Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Good stories just need to find their place

Nearly six years I applied for the TV team writing workshop at the Lighthouse Arts Centre in Brighton. Led by the inestimable Phil Palmer, it was a scheme that gave writers experience of team writing a putative TV drama series. To apply, you had to pitch a new show. From all the entries, six writers were chosen and I was happyto be one of them.

For the scheme we all agreed to write one episode of whichever idea was chosen for development. Unfortunately my pitch was turned down before we all met for the first time. Why? It was a period drama [WWII, to be precise], meaning extra production cost. Plus period drama was out of fashion in 2008, before Downton Abbey disproved that.

So I had to come up with a replacement series idea if I was going to join the scheme. Hedging my bets, I developed two pitches. One was a contemporary police procedural with a science fiction twist, the other was a spy-fi thriller in a contemporary setting [I'd learned my lesson about period drama!]. But which one should I submit?

After feedback from script development maven Lucy Vee at Bang2Write, I opted for my spy-fi thriller with the working title Tealeaf. It got me on the scheme and received some valuable feedback from Phil, but wasn't chosen as the series to be developed and scripted. So I filed it away for the future - because you just never know...

Fast forward to this summer. Inspired by Debbie Moon's cracking CBBC series Wolfblood, I've been itching to develop the pilot for a returning children's drama. But what to write? Then I remembered Tealeaf, and Phil Palmer's suggestion it might be better suited to a younger audience. I dug out my notes and found something worth reviving.

For the past few weeks I've been developing my pilot script for Tealeaf. [The BBC writersroom deadline for submitting children's TV script was a helpful call to action.] Now I'm sending it out for feedback, and then rewrites loom. Hopefully, this project has the makings of a new calling card for me. It was fun bringing Tealeaf back to life.

Oh, and if you were wondering what happened to my other idea, the contemporary police procedural with a SF twist? That also came back to life this year, proving raw material for a transmedia project I've been writing for a new Scottish games company. All of which demonstrates that - with patience - a good story will find its place eventually. Onwards!

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