Tag Archives: development

The Bottled Water Tour of 2014 by Tony Lee

A very warm welcome to writer Tony Lee who is guest blogging this week on his experience as a Brit doing the meeting-rounds in L.A.

So a couple of weeks ago I was in Los Angeles for an entire week, partly due to the fact that I was a guest at the Gallifrey One convention but also for a variety of meetings, catch ups and get togethers across Los Angeles. This is my second year of solid meetings and I thought I’d talk a bit about them, and what I did – and more importantly what I learned.

First off, if you’re having meetings, make sure they’re booked. Don’t just rock up to a door and go ‘hi, any chance of a chat?‘ as cold calling doesn’t work in the main, as most production companies are on studio lots. Which means a studio security to get through first. That said, there’s every chance of being able to cold email someone going ‘hi, I’m in the area on Tuesday, any chance of a chat?‘ as long as they know you. How do they know you? Well, the chances are you’ve already spoken to them at festivals, conventions, networking days or even (as a couple of my friends have done) mild stalking on LinkedIn. Get to know them. Get a dialogue going with them. Then, when you’re in the area, let them know.

Now, here’s an important thing, don’t bother booking months in advance. These guys don’t know what they’re doing next week. So let them know a few weeks beforehand that you’ll be around, and then attack again a week before, nailing down some times. Don’t give them the chance to set the stage, give them two or three options.

‘Hey, I’m around on Tuesday. What’s best, 11am or 2pm?‘ If they say they can’t do Tuesday, ask if they can do Wednesday. If they can, offer to move things around so that they can be seen. Work to their schedule, but within your constraints.

It also helps if they know your work, or have seen your work. If they’ve never seen a single thing that you’ve written, rocking up with five pitches only shows you can pitch. Have a screenplay finished, something that you could even have sent in advance, as well as other ideas and pitches in your pocket.

Don’t be star struck. It’s difficult, I know. One of my meetings was upstairs from Aaron Sorkin on the Warner Lot, in a room with walls laden with movie props and awards. Remember that they’re willing to see you because you might offer them something they need. They’re not being a charity case here, they’re looking for product and you have some. Be confident. Drink the bottled water – trust me, you’ll need it.

Never sit in front of a window, if just gives them distractions. If you’re in a cafe or a Starbucks, lean in so that they unconsciously lean in as well. Don’t shut them out of the process, let them contribute to the story and take their notes on board – they might know better than you.

Now. The pitch. There are people out there who have done so many of these, and the things they always tell me are almost the same as what I was told in sales school twenty years ago. First off, people buy people. More importantly, within the first few seconds someone will decide if they like you or not. And if they like you, they’ll humour you more, allow for more mistakes. So, don’t walk in like a bulldozer. Talk to them, get to know them. The chances are that during this part of the conversation, you might learn that the pitch you have? Totally not right for them. This gives you ammunition.

The thing I tell everyone to do? When in LA, hire a car. Driving in LA is super easy. Yes, there are buses and cabs, but having a car (I’ve found) is an instant ice breaker. How is it driving in LA? How big is the car? Play up the Alien in Los Angeles, it’s an icebreaker. But more importantly, you give the impression of a writer who’s confident and comfortable in LA. Producers like that.

Never be late for a meeting, so before you confirm everything check the distances on Google Maps and double the time it says. That’ll give you enough time to arrive and get five minutes to plan your day. Learn what ‘Validate’ is – never pay for parking if you don’t have to. Try to keep your meetings in the same area, a bulk of Production companies are in Burbank, which makes things easy, but Burbank is a big place and you might accidentally find yourself on a Freeway. Not good. And one of my days was Santa Monica – Burbank – The Valley – Glendale – Sunset Strip. Plan for delays!

Have plenty of business cards, and never be shy in giving them out. You never know who’s going to be in the meeting. Ensure you have a working phone with a data plan, as well – meetings often get moved on the fly and if you have to wait for wifi to get your emails, it might be too late. I have an unlocked iPhone and I have a T Mobile US Sim. Every day I use it I pay $3, but I get unlimited calls, texts and 4G data. So I’m good to go.

