Wednesday, April 15, 2015

SHORE SCRIPTS 2015 SCREENWRITING COMPETITION

Shore Scripts have launched their 2015 short and feature competitions, so if you have a screenplay ready be sure to enter. Find the details below.

SHORE SCRIPTS 2015 SCREENWRITING COMPETITION NOW OPEN




"Our mission is to discover new exciting screenwriting talent from around the world. We put the best scripts into the hands of the producers, production companies and agents that have the means to get them made. Shore Scripts has amassed a roster of the most respected industry Judges of any screenwriting competition in the world. They include both Oscar and BAFTA winners, and the Heads of Production at Working Title Films and Ridley Scott’s, Scott Free Films.
All of our 21 Judges will read the winning scripts.We have over 100 Production Companies and agents attached to read the best scripts that we send through to them each year. These do not have to be winning scripts. If we feel a screenplay is strong enough, and a good fit with a production companies slate, then we will send it through with the writers prior consent."

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

BLOG REWIND - REJECTION REVISITED Tuesday April 12th 2011

I've spoken about rejection and how to handle it before, but it's something well worth going over again as it's all too easy to forget that sometimes rejection does hurt.

It's important to build up a thick skin against rejection, but even if you do there will always be that one rejection too many that gets to you. We're all human and we all desire to be loved and liked; writers even more so I think. The important thing as a writer is not to let others see you're hurting and not to rant publicly about it. That is a big mistake, a big fat no no in media circles, and a sure fire way to get yourself a bad name. It's worth remembering that if someone Google's your name they might come across your moan and think you're hard to work with and avoid you. No one likes a moaner, not even other moaners.

Go and Google your own name right now and see what comes up. If any moaning, or anything negative comes up then remove the offending article, blog or Tweet. I did this the other week and found two very early, very negative blog posts which I later removed. Here's a few other important things you might want to consider.

Rejection isn't personal. No one ever died from rejection. Rejection doesn't mean your work is rubbish, it just means they didn't like it/or it wasn't right for them at the time. Someone else might like it and snap your hand off.

Remember, be positive at all times online and keep any negative thoughts behind closed doors. Your career will thank you for it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SUPPORTING SUCCESS

Chris Lunt, nominated for a BAFTA
This week, after learning on Facebook of two friends recent bad experiences with producers, I was going to write a slightly downbeat blog about how to protect yourself against those minority of industry people who think it's OK to take advantage of us writers... then I checked my Facebook feed this morning and discovered the lovely and talented Mr Chris Lunt had been nominated for a breakthrough talent BAFTA. Sweet! An upbeat blog it is.

I always look forward to hearing about my fellow writers' successes. Let's face it, it's all too easy to focus on the negatives when you're stuck in front of a computer screen for days on end, so it's a genuine delight to hear someone is doing well, or are finally being recognised for their work. We're a community after all and any success, no matter how big or small, should always be recognised and celebrated by us all. Not only does it give us hope, but it drives us to be better writers, to get that TV pilot/feature film/ short film script we've been sitting on for the last six months finished. It stops us dwelling on the negative and spurs us on to bigger and better things.

So poo poo to the minority of industry people who take advantage of our talent and good nature and huzzah for nominations and recognition. Today is a great day to be a writer.

Jolly well done, Chris.

Happy writing.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

HOW TO NETWORK LIKE A PRO PART 2: MEETINGS

Sooner rather than later in your career you'll be invited to meet with TV development execs. So what do you do? First of all you need to know what kind of meeting it is. These meetings usually fall into two categories for.

MEET & GREET:

They've already read your work, like it and simply want to put a face to name. They want to know what kind of person you are, what programs you like and if you're going to be easy to work with. When I say easy, I mean someone they're going to be happy spending a considerable amount of time either in person, or communicating with.

What they're looking for is a polite, intelligent person, who is open to ideas and not obstructive or precious about their work. It's a collaborative process after all and they want to know if you'll take their notes as they are intended and use them to improve your script. You can object to notes, but only in a polite way, while giving valid reasons for why you think the note, or notes, won't work. Hopefully you'll be able to come up with a great alternative they'll absolutely adore. If you can't and they insist you make those changes, they need to know you'll do so.

PITCHING:

They've read your project outline, like it, but don't think it's for them... however, they want to hear more pitches.

Personally I think this is the most nerve racking meeting of the lot and this is how I suggest you go about things.

