How to get your Screenplay into Development
You’ve got a number of scripts, specs or treatments under your belt, or perhaps some ideas that you’re keen to start turning into tangible pieces of writing. Where do you go as a new writer and how do you start to navigate script development? We meet the experts from major organisations within british TV and Film to help guide you through the process: Channel 4, Creative England, TouchPaper Productions and Creative Skillset.
Surian Fletcher Jones, Head of development at Channel 4, believes that before you have to make sure the work is ready to be considered by the development teams at various production houses before you submit your idea- whether in TV or Film.
- “What it always boils down to” Surian explains, “is emotional truth. Is your work authentic? Can you see your voice in it? Don’t write what you imagine the audience to want, write what you feel you need to write.”
- “You can’t fake your voice” adds Dan Simons, from Creative England. “On the other hand don’t write something just to be eye-catching. It isn’t about the ‘noise’ in the story- if we feel something when we read it, it works. No matter how simple or ‘normal’ the story seems. Character and emotional intensity is key.”
Top Tips for Screenwriters:
So what advice do our industry experts offer new and emerging talent?
- Keep writing, don’t give up. Set yourself deadlines and when you reach them be honest- is this really ready?
- Write for any platform. As a writer you have to constantly think about how to open doors to get your work noticed. If you branch out and try writing for the stage you never know who may see it! It could lead to your ‘big break’.
- Attend festivals and apply for screenwriting schemes. Even if you don’t submit work, events at film festivals like the Industry strand of Edinburgh Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival and East End Film Festival, will help you to network and you could meet your future collaborator.
- When applying for schemes be very honest with yourself about what stage you are at. Are you a new writer? Are you an emerging talent? Read the specifications carefully and only apply for those where the competition will have the same experience (if any) that you have.
- Try and develop a strong ‘calling card’ screenplay. This needn’t be something that you think will be developed, but is a great piece of writing that shows people in the Industry your voice and what you can do. Plainly speaking, it’ll be ‘you on a page’.
- When submitting a script to a competition or scheme, think about the first 10 pages. Does it show your energy and writing technique? It needs to grab the al-l important person reading it. Put yourselves in their shoes and ask “would I continue to read this?”
Have you seen our Six-Month (part-time) screenwriting course?