If it’s a lunch meeting on site? Don’t eat a large breakfast. On one day I made the mistake of expecting a very light lunch and had a breakfast with some friends at 9am at the IHOP. That’s INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PANCAKES, and should give you an idea of how big the portions are. At 10am I leave for Dreamworks and my lunch meeting at 12pm. But while driving I learn it’s now been moved to 11.30am. Which isn’t a problem to get to, but when we arrive I learn that Dreamworks give AWESOME lunches, full buffet affairs – and I’m two hours from a stupidly large breakfast. I ate light. And felt bad.

Always always ALWAYS find out what else the producer is up to, you never know what you can get involved in. One of my meetings ended with them talking about a series of books they’re reading and discussing which one of these books would be a good fit for me to adapt into a film. Another is working on a series involving a set of books that are my favourite books ever, so naturally by the time we finished discussing those, he knew that I was enthusiastic, quick with ideas and flexible – without a single word of any of my projects being spoken.

Enjoy the time between meetings. Look around the local sites. One of my meetings was at Hollywood and Highland, so I took some time to visit Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Two of my meetings were on the Warner Lot, and after the second of these I was able to stroll around the lot itself, watch some filming, visit a couple of stages. All of this reminded me exactly why I want to do this for a living.

Don’t kill yourself, but pack the time in. Explaining to a producer that I had twelve meetings in three days showed a) I was busy but also b) I was in demand. The fact that many of these meetings were PURELY because I was only around for three days is irrelevant.

I had twelve meetings between Tuesday and Thursday. One was a catch up at a comic company. Three were with television companies. One was an independent producer I met at San Diego who wants me involved on a project he’s doing. The other seven were with film companies who wanted to hear about my movie ideas. Of which I had one scripted, and one in treatment. Of those seven, five wanted to see the treatment when it was finished. Four wanted to see the film I’d finished already and three had other projects that, down the line I could be involved in.

If I get nothing from these, I still walk away with the same amount that I would have had if I hadn’t gone to them. And that’s what you have to remember. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And as I play the post-meeting email tennis, I know that I gave it my best shot.

Tony Lee is a New York Times #1 Bestselling author of comics, books, audio adventures and screenplays. Find out more about Tony’s work here and follow Tony on Twitter @mrtonylee.

 

The Script Angel Journey So Far…

kindnessIt’s been a little while since I announced that Script Angel was expanding. After years as a solo business I took the step of inviting the brilliant Xandria Horton to join me. So I thought it was time to share with you how I got here and what might be next for Script Angel.

How Script Angel came about. Being really honest with you, the sole reason I established Script Angel in 2009 was to enable me to carry on script editing (as I had been for nearly ten years by then) without having to work away from home. It really was that simple. I love script editing; I love working with writers, helping them make their script the very best it can be. I also love variety; I love working on a thriller one day, a crime series the next and a comedy the day after that. As a result I would take jobs because they interested me and that often meant living away from my family Monday-Friday which isn’t much fun however much you love your job.

What’s the Script Angel ethos? I knew what I wanted Script Angel to deliver for me and, importantly, I also had a very strong sense of the kind of script editor I was by then. I can be tough when I have to be but I don’t get a kick out of making others feel crap. When I give script notes I do it with honesty and a desire to ask the questions that will inspire my writer to find for themselves the most interesting solutions to the problems in the script. Script Angel’s nurturing ethos is a reflection of my values and how I work.

An overnight success? The reality was that even with nearly ten years of professional script editing credits to my name it took a while before there was enough work coming in that Script Angel was a full-time job. Even then my rates were so low compared to the hours I would spend on the notes that I was earning well below minimum wage. But I stuck with it and kept plugging away.  It took more than three years before the demand reached a point where my rates could reflect my experience.

With success comes new questions. Last year was a huge turning point for me and for Script Angel. I was consistently booked up three months in advance but I’d hit a brick wall. I couldn’t help any more writers because there was no more of me to go around. I was turning down extraordinary full-time script editing offers on some amazing shows because of the detrimental affect it would have on Script Angel. So I was kind of making a choice, without realising it, that Script Angel was no longer just a way to script edit while my children were little, it wasn’t a way to put my career on hold, it WAS my career.

