Friday 28 November 2008

Listen to Cuarón

At 7pm today in the Light House Cinema in Dublin there will be a special preview screening of Año uña (Year of the Nail), which is written and directed by Jonás Cuarón.

The film will be followed by a Q&A session with Cuarón about the process involved in making his first feature.

I, Robot Actor

The BBC reported recently that robot actors appeared in a play at Osaka University in Japan, thus making it the first Japanese robot-human theatre production.

The play is called Hataraku Watashi (I, Worker), and is written by Oriza Hirata.

The Wakamaru robots that perform in the play were manufactured by Mitsubushi, but the software that programmed the robots to to speak lines with the human actors and move around the stage was developed at the university.

It focuses on a young couple who own two housekeeping robots, one of which loses its motivation to work.

In the play, the robot complains that it has been forced into boring and demeaning jobs and enters into a discussion with the humans about its role in their lives.

So far, the play is only 20 minutes long but it is hoped to become a full-length production by 2010.

Submitting to Festivals

On Wednesday, 3rd December at 2pm Filmbase is running a free information session for filmmakers on the best method to get your short film into festivals in Ireland and around the world.

The panel will include Mick Hannigan (Corona Cork Film Festival), Nicky Gogan (Darklight Film Festival, Still Films), Ronan Burke (Black Sheep Productions) and Nerea Aymerich (Film Ireland magazine).

The session will begin with Mick Hannigan and Nicky Gogan talking us through the art of applying to film festivals, from the point of view of the festival organiser. What sort of information do they look for, what are the basic requirements, how important are your synopses and images etc… Ronan Burke will then give us the filmmaker’s perspective using the multi-award winning film Jellybaby as a case study. Jellybaby, which Ronan co-directed with his brother Rob, won numerous awards as well as screening at over sixty film festivals both at home and abroad. Finally, Nerea Aymerich will look more closely at one element of the application process that is often overlooked, having strong production stills to represent and promote your film.

Although the session is free places must be booked in advance, and information on how to register is on the web site.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

2008 ZeBBies Winners Announced

Last night, at a glittering Awards Ceremony, the winners of the 2008 ZeBBie Awards were announced:

  • Best Television Script: Mark O'Halloran for Prosperity (Episode 3, "Georgie's Story")
  • Best Radio Script: Lucy Caldwell for Girl From Mars
  • Best Theatre Script: Christian O'Reilly for Is this about Sex?
  • Best Film Script: Martin McDonagh for In Bruges
  • Honorary Services to Writers Award: Writers' Guilds of America
Congratulations to all the winners!

Monday 24 November 2008

Basket Case Wins

The Irish Film Board reports that the Irish short film "The Basket Case", written and directed by Owen O'Neill, won the Best Short Fiction Award at the Boston Irish Film Festival last week.

O'Brien Adapts for TV Drama

The Stage reports that award-winning Irish novelist, Edna O'Brien, will adapt her novel, Wild Decembers, for a 90-minute television drama for RTÉ.

Jane Gogan, commissioning editor for drama at RTE, said: "I'm honoured to bring the work of one of Ireland's greatest writers to RTE's audiences. Edna O'Brien's television adaptation of her own novel is a powerful piece of work that brings something quite exceptional to Irish drama. The impressive calibre of cast and crew makes this an exciting proposition for our viewers."

Friday 21 November 2008

WGA Members Arrested

Nikki Finke reports on the recent arrest of Writers Guild of America West activists in a shopping mall in Hollywood. Their crime: passing out leaflets during American Idol's auditions that informed the public that "FremantleMedia refuses to treat its writers fairly".

The WGAW insists they did not interfere with or obstruct the shopping mall's operations or the activities of FremantleMedia. But the guild members were turned over to the LAPD, and later released after posting bond. Writers Guild General Counsel Tony Segall said the guild was considering legal action against the operators of the Hollywood & Highland Center for false arrest. The California Supreme Court has held that the state constitution guarantees the right of expression of ideas in shopping malls on the grounds that they're the contemporary equivalent of the town square. The WGAW notes that other labor unions and community groups have held public actions such as leafleting and picketing inside the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex without incident.

