There and Back Again: The London Screenwriters’ Festival

The word ‘hiatus’ has been on my mind lately.

It’s been 7 months since my last blog post, where I shared a few words about the art of perseverance (or, how to stop worrying about how big the tree is and keep swinging that axe).

It’s also been 3 years since I last attended the London Screenwriters’ Festival.

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A lot has happened in those time frames. Since my last post, I became a father for the first time. A year before that I bought my first house. Go a little further back and you’ll find me burrowing into the Welsh independent filmmaking scene, where I have been active ever since.

With the arrival of my perfect little daughter five months ago, the selfish writer in me wondered whether I would ever hear and feel the buzz of the Festival again, like I did in 2012 and ’13.

I do have the Welsh scene, which continues to astound me with its depth of talent and boundless potential. There are still mountains to climb there, as my creative relationships continue to flourish and projects roll ahead.

There’s just something about London.

Swarms of hopeful writers rubbing shoulders with industry professionals; the absence of comfort zones; the heady sound of dreams being fuelled, doubts being validated, and stories being exchanged. Throw in the opportunities to pitch your ideas, analyse scripts, conduct table reads and lock yourself in an elevator with a Hollywood exec, and it’s quite an experience.

Only I did none of that when I attended.

I didn’t pitch; I didn’t sign up to a table read or a script lab; and I avoided the infamous ‘Elevator Pitch’ like leprosy. I did network, and I met some wonderful people who I remain in contact with; my first Festival led, through several degrees of separation, to meeting the group of filmmakers who I work with to this day.

However, my networking was limited by the same thing that prevented me from putting myself and my work out there:

Fear. Of rejection; of humiliation; of finding out that I’m hopelessly wasting my precious time.

These fears are real, and they will remain unchallenged unless I face them. At least by sharing my work with more people I’ll get an idea of how to improve. And if I’m to take the craft of screenwriting seriously, as it deserves, then that’s got to be worth the investment.

Time poverty, fiscal restraints, and a comfortable creative niche in my own country were, I felt, all valid reasons not to make the annual pilgrimage to London. These reasons still exist. But so too does my love for screenwriting, and my desire to overcome my fears and personal flaws.

Now, three years older and three years more experienced, I feel better placed to capitalise on everything the London Screenwriters’ Festival has to offer. Life is passing by at quite a rate. If I’m not careful it’ll take all of its best opportunities along with it.

And that’s precisely why I’ll be going next year.