Saturday, December 03, 2005
Distinction, Rejection, Distinction
The last week's been something of a mixed bag. Two Thursdays ago we got our first piece of assessed course work back for the writing module of my MA in Screenwriting. We were asked to submit a story report, analysing a story of our own choosing and determining its suitability for adaptation as a screenwork. I picked the graphic novel Button Man: The Killing Game by John Wagner and Arthur Ranson, which was optioned in May 2005 (not the first time) as a film project. BM:TKG is a clever piece of writing with some stunningly cinematic art. I thought I did okay on my story report, but wasn't sure.
So, anyway, each student was handed a piece of paper with some tick boxes, a few comments on what we did well and a grade. In my case it was D3. D doesn't sound that promising, until I remembered reading about the scoring system in the MA course handbook. Napier divides marking into three main categories: F for fail, P for pass and D for - you guessed it - distinction. Within each category is five numbered sub-categories: 1 for least, 5 for best. Suddenly my D3 was sounding a bit sexier as a result. Guess I did okay, especially as several other people on the course asked to read my story report to see what I'd done to get such a grade.
In all honesty, it's the sort of thing I ought to do well. While editing the Megazine and 2000 AD, I must have analysed hundreds of unsolicited submissions, so that kind of critical anlysis comes fairly easily to me (though I'm a bit out of practise after five years as a freelancer). Plus my journalism background means I find non-fiction writing relatively painless. So, all in all, my D3 was a good result. The tick boxes all came back as excellent, too.
This Thursday I heard back about 'Idle Hands', the 15-minute radio idea I was invited to pitch for BBC7's The Seventh Dimension slot. I thought it was an intriguing idea, with a couple of good twists in the tale and a spicing of black humour. 50 wannabe radio writers were invited to pitch for 10 slots, so I had a one in five chance of getting selected. I didn't get the submission guidelines until a week before the deadline, but that's neither here nor there.
Alas, the reply was a rejection. Apparently I easily made the shortlist but due to the high standard of entries - blah, blah, blah. Frankly, your eyes glaze over once you get past the bit that says 'Welcome to Rejection City, Population: You'. Somebody at BBC7 will contact me with feedback, which will be useful but doesn't change the fact I've failed to make the final cut. Rejection sucks, no matter how you dress it up. I know I shouldn't take it personally. I should tell myself those who did get picked were obviously just that bit better than my idea. But all the platitudes and cliches in the world don't stop me wanting to kick the cat. We don't have a cat, so I'll try venting here on my blog and see if that makes any difference.
Nope, it's not working yet.
I found out about the BBC7 rejection during lunchtime at college, then had to go back into class for the afternoon session about Development Financing and Loans. Hip, hip, hooray. After 100 minutes of trying not to stew in my own joices, we got dismissed early so the full-time production students could practise pitching for a session on Friday. Just what I needed, an extra hour to brood. I am enjoying the course for the most part, but I do feel the part-timers sometimes get treated as after-thoughts. Oh, the joys of being in the minority.
At the end of Thursday we got back our second piece of assessed course work, this time from the Business of Screen Production Development module. That was a Case Study into the development of a project of our choosing. I selected the little-senn Michael Caine film Quicksand, having previously interviewed director John (The Long Good Friday) Mackenzie for my book Starring Michael Caine. With a bit of digging around I managed to contact the screenwriter, Timothy Prager, and he agreed to be interviewed off the record. Lots of web-based research turned up some useful information, but I never did track down the producer, Jim Reeve, or his company Visionview Ltd.
My mark for the Case Study was D1, with all my tickes in the Very Good section rather than Excellent. That was somewhat dispiriting, especially after one kick in the teeth a few hours earlier. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself, several other students got marks in the low range of P so D1 is probably quite good. But it wasn't the best way to finish the day.
So, the week broke down into Distinction, Rejection, Distinction. My MA is toddling along nicely, but career-wise I'm still fouling out. Even a single or a bunt would be gratifying at this point...