These are the best meetings in the business because they are the only ones where you know you are going to get paid! The commissioning meeting.
The meeting takes a different form depending on what show you are writing for. The important point is that the hard work has been done. You are in.
Except the hard work is just beginning because if you don't produce a good script you are just as quickly out.
I've worked an several shows and they all use the meeting in different ways. I've even worked on a show where there was no meeting. You got a phone call telling you were being commissioned followed by an e-mail of the storylines. You e-mailed the script in a week later and got a call from the script editor who gave you your 2nd draft notes over the phone .
I wrote maybe fifteen episodes of that show and never once met anyone who actually worked on it!
That isn't the norm though.
The Bill for instance. You get the phone call followed by the story documents of the serial element of the block of episodes. One of which is yours. You are expected to read all the story documents for every episode.
You tip up at the meeting, maybe a week or so later. Present will be the Exec producer, producers, story liners, script editors and supervisors , police procedure advisors, and the writers commissioned on the block. That's maybe twenty five or so people all together.
The writers take it in turns running through their serial elements and might raise some crime story ideas in very rough fashion. The idea of the meeting is to make sure the writer knows when, where and how the serial element for the block and their episode is going to work.
You are then given a week to come up with the crime stories for your episode. That seems like a long time. But bear in mind that coming up with a crime story that A] Hasn't been done, B] Is interesting enough to last the episode and C] Would be great if they tied in somehow with the serial elements, - is actually the most difficult part of the process.
Casualty works in a similar way although it is obviously medical stories rather than crime stories.
Another show I write for you are actually given the scene by scenes for the episodes the night before the meeting. Being given scene by scenes isn't all that usual. The commissioning meeting in this case is basically about the writers making sure they understand the motivations behind the scenes and making suggestions for story improvements or restructuring.
For short form Drama, i.e less than 12 episodes you will generally find that you are given a couple of pages of story documents and told to get on with it. The fact you have been hired in the first place means you're trusted to structure it as you think fit. Unless you're working for 'Shed Productions'
Did I say that out loud?
Best practice in a commissioning meeting? Do not slag anything off. Couch criticisms in terms of ' I had a thought about maybe doing it this way with so and so doing that'
Do not say 'That's bollock's' unless absolutely necessary.
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