Personal Growth - How Much is Good for You

For all you film-makers and film-viewers out there - I hope you'll link up and share your thoughts.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Tom Levinge’s “This is Intercourse” screens at London Short Film Festival

Tom Levinge (class of 2012) has his short feature "This is Intercourse" screening at the upcoming London Short Film Festival (January 12th 2013).

The film is a short comedy about youth, sex and what goes wrong when Susan and Henry are about to have sex. Henry is in love with Susan; Susan is in love with Another Level. 

Told in the style of an educational sex video, with animation, live action and montage, This is Intercourse stars Lizzie Stables (The Inbetweeners) Will Wheeler (Downton Abbey) and David Schneider (I’m Alan Partridge).

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Stephen May invited to deliver keynote “manga” speech as part of Korean London Film Festival

Stephen May, Director of The Screen Arts Institute, was invited to deliver a keynote speech to promote Korean “manhwa” alongside the launch of the Korean London Film Festival.
“Manhwa” is the less well-known cousin to Japanese manga.   The blockbuster “Priest” was based on a manhwa graphic novel and represents just the tip of an iceberg of storytelling and illustrating talent coming out of South Korea.
The Korean Cultural Centre (Grand Buildings, 1-3 Strand, London WC2N 5BW) is running a three week exhibition of “mahnwa” illustrations and video from November 5th to November 22nd, before the exhibition moves on to New York.
With Korean cinema hitting a resurgence over the last ten years and films such as “Oldboy”, “Musa” and “Memories of Murder” wowing international audiences – will manhwa take on the might of Marvel and DC and compete head-to-head with the US and Japanese gaming/webtoon industries?
Check the links below for an mp3 of Stephen May’s speech and links to some of the best of manhwa.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Skinny on THE most important pitch technique

The only person to do a “proper” study of pitching technique and successes  is Kimberley D. Elsbach.
Her findings were published widely in the Harvard Business Review in 2003.  Here, below, is her introduction and, if you like the idea, there’s a link to buy the whole article from the HBR – it costs about $5.

She lays out the three main stereotypes that are considered “creative” by the catchers.  Take the whole thing with a very big pinch of salt, in my opinion.

BUT here is a point she makes that we should all take VERY seriously indeed:

“Unfortunately for pitchers, type-based elimination is easy, because negative impressions tend to be more salient and memorable than positive ones.  To avoid fast elimination, successful pitchers – only 25% of those I have observed – turn the tables on the catchers by enrolling them in the creative process.  These pitchers exude passion for their ideas and find ways to give catchers a chance to shine.  By doing so, they induce the catchers to judge them as likable collaborators.  Oscar-winning writer, director and producer Oliver Stone told me that the invitation to collaborate on an idea is a ‘seduction.’”

So the message is very clear.  Hook your catcher as quickly as possible with your passion for the project and the strength of the story elements (more on this at a later date) and then make a very clear invitation to collaborate.  Good luck.  Steve

“How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea”, by Kimberly D. Elsbach, Harvard Business Review, September, 2003.
To order, go to:

How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea
Before you even know it, the stranger across the desk has decided what kind of person you are. Knowing how you’ll be stereotyped allows you to play to—and control—the other guy’s expectations.
by Kimberly D. Elsbach
Coming up with creative ideas is easy; selling them to strangers is hard. All too often, entrepreneurs, sales executives, and marketing managers go to great lengths to show how their new business plans or creative concepts are practical and high margin—only to be rejected by corporate decision makers who don’t seem to understand the real value of the ideas. Why does this happen?
It turns out that the problem has as much to do with the seller’s traits as with an idea’s inherent quality. The person on the receiving end tends to gauge the pitcher’s creativity as well as the proposal itself. And judgments about the pitcher’s ability to come up with workable ideas can quickly and permanently overshadow perceptions of the idea’s worth. We all like to think that people judge us carefully and objectively on our merits. But the fact is, they rush to place us into neat little categories—they stereotype us. So the first thing to realize when you’re preparing to make a pitch to strangers is that your audience is going to put you into a box. And they’re going to do it really fast. Research suggests that humans can categorize others in less than 150 milliseconds. Within 30 minutes, they’ve made lasting judgments about your character.
These insights emerged from my lengthy study of the $50 billion U.S. film and television industry. Specifically, I worked with 50 Hollywood executives involved in assessing pitches from screenwriters. Over the course of six years, I observed dozens of 30-minute pitches in which the screenwriters encountered the “catchers” for the first time. In interviewing and observing the pitchers and catchers, I was able to discern just how quickly assessments of creative potential are made in these high-stakes exchanges. (The deals that arise as a result of successful screenplay pitches are often multimillion-dollar projects, rivaling in scope the development of new car models by Detroit’s largest automakers and marketing campaigns by New York’s most successful advertising agencies.) To determine whether my observations applied to business settings beyond Hollywood, I attended a variety of product-design, marketing, and venture-capital pitch sessions and conducted interviews with executives responsible for judging creative, high-stakes ideas from pitchers previously unknown to them. In those environments, the results were remarkably similar to what I had seen in the movie business.
People on the receiving end of pitches have no formal, verifiable, or objective measures for assessing that elusive trait, creativity. Catchers—even the expert ones—therefore apply a set of subjective and often inaccurate criteria very early in the encounter, and from that point on, the tone is set. If a catcher detects subtle cues indicating that the pitcher isn’t creative, the proposal is toast. But that’s not the whole story. I’ve discovered that catchers tend to respond well if they are made to feel that they are participating in an idea’s development.
The pitchers who do this successfully are those who tend to be categorized by catchers into one of three prototypes. I call them the showrunner, the artist, and the neophyte. Showrunners come off as professionals who combine creative inspiration with production know-how. Artists appear to be quirky and unpolished and to prefer the world of creative ideas to quotidian reality. Neophytes tend to be—or act as if they were—young, inexperienced, and naive. To involve the audience in the creative process, showrunners deliberately level the power differential between themselves and their catchers; artists invert the differential; and neophytes exploit it. If you’re a pitcher, the bottom-line implication is this: By successfully projecting yourself as one of the three creative types and getting your catcher to view himself or herself as a creative collaborator, you can improve your chances of selling an idea.
My research also has implications for those who buy ideas: Catchers should beware of relying on stereotypes. It’s all too easy to be dazzled by pitchers who ultimately can’t get their projects off the ground, and it’s just as easy to overlook the creative individuals who can make good on their ideas. That’s why it’s important for the catcher to test every pitcher, a matter we’ll return to in the following pages.
“How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea”, by Kimberly D. Elsbach, Harvard Business Review, September, 2003.
To order, go to:

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Stephen May chairs panel on Period Drama at LSF 2012

Stephen May (Director of The Screen Arts Institute) is chairing a panel to discuss Period Drama at this year's London Screenwriting Festival (6.30 to 7.30pm on Saturday 26th October).   The panel includes Roland Moore, Chris Hill, Mark Pallis and Kevin Hood.

Check the link for more information.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Caroline Bacle's "Lost Rivers" opens Toronto Festival

Caroline Bacle's (Class of 2011) 2011 Green Pitch Winner, "Lost Rivers", opened the 2012 Environmental Film Festival in Toronto two days ago.  Caroline's documentary chronicles the fate of six rivers buried underneath six cities across the globe.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Kara Smith wins Park Avenue Award and skims an Emmy

Kara Smith (Class of 2010) has won the New York Film Festival's Park Avenue Award for her TV Spec Script "Parole".  The script was also long-listed for an Emmy.  Nice one, Kara.  Mates, spread the word.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Nick Marston launches "Broken" starring Tim Roth & Cillian Murphy

Tim Roth & Eloise Laurence in "Broken"
Nick Marston (Curtis Brown and Governor of The Screen Arts Institute) has produced "Broken" through his Cuba Pictures shingle.  The movie, starring Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy, will premiere at the London Film Festival in October.  The film is a directing debut for Rufus Norris and introduces the young actress, Eloise Laurence.  Both have been nominated for Best British Newcomer at the Festival.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Stephen May and Ealing Studios host Script Labs

Stephen May, the Director of The Screen Arts Institute,  in collaboration with Ealing Studios, will be holding two Script Labs during the upcoming London Screenwriting Festival (Sat 27th and Sun 28th October).  16 writers will be chosen from applicants to develop their feature/TV ideas.  The idea/writer that is deemed the strongest will win the opportunity to pitch face to face with Sophie Meyer, Head of Development at Ealing Studios.  All 16 writers who are chosen for the two script labs will have their one-pagers and loglines packaged and presented to Ealing.   Stephen May will promote any stand-out projects to his extensive industry network here and in the United States.

