Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oh The Pain

So I'm in the middle of story lining six eps of my new spec project. And it hurts. It hurts because I want it to be really good. I want every scene in every episode to resonate thematically. Not that I'm doing much more than a page per Ep, but the story possibilities on each page have to have some linkage with the theme and still be a story with rising dramatic conflict and a slam bang ending.

Pretty damn hard. But that's what we get paid for.

Only it isn't, though it should be.

You see, should this spec project be optioned, I'll make a nut and a bun out of it. A few grand, tops. It's only if the series gets commissioned that I'll see any real money.

But all the really gut-churning, mind- exploding work has already been done in the Bible and story lines. The part you get the least amount of money for. Writing actual scripts is a doddle compared to this.

The major reason for this is pretty obviously that no one is going to shell out big bucks on an iffy spec project that may never see the light of day. An excellent reason and exactly the same one why prodco's option your spec feature.

But as we all know, that's cold comfort when you're slogging away in the trenches pouring heart and soul into something that is likely to be dismissed with a 'Not for us at this time'

And you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.

This is the one time when you do it for you. No producer, director, studio exec or script editor throwing in their two cents. You and a blank sheet of paper. I think you only write in your true 'voice' when you have a 'fuck you' attitude. I don't necessarily mean write angry, I mean when you write and you don't care what anyone else thinks about it. Because much as you might try to think otherwise, as soon as you start getting notes, you can't shake the impression you are working for someone else and have to try to give them what they want.

I'm not saying that's bad. Scripts and projects often [even usually?] end up 10 times better thanks to intelligent input. However, input is much easier than creating. Those times when you as a writer have no agenda, no one to please, just passion, imagination and the solitude of your computer?


Heaven. And Hell. But mostly Heaven.

10 comments:

Dom Carver said...

So you create the bible, but do you write an episode too? And which do you send out and to whom (production companies or the commissioning heads of the networks?

Useful knowledge to have.

English Dave said...

To a large extent that depends on your track record Dom. If you have nothing produced then you are probably wise to write a script to show you can pull it off.

If you have a track record then sometimes it is also best to write a script if you think it needs that extra push for people to 'get it' if it is something that sounds either too familiar or not familiar enough. The two biggest reasons for rejection.

I never send to networks in the first instance. If you do that then 5 rejections later your project is dead in the water.

No indie prod is going to look at it if the networks have already said no. But go into the networks on the back of a proven indie and you have a better chance of them saying yes.

potdoll said...

i reckon writers shouldn't show to script editors etc until they're at the point where they can't get any further by themselves. that's how we work but i'm not sure if you get that luxury in telly.

English Dave said...

Potty. Can I call you Potty?

I've worked in the 'we' and 'you'

Telly is a bit different in that you never get to script ed unless you have something in production. Development execs are the gatekeepers and first point of actual working rerlationship.

potdoll said...

oh right, quite different then.

You can call me Potty. Can I call you Lishy? Hmm, maybe not. Sounds like I'm slurring. hic.

English Dave said...

I like Lishy. lol

The point I was making [or trying to] was that whether it's a dev exec at a film company or TV company, the time you have without thinking of those influences is precious.

potdoll said...

Lol yes Lishy I know that's the point you were making. I'd have answered intelligently but my head was spinning so I couldn't.

Best Writer Ever! said...

"The major reason for this is pretty obviously that no one is going to shell out big bucks on an iffy spec project that may never see the light of day. An excellent reason and exactly the same one why prodco's option your spec feature."

Yep, iffy spec projects usually don't make much money.

Great ones can make hundreds of thousands or millions.

Maybe you should look into writing one of those.

English Dave said...

For those of you who don't know Best Writer Ever, as the name implies he considers himself to be a HW screenwriter earning millions of dollars a year.

But a word of warning, much as it's entertaining, I'd take any of his postings here with a huge dose of salt. At least while they remain. Not that I'll be deleting them. It's a habit he has when he gets caught out.

Best Writer Ever! said...

"But a word of warning, much as it's entertaining, I'd take any of his postings here with a huge dose of salt."

I believe the expression you're stretching for is "grain of salt." But who am I to correct such an august writer?