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Before AND after TC 5.0… independent thoughts from one delegate… What did they think?

Originally posted on Mark Walkers blog, this was his BEFORE and AFTER Talent Campus 5.0 Ignition… Over to Mark…

It is about this time that we are supposed to outline our resolutions for the New Year ahead and set out all those good things were are going to do and all the bad stuff we are going to stop doing I have done it myself for the last couple of years – look, this was my effort in 2017 – and I am not sure I even managed a post for the start of 2018. My aims back then were about being less distracted and to write a novel…. well, that never happened and that seems to be a theme for me; setting goals and then never reaching them. This says a lot about me to be honest – and a lack of planning and focus. I have great goals, but make them too broad and don’t break them down into manageable steps. Working full time and having a young family doesn’t make it harder to write, it just makes planning more important and that is what I need to think about more carefully in 2019. Not setting myself too many targets and being mindful of everything else that is going on in my life when doing so.

And I think I may have been offered the perfect opportunity to hone some of those skills.

Just before Christmas 2018 I found out I was one of 28 lucky writers to have been selected to attend the London Screenwriting Festival’s Talent Campus in January and February 2019.  It is an intensive block of writing, bookmarked with two face-to-face sessions in January and February –

Our Goals For You

We want you to get your work produced. To that end we have four clear objectives at the Talent Campus.

  • To improve your professional and industry skills to help platform you as talent to watch.

  • To refine your story and writing skills in the context of a commercial marketplace.

  • To realign your project with commercial trends to increase the probability of getting optioned and produced.

  • To provide exclusive opportunity: To pitch your project to industry directly.

These goals are exactly what I need to move forward with my writing. I think I am a good starter, but not so great at finishing – so I have plenty of ideas and have written a number of scripts, but I am not the best at doing anything with them. Imposter Syndrome and the fear of rejection have high impacts on this – am I good enough to submit my work to publishers, producers etc. etc? – the plan of this course is to give me the tools and the confidence to tell myself, “yes, I am good enough” and show me the way to do it.

I am excited to get started and will update this blog with more information as we go along. We have already been set a number of “homework tasks” to get us ready for the first session at the end of January and just these exercises alone have given me an opportunity to be a bit more reflective about my work and how I can make it better.

If you click on the link to the Talent Campus webpage, you will notice that Talent Campus 6.0 is already taking applications. If you are looking for support with your writing and want to take things to the next level, then give it a shot. I was fearful of applying, but am glad I did take the plunge and am excited to see what the Ignition Phase will bring me, and the only Campers next week

So, bring it on!

OK… Here is what Mark wrote a few days after the first part of Talent Campus 5.0…

To quote Chris Jones himself…. “Well, that happened.”

Talent Campus 5.0 has come and gone… well, sort of, we are still in the early stages of the Mentor Weeks, that follow the Ignition Phase, before returning to London at the end of February to fulfill our destinies.

But what can I say about the experience? A lot to be honest. I could go on for hours and hours about the intense 5-day combination of excellent speakers, hugging, informative exercises, hugging, meditation, even more excellent speakers, hugging, walking on broken glass, high-fiving, fire-walking, hugging, tarantulas and cockroaches and that would be before I even got onto talking about the excellent team who organised and managed the event, or the amazing delegates I met on the way – it really was an action-packed, filled to the brim week of creative brilliance.

Going in to TC 5.0 I was really only a hobbyist. I thought of myself as a writer but lacked direction and, potentially, the commitment I really needed to make a difference to my career. The TC process heightened that realisation for me and hammered home the fact that I wasn’t going to get anywhere with that attitude. I came out of it with a better appreciation of what it will take to get anywhere and gave me a chance to start developing the skills I need to take myself down the professional route.

Having said that, it was a bit of a shock at first….

As someone said at the end of the first day, it was like we had applied to a 5-day self-help group. The focus of the TC is on positive attitudes and facing fears as much as it is on writing skills and technique. There was much jumping around, meditation, hugging and fear-facing with tarantulas and various walking exercises; I was not alone in wondering what I had gotten myself into. As someone who was not raised in an environment where that sort of thing was considered “normal” I was resistant at first but, by the end of the week, had embraced the freedom and liberation from fear that just “letting go” gives you. If you are thinking about applying to TC in the future and have heard about the “happy-clappy” stuff they do… face that fear and don’t let it worry you. You may feel “odd” at first but, I promise you, it works and you will be better for it.

Of course there was plenty of opportunity to talk writing, craft and business with a wide variety of speakers, all of whom were excellent in their own fields. I can’t go into full details on everyone that turned up to impart their wisdom on us as this would very quickly become a victim of TL:DR, but we had input from John Yorke, Samantha Horley, Rachel Paterson, Jean Kitson, Stephen Follows, Gub Neal, Pilar Alessandra, Eleanor Greene, Chris Aird, Gareth Unwin and Jed Mercurio, all watched over by the relaxing tones of the Louisa Caine. In addition (yes there is more) we had input from previous Talent Campers as coaches, supporting us throughout the week. Oh and we still have a seminar with Joey Tuccio to come, not to mention the two days in February!

(I suspect I have forgotten someone somewhere, but this is whole post is a massive thank you to everyone involved in organising, running and delivering Talent Campus!)

Personally I found Sam Horley’s insight into what makes a film successful and how to market it and yourself incredibly helpful and Gub Neal and Jed Mercurio’s discussions around TV writing created an interest for TV-writing that had hitherto been dormant in me. However, every single speaker was fantastic to listen to and generous with their knowledge and advice, reiterating one of the main things that we all learned over the five days; this tribe is a friendly and inviting one and one that I want to be a part of and contribute to.

Chris and the team put a massive amount of work into setting this all up and it worked seamlessly – apart from me getting on the wrong tube more more than one occasion. It really is a professionally delivered course well worth the money.

Talking of money, it may seem expensive but, another guarantee, by the end of the week, you will be wondering how they managed to do it for the price. And don’t forget there is the opportunity to apply for £300 off the costs via ScreenSkills if you live in the UK. And it is also worth remembering that it is not just the 5 days. We are currently spending 4 weeks developing projects with an allocated Mentor and Coach from the TC alumni – my group is one week into this process, superbly guided by Mentor Bob Schultz and Coach Panayiota Panteli so there is still plenty to come from Talent Campus 5.0.

In a nutshell? Talent Campus was one of those things that I have thought about applying to but not gotten around to (much like booking tickets to the London Screenwriter’s Festival – although I have booked for 2020) because I worry about not being good enough (I literally put that on my application) or not being ready etc etc… don’t think like that – if you want to do it, do it, you won’t regret it.

Sorry, I was talking nutshells….mmmm….

TC 5.0 was a shot in the arm of creativity and positive attitude. I went into it a nervous, amateur writer but came out confident, excited and ready to to be a professional.

Applications to TC 6.0 close on Friday 1st, but you still have time. It doesn’t take long to apply and don’t forget the bursary!

Go! Now!

Any questions about Talent Campus, just chuck them out down below or find me on Twitter/Facebook!


Mark Walker

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