For further information - check the links below.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Big Story Tricks No.1 - "Make Your Baddy Badder"

Donald Pleasance is Blofelt
Over the years people, movies, novels, stories have handed down to writers a few "tricks of the trade"-  I'm going to pass them on to you.  None of them are new - they're as old as the hills.  None of them are fancy.  They are obvious.  They're not complicated.  They are simple.  Simple and fantastically useful.  In fact, you already know them.  I'm just going to remind you that you do.  This first is called "Make your Baddy Badder" and it is, in my opinion, one of the most important "Tricks" in the bag.  Click the "Read More" link to read on.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Nick Marston joins the Screen Arts Institute

We are delighted that Nick Marston has agreed to join our illustrious industry council.  Nick is the Chairman of the Media Department at the Curtis Brown Group.

Nick is responsible for several of the largest film rights sales in UK history including his record-breaking deal for "The Horse Whisperer".  He represents directors as well as writers.  His in-house production arm, Cuba Pictures, produced "Boy A" (starring Andrew Garfield & Peter Mullan, winning 5 Baftas) in 2007 and Nick is fast challenging the might of the LA-based majors.

Andrew Garfield in "Boy A"
Check the link for his take on what it takes to be a good agent - and what writers should look for in those that represent them.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Amy Ricker with "Having You" in post.

Amy Ricker (producer, graduate from Steve May's MA programme in 2011) has a new feature in post, "Having You", starring Anna Friel and Romola Garai.  This is the feature directing debut for the actor Sam Hoare (Captain America, Borgen).

Dan Smyth (writer/director) selected for iFeatures2

Dan Smyth (graduate from Steve May's Screenwriting and Producing programme in 2007) has two reasons to celebrate.  His short, "Gummy Man", has been picked up by the Virgin Shorts Competition and is online.  And his feature, "The Prefect", has been selected for the iFeatures2 programme.  The producer, Marcie MacLellan, is also a graduate from Steve May's MA Programme.

If you want to check out some of the events at iFeatures summer development programme, check the link immediately below.

Good luck, Dan.  Mates, spread the word.

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Screen Arts Institute launches "Storytelling for the Screen" Programme

The Screen Arts Institute (London) launched its “Storytelling for the Screen” programme in February this year.   Based in central London’s Portland Place, the programme is designed to help emerging film talent develop, package and sell their movies and TV programmes in the most efficient manner possible.

Ten filmmakers joined us in February to develop feature film projects – and we are looking to recruit new participants for Courses running later in 2012 and for February 2013. 

We are confident that we are running the most pragmatic programme in the country with an ethos that is “shortening the odds of getting your movies/programmes made”.    Our team boasts some of the biggest names in the business.

Our mentors include:

Tim Bevan (Co-chairman of Working Title Films, with a dozen Oscars and some 20 Baftas under his belt)

Hossein Amini (writer; “Drive”, an Oscar nod for “The Wings of a Dove”, and work with Winterbottom, Scorsese, Curtis Hanson and co.)

Olivia Hetreed (writer of “Girl with a Pearl Earing”, Andrea Arnold’s “Wuthering Heights” and is Chair of the Writers Guild Film Department)

Rob Kenny (Director of Operations of the Curzon Cinemas – the holy grail of all indie film-makers)

and Oliver Parker (Director; “Othello”, “An Ideal Husband”, “St. Trinians”)

The Director of Programmes at the Institute is Stephen May who, until January, ran the Masters Programme in Screenwriting and Producing at the University of Westminster.  Programmes under his direction have produced a near 100% record of industry employment for graduates.

If you, or any of your colleagues, are interested in what we are doing, check out this link for more information:

Or contact the Director at: