Friday 30 March 2007

Best Foreign Film Poll

Over at the Guardian blog there's a call for punters to send in their nominations for the best foreign film ever made. There's a £200 gift voucher on offer--for UK participants only.

One wonders what is meant by "foreign films" - I'm assuming they are films made in a language that is not English, which rules out most Irish cinema, along with Australian and Canadian candidates. But perhaps they mean non-British.

Taking the former definition, in a couple of minutes I assembled a small list from a huge range of contenders:

Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D (1952), Thomas Vinterberg Festen (1998), Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954), Chan-wook Park's OldBoy (2003), Fritz Lang's M (1931), Krzysztof Kieslowski's Trois couleurs: Bleu (1993), Jean-Luc Godard's Le Mépris (1963), Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966), François Truffaut's Les Quatre cents coups (1959), Kar Wai Wong's In the Mood for Love (2000), Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund's City of God (2002), Kaige Chen's Farewell my Concubine (1993), Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (2006), Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Delicatessen (1991), Takeshi Kitano's Hana-bi (1997), Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding (2000), Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story (1953), Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine (1995), Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963), Ki-duk Kim's 3 Iron (2004), and Lucile Hadzihalilovic's Innocence (2004).
There are so many more; these are the films that I thought of immediately. I think it's impossible to select just one film. Films satisfy different needs at different times. Several of the directors I listed have other classics among their oeuvre.

What are your favourites?

Kisses in Dublin

IFTN notes that a new Irish feature film, Kisses, has begun principal photography in locations around Dublin. Written and directed by Lance Daly (Last Days In Dublin, The Halo Effect), it stars newcomers Kelly O’Neill (10 yrs) and Shane Curry (11 yrs), with support from Stephen Rea (Breakfast on Pluto), Paul Roe (Adam & Paul) and Neilí Conroy (Intermission).

Thursday 29 March 2007

Lynch in Paris

Anyone fancying a trip to Paris in the coming weeks, might want to visit David Lynch's "The Air is On Fire" installation, which occupies the three floors of the The Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain until May 27.

Maxim Jakubowski has written about the multi-media exhibition on the Guardian blog. The showing features Lynch's artwork, short films, and photography, and is set off by his own musical composition.

It would be a perfectly weird hiatus between glasses of wine and sumptuous meals.

Oz on film

The IFI in Dublin is running an Australian Film Festival from Monday 2nd April until Thursday the 12th of April.

The festival provides audiences with the opportunity to sample a varied cross section of recent Australian cinema.

Wednesday 28 March 2007

NI arts funding crisis

The Stage reports there will be a crisis in arts funding in Northern Ireland from 2008 to 2011 unless at least £23.5 million is injected into the NI Arts Council's budget. The funding body discovered last week that it is going to lose £4.5 million in lottery money to the 2012 Olympics.

Chief executive Roisin McDonough told The Stage she questioned whether the government valued the arts in Northern Ireland as much as elsewhere in the UK. The region has the lowest per capita funding of all the arts councils, at £6.13 compared to £11.93 in Scotland and £8.14 in England. The requested increase would bring its spend up to £10.70.

McDonough added: "Our original forecasts were made before this latest bombshell hit. Over the last ten years, there has been chronic underfunding of the arts in Northern Ireland, and in the last few years funding has been frozen. This loss is coming on top of all the other underfunding and it is very serious. Our theatre sector in particular is small but it is a very important, vibrant part of our infrastructure and it needs to be resourced properly. We haven't been able to do that.

"You've only got to look at the fact the Lyric, our principle rep, struggles every year and at the moment has a £4.6 million shortfall in the funding it needs to get its new theatre, which is absolutely crucial for the whole development of theatre in Northern Ireland."

Screenwriters Co-Op

Last week Variety published an article about the creation of a Writers Co-Op, a production venture to be housed at John Wells Prods.

Co-Op is designed to give gross participation to screenwriters, along with a voice in how their scripts are turned into films. It will be staked under a first-look deal by Warner Bros., where Wells is based.

Over the next four years, the Writers Co-Op will generate at least 18 scripts from writers who will risk their usually high upfront salaries for the reward of receiving first-dollar gross, the right to participate as producers and a guarantee they will not be rewritten without their consultation and approval. The scribes will also have a say in the decisionmaking process from development all the way to post-production.
The writers will forgo a great deal of their upfront fees on first drafts to ensure their films move through the sticky development process, and in exchange receive a full payment and production bonuses when the film is made.

19 writers have signed up: Ron Bass (Rain Man), Henry Bean (Internal Affairs), David Benioff (Troy), Scott Frank (Out of Sight), Robert Nelson Jacobs (Chocolat), Kazan (Reversal of Fortune), Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise), Richard LaGravanese (The Fisher King), Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams), Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost), Stephen Schiff (The Deep End of the Ocean), Schulman (Dead Poets Society), Ed Solomon (Men in Black), Dana Stevens (For Love of the Game), Robin Swicord (Memoirs of a Geisha), Michael Tolkin (The Player), Rafael Yglesias (Fearless), and the writing team of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (City Slickers).

It will be fascinating to monitor how this venture proceeds.

April Sit In is having its monthly Sit In on Monday April 2nd, in Training Room 3, Filmbase, Curved Street, Temple Bar, from 7:30pm to 9:30pm.

The Sit In's are's monthly meetings. It's an informal place to meet with other filmmakers, to help get collaboration going, show and discuss our work and generally keep up the energy bubbling away around this site.

All filmmakers are welcome - whether a member of or not - so do come along.
The April meeting will comprise of an announcement of the winner of the February Script of the Month, screenings of members' work, discussion of projects that individuals are working on, a film swap, followed by drinks in the local.

Tuesday 27 March 2007

YouTube Video Awards

It's a sign of the times when YouTube creates its own Video Awards, which are voted upon by the public. The winners in the various categories of the 2006 awards have been announced.

I expect this will become a bigger event in years to come, with a live online ceremony and celebrities behaving badly.

Verity Bargate Award

The Soho Theatre in London has announced it's seeking entries for its Verity Bargate Award for a new play written by an emerging writer. Only one play can be submitted and it should be not less than 70 minutes in length. The deadline for applications is July 6.

The 2007 winner will receive £5,000 and a residency at Soho Theatre. "The prize money is in respect of an exclusive option for Soho Theatre to produce the winning play according to the Company's standard license agreement."

Monday 26 March 2007

Novel hopes

According to The Guardian Irish screenwriter Derek Landy (Dead Bodies, Boy Eats Girl) has penned a young adult novel, entitled Skulduggery Pleasant, which hits the bookshops in Ireland and the UK on April 2.

Landy's publishing advance - said merely to be "in seven figures" - is one of the highest paid to an author of children's fiction and covers three books, aimed at children between eight and 13.

"It's horror with gothic sensibilities, fast talking characters and martial arts - all the things that are fun in life," he said.

The backdrop for the stories is Landy's native north County Dublin; he lives in Lusk just inland from the coast.

Media changes

The LA Times has an interesting article about the rise of new online content from sources like YouTube, and how this may affect traditional studios and how films are made in the future.

Saturday 24 March 2007

Franco-Irish Festival

The Franco-Irish Literary Festival will run from 27-29 April in Dublin Castle.

The 2007 Festival concentrates on the various dimensions of Islands in Literature. The theme Talking about Islands, A propos des Iles... will be the opportunity to pay a warm tribute to Michel Déon, a famous and prolific writer, and member of the Académie Française, who has been resident in Ireland for more than 30 years.
Guests of the festival include José Luis de Juan, Irène Frain, John Banville, Chantal Thomas, Franzobel, Henri Lopes, Bríd Ní Mhóráin, Jean Lemieux, Theo Dorgan, Peter Sheridan, and Jean Raspail.

In conjunction with Bookcrossing, the weekend will also witness the "release" of 100 English and French books all over Dublin.

Paisley biopic underway

According to The Guardian, Belfast playwright Gary Mitchell has been commissioned to write a screenplay about the life of preacher and politician Ian Paisley.

"I think it is a tremendous opportunity to explore and expose the great man and all his vices and all his virtues," said Mitchell, whose plays have dealt with the destructive impact of the troubles on the lives of ordinary people in loyalist communities.

Asked who should take the star role, Mitchell told BBC Radio Ulster: "It's up for grabs. What's important is that it's going to be a major person and one who has the ability to play such an icon."
Mitchell has written for television and film, won the George Devine Award in 2000 for As The Beast Sleeps, and has been writer-in-residence at the National Theatre.

Friday 23 March 2007

Don't be boring

Over on The Guardian blog, playwright Anthony Neilson has advice for those thinking of writing a play: "Don't be so boring".

Speed Dating scores

IFTN reports that Speed Dating, which was written and directed by Tony Herbert, has won the Audience Award at The European Independent Film Festival in Paris.

The romantic comedy stars Hugh O'Conor, Emma Choy and Don Wycherley, and was produced by John Conroy and Tony Herbert with private funds. The film will be released in Ireland on April 20th.

