Screenwriters reflect on Wordsworth experience

The Inward Eye film festival in Ambleside at Zeffirellis was accompanied by a weekend course for screenwriters, here at Rydal Mount, led by script consultant Vicki Jung.

And we want to share some of the comments from the writers who attended that course.

garden in autumn

  • As a producer venturing out on my first feature, I have learnt a huge amount about story structure during the process of this workshop. Vicki led the workshops brilliantly, giving specific, insightful and practical feedback which will really help our story structures. Each of the mentors had been brilliantly chosen too and were extremely helpful in their feedback. The added value of being able to see films at the festival itself was fantastic too as it meant you were able to network with other creatives at the festival and watch the films made by the mentors who were teaching at the workshop too. The setting was beautiful and apt (being Wordsworth’s home), the food was great and the people were great. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.”

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  • The location itself couldn’t be bettered. Rydal Mount was the family seat of  William Wordsworth himself, and we spent three fruitful days in it, all gathered around a huge oak table, in front of an open fire in the day-room there.  Our task was to work intensely through each other’s scripts, reading, analysing, feeding back and offering ideas, all of which  was achieved with the minimum of rancour and the maximum of warmth. Much of this was down to Vicki Jung, the presiding script consultant, who was more than impressive with her insights and her ability to frame her ideas swiftly, fully and effectively, for the benefit of each writer. 
  • The title of the festival, Inward Eye, comes from a line in Wordsworth’s famous Daffodils poem and refers to the poet’s capacity to reflect on a moving experience, ie, the sight of the daffodils, and to gain insight and ongoing consolation from it. And that,  in every sense, is what we got.
  • The venue could not be bettered.  The course leader Vicki Jung knew her stuff through and through, and put it across clearly and incisively but fairly.  The mentors were as good as you could  get: busy working professionals – directors, producers and writers – who somehow found the time to give us the benefit of their considerable expertise and experience.
  • A unique, fruitful, and enabling experience in a venue to die for.
  • Thank you all so very much for a tremendous few days full of passion, commitment and talent. It was a true privilege to work alongside you all, and I’m so grateful and glad to have been involved.Extra special thanks to Vicki & Charlotte for creating and dreaming up this workshop and for their generosity and perceptive contribution to our diverse group of projects.
  • Thanks all for a great weekend of peer/professional review plus some great socialising. Hopefully, we can meet up next year and/or share things in-between. I just need to decide what I’m going to work on next!
  • Thank you all for being wonderful people with great advice.

writers workshop 2

Where the poetry of cinema met the beauty of nature

A long weekend of film and poetry marked the first Inward Eye film festival, a collaboration between Rydal Mount, Hopscotch Films, and our wonderful local cinema, Zeffirellis.

the plate

We staged a screenwriting workshop here, with our students enjoying the best advice from industry professionals, while at Zeffirellis cinema-goers had a choice of fascinating new films and old favourites.

The events were attended by members of the Wordsworth family who still own the house here where William Wordsworth lived. Here below are Sally Bennie, Sarah Wordsworth Wontner, Charlotte Wontner (of Hopscotch films) and her daughter Eliza.

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The festival featured many question and answer sessions with producers, directors and actors, and there was a surprise visit from the leading actor Tom Conti, who  talked to an enthusiastic audience.


The plate for the winner of the best feature film went to Born A King; here’s screenwriter Henry Fitzherbert and actor Simon Paisley Day.



Photos by Chris Routledge.



Poet to take up residence in Wordsworth’s home

The first poet in residence at Rydal Mount has been announced. Kieron Winn will spend a week in June here at the home of William Wordsworth, writing and meeting visitors to the house.

Kieron’s first collection of poems, The Mortal Man, was published in 2015. He is a great admirer of the work of Wordsworth, and has twice won the University of Oxford’s most valuable literary award, the English Poem on a Sacred Subject Prize.

Kieron Winn 2019 Black and White

Kieron studied English at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was awarded a doctorate for a thesis on Herbert Read and T. S. Eliot. He lives on Osney Island in Oxford, and is a freelance teacher of creative writing and English literature, including to visiting students from the Stanford University programme in Oxford and from Lady Margaret Hall, where he has recently been poet in residence. Increasingly he visits schools to talk to pupils about form and structure in poetry.

His poems have appeared in British and American magazines, including The London MagazineNew StatesmanOxford Magazine, The Spectator and The Times Literary Supplement. Selections of his poems also appear in anthologies and he has read his poems on BBC TV and radio.

Christopher Ricks, editor of The Oxford Book of English Verse, introduced Kieron at a reading by saying he is “A very good poet indeed…a poet to whom Wordsworth matters a very great deal…”

And the writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg said of The Mortal Man: “I have had much pleasure reading the poems. There is a real talent for binding centuries together and there are additions to the great Lake District tradition.”

Ranging from the Lake District to Rome, from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first, the poems in the collection revel in the particularity of people and places, and look for the sources of delight in human consciousness. The poems are relatively unusual now in their use of rhyme and traditional forms.

The appointment falls in the year marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wordsworth, which will be celebrated at Rydal Mount and at the poet’s earlier home in Grasmere, Dove Cottage.

Kieron said that he was delighted by the opportunity:  “It would be hard to imagine my life without Wordsworth and the Lake District, which I have been visiting for over 30 years.”

Curator of Rydal Mount, Emily Heath, said that she hoped other poets would also spend some time in residence at the house during the year. “We are very excited about this and looking forward to reading what Kieron produces in the wonderful atmosphere of Rydal Mount.”

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