London Screenwriters’ Festival and Coronavirus Update

We’ve been contacted by a number of people asking if the LSF will be going ahead next month.

The short answer is that we don’t know yet. As of the time I’m writing this, we would still like to run it as planned.

Two things are certain:

  1. The London Screenwriters Festival Tenth Outing WILL happen
  2. It WILL be awesome.

The only thing which is in doubt is when it takes place.

Ideally we want to keep it on 17th to 19th April 2020.  If we can run it then, and ensure it’s safe for everyone to attend, it will be on like Donkey Kong.

However, the Coronavirus situation is constantly changing and right now mid-April seems a while away.

Like every other organisation in the UK, we’re in a holding pattern. We are waiting to see how things evolve and internally we are developing plans for different eventualities.

Right now, we have two likely scenarios.

  1. LSF As Planned –If the virus does not spread widely and we feel confident that the festival can take place safely, we’ll stay as planned. If you don’t feel safe attending, you can roll your festival pass over to the next LSF without a problem.
  1. New dates – If we are concerned about safety, we will choose new dates and run the festival later in the year. Or perhaps even early next year depending on the virus outbreak.  If we do this, your pass will be automatically updated for the new dates. The plan would be to keep the exact same festival intact, with the same speakers and sessions, just delayed until it is safe to run it.

These are extraordinary times. Neither of these solutions are ideal. But we do need to consider carefully what we should do.

On a personal note, I have been also wrestling with what I consider to be a moral question. Is it the right thing to do, to bring people together at such a time?

I have consulted many people and there are two very polarised views. One being characterised as ‘It’s like flu anyway, I am young, it will be OK…’

Second being ‘this is potentially very scary… I have a young child… I have asthma… I have an elderly mother… which put me or these people at risk’. I am extremely mindful of delegates and staff who have these concerns.

I am also mindful that even if everyone is OK with going ahead, that’s just today. Tomorrow may change. And even a day before the festival it could change. The venue could suddenly shut their doors, the Government could ban our ‘gathering’ because of size, speakers could choose not to attend. All are very real possibilities. After all, the London Book Fair chose to postpone their event with just one week to go.  And yesterday the Cannes MIP TV festival was cancelled.

I also understand that the main drive from a science perspective is to contain and ideally destroy the virus. Much like what happened with MERS and SARS. If we do not achieve this, like flu, Covid19 will become a disease that we need to deal with every year. I guess its like saying, ‘what if we could contain and eradicate flu forever, would that be worth it?’

So do please bear with me, my team and know that we have everyone’s best interest at heart.

In the end, we are a community and a tribe. We stand together and for each other. I am proud of who we are and promise, even if we do delay, the end result will be worth the wait.

Stay safe. Stay informed. Stay connected online. And get writing.

Love and hugs from the LSF team. We will be in touch very soon

Chris Jones



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