McGahern Tribute

From RTÉ I see that the IFI in Dublin will host a John McGahern tribute on 1 April from 11am to 3pm, which will be introduced by Colm Tóibín.

The programme features rare screenings of 'Wheels' and 'The Rockingham Shoot'; 'Wheels' is an adaptation of McGahern's 'Nightlines' story of the same name while 'The Rockingham Shoot' is a one-off, BBC Northern Ireland drama written for television by the author.

Also screening on 1 April is the adaptation of 'The Leave-Taking', 'The Lost Hour', and its sequel, 'The Key', which is based on McGahern's short story 'The Bomb Box'.

Thursday 22 March 2007

Chance to view Home

IFTN mentions there's a free showing of the award-winning Irish documentary, Home, which was written by Alan Cooke. It will air in the IFI in Dubiin on Saturday the 24th of March at 11:30 am, but tickets must be requested in advance via email.

Cooke, a stage and film actor, shot the film on location in New York during 2005. Co-produced and directed by Dawn Scibilia, the film features Dubliner Cooke exploring themes of nostalgia and the concept of home.

Included are a number of interviews with immigrants and native New Yorkers including Woody Allen, Liam Neeson, Frank and Malachy McCourt, Alfred Molina, Mike Myers, Rosie Perez, Colin Quinn and Susan Sarandon. Irish director Jim Sheridan commented that the film "beautifully captures the Irish immigrants journey through the myth and mystery of New York."

Wednesday 21 March 2007

Abbey Theatre face-lift

According to RTÉ the Abbey Theatre has announced the details of the €730,000 redesign of its auditorium space.

The project, which is due to take 10 days, involves the complete removal of the present seating and the installation of a new raked floor.

The new auditorium will hold 492 seats and also provide two designated wheelchair places.

According to the theatre, sightlines and acoustics will be significantly improved.
Long terms plans for the Abbey include a re-location to the Docklands by 2010 in a theatre designed by the winner of a juried competition.

FastForward Ireland

Registration is now open for FastForward Ireland, a 24-hour filmmaking festival. Taking place in Dublin over April 13-14, 2007, members of the festival will shoot, edit, and deliver a 3-minute movie for screening within 24 hours.

There are limited spaces, so actors, writers, directors, crew, and artists should sign up immediately before the final thirty groups are decided.

Tuesday 20 March 2007

Year of the Writer-Director

Touching somewhat upon the previous entry, The Los Angeles Times declares 2007 is the "Year of the Writer-Director".

Consider Mike White, the droll, white-haired scribe behind The Good Girl and School of Rock, who says he used to be a "really bad backseat driver" on the sets of the movies he wrote. "You're completely stressed in each situation trying to figure out how to manipulate everyone into doing what you want them to do." But directing -- that's a charm, says White. "You can actually say what you want."

White just helmed his first film -- Year of the Dog, the tale of a woman (Molly Shannon) who really, no, really, loves animals. In fact, he joins a bumper crop of brand-name writers making directorial debuts in 2007. They include Oscar nominees Scott Frank (Out of Sight) and Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich), John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Oscar winner Alan Ball (American Beauty), Zach Helm (Stranger Than Fiction), Tony Gilroy (the Bourne movies), Robin Swicord (Little Women) and perhaps the most singular screenwriter of his generation, Charlie Kaufman, an Oscar winner for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Fantasic Irish Films

ITFN reports on the current line-up of Irish nominees for the annual European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation (EFFFF) awards: the Méliès d'Or (for short films), and the Méliès d'Argent (for feature films).

Over the course of the year, participating fantastic film festivals around Europe nominate films in the d'Or or d'Argent category. All the nominees are entered into competition and judged by an international jury.

This year the winners will be announced at the 11th Méliès d'Or Ceremony at the Lund International Fantastic Film Festival, on the 16th of September 2007.

It's great to see a strong representation of Irish talent at such a high level of competition, and it's interesting to note that each film was written and directed by the same person.

Monday 19 March 2007

Is theatre relevant?

Lisa Loomer, an American playwright and screenwriter, writes a short article for The Los Angeles Times, about the power and relevancy of theatre today.

But does it matter? Can a play ... change anything? The most depressing quote I ever read is that "97% of what people perceive is what they already believe. What is not in alignment with their beliefs, they simply filter out." That quote inspired me to write a play about how we perceive each other across the divide of race and class -- and it also made me think about my job. I don't think it's my job to change people's minds. I think it's my job to get them arguing in the parking lot after the show.

That said, I'm going to take the opposite point of view now (because that's what I do as a dramatist) and say that, yes!, a play can change our consciousness. Off the top of my head: Angels in America. The Crucible. Lysistrata.

