Be The Best Writer You Can

Getting Commissioned Via Our Forum

It seems that networking in our forum has led to a serious commission for one Goldminer.

Matthew Hurst wrote to me a while back thanking me for the opportunity to join the forum, and how it had led to him being hired for a screenwriting job.

I asked him to write up the experience, and now that the script is settled and the show is in pre-production he has done just that:

Over to Matthew:

Pretty often there are posts on the Goldmine forum – one of my best established aids to procrastination – with opportunities for writers. Some of them are great opportunities for the right person, some don’t really understand what they’re on about, and a few seem to think writing a screenplay is roughly the same thing as typing one out.

A couple of months ago, responding to one of those posts got me my first solo, produced, paid TV writing gig. This is obviously great news as my online dawdling is now justified forever.

So this is what happened.

First, this is the original forum post.

I admit that initially I was skeptical enough to do a bit of due diligence, mainly by googling the company. It turned out to be film.ua, one of the biggest in the Ukraine. Everything checked out,and more importantly, my gut feeling was that it was okay. No red flags.

The project was a 50-minute biopic of Archimedes, the fourth in a series about visionary thinkers using lots of CGI animations, and Sasha, the film.ua producer, read a couple of my specs plus a rather ancient corporate script I’d written about another inventor. She liked them enough to ask me to pitch a treatment for the Archimedes programme, the only givens being a CGI flashback structure held together with a VO from the future, and she gave me a link to an edit-in-progress of one of a couple of other programmes in the series. Sasha ran the treatment past various producery types over the weekend of my birthday and came back with the go-ahead. That was about a week after my initial response to her posting.

In parallel with that, we’d been talking about money. I don’t have an agent, and nobody seemed to have any idea about the going rate for the Ukraine. In the end I used the WGGB rate card for indies – not masses but a perfectly decent fee and a buyout (and they agreed disconcertingly quickly). It would probably give an agent a fit of the vapours but I’m happy with it.

So I got the commission as simply and quickly as that.

We agreed I’d deliver a first draft about two and a half weeks later, and I budgeted out my time and pages. I’m as a creative time-fritterer as anyone when I’m speccing, but ever since I joined the local paper at 18 I’ve written to external deadlines so it was no big shock.

The great thing about Archimedes as a subject is there’s just the right amount known about him – IE almost nothing, so I had a fairly free hand, as long as it incorporated the VO and the CGI. I also had to get my head round the maths, which meant more research, and finding a maths professor to check I’d got my sums right.

Amazingly, I had. Over the next couple of months, I did three more drafts (so three lots of notes, a bunch of emails, and a Skype conversation). The CGI element turned out to be fairly simple, so work focused on the VO and the overall story arc. The final script turned out with a far simpler narration strand, and with Archimedes becoming steadily less nerdlike and more heroic.

So as I type, the script is in pre-production, and I’m not sure when it’s going out. But it seemed a pretty straightforward process and most importantly that credit is helping my search for an agent.

And also, I’ve established (I think) a good relationship with a thriving broadcaster. Which has to be good.

I think that’s terrific. I’ve no idea what the fee was, but that’s completely unimportant. Matthew has made genuine contacts, he has steered a single script into production, his CV looks immeasurably stronger – and I hope film.ua have more jobs for him in the future.

And all through hanging around in our forum!

If you’re not making contacts in our – free – forum yet, well, maybe you should be?

(And sorry to all the “serious” scientists, but while I was googling for a picture of Archimedes I found this great article wherein an engineering dept at MIT recreated the death ray rumoured to have been invented by Archimedes:)

Science Fact

Photo credit: David Wallace, MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering

Guest speaker announced for our May seminar

I’m delighted to announce our Sunday afternoon guest for our next London seminar on 11/12th May is Esther Springer.

Esther is a very experienced and highly respected BBC script editor. Recent BBC credits include “The Fades” (Jack Thorne), “Survivors” (Adrian Hodges), “Eastenders – E20″ and “Lark Rise To Candleford”. Previous credits include “Born & Bred” (BBC), “My Family And Other Animals” (BBC), “Dead Gorgeous”, “Too Good To Be True” and “Pollyanna” (all Carlton\ITV).

Esther will talk about the BBC commissioning process from the perspective of someone who has been through it many, many, MANY times, and no doubt she’s going to have a great deal to say about how you get yourself into the system as a new writer.

She’ll also answer all your questions, in the usual frank, fearless and slightly off-the-record manner we encourage from our guests..!

More information about the seminar, and booking, here.

Brian Eno On Creativity
Screenplay Format
1 Comment
Leave a Reply