In the first instance, my advice to someone who has completed their first script would be ‘Don’t run before you can walk’. Some writers get so excited that they have actually finished a draft of a script that they send it off before it’s ready to to be read by professionals. So, there’s my first suggestion – make sure your work really is as good as it can possibly be before sending it out into the world.
Secondly, always have a couple of completed scripts up your sleeve – because often development folk will read what you consider to be your best script, and then say ‘Hmm, not quite sure this is what we’re looking for. Have you got anything else?’ And if you haven’t, you look foolish. I’ve never been entirely sure what this ‘looking at another script’ is about – other than people perhaps not trusting their own judgement enough – but that’s how it seems to work….
So once you’ve got a couple of decent scripts under your wing, I’d get in touch with the BBC’s Writers Room, and the New Talent department at the BBC… and also start looking for representation by a literary agent. At the same time, get in touch with the continuing dramas Hollyoaks and Doctors, and ask what their protocol is for submitting sample scripts. Then I’d get in touch with as many Development Execs / Producers / Assistants as you can from independent production companies (it’s easy to find their details with an online search)… and then be prepared for NOBODY to get back to you.
So then you need to hassle them… and hassle them… and then be prepared for them to reject you because they’re cheesed off that you’re hassling them.
But keep going.
Enter competitions. Write a new script, and send it back to the Writers Room, and the New Talent department and Development Execs ..
And so the cycle repeats itself …
But bit by bit, you get known; sometimes you make friends who recommend you…
Just keep going, and keep writing, and have a way of making money to fall back on, and don’t be disheartened – just keep writing. The more writing you do, the better you get at it… because you need to make sure that the one shot you get at impressing people is the moment when you let them read the most brilliant piece of work you’ve ever written.
And then one day – one very special day – someone gives you a chance.
And that’s how it happens. 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration.
Story for Screen (Drama) opens its door on 23 January, 2017. Find out more about the course here.