What was the solution? I knew the demand was sufficient that I could put my rates up further but that would make me unaffordable to many aspiring writers and I don’t want my help to be available only to the wealthiest. Running the Script Angel-LSF Screenwriting Competition is another way I overcome this issue. The alternative was to expand. It sounds so simple and a no-brainer but in truth it was something I had mulled over without taking the leap for nearly a year.

What was stopping me expanding? My biggest fear was of turning into the type of script editing service I dislike – big, impersonal, corporate. It might suit some people but I knew it wasn’t the kind of script editing business I wanted to be part of, let alone create! So how could I keep the nurturing reputation Script Angel had if it was no longer just me providing script notes?

Finding the right people. I realised that I needed to find someone who naturally worked with writers the way I did. If I could find the right person maybe expanding Script Angel would mean being able to do more of what I was already known for?

Why Xandria Horton? I’d first met Xandria when she was Development Assistant at Eleventh Hour Films (Foyle’s War) and I was looking for a production company to take a client’s project to. We chatted about screenwriting, about writers and it was immediately apparent that she was really bright, knew her stuff and knew how to work with writers. I asked Xandria to send me sample script reports (with confidential information redacted, of course!) and I was really impressed. She was as articulate in the notes as she had been in person. Xandria’s notes are insightful and her style of delivering those notes is, like mine, designed to ensure that writers feel positive about moving forward with their project.

Making Script Angel more affordable. The other reason for bringing Xandria on-board was that I wanted to make Script Angel available again to those writers who had used me in the early days when my rates were low but who I’d lost as I’d become busier and more expensive.

So how’s it working out? Well, the great news is that Xandria’s Script Analysis Reports have been really well received. You can read testimonials of her work here. I also read Xandria’s notes before sending them out and we talk about anything that might need clarifying.  I feel very lucky to have a talented young Script Editor working for me at the early stage of her career.

What have I learnt? You can expand without losing your core values. It’s not easy; it’s taking as much effort to grow Xandria’s workload as it took to grow Script Angel in its early days. But I am thrilled to be able to offer Xandria’s script analysis talents to the Script Angel writers.

What next? My aim is to get Xandria as busy and in-demand as I am. I want to keep growing Script Angel but without ever losing the very personal relationship we have with our writers, and finding Xandria has proved to me that it’s not only possible but hugely exciting and rewarding.

Developing Your Career – Guest Post by Teresa Crane

Finding any job is hard but progressing in the film and television industries requires a more pro-active approach than in almost any other field. This week Script Angel welcomes guest blogger Teresa Crane to talk about developing your career.

There are a number of skills important to being successful in the job market, but you won’t necessarily acquire them in school. These skills will not only help you to thrive as you make the initial transition from school to work, but also to manage your career for the long term. And they may be different from the skills that brought you success as a student. Your needs, the demands of the job market, and the nature of your field will all change over time. Developing career skills now, in the areas of planning, networking, conducting a job search, and persisting through the process, are critical to finding that next job, whether it’s your first experience or you are a seasoned professional seeking advancement. This guide will help you begin to navigate the job market and make the most of your online degree.

Planning Skills

Career planning efforts should take place before you send out your first employment applications. These activities will help you to identify employers hiring in your field, establish your professional presence online, and develop a strategy for how you will move forward with your search.

Identify Potential Employers

Create a list of specific companies and organizations that are currently seeking people with your job skills. You may already be working in your field and have an awareness of where hiring is taking place. If so, add these businesses to your list and continue to explore similar companies and those that provide related services. If you are planning to enter a new field after graduation, now is the time to find out more about the industry you are interested in and identify potential employers to add to your list.

Keep your list of potential employers up-to-date, adding and removing information to maintain a current roster of contacts. Find a format that works for you and is easy to edit. This may be a simple handwritten ledger or a more complex spreadsheet. Create entries that include details such as: company name, websites, location, human resources contact, any vacancy announcement information, and how you found out about them (e.g. through a friend, social media, news article, alumni). Remember to focus on the skills required, not just the type of company. You may find potential opportunities that require your skills in a variety of organizations, ranging from non-profits and private businesses to government agencies and educational settings.

While you will continuously find leads and ideas about potential employers, there are a few ways you can begin your research now. Explore the following resources and get your list started.

