Monday, 30 April 2007

My name in lights (ish)

I arrived home this afternoon, after a long weekend away at a friend’s wedding, and found that interesting packages had arrived in the post while I was away. As well as two script books I won in Danny Stack's competition, there was also a DVD of the final cut of my short film ‘Lent’.

This is the first time I’ve seen it with the final mix, music and credits, and – look! – there’s my name floating up the screen ‘Writer: Stuart Perry’. Hooray! I exist. Next stop the imdb…

…actually, next stop is the Cast and Crew screening this week, when I’ll see it on the big screen for the first time. I’ll be sure to report back on how it goes.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

List of Independent Radio Producers

As mentioned by Paul Campbell in the comments to this post, here is the page with a link to a list of independent radio producers, as well as some information about writing for Radio 4:

Do you want to write for Radio Four?

Last I heard, the commission rounds are in May and September, so it might not be too late to pitch to a producer and get in for the next opportunity.

Everybody Needs Good Budgets

If Broadcast (link requires registration) is to be believed, it looks like the BBC are set to lose the bidding war over Neighbours.

If this does happen, what are the chances of Neighbours being replaced with a half-hour of home-grown drama? Pretty slim, I think, and it makes me sad, particularly as the Beeb were apparently looking to make the Aussie soap into a co-production.

To get anywhere near the ratings that Neighbours was getting in that slot, I think they’ll have to put in a game or chat show to compete. And the £70,000 they were reputedly willing to spend per episode will not be going into something that gives UK writers a chance to practise their craft, and earn a living. Except for the writers who write the links for game and chat shows, of course: how would I go about getting a gig like that?

EDIT, to add: I don't blame anyone here. The producers of Neighbours are allowed to ask any price they feel the market is able to pay, the Beeb have the right to decide the maximum amount of public money they can spend, and if another channel is willing to pay more, then so be it. It's just that I like having that half-hour of drama there, when every other channel is showing entertainment formats. And I can't think of any drama that could be moved into that slot that would do as well as Neighbours. But who can predict what will happen? I hope to be pleasantly surprised by the schedulers.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Yes, I did use a metaphor concerning my tackle on a table.

I was given this idea by Paul Campbell’s instructive Scriptuality blog. He did this as a set of New Year’s resolutions, but since starting my blog, and watching uncrushed diaries blossom, it has felt like the beginning of something. So, I’m going to list my aims for the following year. Here goes:

1. Get into the imdb. I know it’s a bit sad, but I won’t believe I actually exist until my name is in there. I suppose this will happen somehow when my short film ‘Lent’ gets distributed more widely. But do I have to e-mail them myself? Or is someone else supposed to do it? I’ll be Stuart Perry [II] if I get in, as that guy from The Poseidon Adventure beat me to my name by a few decades.

2. Get another of my short film scripts produced. I’m working on various different possibilities, and it's looking good. I'll keep my fingers crossed and say no more, to avoid jinxing it!

3. Get an agent. I’m going to the WGGB’s ‘Meet the Agents’ event, and writing to a few. I’m not holding my breath on getting anywhere before the ’25 words or fewer’ UKFC scheme closes, though. If any interested agents are reading this – it could happen – please e-mail me (details are in my profile).

4. Get an afternoon play commissioned for Radio 4.One script is with the BBC Writers’ room, and I’m working on another to try to interest a producer. Perhaps I should have started with the producer route; has anyone had any positive responses going directly to the Writers’ Room? I imagine it’s a teetering slush pile. If any interested radio producers are reading this – it could happen – please e-mail me (details are, as I say, in my profile).

5. Apply to the BBC Writer’s Academy.That’s what I should be doing right now: writing this blog is my displacement activity. Hence the name.

6. Write an episode of Doctor Who. That’s an ambition I’ve had since I was ten. I should have tried submitting something then, it would have been easier. Actually, a friend did get my CV screenplay to Russell T Davies, but I’d imagine he’s been too busy to read it. I’m hoping by the time he is able to I will have successfully completed 1 to 5, and so will have a track record good enough to stand a chance of getting a commission. Although, to be honest, it might be better, if we’re talking about aims for the next year, to change that to

6. Write an episode of Doctors. And I’m not just being sensible: I love Doctors, and would give my right arm to write for it. I can’t believe Greg’s gone!

There you go: I’ve put my metaphorical tackle on the table for fate to whack it with a mallet, if I fail to achieve any of these. Better get back to that Academy application…

Monday, 23 April 2007

The British Short Screenplay Competition

Just a heads up that the BSSC early deadline fast approaches.

