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Reflections on Running a Screenplay Competition

I am proud to have facilitated the Screenwriting Community within IMIS for the last year.

This Community was set up to offer something powerful for Screenwriters, with a focus on skills and opportunities.

It has become clear to me over this time how much this initiative is needed, particularly as an alternative hub to current big-hitters such as the BFI and BAFTA. How does a Screenwriter with little or no connections – but with a really original well-written project – breakthrough? Our purpose is to tackle that question head on.

Screenwriters have to navigate a mass of “opportunities,” many of which have strong brand recognition, that offer hope – but little else. A profit-making cottage industry of middlemen have come to dominate the space and this is why I feel non-profits such as IMIS can really make their presence felt and start to facilitate exciting writers, scripts and projects.

In an industry and culture that has yet to fall out of love with reboots, remakes and franchises – “copyright exploitation” to give it its technical, somewhat sinister, term – we aim to identify, and provide platforms for, the truly original voices of the future, with a singular passion. We want to spark a new golden age of British Cinema, which is why @IMISWriters uses the hashtag #britishfilmrenaissance

In the last year, the Screenwriting Community has hosted events led by Leah Middleton, agent at Marjacq, Rick Harvey, MA Course Director at Raindance, workshopping theme and others. We always aim to give Screenwriters practical tools to advance their writing and career, while eschewing hollow platitudes.

The Table Read Event was a continuation of that purpose and was meant to provide a platform for and feedback to a select number of promising scripts with an unerring focus on encouraging originality and driving excellence in the craft side of screenwriting.

With “craft” in mind, I also want to provide some general feedback to everyone on some of the major trends which cropped up from the 70 entries we received.

(And by the way, as a Screenwriter, I’m sure I have made all of these mistakes and many more, besides!)

What to Do and What Not to Do:

Format

This was undoubtedly the most noticeable issue.

A mandatory industry standard layout has evolved, the purpose of which is to help the reader focus on the story elements of each script consistently. It dictates, for example, that the font be 12-point Courier, with a whole set of very specific rules around spacing, indents and elements.

As there is an important reason for this format, my recommendation is simple – write in industry standard always. To help you in this, use software such as Final Draft or Celtx so you minimise the chance of any errors. Your individuality should be in the story, not the layout.

Rules

Not story rules, but screenplay rules. A series of ‘best practice’ conventions have sprung up around writing a screenplay, which, if not followed, can be equally distracting for the reader. A few examples:

Passive vs Active Voice

Screenplays should be written in “Active Voice,” where the subject is the person that performs an action, usually in present tense. This is the most immediate way of writing – important, because screenplays rely more on action and less on description than other mediums.

Passive Voice version: He is slapped by her.

A reader reads that sentence “he IS slappED BY HER” – this formulation JOLTs the reader out of the spell you are casting.

Active Voice version: She slaps him.

As a general rule, avoid the verb ‘to be’ and -ing words as much as you can.

Believe me, you can tell a professional-standard script from this alone, in the first few sentences.

Action Description

As a general rule, you only describe what the viewer can see and hear, because of the nature of the medium. Some writers wrote, “she feels” or “he remembers.” There is no way we can know what someone “feels” unless you describe the physical effect of that, or what he “remembers,” unless you include a flashback, or they talk about it, or it otherwise produces an observable physical effect.

Character Intro

First time is in CAPS. Again, you cannot describe their personality directly, you can only describe what we can see and hear. And what is seen and heard should mainly be that which indicates the kind of character they are.

Someone who fidgets may indicate a nervous person. This will also create a useful Active Question – in the audience’s head – why is this person fidgeting? Let’s find out…

“We”

This is a particular bugbear of Robert McKee’s and once you notice it, it, again, becomes a distraction for the reader. When you write “we see” or “we hear” in the action description, you put the reader in the story, you break the “fourth wall.” Find another way, don’t break the spell.

Titles

Maybe this is my personal taste, but I love clever titles, specifically ones which have a double meaning, one of which relates to some kind of theme. If a script is called “Penny” because it is about a protagonist called “Penny,” this usually does not bode well, unless “penny” also relates to some kind of story, let’s say about money or luck. But there are notable exceptions to this in the film world, such as “Carrie,”. Like I say, this could be my personal taste.

Story

Of course, there are all sorts of rules, conventions, principles and theories about how to write the story part of the screenplay, too. This is much more subjective, so all I have to say about this is in the scripts I read, where there was a sense of surprise – a great twist, or an intrinsically poetic approach, or dialogue pregnant with subtext it pushed a script to the top of the pile. This is where you can subvert audience expectation and/or cast a magical spell.