  • Venues and special events. Check with your college’s career center to find out where you can meet employers in your local area and online through career and employment events, such as career fairs (virtual and traditional) and employer information sessions. If you don’t have access to a college career center, you can find out about career fairs through news outlets in your local area, as well as through national career fair planners and directories such as National Career Fairs. Job-Hunt.org also provides links to some of the larger events and reminds us to consider both privacy policies and the lists of employers participating in each fair before deciding to join in.
  • Online services.  So much information is available via the Internet today. Look for job databases, online application, and resume referral systems. There are general sites, such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, which include searchable information on a wide variety of jobs and industries. And there are more specific sites that feature jobs related do a particular industry, such as Dice.com for information technology careers.
  • Alumni directories. Work with your school to locate lists of alumni from your program. This information may be available online in a searchable directory or available from an alumni services office or career center. Find out where graduates from your program are working and if their organization is hiring.
  • Recruiters.  Many companies use either in-house human resource recruiters or contracted recruiting and staffing firms to identify potential applicants. Locate recruiters making placements in your career field and find out how you can work with them to identify potential job opportunities. EmploymentDigest.net provides guidance on working with recruiters that includes researching the companies to find out where they make placements and being truthful in presenting your experience and job interests.

Get in touch with your career center advisors to find out more about how your school is working directly with employers. Keep in mind that employers that are already recruiting at your school are likely aware of your program and the fact that it is online, and find some benefit in actively recruiting there.

But don’t just compile a list of employers and leave it at that. Use it to maintain your focus on employers that are interested in hiring in your field, and to help you document future networking and application efforts. It’s important to stay organized as you make multiple contacts and send out resumes.

Establish Your Online Presence

What will potential employers find out if they search for information about you online? A positive and professional online presence is gaining importance in today’s job market. Having an online presence allows you to not only participate in social networking activities related to your career field, but also present your experience, interests, and skills to potential employers in an arena where they are already active – the Internet.

A recent article in Forbes provides a sneak peak of the future of job search and placement activities, a future in which your online presence may replace your traditional resume and provide a way for employers to find you based on a match of their job needs with your skills and interests. Taking the time to thoughtfully establish your online profiles, with a job search in mind, is a key part of the preparation you need to complete before applying for positions.

Develop a Job Search Strategy

How much time will you invest every week, every day, in looking for a job? How will you make contact with potential employers? Where will you look for position announcements? Developing a job search strategy to answer these questions helps you to focus your efforts so that the time you spend looking for a job is as efficient and effective as possible. Consider your other commitments, such as school, family, and current employment and plan wisely.

Block time on your schedule to conduct your search and create a list of specific activities you’ll engage in to complete your search. Organize a list of contacts and decide how you will follow-up with each one and what search techniques you will use. If you are interested in career fairs for example, find local events and virtual ones that are scheduled to take place and register. Keep a record of your efforts and review this periodically. Figure out which activities are working well, and which ones aren’t, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Networking Skills

Active professional networking means reaching out to and maintaining contact with those individuals who can provide you with information about your career field and potential opportunities. These efforts may open up leads to positions you weren’t aware of, jobs that are filled through referrals, and opportunities that are so new they haven’t been advertised. The Riley Guide cites a recent report that found over a quarter of external hires where placed as a result of referrals.

Networking can take place in a variety of ways and result in both helpful information and assistance.

  • Contact your previous employers, internship supervisors, and other individuals who may be aware of your skills and experience. Let them know that you are in school, or a recent graduate, and what type of employment you are seeking.
  • Join and participate in relevant professional groups, both formal and informal, that are made up of people working in your field, and that involve discussions about trends and employment. Keep in mind that joining is just the first step in networking with groups — you’ve also got to take the initiative and actively participate in the events and conversations.
  • Ask for help. Let your network know you are looking for a job and what you are looking for in the way of information and assistance. Be as specific as possible with your requests. Ask for an introduction to a valuable contact, for example.
  • Thank those who are helpful to you. Express your appreciation for their efforts and consider how you might offer similar assistance to others in the future.

Hopefully you’ve already begun to engage in these kinds of activities, but if not, now’s the time to do get started. Not every networking contact will result in helpful information, but you will continue to build skills through active participation in the process. Select several ways in which you are comfortable interacting and add these networking activities to your schedule and job search strategy.

