Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Little Lull

Right in the middle of doing script reports for the Irish Film Board - twenty have to be done by Monday, I’ve done four but at least the reading part is over with - so I thought I’d take a break and put up a post. A proper break would be a shoulder massage by a nubile eighteen year-old but let’s just hold that image for a moment before reverting to the usual method of work displacement: putting on the kettle for a cup of tea.

Aaah, Barry’s Tea. The Irish cuppa. Unbeatable.

Reading for the Irish Film Board is slightly different to the normal process of script reading. They courier a box of scripts to you, typically between 15-20, and you usually have two-three weeks to get them done. The submissions come with synopsis and development notes so when you read a script and end up thinking ‘oh my god, what’s going on?’, you can revert to the synopsis and notes to check where you are. This also helps when you get to do the coverage because you have automatic comments and criticism to dispense that are gleaned from the clarity of the synopsis as opposed to what the script is actually dramatising, and vice-versa.

The Film Board’s coverage doesn’t ask you to do an in-depth synopsis like standard reports so that lowers the workload considerably and it gives you more time to be more constructive and helpful in your comments because the reports are made available to the writers/applicants on request. I really enjoy this aspect. Most script reports tell the exec that the script is not worth pursuing but with the Film Board’s coverage, you can be a bit more human and supportive with your criticism, and projects can be resubmitted if the writers want to work on where the Film Board think the script needs improvement.

In this batch, it’s been pleasing to see a few resubmitted scripts that I’ve read before that weren’t quite up to scratch but have taken on board the Film Board’s suggestions, and my script report, to develop the script accordingly. Sometimes, their development notes will refer to the ‘useful comments and suggestions’ by the reader (you still remain anonymous) and that’s such a joy as opposed to the usual way readers are often referred to: “illiterate, talentless, wannabe, interns”. So, if anybody out there is reading and has submitted to the Film Board, the readers aren’t your enemy.

Even in normal production companies, the reader may be disinterested in you personally but he’s still your friend as he wants the script to impress and engage his story sensibilities. It’s fair to say that when this doesn’t happen, a reader can often be damming and critical of your work but hey, they’re only doing their job. It’s nothing personal.

What with the script reports, the pitches, my scripts, the continuous scrabble for any kind of work and my mother’s visit, I’m not going to be on-line very much over the next week or so and there may be a little lull. But if there’s a question or an area that you would like answered or covered, please feel free to get in touch. It helps to have subjects that I can respond to and write for instead of racking my brain wondering what people out there might want to hear about (the above could have bored you rigid for all I know). Anyway, slán* a while.

*Slán: Irish for ‘goodbye’, pronounced 'slawn', like yawn.


Anonymous said...

Have you noticed any differences in subject matter between Film Board scripts and scripts you are sent from British production companies?

I am sure Irish and British writers have different preoccupations, or are following recent (successful) trends in Irish/British cinema.

Do Irish writers choose subject matter from a broad spectrum or do the same story lines crop up over again (e.g Dublin based, criminals, drugs... )?

Just wondered if anything jumped out at you...


Danny Stack said...

Hi Berns.

I'll answer in my next post, together with any other queries that may pop in...