The post-Alt.Fiction breakdown, part six.

1 05 2008

After a break for dinner, my first evening session was Scriptwriting featuring Graham Joyce, Philip Palmer and Michael Marshall Smith.

Out of all the sessions I attended throughout the day, this was the busiest. The room was full to overflowing until some attendees were relegated to perching on windowsills. Having arrived a measley five minutes before the panel was due to begin I was stuck around a corner, so am still none the wiser as to what Philip Palmer actually looks like.

Now I confess that scriptwriting isn’t where my goals lie. I’ve written scripts in the past, and am still working on one film-length with a writing partner, but it’s not a format that appeals to me, and both Graham and Mike nailed in this session exactly why: screenwriters get fucked over far more thoroughly and more regularly than writers in any other format.

The session was essentially anecdotes, which were extremely entertaining, particularly when Graham related an incident while working with an American producer on adapting his novel The Tooth Fairy for the big screen (which I think can be boiled down to the producer’s question: “What if it was a semen fairy?”) and Mike talked about his work adapting The Intruders for the BBC.

From the Q&A session which followed I got the strong impression that none of these anecdotes had dissuaded the audience from their dreams of earning big Hollywood bucks dashing off screenplays and selling them for millions of dollars. It seems that a lot of people will only get the fact that writers and rights do not go hand-in-hand in America by finding out the hard way.

I found this panel very entertaining, but I wasn’t looking to learn anything from it. Again, another panel that was good for new writers, but extremely good fun for the more experienced, too.

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