After the ups, downs and maybes of the year so far, I got a nice bit of news. I'd sent my radio play to Writersroom (I was certainly getting my money's worth out of that script...) and I got a letter back from them with lots of nice comments and feedback, along with an invite to send in another script. It was the first thing I'd sent them so I was pretty chuffed.
And then the producer from BBC NI got back to me. She'd liked the script too. She didn't think, however, that it was right for them, but she did like my writing and would I like to come and meet her and find out more about all things radio? Course I would!
I thought it would be better to go along with a few ideas, so I took some things that I'd had knocking around in my head for a while and put them down on paper as one page pitches (or at least what I thought were one page pitches. They were probably just a mess of ideas thrown together haphazardly on a page), sent them off for some feedback, and clutched them in my hand as I headed off for my meeting.
And she was lovely. The idea of meeting a producer is slightly scary (or very scary... or terrifying) but it's easy to forget that they're people just like you and me and want to find a good idea just as much as you do. And they want to have a good time while they're looking, so being pleasant and having a bit of a laugh is just as important as being professional and selling yourself.
Anyway, we had a right old yarn about how the whole process works for radio, and what producers are looking for. I've already blogged about this here on the lovely Michelle Lipton's blog, if you want to know a bit more about that. Michelle also has some very interesting posts on her blog about writing for radio here and here. If you haven't already, read them immediately. Invaluable stuff.
Anyway, on a more personal note, we also discussed my ideas and the producer took one idea that she thought the commissioner might like and said that she'd take it to her Execs and let me know. Result! Whether they went for it would be another thing. I was just chuffed that she considered me worthy of presenting to them. Like I was a writer or something.
And then it was off to the Screenwriters Festival. A right romp around Cheltenham Ladies College, meeting up with old mates from Sharpshooters and elsewhere. I also got the chance to take part in the Speed Dating sessions for Agents. IWe were basically assigned three agents and we had five minutes to talk/pitch to each of them, before a bell rang and we had to move on. There were about 20 agents and producers/datees and about 50 writer/daters. It was kinda... scary.
But it was great fun and good experience at the same time. As a writer still looking for that first commission, I'm not really bothered about agents just yet. I just don't think you have a lot to offer them as an uncommissioned writer. Get a gig, then ask them to represent you. Approaching them with a shiny new contract and a fee for them to negotiate just seems a much more attractive proposition to me.
But I was still scared.
I'd prepared my spiel - a bit of background, writing history and successes so far (obviously that was the short bit!) and what I was working on. And for anyone who ever finds themselves in a similar position... boy, was I glad that I'd got that down before I got into the room. All those people and that bell going off and everyone launching into their pitches at the same time made it all very high pressure. I'd have never been able to go in there and wing it. Having said that, I soon realised after my first pitch that my spiel was far too long and far too personal history heavy. I'd had to cram my writing interests into the end and we hadn't had time to chat! The bell rang and it was change chairs time!
I then had about ten seconds between agent 1 and agent 2 to re-write my speech in my head and start all over again. That one went a little bit better and we had a bit of a chat. Not great though. Bell! Re-write speech in 5 seconds and off we go again. By the third go, I was much more relaxed and confident. We had a bit of a chat and a laugh and she asked to see a script. Result!
I walked out of the room with a sore head but happy. It was great experience and well done to the Festival for providing it. And the lesson learned? Be prepared! And be prepared to change whatever you have prepared!
And that's it for 2009. A post or two on 2010 will bring us up to date on those radio opps and the return of Fair City!