Early deadline: 27th April 2007, for entry fee of £25.
Final deadline: 22nd June 2007, for entry fee of £35.

Disclaimer: I'm not associated with the scheme in any way, nor do I officially endorse it, check the small print before you apply, etc, etc. The judges list is always impressive,though. See here.

I have a suitable screenplay, but it needs further work; so, I'm going to wait and see how it turns out. This affords me another couple on months of hoping and dreaming that I'll get a big fat option cheque, or big fat TV salary. I'll then be able to fund my own short, should I wish to, without entering a competition, which always feels a bit like writing to "Jim'll Fix It" and asking to be screenwriter for a day. Anyone else feel like this?

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Early Adopters, and Other Animals

Tom Smith, who talked passionately at the Website event on Thursday (see below), has graciously taken it upon himself, further demonstrating the possibilities out there in blogland, to create an instant online community for the writers who attended. Converts have been emailing him the details of their new blogs, and he’s adding them to a links page, here: uncrushed diaries.

His email revealed that I was one of the first five to contact him, and he dubbed me an “early adopter”. I’d love that to be true, but I could have been here so much earlier. In 2004, I remember finding out about blogs for the first time. I was unsure of their worth then, but the idea tempted me.

My Day Job is in IT, and involves almost 100% web-based technologies; nevertheless, I’m a Luddite. This is not as unusual as you might think; many, many good and hard-working colleagues I’ve served with in technology jobs hate technology. I turned to one of these fellows on that day, and said “I’m trying to be a writer, maybe I should start a blog.” He looked at me a little sadly, and said “No – no one cares”. It did seem odd to write entry after entry about how I hadn’t got a gig yet, so that was the end of that for meek old me.

Now, years after I first started taking the screenwriting seriously – I’m certainly not an early adopter in this field (but wouldn’t it be nice to be an overnight success?!) – I’ve reached my first professional credit. In all that time, I’ve read the gurus and practitioners’ handbooks, done a lot of the courses, and joined various groups. I’ve even stopped being such a wallflower when it comes to networking. But just with a few clicks from the links page, I’ve found out there’s so much more to know. And I’ve found out more about some of the writers in attendance on Thursday than I possibly could have while chatting over the wine and nibbles provided.

And even if my ramblings here don’t prove useful, at least I can provide a route to any other interesting blogs and sites I find. And I can read about all those people trying for the same things I’m trying for, and going through the same things I’m going through. No one cares? Pah! Rubbish.

Friday, 20 April 2007

The Church of the Latter-day Bloggers…

...otherwise known as the Writers' Guild of Great Britain’s ‘Websites for Writers’ event at the Guild building in King’s Cross, was where I went last night. I was pleasantly subjected there to evangelical zeal from a panel of writers who blog, and want everyone else to blog too. Caught up in as much of a fervour as it is possible to generate in a group of shy British writers, I thrust my hand up amongst a forest of others in answer to the question “Will you go home and create your own blog tonight?” “Yes, YES! I have seen the light – yessir, I will!”

I didn’t, of course: I waited until the morning when I’d be a bit more coherent. It’s already reached the afternoon, and I have been avoiding any work on the spec radio play I’m supposed to be doing, and instead have been tinkering and tweaking my new toy.

Most of all, I have been reading: reading as many other blogs as I can, including those by last night’s panel: Danny Stack, a UK scriptwriter and reader, whose blog is one of the most useful resources I’ve encountered for a UK-based writer; Tom Green, who edits the magnificent Guild blog; Sophie Nicholls, a poet, who coordinates Lots of Big Ideas, a fascinating blog and wiki for asylum seekers and refugees to share their stories; and, Tom Smith of who helps people – and writers - build better websites.

It occurred to me even before the panel had finished that the last thing I needed, being an undisciplined sort, was another displacement activity. But it’s been amazingly useful already to read some of the insightful material that screenwriters, and others, are putting out there. And every one you read links to twenty more.

Just like all the aimless web surfing I do when trying to prepare for the slog of putting words on paper, it might just spark off a creative idea or two. Just like the day job that gives me money as I press up, unpaid, against the outer forcefield wall of the 'industry', it might sustain me for a while. Just like my wonderful nine-month old son, keeping this blog might just inspire me. So, I am going to embrace my displacement activities and write about them here. I hope you find them, and I hope you find them useful.