Summary

In order for the spell to stay, the format and conventions need to be adhered to dogmatically. This is so that it is in the story itself that you set your voice free and take us on a journey that will move us emotionally and transport us to another realm.

It was a pleasure to read these scripts and I hope that we run another event such as this one, soon. We want to make London a global centre of excellence for Screenwriting. #britishfilmrenaissance. Join us.

The Event

On February the 21st at Zero One, Soho we hosted a table read of the winning scripts, which enjoyed a very positive reaction from the audience and the participants. Bringing together quality writers and actors is only one stage in the process, but we hope to have facilitated the future production of these scripts into stunningly realised projects. The winners again:

  1. No Man’s Land by Tom Canning
  2. The Big One by Michael Lavers
  3. The Pact by Olu Alakija
  4. Psalm of the Sawist by Asia Nichols
  5. The Talk by Jonathan Hughes

Our sincere thanks also to the Actors who came down and brought these scripts to life and to Zero One for their support.

Advisory Council 2017 Nomination Reminder

IMIS will be holding an election for members to the Advisory Council this summer and we invite all eligible members to nominate other members to serve the membership. The rules of who can nominate and vote are listed in the link below.

Nominations are due by Monday, 22nd May 2017 at 17:00 BST.

The BKSTS Relaunches as the International Moving Image Society

London, UK, 7 November 2016

The British Kinematograph Sound and Television Society (BKSTS) is celebrating its 85th anniversary by rebranding and relaunching itself as the International Moving Image Society (IMIS).  The Society has seen the evolving nature of the industry and has decided this new brand is better aligned to address current changes in the industry as well as future developments.

The Society is not only looking towards encompassing traditional formats like feature films, television, short films, commercials, and music promos but also non-traditional formats such as virtual reality, interactive mediums, gaming, mobile video, web series and more.

In addition, the Society has laid out it’s aims to inspire, train, educate, and connect all members of the industry, whether at entry or professional level, around the world.  The Society plans on accomplishing this through its new website www.societyinmotion.com where it will develop original content for every phase of development from conception, through production, and all the way through exhibition and archiving.  Further, the Society plans to offer new seminars and events open to members and the public, training courses, opportunities for online and in-person networking, and expand its accreditation programme.  The Society aims on building a strong alliance with other societies, guilds and associations, both in the UK and around the world, in order to fulfil its mission.

The Society is best known for its series of monthly lectures covering all aspects of the industry ranging from technical to creative.  The Society has also had a rich history of providing wall charts that illustrate best-management practices for areas of the industry as well as technical resources.  The Society is a partner to Cinema Technology Magazine with members who regularly contribute to the publication.

 

About the BKSTS

The BKSTS is a non-profit member-based organisation that was formed in the late 1920s as the ‘London Branch’ of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers (now known as SMPTE) until 1930 when it split to form its own organisation.  In 1931 the Society began by accrediting the London Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) in 1932.  It has grown and evolved over time to meet the changes of the industry such as the shift from employment to freelancing as well as film to digital.  It is in this respect that the Society has decided to evolve itself again into the International Moving Image Society.  The Society has members in over 20 countries and plans to expand its base to many more.

Events

Out Loud – The IMIS Screenplay Table Read

We are presenting a great opportunity in which your written material can come to life for the first time! Come join us at our exciting new event which features a table read of short screenplays and extracts, and give a voice to your characters. Submit your work on our website and take a shot at being picked for reading or simply join us on the evening and support your colleagues. Submissions and attendance to this event are free!

Submissions Are Now Open!

This form is for those who want to submit a portion of their script to our table reading session. Submissions are due by the close of day on the 31st May 2019.

Rules:

  1. Scripts must be 10 pages or less excluding title-page.
  2. Scripts can have a maximum of five characters.
  3. Scripts must be in the industry format.
  4. PDFs submitted must be labeled TITLE – AUTHOR NAME.PDF

Any deviations to this and your script will be automatically eliminated. We will notify you if your script is chosen.

Selected works will:
  • be read out loud to an audience by a professional cast or readers
  • receive constructive feedback on the night
  • come to life in a supportive environment

Why do a Table Read?

  • Identify flaws for yourself in the read-through
  • Get and give valuable constructive feedback
  • Sharpen your screencraft skills
  • Network

And most important of all: The joy of hearing your words come to life!

