author.

Let’s say, in the new world, Amazon becomes the retailer, marketer, publisher and agent combined and takes 65% of the revenues, offering 35% to the author--we end up with a much better, fairer world.

BBC drama debate continues

Following the post-BAFTA Awards criticism of BBC TV's drama output, producer Robert Cooper adds his voice to the debate in The Guardian.
There is much fine drama on the BBC. To make popular series and serials that are consistently enjoyed and appreciated by a big audience is a huge challenge. Such shows play an important role in the schedules of a public service broadcaster. But they should not be made at the expense of the kind of drama that only a public service broadcaster can nurture and fund - thought-provoking and challenging fiction that doesn't fit easily into a popular schedule precisely because it expresses a personal vision - drama that might not appeal to 7 million people but which is just as valuable for speaking so strongly to 1 million.

The reason for the much diminished opportunities for such authored drama results from a decision made around seven years ago. Mainstream BBC drama was failing to attract large audiences and ITV was cleaning up in the ratings war. So money that had been used to fund "difficult" dramas on BBC2 was moved across to fund popular drama on BBC1. Within its own terms, the policy was judged to be a success. BBC popular drama flourished and the main executive responsible - Jane Tranter - now enjoys a very special position.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

£600,000 for Scottish youth arts

From The Stage:
The Scottish Government has announced a £600,000 package of funding available for arts projects that create social inclusion for young people.
Alex Norton as DCI Matt Burke in Taggart on ITV

The so called ‘CashBack’ funding will use money seized from convicted criminals and require matched business funding from the private sector - in cash or kind - to release £1.2 million over the next two years.

World Service drama

The Writers' Guild has written to Nigel Chapman, Director of BBC World Service, to complain about the recent decline in drama output.

In her letter, Guild Deputy General Secretary, Anne Hogben, says that "the decline in World Service Drama since 2005 represents a loss of over 100 hours of commissions for writers and over 600 days of work for actors."

Before 2005, she continues, "a play and two episodes of the popular ongoing series, Westway, were broadcast each week. Now it would appear that just eight plays will be made in-house and only fourteen plays in total will be broadcast per year. We are, of course, relieved that the drama slot still remains, but it is just not enough."

Urging Chapman to reverse the decline in drama and commit to producing at least 26 new plays per year, Hogben concludes that: "If you are unable to do so, we will urge Mark Thompson, the BBC Trust, the Foreign Office and Parliament to assist us."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hollow victory for Blu-ray

Blu-ray might have beaten HD DVD in the format war but, ask Tom Lowry and Ronald Grover in Business Week, with sales sluggish and other formats emerging, will the victory prove short-lived?
The Blu-ray camp plans a mid-year marketing blitz. And the studios are pinning their hopes on a new version of the Blu-ray technology called Profile 2.0. It will allow consumers to use their players to connect to the Web and partake of movie-related bonus features. Fox is preparing to deploy a video game that viewers can play along with its Alien vs. Predator flick. Industry insiders say Disney plans a range of interactive bells and whistles tied to its animated films that may include games and social networking.

Authonomy - outsourcing the slush pile?

authonomyOn The Guardian Books Blog, Jean Hannah Edelstein considers Harper Collins' new submissions site, Authonomy (which is still in private beta).
Being realistic, I think Authonomy may end up being a nice polite way for the publishers to say that they're not accepting unsolicited submissions anymore. If the launch goes well, I'd wager that anyone asking about submissions will be directed to hit the site, keeping editors' (and editorial assistants') desks clear for them to get on with the books agents have sent them, the ones they are genuinely interested in.
Though the main site isn't open to the public yet, you can read more on the Authonomy blog.

Richard Bean interview

In The Telegraph, Dominic Cavendish talks to playwright Richard Bean.
His new play, The English Game, concerns an amateur London cricket team and certain ideological fault-lines that open up during one hot Sunday afternoon match. A former part-time stand-up comedian, Bean has threaded - as ever - plenty of jokes into the all-male badinage. It's bound to knock audiences for six. But will it have a further life after Leeds and Salford - the places that pioneering theatre company Headlong is taking it to? Unlikely.

