“So who wants to walk across fire?”
If you were to make a list of the top ten things you’d be asked to do at a screenwriting masterclass weekend – actually, make that the top 100 – I’m pretty sure walking across fire would not be one of them.
But this wasn’t just any screenwriting masterclass, this was The Talent Campus, a spin-off from the London Screenwriters Festival funded by Creative Skillset and run by guerrilla filmmaker and black belt ass-kicker Chris Jones, better known by attendees as the man who makes you jump around a lot.
“Was it hot?” was the most common response from friends after I’d returned from the final Talent Campus get together. If they were referring to the 1500-degree coals that my bare feet met on that cold November night, yes, they were hot. Hot enough to instantly toast a marshmallow, or a naked pair of size 10s.
If they were referring to the Talent Campus, yes, that too was hot. Hot enough to ignite a passion to grab not just my screenwriting ambitions by the cajones, but to light the fuse on a stratospheric lust for life as well. Never have I come away from any event – writerly or lifecoacherly – with such an inner drive and yearning to ‘get the f**k on with it’. And I’ve been to many.
Those 31 lucky enough to be selected for the Talent Campus 2016 bagged unique inside knowledge about how the film and TV industry really worked. We formed friendships with fellow screenwriter aspirants that now fill the role of confidantes, supportive critiques and cheerleaders for when the going gets tough, or conversely when milestones need celebrating. And we were hooked up with legendary mentors who had (and still have) genuine interest in moving our projects and career paths along (Karol Griffiths, you’re a star!).
But perhaps most of all, I learned that to make it as a screenwriter, it’s about taking control, fearing the things that scare us the most, and just doing them anyway, right there right now. Like walking up to that agent across the room, walking into a pitch meeting with the confidence of a superhero, or walking across glowing coals on a frosty night in November.
When it’s time to apply for Talent Campus 2017, just ‘get the f**k on with it’. I guarantee you’ll feel 1,500-degree heat and passion whether you do the fire walk or not.