Well, as planned, I went to the Monastic Productions Q&A here in London yesterday, as organised by the BBC.
It was, as I’d hoped, an interesting bash, with writers Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharaoh talking about the development process for Life on Mars and Ashes To Ashes, and taking questions. Most of the questions were interesting and, I’d imagine, informative to the broad mass of the audience and not just me (or the person asking the question).
Not many notes to share from the event – I was more busy listening than noting – but the following were a few things I scribbled down:
– It’s vital for the conflict in any tale to be built into the premise.
– Story should be the delivery mechanism for the characters.
– You shouldn’t be afraid to pitch ideas, and put your neck on the chopping board, and then put forward more ideas.
– You have to write without thinking of things like budget and music clearance.
And lest you think from the above that I was paying more attention to Matthew than Ashley, let me raise this point; talking about spending time with other writers on the series discussing plotlines and scenes, Ashley said that he loved those moments more than anything else, and that the thrill of working in that way with other writers was definitely one of the best parts of the job. Now, I’ve heard this sort of thing from a variety of sources now, and it does seem as if there’s quite a bit of hope that the idea of the US-style Writers’ Room is one which is gaining some popularity here in the UK – perhaps more as a notion or aim than a reality, but this may change in time.
However, the people I’ve heard it from tend to be writers, and so a part of me wonders if it might be less a case of an industry-led notion, and maybe more an appealing idea given that writing is all too often a solitary process? I’m not knocking the idea at all, but I wonder how likely it would be to take off in the UK, especially given that drama series such as those named above usually have shorter series than in the US (eight episodes as opposed to 23, for example – same for comedies much of the time). Any thoughts? Let me know.
And speaking of the solitariness of the writerly life, I didn’t manage to spot as many writing bloggers as I’d hoped – though I did get to say a quick hello to Lianne, and think I saw Mr Perry in the front row, I couldn’t see Monsieur Arnopp or Madame Lucy at all – were you folks there, or was it all a trick whereby you pretend you’ll be in one place and then hide somewhere else and laugh at my expense?
If the latter, you really needn’t have bothered; I can get that sort of treatment at home.