"I've learnt not to raise my hopes," says Bean. "One review of Under the Whaleback [his Royal Court play about Hull trawler-men] said: 'This play will run forever in the West End.' Being naive, I thought, 'Excellent!', but there was nothing, not a phone call.

"These days, I suppose producers think audiences expect a West End play to mean witty lines delivered by Ralph Fiennes - they don't want five tattooed Hull trawler-men dying."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

BBC Comedy College - myths and realities

On the BBC Writersroom blog, Micheál Jacob announces that writers shortlisted for interview for the BBC's new Comedy College mentoring programme have been contacted, and addresses some of the myths that have grown up around the scheme.
One, which hasn't yet surfaced but is bound to at some point, is that we are so bereft of projects that we steal ideas from new writers and give them to some mythical group of favourites who exist in a basement of Television Centre waiting to be fed. There is never a shortage of scripts of ideas. There is always a shortage of good scripts and ideas. Indeed, when I ran an online team-writing project called Cleaners, someone claimed I had stolen it which, since it was based on a format I devised at Alomo, was demonstrably untrue. It's a fact of writing life that several people will have a similar idea at much the same time. Although I have only once seen a project set in a public lavatory.

A new Court generation

That FaceAs Polly Stenham's debut play, That Face (starring Lindsay Duncan, above), opens in the West End, Michael Coveney on explains how she and other young writers are coming up through the Royal Court's Young Writers Programme (YWP).
Polly Stenham sums up the YWP experience at the Royal Court as one of empowerment. “You never feel patronised and I’ve always been treated with such respect and such grace. The level of care is considerable. They keep pulling you back for workshops and meetings. Once they’ve decided you’re one of them, you really are one of them. I feel very attached to the theatre. I think we’ve all been incredibly lucky.”

The art of titling

In The Guardian, Neil LaBute considers the tricky task of giving a work a title.
Some titles become not just touchstones in the zeitgeist, but go on to become brand names or get a trademark: by this method a Star Wars is born. This is rare: more often, an author pores over a variety of ideas, old notebooks, song titles, quotations, searching for something that captures the imagination while giving the educated uninformed (that's you, dear reader) some sense of the work. In my short career, I've used everything from song titles (Aimee Mann provided This Is How It Goes, while Elvis Costello was the inspiration for Seconds of Pleasure) to pure imagination to name a short story or a play or screenplay. Just because Edward Bond and David Mamet had both already used In the Company of Men (in a play and an essay, respectively), I saw no reason not to call my first film by the same name. It was a bit of a tribute to the writing of two men whose work I admired. It also seemed to capture the spirit of what I was doing better than anything else. For a moment I thought about going with just The Company of Men, but it was so much stronger with that little extra "in" at the start.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Likely Lads on stage

In The Times, Chris Ayres talks to Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais about why they're bringing their 40-year-old sitcom, The Likely Lads, to the stage.
The plot follows that of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?: acts I and II are condensed versions of each season. Terry has come back from seven years in the army to find Newcastle changed beyond recognition. Bob is becoming ever more middle-class, while Terry tries to cling on to his youth through beer, birds and football. La Frenais says that the play remains set in the Seventies (“there won't be any mobile phones or Blackberries, none of that bollocks”) and has endured because “Bob and Terry are now considered part of the North East's culture”.
The Likely Lads runs at The Gala Theatre, Durham, from 11 June.

Moffat wins Best Writer BAFTA

Guild member Steven Moffat won Best Writer at the BAFTA Craft Awards last night for Blink (above), his episode of Doctor Who.

