At IMIS, we decided to build on the incredible spirit of the first “Out Loud” that culminated in a magical night that performed the winning scripts in a Table Read to an audience.
For the second “Out Loud”, we, again, offered it free to enter, free to attend, and did not place a condition on previous experience, because we recognise the barrier lack of funds can be for participation in the arts.
I also assessed the scripts as they came in and announced winners literally days after the deadline, rather than making writers wait around needlessly for months.
I was pleased to read a lot of really promising scripts with a real diversity of style and approach. However, I wanted to add a few more thoughts on the trends I saw coming through:
Again, a surprising number of scripts, either partially, or completely, did not follow standard script format. When this happens, you distract the reader and make their job harder. Let me be blunt. If you do not follow the format rules, together with the codes and conventions, you really are shooting yourself in the foot.
A script entry is not just a piece of art, it is also an application form. You would not apply for a job using anything other than the potential employer’s standard process and so you should view your script entry the same way.
I go into some more detail about this in my article on the first event.
I noticed a number of comedy entrants which shared a similar habit of inserting a gag or one-liner too regularly. This is a similar trend I’ve noticed in much recent British comedy, particularly the BBC, for example in Fleabag.
Although Fleabag built up a loyal following, this was not reflected in the ratings (S2 E1 was 25% below the average for that time slot, according to Chortle) and the show ultimately ended after only two seasons. I think they could have avoided this by making the situations and world-believability king rather than the gags and asides to camera (although the ‘where did you go’ moments were clever).
For another comedy on BBC iPlayer which is still going strong and into its third season, may I humbly submit for your consideration the aptly titled Pamela Adlon-vehicle, Better Things.
Anyone looking to hone their comedic writing in London could do worse than to go to the London Comedy Writers Group. Great people, very supportive atmosphere.
Gender of applicants
Female entrants made up approximately 30% of the first callout and this dropped to roughly 20% for the most recent callout. This split is broadly reflected elsewhere in the industry in available data from other competitions such as the BBC Writersroom, the Nicholls Fellowship and The Black List. Stephen Follows recently conducted a study of the Screencraft competitions which found that female applicants formed only 23.7%.
So my message is clear, it would be great to have many more female applicants!
There are clearly a lot of talented writers in the UK and I remain dedicated to helping them focus on and enhance their skills, to give them a real shot in a hyper-competitive business.
I hope more people will enter future call outs – please tell your friends. IMIS is a very cool non-profit which does a lot of tireless work behind the scenes supporting people and the business in general, let’s build together the kind of industry in which we want to operate. Dealing with some organisations often feels like confronting a big wall, but IMIS aim to be approachable, friendly and to demystify both the craft and the business of screenwriting.
On the 29th June, a table read took place of the winning scripts, sweltering through the hottest day of the year at 33 degrees. It is a testament to the quality of the work that the audience stayed so thoroughly engaged to the end and networked at the end and my big wish is that useful connections were made and the scripts advanced towards production in some way.
Those winners again
Misapprehended – Dorcas Agbogun
2 Shrugs and a Hug – Rasheka Christie
The Sun Will Set – Kevin McCarthy
Flesh and Blood – James Murphy
Reflection – Nick Padmore
Sweet Spot – Yoav Rosenberg
Spatium – Devin Tupper
A big thank you to the actors whose talent and passion brought those scripts to life. I can tell you it is magical watching your script assume form for the first time.