Monthly Archives: March 2011

Meet Barnaby Thompson tomorrow night

The London Comedy Writers’ Festival is thrilled to announce an exclusive, one night only, in depth Q&A with Barnaby Thompson, Head of Ealing Studios, the home of British Film Comedy and the oldest continuously working film studio in the world.

Barnaby is the Head of Ealing Studios and co-founder of Fragile Films. He is the co-producer / co-director of the fourth highest grossing British Film of all time – ‘St. Trinian’s’ (with Oliver Parker) and has also produced 5 of the top 20 British independent movies of all time.

From ‘Wayne’s World’ to ‘Spiceworld’, everything that Barnaby Thompson touches turns to (Fritton’s) gold!  So join them for this exclusive session with one of the UK’s most prolific and successful producers and ask the man directly how to get your script to the top of his pile.

Tickets: £10 (buy here) or free to Comedy Writers Festival Delegates (buy festival pass here)
Date: March 30th
Time: 7.00 – 9.30pm
Venue: Ealing Studios, Ealing Green, London W5 5EP

Remember, you can get £25 off festival tickets using code JobbingScriptwriter … plus, I’ll send you a cheque for a further £25 after the festival. Details here

Categories: Festivals, Opportunity | Leave a comment

The two finger tap

I was in a cafe with two directors recently (a boy and a girl, in the interests of equality) and the subject of re-writing someone else’s script came up. Both of them have had scripts re-written because the initial writer has been unavailable, incapable or (bizarrely) unwilling to make the necessary changes.

I’ve been hired to re-write scripts and I always feel slightly uneasy about it. I usually go through a phase when I want to contact the original writer and tell them I loved their version and am going to try and stay as faithful as possible to the core ideas whilst merely improving the outlying bits or tidying up the structure.

On the other hand, I hate lying to people and ringing someone to tell them their script is shit doesn’t really seem fair.

Being re-written is a horrible feeling. Sadly it’s just part of the business and it happens to everyone, but there’s always that bit of you which wants the other person to fuck it up. Just make the script appalling so everyone knows they were wrong to re-write you.

And one of the joys of having somebody else fiddle with  your script is you can blame all the shit bits on them whilst claiming all the glory for yourself. Of course, they will be doing exactly the same thing so it all evens out.

But what about the odd situation where you get hired for an uncredited re-write and the original writer isn’t told? It does happen and the writer sometimes doesn’t find out he’s been re-written until he sees the final product. I’ve done that on several projects. I’m massively uncomfortable with it (not uncomfortable enough not to do it, obviously) and always wonder why the writers in question aren’t more vocal about their work being butchered. Especially since in at least one case it was because he absolutely refused to change a single word of (what he erroneously thought was) his literary genius. The script was fucking awful but there was money tied up in the whole thing, it needed to be changed, he was refusing; but in a clever way which meant the producers were contractually obliged not to hire someone else.

A fucking mess, in other words. I was hired in secret, re-wrote the script, it was filmed, released and … not a peep from the writer.


This is when the boy director chipped in with his ‘two finger tap’ theory.

I swear to any imaginary deity to you wish to conjure up, this is a verbatim(ish) account of his theory.

“It’s just like the two-finger-tap, isn’t it?”

Blank looks.

“You know! You’re in bed with your girlfriend, she’s asleep so you decide to crack one off. As you’re nearing the vinegar strokes, you tap her on the shoulder, she rolls over expecting a good morning kiss and you blow your load in her face.”

Stunned silence.

What the fuck? You do this often enough to have a name for it?

“Uh-huh. She’ll be pissed off and will probably complain about it to everyone she knows. Now, imagine instead of doing it to your girlfriend, you do it to one of your mates.”


“Stroke-stroke, tap-tap, splurge. What’s he going to do about it?”

Beat the living shit out of you?

“Ha! Later, you’re in the pub and your mates notice this guy isn’t talking to you. They ask him why, and he says … what? Nothing. He can’t tell his mates you spunked in his face, can he? So he says nothing.”

Apparently that’s exactly what happens when you secretly re-write someone. If the finished product is good, they can’t turn round and complain about being re-written because then they have to admit their script wasn’t good enough in the first place.

Quite how that equates to juicing someone’s chin is beyond me; but I guess there is a point deep at the heart of the twisted and disturbing tale: you can only complain about being re-written if the finished product is rubbish. If everyone loves the end result then the steps taken to get there must have been necessary.

