Friday, 12 October 2012

September Drinks with Angeli Macfarlane

 A huge thank you to Angeli Macfarlane, September’s special guest, for another great night of In Development drinks.

Head of Development at Altered Image, and a particularly insightful script editor, Angeli has recently worked on films including THE GUARD (John McDonagh), I AM SLAVE (Gabriel Range) and JUNKHEARTS (Tinge Krishnan). She previously worked with new filmmakers at Pathé, Film4 and the First Film Foundation; works internationally on features in English, French and Italian; and has lectured in screenwriting and film and television development in Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

Known to many of us through her brilliant training on the Script Factory and National Film and Television School's Diploma in Script Development, it was lovely to catch up, and hear her many words of wisdom about development, screenwriting and filmmaking. It was also great to meet some new members. Thanks to everyone, both ‘old’ and new, for coming along!

And on the subject of new members, last month marked the NFTS’s launch of the Script Development Diploma, as sole managers of the course, with a brand new intake of students.

To celebrate the ongoing success of this training – and because we’ve had him in mind as a special guest since we started In Development! – we’ll be joined for our October drinks by prolific producer, and Director of the National Film and Television School, Nik Powell. We hope this year’s class can join us!

From setting up Virgin Records with Richard Branson in the early 1970s, Nik made the move into the film industry and was Executive Producer and Producer on films including THE COMPANY OF WOLVES, MONA LISA, THE CRYING GAME, CALENDAR GIRLS, BACKBEAT, TWENTY FOUR SEVEN, LITTLE VOICE and LADIES IN LAVENDER. He is currently chairman of the BAFTA film committee. You can read more about him here.

Anyone who has ever met Nik knows he has lots of stories to tell, so this is set to be a great night. Invites are on the way.

If you work in drama or comedy development (at all levels), and would like to join us at this event, or our future monthly drinks, you are very welcome! Please do get in touch to be added to our mailing list.

Hannah and Sarah x

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Summer Drinks - Chris Jones and Justin Edgar

July and August brought another two entertaining evenings of In Development drinks, with guests Chris Jones and Justin Edgar. Chris shared the inside scoop on his latest project, 50 Kisses, and plans for the London Screenwriters' Festival 2012; as well as answering numerous questions about his Oscar shortlisted film, Gone Fishing, the now legendary Guerilla Film Makers' Handbook, and his other filmmaking experiences so far. It was great to have the man who's always on the move sit down with us for a few relaxed hours of chat! 

Another filmmaker with lots on the go, Justin shared news of his latest feature film, teen comedy We are the Freaks (which is currently in post-production); as well as insights from his experience as a director, writer and producer with his company 104 Films, and news of his upcoming projects. 

Chris and Justin both attracted a great crowd on their respective nights, of people with a fascinating range of experiences; all with projects in various stages, as developers, producers, directors or writers. There was the usual great buzz, as news, contacts and information were shared, and old and new friends and colleagues caught up.

Many thanks again to both guests for joining us and everyone who came along. We look forward to seeing many of you again this month, when a very experienced script editor will be joining us as our featured guest: the brilliant Angeli Macfarlane. You can see her full biography on our profiles page. Cheers! 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Updates, Upcoming Guests and Another Member Offer!

It’s been a busy few months, and, while we may have neglected our blogging duties somewhat, we haven’t forgotten you, our dear In Development members. Rest assured of that.

We have a line up of yet more great guests joining us for drinks over the coming months. More on them in a moment, but first, a huge thank you to our June special guest, Marilyn Milgrom.

Fresh from a four-year stint as Head of Development at the New Zealand Film Commission, Marilyn fit us into her packed schedule of script consulting for the likes of the BFI’s Film Fund, the European producers’ workshop and network, ACE, and the Warsaw-based EKRAN Workshop; as well working on her own projects and tutoring.

Many of us got our first introduction to script reading and development through Marilyn’s training, via The Script Factory, so it was lovely to catch up and find out more about what she has been up to. Thanks to everyone who came along.