Thursday's protest was part of the WGA's ongoing campaign of rallies, briefings, and a nationwide tour to bring attention to what the guild claims are "the substandard industry practices" of American Idol producer FremantleMedia. The American Idol Truth Tour shadowed AI auditions this past summer in several major U.S. cities -- including San Francisco, New York, Phoenix, and San Juan, Puerto Rico -- to demand that FremantleMedia provide its writers and other workers with industry standard pay and benefits. But yesterday was the first time American Idol Truth Tour participants had been arrested. "We will continue to exercise our First Amendment rights despite the heavy-handed treatment we received," said the WGAW's Hermanson. "The public has a right to know that the top-rated show on television does not provide their writers with basic necessities like health care."

Thursday 20 November 2008

Writing Reality TV

Dan Partland, executive producer of Intervention, an award-winning non-fiction series about addiction created for American television channel A&E, explains in detail how the show is written and why it's covered by the Writers Guild of America.

This is an excellent insight into the work involved in crafting and writing "reality" television.

Kiss Up To Lance

After the 6.45pm screening of Kisses, on Friday 21 November in the IFI in Dublin, there will be a Q&A with Lance Daly, the writer and director, along with the two young cast members who star in this Irish film.

There will also be a showing of Declan Cassidy’s short film "Whatever Turns You On", which won Best Irish Short at the Kerry Film Festival, the Audience Award at Filmstock International UK, and was shortlisted for Best Short at the Boston Irish Film Festival.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Film Storytelling in Doubt?

The New York Times reports that the existence of storytelling in film is under review in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory, which is creating a new Centre for Future Storytelling.

The people at M.I.T., in any case, may figure out whether classic storytellers like Homer, Shakespeare and Spielberg have had their day.

Starting in 2010, a handful of faculty members — "principal investigators," the university calls them — will join graduate students, undergraduate interns and visitors from the film and book worlds in examining, among other things, how virtual actors and "morphable" projectors (which instantly change the appearance of physical scenes) might affect a storytelling process that has already been considerably democratized by digital delivery.

A possible outcome, they speculate, is that future stories might not stop in Hollywood all. "The business model is definitely being transformed, maybe even blown apart," said Frank Moss, a former entrepreneur who is now the media lab's director.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

2008 ZeBBie Voting Closes

Voting in the 2008 ZeBBie Awards has closed.

The winners will be announced at the ZeBBie Awards Ceremony, which will take place on Tuesday 25th November, in the Sugar Club in Dublin.

Tickets are now on sale. Numbers are limited, so please contact the Guild quickly to book your tickets and avoid disappointment.

Monday 17 November 2008

New French Cinema

The Guardian has an article today about the new wave of successful French cinema that depicts modern, multicultural France.

In France, 2008 has been a landmark year. Not only did The Class win the Palme d'Or but Marion Cotillard won a Best Actress Oscar - the first French language performance ever to do so, propelling her film, La Vie en Rose, to impressive international box-office figures (£1m in the UK). France also produced its most successful film ever in Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (Welcome to the Sticks), a culture-clash comedy based in small-town northern France, which brought 20 million French people into cinemas, grossing more than $200m and, so far, racking up more than two million DVD sales. No film, French or American, has been more popular.

In the UK, French film dominates the foreign language releases. The number of French films in 2008 stands at 42, with receipts expected to be above £15m. According to Unifrance, which promotes French film abroad, the number of tickets sold in the UK for French films in the past three years has increased fivefold.

What we are seeing, in other words, is a new wave of commercialism in French cinema. Rather than wowing the world - as the New Wave did with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Jean-Luc Godard's À bout de souffle or Truffaut's Les quatre cents coups - with a new style or a new film grammar, France has positioned itself as a powerhouse of production, cultivating a domestic scene that also feeds international reputation and demand.

Friday 14 November 2008

ZeBBies Voting Open

Voting is now open to members of the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild for the 2008 ZeBBies Awards.

Voting will close on Tuesday, the 18th of November at 17:00.

Here is the final short-list of nominees for the 2008 ZeBBie Awards.


  • Marcus Fleming for Running Mate (Episode 1)
  • Graham Linehan for The IT Crowd (Series 2: Episode 1, "The Work Outing")
  • Mark O'Halloran for Prosperity (Episode 3, "Georgie's Story")

  • Lucy Caldwell for "Girl From Mars"
  • Roddy Doyle for "Two Men Meet"
  • Garret Keogh for "Nancy"

  • Bisi Adigun and Roddy Doyle for The Playboy of the Western World
  • Sebastian Barry for Pride of Parnell Street
  • Christian O'Reilly for Is this about Sex?

