One unexpected side effect of a recent trip to Ireland is that I now have the song “Irish Molly O” firmly lodged in my mind.
Written on Tin Pan Alley by Jerome & Schwartz in 1905, and revived by De Dannan in the early 1980s, we saw one man perform it on single bass guitar and vocals, in the darkened corner of a pub at 1.30 am as the crowd was thinning out and the craic was winding down.
And now I simply cannot get it out of my brain.
If you’re interested, here’s a De Dannan version, sung by the wonderful Maura O’Connell:
For a slightly more complex take on the Irish diaspora, you could also try “Thousands are Sailing”. The lyrics, apparently an uncredited collaboration by Phil Chevron and Shane Macgowan, are simply excellent.
This last Thursday and Friday I went along to BBC Broadcasting House in London to sit in on the recording of MAD GIRL, my new Radio 4 play.
You may remember me blogging in detail about the ups and downs of writing this script last year.
The play is about Rose, a fifteen year old girl with early onset psychosis, who goes on a lost weekend in Nottingham.
It’s based on first hand interviews with a couple of people who are long time sufferers of mental problems – and we were lucky enough to have one of the original interviewees come along to the studio.
She talked freely and honestly about her experiences to the actors, and spent a lot of time with the production team making sure that the voices heard by the lead character were plausible, in both sound and content. That means the end result is extremely authentic.
It’s being edited next week, which should take another two days, and it’s pencilled in for transmission on November 13th on Radio 4, so do look out for it.
RADIO WRITING WORLDWIDE
The BBC put out well over 200 original radio plays a year, plus serials and adaptations, and if you’re at the start of your career and having trouble opening doors, making a splash with a radio play is a great way to get your writing out to an audience, and attract the attention of agents and bigger industry players.
But someone told me yesterday that the UK is the only place in the world to have a radio drama industry. I was surprised – is that true? If you’re not in the UK, is there a market for radio drama where you are?
20 MILLION EUROS WORTH OF FUNDING?
One thing I learned while I was in Ireland that might interest you, wherever you are, that Broadcasting Authority of Ireland is in charge of the Irish government’s Broadcasting Fund.
Since 2006 they have given nearly 20million euros to independent producers for TV, Radio and Film that meet the requirement of the scheme.
They have provided funds to programmes and films such as Hunger (Film Four), Aifric and Kings (TG4), School Run (TV3) and Garage (RTÉ).
As a writer it’s apparently the case that you do NOT have to be Irish – or even writing about Ireland – to get attention.
What DOES matter is that you are working with a producer who has the support of an Irish Free-to-air broadcaster.
What’s more, I was told that the UK’s broadcasters qualify, as they are available on free satellite broadcast.
I hear that the BAI has just released another massive tranche of funding, which is currently actively looking for projects. If you’re hooked up with a producer in any way – or you are thinking of producing your own project – that has to be interesting news.
More screenwriters explain what they do and how they do it.
We have now inked in two more ‘Authoritative Guide To Writing & Selling A Great Screenplay’ courses in London, in January and March
The guest of honour on our January course is literary agent Tanya Tillett. Back for the second time, (because she was so good the first), Tanya is a literary agent at the Knight Hall agency.
Knight Hall are a top London agency, with a great list that includes people like Simon Beaufoy, Simon Nye, and it should be of interest to you that, as a comparatively new agent, Tanya is still building her list.
Tanya also represents several newer screenwriters – one of whom came through the 2011 Channel 4 screenwriting course (Evan Placey) – plus new-ish writer Dominic Mitchell who, on the basis of very little screenwriting experience (but a fantastic script) has been commissioned to write his own BBC3 series based on his script IN THE FLESH, an original and brilliant take on the zombie genre.
So Tanya is an agent who has first-hand experience of new screenwriters making a real mark and, as she proved the first time she spoke on one of our courses, is a real inspiration and fount of wisdom for writers trying to break into the industry.