The tone of this seminar at Xponorth2017 was very positive – some advice specifically for Scotland but generally useful for UK writers.
Main advice for new writers:
- Look at the website BBC Writersroom for writing opportunities in BBC but also theatres
- When there’s an open call for submissions, send in your scripts.
- Keep sending them your work so they get a sense of your writing style and you are on their database for future reference
- Easier to be a writer/performer (you already have your own audience)
- If you get your writing onto podcasts or youtube videos or theatre or radio – it will be spotted by these TV producers
- “The Break” is a great opportunity for new writers with no writing record
- If you want to write for River City get to know the show and its twenty-odd characters so you can write quickly and appropriately for them
- Write a sample script of an hour’s length – but make the first 10 pages fantastic – as these are definitely read
- make and send videos to the BBC Social programme
- find out the names of producers of TV programmes you like and try to contact them (they’re always looking for new content)
- an upcoming script editor is a great person to show work to, as they will champion you as a writer if they like your work (there was an example given where this got a writer noticed)
- be prepared to begin work in children or continuing drama (e.g. River city) as starting points, learning to write drama – many wellknown writers started out that way
- even tiny bits of experience on your c.v. (e.g sold a comedy sketch) will count towards getting you noticed
- the BBC Writersroom website has tons of resources – video interviews with writers, blogs, a script library with examples of layout – do use it(Lto R: Audrey, Keiran, Rab, Angela)
What are the BBC looking for in a new writer?
- characters seem full and engaging
- characters are fresh
- you can write domestic (ie the ordinary) scenes well and make them exciting
- a unique voice in the writer
- you can write a full-length script for 30 mins drama
- clear story
- not derivative, something original
- the reader instantly feels s/he cares about the characters
3 new major opportunities for Scotland-based writers:
- from October, the Writersroom based in England changed to have separate writersroom in the regions – so more local knowledge and chance to become known
- there is an upcoming new TV channel, BBC Scotland, which will need more content (begins broadcasting Autumn 2018) more on this at http://bbc.in/2m70MPf
- there is a new scheme coming up in August for 4 writers to become Shadow Writers for River City (ie be given the same brief as the professional writers, and given a chance to do the same work, in a separate stream).
(notes from a panel discussion at #Xponorth2017 in June 2017)