Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hurry up and wait

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that the time taken for prodco's to get back to you after submitting seems to be getting longer and longer? I realised last week that I'd had a meeting with a major prodco in December and at their request sent them two- sheets on three projects. Hadn't heard a dicky! E-mailed them a polite reminder and never even got that acknowledged?????

So I had a word with my agent to see what else I had out there and how long it had been out. It would appear that it's taking at least two months to get a response from anyone! And that is quick compared to some of them. Okay I have my little circle of producers who know me quite well and get back quickly but the rest? Sheeeesh!

Actually, having thought about it I was invited to submit some sample scenes of a show way back at the end of January. This with a view to a writing gig on the show. I was told it was a rush job and could I get it done over the weekend. I duly did. Guess what? About a week ago my agent queried. They haven't read all the samples yet. So much for the rush job. So what they have is a sample written over a weekend rather than a week. Could have made all the difference.

Should this gig work out it will be quite a commitment. By the time they finally decide, will I still be available? I hope not. Because the complete lack of information and disregarding of the working writers' need to schedule doesn't exactly fill me with optimism that these will be swell people to work for.

Then again on a show I'm writing for now I've just waited nearly 3 weeks for 1st draft notes. Three times as long as it took me to write the fucking thing. No doubt I'll get them just in time to ruin my weekend - again. Okay maybe I'm a grumpy old man, but at my time of life I don't have time to hurry up and wait.

So, in future Mr Producer if you don't get back to me in six weeks maximum you are off my Christmas Card list. Tinkerty Tonk! And I mean that to sting.


wcdixon said...

It's funny...the older we get, the grumpier we get about the process or the waiting - when way back when we'd just be thrilled to be in the room.

Jaded and Cynical said...

Hi. I've never posted before but I read your blog regularly and appreciate the work you put in.

There's a couple of semi-rhetorical questions I've wanted to ask for a long time. Feel free to reply at your leisure. Or, indeed, not at all.

1) As an average grown-up male, there's not a single scripted programme on UK TV at the moment that I'd bother to watch. Not one. Why is there such a gap between the talent that's available and the crap that's finally broadcast?

2) Under cover of complete anonymity, I'm not ashamed to admit that part of me would like to give screenwriting a go. But as a reasonably level-headed adult with a mortgage to pay, the more I read about the business, the more nervous I get.

You've often discussed the pressures and frustrations involved, and all the unpaid work that has to be done. (And if there's one kind of work I really hate, it's the unpaid variety).

Danny Stack wrote recently about how it takes ten years to establish a career. That's long enough to become a barrister, a surgeon or a plumber. In fact, it's long enough to become a barrister, a surgeon AND a plumber.

John August has just posted that, 'while you can get rich, the odds are a lot skinnier than almost any other industry a smart person could choose to work in.'

So what I'm asking is,leaving aside all bullshit about artistic expression, is it worth the effort? Is screenwriting in this country a sane career choice for a grown man with other options? If you had your time over, and knew then what you know now, would you still have made the same choices?

Anonymous said...

J&C, if you honestly can't find a single scripted programme on UK TV you can bothered to watch at the moment, I'd humbly suggest that perhaps a career in TV writing is not for you. Life on Mars? Five Days? Doctor Who? One of Stephen Poliakoff's recent efforts? The Street? Do now of these interest?

Jaded and Cynical said...

The sort of shows I'd make a point of watching are the likes of 24, Heroes, The Sopranos, Entourage and the US version of The Office.

As for Life on Mars, I watched it once and found it to be a nice idea, cheaply executed.

Close My Eyes is one of my favourite movies, but even I switch channels when a Poliakoff drama comes on. Would any of his recent stuff have got made without the famous name attached?

I think Doctor Who is the most over-hyped piece of crap on British television. It has a great timeslot. The BBC promotes the hell out of it (how many shows will that Tennant geezer appear on this week?). And there's lingering goodwill for the franchise from the Tom Baker days. But let's be honest, most of the episodes are wretched.

And I hate the Torchwood spin-off with a passion. I really wanted the attempt at adult sci-fi to work. But the show's an embarrassment on about ten different levels. Fully half the audience stopped watching within a month. How many US shows would survice a ratings collapse like that?

The only two scripted UK shows that I've enjoyed in the past twelve months have been Extras (which at least contained a few laughs) and the re-run of I Claudius, 30 years after it was made.

Maybe I'm being too critical - hey, like the man says...jaded and cynical - but I struggle to believe that what we're getting properly reflects the talent and potential that's available to do the job.