Saturday 17 March 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Have a good holiday!

Friday 16 March 2007

Single-handed on Sunday

Single-Handed, a new two-part mystery drama set in the West of Ireland, will air on RTÉ One at 9.30pm on Sunday the 18th, and conclude on Monday the 19th of March.

Produced for RTÉ by Touchpaper Television, it stars Owen McDonnell, Ian McElhinney, Laura Murphy and Liam Carney. It was written by Barry Simner and directed by Colm McCarthy.

Thursday 15 March 2007

Ugly Duckling wins approval

IFTN reports that the animated film, The Ugly Duckling and Me, created by Magma Films, won Best Directed Animated Feature Film award at the Cartoon Movie awards ceremony in Germany last week.

The Ugly Duckling and Me is directed by Michael Hegner and Karsten Kiilerich and was co produced by Galway based Magma Film's Ralph Christians (Executive Producer) and Moe Honan (Producer and Voice Director). The screenplay is written by Mark Hodkinson.

The 3D feature has already been sold to almost every country in Europe and worldwide only 5 territories remain unsold. The film is currently on theatrical release in France where it is reportedly enjoying excellent box office figures.
The film will be released in Ireland in July 2007, and the TV series of the same name is being aired on RTÉ Two on Sundays at 11am, and Fridays at 2pm.

Wednesday 14 March 2007

Life on Mars script online

Thanks to the Writers Guild of Great Britain's Blog I see that the BBC has added more sample scripts of some of its best television drama and comedy online. They are in PDF format, and are free to download.

Of particular interest is the first episode of Life on Mars, written by Matthew Graham.

Channel 4 changes plans

The Stage reports that Channel 4 has broken its promise to broadcast a new original drama every month. The television channel blames this change in policy on a revision of budgets. Channel 4 will air approximately eight dramas, which is a loss of four programmes.

Tessa Ross, head of film and drama, told The Stage: "Channel 4 is still hugely committed to drama and across our channels we are spending more. Shameless is now going to 16 episodes a series and E4 is doing homegrown drama. Skins, which has been a massive success, has been recommissioned and there are plans for another series in the pipeline.

"It is sad that there isn't the budget to stretch to 12 films a year but what we have done is talk to writers and created a variety of productions, so instead of just sticking blindly to the idea of a single play, we might instead have made a four-part mini series. It's better not to be prescriptive about the shape of our drama. Whether it is 90 minutes, a two-parter or a series, we still offer a great mix."

Vatican TV

Reuters reports that the Vatican has announced plans to launch its own television network by the end of this year.

Called H20, it will broadcast news and original entertainment worldwide in seven languages. The emphasis will be to promote "family values, human dignity and the common good."

Tuesday 13 March 2007

Current contest

Those of you using Satellite TV might have noticed a new channel that launched yesterday, called Current TV. It's a channel that uses a mixture of Viewer Created Content, and reports by Current's team of journalists. These short non-fiction films are known as pods, and are between 3-7 minutes long.

Current is running a contest for fresh content for their channel to promote its launch in the UK and Ireland. Three winners will win the top prize of lunch with Al Gore in London, six winners will nab the second prize of a Sony HD camera, and the first ten people to upload a film win a Video iPod. Don't forget to read the terms and conditions carefully.

Intermission for free

Courtesy of Filmbase, Parallel Film Productions Ltd., and Cineworld Cinemas there will be a free showing of the Irish film Intermission at 6pm on Friday the 16th of March at Cineworld on Parnell Street. It's part of the 2007 St. Patrick’s Festival programme.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with guest filmmakers. This is a free-ticketed event, so book your place via Filmbase.

Irish in Hollywood

Trish Vargo, the director of the US-Irish Alliance, has put online a podcast interview with Steve Brennan, the international editor of the Hollywood Reporter.

Steve and his wife, Bernadette O'Neil, are developing a book, and a documentary, about the history of the Irish in Hollywood. Brennan discusses his research so far, and touches upon the impact that the Irish have had on the film industry in L.A. since its inception in the early twentieth century.

Frameworks deadline looms

A reminder that the deadline for applications for this year's Frameworks fund for Irish animated short films is Friday, April 13.

FRAMEWORKS is exclusively for animation which makes creative use of the medium and is primarily aimed at an adult audience. The awards are open to all forms of animation and can be made on any format. We aim to make 6 films at different budget levels, with a maximum duration of five minutes. The films will be commissioned for theatrical release and broadcast television.

