Joe Eszterhas, The Legendary Hollywood Screenwriter Who Reconstructed The Thriller Genre, Is This Year’s Headline Guest Speaker At The London Screenwriters’ Festival

basic-instinctPress Release from Premier

  • 90% of tickets already sold out for the world’s biggest event for professional screenwriters with more than 100 industry professionals and 600 delegates
  • Also leading festival sessions are the writers of internationally acclaimed films, TV shows  and games including The Fall, Broadchurch, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, The Borgias, The Constant Gardener, Waking the Dead, Primeval, EastEnders and Skins

LONDON – Friday 20 September 2013.  Joe Eszterhas, one of the most successful writers in Hollywood and credited with reinventing the film thriller genre, has been announced today as this year’s special guest speaker at the 2013 London Screenwriters’ Festival (LSF), the world’s biggest event for professional screenwriters in film and television, to be held at the London School of Film, Media & Performance, 25-27 October.

Credited with having once been the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood, Eszterhas is the creator of some of cinema’s most influential blockbuster thrillers including Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, Betrayed and Music Box as well as being a best-selling author. Collectively, his films have grossed billions of dollars worldwide.

Eszterhas continues to be passionate about scriptwriting and says if he were a young screenwriter starting out today, “I would put my heart, soul, and guts into every word of every screenplay that I write.  I would expect to get my heart broken… probably many times.  But I would also buy myself a deadly pair of brass knuckles and know how to use them.” 

In addition to being the guest for the LSF’s centrepiece audience interview, Eszterhas will be sharing his experience directly with screenwriters in a series of one-to-one script sessions and he will also present the festival’s inaugural British Screenwriters’ Award on 27 October.

During the course of three days, a line-up more than 100 leading writers, development executives, producers and directors working in film, television and games will be taking part as industry experts in a variety of pitching, performance workshops with directors and actors as well as script labs.

Festival Creative Director Chris Jones, who is also a filmmaker and author, says Now in its fourth year, the London Screenwriters’ Festival is the world’s biggest gathering of emerging and established screenwriters and is unparalleled in creating an environment for writers to immerse themselves in the great shared enterprise of making film, television, radio and new media content. It is simply the best three days of the year for writers.”

Headline speakers at this year’s festival also include:

  • Allan Cubitt, writer of the successful TV series, The Fall and Scott Hicks’s film, The Boys are Back;
  • Jim Sheridan, the Oscar®-winning writer and director of My Left Foot and In The Name of the Father whose films have collected 16 Academy Award® nominations;
  • Luke Ryan, Executive Vice President of Disruption Entertainment which has produced Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah as well as The Cabin in the Woods written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard;
  • Tony Jordan, the writer and producer synonymous with some of the UK’s most successful primetime dramas including Hustle, Life of Mars, Death in Paradise and The Nativity and the new crime show By Any Means soon to be seen on BBC One;
  • Neil and Rob Gibbons, the writers behind the return of the fictitious presenter Alan Partridge, will be speaking with Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa director Declan Lowney;
  • Chris Chibnall, executive producer and screenwriter of the ITV hit drama Broadchurch and the BBC One forthcoming films, A Robber’s Tale and A Copper’s Tale;
  • David Hare, screenwriter of Oscar®-winning films The Hours and The Reader, and the Emmy-winning page Eight;
  • David Leland, the BAFTA and Cannes award-winning screenwriter and director of Wish You Were Here, who most recently has been writing and directing The Borgias for Showtime;
  • David Parfitt, award-winning independent film, theatre and TV producer, whose credits include films Shakespeare in Love, The Madness of King George, My Week with Marilyn, the BBC’s Parade’s End and the recent West End play Elling;
  • Paul Webster, the Oscar®-nominated producer whose involvement in more than 100 films includes Atonement, Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and The Motorcycle Diaries;
  • Pilar Alessandra, script consultant for DreamWorks and other US producers, director of the Los Angeles writers’ studio On The Page® and named as one of LA Weekly’s Top 100 People;
  • Graham Linehan, also the director of the highly popular series Father Ted, The IT Crowd and Black Books; and
  • Barbara Machin, the BAFTA and Emmy award-winning writer of Waking The Dead The Investigator, Devil’s Advocate, Pattern of Life, Kiss of Death and An Unsuitable for a Woman, and currently writing a new crimes series for BBC One.