Even if the other writer is credited, if you say you couldn’t do the re-writes because of other commitments then good script + re-write = great script. The second writer obviously stood on the shoulders of a giant.

If you say the final amazing film is a bastardised version of your idea then you’re basically saying shit script + re-write = great script. The second writer was the giant who kicked the original writer into touch with his massive, size 137 feet.

If the film is shit then you could claim the second writer ruined it; but all they have to say is ‘you can’t polish a turd’ or some such and the ball’s back in your court. Much better if the writers gang up and blame it  on the director. Especially if he’s the sort of guy who thinks two-finger-tapping is an acceptable pastime.

So there you go, next time you find yourself re-writing someone, just remember – you’re spunking on their face and there’s a good chance they’ll never say a word.

Categories: Random Witterings, Someone Else's Way, Things I've Learnt Recently | 1 Comment

Free(ish) Rob Grant masterclass tomorrow night

Tomorrow night is the second in the series of Tuesday Night sessions leading up to the Comedy Writers Festival: a full three hour masterclass with Red Dwarf writer Rob Grant.

Kick off is at 7.00pm at Ealing Studios. Best of all, these sessions are FREE to Comedy Writers Festival Delegates.

Apparently Rob’s masterclasses normally cost in the region of £500, so free is a bit of a discount. I think. Never was too good at maths.

Okay, so it’s not ‘free, free’ because you have to buy a Festival ticket; but since you also get to go to the festival as well then it’s as close to free as … no. It is free, isn’t it?

Anyway, don’t forget you can get your tickets for £99 (eventually) through me. Details here:

If you’ve already bought a ticket, you can sign up for the workshop tomorrow night by emailing:

Categories: Festivals | Leave a comment

Established continuity

I’ve been vaguely following updates about the new Superman and Spiderman films.

Following because I’m interested.

Vaguely because I’m old fashioned enough to want to actually enjoy the movies without knowing exactly what’s going to happen to who and when.

One thing I do know (which isn’t a spoiler, but actually an improver) is that both of these films are reboots. As in ‘the last adaptations of these films were good (or not) but we’ve gone as far as we can with them, let’s start again and have another go for a different audience’.

I have no problem with a good reboot. Reboots are cool. Reboots keep a character fresh and relevant.

Admittedly, if you’re rebooting with every film then it’s just annoying and denies you the opportunity to build more complex longer running storylines (for example, some of the best stories in the Batman comics need a fuller cast of Bat-people than just Batman and Alfred); but in general it’s right and proper that today’s Batman shouldn’t be a direct continuation of the 1943 Batman serial. They’re different Batmans for different times and explaining how he was a government agent then, yet a lone crime fighter now via being the Police’s go to guy on the end of a red phone in the 60s seems more than pointless.

Do the Spiderman movies need a reboot? Don’t know. Possibly, possibly not. There seems to be this opinion floating around that Spiderman is at his best when he’s a young, gawky teenager with loads of problems; but my favourite bits of the comics are J Michael Straczynski’s Peter/MJ married and in love stories. Possibly because I’m no longer a gawky teenager (on the outside) and am happily married and in love; but then I’ve always enjoyed love stories, I’m soppy that way.

The Superman movies do. Primarily because Superman Returns shows exactly what happens when you bend over backwards to attach yourself to (half of) the established continuity 30 years after the initial movie.

Did Star Trek need a reboot? Yes. Because half the cast are dead and 30 years of moral dilemmas had left the franchise so boring it was unwatchable.

“You may have murdered my family and eaten my cat, but morally I have to respect your right to make a choice. For if we deny people choice, we deny them their–”



But is the term ‘reboot’ really that hard to understand? I mean, you draw a line under what’s gone before and you try a different version. It’s not that difficult to comprehend, is it?

So why, for fuck’s sake, do people bleat on all over the Internet about not understanding how the new Superman/Spiderman film is going to fit in with the established continuity? Just fuck off! It’s not going to, it’s a different interpretation.


As in not the same.

I don’t remember anyone whinging about Christopher Reeve’s Superman not fitting in with the continuity established by George Reeves or Kirk Alyn. Possibly because I was six at the time and better things to do; but that’s beside the point.

