Monday 31 March 2008

Tilt on the BBC

The BBC is looking for topical material with a twist for its new sketch show called Tilt, which will be broadcast weekly on BBC7.

The people behind Tilt want to make a show that is playful and witty, and are looking for sketches that go beyond obvious topical satire.

The big stories of the week will be told in running sketches written by the core team. Around that they're looking for standalone topical sketches, headlines, monologues, spoof ads, spoof trailers, news parodies… Tilt isn’t a spoof news programme, but it’s hard to poke fun at all things topical without turning an eye to the ways in which we receive news. And for that matter, sport, weather, or celebrity gossip.

The cast is three male, three female. There's no presenter, and it's being linked by bits of realistic sounding news that's made up, or bits of real news that they've monkeyed around with.

In particular they're looking for one liners in the shape of headlines (real or fictional, but funny in either case), and standalone topical sketches.

Make sure you submit your sketches in radio script format, and send only your very best sketches - no more than three in any one week. Make sure that those three sketches have been written, edited, rewritten, honed, and polished until you are convinced that they are as good as they can possibly be.
All material should be submitted to their email address listed on the website.

Thursday 27 March 2008

New UK Guild

Screen Daily reports that television and film director Michael Apted is part of an initiative to launch a UK directors' guild.

Directors UK (D-UK) will officially launch in May with director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) as president, and writer/director Charles Sturridge (Brideshead Revisited) as the chair of its board.

Its vice-chairmen are Simon Berthon and Tim Sullivan, and board members include Peter Kosminsky, Brian Hill and Simon Curtis.

It is the first time that UK directors will benefit from a single organisation encompassing everything from pay and conditions to content rights.

Sturridge said: "A very energetic and large group of directors have worked over the past 18 months to launch this new and vital organisation - a single, representative voice for all UK film, TV and new media directors."

He added: "We are at a revolutionary moment in the dissemination of film programming and it is vital that the directors' voice is articulate, unanimous and clear. D-UK will speak for directors' creative and economic rights."

Apted, who began his career at Granada and is now based in LA, said he was inspired by the effectiveness of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) union.

He has been president of the DGA for the past five years. Having experienced shooting on both sides of the Atlantic (Rome, The World is Not Enough, Gorky Park) Apted said he was ideally placed to compare directors' working conditions.
It's expected that D-UK will have 3,000 members once it is established.

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Shine A Light on the IFI

To celebrate the release of Shine a Light, the new documentary by Martin Scorsese about the British rock band, The Rolling Stones, the band will be appearing at London's Odeon Leicester Square on April 2nd.

The event will be beamed live, via satellite, to 100 specially selected cinemas around the UK, and the IFI in Dublin.

Not only will you get to see the film before anyone else in the country, you'll get to share in the excitement, be part of the magic, and take in the atmosphere of one of the year's most exclusive events. It'll be the next best thing to being there - just like the film itself.
Tickets cost €15 each, and include a limited edition commemorative T-shirt.

An Evening With Luchetti

Today at 6pm the IFI in Temple Bar, Dublin presents An Evening with Daniele Luchetti, the director and co-writer of My Brother is an Only Child. There will be a screening of the film followed by an interview with Luchetti.

Tuesday 25 March 2008

More Edinburgh Fringe

The Stage reports that four of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe's venues (Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance, and Underbelly) are going to establish the Edinburgh Comedy Festival to run alongside the larger Fringe programme.

Anthony Alderson, director of Pleasance Theatre explained: "The four venues have always worked very closely together in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Comedy Festival is the next logical step forward for us - we believe that we are stronger together than we are apart, that we can market our programmes more effectively and help attract new audiences to Edinburgh."

The Edinburgh Comedy Festival as a new brand will present more than 250 comedy shows at this year's festival, playing to an estimated audience of around 550,000 people. The event, which organisers claim will be the largest comedy festival in the world, will have its own brochure, with a print run of 400,000 copies, although shows will still be listed as part of the wider Fringe programme.

William Burdett-Coutts, director of Assembly said: "This is my 30th year on the Fringe and in that time I have seen comedy grow from a few shows to become a major part of what takes place in Edinburgh. I think this is a welcome development that will give comedy the platform it deserves whilst also being a magnificent way of improving marketing for our collective programmes and the festival as a whole."