Screenwriters also leading sessions include:

  • Alan Gilbey, who has also developed original content for major animation studios in the US and the UK including What’s The Big Idea? and Dinopaws, both for CBeebies;
  • Steve Ince, writer and designer of a string of successful and critically-acclaimed games including Broke Sword – The Sleeping Dragon and Alice in Wonderland;
  • Iain Morris and Damon Beesley, screenwriters and exec producers of the award-winning E4 comedy series, The Inbetweeners, The Inbetweeners Movie feature film and the cult HBO sitcom Flight of the Conchords;
  • Dominic Mitchell, playwright and screenwriter of the BBC Three series In The Flesh which aired to huge acclaim this year;
  • Sally Abbott, screenwriter of dramas such as EastEnders, Holby City and Casualty for which she was recently nominated for a Radio times/CDN award as well as TV series and a feature film;
  • Shaun McKenna, playwright, screenwriter and lyricist whose work includes Ladies in Lavender, The Lord of the Rings on stage,  the BBC’s Complete Smiley and the European hit The Heidi Trilogy;
  • Tim Firth, also a playwright, whose film credits include Calendar Girls and The Wedding Video, the TV film Money for Nothing and The Flint Street Nativity;
  • Kurti & Doyle, who work in film and television in the US and the UK whose work has won numerous awards. Their credits include Primeval, Going Postal, Wolfblood and Kidnapped;
  • Phil Ford, co-creator of the BBC kids adventure show Wizards Vs Aliens, The Sarah Jane Adventures as well as writing for Torchwood, Bad Girls, Taggart and Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars;
  • James Moran, whose film work includes Severance, Cockneys Vs Zombies and Tower Block and for TV, Primeval, Spooks and Girl Number 9;
  • Mark Pallis, screenwriter and a former barrister and investigator who unearthed  William Garrow and created Garrow’s Law for BBC One and also wrote the indie Kung Fu film Iron Monk;
  • Paul Bassett Davies, working in theatre, radio and TV whose credits include Smith and Jones, Spitting Image and the screenplay for the feature animation The Magic Roundabout. His sitcom Reception has just started on BBC Radio 4 and his second novel, Dead Writers in Rehab is out shortly;
  • Tim Clague, screenwriter and game expert whose web series Mr Vista has had 1.5 million views and the creator of one of the first films in Google Earth;
  • Jeffrey Caine, screenwriter of Goldeneye, The Constant Gardener and Inside I’m Dancing;
  • Jo Ho, award-winning screenwriter and director who created CBBC’s action fantasy Spirit Warriors, the UK’s first TV drama with a predominantly East Asian cast;
  • Piers Ashworth, screenwriter of British films Burke & Hare and St Trinian’s 1 and 2 and studio films Mission Impossible  and currently adapting bestseller Graceling;
  • Gabriella Apicella, also a co-founder of the UnderWire Festival and a presenter of a variety of different writing courses;
  • Kevin Rundle, a screenwriter and story editor on EastEnders for the BBC as well as a series story editor for TV companies;
  • Stuart Hazeldine, whose first film Exam won a BAFTA Outstanding Debut nomination. Currently rewriting Agincourt for Michael Mann he also co-wrote Gods and Kings for Warner Bros.
  • Andrea Mann, the comedy writer of The Huffington Post UK and writer for The News Quiz and Never Mind the Buzzcocks amongst other shows;
  • Chris Hill, whose credits include being part of the writing team for Skins, the World War II biopic White Rose, and a script consultant on the Oscar®-nominated The Last Station. He has recently wrote the screenplay for Butterfly Kick which starts filming shortly;
  • Darrin Grimwood, screenwriter, novelist and playwright whose Dark Horse comics sci-fi thriller The Deleted was published this year; and
  • Kate Leys, script editor, who works with numerous leading film and TV writers and directors including Tony Grisoni, Roman Polanski and William Boyd.