The other nominees were:
  • Tony Marchant– The Mark of Cain
  • Jimmy McGovern – The Street
  • Heidi Thomas – Cranford.
A Special Award was given to writing duo David Croft and Jimmy Perry, whose work includes Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Hi-Di-Hi!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Jeff Nathanson interview

For the Writers Guild of America West, Matt Hoey talks to Jeff Nathanson about writing the new Indiana Jones movie.
Working on an Indiana Jones movie might be a daunting prospect for any writer. But only to a certain degree, says Nathanson. At least for him. “Luckily, just being a screenwriter, in general, you're used to being slightly uneasy and uncomfortable and nervous and petrified,” he says. “So I was no more uncomfortable writing this than I am writing any other movie. At some point it could be any movie you're working on.”

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (screenplay by David Koepp, story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson, based on characters created by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman) will open worldwide on 22 May.

Writers' Guild and DACS event

You are invited to a private view of the Romance exhibition at the Kowalsky Gallery, London EC1, hosted by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS).

Thursday 15th May, from 6.30 – 9pm
Readings will begin at 6.45pm

Tickets: £5 in advance or on the door. Book a place in advance by emailing

Celebrating the season of spring in leap year, the Romance exhibition brings together sculptures, ceramics, paintings, prints and photography by over 30 artists including Sir Peter Blake, Rose Hilton, Tom Phillips RA, Shani Rhys James, Stuart Semple and many more.

At the private view, there will also be chance to hear readings by six selected writers on the theme of Romance:

Gabriel Bisset-Smith is one of the core writers at the Soho theatre. He is a member of the BBC writers' room and the SPARKS radio scheme. He has been on attachment at the Royal Court and had plays produced at the Hampstead Theatre. He took part in this years 24 hour plays and he is currently writing new projects for Teatro Vivo.

Paul Boakye is an experienced professional writer, broadcaster, and creative project manager. He is the recipient of myriad business and writing awards and prestigious accolades including advising the Power Inquiry and a recent invitation to meet The Queen. While currently writing his first novel, Paul will also start a Creative Writing MA at Goldsmiths College in September, and is on the lookout for a new agent to help him market his work. See the author’s blog at

Guy Ducker worked as assistant editor on hit movies like Calendar Girls, BAFTA winners like The Warrior and many more. Between these jobs Guy started writing feature film scripts and making short films. So far he has written five full-length scripts, one of which is in development and another of which recently earned him a place on the prestigious TAPS course. Guy’s short film Telling Mark has played international film festivals and has been shown by the BBC, HBO and Sky. He has directed a section of a film called “Nineliveslondon” – a multiple director feature about the July 7th bombings.

Lauren Kemp is an editor at KnockBack magazine and a leading mouthpiece of British feminism. She has featured in the Guardian and Observer magazines and also runs a very successful sideline editing texts, emails and wall posts for hapless friends in romantic quandries.

Claire Wilson currently has a Teen Thriller called Back To Jack under option with Element Films, a drama short called Birthday Girl in development with Orange Wasp Productions and a dark comedy series under option with the BBC. Her family drama script Re-Posession was awarded Runner-Up 2008 for the Tony Doyle Scholarship and she was also short-listed for the UK Film Council's 25 Words or Less competition.

Jake Yapp
has written for Never Mind the Buzzcocks on BBC2, and his series Pleased To Meet You on BBC7 last year was nominated for the Sony Award for Best Comedy. He's currently preparing a one-man show for Edinburgh. You can watch him mucking about at

More information about the Kowalsky Gallery and the current exhibition can be found at:

Gender roles in Hollywood films

In The New York Times, Manohla Dargis wonders whether women will ever get the chance to take the lead in Hollywood movies.
Nobody likes to admit the worst, even when it’s right up there on the screen, particularly women in the industry who clutch at every pitiful short straw, insisting that there are, for instance, more female executives in Hollywood than ever before. As if it’s done the rest of us any good. All you have to do is look at the movies themselves — at the decorative blondes and brunettes smiling and simpering at the edge of the frame — to see just how irrelevant we have become. That’s as true for the dumbest and smartest of comedies as for the most critically revered dramas, from “No Country for Old Men” (but especially for women) to “There Will Be Blood” (but no women). Welcome to the new, post-female American cinema.
Elsewhere in the NYT, A.O. Scott asks why men in Hollywood must always be boys.
The attachment to the emotional world of childhood and adolescence — along with the fetishistic, fake-ironic clinging to tokens of that world — is so widespread that it almost escapes notice. Impulsive, self-centered, loyal to our pals, anxious about women, physically restless, slow-witted and geeky: that’s just what we’re like, isn’t it? John Updike once remarked that in America “a man is a failed boy,” but it increasingly seems that a man is, at last, a triumphant boy, with access to money, sex and freedom but without the sad grown-up ballast of duty and compromise.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Skins and IT Crowd win at Rose d'Or

