Monday, December 15, 2008

Professional Screenwriter, Step 10: Doing the Do

Now that you’ve accumulated all these steps, what do you do now?

You keep going. You put yourself out there. You hustle, work, write, stay focused and keep determined. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Stuff gets in the way. Life. Kids. Relationship. Illness. Pesky distractions. The rejections pile up. Confidence takes a knock. Maybe screenwriting isn’t for you? Well, now at least you know for sure.

If you’re still determined to keep going, then you need to constantly assess and revise what you're doing. It’s easy to slip into a routine where you might send out your stuff but essentially, you're sitting around waiting for people to make it happen. Waiting for the call. Waiting for a reply. Waiting.

So, ‘doing the do’. What does this mean? It means that you’re not going to wait for someone else’s permission to do what you want to do. You know that any rejection or disappointment doesn’t mean you’re rubbish. You know that it’s part of the process, and that you’ll get there eventually. You know you have what it takes, that you’re not deluding yourself and it’s just going to take a bit more time to convince the industry to let you in.

But it’s not just a positive attitude that will see you through. You’ll develop this inner-confidence by staying proactive and raising your profile through quality endeavour rather than relying on wishy washy sentiments, like 'you’re following your dream’.

Write a short film. Find a director. Or a producer. (Don't know how? Try Shooting People, Talent Circle or UK Screen.) Get it made. Better still, write & direct a short. Make it yourself. Get it out there. If you have the funds and the ambition: make a low-budget feature. What’s stopping you?

Start a blog. Maintain it well. Promote yourself. Get to know the community. At the very least, have a website. Put up your essential details. Everyone turns to Google the minute they want to know something about someone. Do you really want your web reference to be ‘zero’, or worse, an ill-informed comment on someone else’s blog, or an embarrassing family photo that your cousin has uploaded? By having your own website or blog, you can better determine what information appears in the Google searches.

Don’t forget to write. New ideas, new scripts. Pages per day. Per week. Whatever discipline and routine works for you. Keep writing. Hard work, talent and a bit of luck, that’s what you need to succeed. And a lot of luck will emerge from hard work alone, so it really is in your hands.

Finally, have a plan. 'It takes ten years to make it', or so the saying goes, but positive developments should be occurring along the way, so mark down things you want to achieve and set a realistic timeline. For example, if you're just starting out, you could plan by 2012 to have a couple of short films made, perhaps a TV commission or two (on Doctors, or similar) and have an agent by this time. That would be a good four years' work, especially for a newbie. But we're nearly in 2009 already so it's time to get moving. What are you waiting for? Seize-um the day-um.


Matt Redd said...

This is great advice! As much fun as it is to talk about what you're planning to do, there's no substitute for actually doing it.

Scaramanga said...

I am following part of that advice. Just started a production company and have found a director who I might get to work with on my short in the coming year.

Even if we dont well, not so bad. I find that having a good group of people who are all serious about it is good for the self esteem.

Although I am still chasing that elusive first script reading gig. I guess I have a long way to go!


Lucy said...


All script reading gigs ARE MINE. Or I will hunt you down like the dog you are.

Scaramanga said...

Aggghh wrath!

I am in a remote community in the far north of a land far far away....find me if you can. MWUHAHAHAHAHA.

But really, please don't come after me. My life is just getting good again!

Antonia said...

Yes doing the do is the only way through.

Great advice. Feels good to know there are many people out there all doing the do.

C said...

Brilliant, Danny, thanks for that - and for the plug.