Story Engine 2010: Reportage!

See that? It's a photograph of this blog, on a big screen at The Story Engine, during a session about online technology. Furthermore, on the depicted blog, is a blog-post about The Story Engine.

Hear that? It's the sound of reality eating itself.

This week, writer/top gent Paul 'Twitchiker' Smith and I yapped on the Newcastle event's Digital Connections panel, which was hosted by ITV legend Malcolm Wright. For 45 minutes, we discussed how important it is for writers to embrace and utilise digital/online technology. It's a subject so large that we could have talked all afternoon, but thankfully for the audience we stuck to that time-limit.

It's an interesting topic for me. On the one hand, I love the opportunities, information, ease, communication, general functionality and downright cool stuff which the internet and technology bring us. On the other, I'm painfully aware that none of it is ever a substitute for great ideas, great stories and fingers which type until they bleed. Once upon a time, after all, writers had to make do with a typewriter, paper, the postal system and a telephone if they could afford to pay the bill. Even if technology progresses to such an extent that we can beam our pitches directly into the minds of producers, those ideas will never stop having to be bulletproof and brilliant.

As with last year's Story Engine in Darlington, the whole event was a wonderfully personal and personable affair. Story Engine mastermind Ian Fenton is a writer himself, and it shows. He knows what writers want to see, hear and ask, and is determined to give value for money, ensuring that no-one walks away with a question unanswered. It's a smoothly-run and professional event, with soul.

This year's guests included Black Books/Hyperdrive/Little Britain comedy writing duo Kev Cecil and Andy Riley (whose comprehensive Q&A session was an informative and fun look at their work process), New Tricks/Waterloo Road writer Lisa Holdsworth (a splendid lady who dependably speaks her mind), your friend and mine Danny Stack (who appeared on no less than three panels, strongly speaking up for the writer on more than one occasion - trust me, you owe this man a beer), local scripter Gavin Williams, Script Factory wizard and tremendous fellow Ludo Smolski, Smack The Pony/Green Wing writing duo Fay Rusling and Oriane Messina (funny and lovely, the pair of them) and BBC Writersroom founder Kate Rowland.

Throughout those two days, the sparkling Tyneside Cinema positively teemed with good people, including scripter Dean Lines who we can thank for the above brain-boggling photo. I had a blast and was sorry to leave not only the event, but such a beautiful city.

Before I did, though, I took a sneak preview at the town's imminent Doctor Who Exhibition. Thanks to the aforementioned Paul Smith and the Life Centre's events manager Andy Lloyd, I was able to step boldly beyond this here sign...

With two weeks to go, the exhibition was still under construction, but you could immediately see it's going to be immense. Plenty of fan-pleasing items and aliens were already in position, and the thing's huge: around 9000 square feet! Nice. Go see, when it opens on May 22 at the Life Centre.


Robin Eveleigh said...

Jason - I've just noticed the little cartoon of you looks uncannily like Paul Campbell off Mad Men. (But you don't). It set me thinking about Paul pitching up at the offices of Sterling Cooper with a machete in his briefcase and wreaking bloody havoc in the typing pool. Do you think this would work?

Paul Campbell said...

I think you'll find that's "Pete Campbell off Mad Men."

Now, if you'd said "Paul Campbell off Battlestar Galactica" or "Paul Campbell off Knight Rider" you'd have been nearer the mark.

Still wouldn't have been me, though.

I'm Paul Campbell off Not Very Much.

David Lemon said...

Still gutted I couldn't make it due to a very macho picnic-based injury that's left me hobbling like Ratso in 'Midnight Cowboy'.
Will rectify this in 2011.