‘It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.’
You need to read all of this message carefully if you are a LondonSWF10 ticket holder (and you may get it via email too).
So Rocky Balboa. I am writing to let you know that, most likely just like you, I am being hit hard daily, but I am, again just like you, still getting up to fight the fight and move forward and upward.
So… The LondonSWF Online Festival and London Screenwriters Festival Update
It feels like a lifetime ago that I wrote to everyone about Covid-19 and about postponing LondonSWF 10. It was only seven weeks ago.
Like you, in that time, I have seen everything in my world impacted, sometimes in small and surprising ways, other times more dramatically.
The purpose of this email is to chart out, as clearly as possible, the path for the London Screenwriters’ Festival, and we will get into greater detail for those who want more, on Friday night in a live Zoom chat (details below).
A Month of Online LondonSWF…
OK… So a big announcement. And it’s actually pretty fabulous.
Announcing LondonSWF365 Online.
Starting on May 8th, 7:30pm UK time, we begin LondonSWF 365 Online.
An intensive month of world class seminars, talks, workshops and events, and of course, connecting with each other. All online, LIVE and OnDemand to watch later.
As a LondonSWF 10 ticket holder, you get this at no cost.
But… If you would like to contribute toward it, and it would be amazing. If you choose to, then you can do that HERE… Trust me, we need every penny.
We are really struggling to keep our head above water and the best way ANYONE can support the festival is to sign up to the Online Festival. You can sign up for £5 a month, the suggested £60 or just make a contribution of any size. Again you can do that HERE.
Thank you, you are keeping the lights on. Literally.
If you choose not to contribute, that’s OK, you still have full access.
I will resend instructions on how to join LondonSWF 365 Online very soon.
We did an online test a few weeks back and it was a resounding success. What came out of it though was how so many of us really enjoyed the shared experience of it being live, with interactive chat. The togetherness. It was important.
It’s not the same as being at the festival of course, but still surprisingly effective and enjoyable. For many of us, it’s what we need right now. To be among many, many like minded folk, the writers, the creatives, the dreamers, the doers… A reason to chat, rant, laugh, learn, reflect and perhaps sometimes shed a tear. It’s f**!ing difficult times for us all. Let’s continue to support each other as we journey through it.
There is a first draft schedule and speakers on the main LondonSWF website and we will be announcing new speakers and sessions daily.
What about LondonSWF 10?
So, now to the main event. LondonSWF10, live on stage. As was planned for April this year.
I previously thought we could run it in September this year.
I know now that this is not possible.
I am genuinely surprised that other events and organisations are marching forward with Summer and Autumn events as though the world will return to normal in the next few months. I don’t believe it will, and I need to act accordingly.
So the question is, when can we run LondonSWF 10 in London?
The only right answer is when it is safe.
But what does that mean? Specifically?
It’s not just when you or I think it’s safe, but when it’s safe for every delegate attending. Every speaker. Every staff member.
When it is safe to sit next to someone and greet them like a friend and not squirm if they chose to clear their throat.
LondonSWF is after all a place where we love to come and meet people, connect, share ideas… and we can’t do that if we don’t feel safe.
So when will it be safe?
None of us knows for sure, but I believe it’s reasonable to say that the second half of 2021 as a considered estimate. That’s based on science and the global momentum to fix this challenge. I know that sounds a long way away, but I believe it’s accurate.
So right now, we are planning for LondonSWF 10, the one that has been postponed from April this year, to now take place in September 2021.
We don’t have exact dates yet.
What I can tell you is that it WILL happen and it will be EPIC.
That is my personal promise to you.
Just… when it is safe to do so.
So LondonSWF 10 is now planned for September 2021 and your pass is of course valid for that event.
For many of us, this is all very inconvenient. But we can wait. Annoying as it is. Hey who knew… ‘there’s a deadly global pandemic…’
Others may feel differently. They may also be in a different boat too.
I have heard that phrase a lot, ‘we are all in the same boat with this virus’.
Sadly no. We are in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat.
I myself have a five year old and we are struggling to make everything work, the festival, managing the home, home schooling, isolation… We, like many of us, have a similar story of course.
And irrespective, right here and now, I want to salute the mums and dads who are holding down jobs via Zoom, taking care of the kids, and finding time to read this. Keeping your shit together. Even if only barely. You are officially amazing. And others too, people who put themselves in harms way to help others. People who are more isolated than others. People who have lost loved ones.
It’s all very real to me as I write this.
And so I am mindful of those in greatest peril at this time, whether that is physical peril, economic peril or finding it tough for a myriad reasons.
I need to talk about refunds.
We cannot issue any. Not because I don’t want to, because we cannot.
I don’t have any words to describe how terrible this makes me feel.
The truth is that if we issue the refunds requested, there will be no money left and we will be forced to go insolvent.
I have taken legal advice about this and been told that I cannot and must not issue refunds as that would be seen as ‘preferential treatment’ should we go insolvent. This is a legal duty of mine as the director of the company and I am bound by it.
So… what if you are in genuine hardship? Yes, contact me, I will see if and how we can help.
This is a fast moving situation and in six weeks time the world may be different.
We do have some limited options and ideas of how we can help those who are, as I said, in genuine peril, and I am more than happy to explore solutions.
To be clear, we cannot refund any tickets, but we are building a platform where people can buy tickets from other delegates now, and we are confident that this will work. We will find creative and innovative ways to help get those most in need, get their money back. So if you want to buy a pass from a delegate to secure a pass for a future LondonSWF, drop me a line and lets see if we can fix some problems right away. Thank you.
So… please get in touch if you are badly impacted by the current pandemic.
Above all, let me be straight about this one thing.
I have no intention of this business failing. Of the London Screenwriters’ Festival going away. This next one will be my tenth. So it’s here as long as I am.
The Festival, like the feature films I have made, is run on passion, belief, teamwork, creativity and above all tenacity. Some years we make a little profit, others we make a loss. I often need to run additional events year round to cover the shortfall of the festival. We have now had two bad years in a run, 2018 crippled by Brexit anxiety, and 2020 with a global pandemic.
I have run companies for my entire adult life, and three times now I have faced down insolvency successfully. It’s taken fight and tenacity to do so, but every time I have succeeded. And I am not about to tarnish my impeccable record now.
Nor do I have any intention of letting anyone down or failing to deliver on the LSF promise. It’s just delayed. Along with the rest of planet earth.
And I have a plan. And it will work.
But I need everyone onboard. So yes, in this regard, we ARE in the same boat.
Now is the time for grit and determination. And I have that.
So. Make no mistake, as an organisation, we are in a fight.
But it’s one we can win and will win, with your continued support.
And I promise to deliver outstanding events that you can experience from the safety of your home, until we are through this together.
If you want a pass for the online festival you can get one HERE.
And look out for emails about how to participate in LondonSWF365, starting a week on Friday, that’s May 8th.
OK big hugs, virtually, from the whole team.
Stay safe. Stay connected. Keep dreaming.
Love Chris Jones
Captain of the London Screenwriters’ Festival