Thursday 20 March 2008

Pitched in Time

The UK Screenwriters' Festival (1-3 July 2008) has shifted through 1,500 entries for its 'Pitch in Time' competition, and has chosen a shortlist of ten:

  • 'Baby Love' - Lindsey Darking
  • 'Divine' - Lucy Filmore
  • 'How to be Popular' - John C. Robertson
  • 'Little Wheel' - Elena Fuller
  • 'The Nuns of Gavarone' - Anthony Keetch
  • 'OAPower' - Martin Gunn
  • 'The Picture of Darren Grey’ - by Ivan Shakespeare (deceased)' - Barry Grossman
  • 'Rag Dolls & Riches' - Vega Powell
  • '12 Things I'm Going to Do When I grow Up' - Nicola Depuis (Irish)
  • 'Without President' - Simon Sayce
The ten finalists win tickets to the Festival, the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts, and to have their ideas and pitches picked up by any of the many attending production company.

New Drama for Sky One

According to The Stage Sky One will invest significant money into the production of original dramas, which will be shot in high definition.

The channel has announced an undisclosed eight-figure commitment to HD drama in 2008 and 2009, which it claims is the one of the largest from any UK broadcaster and is the biggest in Sky's history.

As part of its slate of new programmes, the broadcaster has announced a six-part series based on Chris Ryan's book Strike Back, which will be made by Left Bank Pictures, the company formed by award-winning producer of The Queen, Andy Harries.

Sky One will also be bringing the works of author David Almond to the screen for the first time, with a dramatisation of his children's book Skellig. The programme is being made by Feel Films.

Meanwhile, Sky One is to turn Terry Pratchett's Going Postal into a television drama, following the ratings success it enjoyed with The Hogfather, starring David Jason.

The show achieved the highest ever audience for a multi-channel commission, with 2.86 million viewers.

Going Postal, to be shown over two 120-minute specials in 2009, will be the third of Pratchett's Discworld series to be turned into a drama by Sky, following a dramatisation of Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, which is to be screened over Easter weekend.

Sky said these dramas were the first to be announced, but more would be green-lit for development in the coming months.

The broadcaster's managing director Sophie Turner Laing said: "Our philosophy has been to bring the imagination of critically-acclaimed authors and their popular tales to the screen using talented, established producers empowered by High Definition. As the success of the Hogfather proved there is an audience for quality, stand-out drama and I believe that these new dramas will wholly compliment our entertainment, factual, event and US programming in the schedule."

Wednesday 19 March 2008

RIP Anthony Minghella

The British playwright, screenwriter, and director Anthony Minghella has died at the age of 54 due to complications arising from surgery to tackle cancer of the tonsils and neck.

Minghella won the best director Academy Award in 1997 for The English Patient--he also wrote the screenplay from the acclaimed novel. He wrote and directed Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Minghella began work in the theatre, and had a life-long passion for Beckett. His last completed work, a television adaptation of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, will be screened on BBC1 on Easter Sunday.

The Guardian has compiled a list of links that honour Minghella and his legacy.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Artslinks Bursary Awards

ArtsLinks is a new resource for creative people aged 18 years and over, who live in the administrative areas of Co. Carlow, Co. Kilkenny, Co. Waterford, Co. Wexford and Co. Wicklow.

The partnership is now offering five awards of €8,000 each to creative practitioners living in these counties in the following categories: Dance, Film, Literature, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts.

Information and the entry forms can be downloaded from the web site, and the closing date for applications is 5pm, Monday 31 March.

Bruntwood Playwriting Competition

The Bruntwood Playwriting Competition is a partnership between The Royal Exchange Theatre and Bruntwood, and offers awards of £15,000 as a First Prize, a Second Prize of £10,000, and third prize of £7,500. There will also be a special Bruntwood prize of £5,000.

This competition represents one of the world's biggest awards for playwriting, and is open to writers of all experience aged 18 years and older who are resident in the UK and Ireland. To present a level playing field for judging the scripts must be submitted anonymously under a pseudonym. No adaptations, translations or optioned work will be considered. The writer must retain all the copyright on his/her original, unperformed and unproduced piece of work.

The deadline for entry is 6pm on Friday 13th June 2008. All further details about the entry criteria are available on the web site.

Friday 14 March 2008

Channel 4 Invests in Youth

The Stage reports that Channel 4 will invest £10 million into creating new programmes for children aged between 10 and 15 years old.

Channel 4 said the strategy underlines its commitment to "maintaining its public status and preserving its unrivalled ability to connect new talent, voices and ideas to mainstream audiences".

The overall strategy will be used to help the broadcaster negotiate for funding to replace the gifted analogue spectrum it currently receives, which it says will become valueless when digital switchover is complete by 2012.

As part of Next on 4, Channel 4 said it will increase the number of dedicated slots it has for new talent across all of its platforms and will launch a New Talent Month later this year, which Channel 4 director of television and content Kevin Lygo said would see "someone getting their first break on television every day". He said this might include "a script by a new writer or a first performance by a new comedian".

