Wednesday, February 06, 2008

No fear

While I'm still on broadband lol..................

My son was visiting a few days ago. He's grown up with me being a writer and so Final Draft is second nature to him. He is always full of ideas for scripts he wants to write and is a walking encyclopoedia of all things Film and TV. He's just turned 16.

While he was here I asked him to take a look at a pitch document I was about to send to my agents. His taste is impeccable. The bugger also has no hesitation in telling me what I've done is crap! The perfect critic! lol

So he read the pitch doc - and promptly sat down and wrote an opening scene.

No Fear.

I think the following is something that many pro writers will agree with. The script that got them just about every job and the most attention was the one they wrote when they hadn't a clue about the industry.

They just wrote.

When this is your livelihood it's easy to become embroiled in rumour and speculation and try to write something to please this network or that exec. but I think that's just about the worst thing you can do. Here's why.

Execs will always bang on about original strong voices. And they really do mean it. Of course if you write something original and strong it has practically no chance of hitting the airwaves. [I kid.....a little] But that's not the point. The point is that they then know you are capable of writing something original and strong.

That gets you in. Be it on Doctors, Holby or whatever. After that, if you can suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous script editors for long enough [they're not all outrageous, for the avoidance of doubt!] you might carry enough weight to get one of your projects you are passionate about made.

But you have to maintain the 'NO FEAR' mentality throughout. Not that easy when you are knee deep in recurring drama scripts and subserviant to the wants and needs of a particular show. But you have to remember that the reason you were hired for that show in the first place was because of your strong, original voice. That's the 'small voice inside' remember, not the 'shout it out in a story meeting' remember.

I've made a living of sorts out of writing. Been rich, been poor. Not enough rich but can't really complain. I love what I do. But the hardest part is 'NO FEAR'

Writing is a precarious business. We are generally viewed with suspicion by our ultimate paymasters because entertainment is an industry and we don't fit the industrial norm that big business would like. We are the variable that defies analysis. We are storytellers, the wandering minstrels, Aesop and Homer. [I love The Simpsons] It's quite possibly a form of OCD. It has to be, given the odds against succeeding.

But here's the thing. For writers trying to break in, don't write what you think others will think is good, write what you think is good.


Far Away said...

so true

glad you're back ED!

Dave Anderson said...

Wonderful to see you back, English. I've missed you muchly. On a personal note, thank God for your son, eh? Sounds to me he'll keep you going through the rough times.