SkinsChannel 4 series Skins (created by Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain) has won Best Drama at the Rose d'Or TV Festival in Switzerland, reports BBC News.

IT CorwdThe IT Crowd, written by Graham Linehan and also shown on Channel 4, was named Best Sitcom.

Self-published book on O'Conner longlist

A self-published collection is on the longlist for the €35,000 Frank O'Connor international short story prize, it was announced yesterday.

Gilded Shadows by Mary Rochford joins works by authors including Anne Enright, Roddy Doyle and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Scripting the future?

An invitation from the Writers' Guild to an event in Birmingham on 18 June.
The Writers' Guild of Great Britain invites you to a meeting on 18 June to discuss the future of new writing in the West Midlands following the Arts Council’s decision to cut funding to Script, the agency for developing writers in the region.

The meeting will be opened by a panel discussion between Nicholas McInerny, chair of Script, Caroline Jester, Literary Manager of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Jonathan Davidson, Director of Midland Creative Projects Ltd and the Birmingham Book Festival, chaired by David Edgar, president of the Writers’ Guild.

Representatives of West Midlands theatres, television, radio and film producers and arts agencies will be at the meeting. All writers are welcome to this FREE event.

Following the success of our first meeting in March, the West Midlands branch of the Writers’ Guild will be officially launched, and celebrated with a glass of wine. Venue: The Birmingham Rep (St Paul’s suite), Wednesday 18 June, 7.30pm

Our last meeting was oversubscribed so please RSVP as soon as possible to

Amazon and independent publishers

Following the recent controversy about Amazon insisting that print-on-demand books must use its Book Surge system if they are to be listed, Lloyd Jassin for the New York Center for Independent Publishing argues that the situation should be a wake-up call for the industry.
It strikes me that from Amazon's large and powerful river might flow not just POD books, but e-books, books disaggregated and re-purposed for mobile hand held devices, audiobooks and other digital derivatives -- whether now known or hereinafter invented. Our hope is that in the swirl of that digital river, we will see new digital revenue streams emerge for smaller and independent presses.

If Amazon remains committed to the indie press segment, and acts as a bridge not just between publishers and traditional readers, but between publishers and digital readers, it becomes an enabler, and, perhaps, the best friend an indie publisher could have.

However, Amazon's favoritism to Book Surge is a slippery slope that could easily decrease diversity. Amazon is steering consumers to books that are produced by its owned-and-operated press.

Michael Hirst interview

TudorsFor the Writers Guild Of America West, Shira Gotshalk talks to British screenwriter Michael Hirst about writing The Tudors.
Having written screenplays prior to this, are you enjoying writing episodic television?

It is the most enjoyable thing I have ever done. Of course, one of the reasons is totally selfish. In movies, the writer is, beyond a certain point, incidental and a bit of a nuisance. But in series TV, the writer is God. And given the choice, I prefer to be God. Although I did say to the production team the first year, considering I was God, they'd given me a pretty crappy car to drive around in.

And the other is because you have time to develop ideas and fall in love with your characters. I just find it's very pleasurable and a great creative joy to do that.
Series two of The Tudors will run on the BBC later this year.

British Soap Awards 2008

As BBC News reports, it was a good night for Hollyoaks at the British Soap Awards last week. The Channel Four drama took six awards, more than any other show. However, the title of Best Soap went to the BBC's EastEnders.