  • Martin McDonagh for In Bruges
  • Mark O'Halloran for Garage
  • Mark O'Rowe for Boy A

The winners will be announced at the ZeBBies Awards Ceremony on Tuesday the 25th of November, at the Sugar Club, 8 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.

Tickets are on sale now, and cost €0 or €25 each (depending on the goodwill of our members). Numbers are limited, so please contact the Guild to book your ticket(s) quickly. No one will be admitted to the Awards Ceremony without a ticket.

Thursday 13 November 2008

BBC Writer Interviews

Over on the BBC Writers Room you can read an interview with screenwriter Russell T Davies about his career, as well as an interview with poet and playwright, Amanda Dalton, about her recent radio adaptation of the classic silent film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.

Fighting Babes Competition

The American theatrical company, Babes with Blades is running an international playwriting competition to increase the number of quality scripts that feature fighting roles for women.

The theme for this year's competition is "Film Noir": the website features a black and white image as an inspirational point for the proposed play, and the scene must appear in the finished work.

The winning playwright will receive a $1000 cash prize.

The deadline for entries is February 28, 2009. More information on the competition, its guidelines, and submission requirements are available on the web site.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Skin Up

E4 is running a screenwriting competition for young writers, and the prize is the chance to write a Skins mini episode, which will be screened online (and possibly on TV) in summer 2009.

Each entry must be a short comedy-drama under 1,600 words that doesn't use an existing Skins character, but contains a minimum of three characters in fewer than five locations. The deadline for entries is 6pm on December 9th 2008.

Before you get too excited about this opportunity it's best to read the restrictions: entrants must be aged between 18 and 23 years and resident of the UK. Proof of age and identity will be required.

A set visit will take place one day between 15th and 19th December 2008, which you will be required to attend.

On the 12th January, you will be required to attend the first meeting with the rest of your team. Another three meetings will be arranged subsequently, and will take place between January 13th and 16th March 2008.

Your time attending the writer's room will begin mid January. We expect you to attend a maximum of 10 sessions. There's a chance that once these 10 sessions have been attended, you may be invited back to the writer's room as a contributor, this decision is at the discretion of Company Pictures.

The filming of the Skins mini episode will take place between 16th March and 20th March 2009 in Bristol. You will be required to attend the four day shoot where you get to witness the mini episode being filmed.

For all meetings, set visits and shoots, accommodation and travel (if necessary) will be paid. You will also be paid a day rate for your time (amount to be confirmed with the winner).

Tuesday 11 November 2008

New Irish Writer 08

At a gala awards ceremony last night author Sally Nicholls was named Glen Dimplex New Writer of the Year 2008 for her novel Ways to Live Forever, published by Scholastic Children's Books.

The winner of the Fiction category was Allan Bush for his book Last Bird Singing (Seren); the Biography/Non-fiction book category was won by Nia Wyn for Blue Sky July (Seren) ; the Poetry prize went to Will Stone for Glaciation (Salt Publishing); while the prize for best Irish-language book went to Simon Ó Faoláin for Anam Mhadra (Coiscéim).

Each category winner received a cheque for €5,000, with a further €20,000 going to Sally Nicholls for securing the overall prize.

Recent Short Successes

Here's a list of Irish short films that have been garnering awards around the world recently:

  • Writer/director Brian Durnin's short film "Of Best Intentions" was selected by Liam Neeson for the top prize at the Kerry Film Festival last weekend.
  • "Frankie", written and directed by Darren Thornton, won a Special Jury Award at the Austen Film Festival for Ryan Andrew's performance as Frankie earlier this month.
  • The Oscailt short film, "Rolla Saor", directed by Cathal Watters and written by Brendan Griffin, picked up the Audience Award at the Santiago de Compostela Film Festival, Spain. The short also picked up the Audience Award at the Sapporo Short Film Festival in Japan earlier this year.
  • Paul Brady picked up the Best Short Subject Award (Hollywood Discovery Award) for his film "Janey Mary" at this year's prestigious Hollywood Film Festival. He adapted the short film from the short story by James Plunkett.
  • The Northern Irish short 'The Morse Collectors' won first prize in the Live Action Film or Video category — awarded by the Adult Jury — at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival. It was written by Pól Mag Uidhir and directed by David Cooke.
  • 'The Battle of the Boyne' directed by Lee Cronin, won the Best International Historical Documentary at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.

