Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Guest Post: Reality Check

I’m going to shut down and reboot for about a week, so there won’t be any posts or on-line tomfoolery in that time. It’s been a long, quiet and frustrating summer and a little respite is needed in order to recharge my batteries for the Autumn onslaught.

Here’s a guest post from Adrian Mead about what it takes to generate and sustain a screenwriting career. Keep those guest posts coming by the way. Get something off your chest. Share your experience. Communicate your insight. Nab some free publicity. Tell us what we need to know…

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Adrian Mead has written and directed a number of short films and has also developed a career as a TV drama writer with credits on The Last Detective, The Eustace Brothers, Paradise Heights and Where the Heart Is. His debut feature film, as director, Night People, was developed and financed under the Scottish Screen/SMG New Found Film initiative. The film was shot on HD on location in Edinburgh in February and March 2005.

“Danny discussed in his blog about the huge numbers of aspiring screenwriters out there. It is true that there is a vast army who claim they burn to tell their stories "but the industry won't give me a break." If that's the case then why are so few willing to do what it takes to break in? Does the following describe you?

You are still struggling to get your break and become a professional screenwriter, despite what seems like years of effort.

You are downhearted and frequently grumpy with your loved ones because of your lack of success.

You procrastinate, then feel guilty and miserable because of your lack of progress.

You feel angry and frustrated when you hear about the success of other "less talented" mortals.

Sound familiar?

Okay here is my tough but heartfelt, sincere and well meant advice.

GIVE UP RIGHT NOW AND GET ANOTHER HOBBY.

Yep, I'm dead serious. Face up to it. You are deluding yourself.

Go and get another hobby that makes you and your loved ones happy. That doesn't make you feel miserable, guilty and "a failure."

Why do I think you are deluding yourself that this is nothing more than a hobby to you? Try this next checklist. If you are NOT a "hobby writer" you should be able to answer all or at least most of the following with multiple figures.

In the last year -

I submitted more than.......scripts to....... screenwriting competitions and schemes. (Lots of FREE opportunities out there)

I posted my scripts on.......online sites.

I approached.....agents to seek representation.

I researched and contacted.......Producers.

I attended...... festivals and industry events.

I approached ...... professionals for FREE advice. (Writers are suckers for flattery and free beer.)

I am developing....TV projects...shorts....features and investigating the world of writing for games.

I researched and attended....career building courses.

If you are REALLY serious about becoming a professional screenwriter you should be doing almost all of the above. Chant the following right now and every time you start to procrastinate -

"If I keep on doing what I'm doing, I'll keep on getting what I'm getting."

There are two major differences between all the writers I know who are achieving their goals and the hopefuls who are frustrated and going nowhere:

1// The successful ones are VERY HUNGRY and VERY PRO ACTIVE.

2// Even more importantly the successful ones have learnt to TARGET and FOCUS their efforts where they will reap the greatest rewards. You have to have a CAREER PLAN.

We are all fascinated by how people in Film and TV got their break and I take every opportunity to grill folk about it. Almost everyone I've spoken to achieved success by adopting the same attitude and approach. This is one of the areas I'm going to be covering in detail in our 4 day SCREENWRITING CAREER DEVELOPMENT class in October.

This is not a "How to Write" class. Instead we teach you EXACTLY what you need to do to become a professional screenwriter. You can get details about the course at writeforTV@universal-arts.com

There is also a FREE 15 PAGE BOOKLET available of career building tips for anyone who would like a copy. Contact info@meadkerr.com

Stop kidding yourself that you are going to get your break. Get the tools, the info and the inspiration you need to make it happen.”

For more information, visit Mead Kerr’s website.

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Thanks Adrian!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you're doing the sensible thing and taking a blog holiday - you need it after entertaining us needy lot.

When you get back would you please consider a post on 'homage?' I want to do this but don't know how to distinguish the difference between that and plagiarism.

Can you reference in romantic comedies or are there specific genres where this is acceptable?

Also, if you can think of any examples who do this. I know Severance did, and also Spaced.

Many thanks, and happy hols,

Emma W

Dom Carver said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dom Carver said...

This post frightened me today.

After reading the first set of statements I realised that more than half of them related to the way I have been acting over the last three months. When I read the second set of statements I didn't feel any better even though I did qualify for a few of them.

I realised that for the last three months since a production compnay has shown a real interest in one of my scripts I've have fallen back in to my lazy ways, waiting for them to phone and offer me cold hard cash. I've been dumb and allowed myself to fall into a trap so many other new writers fall into everyday. It nearly got me. Indeed it would have done if it wasn't for you guys.

Thanks Danny and Adrian for the giant boot to my butt. I'll shut up moaning about the apparent unfairness of the writing life, get down and do some actual writing, and start sending my work out again. It's the only way to make my own success.

Thanks guys.

Stephen Gallagher said...

You might add to the list, "dragooning your mates into helping you shoot something".

wcdixon said...

excellent guest post and 'telling it like it it' advice

Sal said...

Have a good break, Danny, and thanks for the great post from Adrian. Need to make sure I'm ticking more of the boxes more frequently

Schmucks with Underwoods said...

Good post. I think it is also important to be working on multiple projects aimed at different markets so you are always prepared for the, "What else have you got?" question.

Also having multiple projects increases the statistical probability of one of them getting picked up, providing you have some talent of course, and it prevents you from being too attached to one particular project. Some projects also may take longer to manifest, and during the waiting periods you can focus on something else. Also it always looks good if you can present a 'slate' of projects rather than the one dead horse you've been flogging for years ;-)