Sunday, April 01, 2007

Breaking in and staying in

There's been a lot of interesting chatter here recently, my thanks to those who participated. Here's the skinny on what it take to be a pro writer after you get your first gig.
You will work with people who neither understand drama or realise what it takes to write good drama. You will also work with people who do. They will be in the minority. But in order to continue working you have to satisfy both parties.

I'm working on a show right now where I have a baby script ed who has had no training and a producer who thinks tears and snotters = drama. So what do I do? Well, I argue the points to just before I lose my temper, always the best place to stop, and then when I'm faced with ''if you don't cut that scene we will''
Well, no I didn't. They can cut it but I won't. I've been in this game long enough to know what works and what doesn't. I know enough to know I'm dealing with people who don't really understand what they are doing.
And that is a major part of being a pro writer. Know which battles to pick. I will lose this battle. This draft. But I made my feelings known. I'll write the draft they want and it will be shit. Third draft they will realise it is shit. And I'll write a good 3rd draft. Annoying but par for the course.

You always have to remember that the way things are set up in the UK, producers and script eds can have no idea what the writing process is about. Unlike the writer rooms in other tv cultures for most producers here writing is another country.


Danny-K said...

- " But I made my feelings known" -

Hey Dave! Check out how this director lets his feelings known to Lilly Tomlin, (he comes in halfway through her hissy fit).

(Hope the clip opens. Just checked and the original has just been shut down by Fox Searchlight. So be quick before they close these down too).

Lilly Tomlin might have been abused in the above clip, but here poor Dustin Hoffman probably wished Lilly Tomlin had not shared her feelings with him here, as it sets him off!

Jaded and Cynical said...

Two reasons I keep this site bookmarked:

1) It deals with UK TV, which is rare.

2) The fact that it's anonymous allows you to be as honest as you were today.

Good luck with the script, and thanks again for taking the time.

Piers said...

Though of course the only way to change that is the way it changed in the US - when writers started getting hired into producer roles...

English Dave said...

That's the main reason why the Abbot's and Jordan's now have their own production companies. It isn't just about the money, it's also the control.