Monday, April 27, 2009

Breaking into the film and TV industry

In case you haven't already heard about this elsewhere; Adrian Mead has a new course coming up in London in July. Adrian is the author of 'Making it as a Screenwriter', which I mentioned only last week, and his courses have a reputation for being incredibly useful AND inspirational. I may even stray down to the big city myself for this one.

Here's some more info straight from the man himself...

Breaking into the film and TV industry

How are you going to get your break and advance your career as a screenwriter or filmmaker in the midst of an economic downturn?

The idea for a day about career building came from a spate of calls I've had recently from new writers and filmmakers who were ready to give up trying to build a career. Despite gaining qualifications, reading numerous websites and sending out scripts nothing had changed for them.

My answer was simple and brutal, "If you haven't achieved what you want yet, then you aren't really putting all that knowledge into action. Knowing isn't doing."

Think back to January. You were all fired up about breaking into the film and TV industry, "This has to be the year when I make it happen!"

So, how has it gone? What have you achieved so far? Be honest, didn't you make that same speech last January, maybe even the year before that? So why are you trapped in your own version of Groundhog Day?

In order to find the answer you first need to recognize a huge and fundamental truth.

Knowing isn't doing

Knowledge doesn't change things. Action does.

Already some of you will have been lining up your excuses, "The film and TV industry has changed massively in the last six months. I don't know where to start now. I mean, what's the point in trying to break into an industry besieged by cancellations and budget cuts?"

In fact you couldn't be more wrong. This is a great time to be a new writer or filmmaker trying to get your break. Seriously. If you know where to look there are numerous new opportunities available to you because of the economic downturn. Yet most of you will miss them as you continue employing a half-hearted, outdated and now redundant approach to advancing your career.

Take action and join me at THE SCREENWRITER'S CAREER GUIDE to discover what you need to do in order to break into the film and TV industry today.

This will be a day jam packed with the very latest career building opportunities for screenwriters and filmmakers. No screenwriting theory, just a clear guide to the shape of the Film and TV industry as it is now and how it is likely to develop.

The once standard approach you used even three months ago is now redundant. Everything has changed. You need to do the same or get left behind. These are exciting times filled with opportunities for new writers and filmmakers who know where to look and are ready to adapt and collaborate. THE SCREENWRITER'S CAREER GUIDE will teach you how to take action that will build contacts, find money and build a career.


THE SCREENWRITER'S CAREER GUIDE will be presented by Adrian Mead. If you have attended one of Adrian’s classes before you know to expect the most up to date information from a working professional.

We work hard at creating a fun and friendly atmosphere and this will be an excellent opportunity to forge links with fellow creatives and extend your network of contacts. This event is sure to sell out early and here's what participants of Adrian’s previous classes have said -

I found the course absolutely invaluable. Adrian avoided the well trodden ground of screenwriting theory and instead concentrated on how to actually get finished manuscripts into the hands of producers and agents.


Adrian delivered the lab in a charismatic and professional manner. Giving clarity and focus to the sometime daunting task of making it as a writer.


The course was amazing. I gained a real insight into the industry and now feel enthused to pursue my goals with vigour and boldness!


When and Where
The next course will be held on 4 July 2009 at a central London location.
The course fee is £ 70 + VAT (EARLY BIRD UNTIL 15 MAY). The fee includes all materials and light refreshments.

To book go to and check out THE SCREENWRITER'S CAREER GUIDE.

You can view testimonials for Adrian's sell out classes and acclaimed e-book MAKING IT AS A SCREENWRITER at

In the confusing forest of screenwriting books here is a sturdy oak: simple, honest and true. Highly recommended.

Ashley Pharoah
Screenwriter and Producer
Co Creator of Life On Mars, Ashes To Ashes

Sunday, April 26, 2009

William Goldman on the Southbank Show Tonight!!

Apologies if everyone knows this already but...

South Bank Show is on William Goldman, screenwriter extraordinary and author of Adventures in the Screen Trade and Which Lie Did I Tell? (amongst others).


When you see tonight's programme is about the screenwriter William Goldman, you may wonder if he has a film coming out. He hasn't. This is a free-standing, plug-free South Bank Show that simply revels in Goldman's insights (he's famous for saying that in Hollywood, "Nobody knows anything") and allows him to cast an eye back over a career that includes Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Marathon Man and Misery. It's a joy to watch some of his great scenes - the knife-fight challenge in Butch Cassidy, the hobbling scene in Misery - and hear Goldman's comments, as well as contributions from screenplay guru Robert McKee and Hugh Grant. We hear how Steve McQueen nearly played Sundance, but his agent and Paul Newman's couldn't agree on who would get top billing. And we get Goldman's perspective on directing ("the brutal labour of it") and stars ("very frightened people"). But strangely, neither he nor Melvyn Bragg ever mentions The Princess Bride.

