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London Screenwriters Festival Talent Campus: What Really Went On At Ealing Studios This Weekend… By KT Parker

If you saw #TalentCampus trending on Twitter and photographs of people walking on broken glass posted on Facebook, you could be forgiven for wondering if London Screenwriters Festival Talent Campus was some sort of cult…

Previews_005-2The truth is, it’s an extraordinarily diverse group of emerging screenwriters who have been selected to take part in a high-energy development programme to equip us with the mental framework, industry knowledge and inspiration to succeed. In other words, this is the beginning of a beautiful community.

I’m awed by my fellow writers. What fun to meet some of the faces behind the names in the Create50 ‘Impact’ project! A reminder, if ever I needed one, that this writing malarkey is not just about writing; it’s first and foremost about relationships. As Lucy V. Hay said, the relationships we form are even more important than the ideas we pitch.

Previews_Day3_004Finding out these brilliant people have the same insecurities and that nagging voice screaming they’re not good enough to make it as a writer is curiously liberating. Chris Jones did a great job of encouraging us to quell the self-doubt, change our mental state and find the Wonder Woman in us all.

I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have rock stars like Chris Jones, John Yorke, Kate Leys, Stephen Follows and our fabulous mentors – David Mansell, Philip Shelley, Lucy V. Hay and Karol Griffiths – in our corner, egging us on to bring out the best in ourselves and our writing. I feel so privileged to be part of this.

Previews_004Stephen Follows reminded us that although as writers we spend a lot of time in a magical reality, at the end of the day this is a business. He told us where to find data on the film industry and what to do with it, so that we start from a position of strength knowing what is likely to sell and what not. Who knew that statistics could be so entertaining?

John Yorke unlocked the secrets of the scariest aspect of screenwriting: structure. I’ve read dozens of screenwriting books, including his “Into The Woods”, but so many pennies dropped for me in that session, it was as if I hit the jackpot of a metaphorical slot-machine. I can take my entire portfolio of scripts to the next level by implementing what I learned from him alone.

Previews_Day3_002Kate Leys dazzled us all with her awesome ability to analyse our stories on the spot. What’s more she has enviable stamina, demonstrating the same enthusiasm and incisiveness on the twenty-eighth story as she did on the very first. Listening to the way she explored everyone else’s story was as instructive as the notes she gave on our own – equipping us to be ‘the first reader’ of our work going forward.

Previews_003I’ve come home thoroughly exhausted yet oddly energised to give it my all. A big thank you to my fellow writers, our mentors, the London Screenwriters Festival team and the folk at BFI and Creative Skillset for making this intense and inspirational experience possible. I plan to pay you back with a film or TV series that will knock your socks off!

Here’s the good news for those of you who are not on this year’s Talent Campus. You can drink from the same fount of creative juice at the London Screenwriters Festival. There are still some tickets remaining, but hurry – they’re selling out fast…

This programme is supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, which is funded by the BFI with National Lottery funds, through Skills Investment Fund.

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