Call For: Ghostwriters and screenwriters at beActive

Illustration by Adeline Pericart

The award winning and international based company beActive is looking to recruit new Ghostwriters and screenwriters to work with their development team on upcoming projects.

 

beActive’s previous TV and film projects include the award winning Irish interactive TV series Aisling’s Diary, feature film Beat Girl and upcoming sci fi project Collider in addition to the Emmy nominated Brazilian series Final Punishment.

 

This year beActive have several new and exciting projects coming up covering a range of genres from young adult and chick-lit to autobiography and sci-fi and we’re looking for motivated creative ghost-writers to work with us on these projects and for new and emerging screen writing talent to attach to other works.

 

If you are interested please email Triona (Triona@beactivemedia.com) and send her a one-page CV along with a  short sample of your work.

 

For more information on the company see www.beactivemedia.com

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Issue 141 Summer 2012 Irish Playwrights & Screenwriters Guild: UNTITLED Screenwriting Competiton

 

Continuing our series of articles from the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild,  Film Ireland’s own Niamh Creely reports from the UNTITLED Screenwriting Competition and Story Campus at the 2012 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. 

Moving Pitchers

This year’s JDIFF had a lot to offer screenwriters looking to perfect their pitch and there’s more to come this May.

 

This year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (JDIFF) was as successful as ever, filling the city with cinema from across the world andIreland. But along with the premieres and Q&As, there were also some excellent events aimed at encouraging the source of good film: screenwriters. Two of the events, the UNTITLED Screenwriting Competition and Story Campus, focused on what you need to do after you’ve had your big idea – get other people on board.

 

On Friday, 24th February, a group of hopeful writers and filmmakers gathered to pitch their idea to a panel in a cinema filled with onlookers. The UNTITLED Screenwriting Competition, in association with Bord Scannán na hÉireann/The Irish Film Board (IFB) and JDIFF, selected five finalists from almost 200 entries to pitch their projects in the Lighthouse cinema and win an award of up to €16,000. The session, chaired by the IFB’s development executive Andrew Meehan, was a chance for the finalists to present their idea to an industry panel of leading Irish producer James Flynn, actor and writer Mark O’Halloran, talent agent Charlotte Kelly and JDIFF festival director Gráinne Humphreys in front of a public audience.

 

You might have thought the theme ‘1916’ would have yielded fairly homogenous results but the variety of ideas pitched was impressive. It varied from broad comedy with Hugh Travers’ The Players, a black comedy about ex-IRA members who join an amateur drama group; to Anne Marie Casey and Joseph O’Connor’s biopic Grace 1916, the story of Grace Gifford, an artist and icon of a revolution; Jasmina Kallay’s alternate history Das Irland that asks the question ‘what if promised German help had materialised in 1916?’; and Virginia Gilbert’s drama about the truly enigmatic Paidraig Pearse The Boys.

 

However, it was Jamie Hannigan and Michael Kinirons’ noir thriller Come Monday, We Kill Them All that deservedly took the prize. The story follows a down-on-his-luck smuggler who reluctantly agrees to help a wealthy politician find his missing daughter only to become embroiled in murder, conspiracy and rebellion. Those in the audience had not read the excerpt the panel had received in advance but in just a few minutes this project already had the feel of a complete world.

 

Another outstanding event for screenwriters was Story Campus, which took place in the Light House on Saturday, 18th February. Led by filmmaker David Pope and director and screenwriter David Keating, Story Campus was an all-day event. We heard from producers David Collins (Once) and Brendan McCarthy (Breakfast on Pluto)and writer/directors Margaret Corkery (Eamon), Marian Quinn (32A) and Carmel Winters (Snap), and writer John Banville (Albert Nobbs).

 

It was fascinating to hear the individual preferences of the people you probably want to approach with your idea and quite handy to know who prefers shorts below 10 minutes and who doesn’t want to read anything over 90 pages in a feature script.

 

The day was filled with little insights. One of the ones I took away was the observation that when you are communicating your idea in a presentation you should speak at a speed at which your own words can affect you – otherwise they won’t affect anyone else. And of course – don’t forget to introduce yourself!

