Monday, 21 November 2011

Something's cooking

Take forty odd talented creative types, put them in a room for two days, add a soupcon of direction, a pinch of encouragement and stir occasionally and what do you get? Well, a lot of laughs and mad ideas for starters, but to really get the best out of this dish you have to allow it to simmer for another five or six months.

That, in a cooking pot, was 360 Narratives, the two day get together I attended at the Barcelo Hotel in Stirling, hosted by the super-efficient Claire and Fiona from Playwrights' Studio Scotland, with a little help from Creative Scotland, and brilliantly marshalled by film maker Grant Keir. The idea was to bring people together from across the arts spectrum and get them to think about working together to create new and innovative projects. This is just the first step, with a residency to follow next March when the writers, screenwriters, playwrights, graphic novel designers and games developers whose projects have the most potential will be given the time and support to work together to begin making them a reality. The brilliant Phil Parker got the ball rolling with a clarion call to find a place in the new creative universe that's opening up all around, and urging people to collaborate with whoever was needed to make it work. Short films that can make a fortune on the internet, simple games that hit the right spot, interactive e-books that cross the divide between film, game and novel, films that can be created using a mobile phone. There's a market for them all. I'd never thought of any of them, but when he told his audience 'Story is the heart of everything' I realised that new doors are opening for writers everywhere.

I met some wonderful people, had my mind opened up to other ways of looking at the writing world, and was enthused, invigorated and finally left completely exhausted after two days of brainstorming that left most of us looking like wet dishrags, but feeling as if we'd really achieved something. When I started, I had no idea I was going to end up standing in front of about fifty people singing a folk song about a mad-eyed Manga warrior dying in a hospital to the tune of Hotel California (I can still hear it, make it go away). The fact that it took the place by storm and won the Genre, Location, Platform pitching competition was all down to my talented scratch team of Tracey, Alton, Fiona and Jessie, who entered wholeheartedly into creating something from nothing in twenty minutes and then had what it took to make it work (Having just seen the video, please excuse the poetic licence). Every one a trooper!

My wife almost had a fit when she saw Speed Dating on the agenda, but by the time I'd spoken to forty people for two minutes at a time over an hour and a half, trust me I wasn't fit for anything.

I won't be one of the collaborators who get together next year, because I have other plans and Valerius is about to march into his most dangerous fight yet, with enemies on every side, but it opened my eyes to a whole new world, and showed that a writer with imagination, talent and commitment need never be idle.

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