(pic of actors Laura England and Tom Cove who acted/recorded my audio production last year)
Following on from last week’s post about the seminar I attended at the Soho Theatre in which the speaker admitted that scripts sent to BBC Writersroom seldom end up being made into TV, let me turn to the positives that came out of the session. If you haven’t read last week’s post, you can find it here.
Notes on the ‘Perfect Ten’ rules from that session can be downloaded here
Okay, back to the main thing taken way from that seminar which was to do with why many playwrights make an easy transition into writing for TV and radio series.
The reason? They have a ‘head start’ on those who aren’t playwrights because they possess the skills necessary for writing TV drama as they are versed and honed in:
- writing for a medium that is dialogue-driven
- creating well-crafted characters with flaws and disparate personalities that will be exposed on stage before a live audience
- working in a way to manage tense conflict within small set/locations
- developing interesting storylines that keep an audience hooked while facilitating a slow-burn on the reveal
- not giving too much away while keeping tension and suspense
- writing in ways that are not overtly elaborate or exhaustative on budgets for actors/locations……and dare I say it…
- tried, tested and approved by theatre audiences long before the writer takes that step into TV writing.
Which brings us to the question of production and how the writer understands this. For most writers, the ‘term’ production is understood as ‘getting your written work made into a film, play, TV series, film, audio piece (etc).
Now, while that is true – and I would encourage all writers to be production minded in regard to all of their projects – I do think there is a different understanding of producing which we need to be aware of – I refer of course to our rate of productivity.
If it takes a writer five years to write a play, TV pilot, screenplay or whatever, then it better be amazing because no TV producer, Theatre Company or Film Studio will wait the same amount of time for the follow up project. And what if the theme of your play or premise does not ‘fit’ with the current milieu? Do you have other projects to pitch if they don’t like what you bring on the day?
[Moral of the story – you cannot bring one piece of work to the meeting. Come with four scripts (at least) that you can pitch and three ideas for other projects you hope to develop and be prepared too elaborate on there and then.]
Look at the CVs of most playwrights who became writers and you will see they were writing plays long before the opportunity to move into TV happened – Moira Buffini is one who immediately springs to mind.
And a number of them will point back to one of their plays garnering interest from someone who saw the potential for them as a writer in other mediums/formats. Moral of the story – take a step sideways to move forward? Unless of course you love theatre and want to write solely for that medium in which case keep on, keeping on! Til next time, when we will revisit the reason ‘why producing your own work may be good for your health and well-being.’