There are a multitude of tomes that help you set out on the path to becoming a scriptwriter, and many of them are rather good at that. There are also a multitude of tomes that help you on the way to becoming a director (though those seeking editing, sound design, gaffers, boom holders or artistic set creation guides are more restricted in number). But if your aim is to become a writer and director, telling your tale on page and screen, then Rocliffe Notes: A Professional Approach For Screenwriters and Writer-Directors provides a useful insight into getting your foot on that metaphorical ladder, because it’s a tall and rickety ladder where many of those who have tried to climb have descended in a tragic manner, never to have written…. or directed, again.

Rocliffe Notes seeks to offer the reader a comprehensive understanding of not just the film industry but the process that one has to go through in order to realise your ambitions for working within it. Farah Abushwesha approaches this by looking at the development of screenplays and dramatic situations alongside the financial and commercial background that is all too important in a multi-media world. Abushwesha reinforces her points using huge a number of interviews (over 140) – placing the whole process into context. This is where the book really comes into its own as the advice it provides is offered by those who have experienced the filmmaking process from all points of view; this is less one person’s outlook but a broader contextual analysis, helpfully structured by the author. The interviews are helpfully categorised, with additional commentary, which adds perspective and also ensures that themes are easy to dip into when you wish to recall particular issues raised. Often inspiring, occasionally depressing (at the sheer effort it might take to realise those dreams), it is, above all else, honest.

The roles that you wish to attain – writer, director, writer-director – are placed within a wider context so that other jobs within the industry, notably that of the producer, are emphasised, essential if there is any chance of obtaining finances for your creative endeavour. The process of understanding and developing the writing requirements, both on the page and in the author’s mind are likewise emphasised, whether you are writing for the world of shorts, features or episodic series (TV or web). The book places its emphasis on the craft and its creation. Filmmaking is – ultimately – a business, and business acumen is covered so that the artist has a chance to truly understand the marketplace. And, yes, that includes the dreaded (to some of us) pitching of our wares in a way that is enthusiastic, engaging and professional.

Media means business and Rocliffe Notes: A Professional Approach For Screenwriters and Writer-Directors provides guidance on how to develop the skills necessary to realise your artistic endeavours.