I guess it'll be on the ITV eyeviewer type thingy after the fact. Personally I'm gonna tell my swanky V+ box to record it because I'm sooo high tech.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Skinny

In The Loop

Caught this at the Electric on Friday and was very pleased with it. I heartily recommend the film, and no prior knowledge of
The Thick of It is required.


I think this is half way through it's run now but as I always seem to promote Charlie Brooker's television exploits why break the habit now? Here he uses his razor sharp wit to cut right through the media flim-flam and get at the guts of how the News works. If you haven't been watching you can catch up here, for now at least...


They're back, and they're making some brave changes to the set up. I'm a big fan of the show and series three continues to deliver. If you like Saturday night family drama then check it out.

Law & Order: UK

This has been fantastic, and has lost none of the pace or tone of the original in the transatlantic shift. I think we're in a mid-series break at the moment but you can see previous episodes here. Episode seven from the sixth of April has been the best of the bunch so far. I understand they made thirteen episodes for series one so hopefully it will be back soon. It can be strong stuff though, so be warned.

Waiting for Godot

My favourite Beckett, well it's everyone's favourite I suppose. Caught this in Malvern in March and was a bit blown away. The production hits London April 30th, you could do far worse than get yourself a ticket.


I finally got around to buying Adrian Mead's
Making It As A Screenwriter last month. Embarrassingly I hadn't bought it because I no longer have a paypal account (don't like or trust paypal after nearly getting badly burned a few years ago). I decided to open a new account just to get the book only to discover you didn't actually need one. D'oh!

Anyway if you haven't got it (and I'm pretty sure you have) then you really ought to snap it up. It's a bargain at £7.79 and the dosh goes to Childline.

I used to buy a lot of books about screenwriting but stopped because they all had more or less the same amount of useful advice in them. Also most were written by people whose names you never see on a screen, large or small, which says something, eh?

Mead's book is different. It's relevant, filled with example documents and clear, simple advice, it's witty and motivational. If you're serious about screenwriting this is the tool you need most urgently, click here to buy it.


I've been having a go on Trigger Street at last. Response to my script has been encouraging, and there has been some very useful notes. Towards the end of the month I'll compile a list of points raised and get ready for a rewrite next month.

I didn't realise quite how the credit system works, which is my own fault, but it turns out it's quite a lot of work to get credits so that your script get's reviews. It is if you're going to put your full energy into reviewing someone's submission anyway (which is only fair if you're going to expect the same in return). I now know that it takes me a good hour or more to read a script (more if I'm not enjoying it), and probably the same again to write up some notes. That's two hours per script, and for me it's coming out of writing time (unless I pick up a netbook or something, then I can do it on the train). That's quite a drain on your time, though worth it for the feedback.

I don't think I'll be putting all my energies into TS. It's fairly rare for me to work on a feature anyway and they have no forum for television scripts. It has been very useful with this specific script, if you're after unbiased feedback I recommend it. Doing a lot of recommending today!


Heartfelt congratulations to Jason, Dave, Oli and William for securing positions on the Red Planet workshop with Tony Jordan. Congrats also to Mark Wilkinson,
the winner of Red Planet 2009.


You may have noticed I'm updating this site less often. This is only because I'm being much stricter with myself as regards usage of time. All my energy is being put into writing at the moment.

When I sit in my nice shiny chair in my (Lamont Cranston-style) Sanctum I sit here to write, not to blog. Blogging isn't working, so it has to come second. In fact it's further down than that because it comes after planning too. Ahh, poor blogging.

Also a lot of this blog used to be television reviews, and me spouting off about telly in general. In fact that was initially how I intended to use it, I started blogging about my writing only when I saw others were doing it (No sheep jokes puh-leeease!). Since I read
Making it as a Screenwriter I'm somehow less keen to do this. I should be building bridges here. It's not like I'd go into work at the day job and email the MD to tell him his latest idea is shit, is it? I don't want to piss him off.

I'll still update as and when I can, and trust me - if I have news I'll be here like a flash. In the mean time though, I'll see you when I see you.