Wednesday, June 27, 2012


New writers often believe they need an agent to get work and that they can't progress without one. They think it's just a matter of getting an agent and they'll have all the work they can handle. They make it their mission to get one and go all out to do so. An agent becomes their Holy Grail and blinds them to everything else. They send work out before it's ready. They send work out before they are ready. They send work out just because they can and not because they should. And they wonder why they get rejected. I've made that mistake and I know for sure it's one that will continue to be made by new writers.

You are not ready for an agent!

There, I've said it. You might not believe it. You might not want to believe it, but it's true and I'll tell you why.

Agents are inundated with work from any Tom, Dick or Harriet who think that their one and only screenplay is the bee's balls and once an agent has read it then they'll recognise their genius and instantly snap them up. Usually the truth is their screenplay isn't up to much and their narrow-minded attitude reeks of being unprofessional. So they get a standard rejection letter and the agent opens the next submission. As I've already said it's a mistake I've made myself.

So what are agents looking for?

- For a writer who shows promise.
- For a writer with a back catalogue.
- For a writer who illustrates at the very least a basic knowledge of the industry.
- For a writer who networks, who meets new people in the business and forms relationships with them.
- For a writer who has been industrious enough to find their own work.
- For a writer with plenty of ideas.
- For a writer who is enthusiastic and self motivated.
- For a writer who is polite, approachable and easy to work with.

What aren't agents looking for?

- A writer they need to handhold through every aspect of the industry.
- A writer they need to help polish their work.
- A writer with no contacts.
- A writer with only one or two pieces of work.
- A writer with an inflexible attitude.
- A writer with unrealistic aspirations.
- A writer who is rude.
- A writer who doesn't even have a short film to their name.
- A writer who never chases things up.

Basically agents are in business not to help you out, but to help themselves. They are in business to make money. If they look at you and they don't see any way to make money, even if they like your writing, then they won't take you on. They can smell desperation! They want the maximum amount of return for the littlest amount of work...don't we all!

So if not everything in the first category applies to you and the second category feels more familiar then you're not ready. It would be a complete waste of your time and effort trying to approach agents, so don't. There are some exceptions to the rule, there always are, but it happens so little you are better off not even thinking about it. In fact you are probably better off buying a Lotto ticket.

When you're ready you'll be fighting them off, so resist the temptation to approach agents before you are truly ready.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


It's easy to get side tracked when you're busy and lose a little momentum. It's all too easy to focus on paid work to make sure you have enough money coming in to pay the bills and you can forget to move forward, especially if you're busy.

Momentum is vitally important for any writer. If you become too engrossed in what you're doing at the time and forget to look forward, when your current work is done you'll find yourself with nothing to move on to. You don't want to have to start from scratch again. So to combat this you should always be writing something new. You should always be entering competitions. You should always be making new and interesting contacts. You should always be looking out for new writing opportunities. No matter how busy you are and how little time you may think you have. Make the time and keep up that momentum.

Inevitably there will always be work and collaborations that don't pay and it's frustrating sometimes to spend time on these when you know you really should be concentrating on getting paid to write. But all writing work, paid and unpaid, is part of a big jigsaw, of getting your name out there, forging relationships and ensuring your career has longevity.

I find myself at a point where some possible paid work hasn't materialised. It's a bummer to be sure, but if I hadn't been continually looking for work and applying for stuff I might have been worried. I'm not though. I make more opportunities for myself every day and although some projects don't work out I know others will.

As Limp Bizkit once said roughly a decade ago..."Keep rollin' rollin' rollin'."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Feedback on your script is important, it helps you identify faults and give you the tools to correct them. It helps you to rewrite and rewriting is the life blood of all writers. Feedback is something every successful writer craves and actively seeks. Without it they die.

I've been following a new writer's posts on Facebook for the past few weeks and was extremely pleased for him when he announced he had finished his very first feature screenplay. He was quite rightly excited about it, as it's a monumental achievement to finish that first screenplay when so many people fail to do so. But what concerned me was his thinking that his first draft was good enough to send out to producers. When he was asked who had looked at his screenplay, he replied a friend at work...and that was it. He had written just one draft, had feedback from just one person and had only spent a day polishing his screenplay. How many of you think his screenplay was ready to send out? It was really difficult to know what to say because I wanted to be honest with him, but at the same time not be discouraging. So the idea for this blog post was born.

It's all very easy as new writer to spend weeks, maybe even months writing a screenplay and then think it's the bee's balls and as soon as you send it out it's going to be snapped up for bag full of money. I've made that mistake and so have many other writers I know. The truth is the first draft of anything is crap, no matter if you think otherwise. What makes us different is that we recognised our naivety and have worked hard since to make everything we write the best we can possibly make it. It's not been an easy journey, I can promise you that.

There are even new writers who actively avoid feedback, because they can't take criticism even when it's constructive. I've had nasty emails sent to me in the past after giving feedback, telling me I don't know what I'm on about and why can't I recognise the writer's obvious genius. All readers at some point get emails like that, it's unavoidable and very counterproductive for the writer. If the reader thinks your work isn't up to standard it's a sure bet a producer is going to think that too and will just send it back, or bin it. To improve at anything in life it's vitally important that you can take criticism, otherwise you won't advance, learn, or better yourself.

To make your screenplay the best it can be and of a standard that will make production companies sit up and take notice you have to have feedback and the right kind of feedback is important. Friends and writers at the same level as you are helpful for identifying the obvious faults, but for more in depth analysis of your screenplay you need a professional reader and will have to pay for their services.

Why should I use a professional reader?

Most professional readers have been trained to identify what's wrong with a screenplay and offer suggestions on how to fix it. They are not just going by gut instinct. The better ones will have worked as readers for production companies so are well aware of the common faults in scripts submitted to producers and the reasons 99% of them are rejected.

Why should I pay for feedback when I can get my friends to give me feedback for free?

As above. If your friends are at the same level in their career as you their advice, although helpful, won't be at the level you need to help you take a step up. If you want experience and professional insight then a reader is a must, they are the ones to help you really get to the heart of your screenplay's problems and fix them. Even professional writers with long careers in TV and film use the services of readers, just to get another set of eyes to look at their work. You don't have to keep shelling out pound notes for several sets of notes on just one screenplay. Get your friends and fellow writers to feedback on it first, then when you think it might be ready pay a reader to take a look. That way you won't bankrupt yourself and will get the help you need. The benefits far out weigh any cost.

So why should you choose me as your reader?

Who you choose to look at your work is up to you, but make sure you're happy with their qualifications. As for me I have a BA(Hons) in Scriptwriting for Film & TV, I've been a reader with Portman Entertainment, my coming-of-age drama feature Faith won a writing award and since January this year I've been commissioned to write two feature screenplays. Plus my rates are very reasonable.

You can view my service HERE.

Let's hope my Facebook friend reads this and is motivated to have more people read his screenplay and set about many more rewrites. He has my support if he needs it.