Friday, October 26, 2007

Trend Chasing

We've all had it. The meeting with the prodco who say ''The networks are looking for Cops, or Docs, or Legal or - I believe the new buzz word is ''Shouty''.

It's understandable why prodcos hang on to the networks' every word on what they are looking for. But should a writer, especially a newer one pay too much attention and chase the trend? I don't think they should, for a couple of reasons.

Number one, get on the end of a very long queue of already established writers who have a fistfull of relevent specs. The TV business being what it is, the networks are always far more likely to go with an established writer. It's got a lot more to do with arse covering than the merits of the individual projects.

Number two, if you are a newer writer, you want to stand out from the crowd, not join the herd. You'll do that by showing originality.

Number Two and a half, now I think about it - true story. I was in a pitch meeting with a big prodco a few months back. I had about 4 projects to pitch, two of them procedural. Before I could even open my mouth the producer said '' We're not interested in procedurals, the networks don't want them''

You've probably guessed the rest. A couple of months later I got a call from the same producer. 'You got any procedurals, the networks are looking for them?'

I don't actually think the networks know what they want until they see it. Sure, they can say they want loud, in your face, contempory drama til they're blue in the face. But does anyone know what that is? Not until you see it.

When I write a spec my only concern is 'Would I want to see this'' Narcisstic perhaps, but a writer has to be. If you try to please everyone you end up pleasing no one. In my view the best TV has always been that which bucked the trend not chased it.


Phill Barron said...

What are you telling me?

The world's not ready for 'Holby Red'?

English Dave said...

lol exactly. But Holby Magnolia might fly?

Bingethink said...

Holby Green takes us far from the urban grime of Holby City into the rolling Holbyshire countryside where the Lady of Holby Manor, Marjorie Phelps(Penelope Keith) is training to be a vet, but hampered by two local landscape gardeners/amateur sleuths (Felicity Kendal and John Nettles), their Cockney neighbours, Boycie and Marlene, and the village bobby who thinks he's still in the 1960s (Nick Berry/John Simm).

English Dave said...

B- Throw in a vintage car and you have a winner lol

Anonymous said...

can you explain what they mean by 'shouty'?

Jaded and Cynical said...

And I'm still waiting for the BBC to announce a new early-evening teen drama called Holbyoaks.

You know it's coming.

Lucy said...

What we need is Holby Rainbow, then we've got all our asses covered - and hopefully a somewhat camp teddy bear could figure in it prominently too. Bliss.

Book of Don said...

don't forget also that these prodco stalk the world like horny 16 year olds looking for that salty whiff of "easy money". As a Canadian producer I get frequent calls from UK producers wondering about our various tax credit incentives. Part of the criteria to get the cash is that the story must (a) have cultural resonance (WTF ?) for Canadian audiences; (b) use a certain number of Canadian keys; (c) be partially owned by Canadians. So - if you have something that is finance-able your chances of moving it forward are higher. Where I am tonight they have a 45% labour based tax credit. Which means that 45% of line item labour comes BACK to the producer as a CASH payment once the show is finished and the audit approved.

(eg) if the shooter is local then it only costs you 65% of the actual fee.

Book of Don said...

sorry that should read 55% percent of the actual fee.

And this line item tax credit applies to everything from craft services to drivers to directors ... even writers.

Canadian provinces are in a kind of tax credit war to encourage off shore productions to come here.

So - pitch ideas that are exportable.

English Dave said...

Absolutely right Don. It is a global market. Look how many BBC programmes are Canadian co-funded.

Though I'm not sure if The Tudors for example was due to tax breaks oe simply a way of getting additional funding for what looks like an expensive shoot.