As an online student, you may have different opportunities to network during your program. Traditional students may benefit from on-campus events that feature alumni and employers. Similar opportunities may be available for you, via online interaction and communication. Take the initiative to seek out these opportunities through your school advisors, as well as those sponsored by organizations in your local area. Remember that networking is an ongoing process beneficial in the job search and throughout your career as you face work-related challenges and seek continued advancement in your field.

Job Search Skills

“The job search process” is a commonly used term that may include a wide range of steps and tasks related to securing employment. There are other requirements you will need to address as you submit your application for the opportunities you discover from the professional networking tasks listed above.

Resumes

There is a wealth of advice on how to write resumes and cover letters available online, at your career center, and through private resume writing services. The function of the resume is to attract an employer’s attention to your qualifications, show how you fit their needs, and hopefully prompt them to invite you an interview so they can find out more about you. There are several key considerations before moving forward. Take a look at these guidelines and plan for how you will proceed with your own resume.

  • Organize. There are two primary ways in which traditional resumes are organized: chronological (listing your experiences in a time sequence) and functional (listing your experiences by skill set). There’s no right or wrong here. It’s about presenting your information in the best possible way, which may even be a combination of approaches.
  • Summarize. Your resume should be a summary of your qualifications and may include sections such as Education, Work History, Skills, Activities, Awards, etc. The list of possible categories is endless, but they should all work together to highlight your most relevant experience.
  • Focus. Present your achievements in past positions instead of basic job descriptions. Use action verbs and quantification to describe what you have done in the past. Be as specific as possible. For example, “Managed an annual marketing budget of $50,000″ is more informative than “Responsible for managing finances.”
  • Format. Will you be mailing, emailing, or uploading your resume? Or all of the above? It will probably be necessary for you to have different versions available in terms of file format. A PDF may be helpful when sending as an email attachment, a word processing document for printing hard copies, and a text file for cutting and pasting. Readability is critical and document formatting such as bolding, and italicizing may not convert well when uploaded or cut/paste into an online system, so have several options available and look for specific instructions from employers. You may also want to consider setting up a virtual resume through an online system like VisualCV or as part of a personal website.
  • Review examples. Find examples of resumes and explore the variety of possible styles and approaches that are being used. Resume writing experiences trends that come and go, so it is beneficial to look at current practices, especially in your field. Your career center may be able to share sample resumes from previous students in your program, and there are many, many examples (good and bad) available online. The National Association of Colleges and Employers and Susan Ireland’s Resume Site are just two of the available sources to explore.
  • Get a critique. Have at least one person, but preferably more than just one person, review your resume and offer a critique. You should definitely include a career center advisor in the process, as well as others who have experience in your field. Is there someone in your network who could provide a review and make suggestions?

Your resume will be unique to you. While it may adhere to accepted practice in terms of organization and format, you should ensure that it is accurately reflecting your qualifications.

Cover Letters

Cover letters, also known as letters of intent, letters of interest, and job search letters, work with your resume to help you get an interview. Your cover letter should be your introduction to hiring managers and persuade them to read further.

  • Be brief. These letters are just part of the screening process and should ideally be kept to one page in length. Don’t repeat information in your resume. Instead, highlight the most relevant parts of it and address your interest and qualifications in the position.
  • Tailor the information. Each cover letter should be written for the specific employer to whom it will be sent. It’s tempting to create one letter than can be sent to everyone, but that approach will result in a letter that is not as relevant or focused on each position and company, and therefore not as effective.
  • Review examples. Looking at sample cover letters can be helpful to get a better idea of what is expected. There are different formats to consider as well. Quintcareers.com and Minnesota’s iSeek.org both provide cover letter tips and samples. Don’t forget to check with your career center as well.
  • Get a critique. Just as with your resume, having others review your cover letter and provide suggestions will ensure it is professional in nature and helps you say what you need to say.

Job Interviews

Once you’ve received an invitation to interview, you should begin preparing for the meeting in multiple ways. Again, you’ll find a lot of advice and guidance through your career center professionals, but here are a few of the basics to get you started.

