Tag Archives: mentoring

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.

Script Angel / LSF Mentoring Competition – Top 25

A big thank you to all the writers who entered the competition. It was great to see entries from across the world – as well as many from the UK we had writers from Switzerland, Canada, France, Australia and the US.

We’re delighted to announce that the top 25 writers are:

Amanda Duke

Annas Eskander

Carys Davis

Claire Yeowart

Craig Donaghy

Daniel Sunley

Dee Chilton

Gareth Meredith / James Merigan

Jason King

John Morrison

Jon Ryan

Katia Hadidian

K T Parker

Kristina Day

Leon Metcalfe

Liz Holliday

Maggie Innes

Mary Evans

Philip Miles

Rebecca Handley

Richard James

Simon Underwood

Stephan Burn

Tracey Flynn

Trina Grosvenor

The standard of writing was extremely high and many who didn’t make the top 25 still showed a lot of promise – so don’t give up!

Congratulations to the top 25 writers. I’ll be reading all those entries again and will announce the winner on Tuesday 7th May.

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!