Tag Archives: events

Investing In Your Screenwriting Career

We’ve all heard that it takes 10,000 of practice to become a virtuoso piano player or tennis champ. While the hours might be debatable there is little doubt about the principle behind it; to get better at something you have to actually do it, a LOT! Are you really investing enough of your time in your screenwriting to make the progress you want?

notepad and paperHere are some of the best ways to invest in yourself as a screenwriter:

1) Join A Writing Group (locally or online)

Pros: It’s probably free, you can use it to make commitments about how much writing you’ll do in between get-togethers and get your group to hold you to it, great for peer review of each other’s scripts.

Cons: You might be in a group of writers with less experience than you so might feel you’re not learning very much.

Tips: Be open to meeting new people.

2) Take A Class or Course

Pros: You can find courses running a few weekends or a year or more, it encourages you to make a time and financial commitment so you’re more likely to put the work in, good courses set homework which further encourages you to get the writing done.

Cons: Although many courses offer some feedback on what you’ve written, the time pressures on course leaders means the feedback can be very limited, teaching can be a bit generalised.

Tips: Figure out what you want to get out of the course and then find one that best suits your needs.

3) Go On A Writing Retreat

Pros: It forces you to invest a chunk of uninterrupted time you might struggle to achieve any other way, being in a different environment encourages new ways of thinking so you don’t keep repeating thought patterns, improving your chances of producing something new and different, chance to meet other writers.

Cons: It is essentially a holiday so it’s a relatively pricey way of getting quite a short chunk of writing time.

Tips: Decide what’s most important to you (location, retreat leader, feedback opportunities) and then research what’s out there.

4) Attend A Screenwriting ConferenceLondon Screenwriters’ Festival, Screenwriters World Conference (L.A or New York), Great American Pitch Fest

Pros: Most have great pitching opportunities, committing to it gives you a deadline to polish work you can pitch there, intensive, immersive, chance to meet lots of other writers and hear from industry experts.

Cons: Might feel a bit pricey for a few days, though LSF has a payment plan to spread the cost.

Tips: Commit early then plan a schedule to get work ready, building in time to get feedback on your scripts / pitches and rewrite accordingly before you go.

5) Get Professional Feedback On Your Script

Pros: Notes should inspire a constructive rewrite, screenwriting advice is tailored to you and your writing strengths and weaknesses.

Cons: Can be pricey and quality of feedback ranges enormously.

Tips: Get recommendations from fellow writers and check out the credentials of those offering feedback.

6) Find A Mentor / Coach

Pros: A good mentor will give you personalised script feedback on a portfolio of work, set goals and deadlines with you, offer support and advice, they are interested in helping you develop as a screenwriter.

Cons: Pricey, you need to put the writing in to make it worth your time and money.

Tips: Make sure you give yourself enough time every week to do the writing so your mentor regularly has work to respond to.

 

 

 

Screenwriting Short Courses and Workshops – UK

If you want to study screenwriting (or just need a refresher) but don’t want to commit to one of the great Screenwriting M.A courses on offer, there are lots of shorter courses and workshops worth checking out.

The Two Phils – London – 11-12 May 2013

Skribita – Brighton – Writing TV (26-28 April 2013)

Professional Writing Academy – Into the Woods (John Yorke on storytelling for tv) – September 2013

Storylining – Manchester – March 2013

Euroscript – see website for dates

Raindance – see website for dates

Arvon – see website for dates

The Script Factory – see website for dates

The National Film & Television School (NFTS) – see website for dates

If you know of any others do post in the comments below or post details on the Script Angel Facebook Page.

Networking

I have to confess to having a love/hate relationship with ‘Networking’.  I hate the idea of it – the thought of walking into a room full of people I don’t know sends shivers down my spine. The reality is always, thankfully, a whole lot less anxiety-inducing and a LOT more fun! And it’s one of those things that is an important part of the film and television industry so it’s better to embrace it if you want to get on in this business.

Some networking gatherings are, admittedly, hard work, where you feel like there’s a gang and you’re just not in it. Others, and the London Screenwriters’ Festival is one of these, are warm, open and friendly. Whether you’re sitting in a session or standing in a queue for coffee the chances are that the person next to you will say ‘hello’ and introduce themselves. If they don’t and you do, you’ll almost certainly be met with a smile and the start of a conversation in return.

I would approach any networking opportunity with a mixture of planning and open-mindedness. Make sure you do your homework about who else will be there and don’t be afraid to approach people you admire or want to work with. That said, I’ve seen people be so focused on meeting the ‘big cheeses’ that they’re rude and dismissive to anyone else that deigns to say ‘hello’.  New friends, champions and collaborators can come from the unlikeliest of places so keep an open-mind about meeting people you haven’t heard of and aren’t already targeting like a heat-seeking missile.

Dominic Carver has done a great blog post ‘Ultimate Guide’ to the London Screenwriters’ Festival and I’ll be doing a session there on Surviving Development.  If you haven’t bought a ticket yet you can get £22 off the ticket price by using Discount Code ‘SCRIPTANGEL2012’. Make sure you come and say ‘hi’ on the day.

The London Screenwriters’ Festival is a fantastic networking opportunity but there are plenty of others worth looking into. Check out my Events Diary covering the UK and USA events for screenwriters.

Happy networking!

Breaking Into Hollywood (from the UK)

Lots of UK writers have been asking me recently about breaking into Hollywood so here’s my advice.

Pretty much the same advice applies whether you’re breaking into your home market or a foreign market and my top tip for both is DO YOUR HOMEWORK!   Just as I’d expect a writer applying to write on ‘Holby City’ or ‘Coronation Street’ to watch the show and know it well, so you have to know the market you’re trying to crack, whatever and wherever it is.

If you’re a UK writer wanting to write UK films you’d be researching UK film production companies, right? So, do the same thing for Los Angeles. Learn which production companies and studios make what films. If you’re into the UK market you’d get Broadcast and Moviescope.  For the US market there are loads of great magazines and websites to help you keep track of who’s making what – try Deadline Hollywood, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.   There are also subscription sites like TrackingBTracking Board, DoneDealPro, ItsOnTheGrid and Screen International.

If you want L.A representation, find out who represents the Hollywood writers whose films you love. The websites that track film script sales always mention who represents the writer so you can build up a picture of the L.A literary agent scene pretty quickly.

Although you can certainly make approaches to Hollywood from the UK, in her ScriptChat Q&A, Los Angeles literary manager Jenny Frankfurt also recommends getting out to L.A and networking in person.  One great way to do this is through the Hollywood Field Trip.  It’s a bit pricey but the feedback from those writers that have been is that it was money incredibly well invested in their careers. Right now the guys have got 2 spots remaining on their October trip and are offering £200 off the price. Do get in touch with them if you’re interested.

If Hollywood is the market you want to write for then you should GO FOR IT – good luck and I’ll see you there!

 

London Comedy Writers’ Festival – Script Angel discount

Those lovely people at the London Comedy Writers’ Festival are offering Script Angel blog readers a very nice £25 off the ticket price. Just enter the discount code ‘ScriptAngel’ before you buy your ticket.

After a brilliant London Screenwriters’ Festival last October, the team are bringing you a Comedy Writers’ Festival packed full of fantastic speakers. As well as commissioners like Jon Plowman and Lucy Lumsden, there’s hugely experienced writers like Griff Rhys Jones, Jessica Hynes, James Cary and Robert Popper and up and coming talent like  Max Dickins and Jessica Ransome.

Check out the schedule of events which is being added to all the time.

Tell your friends! Let me know if you’re going and hopefully I’ll see you there!