Friday, 2 January 2015

LSF 2014 Part 1: What is it?

Well it seems ages ago I said I would keep you posted on the London Screenwriting Festival 2014. I now know why people rarely blog while they are there. It is EXHAUSTING! There is so much to do from early in the morning until late at night.

Because I am still recovering from my treatment I could not manage a full day and had to take frequent rests. Even so I got so much out of it I have already bought my ticket for next year.

So what is it?

You probably know it is an annual event from Friday to Sunday in October run by and dedicated to writers. The day lasts from 8am to 7.30pm followed by networking events until late. You can get your ticket in one payment or instalments and they are going fast. See details here.

It takes place in the beautiful Regents University, sat in the corner of Regents Park behind Madam Tussaud's. The venue is a quadrangle of buildings and two marquees so everything is in easy reach. There were delegates with a range of mobility issues and we all got the help we needed so no-one missed out.

There are about 700 delegates and 100 speakers but it does not seem crowded except for the odd rush to the next session. There are lots of volunteers to help you get around (yes I got lost on the first morning). Everyone is approachable. Most speakers come and mix with the rest of us when they are not on stage.

I am actually quite shy when surrounded by strangers, stop snickering at the back, but decided to dive in and chat to everyone. First person I spoke to was in a café queue on the first morning. Sarah Gilani and I are now friends and she was a great intro to networking. I was therefore brave enough to keep at it.

So I practised pitches with fellow delegates in the canteen, shared jokes in the queues, thanked speakers for their presentations when I bumped into them, handed cards to anyone who couldn’t run away fast enough, sat and chilled in the quadrangle while people popped by to chat (some old friends and some became new friends).

What I did NOT do is corner everyone to push my script. Networking is getting to know people, not to harass them. We shared advice and information and funny stories instead. 

I met some fascinating people. Some were already making their own films, some had years of experience and were happy to share, some were just starting out, some had been banging their heads against the wall for years and came away with ideas for how to demolish it. I was also surprised how far people had travelled to get to the event. They were from all over the world which shows how much people value the event. Even those in the US that could get to LA.

What happens?

There are presentations all through the day, four at a time.

Some are showings of films while you discuss them with the writers – I attended Lost Boys with Joel Schumacher and Silence of the Lambs with Ted Tally but missed Finding Nemo with David Reynolds.

Some are discussions within the panel. Others have a lot of interaction with the audience. Usually the presenters then move to a separate room after for a script chat. You can talk to them with only 10 or so other people there. I sat next to John Lloyd!!!

There was so much information given out. Some recorded for later viewing, some edited out or not recorded at all that contained juicy gossip or to protect ideas.

The speakers are all really approachable through the weekend. I chatted to quite a few. To make the most of it you have to lose the fear and talk to anyone. I made lots of new friends and met up with old ones. 

Take lots of cards.  I took 300 and must have given out about 200.

Attendee site

So you can keep up to date on what is going on and get to know people. There is the LSFConnect site. I used the group area a lot.

I am in “Them There Northerners”, a great bunch of supportive writers but there are now similar groups for many areas of Britain and for abroad too. You can help each other prepare before the event. “Noobies” is for first times but also has regulars there to give advice. Without Dee Chilton and Liz Holliday I would have missed a lot of what is going on. There are also groups for Radio, Comedy, etc.

The chatroom becomes lively the closer you get to the event. Great to get questions answered and for courage. I told fellow newbies to feel free to just come up and say hello to me and they did.

Most important is planning, planning, planning. Treat it like a military operation.  If you want to meet someone specific then get in touch beforehand and arrange to meet or you will keep missing each other. It took 2 days to meet one of my friends and another only found me just before she had to leave.

Part 2 will tell you about the extra events and what I actually did.

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