  • Consider location. Will the interview take place in person or at a distance, either online or over the phone? An in-person meeting involves dress for success considerations. Phone interviews and video conference meetings will require you to set up a quiet location.
  • Research the company. This is basic advice, and luckily, you may have already done some preliminary work to write your resume and cover letter. However, take additional time now to further explore the company you will be interviewing with – be ready to answer questions that will test this knowledge. Use company websites, as well as resources such as Vault.com to find out more.  Does the company also have a profile on LinkedIn?
  • Gather your documentation. Prepare extra copies of your resume, a list of references with contact information, a presentation of relevant work samples, and all academic transcripts. These are all items that may be helpful to you as you answer questions in an interview and may be requested by the employer during or immediately following the interview. You may also want to consider building a career portfolio for use in your job search and interviews.
  • Practice possible interview questions. There are lists of general questions that can help you practice how you will respond in the interview itself. Consider having a “mock interview” with someone in your network or through your career center that will give you a more realistic opportunity to practice. Practice makes perfect as you gain experience fielding interview questions, and your skills in being interviewed will increase, as will your comfort level with the experience.
  • Prepare your own questions. You may be given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the session. What additional information do you need to know about the organization and the available position? Prepare questions that help to move the conversation forward and improve your understanding of the needs of the company. Be sure to avoid discussing salary at this point.
  • Follow-up. Sending a note of thanks to each of your interviewers is both professional and courteous. Write individual letters and send them within 24 hours after your interview. It is acceptable to send these either by regular mail or email. Review several samples online to get a better idea of typical format for expressing your interest, fit, and appreciation.

As an online student, you should prepare to answer questions about your online learning experience.  A 2009 review of  research conducted to identify employer perceptions of online academic degrees found that employers often cite the following reasons for their reluctance to accept online degrees in the same way that they accept traditional degrees: perception of a lack of rigor and more limited face-to-face interaction, potential for cheating and plagiarism, perception of online programs as diploma mills, and a questioning of the overall commitment of online students to their education as compared to students that attend on-campus programs.

The review also found that there are specific conditions that could make an employer view an applicant with an online degree more favorably. If the applicant received the online degree from a school with a positive reputation and the right accreditation, that could make a difference. Applicants with previous, related work experience, in addition to the online degree are also viewed more positively. While employer acceptance of online degrees is growing, there is still a general perception that online courses do not have the same educational value as traditional face-to-face courses. Anticipate how will you respond to interviewers who ask about the value and quality of your online degree.

Be prepared to discuss how you chose your online program and the value and quality you experienced as a student. Provide feedback about how the program was accredited and the qualifications of the faculty. Be prepared to describe the ways in which you interacted with your instructors, your classmates, and the course content. Explain to interviewers how the skills you gained through your online studies complement any related work or practical experience you have and qualify you to work in your field.

Job Offers

Many employers extend offers over the phone and follow-up with an official offer letter. It is important to thoroughly evaluate a job offer before making a decision, no matter how tempting it may be to accept or decline on the spot.

  • Timeframe. Ask when the employer will be giving you a decision. This will vary with each offer, but typically you’ll have a few days to respond. If you are not sure, ask if there is a timeframe.
  • Offer details. Job offers may or may not include a lot of detailed information. It is okay at this point to ask about salary, compensation, work location, and start date if these topics have not already been addressed in previous conversations. Create a personalized checklist of items you need to consider, and to compare if you are in a situation where you receive multiple options. A written list can help you sort through both the pros and cons of each offer.
  • Negotiation. If you are interested in possible negotiation of the terms of the offer, first ask if this is an option. Many employers do offer you the opportunity to negotiate different components of the offer, ranging from salary and relocation to vacation and professional development. Salary is a typical point of negotiation. Do your own research to find out more about expected salaries in your field, and for people with your level of education and experience, before entering salary negotiations.
  • Decision-making. The decision to accept or decline an offer is yours to make. Arriving at a decision can be a difficult process, but it can be aided by conducting research and asking questions, as well as seeking the advice and support of your network.
  • Accepting/declining. Once you have made your decision, communicate it clearly with the employer. You may want to contact them directly at first by phone or email and follow-up immediately with an official letter of acceptance or rejection. Be conscious of time and reply with your decision within the agreed upon timeframe.