To reflect the fact that animation techniques vary in cost, all projects will not receive the same amounts. We will be looking for a range of projects at different cost levels so please submit a budget that accurately reflects the film. The maximum budget allowable is €15,000 per minute. The total fund available for projects is €250,000.

Monday 12 March 2007

Sunshine at the IFI

From IFTN I see that Irish actor Cillian Murphy will appear with director Danny Boyle and producer Andrew McDonald at the Irish Film Institute for the premiere screening of their new science fiction film, Sunshine.

The screening takes place on the 26th of March, and Murphy, Boyle and McDonald will participate in a post screening Q&A.

NI drama survey

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is running an online survey on the future of drama in Northern Ireland.

This survey is for anyone to complete - whether your involvement or interest in drama in Northern Ireland is as a member of the general public or a professional.
The survey closes on Wednesday, the 28th of March.

"Protect the Human" competition

The iceandfire theatre company and Amnesty International UK are running a playwrighting competition called "Protect the Human". Iceandfire is looking for compelling and original stories that draw inspiration from their mission statement: "Telling the real life stories of individuals who have been displaced as a result of conflict."

'Displacement' and 'conflict' are terms that may be hard to engage with but we believe these concepts are universal and that everyone has been affected by them – in one way or another. The aim of the competition is to encourage writers to make that connection and develop it into a full-length play.
The play should be written for four actors or less, and be between 50-90 minutes long. The initial submission comprises of the first 10 pages of the script, and a 50-word synopsis and "inspiration paragraph" about the play. The closing date for entries is 14th of May, 2007. The best candidates will be invited to submit their entire play for consideration by July 1.

The short-list will be decided by the 1st of September, and the three plays will each receive rehearsed readings at the Soho Theatre, London as part of Amnesty’s Protect the Human Week from the 17th – 19th October 2007.

The winning play will be announced in December 2007. The writer will receive a preliminary 10% commission of £500 as an advance on a full commission if the play is taken into production.

Saturday 10 March 2007

TwentyFive on the 25th

I discovered details about a fascinating project from the Culture NI site.

Called TwentyFive, it's a collaborative work involving twenty five theatre artists. Five writers complete scripts in a week, which are handed over to five directors and fifteen actors to craft five films. The theme is the post-Troubles generation. The resulting work will be shown at the Queen's Studio Theatre in Belfast, at 9pm on March 25th.

¡Viva! Film

The ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival will run in the IFI in Dublin from Friday, 17 March 2006 - Monday, 27 March 2006.

A shorter version of the festival will then play at the Eye Cinema in Galway.

Friday 9 March 2007

Cúirt Programme announced

Last night the schedule for Galway's annual Cúirt International Festival of Literature was launched. Running from 24-29 of April, the popular literary festival will include the Galway Youth Theatre performance of Tejas Verdes by Fermín Cabal, a prose and poetry masterclass, dozens of readings by writers around the city, a Poetry Grand Slam, and the opportunity to have a bardic lunch with Little John Nee, Emer Martin and Irvine Welsh. There will also be lectures, excursions, book launches, and exhibitions. Plenty to do for all manner of tastes.

Russian theatre jams phones

This week The Guardian noted that the Alexandrinsky theatre in St Petersburg now jams mobile phone signals during theatrical performances. This measure was prompted after a phone rang during the pivotal suicide scene at the end of Leo Tolstoy's The Living Corpse.

The Guardian interviewed a number of British artistic directors and playwrights for their opinions on the Russian approach to these aural intrusions. The responses indicate that mobile phones interrupt performances in the UK on a regular basis. One wonders how the Irish compare?

Script of the Year is running a Script of the Year competition on their forums. Each month a topic is chosen, and members of the forums must come up with a short script based on the idea.

The resulting scripts are uploaded to a specific sub-forum on the site, and every month the members of choose the winner. Each monthly winner gains entry to the grand final competition at the end of the year, when an independent panel judges the scripts. The grand final prize is unspecified at the moment.

It's a fun and useful challenge for screenwriters looking for inspiration.

How to survive Cannes

The Screenplay Europe blog mentions a fantastic resource for anyone considering diving into the frenzied waters of the Cannes Film Festival for the first time.

Called Cannes - A Virgin's Survival Guide, it contains a lot of the information from the book of the same name. It's full of useful tips about the festival and practical advice about how to cope with the 11-day event.

Those of you in London, who are contemplating Cannes this year, can attend the Cannes Survival Seminar, hosted by Benjamin Craig (author of the book) at Ealing Studios on Tuesday, 20 March. It costs £15, but that includes a copy of the freshly-minted 5th edition of the guide book.