Prepare around six brief pitches. Keep your pitch to under a minute, giving the development exec the essentials; TITLE, GENRE, FORMAT and the project's LOGLINE. After that, if interested in the project, they'll ask you questions. If a question throws you, be truthful and say you don't know and ask if you could think about it and come back with an answer later. Guaranteed the answer will pop into your head the minute you step out of the door, so a quick email later with the answer, will solve the problem.

If the development exec starts fidgeting, rolls their eyes, fiddles with their phone, looks bored or distracted, bring them back into the pitch and ask them a question; "What do you think of the main character?" or something similar. Engage them. Don't lose them.

Don't forget to breathe. Try and speak calmly and clearly, not in a rush and garbled. If you find yourself rambling, take a quick sip of the lovely drink they offered you when you arrived and take a moment to collect yourself.

THE PROJECT PITCH:

They like your idea and invite you in to discuss it further. They want to know more. They want you to sell it to them. You do this by preparing.

If you don't know your project inside out then how are you going to pitch it well enough that the development exec gets the full picture? You need to not only know your characters as well as you know yourself, but you also need to know your premise and have closed all those potential loopholes in your project. I know this sounds simple but it's easy to be too confident before a meeting and not prepare fully. If they ask you a question you need to be able to answer it there and then, but if not, ask them if you could come back to them with an answer, as above.

And most importantly show enthusiasm for your project, show them you believe in it, and more than likely they will too.

Good luck.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

HOW TO NETWORK LIKE A PRO


I'm off up to London tomorrow for a day of meetings with TV types, so I thought it would be a great idea to look back and revise a previous post on networking and how it will benefit your career. So here we go...

NETWORKING 

I have found by years of trial and error that the best way to get work, and make great strides in my career, is to put myself out there and meet and connect with as many people as possible. Am I just talking about producers and directors? No...I mean everyone, everyone even remotely connected to the entertainment industry, actors, casting directors, script editors and fellow writers at all levels.

And it's not good enough to just show a passing interest in other people's work, I believe you have be genuinely interested in what they're working on. If I'm not genuinely in them and their career then those people I'm talking to will soon start to suspect I'm sucking up to them  simply to further my career. Luckily I don't have that problem because I have a passionate love of film and TV and a general curiosity about people, so I find it a pleasure to talk to others (even if it does terrify me sometimes) and talk about what they are working on.

Remember it's all about them, not you, so never, ever go begging for work. Remain helpful, polite and never pushy. Talk to them, ask questions and avoid talking about yourself as much as possible. If you're asked a question try and answer it as briefly as you can, before you ask them another question. If like me this comes naturally to you, then it's a great advantage, otherwise you'll have to work very hard at it.

I used to keep a spreadsheet of people I made connections with, now there's a handy little app for the iPhone called CONNECTED that reminds me who I've had contact with, when and what we discussed. I couldn't live without it, as it can get quite confusing when I've have met literally hundreds of people, especially as I'm rubbish at remembering names. Some days I even need help remembering my own.

Signing up to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn help with the process, but you must remember everyone will read what you write so keep a separate account for personal use and gobbing off, and one for professional. You are what you write after all.

Personally I chose to only have one account on each site, as it would take too much time to keep up with separate accounts. Therefore I have to be very careful not to Twitter or Facebook when I come home from the pub and think it's funny to post a picture of my bum. General personal stuff is fine, it makes you appear human, just as long as it's not offensive.

There are plenty of other places to go and meet like minded  professionals including festivals, such as the London Screenwriters Festival, held every October in London. Not only will you meet a ton of writers at various levels, but also producers, directors and script editors. LSWF has now become so big it is now the most 'must attend' event on the calender. If you're thinking 'I can't afford to go', and you're serious about your career, then what you should actually be thinking is 'how can I afford NOT to go?'

There are also many other festivals, workshop and other great opportunities to network, set up by various well known and respected media bodies you should be looking at. You might even want to consider going on courses aimed at up and coming directors and producers... why? Because you'll probably be the only writer in a room full of hungry people who can get you screenplays made.


Writing ten or fifteen short scripts and offering them free to up and coming directors is a great idea to get your name and work out there. Plus if any are made it will give you something to be proud of and a credit on your CV. A good place to find directors is on Shooting People, Twitter and Facebook. Always remember to check out the directors previous work first to see if it's of the quality you want your short to be and if they are intending to place the finished film in festivals. That last bit is important as this will increase your exposure.