There’s a lot you can do to put your best foot forward during the job search process. Maintain a focus on helping each employer realize the ways in which you are a good fit for their organization.

Persistence Skills

There’s no doubt that today’s job market is challenging. What if a job offer doesn’t come right away? According to the Career Services Center at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, you can expect your job search to take anywhere from 8 to 23 weeks. It could even take longer depending on your needs and the economic conditions surrounding your field during the time of your search. What can you do to survive a long search?

  • Find a support group. Rally your friends, family, and members of your network to help with brainstorming and making connections, as well as to provide encouragement along the way.
  • Monitor and track your industry. Set up organized news feeds of information that will keep you up-to-date with information and events.
  • Plan ahead. If you begin preparation early in your academic program, it may be helpful to budget for an extended job search, saving money for personal expenses if there is a gap between graduating and starting a new job.
  • Stay involved. Be an active participant in local and community organizations and professional groups. Find ways to keep your skills sharp and continue your networking through volunteer projects and short-term work assignments.
  • Consult with career professionals. Chances are these advisors are already available to you as part of the support services offered by your school. Don’t underestimate the value of working with a career services expert who can provide guidance in all areas of your career planning and job search.

The Future of Work

Today’s job market and its influences are dynamic. All sectors of employment are responding to global factors, economic uncertainty, and high-level industry changes. Remember that hiring trends change over time, so while some occupations become obsolete, others are emerging as new fields.

The nature of work itself is changing. Technology now plays a major role in both how work is accomplished and in how positions are being filled. Your experience as an online student may provide you with essential skills related to completing collaborative projects, working independently, and communicating efficiently in virtual work environments. Be ready to market that type of experience and education in multiple ways, and stay flexible to meet the evolving needs of employers.

Post by Teresa Crane. Created for and originally published by: BestCollegesOnline.com

Want free professional help with your script?

I love helping writers to develop their scripts, be it a feature film or a television show, and I know I’m really lucky to do it for a living. I don’t apologise for charging for my services and I think my testimonials and CV speak for themselves. However, I often get  approached by writers who want me to give them feedback on their script for free. If I said ‘yes’ to everyone who asked I’d have a full-time job earning no money and I just don’t have that luxury. But I won’t pretend it’s easy to write those replies – I feel bad when someone asks for help and I can’t give it.

So, a few months ago I got to thinking about how I could help someone who can’t afford to pay for my services. That’s when I teamed up with the London Screenwriters’ Festival and we decided to offer my services for six months as a prize to one LSF 2013 delegate. I could of course just pull a name out of a hat but I want to offer my help to a writer who I feel has the most to gain from it. We’re asking writers to submit a ten-page writing sample and a one-page outline of the project they want to develop. Check out the London Screenwriters Festival Mentoring Competition page for information on the submission process and what’s on offer.

So, if you want professional help developing one script over multiple drafts plus several other projects to treatment and advice on your screenwriting career then get your entries in quick. Deadline is just one week away – Friday 19 April.  Good luck!

 

Surviving Script Development

Congratulations! After all that hard work and self-doubt you’ve finally had your spec script optioned / been commissioned to write a treatment or script.  It feels like you’ve won the lottery.  The euphoria is amazing, you feel like you’ve finally made it in the industry and your tv show/feature film is going to be made! Being commissioned/optioned is a fantastic endorsement of you as a writer and marks a huge step forward in the industry. What many writers come to realise is that it is the beginning of a very different process and one that requires just as much skill to navigate as breaking in did.

The development process in the film and television industry can feel like its own special kind of hell and the often interminable months and often years spent ‘in development’ can be utterly demoralising.  That euphoria of having ‘made it’ begins to fade and gives way to despondency and a sense of hopelessness as your fantastic film/tv show looks further away from getting made than it did before you even typed ‘fade in’.

At this year’s London Screenwriters’ Festival I had the great pleasure of being on a panel with Jason Taylor (Bad Hat Harry Productions), Rob Sprackling (Gnomeo & Juliet) and Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty), discussing what happens AFTER your script’s been optioned.  What was clear was how different writers approached this process depending upon what they wanted to get out of it. For Jed, having significant creative control over his projects was of paramount importance and so collaborating with the right production company was essential for him.  While Rob had ‘passion projects’ that he tries to protect through the development process, he was sometimes happy to take the pay cheque knowing that in doing so the chances of retaining creative control might diminish.

