Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, co-organisers of next week’s scriptwriting masterclass at the Edinburgh Film Festival, have chosen Jack Thorne to be one of the writers coached during the event. Thorne, who is adapting Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down for Posey and Dwyer, will join nine other British screenwriters taking part in the year-long course. Public funders Skillset and Scottish Screen are funding this masterclass. Tutors include directors Jane Campion (Bright Star), Mike Leigh (Vera Drake), John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) and writer Ronald Harwood (The Pianist). Not that you or I will be able to listen to their wisdom. This masterclass is strictly behind closed doors.
Kate Leys, the ex-Film4 development head who’s co-running The Story Works, accepts Thorne’s inclusion could be controversial. She says it’s inevitable in an industry as small as Britain’s that those picked will have worked with course advisers.
She wishes there was more she could do to open up The Story Works to the public. But everybody taking part has signed non-disclosure agreements so they can talk freely. Some nuggets may be posted online.
Participants seem pretty high-end to me. Among the chosen few are Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats), Nathan Parker (Moon) and Olivia Hetreed (Girl With a Pearl Earring). Surely writers with one feature film credit already under their belts don’t need public support. Leys counters that the 10 may seem established by UK standards, but in Hollywood terms they’re almost complete beginners. “Why is it we always focus training on those just starting out, those who are the longest shots?” she asks.