Friday, 22 March 2019

First Anniversary: how does a year go by so quickly!

Can't believe it's a year today since I launched my screenwriting book, Write That Script in the Berlin bar (@BerlinBarD2Dublin). I remember far too much wine, some dancing, unbelievable conversations and the night went by in a whirl. 

My mother always said time went faster as you got older. Of course, being young, I thought this was nonsense but boy was she right!

Mervynne Jacque whose music entertained us all night.

It's now in bookshops in Dublin and Galway and online; it led to a series of workshops at various writing and book festivals around Ireland: in Westport during the wonderful Rolling Sun Book Festival, in Carlow as part of Penfest and in Howth and Swords as part of the Write Time Festival, as well as a gig in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.  I’m currently teaching up at the @IrishWritersCentre and, later this year, I'll be talking at the Dublin Book Conference. 

Write That Script is in libraries and colleges all over the country and beyond, which is amazing. It took me a year to write but a couple of decades of teaching screenwriting, as well as writing and developing material for the screen, to get the confidence to put it all on paper. So a huge thank you to all of you who supported and encouraged me, who bought my book and who turned up, regardless of weather, to hear me speak! #write that script

PS Write that Script is on Amazon US and UK and available in Ireland from my online store (

Monday, 17 December 2018

New year: new course in the Irish Writer's Centre

Delighted to say I'm running my first screenwriting course in the Irish Writer's Centre! 

It starts on Weds, Jan 20th and runs for eight weeks for two hours each night. As I say in the blurb, it's suitable for anyone with a wicked and visual imagination who loves creating characters and putting them in jeopardy! 

You can find more information here:

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Make diversity the new 'normal'

Last Friday, Nov 30th, I spoke to a packed King's Hall in central London during the Kinds Content Futures conference run by C21Media, about the experience of creating my series, PUNKY. About why I had created it, about my goals for the series and about the impact it has had worldwide on individuals and, hopefully, on society as a whole.

C21 Media Content London 2018
I said we were a small production, (Gernomino Productions made both series) with strong support from a small broadcaster (RTE). Not only does the central character have special needs (Down's syndrome) but we dealt with split parenting, bullying and many other issues that children of her age (she's six) deal with on a daily basis. It was a mainstream series that fits anywhere in the programme and that was the goal - that we would help children to learn (or maintain) acceptance of difference; celebration of how much more interesting it makes life.

My fellow panellists all worked for large broadcasters with the clout and the finance to do better that we did. The trick was not to let ideas get watered down - as they often tend to be when they go through many layers of bureaucracy and decision-making; as they often are when broadcasters or producers flinch at the idea of offending their 'selective' audience.

All they had to be clear about was to create characters that were unique and compelling that happened to have special needs, neuro-diverse challenges, physical or mental health-based challenges but that these 'issues' should not be the reason they are in the series. Story is king and story relies on compelling characters; use the 'issues' to tick boxes and get funding but don't make them the reason for the show. No more than they are the 'reason' any individual is interesting in real life. Yes they will affect storylines but organically, naturally, as part of daily life.

The other speakers spoke then about their individual broadcasters' attempts to add diversity to kid's television content. From Patricia Hidalgo, Chief Content Officer, Turner EMEA and International Kids Strategy, we had Stephen Universe and other series that do actually - albeit in animated form - try to push the gender and ethnic barriers. From ITV's Darren Nartey, Programme Acquisitions Exec ITV, we had what felt like a very genuine intent to be more inclusive along gender and ethnic lines.

From Disney's David Levine, VP Programming, production and strategic development, Disney Channels EMEA, we had the party line about how well they were doing and had done to include diverse ethnic and gender characters - Doc McStuffin had a scene with gay parents etc. He ended his speech talking about how there was a character with two mums in the next High School Musical (and that they were super excited about that) and that the grandmother in a new live action series was a big character.

Is it me or should that not necessarily be news now?

What was very clear was that while ethnic and gender diversity are being included a little more within stories, it's still in a small enough scope to legitimise the need for these panels. As for any of these large players including characters that happen to have special needs, are neuro-diverse or differently able-d, there was nothing I heard to suggest anyone was leaning in that direction.

As I mentioned in my speech talking about selling Punky, there's a resistance. As one major broadcaster once notably said when Punky was pitched to him, his broadcaster doesn't "'do' sickness".
How revealing is that about how broadcasters feel about a huge segment of our community?

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

From idea to script idea... how can you tell?

I did a two-part article on how to work out if the exciting idea nuzzling your ear lobe is one that will work as a screenplay for recently - the second part out just this week.

You can find both of them here.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Come see what's inside my brain... Dublin city centre art exhibition

Okay, that may be the longest post heading I've ever tried! How to say: 'Come see an exhibition!", then say, 'Hey, it's my first and I am so excited about it!' and then give all the details including the reason I'm so excited?

