Workshop with Phil Parker: Candour, Passion, Pragmatism

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 12.02.39.png

Jamie Andrews attends "Small Creations, Big Audiences", a workshop and lecture run by Phil Parker at Falmouth on Tuesday the 26th of September.


Phil Parker has an extensive portfolio which includes the likes of Oscar and Bafta winning Wallace and Gromit - Curse of the Ware Rabbit; the award winning El Greco and the screen adaptation of the late Sir Terry Prachett's book Hogfather. He has also run an incredibly successful MA screenwriting program in the UK and is the Author of The Art and Science of Screenwriting, a book used by Falmouth University as a part of their screenwriting modules. 

I was one of the students lucky enough to be accepted onto the workshop and get tickets for the sold-out lecture in the evening. 

On a personal level the first three things I noticed about Phil (other than his majestic beard) was his body language. With a lot of people at these sorts of workshops you get a slight 'going through the numbers vibe' but with Phil, he radiated enthusiasm and that enthusiasm was infectious. 

The second was that he was genuinely interested in the people there, he asked questions, listened intently and gave off the feeling that if there weren’t 15 of us sat around an oval table in a workshop you'd still be having the same conversations with him.  

And the third was how honest and passionate he is. In fact, nearly every quote I have received from other students attending have commented on the same or similar.  

During the workshop he taught us about themes within narrative and what they say about human nature, hooks and provoking curiosity, characterisation and how that applies to themes, genre and how it’s the most misused word in the French Language, about tones set within the story and how to look at all of this while paying attention to active questions: i.e. what is the problem the protagonist(s) will be resolving. Reflecting upon this while writing this article, it’s a surprise we managed to cover so much in such a small amount of time. 

In his lecture he spoke about content pipelines, Ideas and access to collaboration, development of ideas, the need for quality, production with regards to appropriate costings, distribution of work and marketing to tribes. He then went on to speak about grants, arts funding and competitions. 

As mentioned before every student I have spoken to about the Small Creations, Big Audiences took something away from the experience. For myself it was that quality is key, you aren't alone and that collaboration on works will be very important in creative careers in the future.  

As for everyone else, I thought it would be a good idea to let them speak for themselves. 

It was really informative and he was honest, passionate and just an all-round inspiring and wise dude!!
— Laura Betts, 2nd year Creative writing
The talk was incredibly useful - I left having learned a lot more about the challenges of the industry but also with a renewed inspiration and optimism.
— Ellen Carnazza, 3rd year Creative writing
I found Phil Parker honest about the industry. He removed the romanticism of the work, but did not try to deter people from it. The biggest piece of advice he gave was “as a writer, don’t sell yourself out!
— Adrian Martin, 2nd year English with creative writing
Phil’s workshop didn’t just provide writing advice, it gave life advice, reminding us of the media industry’s need for quality over quantity, which for an aspiring screenwriter, is everything.
— Wilhelmina Denness, 3rd year creative writing

by Jamie Andrews