drama

14 tips for new TV comedy/drama writers

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The tone of this seminar at Xponorth2017 was very positive – some advice specifically for Scotland but generally useful for UK writers.

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Advice….

Main advice for new writers:

  1. Look at the website BBC Writersroom for writing opportunities in BBC but also theatres
  2. When there’s an open call for submissions, send in your scripts.
  3. Keep sending them your work so they get a sense of your writing style and you are on their database for future reference
  4. Easier to be a writer/performer (you already have your own audience)
  5. If you get your writing onto podcasts or youtube videos or theatre or radio – it will be spotted by these TV producers
  6. “The Break” is a great opportunity for new writers with no writing record
  7. 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
  8. Write a sample script of an hour’s length – but make the first 10 pages fantastic – as these are definitely read
  9. make and send videos to the BBC Social programme
  10. find out the names of producers of TV programmes you like and try to contact them (they’re always looking for new content)
  11. 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)
  12. 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
  13. even tiny bits of experience on your c.v. (e.g sold a comedy sketch) will count towards getting you noticed
  14. the BBC Writersroom website has tons of resources – video interviews with writers, blogs, a script library with examples of layout – do use itIMG_2890.JPG(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:

  1. from October, the Writersroom based in England changed to have separate writersroom in the regions – so more local knowledge and chance to become known
  2. 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
  3. 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)

 

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Creativity healing

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detail: photo by Marvin Lynchard, of soldier using art therapy

Just read an excellent article on the website theconversation.com about how creativity is a natural way for the brain to help process trauma.  Trauma by its nature is overwhelming – so the brain cannot deal with and store what is happening in the usual way.  With normal events, memories are stored using words:

 

“This makes it easy to recall and describe memories from the past. However, because traumatic events are processed when under extreme distress they cannot be properly assembled together and remembered as a coherent narrative, and so are stored in non-declarative memory, which operates unconsciously and is not processed in words.”

Creative arts have been observed to be helpful in particular situations: creative writing with refugees, drama with soldiers and photography with mental health of HIV/Aids affected women.

What do the creative arts offer?

  • help to people to remember and process the events
  • help the recaller distance himself/herself a little from the trauma to creatively share the experience with others
  • may help reconnect cultures divided by violence (e.g. drama)
  • it is often nonverbal, so aids those who struggle to find words for their emotional reactions
  • help without drugs and medicinal side-effects
  • an accompaniment to word-based listening, where appropriate

The article I read was mostly about the works/writings of Professor Bessel Van der Volk and his book “The Body keeps the Score”.  Catch the article, written by Senior Lecturer in Abnormal/Clinical Psychology, Bath Spa University at:

http://bit.ly/2qUAnXH

 

 

Paying a visit to Jane Austen GU34 1SD

Jane Austen’s House Museum is the only home in which the writer lived, which is open to the public.  Here, she spent the last eight years of her life, revising earlier manuscripts, writing new works.

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This is the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death, and so there are many special events on offer.  These include an exhibition of “41 objects” celebrating her life.

 

Tuesday 20 June is a once-a-year opportunity to visit the house and gardens in a summer evening.  Tickets are only £8 each and includes access to the house as well as parts of the house not usually accessible to visitors.  Book now at:

http://www.janeaustenregencyweek.co.uk/community/jane-austen-regency-week-13273/events/evening-opening-at-jahm-70117

 

Saturday 24 June, afternoon, there will be a presentation and talk by a BBC producer, about how Jane Austen’s works have been made and shown on the BBC.  So if you have ever enjoyed seeing her work on the small screen, this will repay an early booking.

For example, Mr D’arcy’s wedding proposal which is more like a series of insults:

http://www.janeaustenregencyweek.co.uk/community/jane-austen-regency-week-13273/events/jane-austen-at-the-bbc-70131

 

If you can’t visit in person, you can still purchase from the online museum shop:

https://www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk/online-shop

Thespian struggles with opening an unenveloped piece of paper….

Actors Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty are merely beginners in fluffing reading lines from an opened envelope… (as performed at 2017 Oscars)

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Gifted actors can struggle with smaller tasks…. cue Phyllida Law, actress on this clip, watch the last minute, from 1 minute 30.