Sunday, August 19, 2007

Busy, busy times

Just picked up tickets for two talks and two films today, and also got invited to a reception, so it looks like today is going to be as busy as yesterday.

This year's festival is billed as "Cinema and the Written Word" so there are a number of events targetted at writers, or about screenwriting. One of the frustrations is that some of these clash, which suggests a bit of bad planning. You might assume that the people who wanted to go to "How to find the right producer" run by the NPA would also like to hear William Nicholson "in person", but both were at 12 noon; likewise, that writers would want to go to "The Working Writer" run by the Writers Guild as well as hear Christopher Hampton, but both were at 2pm. I got round the first clash by discovering that William Nicholson was also appearing at the Book Festival yesterday, at 5pm, so I went to the NPA event, saw Christopher Hampton, and missed the Writers Guild.

The NPA panel was excellent, loads of really good advice from three working producers. Much of the advice was around how to work with a producer - don't be precious or gimmicky; know what the industry standard is; if you haven't got a track record yet, you'll need a good script, not just a treatment or a first draft. There was a discussion about the importance of Chain of Title - essentially, make sure you have a paper trail of everything you've agreed to with other people, and also the importance of understanding the production process. Really well worth attending.

Then to Cineworld to see Christopher Hampton being interviewed by Hannah McGill about his career, and to see some clips of his films. He talked about the challenges of adapting novels and plays for film, and his life as a writer. His advice - if you want it to be "your" film, direct it yourself; if you want to be in control of your piece of writing, stay in theatre.

William Nicholson and Charlie Fletcher at the Book Festival also talked about life as writers, both screen (big and small) and novels. Again, very entertaining speakers who have both worked in TV in the UK and in Hollywood, and had good stories to tell from their experiences. William Nicholson's advice - learn how to deal with failure - if you can't handle failure, you can't handle the film business. Charlie Fletcher - don't edit yourself, don't worry about what "they" are buying, don't think "is this like anything else?" Tell the story from your heart because that's the story that matters.

Then, an evening of films, having had a day of talks. First, "A Mighty Heart" directed by Michael Winterbottom and starring Angelina Jolie in a stunning performance. It's a heart-rending film, hard to watch in the same way as "United 93" because you know all the way through that the end is awful, but at the same time compelling, almost a thriller in style as far as the search for Daniel Pearl is concerned, and with a very immediate almost documentary feel. Fantastic film-making.

Then a very different film, "XXY" an Argentinian film about a 15 year old hermaphrodite, brought up as a girl, whose parents are faced with the decision about which way she should be as an adult - to continue to suppress her masculinity, and have surgery, or to allow her to naturally become male? It was sensitively told and beautifully shot, and well worth taking a chance on. I doubt it will get a big release, which is a shame.

And now its time to go out to Cineworld for the first of today's talks - at least its not raining today.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home