So I’m back from my first time at the Screenwriters’ Festival in Cheltenham and … yeah, I enjoyed it.
It was nice meeting people and putting names to faces, it was slightly scary being told “I love your blog” on an almost hourly basis (if you caught me near the end of the day I may have reacted strangely – sorry) and it was god damn bone-achingly wearing being nice to people for five days in a row. I’m just not used to it.
All in all – I met a lot of people, almost all* of whom were nice, I chatted, I ate a lot of Italian food.
I’ve now got a near-permanent numb bum from sitting in various lectures/seminars/speeches/panels – not sure what to call them really.
I chatted to some agents at the speed dating thing, mainly trying to find out if they thought I needed them. Not surprisingly, they all agreed I do, but let’s face it, they were unlikely to say:
“No, don’t bother; we’re a complete waste of space. I haven’t achieved a single thing for any of my clients in seventeen years. I would be ashamed, if I wasn’t creaming off so much money.”
Mind you, if an agent did say that I would try to sign with them instantly – just for comedy value.
Michelle, Piers and I drove to Cheltenham together and getting there was largely uneventful despite my phone having a nasty habit of shutting down whenever I’m using the sat-nav and am nearing my destination. It never shuts down on the motorways – you know, the straight lines where you know where you’re going. Oh no, it always, always shuts down and resets as soon as you enter a town – you know, the bit where you actually need it.
I suspect the random shut downs have something to do with child saliva and percussive play – but that’s only a suspicion. Maybe I should stop Alice licking my phone and throwing it at the cat? Still, it is quite funny.
There was some comedy value to be had on the first night when Michelle, Jason and I – with three sat-nav enabled phones between us – couldn’t find the Queen’s Hotel for the first night drinks. According to our technologically dependent navigation the Queen’s Hotel was somewhere inside a men’s clothing shop and it took a long time before we finally admitted we were lost. Happily a passing stranger remedied that situation for us.
Not the first passing stranger mind; he confidently pointed us in the wrong direction and ran off cackling to himself. Luckily the second passing stranger was so drunk she had no option but to tell us the truth.
As an aside – are there any adults in Cheltenham? Apart from at the festival they all seem to be fancy-dress clad teenagers on the rampage. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it is rather odd.
The festival itself … well, I’m not sure I’d go again without a very specific goal in mind. I turned up with no agenda and I can safely say I achieved everything on my list. And I drank a lot of tea whilst doing it.
The festival seems to be geared towards people just starting out as a writer (anyone with any experience being squirreled away in a separate green room) and since I’m in this odd in-between stage of not really being a beginner but not really being any bloody good at it – I felt a bit lost at times. I chose events mostly based on what might be interesting rather than what might be useful since I don’t really have any projects to sell and don’t really want to meet anybody in particular.
And that, like Cannes, is the key – if you’ve got a specific goal in mind Festivals are useful places to visit. If you haven’t, they’re just an expensive jolly. I met a few people at the Screenwriters’ Festival who could really help further my career – if my career interests were in any way similar to theirs.
Which they aren’t.
As a result I just had a nice chat with them and a cup of tea.
I don’t really have a lot more to say about it other than that. I am a bit annoyed with myself for spending a nice half-hour or so chatting to Bob Baker and then failing to attend his thing about K9 and Friends. I did want to go – I’m not really sure why I didn’t, especially since he seems like such a nice bloke and it feels like an enormous waste of money to go all the way to Cheltenham just to not listen to Bob Baker.
Which I think will be my overiding memory of the Festival – an expensive way to chat to people over a cup of tea.
Still, it was mighty fine tea …
* Almost. There was one prick in the pub the second night. He wasn’t even at the fest, he was a music journo ‘friend’ of Jason’s. Although why anyone as nice as Arnopp would count such a pompous, self-obsessed penis as a friend is beyond me.
He’s one of those bell ends who seems to think science is a list of answers. It’s not, science is a method for asking questions. If something can’t be explained, you can’t just deny it and site science … in much the same way you can’t just attribute it to aliens or gods or pixies. I thought journalists were supposed to be good at asking questions?
I’m talking about the pompous pub penis, by the way. Not Arnopp.
He even had a pogo stick in the pub with him. A fucking pogo stick!
Again, not Arnopp. At no point during the night did I want to punch Arnopp.