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SAWR is all about writing and writers. Here you can share your thoughts about writing, the creative process, the highs and lows of it all. You can also access this group for information about writing workshops that I am currently running, also script editing and mentoring services that I offer. My expertise lies in Television drama but any writer is welcome to share their experiences and their aspirations here.
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· Agents: where to find them and what they should do for you
· Interesting Stuff
So its finally decided to turn up – Summer that is, and as I type, the sun is bursting through the leaves of the Magnolia outside my office; throwing into glorious relief the smeary little boy palm prints smattering the lower third of our glass French windows. Thankfully, due to the cloudy nature of our British Summer, the slatternly nature of my housework does not poke my conscious for long before the sun dips behind a pale grey blob and the handprints miraculously disappear – that’s better – on with the Newsletter!
Agents: where to find them and what they should do for you
It is a prickly truth that if you do not have an agent but want to be taken seriously as a writer and are keen to work within the media industry doing just that, then you are in a catch 22 situation which is never an easy place to be.
Most production companies, commissioners, script editors, directors and producers expect the writers whose work they make/commission/work on to have an agent. If you do not have one, then the chances are that these key people, essential to your advancement in the world of drama on the small screen, will not be familiar with your work.
About 100 years ago, when I was starting out in the television industry, it was still possible to encourage new writers; literally fresh out of the theatre or having just written a radio play, into the world of television writing. These writers did not, in the main have agents as they were very new to the writing world and it was Script Editors like myself going to the theatre, listening to radio drama and taking note of writers they liked the work of that often resulted in very inexperienced writers being thrown into the deep end of for example, Eastenders. This may or may not be a good thing; there were quite a few writers who crashed and burnt via this high octane introduction to television drama writing, but for a healthy amount of writers, this opportunity was all the leg-up they needed to get started, get confident and get noticed as part of the new wave of writing talent.
And even before I cut my teeth in television drama as a Script Editor, I had the enviable job of being a sort of writer talent scout for Channel Four which involved going to lots of fringe theatre plays all over London and listening to the radio and generally getting acquainted with who was writing what and then telling Allon Reich about them. (This was all before he started Producing and Exec Producing a clutch of some of the Best British films in the last 10 years which takes us back almost to primordial times). But the fact that there was such an opportunity for me, and for writers in general, to do this sort of thing, proves just how different the landscape looks now.
These days it is getting increasingly tough to get your work noticed and read if you don’t have someone singing your praises, fighting your corner and networking for you in the form of a good agent.
There are some production companies that are open to reading ‘spec’ scripts:
Rather than duplicate the research already done by the marvellous Hayley McKenzie; Script Editor, Mentor and general all-round fabulous scripty sort of girl, I add here without shame, the list she has compiled on her website Script Angel. This is a list of the companies that are open to reading work from un-represented writers. https://scriptangel.co.uk/ProductionCompanies.aspx
Then there is:
THE WRITERS ACADEMY https://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/writing/writers_academy.shtml
BBC WRITERS ROOM https://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/
But getting an agent should be a priority and so with this in mind I would suggest that you write a really good script, that you are proud of and that you know shows off your talents and use this as your ‘calling card’.
It is also a.good idea to buy the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2011 and this website is a useful source of info and help
Amongst the many literary agencies promoting the work of writers in all genres I would start with a small list of some of the best, with whom you may want to get acquainted:
An agent should:
Make you feel good about your work and confident in your talent
Be good at networking and actually do a fair amount of it
Get you contacts you could not get yourself in the industry, with script editors, producers and production companies
Spread your name around at networking occasions and generally within the industry, as someone with talent that is not only available for work but is also pursuing their own projects.
Represent you and your talent in a professional, approachable and enthusiastic manner.
Your agent can also help in an editorial fashion; highlighting the strengths of your work and showing you where they feel you may need development. This should be done constructively.
(And obviously, the opposite applies to the above list for the agent you must avoid at all costs….!)
Good luck with your search and above all, remember that talent and self-belief are a powerful combination – you will need both to get in and get on, within the writing industry.
I like what SAWR member and all round good egg writer David Bishop blogs about rejection – here’s how to stay focused and keep the faith….
Got my BBC Writers’ Academy rejection email yesterday, as did many others. I didn’t progress from the longlist of 156 to the top 30 candidates. Bad news: there were at least 30 scripts entered that were better than mine. Good news: I can now make plans for September-December.
Curiously, I was less affected than when I last applied in 2008. Back then the Academy seemed like the be-all and end-all of my ambitions. I’d done a successful trial script for Doctors, but couldn’t get a story of the day pitch banked to save my life. I didn’t have an agent, didn’t have many prospects. It was crushing.
Fortunately, I had the Doctors shadow scheme ahead to help quell my disappointment. That led to my first commission in 2009, and things have snowballed from there. I now have an agent, three eps of Doctors to my name and have written five eps of Nina and the Neurons, due for broadcast on CBeebies this year.
The Academy is no longer the sole focus of my ambitions. Getting in would be a brilliant turbo-boost, accelerating me from 30 minute to hour-long drama. It’s a big leap, and one not easily made. The Academy would have helped with that transition, giving me direct access to the likes of Casualty and Holby City.
But the Academy is not the only way to make a great leap forwards. Writing a great, original spec script can get you noticed. If you live in Wales, Scotland or Ireland, you could target one of the drama series made locally. The BBC runs shadow schemes for all its continuing drama series, in addition to the Academy.
