Over the last 7 days leading up to the London Screenwriters Festival at Regents College, I’ll be preparing a special (text-only, sadly) LOWDOWN looking at how you can get the most from your weekend and the biggest bang for your buck.

Read Day 1 here.

Day 2 – Get Organised, Part II: Setting Your Schedule

After yesterday’s first post you should now be primed and ready with notebooks, pens and business cards on the way.

Today and tomorrow, making the most of the weekend, it’s time to sit down and really study the timetable for the festival and decide what you want to tackle.

This is only a blog of limited space (I know you don’t want to sit and listen to be drone on), so there’s no way I can systematically go through the whole weekend workshop by workshop, but here’s my top tips for choosing the right sessions for you.

  1. Think carefully about your short- and medium-term goals. What you should be aiming for from this year’s inaugural festival is to kick-start your journey to the next step of your career – whether you’re a newbie, an old-hand or somewhere in the middle.
  2. Print out the schedule from the LSWF website (which you can find here) and put big black marker lines through the workshops that hold no interest for you at all. That narrows things down a bit (but probably not a lot!).
  3. Pick two or three workshops on each day that fit with what you want to achieve/improve RIGHT NOW. Whether it’s getting that first draft down, to selling it, to getting representation or looking into self-producing, select the sessions that will help you get there as soon as the festival finishes.
  4. Be REALLY honest with yourself. If you haven’t finished a working, saleable/shootable draft of your screenplay yet, is it really worth that workshop on getting an agent, or would you be better off sitting in on the re-writing workshop instead?
  5. Pick at least one networking event each day that you will commit to. Networking is the major bonus of actually being at the event (as opposed to watching the sessions back on the ‘net afterwards), so make the most of it. More on networking later in the build up, but don’t avoid it because you’re nervous!
  6. Pick at least one workshop every day that’s not something you’d normally attend. Whether it’s about a topic you don’t normally deal with or about a media you don’t normally write for, go and see something different.
  7. Pick one workshop a day that just looks interesting and/or fun – something that you actively really want to see. Maybe it’s Tim Bevan, John August or some of the other big names at the fest whose work you admire, or a session with people you know and follow in the wider world. Make it your treat.
  8. Lastly, but not least, pick yourself a schedule that’s going to feel rewarding. You’ve got to find a balance between information and entertainment, between over-loading your brain with info and getting enough useful information to push yourself forward.

All the delegates of at LSWF have to face the fact that you can’t be at all of the events you’ll want to be at, but if you spend enough time studying the schedule you will at least be able to maximise the information you take in that will help you take that leap to the next level.

Another great tip I’ve heard is from an article over on TwelvePoint from Monica Solom (thanks for the tip!). She suggests buddying up with other writers to split workshops between you. Then arranging time to get together and swap notes after the fact, so you gain from more than you were able to see yourself. The LSWF social network for delegates is a really useful place to find a buddy if this idea appeals to you.

Tomorrow, Day 3 of the Countdown Lowdown will look at making the most of your workshops.

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