THE CALLING CARD SCRIPT


This is the one that best showcases your writing. It is not designed to ever get made (you're lucky if it does) but to show others what you can do. Make sure it is the best it can be before you send it out, as a sloppy, poorly written script will not impress anyone. And you need to send it out...to everyone - production companies first and places like the BBC Writersroom and Industrial Scripts, and then to smaller producers and directors and actors and just about everyone, but with this second group of people only if they request to read it first.

And this is where the networking comes into its own. If you've done your job properly people will also be genuinely interested in knowing what you are up to and might ask to read your script. If they like your work they might even offer you some work.

It's really all about building relationships, making friends and creating an awareness of your work. Do this and eventually people will come to you when they need a writer and one day you might even get paid for it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

PLAY NICE

The media business is a small world.

Behave badly, or develop a reputation for being awkward and people won't want to work with you. Hand your screenplays in late, or in an unacceptable, unfinished state and you'll be deemed unprofessional. People talk to each other in this business and reputation is everything.

It amazes me then that there are some people out there who still behave badly towards others. Luckily I've only met a handful of people like this and it's no surprise that in the majority of those cases I've never heard their names mentioned again, in relation to media career progression.

Don't be a plum! Don't sabotage your own fledgling career! Don't piss on people you might have to work for in the future! Here are a few of my simple rules to help you on your way...

  • Always be polite, even if you don't like the person.
  • Always be flexible where you can.
  • Never be rude if you don't agree with something. Present your case in a calm and logical fashion and if they still don't agree with you, move on.
  • Always honour your agreements.
  • Always hand your work in on time (earlier if you can).
  • Always make sure your work is the best it can be.
  • Never continually bother people when you approach them. If they don't reply back immediately they might just be busy.
  • Never be rude or derogatory about other people's work.
  • Always be professional.
  • Never be angry or vengeful.
  • Never rage against rejection.
  • Always remember it's never personal.
  • Always double check what you put out on social media.
  • Always have a smile on your face.

If you want to get far in this business if pays to play nice.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

There have been times in my career when I've seriously considered packing it all in and walking away for good. Where the promise of a regular income and a steady job seemed a whole lot better than the continuing struggle to get anyone to like my work, surviving on nothing but a few pennies a week.

Yesterday I read Lisa Holdsworth's excellent blog on rejection - read it HERE - where she nailed what it's like to be a writer and how we deal, or fail to deal with rejection. Every one of her points hit home and at the end of the blog post I was actually sniffing back tears.

She actually got me, got what it means and feels like to have my work rejected, and for once I felt I wasn't alone. That's the hardest part I think, the feeling of being alone and isolated with your 'shame' and 'anger', knowing that your family and friends, even though they mean well, don't really understand the crippling effect of being told 'NO'.

All writers face rejection, it's an occupational hazard. Every writer will at one time or another have to face it. But whether it's a project you've been working on for months that gets rejected or you're dumped from a project in favour of someone else, the mark of a great writer is that they learn to deal with it and move on. Yes the bad times can hurt as much as a kick in the fluffy bits - I've even had to sell my book collections and DVDs just to be able to eat on a couple of occasions when money was so tight - but I've learnt that nothing is forever.

Sometimes as writers I think we set up ourselves for most of our falls, happily telling everyone that will listen about a possible new project that physically and emotionally excites us, only later for it not to go ahead. It's hard not to share our excitement over possible projects with others. We see people so rarely that when we're asked what we're up to the temptation to blurt out every little detail is overwhelming.

Some writers are better at keeping things to themselves than others. Personally I'm crap at it and I'm sure it makes the rejection harder to deal with when you're asked..."What happened to your Vampire vs Robots project you told me ITV were interested in?" and you have to inform them ITV decided not to go ahead with the idea.

But it's not all bad. Us writers wouldn't do this for a living if it was.

There are days when you feel like nothing can dent your amour, that you're invincible and everyone loves you and what you do, when you just want to sing from the rooftops and tell everyone how well things are going. Those precious moments when a development exec says, "we really love your writing and we'd love to work with you," are the highlights that have us punching the air, strutting down the road as if we own the world. And for those few treasured moments, we do.

We are giants! We are superheroes! Our words are platinum! Our ideas genius! And the world is a beautiful place once again..!