Tickets Available:

  1. This is a FREE event to anyone who would like to attend so please invite your friends!

Hot Topics and Work in Progress 2019

Our annual Hot Topics and Work in Progress Accreditation Event is back for 2019! Come Join us.

This gem of an event is held at BFI Southbank where our colleagues from HE at our accredited University courses give an insight into current ‘Hot Topics’ roaming the industry and share the news from their campuses as well as show some of the recent work.

This year’s speaker will be creative director at Flavourworks, Jack Attridge.

Jack will be talking about the convergence between traditional film making and computer games followed by a Q&A where he will share tips about finding employment in the emerging media industry.

About Jack Attridge and Flavourworks:
After graduating from a Film Production degree, Jack worked for games studios including EA, Rebellion, Mind Candy and 22cans. Flavourworks have recently announced the release of Erica, their feature length, interactive game developed for the PS4 with Sony.This is a great opportunity to see selections of work from our accredited courses and to meet with young emerging talent starting out.

NO TICKETS NECESSARY. ALL IMIS AND INDUSTRY GUESTS ARE WELCOME!

FREE TO ATTEND FOR EVERYONE

We are very excited to see you there and we hope you enjoy yourselves!

Time Is Money: Production Coordinator Crash Course

Come join us as production coordinator Georgina Bobb will present the importance of having a production coordinator join your team for any project. Similar to an orchestra, everyone plays their role but without the conductor everything sounds weird or just doesn’t happen.

She will:

  • Give an overview what being a production coordinator entails and the responsibilities on a day-to-day basis for a factual production
  • Give an insight as to which skills are required to become a great coordinator
  • How to apply for coordinator roles, tips on what to put in a CV and cover letter when applying for roles
  • Talk about her experiences on the job as well as her work for Connect 2TV Coaching

About Georgina Bobb:

Within her 13 years experience she has worked as a Junior Production Manager, Production Coordinator, Production Secretary, Post Production Secretary, Production Assistant, Logger, Junior Researcher, Archive Researcher and Runner in Television creating international and UK based content across all television genres. She has also Directed, Produced and Production Managed various Music Promos, Live Events and Commercials that have been broadcasted internationally as well as being screened online.

She has worked with various mainstream celebrities & artists as well as accumulating over 50 TV broadcasting credits working on prime time entertainment and factual entertainment productions for various broadcasters and independent production companies such as BBC & ITV.

Whilst working in television she has created and developed a TV-specific employability business, Connect2TVCoaching providing clients with CV and cover letter writing consultations and mentoring as well as employability workshops, training and networking events. She has received great feedback in which clients have gained interviews and paid work placements at companies such as the BBC, Lime Pictures, Love Productions and other independent production companies as a result. A Ravensbourne Graduate in Content Creation and Broadcast & from a non-traditional background she is passionate about specifically engaging and empowering disadvantaged young people enabling them to develop both personally and professionally giving them the opportunity to gain paid employment within the industry. Qualified with a Level 3 Award in Education and Training she has delivered TV and Media specific employability workshops through Connect2TVCoaching.

One of Georgina’s treasured moments in her career thus far includes receiving her first award nomination under the category of Rising Talent at the Screen Nation Awards – a ceremony that celebrates diversity within film and television. In 2019 I worked as a Production Coordinator on a programme called Operation Live, The Open Heart Surgery: Uncut which has also been shortlisted under Live Event at the BAFTA’s.  She has also been nominated as a Rising Star at the We Are The City awards a ceremony for professional women.

Media Production Show 2019

Come along to this year’s Media Production Show, say ‘hello’ and pick up your free swag.

Register for your free access and check out industry brands at the biggest event for technology and talent in the creative industries. The show will feature key exhibitors presenting their products and services that vary across pre-production, post and content distribution across two days. There will also be a programme of free high-calibre seminars with some of the biggest industry names sharing their inspirational insights and valuable knowledge.

 

REGISTER HERE

 

About Media Production Show:

Launched in 2016, The Media Production Show provides opportunities to meet and network with different exhibitors presenting their products and services that vary across pre-production, production, post and content distribution. 2019 is the year the event will be showcasing talent and technology across the creative industries… not a show to be missed!

The Media Production Show is hosted and organised by the publishers of market leading titles including Broadcast, Broadcast Intelligence, KFTV, The Knowledge, Production Intelligence and Screen International. We also have a highly successful track record in organising high-end conferences and industry awards, with a reputation for bringing the key players together, to debate the creative industries, network with each other and celebrate their successes.

We are excited to exhibit alongside our colleagues at:

  • Avid
  • Canon
  • JVC
  • Panasonic
  • …and many more
We look forward to seeing you there!