Coming up over the next few months, our special guests include writer/director, Justin Edgar, whose latest feature film is the 1990-set teen comedy, We Are The Freaks, which Hannah script consulted on. The film stars Michael Smiley (Kill List, Spaced), Rosamund Hanson (This is England, Life’s Too Short), Jamie Blackley (Misfits), Mike Bailey (Skins), Sean Teale (Skins) and Adam Gillen (Fresh Meat), and is currently in post-production. Justin is also a producer, and co-produced the BAFTA nominated Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, starring Andy Serkis. Other producing credits include NFA (No Fixed Abode), which premiered at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Also joining us soon will be Angeli Macfarlane, Head of Development at Altered Image. Angeli has worked in development for over twenty years, starting at the First Film Foundation, where as Deputy Director she associate produced several features including Golden Globe nominated The Flight of the Innocent. She then worked at Pathé UK, running a new writer's scheme, and went to work with Film4 developing films by new directors. Along with Robin Gutch (now Warp-X), she executive produced six short films for Channel 4. More recent films she’s been involved with, as script editor and producer, include Junkhearts, Death of a President, and I Am Slave - which if you haven’t yet seen (and we urge you to) is available to watch on 4OD. Consider it your (very powerful and compelling) homework!
Angeli trained us (and numerous others!) on the National Film and Television School and the Script Factory’s Diploma in Script Development, and has taught (as an external tutor and advisor) at the London Film Academy, the Central School of Speech and Drama, and on the National Film and Television School’s Screenwriting programme.

And July’s guest is Chris Jones, Creative Director of the London Screenwriters’ Festival.

If you’ve read his books or his blog, or heard him speak at seminars or festivals, you’ll know that his enthusiasm, tenacity and “make it happen” drive is infectious. Made famous as author of The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook, and with three micro-budget feature films under his belt, Chris announced his intention to make an Oscar winning short. The resulting film, Gone Fishing, made it to the shortlist stage. He has since turned his experience into a seminar, which, as it turns out, was attended by Rahul Gandotra, who went on to make The Road Home, which Sarah script edited. This film was also Oscar shortlisted. We’ll be very interested to find out more about Chris’s experiences – and uncover the secret to his (and Rahul’s!) Academy near-success.

(Rahul hoped to make it but is sadly unable to join us this month. We are looking forward to having him as our guest at a future date.)

We are also looking forward to finding out more about 50 Kisses, the screenwriting and filmmaking competition launched by Chris, through the London Screenwriters’ Festival, for which In Development member Steven Russell (of Loves Me Not Films & Scripts) is heading up the reading.

Hope you can make it. Invites are on the way!

Hannah and Sarah x

And now for our member offer…

In Development is delighted to let you know that we have kindly been given a group rate for our members to attend the London Screenwriters Festival on 26th – 28th October. The festival is Europe's largest professional screenwriters’ event and attracts top script consultants, screenwriters, directors, producers, agents and development executives from around the world. The In Development Group Discount is over 20% off the ticket price (bringing the normal price of £299 down to £234) and until the 31st July you can spread the cost and pay in four instalments.  Direct any queries to To buy your ticket, either pay outright by clicking on the following link and entering the promotional code: INDEV2012 when buying your ticket or to pay in four instalments just click on this link.

4 Months @ £58.50 per month

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

April Drinks with Jon Croker

If you’re a script editor or development person who also writes then April’s featured guest, Jon Croker, is certainly someone to meet. Jon worked for a number of years as Story Editor at the Film Council, on titles including The Iron Lady, Attack The Block and The Woman in Black. However, he was previously a writer too and since leaving the Film Council has made the transition into screenwriting full time. During April, Variety announced Jon as the writer of the sequel to The Woman in Black, (‘the most successful British horror of all time' The Guardian). We thought we’d invite him to join us and share his experiences on the project and how he made this transition.

Jon told us that he was asked to pitch his approach to the sequel, along with other writers, but the fact that he and the producing team were already comfortable discussing the material together in development terms could not have hurt his case. Obviously everyone wants a writer who understands and is adaptable to the development process, so this is potentially an advantage to us two-hat wearing types. 

