Writers Assemble!

Posted on: Friday 17 May 2019 2:15pm

Hello my name is… Angela Salt and I will be your friendly guide to What’s on for writers at The CMC this year. This 2 – 4 July get ready to push back on ill-timed deadlines, throw off that slanket, emerge from your solitude, and embrace the writers’ Shangri-La of Sheffield…

Regular CMC-goers may recall me as the 6’ up-rockin’ hostess of the official party in previous years; the one with all the free drinks tickets (yeah, now you know me…!) but this year I’ve been asked to step away from the dance floor and into a new role as an advocate for writers at the conference. A Writers’ Rep.  

So what’s my rep?

I genuinely credit The CMC for setting me on my present career path as a writer and children’s content creator. Over the past eleven years I’ve attended the conference annually and eagerly as a self-funded delegate, a ‘Dragon’s Den’ pitcher, a panel speaker and FUN CMC host. I’ve seen the conference grow year-on-year (this year tickets are flying out and we’re on track for record-breaking attendance!) and, in that time, I’ve learned practical stuff, broadened my skillset, gained valuable insights, industry knowledge and experience, plus I’ve built up an extensive network of contacts, found mentors, partners and investors – all of which has helped me to get established from scratch and progress internationally as a writer now for shows such as ‘Curious George’, ‘Panda and Krash’ and ‘Abby Hatcher’. I also launched my new, independent company, Salt Content, at The CMC last year.

So, if you are an aspiring writer in any genre for children’s media and you’re reading this weighing up if you should take a chance, fork out for a ticket, accommodation and turn up to this thing, then trust me, DO IT. It’s so worth it.

You will leave inspired, informed and invigorated. This year, more than any before, the CMC is a wellspring for writers with a great variety of sessions tailored specifically for them, not least a brand new, power-lunch session specifically for you lionhearts of the industry. It’s called Writers Assemble! Our great, experienced panel will be discussing the heroic business of building a lasting career as a writer. They’ll be offering insights on ways into the business, creating and selling original ideas, expanding into different and emerging markets and future-proofing a writing career in a rapidly evolving media landscape. Don’t miss it! (I’m going to plug it again at the end, so you won’t!)

For an extra thirty-five pounds plus VAT (£42.00, basically the same price as a bottle of ‘Writers Tears’ Copper Pot Whiskey) there’s the CMC Bible & Pitch Skillbuilder Workshop on the first day. Writers across all genres, including digital, are welcome to buy a ticket to participate. Ace your Bible and Pitching skills on day one, *just happen* to bump into your ideal investor at the kick-off cocktails some time later and the rest is… potentially CMC history in the making.

Talking of histories, this year’s Creative Keynote is truly horrible! Okay, it’s a writers’ dream with guests including Terry Deary, the author and creator of ‘Horrible Histories’ and the team behind the new movie. Conveniently this year there’s no schlepp to The Crucible either as the event takes place in the Mercure Hotel, which, let’s face it is where most writers will be hanging out anyway… in the bar, like bees around honey trying to match commissioners to their corporate photos, taken circa 1990 (in some cases these will be baby photos). 

Of course all writers know that notes are an essential part of the creative process. Notes are our friends. OK, sometimes not. Sometimes notes make us face-plant onto our keyboards and go “huuy*%fvbhfevbh£W4endmurghhhh!!!!” The Note Behind the Note will smooth the giving and receiving of notes with a panel of experts on both sides.

The CMC has established strong links to China which is a vast potential market for writers to explore. I’ve spent the past eighteen months as one of a team of U.K. writers writing 52 episodes of ‘Panda and Krash’ for CCTV. The audience for their channels alone is 1.2 billion people which used to blow my mind now and again, writing alone at home, sometimes not talking to a soul all day apart from the cartoon panda and rabbit in my head… This session may truly broaden writers’ horizons. Attend China: A Creative Approach and discover great opportunities for collaboration.

Writers with original ideas (that’s every one of us of course) may lie awake at night asking themselves, “What do Commissioners actually want?” and The Commissioner Conversations will answer that question (so writers can then fall asleep and dream of getting the next Peppa away.) Earwig on the BBC, Commercial Channels, PSBs and VODs and come away with a wish-list you can work on fulfilling. Strategic…

Other sessions this year are celebrating everything from the Moon Landings to new ideas in preschool. After we writers have learned to speak Clanger we’ll want to know how else to capture the attention and connect with preschoolers. Innovation, diversity and inclusion, technical, visual and conceptual ambition are all buzzwords in the session list. I want all those  translated into Clanger.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is returns to pit five more plucky hopefuls up against a panel of dragons. Writers, that could be you up there on stage. I’ve done it. It takes some guts so please turn up and cheer your brothers and sisters on! Good luck to all participants!

PYMWYMI is an entertaining format and raucous highlight of The CMC but there are also plenty of seriously useful, analytical research sessions for writers to attend.

Do you ever wish that you had the secrets to how shows such as ‘Peppa Pig’ and ‘Becca’s Bunch’ got commissioned?  The CMC will make your wish come true in Successful Pitches – the Secret History.  And writers, are you Tackling Teens? You might want to dip into this session because the Young Audience Content Fund has an emphasis on the 13+ age group…

Of course, EVERYONE will be squeezed into The YAC Fund – a User’s Guide. Because who wouldn’t want to hear the inside scoop on the new £57 million fund, what to submit and how? Word is there are also going to be speed meetings with fund execs, as there are with commissioners and their reps throughout the conference.  

I’m almost too excited by that last paragraph to finish what I need to tell writers about… Ah! VR and AR Storytelling. Writers, embrace those new technologies!

In fact, embrace as much as you can of all the fantastic sessions and events The CMC 2019 has on offer. You can go to any session of course, not just the ones aimed at writers. With the exception of the Tuesday workshops which are a reasonably priced extra, all sessions are open to all registered delegates. You could fill up all your time finding out what commissioners want, what future predictions are being made and how to get a slice of that £57m, but then sometimes at CMC it’s also good to just go with the flow and see where it takes you.

That said, I really hope to see a huge posse of writers at Writers Assemble! Come and find your tribe!


 Angela Salt.

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