Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Kentucky Fried Brain

So I knocked out 11 scenes and a third draft polish today, on a hang over. That's it. I'm officially down to my last neuron. Spent. Bedraggled and bewildered. What better time to blog!

How about a tale from the trenches? I was talking to a writer friend the other day. This guy's no mug. He's a Bafta winner. I mentioned a current show and asked him what he thought about it. He thought for a second and then said that whatever he said about it might be tinged with a shade of bias. He potentially had issues with the creator of that show.

Pray tell.

This Bafta winning writer had been hired on another of that creator's shows. Not the one we were discussing. He sent in his first draft, I repeat FIRST DRAFT of his first episode, to the producer and the producer promptly fired him!

The creator of the show phoned him up. He couldn't understand it. Who fires anyone on first draft?

My writer friend accepted the condolances but it was still at the back of his mind, hey he's the creator of the show, surely he must have had some input to that decision.

A couple of days later I'm chatting to my agent and mention this. My agent tells me that the show's creator [the one my friend was fired from] has walked away from it and wants nothing more to do with it.

Apparently he found out the producers were re-writing his scripts.

AhhhTV land, gotta love it.

So there you go. The power of the writer? Creator pretty much counts for spit. Writer/producer is the only way to have any power. I guess that's why the Abbots and the Jordans have gone down that route.

Hell if actors can do it why not writers?

17 comments:

Wannabe said...

I love how your entries try and make us guess which TV programmes/writers you're talking about (whether intenionally, or unintentionally!)

English Dave said...

lol wannabe

Tell you what, here's a clue to one of the shows mentioned.

''Hell if actors can do it why not writers?''

I can say no more. lol

wcdixon said...

I've never heard of such rubbish...producers rewriting...

;) ...lol

But your telling still confuses me a little - did your friend get fired by the producers, and creator never saw script? Or did the producers rewrite your friend and it was that rewrite that got 'him' fired?

English Dave said...

Will, it was the producers who fired him, after receiving the first draft. I'm pretty sure the creator never even saw the script. It was delivered and BOOM. No notes, no second draft, just BOOM.

It seems the creator knew nothing about it until the producers told him. I'm guessing the last straw for the creator was when he found out his own scripts were being re-written without his knowledge and consent.

The basic PACT agreement says that if any re-writes or revisions are required they should always be offered first to the original writer unless in exceptional circumstances of time restraint.

The funny thing is, I saw an interview with one of the producers some time ago when he was saying how writing was everything and how much respect he had for writers. lol

William Gallagher said...

I don't get the clue so perhaps I'm wildly wrong here, but everything else you say makes me zoom straight down to one word: Goldplated.

Am I right? Er, can you say even if I am?

William

English Dave said...

I can't say if you are right William but I can say if you are wrong. Wrong. lol

As an aside, the script editor for Goldplated is a good pal. She would quite possibly kick a producer in the nuts if they didn't give the writer a fair shake.

William Gallagher said...

Ah, I was so sure.

So a male, solo show creator - but not producer - who has a current UK series has walked from another of his shows. And there's this hint about actors being involved in producing one or other of the shows.

How about just ticking a couple more boxes? Such as confirming that if the shows are drama and UK? And when you say current, saying whether it or they are airing now?

I have spent a shocking amount of time pondering this, getting no work done at all. Fantastic!

William

English Dave said...

As David Frost would say all the clues are there. lol

I really can't say any more much as I'd like to. It's a very small world so unless my friend wants me to name and shame the culprit I better keep schtum.

William Gallagher said...

Quite: it was an unfair of me to press. But I knew this and pressed anyway, I am a bad person.

It sounds like the way they treated your friend had nothing to do with his writing, that there was just something else going on he'll never know about. So I hope he's okay about it.

But then I was sacked from Crossroads and that was paralysing. Shouldn't have been, but.

William

English Dave said...

It's an occupational hazzard William. I've been canned twice. Both times by the same exec producer but on different shows. I could get paranoid!


Actually it's 2 and a half times. On another show I was never officially canned. The phone just stopped wringing.

Getting canned is a rite of passage. ''That which doesn't kill you only makes you more cynical''

A valuable tool in the writer's armoury.

William Gallagher said...

Love that line: wringing. Would you mind if I stole that?

And I'm embarrassed how my sacking set me back, I lost every ounce of confidence and really only gathered it back again this year. But hey, I'm only one and a half sackings behind you!

Cheers again for the puzzle; I had such fun chewing on this.

English Dave said...

''Love that line: wringing. Would you mind if I stole that?''

Help yourself William. In truth it was a Freudian keyboard slip. lol

As far as sacking is concerned, in the words of Rod Stewart ''The first cunt is the deepest'

Whoops there's another one. lol

Seriously though, I know getting canned is hard but there are any number of reasons why writers get sacked which have nothing to do with overall talent. Personality conflicts, and 'not getting the show' being the two main ones.

I got canned from a show that it made me nauseous to watch. I took it as a compliment I lasted four episodes.

I wouldn't do that now. But at the time I needed the money.

Not getting what they want is no reflection on your talent.
Producers have a different agenda from writers. Writers are the uncontrollable factor, which is a bit scary for them. If you don't 'fit' right away, they fret.

William Gallagher said...

>>Freudian keyboard slip

Then I shall steal with impunity and without always following it with "the wringing joke appears courtesy of English Dave" or "English Dave is a National Theatre Player".

Reminds me of a favourite line of mine: Billy Bragg's lyric from A New England about waiting by the phone, "when at last it didn't ring I knew it wasn't you." Meaningless and meaningful at the same time.

English Dave said...

." Meaningless and meaningful at the same time. ''


The essence of subtext.
Find a script ed that understands that and you've got a career!

Danny-K said...

William Gallagher:
"...But then I was sacked from Crossroads and that was paralysing. Shouldn't have been, but."
-----------

William,

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

English Dave said...

Can I just rephrase

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent''.

Persistance plus talent = a career

Danny-K said...

'Course you can Dave
- although I'm not so keen on having persistence rephrased as 'persistance'.

(After saying that - no prizes for guessing that I'm shoving this lot through a spell-checker before posting! Hee, hee)

Bet that was a gentle introduction to ready me for having my scripts changed, as you mention in your blog.

By the way, the quote is attributed to Ray Kroc, the founder of MacDonald's. A former CEO of Marks & Spencer's was fond of handing it out as a recipe for success in life to his protegees.

You can tell it hasn't come from the pen of a writer. It starts off stating the importance of a singular desirable quality then finishes off with two desirable qualities needed 'alone'. Left to me, I would have included both in the opening sentence.

Still, I like it. I'm a sucker for these kind of self-belief things.

However, as Ray Kroc was no screenwriter and you're the man with the hard experience I shall have to add your line to the bottom of the quote from now on and precede it with the warning: "Except for screenwriters who need etc., etc., = a career."

Ah bugger it! Shall we open a chain of burger joint's instead Dave?