The broadcaster is also planning to invest £10 million a year into supporting a range of schemes through 4Talent.

Lygo added there would be an increase in the talent Channel 4 works with off screen too and said: "We want to ensure we're working with the best talent from across the UK by increasing spend in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by 50% in the next five years."
The company also unveiled plans for a new strategy called Four Innovation for the Public fund, which will involve a £50m fund that will create public service content for new platforms, enabling "UK audiences to access high-quality content at the time and on the platform of their choosing".

Now would be a good time for writers to consider new projects for Channel 4.

Thursday 13 March 2008

Cuirt 2008

If you're interested in this year's Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway, running from 22 - 27 April 2008, you can download the recently-announced programme as a .pdf file.

The lively festival, now in its 23rd year, features panels and interviews with writers from around the globe (such as Sebastian Barry and Jennifer Johnson), theatrical performances (from the Galway Youth Theatre, and Decadent Theatre), exhibitions, literary tours, workshops and masterclasses, poetry slams, and publication launches.

RTE Guide Awards

The RTÉ Guide has set up the inaugural RTÉ Guide TV and Radio Awards, and you can vote online in a variety of categories. When you cast your preferences you are also entered into a draw, and could win €1,000.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Online Film Festival

The International Hearld Tribune reports on a new phenomenon: the online international film event: Babelgum Online Film Festival

The festival features a collection of over 1,000 short films that were gathered from the Internet last summer, and are now collected together online so that viewers can vote on their favourites in seven categories. The director Spike Lee will watch the short lists, and will award prizes of €20,000 to the winners at a special award luncheon at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

The festival was developed as a way to generate content for Babelgum, a new online video site founded by an Italian billionaire, Silvio Scaglia. Like Joost, another video platform with high-profile supporters, Dublin-based Babelgum hopes to take advantage of growing interest in television-style programming on the Internet. ...

While Joost provides some second-tier programming from mainstream broadcasters like Viacom, Babelgum is taking a different approach. Most of its content is "user generated," as on YouTube. But Babelgum says all of it must come from "professionals," which it defines as a registered company, a film student or another comparably trained source.

"People want to find platforms to express themselves, to present," said Valerio Zingarelli, chief executive of Babelgum. "The talent is coming from the bottom up. It is not necessary for Babelgum to go to Hollywood and have lengthy discussions with the majors."

The festival submissions generated about 100 hours of video, which makes up the majority of Babelgum's content. Like Joost, but unlike YouTube, Babelgum prevents copying of the material, using so-called digital rights management technology.

Both Joost and Babelgum make their videos available free of charge, hoping to make money from advertising.

College of Comedy

The Stage reports that the BBC is establishing a new college of comedy in which six writers will be mentored by established comedy writers: Peep Show creators Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, I'm Alan Partridge producer and writer Armando Iannucci, comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb, and Men Behaving Badly creator Simon Nye.

Other established comedy writers set to take part in the project, which has been funded by BBC Worldwide, include Porridge creators Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, The League of Gentlemen's Jeremy Dyson and Ian Brown and James Hendrie, who have worked on five series of My Family.

Former BBC creative head of mainstream comedy Micheal Jacob is running the scheme and said: "We hope to find people who are going to make our team-written shows better, and also writers with original voices who can develop their own shows. We also hope that people will like the BBC enough to bring us their work in the future."

The BBC said the scheme is designed for people who "have already begun their careers, and can demonstrate some achievement", such as broadcast material, a script commission or performance of their work.

Applicants are now being invited to submit the first ten pages of a half-hour script, or six sketches by the closing date of April 14.

Twelve writers will be interviewed, and the successful six will be announced on May 16. They will then be matched with productions, and guaranteed a script commission.

Applicants should email their submission and a writing CV to

Monday 10 March 2008

2008 Laurence Oliviers

The 2008 Laurence Olivier Awards were announced this weekend in London. The list of winners is online, but of particular interest:

Best New Play
A Disappearing Number, devised by Complicite, at the Barbican.

Best New Comedy
Rafta Rafta, by Ayub Khan-Din based on All in Good Time by Bill Naughton, at the Lyttelton

Best New Musical
Hairspray, book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, based upon the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters

Light House Returns

RTÉ reports that Dublin's Light House Cinema will re-open in Smithfield Square on 9 May, and will feature four screens.

The new building has been custom-built with investment from developers and grants from the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and the Cultural Cinema Consortium - a joint initiative of the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board.

As well as four screens, the Light House will feature a café/bar, as well as a separate space for community and outreach projects.

