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Rocliffe Blog April 2009 by Farah Abushwesha

1 May 2009
Rocliffe Forum April 2009

Rocliffe Moderator Farah Abushwesha describes Mike Newell as a witty and exceptional script guru at the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum on 29 April.

The April BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum played to a full house with special guest Mike Newell - the highly acclaimed director of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Donnie Brasco, Pushing Tin, Love in the Time of Cholera, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and forthcoming feature Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Within seconds of taking to the stage it was clear to all why this guest has risen to the top of the directing game. Mike steered his conversation with each writer, asking probing questions and then delving deeper into the heart of what they were writing about and why. He defended their work whilst deconstructing it until he got to the nucleus of their stories. Nothing he said was cutting or critical - it was like observing a sort of script Dalai Lama dispensing wit-laden wisdom to a spellbound audience. We, as observers, felt privileged to hear him in action.

It’s hard not to write entirely about Mike Newell’s captivating presence, but the event is about giving breakthrough writing talent a platform and audience. Having your script selected is not a reward of excellence - it is an opportunity for a development workout in good company - actors, directors, Mike Newell (now a forum patron).

The event handout is available to download and the scripts make for really interesting reading - Lucifer trying to win favour with God and regain paradise by saving the human race, whilst falling for Archangel Gabriel; a biopic about John Bindon, the actor and gangster who had an affair with Princess Margaret; and a homosexual teenage boy in a children’s home, struggling to break free from the prison of his past life.

An addition to the event was the contribution by Air-Edel who selected three talented new composers to create musical intros to open each extract, set against Kem White’s evocative backdrops and BAFTA lighting set ups.

"Artwork, music and lighting helped a lot to give the extract a more cinematic feel. It all looked, sounded and felt like a true performance, not just a workshop," - Julian Mountfield, Featured Writer.

Audience comments:

"Excellent, the best Rocliffe I’ve been to!"

"Bloody good, we thought."

"I attended last night's forum and I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it and how professionally it was run."

"Just to say how much I enjoyed last night... I thought the advice given by yourself, Mike Newell and the directors was pertinent to all us aspiring writers..."

All in all it was BAFTA & Rocliffe’s best event since moving to 195 and marked the ninth year of the Rocliffe New Writing Forums. Despite being far removed in terms of ambition and size from the days in a room above a pub, the forum still retains the spirit and soul of that pub in Islington.

For the link to the programme with synopsis and writer contact details and photos of the event click BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum with Mike Newell - audience handout (973.1 KB) .