I got a Tweet tonight about the London Screenwriters’ Festival at the end of October (and if you don’t know, I am the director of the festival) and we engaged in a short conversation about the value of attending the festival.
Here is one of the tweets in the conversation…
‘Its not like there r “new techniques” 2learn like 4other disciplines. Mayb u can explain?’
I tried to Tweet an answer, but Twitter just isn’t the forum for that chat and it was far from eloquent!
But it did get me thinking. Why do we attend, giving up valuable time and money that could be spent elsewhere? Of course everyone has their own agenda, a unique set of reasons to attend. For many, I know the seminars and sessions are invaluable – I have sat and watched most of last years online (inside our network) and have learned something from every one of them. But is there something more, something common to everyone?
I think there is.
Real life is both consuming and distracting. And screenwriting is a lifelong career that demands a large investment of oneself. The two can clash regularly and those skirmishes can lead to a loss of focus, momentum and passion.
And that is one of the big reasons I think so many writers attend the festival.
Because it is an extended period of time where one can be immersed in storytelling. It kind of re-centers us. Sure we go to seminars and learn loads of new cool things – that is all great of course. But that is expected.
It’s the ability to talk about nothing but screenwriting, to listen to no-one but screenwriting experts (both on the stage and sat right next to you), to eat dinner with screenwriters, jump on the tube with screenwriters… It’s about that total immersion. That’s why the event works so well.
And not just for our delegates. I realised last year that the hundred or so speakers who shared so generously are also on exactly the same journey. The festival is a place where they can experience that total immersion and spend time inside our own crazy tribe.
Somehow, this total immersion in our community re-ignites the passion, the dream, the desire to continue the long trek up what last week felt like Mount Impossible… but now feels like Mount Inevitable… and we are not alone.
And so to the Tweeter who asked, all I can say is this…
Being there and being immersed in the experience is perhaps more valuable than the many insights you will have, the new relationships you will form and the accelerated breakthroughs you will experience in your career and your projects.
But of course, you’ve got to be there…
Onwards and upwards
Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author