tue 11/08/2020

theartsdesk in Cheltenham: Screenwriters gather | reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk in Cheltenham: Screenwriters gather

theartsdesk in Cheltenham: Screenwriters gather

theartsdesk visits the Cheltenham Screenwriters' Festival

He's a real nowhere boy: Aaron Johnson as the pre-Beatle John Lennon

The Victorian Gothic (with 1970s additions) maze of Cheltenham Ladies’ College is a far cry from the sun-blasted soundstages of Los Angeles, particularly at this time of year when it’s surrounded by deep piles of swirling autumn leaves. Nevertheless, this past week saw the high-ceilinged, wood-panelled College corridors filled with over 400 scriptwriters, both aspiring and established, rushing to the seminars, panels and pitching sessions offered as part of the Cheltenham Screenwriters' Festival, the only event of its type in the UK.

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Nice blog but this doesn't really indicate what the point of the event actually is?? There's nothing here I didn't know already. Plus it's far-far-far too much money for what is on offer: a 3day talk-fest and all the guests appear on panels in London for a fraction of the price anyway. I don't know a single writer who could afford to go which is a shame cos some of them are serious working writers who should have been there.

Jeff, your deliberately simplistic and incorrect summary of the event indicates more about you than you may realise. The article is clear, plus it links to the SWF website for further info, so to say the article doesn’t indicate the point of the event is a lazy response. You also claim it costs too much money. How much should it cost? What price should be charged for a four-day event set up purely for screenwriters, the biggest of its kind in Europe, set up and attended by some of the industry’s leading professionals, and covering all aspects of screenwriting from TV to film, from drama to comedy, from marketing to business, from traditional storytelling to multi-platform strategies; not to mention the doors opened to all attendees with the producer/agent speed dating events, where writers normally faced with an industry firewall of blanket refusal suddenly found themselves face-to-face with BAFTA & Oscar winning producers who were there specifically to be pitched to. What price on that? What price of a four-day event surrounded by hundreds of your peers, many of whom will become friends & future collaborators? It’s not the über producers or award-winning writers that will be your networking route to success; it’s those very peers, all in similar situations to yourself that will become your allies and support structure throughout your career. Although the experienced and successful speakers are there to learn from, it’s those attending the classes with you that are the ones most relevant to you. What price? You say you don’t know a single writer who could afford to go; well my response is that you obviously don’t know that many writers. You say it’s a shame because some are serious working writers. My response is if they really are serious writers and did want to go, then they would have gone. How many of them tried to get a grant/subsidy from their regional film agency? The ‘early bird’ ticket discount made available to everyone meant a 4-day festival ticket, if spread over the year, was equal to £1 a day. How many of those serious writers spend more than that on a cappuccino, a pint of beer or a glass of wine? It’s a lazy response and a lazy attitude, which in the present climate does not bode well for anyone aspiring to be taken seriously as a writer.

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