The screenwriter's role in the script commissioning process
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  • 1. The screenwriter’s role in thescript commissioning process. By Haydn Taylor
  • 2. Introduction In this report i will show my understanding of the screen writers role in the commissioning process and give a detailed explanation of the process a screen writer goes through in the development of a script and the production of the script being put forward to companies. I will be using secondary resources such as websites, book and magazines.
  • 3. “Responsive, proactive and an open door to writers, BBC writersoom is always looking at new ways to find and champion talent for all BBC platforms.”This quote has been taken from the BBCwriters room. The BBC have created aneasy way for screen writers to allow theirwork to gain credibility and provide themwith further development. This is anexample of how the BBC‟scommissioning process is done. Fromresearching into how the BBCcommission scripts I have found that inorder for a script to be complete thescript writer must have a finished scriptaround 30 pages long, equivalent to 30minutes as they find it easier to access.This is the script writers role within thecommissioning process according to theBBC.
  • 4. Channel 4 offer 12 screenwriters a chance “Writers will be expected to write an original, pilot one-hourto gain an insight to the industry and drama series or serial episode, and 2-3 page outline pitch for the series serial as a whole. Each writer will be assignedexperience what its like to write for a a script editor, who is currently working in the industry, totelevision company. guide them through this process. The writers will meet with their script editors between the course weekends to discuss how to approach each draft. Second draft scripts will be sent to the script editor and two other writers on the course, for workshop discussions at the second weekend.” In order for a screenwriter to be eligible for the channel 4 „4talentextra‟ course they must have created their own one hour pilot for a series or episode and perform a pitch. If excepted the screenwriters role is to meet up with a script editor working in the industry to discus their original script. The second draft scripts are then sent off to the script editor and two other writers where the screenwriter will be in further discussion on how to develop their script.
  • 5. “Attend an extensive weekend or week long writing course. Fellow audiences are aspiring and establishing writers and key industry professionals. Many writers get their first break through meeting someone at a course”It is important for the screen writer toattend a certain amount of time on awriting course. This gives them thechance to interact with other aspiringwriters and industry professions. Thisis important for the screen writer to dowithin the commissioning process asin the media industry it is what youknow but who you know. This is agood chance for screen writers to gettheir name and idea out there.
  • 6. “The all important moment will come when a script editor or professional reader opens your script at the first page – and instantly forms a judgement. This judgement will be based on the style and presentation of your work. It will be a superficial judgement and a work of quality will shine through the poorest layout. But it makes sense to give a good impression; the impression of a serious writer confident about his work.”The screen writer needs to make sure that theirwork is looking professional before handing itinto a company as bad presentation will makethe reader loose interest before even readingany of your work.
  • 7. “New writers who telephone or write are usually asked to send in an example of their previous work. If this is interesting they will be asked to submit story ideas and/or write half a trial script. If this is greeted with enthusiasm they will be commissioned to write a single episode, and invited to their first script meeting.”When screen writers who reach out toan organisation by either telephone orwriting in the company will ask the writerto send in previous work. The screenwriter then needs to think about whatsort of work the company will be lookingfor and pick out their best work to sendin.
  • 8. ConclusionAfter gaining knowledge of the commissioning process from theresources above i have found out their are many things the screen writerhas to do in order to write a script and submit it to an organisation. Firstof all to create a script you need to be very creative and open minded tochange as it is most likely going to be changed slightly or hugely aftersubmitting it to a company. In order to finish a full script it is important forthe screen writers to attend writing courses to interact with other aspiringwriters and industry professions. I have found that organisations such asthe BBC have given aspiring writers an opportunity to have their workseen and learn from the experience. In my opinion the BBC and Channel4 websites gave me a better understanding of the screen writers role inthe commissioning process as the books go in detail on what is expectedfrom screen writers and doesnt talk much about the commissioningprocess itself.
  • 9. ReferencesWebsites:•http://4talent.channel4.com/extra/4SCDeirdre Alexander“4 Screen Writing”•http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/about/“Who we are and what we do.”Books:•“How to... Write for television”William SmethurstPage 81Page 93ISBN 1-85703-045-1•“Screenwriting”Ray FrenshamPage 258ISBN 0-340-85971-7