Why have I done this? There is, after all, a fine line between being pro-active and projecting confidence and being delusional and a bit odd. The reason is the big event I’ve been preparing for.
For those who don’t already know, at the end of October in London is the biggest Screenwriters Festival in Europe. Packed full of practical, inspirational and interactive sessions, it is quick becoming a “must do” on the festival circuit. It caters for everyone from established screenwriters through to the cheeky scamps like myself who dare to cloak the title around themselves like a comfort blanket.
When does a screenwriter become a screenwriter?
It’s a great unanswered (and perhaps answerable) question.
Is it when you proclaim – loudly – at a dinner party that you are writing a screenplay? Or when you first want to hunt down the people that made Final Draft and poke them with a stick? Is it when the BBC first rejects your script? Or do you have to wait until you see your name on a screen somewhere before you can finally say without irony or slight embarrassment that you are a screenwriter?
Personally, I believe there comes a point when you have written a script or three and have had professional feedback on them when you have to take the plunge, walk the walk and assume the name. And that is where the London Screenwriters Festival comes in.
What the LSF provides newbies like me is a safe, supportive place to take my first – perhaps uneasy – steps as a screenwriter. It's a place to meet with others in exactly the same position as myself, to learn from those who have stood in that “lack of credit” no mans land and dared to call themselves a screenwriter, to talk to producers, directors and agents and for them to treat you as a screenwriter.
For a period of three days you can immerse yours in the collective bubble and actively introduce yourself without hint of irony as a screenwriter. It is a period of three days that will see exponential growth in your confidence, in your adopted title and in your ability to take yourself to the next level, whatever that will be.
So the business cards then are not an expensive exercise in self delusion, they are a tangible example of me moving from hobby writer to serious screenwriter. That transition is one which I don't think I'd be alone in trying to make this weekend and it is for that reason that I am grateful and a bit in awe of those working their ass off to put the festival together.
We create our own opportunities in life but those behind the London Screenwriters Festival are in no small way responsible for creating the safe space for us to do so. And it is for that reason that I would urge those still teetering on the edge of coming to take the plunge.
I'll see you there.