And here it is: this exhibition is the first show by an artists and illustrators collective founded this year. There are 24 of us in the collective now, and such talent I have to pinch myself when I walk around and see what everyone else is producing. Some have been working as artists, graphic designers and art teachers but others are pursuing an interest they've had to keep - so far - as a sideline.

All of us want to illustrate children's books.

So on Dec 1st and 2nd in a gallery in Dublin's city centre, we will each hang two A4 originals, all affordable because we have covered the gallery costs ourselves and want to see our work in happy homes. But we will also be selling prints, cards, books and more at our pop-up shop; perfect gifts for Christmas - especially if you have to post pressies overseas! We have also produced a calendar full of our art on the theme of Home, all proceeds going to the Simon Community.

The theme is: 'A Few of my Favourite Things..."
The place: Studio 10, 10 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2;
The time: 10am-7pm
The date: December 1st and 2nd.

To whet your appetite, here are some of my own - if this is what's inside your brain, as some people maintain art is, mine is a strange place to be!!

Please pop in if you're in town and say hello - we're all taking turns to man the gallery in twos and threes and we love to talk!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Playing Devil's Advocate... and advocating for diversity

Two events this month I'd love to share: 
1. I'm giving a workshop on screenwriting (Devils' Advocate) Westport, Co. Mayo for the wonderful Rolling Sun Book Festival. It's on Saturday the 17th from 11.30 in the Westport Town Hall Theatre. Free to come along but you probably need to book. 

2. I'm thrilled to be a guest speaker in the upcoming Content London Conference in London run by C21Media. It's an amazing distillation of talent and interesting events (four conferences under one umbrella) and as the creator of Punky (2011, 2014), I'll be talking as part of a panel on 'Representing Diversity in Children's TV' at the Kids Content Futures Conference on November 30th from 12.40am. The event will be moderated by Lindsay Watson, animation producer, kids & family, Canuk Productions.

Really excited about taking part in this discussion. Diversity is still under-represented in children’s TV, both on screen and off, but while the situation is improving since I first dreamt up Punky (back in 2008), we need to know that broadcasters are working to improve things even faster. That means including stories from all sections of our community; celebrating difference. It's what TV can do so well, when it puts its mind to it!

As such, this panel has been gathered to answer questions such as how are broadcasters bringing the voices of the differently abled of our society, as well as women, BAME, LGBTQI+ to the industry and what are the barriers to further progress? (And, hopefully, how do we break through those barriers?)

The other panelists are David Levine, VP Programming, production and strategic development, Disney Channels EMEA, Darren Nartey, Programme Acquisitions Exec ITV and Particia Hidalgo, Chief Content Officer, Turner EMEA and International Kids Strategy.
You can find the full agenda for the day here. And if you are there, be sure to say hello!


Sunday, 14 October 2018

House need cleaning? Use it as motivation to write instead!

I have never been good at or a fan of housework – except, in brief spurts, when I’m avoiding work.

My mother worried about this. She thought she’d turn up one day and find me sitting on a chair – with a notebook and pen, admittedly surrounded by my accumulated clutter.

Cobwebs, what cobwebs?
Then she watched a documentary about JK Rowling. “I know now why you’re not good at housework,” she said. Apparently JK had said there were three important tasks she had to fulfil – to mind her child (like me, she was a single mum), to keep the house clean and to write. She only had time to do two of these things well.

Mind you, today my glasses fell on the floor. They fire off at every opportunity. I think they regard the top of my head as a launching pad for inter-stellar adventures, though so far they’ve only fired downwards, most notably into the loo, the bath, the sink and on top of the dog. This time, they went under the heater.

Minutes after I put them back on – after chastising them, swearing a little and nearly toppling my mug of coffee as I bent down – I realised one side needed cleaning; maybe a hair had got caught in the joint – but no, it was a cobweb.
Clean cobwebs or write a play about
cloning a man from a thumb?
Julie Lockey in All Thumbs,
 International Bar Theatre, 2016

A nice fat little cobweb.

For a moment - brief - I thought, I could hoover... 

Or I could get back to my book.

 I’ve given myself a week to finish the last section. (Ambitious because I know it’s flawed. Though the flaws may stretch back deeper into the book, I won’t know until I finish, set it aside and re-read.)

Thing is, I have a really nice few chapters at the end but I’m not sure whether to lead in to leap forward... Whether that should be the ending or it should go on to the next big moment. Whether this is book two of two or of three... Whether the drama leading up to this point is big enough or needs an extra injection of oompf...

So instead of cleaning, I decided to use the cobwebs as motivation to drive me to my notebook, oblivious to the clutter and play with words for the next half hour. 

As someone once said, the house will still be there when you’re gone so what’s the most important thing to do?


Write That Script, The Angelica Touch and Dad’s Red Dress by L.J. Sedgwick are all available from Amazon and on my online store. They are also available from Kenny’s Bookshop, Charlie Byrne’s bookshop (Galway), Books Upstairs, the Winding Stairs bookshop (Dublin) and Hanna’s in Rathmines