Jon also told us about an improvised thriller feature he’s been working on recently, In Fear. He was on set each day with the director providing scenarios to actors who had no idea what was going to happen next! He would then work up material that night in reaction to what was improvised. Certainly sounded like good fun, so look out for that.


April's drinks brought another packed evening, with an excellent crowd of development folk to chat with. This included our featured guest for March, Jamie Wolpert; script consultant Marilyn Milgrom, recently back from a four year stint as Head of Development at the New Zealand Film Commission; feature film director/producer Neil Thompson of Formosa Films, who just secured SEIS funding to develop another three features; film director/producer Justin Edgar of 104 Films, currently editing his latest feature We Are The Freaks; director/producer Peter Chippingscript consultant Ellin Steindevelopment producer Steven Russell of Loves Me Not Films; script editor Lauren Cushman; production co-ordinator Laura Park, currently working on the new series of The Thick of It and down from Birmingham, multiple hat wearing, writer/director/producer, Brendan O’Neill of Stickleback Productions, to name but a few. 

At the time of our drinks Jon was already well into the first draft of the sequel, titled; The Woman in Black – Angels of Death. Now he is one of our In Development clan, we hope he has a chance to join us for drinks in the future and look forward to hearing more about  this and other projects. 

Thanks very much to Jon for being April's featured guest – a writer and developer with plenty of experience and insight to share!

Thanks very much also to director/writer Paul Henry for April’s photographs.

NB - As ever, if you'd like to be a featured guest or can introduce us to someone who you feel would make a great featured guest, please do let us know. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

March Drinks with Jamie Wolpert

It was a busy one this March as we welcomed Jamie Wolpert, the new Development Editor at the BFI Film Fund, as our featured guest. 

In Development members took over much of the Soho Theatre Bar, with a possibly record turnout for our first anniversary drinks. 

Jamie chatted with lots of his fellow network members and shared his first month’s experience in the new job, as well as insight into developing and script editing the upcoming Sky Atlantic series Hit & Miss.

As you might expect, the role of Development Editor is a busy one, with a constant pile of scripts to read, applications to assess, development meetings with the great and the good of the industry and a remit to keep an eye out for the upcoming talent.

If you’re planning on submitting a funding application to the BFI, Jamie shared a few observations from his first weeks: They currently receive something like 20-25 first-stage applications a week. Here, you pitch the project, in all its facets, before they request to read the script. Apparently the odds that they’ll request the script are quite good. However, where people tend to trip up at the first hurdle is if the initial application does too little to demonstrate the track record, experience, planning or strategy to suggest the production is viable. Jamie observed this can happen for quite different reasons, sometimes arrogance; ‘Everyone knows me so I don’t need to explain myself’, and sometimes naivety; ‘Here’s my great idea, now you help me make it’. Clearly the BFI Film Fund doesn't have the time or money to run your production for you, so the onus is on the applicant to make a good case for their ability to carry off this particular project.

Once you get to the script request stage, the fall-out rate is obviously higher. According to the BFI Film Fund guidelines, 90% of applications are ultimately unsuccessful. However, if there’s potential in the project, there may be an opportunity for a meeting to discuss it, (even if the ultimate answer on funding is no). It's useful, of course, to put a human face to those assessing applications, get their input and open lines of communication for the future. 

Thanks to Jamie for coming along and sharing these insights. We look forward to welcoming him to future drinks get-togethers, (when he has the chance, amid busy evenings of plays and screenings!).

Onto April’s drinks, and our featured guest is Jon Croker – former Story Editor at the UK Film Council, who's worked on projects including Attack the Block, The Iron Lady and The Woman in Black. Jon is now a full time screenwriter and was just announced in Variety as writer of the sequel to The Woman in Black (currently 'the most successful British horror of all time' The Guardian). He’s joining us to share insights from his experience on this hit project and others and to chat on the subject of moving between feature script editing and screenwriting. Should be another great night! See you there.

