Just back from a fabulous three hours – a “Writing Drama for Radio” session at BBC Birmingham. In The Mailbox, which was all new to me.
We had a tour of the studios (where The Archers is recorded, amongst many other things), followed by a fascinating introduction to writing radio drama hosted by Writer in Residence, Caroline Horton and Jessica Dromgoole, Editor of Home Front, Radio 4’s epic First World War drama series.
Just to stand in the BBC studios was inspiring enough but Caroline’s and Jessica’s talks drove enthusiasm to a new level. I’m familiar through copywriting with commercial recording studios but the BBC facilities are something else. That said, I felt very at home there amongst the props, microphones and sound-damping pyramids.
Factoid one: For The Archers there are around 20 different gate opening sound effects, all created on a good old metal ironing board.
There were 45 of us in the group. When asked if anyone was writing a radio drama we all put our hands up. Well, there’s the competition I thought to myself, or a fraction of it.
Thank you BBC for being so generous with your time. It was an eye opening experience and a driver to write harder. Radio is my natural platform and this event has been a personal springboard to a more focused, knowledgeable approach to the medium.
Factoid two: For 45 minutes the word count should be around 7500 but that’s rarely accurate. Nothing beats reading your script out loud and timing it.
The event was recorded and will form a podcast via BBC Writers’ Room in a few days. I’ll link it here when it becomes available.
One final takeout which I think is vital for anyone writing radio drama. Radio 4 are constantly on the lookout for a new voice. Originality is commissioned!
Bring on Free Kick…
Tuesday proved a great day. Friend of mine, Pete Spencer, came down from Manchester to chew the cud on film.
Pete is an established screenwriter with IMDB black type. We met many years ago and his passion plus my yearnings have proved a bedrock for us.
Just wanted to say, Pete, it was brilliant to see you again and hear of your continuing success in the indie film world.
Our next meeting is up in Manchester – an overnighter. Manchester is now a hot bed of creative talent and one element of particular interest is the 2017 JB Shorts event.
Learn more about JB Shorts here.
Of specific interest is turning Les The Punter into a 15 minute theatre production. We’ll see.
Cheers Pete – and Ann – for making Tuesday a special day to remember!!
BTW: In the picture we’re both squinting. This was the result of a day – at 28 degrees – that had brilliant sunshine. It rained the day before and the day after. Pete, you’re blessed 🙂
Found this photo. An important find. So, from the beginning…
I wrote Les The Punter as a poem first, before the short screenplay. This picture is the pub – The Sportsman – where Les really existed. Until his demise of course. I went back (that’s me standing) to pin a laminated copy of the poem to the wall where Les used to sit, on my right beneath the TV.
On Saturday afternoons the pub was full of racing enthuisiasts and our bets were placed by the landlord via phone to Austin Wilkins, a local bookmaker.
The bar is as small as it looks, perhaps seating 40 with a further 20 standing on a busy night. Brian and his crew, including me, sat to my left where, just out of shot, there’s bench seating facing the TV. The bar is to my left and behind. Ashtrays on tables will give an indication of the date of this shot although I’m sure not too much attention was ever paid to legislation.
I remember the bar had a stone floor but it turned out that the landlord’s son was a carpet fitter and so we had carpet. And then we had carpet up the walls. He couldn’t stop.
Being an end of terrace pub there was a back room where parents took their children, a lounge which was more of a snug for those courting or being posh for a night (it seated no more than 10) and a serving hatch for off licence sales.
The smoking ban and corporatisation is killing most communal pubs but I believe The Sportsman is still alive. I drove past it only the other day and its front door was open.
Inside? Perhaps the ghost of Les and echos and shadows of horse racing and punting. And, who knows, maybe my poem is still on the wall.
A while ago I started my first full length script project. Code named TPLS, today I have just finished the first draft.
I don’t think I’ve ever tackled such a complex writing task and it is by no means finished. In fact, the journey has only just started.
However, I’ve allowed myself a little whoop here to mark the beginning of the end of a project I never thought I’d reach so far on.
The first draft has the basic plot and character interactions outlined. The task for draft two is to strengthen the plot, round off the characters and pump up its distinctive backdrop.
Self indulgent whoop over, now back to work…
A very exciting development. Phil Hawkins, a Director I adore for the consistent high quality and visual scope of his work, has indicated he would be pleased to be involved in the Les The Punter short film project.
There’s a long way to go of course. I’m aiming to secure up to £20k of funds to cover the project which will enable the film to be made to an acceptably high standard. Of course, this is tops and in theory short films can be made on a shoestring. However it does indicate, along with Phil’s involvement, the production standards we’re aiming to achieve.
There are several next steps, not least attracting a known actor to be cast in the central role. We have some ideas and approaches are being made.
Of course, I’m not completely niave and anticipate many obstacles, set-backs and disappointments along the way but for now things are definitely looking positive for a script I and others truly believe in.
I’d like Les The Punter to be made into a short film (statement of intent). And so would all of the folk who’ve read the script (justification).
Everyone loves an apocryphal story and feedback from an eclectic range of readers has been beyond encouraging. As has the pro opinion here.
Perhaps this is a perfect opportunity for an established bookmaker to jump on board and brand the short film – or embark on a series of them?
Maybe it’s an opportunity for a Director (comedic inclination) to add a relatively inexpensive piece to their portfolio?
Who knows? All options are open.
If you’re interested then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll send the script and we’ll take it from there.
Well, none really, apart from a lot of learning.
The script alluded to in the last post got to first draft – and draft two is underway.
But this is all an experiment. Not only is this the hardest writing challenge I’ve faced it’s only a stepping stone to the real feature length film I want to write (started as notes in 1996).
I’m not at the point of defeat on this initial script – far from it. I’m graduating through the University of Life. A degree takes three years and I’m only just into my second year on this self-teaching exercise.
One day everything will click into place.