Monday 10 November 2008

No Contract Yet for US Actors

According to an article in the LA Times the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in America is no closer to forging a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP).

Instead, the AMPTP is turning its attention back to International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the smaller union.

IATSE and the studios have set aside three days next week in an effort to wrap up negotiations that were put on hold in April when the studios turned their attention to the Screen Actors Guild. More than six months later, however, the studios still don't have a contract with the actors. A federal mediator has met with each side but so far has not convened a joint meeting to resume formal bargaining. And sources on both sides of the divide have little confidence that the process will yield a breakthrough, moving SAG closer toward a potential strike early next year.

Feature Films for YouTube?

The Washington Post reports that Hollywood executives are in discussions with Google over the possibility of streaming full-length feature films on YouTube.

Besides the challenge of becoming a cash cow, YouTube also must now face the hurdle of upping its quality and garnering content. YouTube is infamous for its grainy video and spotty audio. If Google cannot somehow rev up the quality, will people want to check it out at all? I wouldn't want to watch a blurry and distorted two-hour film when crisper options exist in the land of Hulu and the now multi-platform "Watch it Now" Netflix service.

In terms of content, Hulu has an exclusive partnership with NBC and News Corp., which owns all Fox-related programming, so the prospect of YouTube nabbing any of those companies' content is doubtful at best. But with YouTube getting 80 million visitors each month, it definitely has a great consumer backing and could use that to bolster negotiations.

The rumor is that this service could arrive as soon as early as next month. So far the only official word from Google comes from a spokesperson who told CNET, "We are in negotiations with a variety of entertainment companies. Our goal is to offer maximum choice for our users, partners, and advertisers."

Friday 7 November 2008

2008 ZeBBies Short-list

The short-list for the 2008 ZeBBie Awards to date has been announced.


  • Marcus Fleming for Running Mate (Episode 1)
  • Graham Linehan for The IT Crowd (Series 2: Episode 1, "The Work Outing")
  • Mark O'Halloran for Prosperity (Episode 3, "Georgie's Story")

  • Lucy Caldwell for "Girl From Mars"
  • Roddy Doyle for "Two Men Meet"
  • Garret Keogh for "Nancy"

  • Bisi Adigun and Roddy Doyle for The Playboy of the Western World
  • Sebastian Barry for Pride of Parnell Street
  • Christian O'Reilly for Is this about Sex?

  • Martin McDonagh for In Bruges
  • Mark O'Halloran for Garage
  • Mark O'Rowe for Boy A

Members will be able to vote on the scripts from Friday, the 14th of November until 5pm on Tuesday, the 18th of November.

The winners will be announced at the ZeBBies Awards Ceremony on Tuesday the 25th of November, at the Sugar Club, 8 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.

Tickets are on sale now, and cost €0 or €25 each (depending on the goodwill of our members). Numbers are limited, so please contact the Guild to book your ticket(s) quickly. No one will be admitted to the Awards Ceremony without a ticket.

Congratulations to all the nominees so far. A special thank you to the agents, producers, broadcasters, publishers, and nominees, for their assistance.

Thursday 6 November 2008

Guild Blog Twitters

People who use twitter — the 140-character text update system — can now follow the Guild blog, and receive tweets every time the blog is updated.

TULCA 2008

TULCA, the annual Galway contemporary visual arts festival, is running in the city and country from the 7th - 23rd November. Its theme this year is: I-podism: Cultural Promiscuity in the Age of Consumption.

Tulca 2008 will examine the role of curator as cultural researcher and consumer. I-podism will explore the bombardment we experience through the influx of overwhelming levels of cultural production in contemporary art, text, music, dance, architecture and media. Many artists today use their I-pod to carry their images of their work. This technology influences not only the way we experience music but can be the way we might first encounter an artist’s work.

TULCA 2008 manifests itself as a collection of works spread across a range of conventional and un-conventional venues. This a-contextual structure will facilitate a collection of works, which have found their way onto the I-pod or cultural storage device of the above curator during this time period. The resulting exhibitions and projects will be the manifestation of curatorial decision-making, memory and the transitory nature of interest or engagement. Essentially removing the notion of an umbrella like context for curating a large festival project. The curator will act as a visual D.J. showing mixtapes of separate areas of interest within contemporary art practice.

