Monday, August 20, 2007

Five hours at the Edinburgh film festival

Went to the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Saturday, en route to a house-warming in Doune, north of Stirling. The Writers' Guild of Great Britain was hosting a couple of events in conjunction with the many, many festivals happening in Edinburgh. Writer Deborah Moggach was at the Oxford Bar for an informal chat with other guild members. She wrote the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley, but has also authored novels and several TV projects.

It was hosing with rain outside and her session started at eleven in the morning, but I was determined to get along. Deborah was one of the writing mentors on the Guiding Lights programme last year, so I thought she'd have some interesting things to say about that experience, and her career. She did - much of which she asked to be kept off the record. Her tales of brushes with Hollywood were fascinating, particularly about adapting a novel she'd written.

Next was another dash through the rain to the Sheraton, where most of the film festival industry panels are being held. Caught the final hour of a session about finding a producer for your dream project. The panel led by David Pope of the New Producers Alliance was frank, funny and fascinating. The NPA is starting a scheme called First Draft aimed at enabling writers to create just that, with weekend-long sessions once a month for six months. I'd suggest you need to live in striking distance of London to take best advantage.

Had half an hour between sessions to grab a bit to eat, and natter with other Screen Academy Students at the festival. Then it back to another panel called The Working Writer. That had quite a mix of people on it - writers, producers, development execs - so it ranged quite broadly. Among the panellists was Claire Mundell, a Scottish producer developing projects for TV and film at Synchronicity Films. She had fresh ideas about how producers can share intellectual property rights with writers, instead of simply acquiring all rights.

When that was over, it was time to dash. Hoping to get back to the festival on Wednesday, but am juggling that with the need to write several features as they're paying jobs [and bills need paying]. Also got my final project to rewrite, but am waiting on more feedback before tackling that task. Had some interesting and diverse responses thus far. There's plenty of work still to do, but lots of encouraging noises too. Which is nice. Must dash now, got another student's screenplay sat on my desk, in need of a read and feedback.

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