Script DevelopmentEvery time we watch the TV, us as the audience are embracing the work of ascreenwriter. Screen writing is all about being able to connect to people andunderstand their emotions. According to Claudia Hunter Johnson in her book CraftingShort Screenplays That Connect, the screen writers main purpose is to emotionallyconnect to the audience.‘The best screen plays - long or short - are written by those who know howto connect - to themselves (their unique vision, material, process), to whatdrama is, and most important, to others.’I think it‟s very important that the scriptwriter is connected in what they are doing. Ithelps them gain a better understanding of what they are writing and what sort ofperson they are as a scriptwriter. If a writer isn‟t connecting to what they are writing,they cannot expect the script readers on the other side to grasp the story either, whichmeans it‟ll be harder to get their script commissioned, when it arrives at that process.The commissioners need to feel the story too.
Amy Dunkelberger explains in The Basics of Screenwriting:‘As any screenwriter will tell you, the first few pages of a screenplay arethe most important - for both your audience and the people responsiblefor producing your film. Script readers are an impatient lot, and if youdont engage them right away, they will drop your script and move on tothe next.’http://www.fathom.com/course/21701762/session4.htmlConnecting
Idea ConnectionGathering ideas for scripts can be a hard and time consuming tasks. One of the bestways to go about it is by just jotting every idea down that comes in to your head, andreading through them. If you find one you like you can, elaborate on it to see howdeep the idea allows you to go as a writer. The link below takes you to a clip about awoman who has been experiencing how to write and develop scripts. She talks aboutemotional connections and feelings between characters. One example she uses isthat of a mother, father and child. She says that you don‟t know how they felt at thetime before you were born, but you now how they make you feel as a person whenthey walk in to a room. It‟s things like this that really demonstrates the connectionsthat screenwriters can make, and how easy is seems to create a story just from thatone observation of a person.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ87MJMhBM0
CollaborationAs well as the connecting factor, there‟s also a stage of „collaboration‟. Once youhave submitted your script, your opening up your writing to other professionalstherefore involving them in the development process. This allows another opinionto be shared, and are often see from a different point of view.(Frensham Page 5)This shows that even though it is yourown work, once it has been submitted toa commissioning body, there becomesmore than you as the scriptwriter,involved. Some can argue that this is abad thing as many people don‟t want anyinterference with the work they havedone. Others would say this is a goodthing because it gives you more room forexpansion of ideas and there becomesless pressure on one person if roles areassigned.
Claudia Hunter Johnson also thinks it‟s important to collaborate and has come upwith 10 reasons why it is a good thing to write with other people.Some of these are:•Writing with a partner doubles your chance for success•A writing workout partner helps you stay motivated, focused, and productivein the face of countless rejections•Two imaginations really are better than one – better brainstorming andcreative breakthroughs•Collaboration not only improves mental health, it makes you a better writer -and a better personShe uses these reasons because of her experiences and what she has learnedfrom writing with partners. They are very good reasons because it shows whatcould become of a screen writer if they proceed this way, and what type of personthey could become.Collaboration - Positive Factors
Shrek’s co-writer Ted Elliot also thinks that collaboration is useful:‘As you struggle as writers perfect your craft, schlepping from studio tostudio trying to make that elusive sale or capture that dream assignment,as you wend your way over the freeways that link Hollywood to Burbank,and Beverly Hills to Century City, there is a final, overwhelming way inwhich a writing partner can be beneficial. Two words: Carpool Lane.’He is explaining that scriptwriting on your own can be a tiring, slow and tediouschallenge. Therefore writing with partners is a quicker, more interesting way.Going back to Ted Elliots‟ quote, he says “..Two words: Carpool Lane.”. It‟sgreat that he uses such an example because it explains that writing with apartner reduces the time it takes and gives the opportunity to bounce ideas offeach other, and it also takes the stress off the one person.How Collaboration Is Useful
It doubles thechance for successbecause there isgoing to be morethan one braininvolved, thereforedouble the ideas.Staying motivatedand focused isimportant as youdon‟t want to losetrack of what you aredoing. So havingsomeone else to workwith will help youstrive on.Two peoplebrainstorminghelps one otherexpand on eachothers ideas,developing evenmore.Understanding andworking with otherpeople contributesto becoming abetter personyourself.The point is you don‟thave to be alonewhen writing scriptsCarpool relates to being quick, efficient anda better way to do things, which in this iscase is to co-write scripts rather than do iton your own.
New WritersAs an aspiring screen writer, it‟s important to have confidence in yourself and inyour work. Producers like to see that people like this are making the effort, andcontacting different companies to ask about any upcoming series‟.In the book How To.. Write for Television by William Smethurst. He talks aboutbeing new to media and screen writing industry. Commissioners like originalityin your work, but also needs a clear structure in which to work from.How To.. Write for Television by William SmethurstA complete guide to writing and marketing TV scriptsPage 68 Step by step for the new writer.
Script CommissioningThousands of „proposals‟ are sent to television and network broadcasters allthe time, with ideas for new programmes. The proposals that you send out, arethe chances you receive to pitch your idea. These are then passed on tocommissioning editors. The commissioning editors are the people who pick thestrongest proposals and stories that they think have potential, and can bedeveloped further. An example of a commissioning body is the BBC writersroom.
The BBC Writers RoomThe BBC Writers Room is an online submission site where it all starts basically.Amateur writers can send their scripts into the writers room for differentsections of the media and hopefully get their work noticed.The BBC does not accept any scripts that have been previously used byshows/characters. Also samples, extracts, short stories, full series, poetry orscripts from overseas cannot be accepted.This is the quote that I got from theBBC Writers Room website aboutwhat sort of things they can accept.It states the rules clearly so we canunderstand.They do not want afull series of script,just on episode/part.E.g. 30 minutes long.
Script SubmissionThe process of script submission has 6 stages according to the BBC WritersRoom. They have brought together a „submissions flowchart‟ which shows thestages at which things happen.It seems very straight forward and once you get to stage 4, 5 and 6, this thendetermines how much potential the script readers think you have. Not manypeople actually make it to the final stage so its important that you put a lot ofthought into what your writing, don‟t copy anyone else, be original and uniquethen you‟ve more chance of getting far.‘Scripts that are championed by our readers are then assessed by theDevelopment Manager, who may meet with the writer, monitor theirdevelopment, recommend their work to other BBC producers anddepartments, or place them on a development scheme. Only a smallnumber of scripts and writers progress to this stage.’
How To Pitch Your ScriptAccording to Stephanie Palmer there are not any set rules to pitching a script.It‟s important that you establish what you are going to say to see if the listenerengages into your script, and understand what you are trying to do. It‟s alsoimportant not to oversell yourself while pitching, or explain too much.
Pitching Your ScriptPitching a script is probably the hardest task to do, in the hope that a scriptcommissioner will take you on. This is what all your planning has come downto, so its really important to be as accurate as you can. Your pitching to apotential client, and they need to see that you have thought out your script andstory, and that it all corresponds. It‟s their decision and you want to besuccessful in providing them with a really good potential screenplay.You need to remember how hard you worked to get to this position, and that ifyou‟re not successful, treat it as a learning curve.