Nakata Directs Walsh Film

Variety reports that Hideo Nakata, the Japanese director of "Ringu" "The Ring Two," and "Dark Water," will direct "Chatroom", written by Enda Walsh as an adaptation of his play of the same title. The movie is being sold by new sales company WestEnd Films.

Movie is produced by Alison Owen and Paul Trijbits at Ruby Films ("The Other Boleyn Girl," "Brick Lane") and "Hunger" producer Laura Hastings-Smith. It was developed and co-financed by Film4, and exec produced by Film4's Katherine Butler. Lensing will begin in the spring in the U.K.

"Nakata has come up with something very visual, very conceptual, and situated somewhere between 'Disturbia' and 'Cube,' " said WestEnd founder Eve Schoukroun.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

French Film Festival 08

The IFI in Temple Bar, Dublin is running a French Film Festival from 11-20th of November, 2008.

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the programme is our screening of the restored French version of Max Ophuls' masterpiece Lola Montès. Technology now allows us to see this film as it was originally meant to be seen. This screening of the gleaming new print from the Cinémathèque française will truly be a major cinematic event. We are also delighted to offer families a chance to revisit Albert Lamorisse's classic children's film Le Ballon rouge/The Red Balloon. Guests are an important part of any festival and the IFI is honoured to welcome three important faces of French cinema to Dublin. Actress Elsa Zylberstein, who has recently charmed IFI audiences in I’ve Loved You So Long, will introduce her new film La Fabrique des sentiments. The much loved character actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin will present Robert Guédiguian's new film Lady Jane, and veteran director Jean Becker will return to Ireland with his recent film Deux jours à tuer, which was partially shot in Galway.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Francies 2008

At the weekend the Clones Film Festival announced that "Together" won the Francie for Best Short Drama.

"Together" was developed as part of RTÉ Dance on the Box. It was directed by Mary Keane, and choreographed by Steve Batts and Ursula Laeubli. "Together", and the other three shorts produced for the series, can be viewed on its web site.

The 2nd Scanbitz Short Film Challenge was awarded to "Moustache", which was created over the weekend by Little Warrior Films.

The Francie for Best Documentary went to "What I Am" by Fiona Hynes.

Develop Your Drama

FÁS Screen Training Ireland is offering a three-day course in Dublin on Television Drama Development, which starts on November 26th, and will be taught by the following tutors: Valery Ryan, Guy Meredith, Jane Gogan, John Yorke, Manda Levin, Tony McHale, Billy Ivory, Michael Parke, Andrew Fitzpatrick, Danny Stack, Brigie de Courcy, Niall Leonard, and Rochelle Stevens. The course costs €200.

Participant Profile:
Irish professionals involved in producing, writing, development and script editing in the television industry. Participants should be involved in developing current television drama projects.

Course Profile:
The aim of this course is to enhance participants’ understanding of television drama forms and formats, focusing on such issues as structure and character in TV drama, evaluating successful TV drama concepts and ideas, TV drama co-production, breaking into the UK market, scheduling and acquisitions, writing for long-running series vs. authored drama, and writers room models in Ireland and the UK.

The course will cover the following:
  • Structure
  • Formats and genres
  • Co-production
  • UK market
  • Writers room models
  • Scheduling
  • Acquisitions
  • Writing for long-running series
  • Roles and responsibilities – writers, script editors, producers.
The course will take the form of a two-day seminar, along with a full day session on structure by John Yorke.

The deadline for applicants is Friday 14th November 2008, and submissions will be processed via the web site.

Monday 3 November 2008


The 4th STAGE (Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating Exploration) Script Competition is looking for plays that explore scientific and/or technological stories, themes, issues and/or events.

Science and technology must figure prominently in the script, whether in form or content or both. Biographical dramas, history plays, and medical dramas are discouraged unless they significantly employ science and/or technology. Authors are strongly urged to avoid the stereotypes often assigned to science, technology, and those who engage in these disciplines. This competition is not open to plays written in the genre of science fiction.

The deadline for entries is December 15, 2009.

More information about the guidelines for competition and the application process are available on the web site.