When Casino Royale came out, I heard someone complaining about Judi Dench being M which didn’t fit with the established continuity because M was a man in Dr No and this was supposed to be set before– FUCK OFF! The Bond films are, at best, a loose continuation. If you want to pick holes in the continuity then you may want to start with how a man stays roughly the same age over the course of 49 years. Or 58 if you want to run from the books.

Look at the mess Star Trek made of trying to reboot and stick to the continuity – they had to stop the film for five minutes in the middle so they could have a sit down and explain the complicated (and nonsensical) time travel/alternate reality plot. Don’t fucking do it. Just start again, it’s fine. People aren’t stupid.

Except it’s not fine, is it? And apparently (some) people are stupid because they just don’t get it. Why is this concept so difficult? That was then, this is now; never the twain shall meet.





Why is that difficult? Why?

Categories: Random Witterings, Rants | 1 Comment

Persona – first seven appisodes on YouTube

Damn, that title’s a bit too succinct.

Um …

Here they are:

Appisode 1

Appisode 2

Appisode 3

Appisode 4

Appisode 5

Appisode 6

Appisode 7

And there you go, that’s the first week. Don’t forget you can subscribe to App Media’s Persona and receive an Appisode on your mobile every day for a year, either via iTunes or by texting PERSONA to 87474.

Actually, tomorrow (or today, if you’re reading this tomorrow) is the perfect time to subscribe since it’s the first appisode of Season Two. Subscribe and watch daily or be shunned by your mates.

If you don’t like your mates, subscribe anyway and just don’t tell them.

Categories: Persona | Leave a comment

Two writing opportunities on Circalit

Drench Arnold Thriller Screenplay Competition.

Circalit have teamed up with London screenwriting agency, Dench Arnold, to source thriller screenplays online. The Circalit community will read and rate the submissions, giving entrants feedback on their work. The most popular scripts will be considered for representation by Dench Arnold. Dench Arnold are renowned, both in the UK and internationally, for their carefully selected client list, consisting of award winning Writers, Directors and Heads of Department, and they remain at the helm of the British Film and Television industries. Screenwriters wishing to enter the competition must start by creating an account and posting up their screenplay online at Circalit ( After uploading their screenplay, entrants should visit the Dench Arnold competition page, (, to submit their screenplay into the competition. The competition is open to the public and free to enter. One entry per person only.

The deadline for entries is 1st May 2011.

Write a TV Pilot With Philip Shelley.

How do you write a pilot episode that will capture your audience?

Philip Shelley, script consultant and producer at companies including BBC, Sally Head productions and Granada, has worked on many, and now he is sharing his expertise with Circalit. Write a 60 page pilot episode and the winning script will receive a feedback report from Philip Shelley. Any exceptional scripts will also be awarded a place on the Circalit Gold List, to be browsed by experienced industry professionals. To see Philip’s top 5 tips on writing a TV pilot and to enter your pilot into the competition please visit

The deadline for entries is the 29th April 2011.

Categories: Someone Else's Way | Leave a comment

I want to give you £25

Honest, I do.

No, really. And this isn’t to just one of you, this is an offer open to everyone who does or even doesn’t read this blog.

Okay, so there are a few provisos.

  1. Nudity
  2. Only kidding about number 1 *

This is the deal, the London Comedy Writers’ Festival is around the corner (April 9th and 10th, to be exact) and if you still haven’t bought a ticket (why not?) then you may be looking at the £149 price tag and quaking in fear.

Or trepidation at the very least.

£149 is not a lot of money for two days of Comedy Writing goodness; but it is quite a lot of money for you personally to stump up, I get that. Honest.

Some of you may have looked around and realised a plethora of bloggers are offering you a £25 discount, bringing the ticket price down to £124. Which is a good deal.

The more discerning and caring among you may even be looking at Michelle Lipton’s excellent blog in which she outlines the mechanics of the discounts (the blogger concerned gets paid £25 for every ticket they sell using their discount code) and has pledged to give her money to Comic Relief; which, let’s face it, is a lovely thing to do and anyone who hasn’t already bought a ticket should immediately buy one using her discount code of: michellelipton

For those of you who still feel £124 is too rich for your blood, then here’s where my offer comes in. Buy your ticket from me, using my discount code, and I will give YOU the £25 back. That means you only pay £99 for your ticket.

