The Cheltenham Screenwriters' Festival kicks off on Monday morning. For a fair proportion of attendees, of course, it actually starts tomorrow night with some networking. Piers and I threw ourselves a Scribomeet on the night before SWF 2008. This year, the festival itself has organised its own semi-official meet 'n' greet night at The Queens Hotel, so that's where I'll be, along with fellow bloggers Piers, Michelle and Phill, endeavouring to banter with old friends and new.
Traditionally in the run-up to SWF, I write about how to prepare for the event. This year I can't, because I'm too busy preparing myself. This is, in no small part, because I'm a speaker this year, chairing both the Doctor Who Classic Adventures (Andrew Cartmel, Terrance Dicks, Philip Hinchcliffe and Bob Baker) and Further Adventures (Gareth Roberts, James Moran, Michael Stevens, Joe Lidster) panels. They're going to be a lot of fun, but naturally take extra time to research. See you there if you're a Who fan, or even hopefully if you're not.
TwelvePoint.com has published a fine series of articles on how to prepare for the SWF - and if you're a delegate, you should already have picked up a free six-month subscription to the fine screenwriting website, so go soak up all that wisdom.
Here's precisely what you'll get out of the Screenwriters' Festival 2009: whatever you put into it. At the same time, temper your expectations - it's unlikely to change your life overnight, or even in this coming week. It's more of a slow-burn. Case in point: at the 2007 festival, I randomly met a script editor called Sarah Olley as we both made cups of tea. We chatted, got along well and swapped cards. There seemed to be no immediate way in which we could help each other out professionally, but socially things worked well. Eighteen months later, Sarah asked to have a look at a few of my spec scripts. We then met for lunch and she told me about an online drama she was developing for Eye Film & TV, called Tempting Fates, and for which she needed a writer. Cut to the present day, after a lot of work, and Tempting Fates is now online - catch up on the first week of mini-episodes here.
So don't expect to bump into an eccentric millionaire producer with a suitcase full of cash at SWF. But do expect to give it your all, then reap the rewards over time.