My Life Post Talent Campus by screenwriter Jo Ragett


It’s been 9 weeks, 3 days, 10 hours and 44 minutes since my official Talent Campus journey ended. What a ride!!

Nothing has changed in my life but EVERYTHING has changed!

The most amazing thing that’s happened within those nine weeks is that I now have two, yes TWO, writing credits! No, I can’t believe it either! It’s incredible. The second greatest thing is that I’ve been asked to be a judge on a local short film contest. Oh! And I’ve got my first script supervisor credit too!

And none would have happened without the incredible Talent Campus.
Talent Campus is run by the London Screenwriters’ Festival to help writers with their skills, not only in writing but mostly in believing in themselves and what they can achieve.

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Last year I observed a team making a film for the Derby 24hr film challenge. I had a great time on set and thought how fab it would be to do it again. The same team put a call out a few weeks ago asking for certain members of crew as they were doing the London Sci-Fi 48hr film Challenge. I channelled my inner Wonder Woman – something you’re taught to do on TC – and asked if I could join them, even as a runner. On the 48hr challenge, the script can’t be written beforehand, so I went to the Saturday meet up, just expecting to observe or play a minor role.

Without TC I would not have had the confidence to think my ideas, or my knowledge of writing theory, was good enough to voice to a team of ‘experts’. But that’s exactly what I did. Me and the writer banded about ideas and formed the first draft of a script, then the script supervisor joined us. Team work!

When minds fit together, nothing is impossible.

Below is Not Again Lily – our creation and my first ever writing credit!

My second writing credit though will always be more cherished and is ALL down to TC – The Tribe!

It’s unbelievable when I think that I didn’t know the people I now speak to EVERY SINGLE day ten weeks ago! They are ‘my people’ and I can’t foresee a future without them.

The Derby 24hr film challenge was coming round again and it must have only been a week or so after TC – still on that high (which is yet to have dropped) – that I suggested on one of our daily chats, that we form a team and make our own film for it. Susan, who lives in the Netherlands, was the first to say a big fat YES!

Others joined and we soon had a team of seven.

The beauty of TC is the variety of skills and contacts that people have. One of our team, Rob, is a BBC award winning audio drama writer/producer/director and, although busy with his own post TC life, he found us some fantastic sounds. The biggest coup though was that one of our members, Deborah, has an award-winning husband, Max, who freelances as a DoP and through him we got a fantastic sound mixer.

Suddenly our film went from an amateur production that would have been a great weekend of fun and alcohol, to a professional production – with slightly less alcohol.

One evening, across the country and even across the English Channel and the North Sea, six computers whirred into action and from Sharn’s dream an idea sparked. Then another take on it, and another, and within an hour or so, the basic outline of a script was born. The power of collaboration! Fiona wrote the outline, Sharn wrote the first draft and then, as it was a horror script Matt and Susan, the horror writers in the group, worked their magic. ‘Meat’ was born!

Deborah reminded us of her twenty years of experience in the business and as we were all keen to learn from that wealth of knowledge, she became producer and director. We all said what roles we would like and, for the most part, our wishes were granted!

Not content with providing us with the technical and industry knowledge, Deborah and Max also brought an artist to the mix, their daughter, Phoebe, who applied her fantastic skills to our drawing board.

Costumes were bought, the main actor was cast, and soon it was D-Day.

The night before, my house was invaded as seven people and a van full of equipment turned up. It was so good to see those wonderful faces again. Matt, the king of catering, cooked us up a feast and Blue-Petered a gorgeous Feijoada (black bean stew) for Saturday.

Early morning the actress and sound mixer arrived, and my house was transformed into a film set. Sharn snapped stills whenever we turned around for prosperity and to send to Fiona, over in France, who was our social media co-ordinator. Phoebe had her own snapping to do as she was in charge of the clapper gizmo!

Every film is a different experience and when you’re inside the beating heart of it, it’s a lot more intense than watching from the peripheries.

As with all filming, time ran faster than the scene log and daylight rapidly faded. Max reckoned we had six minutes of daylight left to film our outside scenes or the whole day would have been wasted!

Our magnificent DoP doubled as our editor and we stayed up all night plying him with cups of tea as he charmed the deck of the Starship Enterprise he’d assembled on my desk (after asking if I had any heat proof covering to protect it!!) into producing our final masterpiece!

We could (and probably will) write a script about getting the USB stick with the film to the Quad in Derby on time Sunday morning, again with only six minutes to spare, after getting rear ended and then ending up behind a learner driver doing twenty miles under the speed limit, but that’s another story! Suffice to say that insurers are now involved!!

So that was my last couple of days. Spending quality, manic time with a group of people I met at the Talent Campus and their contacts.

Take one weird dream, a group of Talent Campers and a husband and you get a three-minute short that you’re so proud of you could burst!

Apply Here.

buttonPictures by Sharn Gill