Don’t forget radio drama, a great place to hone your craft as a writer. The BBC commissions dozens of new scribes every year for that medium. One credit there makes you a more credible prospect. And there are plenty of other schemes and competitions, like Get A Squiggle On and the Red Planet Prize.
If you pin all your hopes on a single opportunity like the Academy, it’s like staking your mortgage on a long shot at the Grand National. A few people end up smiling, but most lost out. So for everyone who got their rejection emails yesterday, I know exactly how you feel. It’s time to shrug, and move to the next thing.
BBC WRITERS ROOM NEWSLETTER
I recommend signing up for this little beauty – there’s always something to interest in their regular newsletters. If you are unfamiliar with script layout and want your work to look professional, you can download scripts from this newsletter following the link they give below.
Rapid Response: #Hackgate
Do you have an urgent response to the phone hacking scandal? We are looking for 5-10 minute scripts for film, TV, radio or online; dramatic or comic, that we can publish on our website as the fastest possible response to the rapidly unfolding events surrounding #hackgate.
Find out how to send us your script:
TV Drama: The Writers’ Festival
A big thank you to all who attended this year’s Writers’ Festival. We’ve posted some audio excerpts from The X-Files writer Frank Spotnitz’s session on U.S. style Team Writing, and from Paula Milne’s masterclass on The Night Watch. Stay tuned for more highlights in the coming weeks.
Alfred Bradley Bursary Award 2011
BBC Radio Drama North are looking for talented writers based in the North of England, with compelling stories to tell.
The Alfred Bradley Bursary Award is an opportunity for new writers to win a bursary of £5000, have their work produced on BBC Radio 4 and secure a twelve month mentorship with a Radio Drama Producer.
Find out how to enter:
Our scripts are in PDF format – if you can’t read them, download Adobe Reader from https://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/categories/plug/acrobat/acrobat.shtml?intro
The Night Watch by Paula Milne
Every Child Matters by Chris Reason (Sony Gold award winning Afternoon Play for Radio 4)
Hefted by Bill Grundy (BBC Future Talent Award winner 2011)
Don’t forget you can browse through all of the scripts in our script archive.
Submitting your script to BBC writersroom
Want to write for the BBC? Find out what to send us on our script submissions page.
Charlotte Riches talks about this year’s Alfred Bradley Bursary Award and BBC Future Talent Award winner, Bill Grundy shares his experiences of TV Drama: The Writers’ Festival 2011.
Random – Spoken Word Competition
Deadline: 27 July 2011
See your words made into a short film and broadcast on Channel4.
Rapid Response: #Hackgate
Deadline: 01 August 2011
Send us your 5-10 minute scripts in response to the phone hacking scandal.
The Alfred Bradley Bursary Award 2011
Deadline: 15 September 2011
Opportunity for northern writers to win a bursary of £5000 and have their work produced on BBC Radio 4.
Sixty Second Stories
Deadline: 03 October 2011
Opportunity to produce a sixty second story for a feature film that will premiere at the 2012 Berlinale.
If you fancy dipping your toe into the world of commercial comedy, this is a great book to have on your shelf;
Elephant Bucks: An Inside Guide to Writing for TV Sitcoms
Publisher Marketing: A comprehensive guide to writing a highly commerical and saleable spec sitcom script and launching your career as a TV sitcom writer.
Twelve Point: Julian Friedmann (the Friedmann bit of the very good literary agency Blake Friedmann) set up this website as a follow-on from his informative magazine Script Writer Magazine (to which yours truly has contributed articles about story lining and soap writing for television) and I recommend it as a good source of information and help to writers of all genres.
The Writers Guild is definitely a website worth book marking. And here to, there’s an interesting article about writing for long running medical dramas – well worth checking out:
Circalit is a great website which focuses on all aspects of novel and screen play writing and where you can find info about competitions and have the chance to key into a wider creative writing community:
This is a catch-all type website for those who want to know what films, theatre, and festivals are coming up and going down across the country:
Here’s a very useful interesting website for scribes of all genres:
BBC WRITERS ROOM – lots of great ‘ins’ for all the talented writers out there…
SCRIPTWRITING IN THE UK
I love this blog and website, what Danny Stack says here is very clear, clever and right on the button
Should you want to feel connected to a writer community…this could work for you
BRITISH COMEDY FORUM
Excellent website for information about upcoming writing opportunities and general stuff
WRITE THIS MOMENT
This is worth checking out if you want to dip your toe into the more commercial aspects of writing – you have to become a member, but I thought it looked interesting
Bringing together all the latest writing jobs and opportunities, worth a look
LONDON INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL
Impressive looking website keyed in to screen play writing
And a final word from BROADCAST MAGAZINE about making a splash across the Pond from Russell T Davies, creator and show-runner behind TORCHWOOD and his preferred Exec producer Julie Gardener and their move to LA to create the 4th series of this popular British show, in a co pro with an American production company.
TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The fourth run of Torchwood is a co-pro with Spartacus cable network Starz and will air on BBC1 on 14 July, six days after its 8 July TX in the US.
The 10-part serial is based on a simple premise: one day, people across the world stop dying. They keep ageing, and get sick, but they never die. The result is an overnight population boom, and Miracle Day investigates both the mystery behind the miracle and its consequences for society.
I hope I can help you with your writing; be it a television script, short (or full length) film or screen play, treatment or outline, novel or radio play, I read and script edit them all and can definitely help improve yours. Drop me an email@ Yvonne.firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get working!
BYE FOR NOW AND HAPPY WRITING.
Copyright Yvonne Grace Script Advice July 2011