IMDb Script to Screen Award Evening by Elspeth Hinde

For all of you not lucky enough to have got a ticket for Monday night’s IMDb Script to Screen Award Evening, let me set the scene.

FADE IN

Ext.  The Little Theatre Cinema, Bath – DAY

A crowd gathers anxiously outside, as volunteers wearing the iconic white Bath Film Festival t-shirts hurry passed setting up a table for tickets and making sure everything is perfect. It is a sunny day and those waiting are dressed accordingly. David Garwood, a photographer of remarkable talent, snaps up pictures, attempting to capture the atmosphere, which is full of excitement and anticipation. Holly Tarquini, the festival producer, wearing a red dress worthy of the red carpet appears at the doors, dramatically pulling them open, as the crowd follows her inside…

Cut to

Int. Screen 1, The Little Theatre Cinema, Bath – DAY

The camera follows Holly into the dark of Screen 1. Festival Interns, Jimmy Law and Luke Mallison, both wearing the Film Festival t-shirts are waiting just inside the doors, greeting everyone with a smile and handing out programmes and voting slips, occasionally showing people to their seats. The cheery voice of volunteer Sara Bird can be heard from outside, chatting merrily to those waiting and finding reserved tickets for those who have them. Beyond Jimmy and Luke, the camera moves forward down the aisle, as people find their seats. The front three rows of the cinema are reserved for the performers, members of Bath Spa University’s Performing Arts Course. They sit happily chatting amongst themselves, some visibly excited about their upcoming performance, others more nervously re-reading their lines one last time. The script writers have found their reserved seats on the aisle and the cinema is filling up as the judges enter. Ashley Pharaoh, screenwriter for Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars, is the first to arrive, followed by Marilyn Milgrom, script consultant and previously the Head of Development for the NZ Film Commission. Col Needham, CEO of IMDb, brings up the rear with two colleagues from the Bristol and Seattle branches of his organisation.

OK, I may not be a skilled screenwriter. Thankfully, the five finalist were. The Bath Spa Students, joined by Atticus Lorenzo from Freshford CofE Primary School, and under the direction of the very talented Chris Jury, did a marvelous job of giving each character a voice. Some were sad, some were poignant and some were funny, but all had that much-sought-after “but what happens next?” quality, that makes any audience eager to follow the characters anywhere.

Once the readings were done, the judges adjourned, escorted by yours truly, to a local pub, where they discussed, debated and discussed some more the pros of each script. After much wrangling, they agreed upon a winner and we headed back to the Little Theatre to make the big announcement.

This means that the judges and I missed out on our own Philip Raby, BFF Director, interviewing the lovely Alice Lowe who you may have seen in our 2012 sell-out screening of Sightseers that she wrote and co-starred in. The people who were there described it as “fascinating” and “mind-expanding” and relayed stories about Alice’s life as a writer, director and actress and one particular anecdote about a last minute script change swapping the male lead’s lines for the female lead’s lines, which was repeatedly hailed by comments along the lines of “you really know how to write for women”.

When it came time to declare a winner, the judges took to the stage, along with Holly who announced the winner of the Audience Vote first. Second place was the tightly-written, character-driven piece, Pushing Buttons by Amanda Richardson, which featured two people stuck in a lift. But Put Down by Rick Limentani truly stole the show with his short about a man finding the right career for him and trying to win the heart of the woman of his dreams. He won over both the Audience and the Judges, taking home £5,000 cash, £2,000 worth of hire kit from 180 Solutions/Visual Impact, an IMDb Pin and the Award itself. Rick now has the challenge of translating his script to the screen (see what we did there?) and the finished short film will be shown at Bath Film Festival 2014 in November.

HOT OFF THE PRESS TODAY…

Bath Spa University have agreed to fund the second place film, Pushing Buttons, and make the film in collaboration with the writer, Amanda Richardson. With the help of their creative writing expertise, newly built studios, The Commons, which were opened early in June by Lord Puttnam, and all of the new equipment contained within, Amanda’s script will also be brought to life and screened at the 2014 festival. Bambo Soyinka, the Head of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, said that “Amanda’s script is original and exudes personality. Her characters are engaging and the final scene leaves the audience eager to know more. Amanda breaks some screenwriting conventions, but I applaud writers that take risks. We are proud to be working with Bath Film Festival to encourage the development of new scriptwriters with authentic voices.”

Watch this space!