Thursday, 1 April 2010

How it all started… 2009 – Part 2

Right, so where were we?

Oh yeah, I was waiting to hear back from the radio producers. God, isn't waiting the hardest thing? You try so hard not to think about it, and... well, I fail miserably.

When I'd sent the script, I hadn't really expected anyone to say they'd want to produce it. There were some difficult technical issues with it and… well, to be honest, for now I see all my scripts solely as spec scripts. I just try to write something that will (hopefully) show off my writing, get me some interest and the chance of a meeting. I just don't see it in terms of trying to get a producer to go out on a limb for a new writer, produce what I've written, give me a series, or a one-off drama commission, etc. To me, that way madness lies. In TV drama, it just doesn't happen very often. Much more likely is to get the chance to write for another show. Even in radio, I just wanted a chance to meet them and find out how it really worked. But that's just me. I'm sure plenty will disagree. Anyway, I just knew that in getting my work to a couple of producers, a door had opened. What my script had to do is keep it open. So, the long wait…

In the meantime…

Remember the TAPS Continuing Drama Course I'd done in 2008? Well, one of the things they really impressed on us was that those shows are constantly on the lookout for writers. With most of them on 4 or 5 times a week, they positively EAT UP writers. So, if you're good, and you know the show really well, and you really like the characters, and you want to write for it, they will use you. It's not good enough to think of it as just a way in, cause they'll find you out… The other thing they were very insistent on as that you should get your work to them asap. If they don't know you, they can't employ you. When a few of us pointed out that they don't read unsolicited scripts, we got a rather long-suffering roll of the eyes for our trouble.

"So? Find out who the script editors are, get a name, preferably the head script editor, call the office, and ask to speak to them. Be nice. Be polite. Explain who you are. And then ask them if you can send them your script. They wont say "no" to you on the phone. At that point, you aren't unsolicited."

So. Simple. Now, you may be thinking, "They don't know who the hell I am. They'll tell me to go away." Well, I was. And maybe they will. What they were trying to instill in us was (look! Bullet points!):

  • Don't sit at home waiting for your career to happen.
  • You can and should make your own breaks. It's your career. Your responsibility.
  • People (in general) are not ogres. They're like you and me. Just doing different jobs. And they want to find new and good writers. That's their job.
  • You ARE NOT powerless. Get on the phone.

And that last point is the most important and, I think, the most difficult for us to get our heads around at times. But that's what I took home with me, and the thing I've tried to put into practice since then. It's not just about writing. It's about getting out there and making it happen.

So, back at home I decided to do something about it. But who to contact? Well, the state broadcaster (RTE) in Ireland has its own soap, Fair City. Set in Dublin and broadcast four times a week, it's like an Irish EastEnders. With different accents. So, I found out who was in charge, and rang them.

Actually, no, I didn't. I completely chickened out. I spoke to a mate from TAPS and he said he was going to email them with stuff. So, I said I'd wait and see what they said to him and then get in touch myself. I am the bravest of the brave. The pep talk obviously wasn't quite kicking in just yet…

That was in late 2008. They got back in touch in mid-2009, said they were looking for new writers and here was the Script Editor to contact as a new writer. Fab! So, I sent off my stuff. And waited…

In the meantime, the second radio producer a friend had put me in touch with got back in touch. She said she liked the play and my writing a lot and gave me some great, great feedback – some positive, some negative, but all very insightful. Difficult to put right, but I couldn't deny she was on the button with a lot of it. She also asked a bit more about me, asked to read something else even if it wasn't radio, and offered to read a re-write of the play. Great! Door stays open! Job done. Now, I just had to re-write it… And did that mean that she was potentially interested in producing it…? I got back in touch, sent her another script and promised to keep in touch. My first proper, proper contact! Hooray!!

And now I'd better get back to some work… So, I'll leave the final bit of 2009 for another time. Got that Script Frenzy deadline, don't you know… How's everyone doing with theirs?


Oh, when I said they eat up writers, I didn't mean literally. Obviously. That'd be gross.

So, you can come out from behind the sofa now.

No really, come out. It's fine.

Oh, suit yourself then…

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