Thursday 8 March 2007

Equity cinches podcast rights

The BBC reports that production company B7 has come to a timely agreement with the actors union, Equity, regarding podcast performances.

Next month an updated audio version of 1970s BBC cult science fiction show Blake's 7 will be released, which was put together by B7. This prompted a discussion between Equity and B7 over the rights of podcast performers.

The agreement provides for minimum session fees, rehearsals, overtime payments, holiday pay, assignment of rights and a royalty share on net revenues generated via podcast downloads, audio streaming via the internet and subsequent CD release.

"Our normal agreements are based around the history of radio and television, so don't properly account for doing productions for these new media," Mr Brown [Equity Spokesman] said.

"They could not possibly be adapted properly because they talk about transmissions and, obviously, for podcasts and internet streamings, transmissions no longer have any meaning.

"This deal is a benchmark... through the detailed negotiations with B7 Productions we now have a matrix that we can use.

"If someone came to us tomorrow saying 'I want to do a new drama podcast, can you help me with my rights' we can say 'absolutely we can'. We know where we are going with this."
Brown also noted that Equity was examining the issues revolving around the use of their members' work on the Internet and mobile platforms: "It is one of our absolutely highest priorities at the moment," he said.

Euroscript Screen Story Competition

Also snagged from Lianne's blog is a notice about the Euroscript Screen Story Competition 2007. To enter writers must submit a two-page treatment of the proposed story, and ten pages of sample script that must include a mixture of action and dialogue. You can make multiple submissions. Cost: £35 for 1 entry; £65 for 2 entries; £95 for 3 entries.

1st Prize
The winning writer will receive one-on-one professional guidance to develop his/her screen story from treatment or first draft. Working closely with one of Euroscript's professional script consultants, the writer will have the opportunity to complete up to three drafts with a full script report at each stage of the development process. In addition, the writer will have regular scheduled meetings with his/her consultant and continuing email and telephone support. At the end of the process, which will take place over a period of nine months, the winning writer will be given help and advice on marketing the script.

2nd Prize
One writer will be awarded individual Consultancy including an in-depth script report, up to four hours of meetings with a Euroscript consultant and continuing email and telephone support.

3rd Prize
Three writers will win the third prize of one of Euroscript’s bullet-point script reports on any screenplay of their choice.
Deadline for entries is 31st March 2007. All payments and submissions are made via the Euroscript website.

British Short Screenplay Competition

Thanks to Lianne, an Irish scriptwriter/reader in London, for dropping me a note about the quarterly round-up of international competitions and awards that she compiles on her fabulous blog. The first quarter of 2007 is on her site.

Of particular note is the British Short Screenplay Competition, organised by Kaos Film and the NFTS.

The competition is international, and open to original scripts of any genre between 5-15 minutes in length. The early deadline is 27 Apr 2007, and the administration fee is £25 sterling. The final deadline is 22 Jun 2007, and the fee increases to £35.

The Prizes:

Three winning screenwriters of The British Short Screenplay Competition will have their screenplays produced by Kaos Films.

Each will be premiered at BAFTA (subject to BAFTA availability), entered into film festivals around the world before being screened in selected cinemas in UK
Get writing now. Winning this competition would be worth the loss of sleep.

Wednesday 7 March 2007

Sam Shepard reading

According to IFTN American playwright, actor, and writer, Sam Shepard, will read selections of his fiction tomorrow, March 8th, as part of the Abbey Talks series.

The world premier of Shepard's new play, Kicking a Dead Horse, will take place next week at The Peacock, in Dublin. The cast includes Oscar-nominated actor Stephen Rea, and Joanne Crawford.

Lost star for Irish horror

RTÉ reports that Dominic Monaghan, star of hit TV series Lost, will play an 18th-century gravedigger and corpse trader in a film from Irish writer-director Glenn McQuaid.

The indie horror film, called I Sell the Dead, will be McQuaid's feature-length directorial debut.

In 2005 he helmed a 12-minute short called The Resurrection Apprentice about a young boy entering the world of grave robbers.

Also slated to appear in the film is Hellboy's Ron Perlman as a mysterious priest, Larry Fessenden (Broken Flowers) as a fellow gravedigger and Angus Scrimm (Phantasm) as an aristocratic doctor.
Best of luck to Glenn, who begins shooting his original script this May in New York.

Development with Screen Training Ireland

Screen Training Ireland is offering a course called "Dramatic Vision: A Further Development Programme", which is aimed at producer/writer/director teams that are currently working on a project.

