13 February 2009

Write Club, Teddy Says, and the birth of The Gentlemen's Club

About six years ago, while working in an office, I found out that someone a few desks away wrote film screenplays. His name was, and indeed still is, Simon.

In conversation, Simon informed me that he and a few friends were shortly going to be starting a writing club, primarily for fun, and that I should come along. The rules of the writing club were as follows:

1. Every fortnight, the members of the club would meet up.
2. During the meeting, two envelopes would be produced, one containing a wide variety of 'locations' written on scraps of paper, the other containing an equally wide variety of 'MacGuffins', also on scraps of paper.
3. A piece of paper would be drawn from each envelope, creating a random location and random MacGuffin.
4. Each member of the group would then have precisely one week to write a script using these two pieces of information, no more than ten pages in length.
5. Each script would be submitted to the organiser who would then distribute them all amongst the other members.
6. Each member would read that week's scripts and then assign a first, second and third place to the best three.
7. This would continue for ten weeks.
8. The ten winning scripts would then be re-read and voted on one last time.
9. The script with the highest number of votes would be named the winner.
10. The winning script would be produced and directed by one member of the group with access to professional quality filming and editing equipment.

The name of this group of disparate writers was 'Write Club'. I hated the name immediately, but went along with the idea because it seemed like rather a jolly jape.

On one occasion, the location chosen from the envelope was 'a car park' and the MacGuffin was 'a teddy bear'. I submitted an entry entitled 'Teddy Says', and was fortunate enough to be voted that week's winner.

When ten rounds had been completed and we had to choose an ultimate winner, Teddy Says was voted as the best overall and, in accordance with the original scope of the club, would be filmed.

After a series of false starts, Teddy Says went into production. Actors were cast, a location found, and props purchased.

Sadly, there were technical difficulties (mostly caused by the sound-guy who, so I'm told, did an atrocious job) and the footage was unusable. Apparently, a rough cut exists somewhere but I've never seen it.

Thus it was that Teddy Says died an unpleasant death, never to be seen again.

However, it did mean that I became friends with Simon and Mike, two other members of Write Club. It was obvious from reading each other's scripts that we had a number of similarities in style that were pleasing, and a number of dissimilarities which complemented each other nicely.

So, although Teddy Says never happened, something very much more important and valuable came out of the whole exercise: we decided to start working together on a full-length screenplay. I shall soon be explaining how we managed to write an entire screenplay between three of us, whilst maintaining a consistent voice. There will also be the full, unexpurgated tale of how The Gentlemen's Club was born, lived and died, all in a couple of years.

For any budding writers out there, I strongly suggest that you involve yourself in some sort of writing club. It can be a fantastic way to meet new people and practice your craft. More importantly, a little competition amongst like-minded people can be a wonderful way to get the creative juices flowing.

For those of you who are curious, I've uploaded the Teddy Says short script, just for the hell of it. Please bear in mind that I've just re-read it for the first time in about 4 years and it's made me cringe. There are many, many things that I'd love to change about it, but that would be cheating wouldn't it?

So, for your reading pleasure, here's the link to the Teddy Says PDF.

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