 

Story Campus was such a success that Filmbase and the two Davids have got together and will be bringing us another edition on the 2nd of May 2012. I spoke to Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild member David Keating to learn more about how these workshops came about.

 

What’s you background in film?

 

I started as a runner in post-production and then worked up the grades as an assistant director in Ireland and then the UK. I got my break as a director making docs for Channel 4 and RTÉ and then changed direction and became a screenwriter, working in Los Angeles and London. I got my first writing credit on Jim Sheridan’s script for Into the West and then got to direct some TV drama and then co-wrote and directed Last of the High Kings and, more recently, Wake Wood. For the last few years I have also directed theatre.

 

When did you first start running events like this?

 

I got interested in the workshop process when the producer Noëlle Deschamps brought the Sundance model to Europe and created the screenwriting lab called Equinoxe. I got offered a place as a writer on one of the early workshops in France and realised how much you can advance your project when there’s generous people on hand to share their knowledge and experience and you can stay open to what you hear about your work. Noëlle Deschamps asked me to make a film about the Equinoxe process (a screenwriting workshop) and then later she got me to kind of rep Equinoxe in Ireland. So in recent years I’ve tried to help Irish projects go to the workshop – to Equinoxe Germany in particular, which I think has been pretty successful.

Basically, a script lab is a great way to help make a good film project become even better. As I got to make more films I was invited to be a mentor on a number of workshops in Europe and Africa including Moonstone, Equinoxe Germany, and Maisha Film Lab – which is Mira Nair’s initiative for East African directors and writers – so I’ve done that kind of stuff on and off for a while and I sometimes run workshops at film schools and universities. I recently ran a day for MBA students at Oxford, which was very interesting. Last year I was asked to put together the Project Hot House workshop for Screen Training Ireland and the IFB, which was in some ways based on the Equinoxe/Sundance model but also experimented with some new ideas and, I think, worked very well. Running workshops is a bit like making a film in that there’s a lot of planning and, also like films, they have a life of their own, which means they usually have some fantastic hiccups and left turns. I’m a filmmaker first and foremost and I’d rather have something to watch on screen at the end of the day but workshops have a special magic. Running them, you get to learn at least as much as the participants, plus they’re endlessly surprising and dare I say fun, so again, much like films. I’m enjoying doing both whenever I can.

 

What does the workshop involve?

 

Story Campus is a workshop that filmmaker and trainer David Pope and I designed to explore key areas we think are important if you want to get a film made. De-mystifying the process is pretty high on our agenda. David and I are both filmmakers so we concentrate on what we think is important in getting projects green-lit, which in a nutshell comes down to being able to tell your story well using a variety of materials and formats. Irrespective of whether you’re writing a script, meeting an actor, pitching to a financier, or if you’re a director walking onto a film set, the big issue facing you is storytelling. But like I said, Story Campus is principally about helping people get their films made, but bear in mind it’s not like David and I are big story gurus – much of this is common sense. Getting films into production usually involves a certain showbiz thing, not to mention luck. But it’s also art and craft and business all rolled together and as the film industry is evolving rapidly so are the ways for us to present our stories so that they make an impact. So we try to help people understand what filmmakers are up against on a daily basis trying to get films off the ground and how to deal with those challenges. As David Pope would say, we try to get people past the feeling that they have to ask permission from someone to go out and make a film.

 

How can writers get the most out of the workshop?

 

To get the most out of any workshop – Story Campus included – I’d say writers, directors, producers should try to come with enthusiasm and energy. Come to share what you know and don’t worry about having your pen poised to write down that all-important note. Listen. Contribute. Throw yourself into meeting lots of people and talking and doing stuff and taking risks, and parking your ego, and being open, and then staying open if you’re lucky – for as long as you can. I mean come on, it’s not like Story Campus is so intimidating, it’s a very friendly atmosphere, and it’s not like we get people to chant and roll on the floor… although…. hmmm… maybe next year! Ok, just kidding.

www.storycampus.com

www.filmbase.ie/storycampus

This article originally appeared in Film Ireland Summer 2012 issue 141, published 26th April 2012.

 

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Interview: Danny Stack – Screenwriter on ‘EastEnders’, ‘Octonauts’ and Director/Writer of award-winning short ‘Origin’

 

Cork-born Danny Stack has been carving out a successful career in the UK, where amongst other projects he has written for EastEnders and Brown Bag Films’ animated series The Octonauts. He won a BBC New Writing Award in 2004 and set up the Red Planet Prize with Tony Jordan in 2007 to help new writers. He is a former story analyst for UK Film Council, Working Title, Pathe and Miramax.  His short film Origin recently won Best Horror at the London Independent Film Festival 2012.

Steven Galvin caught up with Danny to find out more…

You had an interesting start to your career – can you tell us a little bit about that?

I was in the civil service but it was killing me so I left. I managed to convince the producers of Jo-Maxi (old RTE magazine show) to let me do their film reviews for a while. It was great fun but I was pretty nervous on-screen (evidence). At the same time, I was a runner for SFX Ireland based out of Ardmore Studios. My first job was shovelling the snow from the set of In the Name of the Father! I was having great fun but hardly earning anything, so I decided to move to London in 1994 (just before Braveheart was made in Ireland, d’oh!).

Amongst other things I see you were involved in Black Books and you were a researcher on Ali G’s Alternative Christmas Message

When I got to London in 1994, I got a job (fairly quickly) in Channel 4 (because I could type). I worked my way into the comedy department but left in 1999. Through my contacts, I got to work on Ali G’s Christmas Message as researcher, and Black Books as production assistant (both were awesome in terms of watching performers/writers work really hard). A comedy producer role was opening up for me but I said ‘no, I’m going to be a writer’.

What made you want to get into writing?

I was always interested in screenwriting, and read everything that came into Channel 4 as well as the stuff they commissioned. Something inside me said ‘I can do this’ but more importantly it said ‘I REALLY want to do this’.

You wrote for EastEnders – there must be tremendous pressure there…?

There is a pressure, yes. It’s very difficult to get in. They rejected my first attempt (a trial script they invite you to do). I was devastated as EastEnders is the soap I truly love. But I got a second attempt a year later, and was determined not to get rejected, and I didn’t! My focus was: ‘do one episode, get another’. I did two, and things were going well, with another episode offered, but then a new exec came in, and there was a big shake up of writers. I was one of the ‘last in, first out’ crowd. I’m still planning my way back in.

What was the origin of your short film Origin?

Origin‘s based on one of my feature scripts which I thought was OH MY GOD, THIS IS AMAZING. The industry didn’t see it that way. They ‘liked the writing’ (i.e. a polite rejection) but couldn’t see the commercial potential. So I thought, fair enough, I’ll make a short film version. That way I can have a proper go at directing, too, which was also a long-held interest along with screenwriting.

 


The film won Best Horror Short at this year’s London Independent Film Festival – how important was that?

The standard of short films at the moment is really excellent so it’s easy for a good short film not to get noticed. Also, getting into a festival is an achievement in itself but for industry execs, it’s a basic expectation. So, to win an award is fantastic as it gives you extra industry recognition and attention. On a personal level, it’s hugely thrilling as you know all the hard work that went into the making of the film.

You’ve recently written for Octonauts, the animated series from Dublin-based Brown Bag Films, for CBeebies – what are the challenges writing for children?

The thing about writing for Kids’ TV is that you write exactly the same way as you do for an adult audience but better! Kids are so switched on and sophisticated. They just want to be told a good story. They don’t care who you are or what you’ve done. If you can hold their attention, make them laugh, and satisfy their expectations, then thank you very much. Parents who have to improvise a story to their kids will know what I’m talking about. So, when I’m writing for something like Octonauts (which is very sophisticated and action-packed), I’m trying to use all my storytelling skills and never patronise the audience with weak explanations or stupid motives.

You created & co-host the UK Scriptwriters podcast. Tell us a little about this.

One day, I was stung from a few rejections and I was avoiding work. I looked online to listen to a screenwriting podcast but couldn’t find any that were UK based. So I thought, hey, why not do a bit of positive procrastination and do one yourself! BAFTA-nominated Tim Clague lives near me, and he has a good microphone (and a good sense of humour) so he was the first and only person I thought to do the podcast with. We’ve been going 2 years now, and we came 2nd in the European Podcast Award last year!

And you also set up the Red Planet Prize with writer/producer Tony Jordan in 2007…

I did a Q&A with Tony for my blog, and shortly afterwards I had an idea about a screenwriting competition that would help writers AFTER they won the award rather than forget all about them. I emailed Tony and said ‘what do you think?’ and he said HELLSYEAH and came up with an amazing prize: £5k, an agent and develop the winning script or get a commission on one of Tony’s shows. The Red Planet Prize is named after Tony’s production company. I’m very proud of the competition’s success, and I’m big on writers helping other writers whenever they can. As an aside, Kevin Lehane worked on Origin (m’short) as an assistant, and then I recommended him to Working Title, and next thing we knew, Kevin’s script Grabbers gets snapped up, gets made and is being released later this year! Bastard! I mean, FANTASTIC.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m developing a kids’ show with a well-known production company so I’m very excited about that. I’ve just finished my next short film, which is a 5-minute comedy (I like to vary my genres), and I’m about to start a new feature spec script as you always need new scripts as a freelance writer. Always.

What advice would you have for aspiring writers?

Write, write, write. Don’t take rejection personally, and keep writing. Get a portfolio of scripts going (a feature, a TV pilot, a half-hour script, a short film script). Make a short film or get a producer/director to make your short film script. Get online and network but don’t get too distracted. Watch lots of films and TV, not just for enjoyment but for analysis, too. Read popular writing/filmmaking books. Absorb what works for you, discard the rest. Write, write, and write some more.

Finally people can keep up with you on your screenwriting blog, which has been going since 2005…

There’s a ‘best of blog’ section with lots of advice & stuff (how to get an agent, etc.), plus there’s a free download section (10 Tips on How to be a Pro Writer, etc.).

Steven Galvin

You can check out Danny’s UK Scriptwriters  podcast here  & follow his  screenwriting blog here.

 

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Leslie Dixon Screenwriting Masterclass Dingle April 3rd 2012

Dingle International Film Festival in association with FAS Screen Training Ireland is proud to present a scriptwriting Masterclass with Hollywood screenwriter Leslie Dixon on April 3rd 2012.

Leslie Dixon is a Hollywood screenwriter. Dixon wrote screenplays for films such as Outrageous Fortune, Overboard, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Thomas Crown Affair, Pay It Forward, and Freaky Friday.

Leslie will give a 2 hour Masterclass using some of her most successful films to give an insight into how she works as a writer. Her discussion will involve LIMITLESS, THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR and HAIRSPRAY.

This Masterclass will take place in The Phoenix Cinema in Dingle.

For further details, go to www.dinglefilmfestival.com.

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BSÉ/IFB and JDIFF Irish Screenwriting Conference

Tickets have sold out for Give Me Direction, the new conference focusing on the art and science of writing for the screen organised by the Irish Film Board, in partnership with the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (JDIFF).

Attended by a mix of Irish and international guests, Give Me Direction will be an opportunity to champion great and original writing for the screen and to deepen BSÉ/IFB’s engagement in addressing industry concerns. Guests confirmed for the day include Shane Black (Lethal Weapon), Paul Fraser (A Room for Romeo Brass, Somers Town), Eran Kolirin (The Band’s Visit), Conor McPherson (The Eclipse), Damien O’Donnell (East is East, Heartlands), Tanya Seghatchian (UK Film Council), Pat McCabe (The Butcher Boy, Breakfast on Pluto), Roddy Doyle (When Brendan Met Trudy), Kirsten Sheridan (In America) and Mark O’Rowe (Boy A, Intermission).

The event will include a public interview with Shane Black, plus a wide-range of informal discussions and sessions. There will also be a showcase of the best of new Irish writing talent with a reading of scenes from Memorabilia written by Kevin Barry and currently in development with the BSÉ/IFB.

The conference will take place 4–5 June 2009 at the Light House Cinema and the Shelbourne Hotel.

For more information, please click here.

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