Concept vs Instinct: A Screenwriting Workshop with Award-Winner Corey Mandell

WE ARE CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING SOME INTERMITTENT ISSUES WITH OUR CREDIT/DEBIT CARD PROCESSOR ON MOBILE DEVICES; IF YOU ARE ABLE TO PURCHASE A TICKET ON A LAPTOP/DESKTOP, WE RECOMMEND THIS.  IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO PURCHASE A TICKET, PLEASE EMAIL US AT EVENTS@SOCIETYINMOTION.COM AND WE WILL RESERVE A TICKET FOR YOU FOR PAYMENT ON THE NIGHT AT THE DOOR.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.

Come join us as award-winning writer Corey Mandell talks about his views on instinctive vs conceptual writing. He has written numerous projects for Ridley Scott, Harrison Ford, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Warner Brothers, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Working Title, Walt Disney Pictures and many more.

Corey will:

  • Talk about the difference between ‘instinctive’ and ‘conceptual’ screenwriting
  • Give an idea of how he one doesn’t necessarily exclude the other
  • Share his experiences with working for high-end production companies and A-listers

Come along to this gem of an event, meet new people and get some insight into the ins and outs of the various ways to write for the big screen.

About Corey Mandell:

Corey Mandell is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who has written projects for Ridley Scott, Wolfgang Petersen, Harrison Ford, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, John Travolta, Warner Brothers, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Family, Working Title, Paramount, Live Planet, Beacon Films, Touchstone, Trilogy, Radiant, Kopelson Entertainment and Walt Disney Pictures.

His Professional Screenwriting and Television Writing Workshops offer an alternative to the same old tired rules and formulas found in most screenwriting classes, books and seminars. This innovative program is the only one to teach creative integration, script testing, compelling conflict, organic story design, strategic rewriting and story mapping. With these tools, writers are able to create the pitch-perfect authentic scripts required to break into, and thrive in, the current marketplace.

In the past three years, graduates have gone on to sell or option scripts to Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Disney, Fox, MGM, Universal, Showtime, FX, USA Network, NBC, HBO, MTV and AMC. Others have been staffed on such shows as Community, The Fosters, Jane the VirginBonesJustified, BoJack Horseman,Young and Hungry, PlayingHouse, The Mentalist, Marvel’s Agents of Shield, Up All Night, State of Affairs, Rosewood, The Leftovers, You’re the Worst, Pretty Little Liars, Treme, The Blacklist and The Leftovers.

The Workshops teach the essential skill sets required to write at a professional level, both for feature films and television. The classes are offered live in Los Angeles as well as online using video conferencing to allow participants to see and hear each other in real time. These highly popular classes draw students from across the US, Europe and Australia.

With the recent explosion of television pilots being bought, and a healthy rebound in the feature spec script market, there’s never been a better time to jump into the writing game. One script absolutely can change your life. But it’s got to be the right script. If you’re serious about developing the skills required to launch a career, these workshops can help take years off your learning curve and significantly increase your chances of success.

Selling Your Feature Film: Using a Proof of Concept

Come join us as writer/director Dwayne Gumbs will present the importance of having a proof of concept in order to sell your feature film script to investors. He will screen ‘Holy Beef’, a proof of concept for his feature film currently in development.

‘Holy Beef’ was funded through Film London’s London Calling scheme and was in official selection at the BFI London Film Festival 2018 and the London Short Film Festival 2019. As such, the project has also been supported by Film London as part of their Microwave scheme for first time feature filmmakers.

Dwayne will:

  • Talk about when and why the proof of concept became vital to his feature project
  • Give an idea of how to create a feasible and engaging a ‘short version’ of a substantial feature idea
  • Share his experiences of the benefits the proof of concept has brought with it and what it means for the future of his project

Come along to this gem of an event, meet new people and get some insight into the ins and outs of the journey from proof of concept to feature production.

About Dwayne Gumbs:

Dwayne’s passion for writing found an outlet as a child through Grime. Having grown up in East London when the culture was emerging, his hobbies included MCing, DJing and music production – a connection he’s maintained to this day. In 2008 he founded Diverse Voices Entertainment, a unique entity for young people to express themselves and access opportunities in the arts which would otherwise not be available to them. He has written and directed many live shows and short films, all co-created with these young people.

Dwayne collaborated with Iain Simpson on the Film London funded grime comedy short ‘Holy Beef’, a proof of concept for a feature in development, ‘Running Out of Grime’, which was also developed through Film London’s Microwave scheme.