Basically, it works like this:

  1. Buy your ticket from this link. Use discount code JobbingScriptwriter and pay your £124.
  2. Send me an email ( telling me you’ve done it and include your home address.
  3. Attend the festival, laugh, learn from and mingle with your comedy heroes.
  4. After the festival, I get sent a list of who bought a ticket using my code and £25 per person. Upon receipt, I immediately send you a cheque for £25.
  5. Cash the cheque.
  6. Blow the cash on booze.

And that’s pretty much it.

Why am I doing this? Well, because I don’t agree with making money off my fellow scriptwriters who are trying to learn/get ahead. We’re all in the same boat and I don’t want to be charging people for life jackets.

Some of you may not trust me, and that’s fair enough. I have nothing to offer but a promise made in public and let’s face it you don’t know me from Adam. I can you assure you I am trustworthy (mostly) but if you’re in doubt, wing your way over to Michelle and make some of the world’s poorest children happy.

Alternatively, buy from me, trust you’ll get your £25 and then donate it to a charity of your choice so you can feel all lovely and scrummy inside all by yourself.

It’s up to you; but there’s the offer: buy a £124 ticket from me using discount code ‘JobbingScriptwriter‘ and I will give you £25.

There, doesn’t that sound lovely?

Spread the word.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to rub suntan lotion into my bikini-clad wife.

* You can send nude photos of yourself to me if you want, I don’t mind.

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

How to read feedback for your script

For this method you will need:

  • A computer *
  • An Internet connection
  • A bed and a pillow
  • Some privacy
  • A cup of tea
  1. On receiving your feedback, immediately and BEFORE READING SAID FEEDBACK send a polite thank you/acknowledgement with a promise to revert once you have had time to properly digest their thoughts.
  2. Unplug your Internet connection before reading.
  3. Read the feedback.
  6. Lie still until the urge to wipe your bottom on their opinions has passed.
  7. Have a cup of tea.
  8. Reflect on how lucky you are not to have had witnesses to your childish outburst.
  9. Imagine, if you will, that the person delivering the notes isn’t proof of the dire need for time travel so you can go back and wipe out their grandparents, thus preventing them ever existing; but rather a human being with valid opinions which differ slightly from your own, possibly brought about by your own inability to convey the correct meaning in your writing or possibly brought about by them reading the script through a filter you hadn’t expected. Only in exceptionally rare circumstances are they actually a twat.
  10. Read the notes again.
  11. Marvel at how, this time, you find yourself agreeing with some of the points, realising some of them don’t matter one way or the other and the rest, whilst wrong, stem from a completely different problem which everyone has yet to identify.
  12. Plug the Internet back in.
  13. DO NOT EXPRESS AN OPINION OF THE NOTES simply arrange a time when you can meet face to face and calmly discuss them.

And that’s pretty much it. You may choose to have another cup of tea at this time, you may not. Sleep is usually helpful at some point.

Obviously, this method is not the only method you can employ. You are free to employ any method of your choosing, possibly even one which doesn’t show you up as a ridiculously petulant child? Perhaps your method involves being calm and rational from the outset? Or large scale mass-murder? I have no idea, but would be fascinated to find out.


* It doesn’t matter which type. Different people will try to argue one manufacturer/operating system over another. Please ignore them, for the purposes of this and every other scriptwriting related procedure it matter not a jot. They all do the same things.

It doesn’t matter which type. Different people will try to argue one manufacturer/stuffing over another. Please ignore them, for the purposes of this and every other scriptwriting related procedure it matter not a jot. They all do the same things.

Different people will try to argue one manufacturer/beverage over another. These people are fucking wrong. Especially if they suggest coffee. Coffee is Satan’s wee and will completely and utterly ruin your career as a scriptwriter. Tea is the only acceptable choice. This is not open for debate, you are wrong, accept it and move on.

Categories: My Way, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 7 Comments

BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forums

I’ve always thought this sounds like a good opportunity, never quite got round to submitting anything; but it’s got to be worth a punt:

BAFTA and Rocliffe are accepting scripts for their next two New Writing Forums, London on the 9 May and Edinburgh with the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 16 June.

At the submission stage your script extracts will be read by a panel of established industry members made up of producers, script developers, directors, literary agents, actors who are looking for new writing talent. Should your script be selected for the event, it will be performed by professional actors to an audience including BAFTA members,  agents and industry executives – a fantastic way to get noticed!

The closing date is 25 March 2011. Entries should be sent to Alex Cook, BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LN. The entry form can be found here Rocliffe Application May/June 2011 And more details are here:

Categories: Opportunity | Leave a comment

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