I found myself in Cheltenham for 3 days this week. Not, as I usually find myself - dazed and naked and in a hedge. But at the 2008 Screenwriters festival.
It was a bit odd for me, being at a screenwriters festival, and not actually being a screenwriter. But once that little piece of worry had been dispatched, I sat back and enjoyed myself thoroughly. (I have mastered the art of being a charlatan for many years)
During the day I attended some really interesting sessions with talks by Tony Jordan, Barbara Machin, Steven Wooley, Kay Mellor, Jane Tanter and even Laura Mackie (who the week previous to this, had passed on one of my projects) Luckily my finger loosened on the trigger, and I put away the sniper rifle I had trained upon the lovely-looking Laura, and I opted instead to learn what I could.
What I didn't expect was to find myself so re-energized and inspired by the festival.
I must admit, I went along in a very relaxed way, no expectations and no major plan. just to see what was going on and make some new acquaintances if I could.
The festival certainly did that. And reminded me that television is not films' rubbish little brother, but a brilliant sprawling canvas to tell even bigger and more complex stories. Of note was Tony Jordan, who, I think, gave everyone a creative shot in the arm.
By Tuesday evening I was exhausted and after a great deal of cider I found myself in a KFC. This was the first time I have ever been in a KFC, and I feel now better qualified to answer that burning question "Is the Chicken Zinger better than MCD's Chicken Legend?" That's an analysis for another blog post I feel.
Wednesday evening, and an awful lot of red wine, I found myself developing a brand new project called THE EXORCIST - THE FIFTH. I am ashamed to be the creator of that dubious title, a fact Jason reminded me mercilessly the next day.
This project we developed, as we all giggled (or in Stuarts case 'rasped') featured Brian Blessed, who had also lost his voice, as he fired kittens partly made of poo from his arse. It was to be a scary and bold new feature film. I believe that it also featured a barking mad Irish psychologist and some Nazis.
We now have this masterpiece optioned by several leading Hollywood studios. (In our minds)
So, I left Cheltenham feeling slightly wobbly but happy.
I met lots of brilliant people and am convinced that if we are to save our fragile planet, we should call upon the writers.
Without sounding too gushy, I feel that writers are horribly undervalued, and are the the most precious creative force available to us as filmmakers.
After all, you're not going to get wit and imagination from a production executive!
So, for what it's worth, I would add my voice to the calls for more prominent writers credits on film and television.