Too Much Culture

Notes From The London Screenwriting Festival

Posted in Uncategorized by tneenan on 06/27/2010

The London Screenwriting Festival is a great place for writers to get inspired, it features some of the best writers from around the world and as such some of the highlights will be serialised on this blog. First its Dominic Minghella writer and creator of the “Int.Bedroom.Night” blog. He shares his thoughts on writing for television drama.

Budgets

“The way television is being financed is constantly changing. When I made Robin Hood we knew that the arrow budget would come from subsidiaries from overseas merchandise, the castle budget came from syndicated investors, which meant the licence fee paid for a quarter of Keith Allen. These are the kind of sums you have to have in your head for every script you write. The other day I typed: “Robin jumps” and knew that would cost twelve thousand pounds, which would come from 1/3 of DVD tariffs, its my favourite part of the job.”

The Role of The Wire

“The Wire has changed the way that we watch television drama, literally. And when I say literally I mean literally. I used to watch television while ironing, but after a major character got killed, or “iced”, I burned myself, so now I watch it on the sofa with a glass of wine, and that’s how I think we will all be watching television pretty soon. And it’s all thanks to The Wire. Plus now I’ve mentioned The Wire here, it makes the box set tax deductable. And while I’m at it… erm… Toyota Yarises are great for writing too.”

Showrunning

“Showrunning is an American idea which we have adapted in the UK. It basically means a series is run by one voice. Its been happening in America for years, and even lead to an experimental season of The Ghost Whisperer showrunned/ showran/ by a monkey. The season had an arc about Jennifer Love-Hewitt finding the perfect banana and some of the characterisation was pretty sketchy, but overall the experiment was a success. Next year a whole season of House will be run by a Komodo Dragon. People are realising its economical to use animals in these seniour roles and save money long term. ”

The Internet

“The internet will play a huge role in future dramas. We have already seen some excellent examples such as the microbudget internet drama Inchemary Road, about the exploits of the residents of a street in South London. The show was a huge success until someone pointed out it was just footage from a CCTV camera. If Robin Hood had been filmed like that we would have saved a fortune.”

Overseas Sales

“A show isn’t worth making until you can sell it to at least fifty different countries, that’s why in Robin Hood I made sure every character came from a different country who could potentially buy it. It made for an almost impenetrable first season by once those sales came in… Cha-ching! (Mimes a cash register)”

Final Thoughts

“I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the thing most important to drama is the story and the characters, that should always be your main focus. Thanks for your time… Can I keep this pen?”

So there you go, some great advice from a great man, although i’m not sure he said all of this…

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