The course will develop scripts to a highly structured and honed stage, in order to give them the best chance of attracting finance and ultimately, reaching as wide an audience as possible. Through exploration of the team’s vision for the finished product, this course aims to develop later stage screenplays into well-structured, focused, and market-ready scripts.

The course will combine film analyses and team meetings with development meetings involving the writer and director/script editor. Additional sessions will focus on scene writing for the writer; working with writers and casting for the director; and marketing, sales and distribution for the producer.
Deadline for applications is Thursday 29th March 2007.

Tuesday 6 March 2007

Screenwriting Course with Ferdia Mac Anna

Ferdia Mac Anna -- Novelist, Playwright, Screenwriter and Lecturer in Film and Drama -- is teaching a new screenwriting course that aims to help budding writers complete a first draft screenplay in 12 weeks.

This course is geared primarily for people who have an idea for a film in their heads, but have struggled to get it on paper or past the treatment stage into a coherent screenplay structure.

The course will examine:

  • The Three Act Structure (and the alternatives)

  • Story and Plot

  • Character Arc and Character

  • Development

  • Visual Writing

  • Screenplay Emotions

  • Theme

  • Dialogue and Plot Points

  • Plus the basics, such as Log-lines, Step Outlines and Treatments.

Class begins on Tursday March 27th at Airfield House, Dundrum from 7 - 9.15pm, and continues each Tuesday for twelve weeks. Ideally, the student will attend class one night a week, and then receive email instruction at a prearranged time later in the week where written work (treatments, first draft of act 1 etc) can be assessed and notes provided -- in other words, a process of on-going script and story editing and assessment. When the student comes to class the following week, they should have taken the notes on board and moved their project forward.

The classes will be small -- no more than eight students -- to ensure
that there will be individual attention to script, story and

The fee for the course is €800 euros, but all Guild members will receive a 10% discount.

Further mentoring will be available after the twelve weeks should the student wish to bring their script to second or third draft stage or even beyond.


(Ferdia Mac Anna is a novelist, screenwriter, and playwright, as well as a BAFTA winning producer for Custer's Last Stand Up. He works as a freelance producer and director and also lectures in Screenwriting, Media Production and Practice at IADT and was until recently, Head of Writing and Directing at the Irish Film Academy. He also works as a script and story consultant for film and television productions. Recently, he has been added to the Irish Film Board's roster of approved script editors.)


Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board, FÁS Screen Training Ireland, Filmbase, The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, TV3 and the Arts Council have created a new mentoring scheme, called catalystproject.

catalystproject is targeted at screenwriters, producers and directors who want to produce a very low budget feature film.

To be eligible to apply for the award potential applicants must complete Seminars with industry professionals, including screenings, immersing the screenwriters, directors and producers in the world of low budget production. Only those who take part in the Seminars will have the opportunity to apply for the Awards.

Participants will then have the opportunity to apply for a dedicated award to produce their script. This award will allow three filmmaking teams to produce a feature film with custom designed mentorship for the producer/director/scriptwriter teams.

Participants will be given a three month period after the seminars to apply the skills they have learnt to develop their script, in advance of the application deadline for the award.
The deadline for applications for the Seminar Series is Friday March 30th, and it costs €100 per person.

King's Cross New Writing Award

The King's Cross New Writing Award 2007 is looking for full-length unpublished/unperformed stage plays from writers in the UK and Ireland.

The winning playwright will win a £2,500 cash prize, and the play will receive a staged rehearsed reading by professional actors in front of an invited audience.

The closing date for submissions is 1st May 2007.

Monday 5 March 2007

BBC strikes deal with YouTube

The BBC reports that it has struck a content deal with YouTube - a consumer media company owned by Google that allows people to watch and share videos worldwide via the Web.

Three YouTube channels - one for news and two for entertainment - will showcase short clips of BBC content.

The BBC hopes that the deal will help it reach YouTube's monthly audience of more than 70 million users and drive extra traffic to its own website.

The corporation will also get a share of the advertising revenue generated by traffic to the new YouTube channels.
This is a clever and farsighted decision by the BBC. Online content is prevalent, popular, and youth-driven. By channelling this audience towards its own website, the BBC recognises that if it doesn't follow the changing trends in consumer profiles it will become a moribund media.

In the future these trends will impact upon writers, and their sources of revenue. It is incumbent upon writers to pay attention to these new sources of content, and learn how it to harness it in favour of their careers.

Details of UK's Screenwriting Festival

The preliminary programme for the UK's second Screenwriting Festival (3-6 July 2007) has been announced.

The line-up of speakers includes novelists, producers, writers and directors: Anthony Horowitz, Diana Ossana, Chris Smith, Robyn Slovo, Jake West, Raj Persaud, Julian Fellowes, Tony Grisoni, and William Nicholson.

This year the four days will be divided into two sections. Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th focus on Rising Talent, while Thursday 5th and Friday 6th focus on The Professionals.

The cost:

The Rising Talent two-day ticket: £200; The Professionals two-day ticket: £200; the four-day ticket: £364.

The steep cost of this festival (which does not include food or accommodation) will get steeper from June 4th.

BBC Playwriting Competition

The BBC, in conjunction with the British Council, has launched its annual International Playwriting Competition.

There are two first prizes: for the best play by a writer with English as their first language, and for the best play by a writer with English as their second language. These two winners will each receive £2500 sterling and a trip to London to see their play being recorded for broadcast on BBC World Service in the World Drama slot.
The competition is open to anyone not normally resident in the UK, and the radio dramas should be of about sixty minutes on any subject.

Closing date for receipt of entries is April 30, 2007.

P.J. O'Connor Radio Drama Awards 2007

RTÉ is seeking applicants from amateur playwrights for the P.J. O'Connor Radio Drama Awards 2007.

Entries should comprise of a 28-minute radio play. There are three cash prizes (€ 3,000, € 2,000 and € 1,000), and the winners will have a professional radio production of their play and a chance to take part in a writers workshop.

The closing date for entries is April 6, 2007.

Sunday 4 March 2007

Belfast Film Festival details

The 7th Belfast Film Festival (March 22-1 April) opens with the UK and Irish premier of Kenneth Branagh’s new film The Magic Flute, which was written by Stephen Fry. It's hoped that Kenneth Branagh will attend the opening night if his schedule permits.

As well as a diverse programme of films from around the world, there will be a number of extra events.

  • Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey will discuss his craft during "In Conversation with Seamus McGarvey".

  • Screenwriter Jimmy McGovern will hold a "Writing For TV" masterclass and will take part in a Q&A after a screening of Hillsborough.

  • Director Richard Jobson's new film A Woman in Winter will be shown at the festival, and he will discuss new technologies in film making.

  • Daniela Sea of L Word fame will also visit the festival to present the Irish premiere of Itty Bitty Titty Committee as part of the Same Sex Cinema programme.

Early booking for this exciting range of events is advised.

Vote in the Irish Book Awards

The Irish Book Awards is looking for votes from the public in two categories of short listed novels: the Tubridy Show Listener's Choice, and the Galaxy Popular Fiction Book of the Year.

The winners in all categories will be announced at the Irish Book Awards Dinner on Thursday 15th March in the Trinity College Dining Hall.

Saturday 3 March 2007

Arnold Wesker interviewed

The Guardian has posted online a podcast interview with British playwright Arnold Wesker.

Wesker, recently knighted and now 75, is back in Hackney with a fresh staging of another play, The Four Seasons. It's a beautiful but disquieting tale of an adulterous love affair that draws once again, Wesker admits, on his own life.

Just as it was getting ready to open we met at the Arcola Theatre to look back on a career in postwar British theatre, from his earliest triumphs to more difficult recent times - shunned by the National and Royal Court, infrequently staged elsewhere. In a frank and revealing interview, he talks about returning to his east end roots, his frustration about being left for dead by the theatrical establishment, and why he's desperate to put a long-cherished dream into practice: an epic historical play about Jesus as a Jew.
All playwrights should find Wesker's thoughts on his work and career interesting.

Friday 2 March 2007

Carney wins DIFF audience award

According to RTÉ, John Carney's film, Once, has won the inaugural Dublin International Film Festival Audience Award.

It tells the story of two singers who fall in love in Dublin over the course of a week, as they write, rehearse and record songs.

Commenting on winning the DIFF Audience Award, director John Carney said: "I'm delighted that our film, which was shot on the streets of Dublin, and was in many ways an attempt to portray a slice of Dublin life, has been acknowledged in its home town."

He continued: "I hope it goes some way to encouraging young directors to hit the streets with their cameras and shoot their own stories in their own way. There's something very satisfying about having made a small, personal story that has pleased people, and we're all thrilled with the audience award."
The film was produced and financed by Samson Films, with funding from the Irish Film Board and RTÉ and goes on release in Irish cinemas on 23 March.

Thursday 1 March 2007

Sunshine for April 5

According to RTÉ the new Danny Boyle-directed science fiction film, Sunshine, starring Cillian Murphy, will open in Ireland on April 5th. The screenplay was written by Alex Garland, who worked with Boyle on 2001's The Beach. Cillian appeared in Boyle's zombie film 28 Days Later (2002).