The total capacity is 614 seats, with 277 of those seats situated in its largest screening room.

The cinema's founders say the programming choices will be mindful of Dublin's burgeoning multi-cultural society.

Friday 7 March 2008

Silgo Writers Festival

From Friday 7th - Saturday March 8th the Readers & Writers Festival Programme 2008 will be taking place in Sligo in various locations, to celebrate Silgo County Library's first Writer-in-Residence, author Niall Williams.

Sligo Central Library, Tubbercurry Library and the Yeats Memorial Building will throw open their doors to the public who want to discover, discuss and meet published writers.

Hear Carlo Gébler speak on what it means, as a reviewer and as a writer, to pass judgement on the books of other writers who are his contempories, Niall Williams on the theme of love and longing in his books. Manchán Magan will share his answers on what it means to be a travel writer especially in this age when the world appears entirely known and mapped.

Come celebrate International Women's Day with writers Suzanne Higgins, author of three best-selling books and Pauline McLynn, author of six novels including her sensational new publication Bright Lights and Promises.
Full details on all the events are available on the web site.

Thursday 6 March 2008

Adventures in Censorship

The Belfast Telegraph has an interesting overview of the change in censorship policies in Ireland since the inception of the state. At least we don't have to put up with this kind of nonsense any more:

Sexual affairs, homosexuality, birth control, abortion and prostitution had no chance. The version of The Graduate seen in Ireland was baffling. First it was banned altogether. But the censor then allowed it, leaving 11 sections on the cutting-room floor and removing all references to Dustin Hoffman's affair with Anne Bancroft. As John Kelleher put it: "The seduction scene is at the core of the film but the Irish audience, which was not allowed to see that scene, remained blissfully unaware they were having anything more than a nice cup of tea."

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Belfast Programme Online

The programme for the 8th Belfast Fim Festival (10-19 April) has been announced, along with the news that the Patron for the festival will be writer/director Terry George.

Speaking from his home in New York today, Terry George said: "The Belfast Film Festival has gone from strength to strength over the past 7 years and I am honoured to be part of this next phase of development. I am looking forward to working with the festival to build upon the international recognition it has gained to date."

Festival director Michele Devlin said "We are delighted to announce that director Terry George is the new Patron of the Belfast Film Festival and that his latest film Reservation Road starring Joaquin Phoenix, Jennifer Connolly, Mark Ruffalo and Mira Sorvino will have its Irish premiere at the Festival's opening night. Terry will be on hand to introduce the film and hopes to be bringing along some of the cast. He will also hold a screenwriting and directing masterclass."
There are several masterclasses going on during the festival, and all of them can be booked online. As well as the Terry George masterclass there will be one featuring Ronan Bennett on Writing For Screen, a Music Documentary Workshop, and a Skillset Careers Workshop.

Tuesday 4 March 2008

Look East Not West

The Irish Independent reports on a recent interview with Simon Perry, the chief executive officer of the Irish Film Board, in Film Ireland. Perry noted what he felt would benefit the Irish film industry:

"I hope Ireland can gain confidence -- confidence is the key word -- by feeling that if our European neighbours can make films that have a clear identity and have something new to say, and break new ground, then Ireland can join them." He said the dependence on the UK for distribution is also a problem.

"There is this wicked set-up in Ireland, the colonial relationship with the UK, which is abysmal, it is appalling and has kept Irish distribution poor for many years.

"One of the nicest things that happened recently was the emergence of Element, an Irish-owned and managed distribution company."

Mr Perry said we could follow the lead of Austria and make films in our own right.

"Austria is a good example for the Irish. It has the same sense of living in the shadow of a bigger country and having a strange colonial relationship in terms of distributors."

He said producers have a responsibility to steer Irish cinema the right way.

"I felt some producers were leading Irish cinema in the wrong direction, in other words trying to go head to head with Hollywood.

"Producers need to make as close a connection as possible to partners in Europe."

Perry said that the international success of the low-budget film Once -- which won the Oscar for Best Original Songwith Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's song Falling Slowly at the Oscars last week -- was a sign we are coming into our own. He also praised such films as Adam and Paul and Garage, by director Lenny Abrahamson.

Monday 3 March 2008

Library Week

Library Week Ireland is organising talks, exhibitions, lectures and other events in libraries across Ireland this week until March 9th. Support your local library and see what's happening in your area.

Book Festival

The Dublin Book Festival will take place from Friday 7th to Sunday 9th March in Dublin's City Hall, Dame Street, Dublin 2. It will feature panels and interviews with a range of Irish writers, and should be of interest to readers of all kinds of literature.