Film and television directors participating in sessions include James Strong (Broadchurch , Downton Abbey), Jonathan Newman (Swinging with the Finkels, Maria Mundi, The Midas Box), Marcus Markou (Papadopoulos & Sons);  Martha Fiennes (Onegin, Chromophobia); Paul Tranter (The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan, The Fall of the Essex Boys), Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley (Black Pond), Michael J Bassett (Deathwatch, Silent Hill2) and Declan Lowney (Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Father Ted).

Actors and actresses taking part include Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch, Attack the Block),  Reece Shearsmith (The Widower for ITV, The League of Gentlemen), Steve Pemberton (The League Of Gentlemen, Whitechapel, Inside No 9), Paterson Joseph (Peep Show, Green Wing), Doon Mackichan (Smack The Pony, Plebs) and Emma Croft (As You Like it, Honest Lies).

Session moderators include TV presenter, writer and comedian Alex Zane (Rude Tube), broadcaster Guy Cocker (BBC 5 Live, Sky News), Lisa Neeley (Met Film School), film/TV and theatre producer David Nicholas Wilkinson (Mother’s Milk, To the Lighthouse), writer, broadcaster and producer Karen Krizanovich (The Film Programme), and film critic and broadcaster Nigel Floyd (Time Out, BBC Radio 4).

Bringing additional producing, casting and film development experience to the festival as session leaders are:

  • John Yorke, Managing Director of Company Pictures, the UK drama independent behind Skins, Shameless, The White Queen and Wolf Hall;
  • Brandy Rivers from The Gersh Agency in LA and whose experience includes working for Jerry Bruckheimer Television, Summit Entertainment, Lifetime and Fox.  Her clients include writer Bret Witter whose book Monuments Men is shortly to be released and Terry Pratchett’s UK company Narrativia on a Discworld series called The Watch;
  • Gub Neal, producer and former Head of Drama at Channel 4, Controller of Drama at Granada and founder of Box TV, co-creator of Cracker and Prime Suspect and producer of the high-acclaimed BBC Two drama The Fall;
  • Iain Smith, producer of major international films such as Alexander, Wanted, The A Team and the forthcoming Mad Max: Fury Road as well as some of the UK’s greats including Chariots of Fire, The Killing Fields, The Mission and Local Hero;
  • Richard Stokes, producer of the acclaimed TV series Broadchurch, two series of Doctor Who, Law & Order and Silk;
  • Kate Harwood, BBC Head of Drama whose team has delivered award-winning dramas such as Cranford, Tess of the D’Ubervilles, Silent Witness and Silk;
  • Caroline Raphael, commissioning Editor for BBC Radio 4;
  • Julian Friedman, film, TV and literary agent who has lectured all over the world, written books on scriptwriting and created PILOTS (an EU Media initiative to develop long-running TV series) and the MA in Television Scriptwriting at De Montfort University;
  • Henry Swindell, development producer with the BBC Writersroom North and a producer of feature and short films, currently co-producing Live Forever to be directed by Beeban Kidron;
  • José Silerio, screenwriter and development director, well-known for helping writers learn how to write following Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! method;
  • Julie Gray, story consultant and writing mentor who teaches at Warner Bros Studios and just published her screenwriting book, Just Effing Entertain Me;
  • Gavin Poolman, the producer behind Apollo Media which has been involved in the production and finance of more than 14 films and launched an investment fund for independent films with Ingenious Media;
  • Jonathan Sothcott, producer of films including While Collar Hooligan, The Fall of the Essex Boys and Universal’s Top Dog;
  • Sarah Scougal, head of development for Vertigo Films which has co-produced Bronson, The Sweeney, Streetdance and Horrid Henry, and currently with two screenplays in development;
  • Melanie Stokes, co-founder of Kindle Entertainment and Executive Producer of The Life & Adventures Of Nick Nickleby and Treasure Island;
  • Phil Temple, head of development at NBC Universal and former Development Executive with BBC Drama Production;
  • Jon Mountague, commissioning editor at Sky and executive producer of Trollied, Nixon’s The One, Stella and more recently A Young Doctor’s Notebook with Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe;
  • Will Emsworth, head of development for Academy Award winners Bedlam Productions (The King’s Speech);
  • Mark Talbot, comedy producer at Hat Trick Productions;
  • Saskia Schuster, commissioning editor for comedy at Sky, former development executive at Toff Media and head of scripted development at Objective Pictures. Credits include  executive producing of The Spa, Nixon’s The One and Little Crackers;
  • Stephen Follows, writer and producer whose most recent film is Baseline starring Jamie Foreman and Dexter Fletcher;
  • Bob Schultz, writer and producer whose work includes Below Zero but is also the Executive Director of the Great American Pitchfest & Screenwriting Conference;
  • Jeremy Howe, Drama Commissioning Editor for BBC Radio 4 and a former producer of BBC Two’s New Directors season which gave breaks to filmmakers including Joe Wright, Debbie Isitt and Andrea Arnold;
  • Nick Dowd, producer, whose credits include films such as State of Grace with Sean Penn and Let it Ride with Richard Dreyfus, Michael Mann’s Last of the Mohicans, Curtis Hanson’s Wonderboys, The Count of Monte Cristo, Reign of Fire, Veronica Guerrin and Apocalypto;
  • Kira-Anne Pelican, a tutor in scriptwriting and  screenwriter who has worked in on films such as Eyes Wide Shut, Catwoman and The Matrix sequels and whose hit web series Living with the Infidels was picked up by the BBC;
  • Philip Shelley, Channel 4 screenwriting course and script editor who has worked on Inspector Morse, Kavanagh QC, Waking the Dead and Cider with Rosie.
  • Paul Ashton, Senior Film Executive with Creative England whose credits include the Oscar®-nominated Wish 143, Turning, a slate of films from emerging talent with B3 Media, Mustapha Kseibati’s Short Mohammed, and Eran Creevy’s Shifty;
  • Signe Olynyk, from Protagonist Pictures in LA and Twilight Pictures in Canada, nd a producer and writer whose credits include Below Zero as well as documentaries, TV pilots and series. She also created the Great American Pitchfest & Great Canadian Pitchfest;
  • Sam Hoyle, script executive for film, TV and radio who has worked on BroadchurchA Robber’s Tale and A Copper’s Tale shortly to air on BBC One and currently working on the second series of Broadchurch;
  • Kevin Jackson, Vice President Sales and Marketing with George P. Johnson, respected as being hugely influential in the marketing world working with world leading brands;
  • Laurie Hutzler, screenwriter and story consultant who has worked with the UK broadcasters, Aardman Animation, Pixar University, Disney, Dreamworks, Endemol, GloboMedia and TNT Russia among others. She is a consultant for FremantleMedia in the US, UK, Europe, and Australia;
  • Neal Romanek, genre fiction writer who has written for Joel Silver, Mario Kassar, Lisa Henson and Dino Di Laurentiis.  He has recently written Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Skies of Venus, a new novel and a graphic novel, Boudicca, to be published next year;
  • Angeli Macfarlane, script developer who has worked with Carol Carlei on Flight of the Innocent, Gabriel Range on I am Slave, The Guard and Junkhearts;
  • Robert Grant, writer, filmmaker and critic with a penchant for science fiction and fantasy;
  • Will Massa, head of development for Collabor8te which supports new filmmaking talent and also a film advisor for the British Council;
  • Linda Potgieter, negotiation expert who has served on President Nelson Mandela’s PR team in Kwa-Zulu Natal and  regarded internationally as an expert on the interpersonal dimensions of communication and business negotiation;
  • Lucy V Hay, screenwriter, script editor, novelist and blogger whose debut novel, But What next/ has just been bought by Rowohlt Publishers in Germany; and
  • ·       Phil Parker, development consultant and CEO of BCre8ive, the online production platform for creative people. He has also  has worked for the BBC, Channel 4 and Aardman Animation and on Wallace and Gromit – Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather.

Full information about this year’s festival sessions and ticket information can be found at

For press information contact:

Tina McFarling

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