What everyone agreed was that having your work commissioned or optioned did not guarantee it being made but that at least it was now a possibility.  Every development process is unique but here are some of the oft-encountered hurdles you might face and how you can overcome them:

Unpaid rewrites – as development budgets get smaller everyone is trying to get more for less and, unhappily, that includes getting writers to do more work for less money. How you respond to this depends upon how much you want to avoid upsetting the apple cart, how you feel about the changes you’re being asked to make, and whether you feel those asking for the changes (ie the producer) are themselves putting in work for no money. While development can be poorly paid for writers (a £1 option agreement is not uncommon), it’s often even more poorly paid for producers who have to invest huge amounts of time trying to get your project off the ground without any guarantee of any success or financial return.  If you think your producer is working hard for your project and you think the changes will make the project better, it’s probably worth the effort.  An agent, if you have one, if often great at helping make this kind of judgement call.  If you don’t have representation, ask around for advice from the writing community.

Script notes you don’t agree with – as a script editor my hope is always that all the notes I give to a writer are met with a knowing smile as it confirms problems they subconsciously knew were lurking in their script but they just hadn’t be able to identify, unpick or solve. However, the reality is that even brilliant script editors aren’t always right about every note and as a writer you’ll develop an ability to spot the notes that might change your script but aren’t necessarily making it better. Then there are the notes that are good and will transform your script but sadly transform it into precisely the kind of project you absolutely don’t want it to be. There’s a great joke in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ in which Trigger tells Del Boy he’s been looking after his granddad’s broom, he’s “maintained it these 20 years. This old broom’s had 17 new heads and 14 new handles in its time”! Once you’ve been asked to change everything you love about your project, is it really the project you love any more? This is the time to make a choice – do you take the money and write the script you’re being asked for (even if you hate it) or do you try to convince the note-giver to have faith in your vision of the project? If you try but fail to convince the note-giver then you may have to contemplate taking the project back from the producer, if that’s contractually possible. I’ve seen writers take each of these different routes and, as long as the decision is made not in haste but after serious consideration of the consequences, then it has always ended happily.

Radio silence – this is something that annoys the heck out of everyone working in development and it’s my pet hate.  For writers, who are often at the bottom of a very big chain, it can feel as if your producer (that same one that promised you the earth when convincing you to let them option your script for £1) has disappeared off the face of the earth.  It is perfectly reasonable for you to expect your producer to keep you up to date on progress but not all producers do this as often as they should. If you find yourself in this position, it doesn’t do any harm to give them a nudge. I’m not talking stalking here, just friendly, polite ‘what news?’ ‘is there anything you need me to do?’ kind of approaches.  Sometimes the radio silence is because they are just, temporarily, snowed under on something else that’s suddenly taken off. The great thing about option agreements is that they END and you can decide at the end of the option period whether you want to renew with that producer.  Don’t be afraid to ask them what they’ve actually done to make your project happen in the time they’ve had it.  If you’re unhappy with the answers then start looking elsewhere for someone who will be more passionate about your project and actively do more to get it made.

Being fired from your own project – this is not uncommon in films but is, thankfully, very rare in television. Whether or not you can be fired from your own project very much depends upon the kind of contract you’ve signed.  While you (and your agent) will want to do everything you can to avoid this outcome it isn’t the end of the world if it happens.  While it’s unheard of in authored television drama it is an all-too-frequent occurrence in both feature films and continuing drama series. If it happens to you, take heart from the fact that you’re not the first and won’t be the last to suffer this fate and it doesn’t mean that others in the industry will think any the worse of you in the future.

There are many elements within the development process, some of which require more input from you, like honing the script, and others which require your patience, like your producer raising the finance/convincing a tv network commissioner.  The key is balancing being positive and pro-active whilst waiting for things to happen without you.  While everyone involved is (hopefully!) working hard to make your project a reality, there is no guarantee your project will move into production.  My advice is to keep yourself equally busy dreaming up the next brilliant project that is going to wow the industry. Before you know it you could be so in demand with projects shooting and in development that you’ll wonder why you ever doubted your ability to do this amazing job.