Nick’s Fecking Awesome Guide to the Festival… When not at the Festival By Nick Jackson

It’s been two weeks since the London Screenwriters’ Festival, and what have I learned?

Well, as I bask in the afterglow of a weekend making new friends, catching up with old friends, feeling like a superhero (one who strides across No Man’s Land protected only by wrist bracelets, an oversized frisbee and hair to die for), and managing not to make a tit of myself in front of that agent I’ve always admired, I can safely say I have learned a lot. Much of it was about writing, too. But that’s not what we’re going to talk about. Oh no.

You see, London Screenwriters’ Festival is all about the sharing. I still remember how I felt that first time – excited, nervous, ready to kill in exchange for caffeine – and how I wished someone had thought to write a blog with hints ‘n’ tips on ways to get the best from your LSF experience…

Dear reader, this isn’t it.

Wiser people than I have that covered already. But have they considered what your trip will be like when you’re not at Regent’s University, NW1? Did they create such a guide? No, they did not. But I did.

So, take my hand – no, the other hand, I’m writing with that one – and let me be your Mr Miyagi as I share some highly (im)practical, slightly tongue-in-cheek, borderline product-placement suggestions for how best to enjoy the London Screenwriters’ Festival when you’re not at the festival. And don’t forget the car wax.

1: Sustenance

There’s nothing worse than finally getting face-to-face with that writer/producer you’ve always wanted to work with, but your practised-to-perfection pitch is drowned out by the sound of an 8.4-scale earthquake…  otherwise known as your rumbling stomach. So, starting the day with a healthy breakfast is essential. This strawberry, banana and Nutella croissant from Granier Bakery on Queensway not only contains two of your five-a-day, but it also tastes bloody amazing. When people say “breakfast of champions”, this is what they imagine.  Their coffee’s not too shabby either.

2: Convenience

London is blessed with a wealth of public transport, whether you’re underground, overground, or wombling free. Travelling around the capital should be piss easy, but when things go wrong, it’s not always easy to take a piss. As shown below, the canny traveller prepares for this by bringing their own public convenience with them wherever they go.

3: Inspiration (part one)

Screenwriting is storytelling in the visual medium, so wannabe scribes should always be on the lookout for arresting images. No trip to London is complete without a visit to York Terrace West, and the world’s most photographed cherry blossom. You’ll pass this beauty on your way to the festival, and trying to avoid all the snapping photographers is the closest most of us will ever come to being Timothée Chalamet.

As you can see, the lady in my photo is taking a pic. What you can’t see are the people to the left and right of the frame, also snapping away. Sometimes it’s like that final scene in Reservoir Dogs, where you’re not sure who shot first. If the crowds had blocked off much more of the road, ‘arresting’ would have taken on an entirely different meaning…

4: Inspiration (part two)

There are many places where the budding writer can seek inspiration. In the theatre, in the cinema, in the pages of a book, in the park, in an LSF seminar… and in a glass.

Because most wordsmiths can just about afford a half-pint of desperation, it helps if the public house of your choice doesn’t flay you alive at the till. Therefore, The Phoenix in Bayswater is an excellent choice. It is possible to buy two drinks there without having to sell one of your lungs on eBay. Also recommended, and close to the festival, are The Metropolitan Bar and The Globe; very popular with LSF attendees in need of liquid libation after chucking out time at the University. If somehow you get lost on the way, there’s a Sherlock Holmes statue close by that you can ask for directions – although, if it answers, I’d suggest you’ve already had enough inspiration for one evening.

5: Sleepy Bye-Byes

Writers inclined towards tales of the supernatural will find lots to enjoy around Leinster Square, W2. After flooding your body with all sorts of calorific chemicals from every possible take-away restaurant known to humanity, you can retire to bed in one of many Victorian terraced house hotels nearby, where, after darkness descends, you’re in for a real treat. For Leinster Square’s garden has its very own Banshee performing twice nightly, around midnight and 2-AM, and she is guaranteed to get those creative juices flowing as you stare at the ceiling begging for sleep – or a high-powered sniper rifle.

Some people say it’s a fox. No fecking way did Basil bastard Brush sound that terrifying.

In closing, what happens at the festival is only half the story. The fact the other half had no earthly right getting commissioned must surely be proof that anyone can get a break. Even people from Yorkshire, who think Netflix is a throwing technique used by fishermen on trawlers.

It’s a fact that all LSF alumni have a wealth of great ideas for how best to enjoy the festival. Some of the may even be legal. We’re a generous community that way. But hey, as I’ve said before, it’s all about the sharing.

Toodle pip!

Nick Jackson


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