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Emerging Writing Talent with BAFTA

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This week BAFTA hosted the Rocliffe New Writing Forum, with special guests Michael Kuhn and Andy Harries. They have received over 1000 script entries throughout the year, with 5 being taken to New York and to the Edinburgh Film & TV Festivals, where 2of which were commissioned by BBC and VH1.

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Three script extracts were selected from emerging writing talent all over the country, which were then performed by professional actors in front of a live audience and critiqued by producer Michael Kuhn (Qwerty Films) and Andy Harries (Left Bank Pictures), with tips and advice for the writers and answers to the audience’s questions.

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The first of extract was a thriller from Dan Hall, an emerging writer from the UK. His script was called “Submerged”, which is his 8th screenplay he has written to date. Dan explained that the project was extremely research heavy. He consulted with a Doctor, a Pilot, and a Structural Engineers to ensure that his story and setting were as grounded in reality as possible.

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Michael liked what he heard, stating that it was nicely written. But his only concern was the budget and scale of the film overshadowing the character moments, interactions, and revelations.  Implying the characters should drive the story rather than the action. Especially when put into such a desperate situation such as this.

I had the chance to ask Dan some questions too:

How did you find out about Rocliffe and what opportunities have opened up for you since joining? My wife spotted it on Twitter! I have met lots of people in the industry that I wouldn’t have had access to previously, and got to see some of my work up on stage, which never would have happened otherwise.

How long ago had you written your script? Did you pitch it to other producers or get any other feedback on it before Rocliffe? The second draft was completed a week earlier. Before I found out it had been selected as one of the three winners, I had submitted the script to an American screenwriting blog called Scriptshadow. From there I secured a manager and agent.

Did you study at university? How much experience do you have in script writing? Yes, I studied English. I have been writing for seven years.

Do you have any advice for emerging young screenwriters? Try and watch as many films and read as many scripts as you can. Also, before you start writing any script, make sure you’ve tested the logline out on your friends — if the overall consensus is that it’s not amazing then don’t bother. Move onto the next idea.

It was clear from the how he spoke of the technical process of writing that he has a strong understand or script writing and script formula. Andy commented that the script showed promising elements found in existing contained thriller genre films. He could quickly identify the tension, characters. The audience feedback assured Dan that he had strong and lively characters, and a believably tense situation. The situation Dan had crafted immediately worked and was easily understood. Last advice was just to make sure the technical aspects of the situation are as researched as possible as the flaws will appear greater once production begins.

To find out other upcoming opportunities Rocliffe have for emerging writers, visit their site.

Images courtesy of BAFTA/Jonathan Birch.

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