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Q&A with Richard Curtis

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GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 01-Nov-12 09:22:59

Author of our November kids' book of the month is award-winning film director, script writer and Lovely Person Richard Curtis. He's doing a Q&A for us about The Empty Stocking and his new career as a children's author. How different is this to writing for the Hollywood A-list? Add your questions for him here before 13 November.

phoenix Thu 01-Nov-12 09:41:45

Not a question really, but just wanted to say a huge thank you for all the Blackadder series, and a special mention for the final scene of the final episode. It was handled so well, the switch from comedy was so beautifully and subtly done. I remember when my sons (both huge Blackadder fans) saw it for the first time, it really had a deep effect on them, and I still feel that there is no better way to show exactly what WW1 was like for those in the trenches.

Deedaa Thu 01-Nov-12 21:24:29

Absolutely agree with everything you've said phoenix

phoenix Thu 01-Nov-12 22:15:12

Thank you, Deedaa , but I think we need to try to come up with questions (I couldn't!) But that last scene was brilliant, wasn't it? No matter how many times I see it, it still moves me.

Sorry Richard, I expect you are sick of it and I do appreciate that you have done a heck of a lot of other good stuff, but if I were you, and the main thing that I was remembered for was that scene, I would feel proud.

Gally Sat 03-Nov-12 12:55:58

Hello 'Lovely Person'. On a lighter note, I have to say how much I admire your films particularly Notting Hill and 4 Weddings and Funeral - I can watch them over and over and over again and not get bored - all your film and tv work really - including Dibley and War Horse. I'm a Curtis too, may be we're related grin(!) and desperately trying to think of a question instead of grovelling about your amazingness wink
Oh, just thought of one - do you write your childrens books for your own children or with them in mind? Do they read the proofs and criticise and make suggestions, or is it all your own work?

NannaB Mon 05-Nov-12 09:18:48

I agree with all that has been said so far. Your films are delightful. I haven't read any of your books yet! My question is - do you think Comic Relief is up there amongst your biggest achievements?

ladywriter Thu 08-Nov-12 11:35:50

Hi Richard. I love, love, love your work.
I'm sorry this post is going to be all self-indulgent but as I'll never get this opportunity again...

I am a great believer in making my own luck. I've always loved writing so I took a course on screenwriting. Since then I've had some success. I won a BBC Writersroom competition and more recently I sent a screenplay to a couple of the US film festivals. I won Best in Category at one and the Award of Merit at the other. I'm told by the festival organisers that they received thousands of scripts, so I suppose I must be doing something right. With my pair of 'laurels' proudly attached to this script I've tried every agent in London, and still they won't even read my script never mind take me on. I always knew it would be tough to break into the industry but my experience tells me it's practically impossible.

Is it this hard for everyone or do you think it's tougher for women? Why are there so few female screenwriters?

How does someone, female or otherwise, break into the industry these days?

I'd love to hear any advice you may have.

The very best of luck with the new book.

antheaj Thu 08-Nov-12 13:48:50

Hello Richard. I too am a huge fan. I would love to know what made you decide to write a children's book? I believe it's your first though I may be wrong smile

nanamarion Thu 08-Nov-12 13:50:26

Did you find writing a book for children very different to writing screenplays for adults? Or are the processes much the same?

moonlit Thu 08-Nov-12 13:53:32

Did you base the story on things your own children had done? I think you have a son called Charlie? What made you decide to use his name but not your other children's? Were they put out or pleased? Sorry that's a few questions rolled into one so I hope that's ok.

pamw Thu 08-Nov-12 13:56:00

Did you specifically set out to write a Christmas book? Are you a fan of the whole festive season bit? I confess to being a bit bah humbug

I do love your films - thank you for bringing so many people so much pleasure over the years

knittynora Thu 08-Nov-12 14:04:09

I applied for one of your books so I hope I am lucky.

Have YOU been good this year? And what do you hope father Christmas is going to bring for you?

I've often wondered - what is a joke, and what makes it funny? Or what makes a funny situation funny, or not? Does there need to be surprise in it, or shock?
One thing I hugely admire in your comedy is that you're not cruel. You get mocked sometimes for writing sunny benign, "British" comedies. I love them (esp 4Weddings and Blackadder). Actors must love being sent a Richard Curtis script. Do your scripts go through many revisions before they reach the screen? Or does what you write usually work first time??

Finally, have you written for theatre? I'd love to see a play by you. I don't think I ever have.

JaneLewis1 Fri 09-Nov-12 21:12:28

I am trying to find the best way to ask whether there is any particular writing you did (film, book, script) that arose from other work? A female colleague learned to paint people's nails, and met her husband through a client. At my work, I have been able to use Census information (from the website) to enhance my reports which lead to being given much more interesting topics to research. Are there any parts of your working life that prompted other pieces of work?

opendoor Tue 13-Nov-12 14:32:29

This is SO exciting. <Aims not to stammer>

You've been writing for a long while - you were successful quite young, I think. Is your writing different now from when you started out?

timeout Tue 13-Nov-12 14:34:01

In many ways you seem to have led a charmed life (I think you said as much on Desert Island Discs). Do you have any regrets?

flibbertigibbet Tue 13-Nov-12 14:38:45

Presumably you get to hang around with movie stars and everyone wants to be your friend. What do you do to stay grounded?

boudoirbabe Tue 13-Nov-12 14:49:16

Do you feel more optimistic for sub-Saharan Africa than you did when you started Comic Relief?

lifer Tue 13-Nov-12 14:54:03

What three songs should we be listening to at the moment?

flyingfunk Tue 13-Nov-12 15:00:03

Your work often shows an interest in fame. Do you think fame distorts people? Does it always have a bad effect?

sneetch Tue 13-Nov-12 15:05:03

Is the process of writing a children's book very different from the process of writing a movie script? or do you have to plan and go about it in the same sort of way, basically?

closetgran Tue 13-Nov-12 15:11:04

You are very funny <blushes because this sounds a bit stalkerish, but is true> Do you ever regret being a writer and director rather than an actor?

lilianb Tue 13-Nov-12 16:05:13

What gave you the idea for the book? Are you a big fan of Christmas and what does it mean to you and your family? PS I am a big fan of all your work

ladycompletelygaga Tue 13-Nov-12 16:07:26

Your new book looks lovely and Christmassy and I do like a tale of mischievous children <thinks of own DC and DGC> - were you a mischievous child? And actually what were your own childhood Christmasses like? I am keeping my fingers crossed I have won a copy of your book but if not I will definitely buy it

Do you think writers workshops are any good, or do they lead nowhere?

If you like them, can you suggest one that covers TV and radio comedy? I have a series idea and want somewhere to try out part scripts, hear my stuff being read and get feedback. Just sitting on my own at a computer won't get me going.

How do you set about writing?

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