Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018

July 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

February 2019

November 2019

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021

May 2021

June 2021

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022

August 2022

September 2022

November 2022

February 2023

March 2023

April 2023

May 2023

July 2023

September 2023

November 2023

January 2024

February 2024


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

COMPLICATIONS ENSUE: How do you break into TV in the UK?

SG: In my case I started out writing for radio, where there were genuine openings for newbies. You could write a piece on spec, send it in, make a sale, and be treated like a pro from the first day... and with any luck you'd rise to it and act like one. Most of my sales were to Saturday Night Theatre, a 90' slot for solid, well-told stories. One of these was a science fiction piece which my producer sent over to the Doctor Who office with a note, and out of that came my first TV commission. I used to say of radio drama that it was the nearest thing we had to a National Writing School. It's still a way in, but there aren't as many radio openings as there were.

COMPLICATIONS ENSUE: How do you get hired onto a British show?

SG: A producer's first instinct seems to be to call on the writers who've given them least trouble on previous shows. That can be regardless of whether they're the right person for the gig. There are a lot of competent dullards out there with lengthy resumes.

If stuck they'll send out a call to agents, describing the show and asking them to suggest suitable clients. Certain agents -- and I believe mine's amongst them -- have a reputation for paying attention to the brief and only suggesting genuine candidates. Others are like Broadway Danny Rose and send along every juggler on the books. They tend not to get asked again.

If they don't know you but your agent can make you sound good, the producer will read a sample of your work and then call you in for a meeting. After you've discussed the show, you go away and try to come up with a suitable story idea. You write it up in two or three pages, send it in, and wait. If they like it, they'll commission a treatment and if the treatment works, maybe after notes and revisions, they'll commission a script.

The limiting factor here, to my mind, is that every story in the show represents the first thoughts of an outsider encountering the concept for the first time. I didn't mind it as a contributor but I instantly saw the weakness in it from the creators' side -- good people coming along, grabbing the wrong end of the stick, rushing into story to get the job.

COMPLICATIONS ENSUE: You mentioned free lancers. Are many episodes free lanced or is it mostly staff?

SG: Almost everything's freelanced. The soaps tend to be the only shows with an actual writing staff. They have storyliners devising the long-distance stuff, which makes its way down to the contract writers in the form of scene breakdowns which they turn into dialogue. I got into a conversation with one of the contract writers at a Guild event once; he explained how they were paid by the episode but guaranteed a certain number of scripts in a year, with holiday provision and pension rights.

Going back to the earlier point about breaking in, I understand that some of the soaps will give new writers a tryout by giving them old scene breakdowns to work up. There was a scandal recently when one of them invited new writers to submit storylines in the hope of being given a tryout, but required them to sign away copyright. Then some of the rejected ideas began surfacing in the show... it was blamed on an over-enthusiastic individual in the script department.

More tomorrow...


There's more? Fantastic!

What effect is this having on your hit-rate, and are you getting a lot more hits from the UK this week? That is, if you've got statcounter up and running again.

Just curious, really, but this interview is getting a lot of linkage, and I really think UK monkeys like me should be paying it a lot of attention.

By Blogger Lee, at 10:06 AM  

You're right, Lee. Hits are spiking a bit, and 25% are currently coming from the UK; usually it's more like 10% max.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:56 AM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.