(Read more about Jon and Jamie on our profiles page)

The Woman in Black UK Trailer

Monday, 19 March 2012

February Drinks with Lucy Scher

“The secret of making movies is having the strongest possible script.” - Harvey Weinstein

It has been almost sixteen years since The Script Factory first came into existence, and, in that time, the company has been instrumental in promoting the importance of script development in the UK – and internationally - working with writers, developers, producers and distributors, among others; to train, educate, inspire and support the industry.

As Co-Director of the Script Factory, Lucy Scher joined from its earliest days in 1996, arranging performed readings and heading up their development and training programmes. She devised the UK's first ever course for script readers over a decade ago, and her illuminating approach to evaluating screenplays has swept the industry, been taught in countries throughout the world and led to the Script Factory's Diploma in Script Development ("the only comprehensive vocational programme in script development in the UK"), which she heads up in conjunction with the National Film and Television School.

The core of Lucy’s reader training is now available in a book, the highly recommended Reading Screenplays: How to Analyse and Evaluate Film Scripts. We were delighted that Hannah Patterson and Ion Mills from publishers, Kamera Books, joined Lucy to talk about Reading Screenplays; and further discussion was had with Lucy about her work in development and the future of the Script Factory, as the industry landscape evolves. A huge thank you to her! 

Lucy and the Script Factory helped us to launch (and co-hosted our launch party) back in March last year, as In Development originally grew out of our experiences on the Diploma in Script Development. In addition to established developers attending our February drinks, our guests included graduates of the Class of 2012, Paul Bryan and Sophie Mitchell. Congratulations to them and their fellow graduates!

Our March drinks are almost upon us, and this month’s special guest will be Jamie Wolpert, whose development credits include Sky Atlantic’s upcoming Hit & Miss, created by Paul Abbott and written by Sean Conway. Jamie also recently script-edited the tragic demise of Pat Evans (formerly Butcher) on Eastenders, and is the newly appointed Development Editor at the British Film Institute.

With today’s announcement of the appointment of Ben Roberts as the new Director of the BFI’s Film Fund, this is a great time to find out more about what is happening there, so we are very much looking forward to insights from Jamie, in his first month in the job. (And it seems very relevant to note here that Ben did the Script Factory's reader training years ago with Lucy!)

We agree with both Mr Weinstein (a happy sixtieth birthday to him!) and our very own Ms Scher, that it is ultimately all down to a brilliant script - and at In Development our focus remains on both movies and television drama. On that note, here’s the trailer for Hit & Miss, coming to Sky Atlantic in May…

Saturday, 11 February 2012

January Drinks: Slate Development (and Raising Finance!)

One of the joys of meeting up every month is that our ‘new faces’ quickly become ‘old regulars’. It is great to have the opportunity to meet and get to know the many talented people working in our field of expertise.

This month again, it was a case of so many people to catch up with (or introduce ourselves to), so little time! With possibly our largest turnout yet, we’re starting to overspill our corner of the Soho Theatre bar, and the very real buzz at our first get-together of the year was in no small part down to the welcoming friendliness of our two special guests, producer Sascha Hecks and screenwriter Simon Bates (and interest in this hot topic!). Both Sascha and Simon were quickly surrounded with eager ears, and we are incredibly appreciative to them both for the time they took in talking to us all.

Sascha and Simon first met at a London Screenwriters’ Festival party, which is a great reminder for writers - and the rest of us - that ‘getting out there’ and meeting people you click with is crucial in this industry. We know that work connections have already formed through In Development, and we are very much looking forward to seeing more of these develop, as well as the fruits of these relationships. We pride ourselves on the relaxed, informal nature of our meet-ups, and aim to be the antithesis of the stereotypical ‘networking’ event (with all the negative connotations those can bring to mind!), so we’re pleased that many of our guests have commented that we’re going about things the right way. Thanks to all who have given us feedback so far – we welcome all of your thoughts!

It was lovely to see two old friends of In Development: upcoming screenwriter/filmmaker (and Tisch Asia graduate) Ashish Ghadiali, who has several exciting international projects on the go, and the multi-talented Melody Bridges, whose play, Occupy: The Silent Scream, has just had a reading at the Occupy London Stock Exchange site, outside St Paul’s. It was great too to hear Sascha and Formosa Films’ Neil Thompson, discussing their experiences of producing, working with writers, and the nitty gritty of raising finance. Formosa Films have just completed the Paul Abbott and Jimmy Dowdall-scripted feature film, Twenty8K - so make sure you look out for that.

