I am currently working on a TV drama series outline for the first time. I've done pretty much every other kind of spec work - sketches, shorts, features, radio plays, sit coms, 2 x 90-minute part TV serials - but I haven't before sat down and planned out characters and story for 6 or more hours of popular drama.
I've been putting it off, I suppose - I've got a folder full of ideas, but it never seemed worth doing before. Until Tony Jordan told me to.
No one, I calculated, was going to commission a series from me until I'd done more sketches, shorts, features, radio plays, sit coms, etc. So, I felt my time was probably better invested elsewhere. But Tony Jordan just might. I saw that gleam in his eye during Cheltenham - he is just about crazy wonderful enough to produce a drama series by a newcomer.
So, it's worth doing now. But it always was, I think. As an exercise, it is very challenging - I am planning enough material for 4 or 5 movies, and I can literally feel myself becoming a better writer as I work to craft it all into a satisfying whole. So: thank you Tony, for the inspiration.
At the launch (read all about it in Lord Arnopp's jolly good write up here), Mister Jordan said something along the lines of 'Not many people will have a spec TV series ready in a drawer'. Whereupon I saw a number of people in the audience, most of whom I knew, visibly suppressing the urge to thrust up their hand and say 'Me sir, me sir! I've got loads'. And as I've said, even I have a stack of ideas. So, the question was: what to pick?
In a quiet moment at the festival (yes - there were a few quiet moments, believe it or not!) I took out pad and pen and wrote down every one of my series ideas. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, the sore throat, or the alcohol poisoning, but they were all shit. I couldn't see the legs in any of 'em. So, I have gone with something completely new that occurred to me, bit by bit, in the days following the festival and that I've been developing since. A gamble? Yeah, but it's all a gamble anyway. And I think Tony would approve.
Besides, the Red Planet prize, as fun and important as it is, is only one target. Realistically, I have to be prepared that only the first ten pages will get read. But I will have a pilot and series breakdown to continue working on and refining. So everyone's a winner. Hooray and - if I might be so bold - marvellous!