Dwayne is passionate about creating positive depictions of a young generation too often portrayed negatively on screen. Whilst the London film industry is definitely broadening the range of stories being told, he still feels there is an unaddressed gap in the ‘Urban Film’ market, which is not a fair representation of the vibrant and positive inner city London life he experienced growing up, nor the true nature of today’s youth.

BVE 2019

Come join us for free at this year’s BVE at the ExCeL Centre London, booth K67. Creative minds, tech professionals and business leaders can see the biggest brands, newest kit, cutting edge tech and visionary speakers. And collaborate to create beautifully told stories, seamless workflow solutions and future proofed strategies that transform our industry.

 

REGISTER HERE

 

About BVE:

BVE is the largest broadcast, production and media and tech exhibition in the UK attracting over 12,000 creative professionals, business leaders and tech professionals every year.

BVE 2019 is giving you access to:

  • 300+ brands exhibiting the latest technologies with exclusive offers at the show
  • 100+ free to attend and industry accredited seminars
  • 200+ industry experts providing you with best practice industry insight
  • Unlimited access across all 3 days

We are excited to exhibit alongside our colleagues at:

  • Avid
  • Soho Broadcast
  • DELL
  • Mandy
  • …and many more
We look forward to seeing you there!

Writing Successful TV Bibles: From Creation to Pitch

Come join us as writer/director Danny Stack will share valuable tips and insights into writing TV bibles, and how they’re an essential document across development and production. Everything from two-page summaries to TV bibles that take a weekend to read – come find out how it’s done.

Danny will:

  • Discuss why a TV Bible is ESSENTIAL to pitching a show
  • Outline what items are in a TV bible and what not to include
  • Talk about the secrets to writing a good TV bible and why no one set rule or structure applies to all
  • Look at the difference between a good TV bible pitch document versus a more production-focused one
  • Draw on his vast experiences making films in the family genre

Come along to this gem of an event, meet new people and get some insight into the ins and outs of creating award-winning projects.

About Danny Stack:

Danny started out in Channel 4’s comedy department when shows like Spaced, Ali G and Black Books were being made. Since then he’s worked as a screenwriter and script reader for companies like Miramax, Working Title, Pathe, UK Film Council and Irish Film Board, among others. He helped set-up the Red Planet Prize with Tony Jordan, designed to seek out new TV writing talent. With Tim Clague, he co-hosted the highly popular podcast The UK Scriptwriters Podcast, which was started in 2010. Danny now specialises in the kids/family genre, and has made two live-action family films with Tim: Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg (which had its world premiere at the London Film Festival in 2015) and Future TX (starring Griff Rhys Jones).

The Photography/Video Show 2019

…AND ACTION! Come along to this year’s Photography/Video Show and learn about the latest development in the world of videography, cinematography and photography.

The Video Show will take place for the first time at the NEC, Birmingham in 2019. It will be co-located with The Photography Show.

You can also take advantage of our discount code IMISTVS19This will give you 25% off sign day. standard and advance tickets for all masterclasses!

REGISTER HERE

Whether you’re a budding filmmaker, a professional videographer, a vlogger or an online content creator, The Video Show has everything you need to expand your moving image production horizons. Get your hands on the latest kit, try out new techniques and learn about different aspects of videography from some of the best names in the industry.

Topic will include:

  • 360 film
  • HDR
  • Content Creation
  • Documentary
  • Short Film
  • Storytelling
  • Commercial
  • …and many more

The Video Show is organised by Future and run by a passionate events team, supported by market-leading magazines including the UK’s #1 consumer technology website, TechRadar.com, the go to resource for artists and designers; creativebloq.com and the award-winning Digital Camera and digitalcameraworld.com.

Out Loud – The IMIS Screenplay Table Read

We are presenting a great opportunity in which your written material can come to life for the first time! Come join us at our exciting new event which features a table read of short screenplays and extracts, and give a voice to your characters. Submit your work on our website and take a shot at being picked for reading or simply join us on the evening and support your colleagues. Submissions and attendance to this event are free!

Submissions Are Now Closed!

Selected works will:
  • be read out loud to an audience by a professional cast or readers
  • receive constructive feedback on the night
  • come to life in a supportive environment

Why do a Table Read?

  • Identify flaws for yourself in the read-through
  • Get and give valuable constructive feedback
  • Sharpen your screencraft skills
  • Network

And most important of all: The joy of hearing your words come to life!

Tickets Available:

  1. This is a FREE event to anyone who would like to attend.