Preparations are well under way for life after my screenwriting MA course, now I've handed in my final piece of assessed work. Got my 19th novel to write this autumn, full of hammers and war. [Well, mostly war. And probably very few hammers. If any. Perhaps none.] Got a try-out as a script reader for a film agency. If that goes well, I might get added to their list of regular readers. The money is what it is, but my main reason for entering this field is reading scripts for agencies has become a recognised step along the path to script editing.
Earlier this year I set myself six goals for the future, knowing the MA would run its course by September. Number five on the list is getting some work experience in TV drama storylining or script editing departments. Got close with one show but that didn't pan out. So I'm pursuing the script reading route as another way into this area. I've been reading a lot of scripts for fellow bloggers and students on my MA course, so I might as well make a little money for my efforts in this field.
Goal number six is securing a place on a script workshop or mentoring scheme. Guess I put a tick next to that, having been one of 50 writers chosen from more than 400 applicants for the TAPS continuing drama workshops. Got my 23 mintue standalone script to write for that, followed by a wait and see if I get through to the next stage of that scheme. Also keeping an eye on the Lighthouse's Craft of Writing TV Drama workshop, hoping it'll be re-run this winter.
Goal number four was to develop and write two more TV pilots as spec scripts. The final project for my MA course turned into the first of these, and my TAPS showcase script could well serve as another, but I'd like to develop at least one more pilot a year. There's no point having just one gleaming, polished script and series bible in the portfolio. You'd be sunk the moment somebody says 'we're already developing something like that, what else have you got?'
Goal number three is getting my first TV drama credit. That's a biggie, I suspect that's going to take a while. For example, I was invited by the production team at BBC Scotland soap River City to write sample scenes for the show, based on scene by scene breakdowns they supplied. I wasn't alone, there were dozens of writers doing this tryout at the time. That was a year ago [it was the first anniversary last weekend, in fact] and I haven't had a formal yes or no yet. But that's the reality of TV production. The show has to come first, and developing potential new writers is nearer the bottom of the priority list. So, goal three could take a while.
Goal number two is far more attainable, in my humble opinion - getting another radio play commissioned. I've been in discussioned with a friendly producer at the BBC, got my plot in hand, just need to clear a week in my schedule to write some sample scenes to demonstrate the lead character's voice. A fuller synopsis showing how I would tell the story with a limited number of actors is also needed. Then it will be in the hand of others for a decision, as is the way of such things. But I've plenty of other ideas up my sleeve if this one doesn't fly.
My foremost goal for the next two years? Getting an agent. Securing representation is no guarantee of anything, except you'll see less than 100% of any future payments that go through their office. Agents don't get writers work, but they can open some doors that would otherwise be closed. What happens next is up to you, the quality of your writing and how you comport yourself. [Comport, what a wonderful word.]
Getting an agent will require an organised and methodical campaign, so that's a job I'm saving until after I've written my TAPS piece. Besides, I'll know them how Danny's Toys fared in the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. It's in the finals already, that looks good on a letter or CV. If by some miracle it goes further, I'd like to have that information as ammunition for my efforts to get an agent.