Winners were determined by a mixture of panel and viewer voting. The ceremony will be broadcast on ITV1 on Wednesday at 8pm.


On The Guardian's film blog, Spike Lee heralds a new online film portal, Babelgum.
We're talking about a new era in film-making here. Babelgum is an internet TV portal and most of these films were explicitly made to be viewed online. This provides the opportunity for young film-makers to put their work in front of a global audience and to get feedback. Feedback is a healthy thing, whether its positive or negative. I can testify to that.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The six-hour scene

On his blog, American screenwriter John August outlines his approach to writing a feature film scene.
In this case, it took six hours to get one scene written. And it wasn’t, on the surface, a particularly challenging scene: Two characters in a room, talking. A very clear in and out point, with the bookending scenes already written. But it was a beast to get on paper.


BBC Writersroom has announced a new competetion, Sharps.
This is an open call by BBC writersroom to find the next generation of writing talent. We want writers with the talent, ideas, insights, and imagination to captivate an audience. We are looking for a fresh, surprising, entertaining take on a universal theme.

To apply, send us an original 30-minute TV script exploring 'the nation's health'. It doesn’t need to be a hospital precinct drama – you can explore 'health' in its broadest possible senses.

Twenty writers will be selected for a workshop, which will involve writing exercises as part of the selection process.

Eight final writers will be selected for a week-long residential, with an intensive focus on developing their work, craft, and writer’s 'toolbox', with input from BBC Drama Production and professional writers.

Each of the eight writers will also receive a £500 bursary, mentoring from in-house development teams at the BBC, and a showcase rehearsed reading with professional actors.
The deadline is 16 June. Full details and an online submission form are on the Writersroom website.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

John, Yoko and...Gail Renard

In The Times, Luke Leitch tells how Guild TV Committee Chair, Gail Renard, met John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Montreal in 1969.
When the security guards changed shift, Gail says: “We rushed and knocked on the door and Yoko answered. She was with her daughter, Kyoko, who must have been 5. I remember Yoko saying, ‘Come in' - and finding myself in a room with John Lennon. It was overwhelming. They had been travelling and he was very hungry, and for some reason they couldn't get room service. I had chocolate in my handbag, and I said, ‘Do you want the chocolate bar?' It sounds daft, but he was touched, and said, ‘Really?' We got to chatting.”

Instead of turfing her out, Lennon asked Gail if she wanted to conduct a radio interview with him. The problem, he said, was that it wouldn't be until that evening: could she stick around? “I had to ring my mother. She ended up speaking to John. You wouldn't want to cross my mother - a tough little lady.” Permission granted, Gail joined the entourage and ended up staying for the week-long bed-in, going home only at night.
Update: One other minor detail, Lennon gave Gail the handwritten lyrics of Give Peace A Chance...

Guild publishes online guidelines

The Writers’ Guild has produced new guidelines to help members writing online drama and other content. While some online content falls within existing minimum terms agreements, much does not, and the guidelines will provide a benchmark for both writers and producers.

The introduction to the guidelines states that:
The Writers' Guild is aware that its members are increasingly being commissioned to write online drama and other literary content for ‘new’ or ‘non-traditional’ media, particularly as part of initiatives like the BBC’s ‘Multi-platform Commissioning’ drive.

This content may be developed to compliment existing radio or television programming or as standalone new media content. It can be almost anything ranging from fixed diary entries, interactive blogs, daily character blogs, biographies, single voice ‘vox pops’, audio diaries, in-vision blogs, online games and a myriad of other types of short-form audio, audio-visual or literary content intended as existing programme support material or as standalone on-line only propositions.

We hope that these guidelines will give members some idea of how they might be approached, contracted and paid for this kind of work. As with all our rates, these are minimums and members may be able to negotiate upwards of these. As with any commission, the writer is at liberty to accept the fee and terms offered, or not. If you are a Guild member and you need further advice as to a particular commission or deal you are offered, please contact the Guild office.
The full text can be downloaded from the WGGB website.