Thank you to everybody who came along, including development assistant at Parallel Films, Vicki Kisner; director, and National Film and Television School alumnus, Chamoun Issa; assistant at the Blake Friedmann agency, Daniel Nixon; agent, Simon Williamson and script reader/writer, Blaise Hesselgren.

With Jeremiah away in Italy, it was down to us to take the ‘official’ photos of the night – and we just don’t have the lenses… We look forward to his return in February!

Next up: Lucy Scher, co-director of The Script Factory, who helped us launch In Development last March, will be joining us to talk all things development, the Script Factory and her invaluable brand new book. Invites are on the way…

Monday, 16 January 2012

2012 - the year of kicking ass!

Happy New Year! Any resolutions on the cards? To get that commission, or produce that film? Bag a new job, launch a new business or write that screenplay? Now is the time to set some goals and christen 2012 the year of kicking ass and taking names!

At the close of The Screenwriters’ Festival 2011, Chris Jones got us all to tell the person next to us what we were going to achieve over the coming year and to make sure it was something big. Scary perhaps, to set ourselves a big challenge, but how else do big things get done? In the spirit of building a real network, we look forward to sharing our goals, hearing yours and getting on with making things happen.

As for In Development, we resolve to bring you more fantastic industry guests in 2012, discussing all aspects of developing screen fiction, and more great member discounts on courses/events of relevance to you. The group may evolve over the year and if you have ideas for this, or want to be part of it, then please let us know.

Our first meet-up of 2012 is on the subject of raising slate finance and managing a film development slate, with film producer Sascha Hecks. Screenwriter Simon Bates will also join us to give a case study focus on the process of developing his feature project with Sascha and her company Lex Filmed Entertainment. You can read more about both guests on our profiles page.

We closed out 2011 with sessions featuring Industrial Scripts and The Red Planet Prize. In November, we shared a drink with Industrial Scripts founder Evan Leighton-Davis and one of his team of consultants; script doctor, Aaron Anderson. Former Creative Editor for the UK Film Council, Aaron currently re/writes for hire through Industrial as well as pursuing his own projects independently, including a feature in the current Microwave scheme.

With Evan, we chatted about going it alone as a freelancer in an industry where development jobs are few and far between and almost never advertised. Though only established a couple of years ago, Industrial Scripts is now firmly on the map, and keeping busy with its range of report services and training. Evan has also recently established a production arm to Industrial, Takedown Pictures, with a new feature project to be adapted from the sports book The Grudge. We look forward to watching the progress of the project, and getting Evan back in as a guest again to chat about the production!  

In December our guest was TV screenwriter, Robert Thorogood – hot from his success as creator of the BBC’s Death in Paradise. The show was produced through Red Planet Pictures, and Robert’s relationship with the company was born through the Red Planet Prize. As a finalist of the competition, he became part of the Red Planet family, able to pitch ideas to Tony Jordan and his team and this is where the project took off.

Despite a long career as a screenwriter, developing numerous projects, this prime time commission is actually Robert’s first TV screenwriting credit! He chatted with us about the realities of the business and lessons learned along the way, and offered some reassuring insight.

Getting a commission is ridiculously difficult, and as seemingly unlikely for anyone. You have to understand what people want to watch, have that great idea that chimes with a commissioner at the right time and the evidence that you’re the right person to deliver it. Once you’re in of course, if you want to stay, you just have to keep having those great ideas! We’re pleased to say that Robert will be staying, as a second series of Death in Paradise has been confirmed. We wish him best of luck with shaping the second series - and hope to welcome him as our guest again to discuss that second adventure!

Thanks again to all our guests in 2011. We look forward to sharing more great evenings with you in 2012; celebrating successes, making connections, sharing experiences, building our networks and getting some great projects in development and ultimately to the screen. See you out there.

Sarah and Hannah x