Saturday, March 24, 2007

Try not to wear confidence round your ankles

Went to Scottish Students on Screen yesterday. It was in Scotland. Natch. More specifically the CCA in Glasgow on Sauciehall Street. Don't ask me why, but the road name is pronounced Sockeyholl. I think British people do that just to get a cheap laugh out of watching foreigners get names wrong. I did it myself while living in London, enjoying the moment when some unfortunate tourist asking the way to Lie-cester Square, instead of Lester Square. Edinburgh's another classic. Locals have shortened the name to the point where it's simply N-bra [or N-br if you're in a hurry]. But visitors will do their best and usually come out with Ed-in-borough.

Back to SSOS at the CCA: opted for public transport, since most of my journeys to Glasgow are doomed if I drive. The combination of a bus, a train and Shank's pony too me two hours, but I arrived thirty minutes early. Went next door and had a coffee while endless spotty students lurched about outside, just not knowing what to do with themselves. Sadly, they didn't burst into song or all start performing an impromptu yet perfectly choreographed dance routine. All those years watching Fame on TV, I think they've left me with the wrong impression of what students in the creative arts might be like. Heigh ho, as Sheridan likes to write for Lydia Lavish.

The doors opened at ten. Went in, toured the booths and collected a few emails addresses, along with some tips and leads for future investigation. I'd pre-booked for the script doctor session and been assigned Leslie Finlay, a development exec for Scottish Screen. He'd been given a copy of my pilot episode treatment for Taking Liberties, the returning TV drama series I'm developing while on the mentor project. I guess there were some things he liked about it, but all my notes are things he felt needed to be explored further.

When in those situations, I keep telling myself to listen, take notes and not argue. This is an industry professional who's taken the time to read your work and offer their opinion. They've not personal stake in it, they're not making any comment on you as a person. They're simply offering their thoughts and suggestions. So I resisted the urge to disagree when I wanted to and let Leslie tell me what he thought. Some of it I agreed with, some I didn't. When you're in the moment, it can feel like your work is a crochet and the other person's poling their fingers through all the holes. You walk away with your confidence round your ankles, and hope nobody notices.

The person due to see Leslie after me was late or didn't show up, so I got a double session. Afterwards I felt the need for a deep breath and a think. But ten minutes later I started to get some perspective on all the points raised. I'm not going to rush into a total rewrite based on Leslie's comments - one person's opinion is interesting and has to be respected, but it's only one person's opinion. Still, several key points he made will be high on my list of things to consider when it comes times to revise my first draft script. It was well worth going to Glasgow just for that session, even allowing for the four hours needed to make the round trip.

I managed to blag a session with Sergio Casci, a BAFTA-nominated screenwriter who regularly contributes to River City. He hadn't read my treatment, so I pitched him the central themes and premise. He was enthusiastic about it, which was a wonderful restorative. We also talked about other projects I'm working on, the MA, pursuing radio drama and cracking River City. I also pitched him a mad idea I've had and he encouraged me to write that up and submit it. The idea will never get made, but it would show my interest in and committment to the Scottish soap. As with all things, finding the time to do it's the issue, but one I must resolve if I want to progress.

Got home by five, watched DVD extras on The Big Chill as research for what might be my final project on the MA course, and wrote a page of notes on a 10-minute script for Dominic Carver. Today I'm headed back to Glasgow for a comedy briefing at BBC Scotland. I've also got half a dozen other things I need to progress, so best I get to them.


GP said...

Hi David

Love your blog, regular reader.

I was going to go along to the Glasgow comedy briefing today, but as I'm based in England, Shaun McDonald told me "save yourself the travelling and just send me some sketches". So, if you could post any of the guidance that is given out as to what they are looking for (length, topics, what kind of show, edgy/topical/traditional etc)
that would be a lifeline to us non-Scots!

Cheers, GP

ross said...

Don't forget the ever amusing Cockburn Street in Embra.