Friday, 17 November 2017

Screenwriting Advice for BA Students... From a Masters Grad (Introduction)

Oh joy, another writing blog with advice and recommendations. 

How novel. 
How inspiring.
How impactful.

But this time, it's for students. Wait, what?

Why single them out? Because I know what it's like for you right now, and I wish someone had told me what I'm about to tell you. Yes, you. The e-surfing student reading this right here, right now. You're not sure where you're heading, not sure where you are right now, armed with a degree you're not completely clear on and having just finished a grad script you're not entirely sure of.

I know that tune. All too well.

Being a BA student with screenwriting desires is hardly a new or unique phenomena: you realize directing isn't everything it's cracked up to be, and you just don't have the piss and vinegar to be a producer. So instead, you create that first step in any production: the script. You dream of Hollywood paychecks on franchise movies and Oscar glory, or perhaps the hordes of adoring fans at Comic-Con when you become a hot new Netflix showrunner, cranking out binge-friendly series and starting tumblr shipping wars by the thousands.

However, as soon as graduation is done and you start trying to get out there, you find the environment hostile and disheartening: agents won't look at you; producers and companies hide behind the seemingly invincible clause of 'no unsolicited submissions'; that short film that you slaved on during graduation isn't cutting it at the big festivals; even your precious degree doesn't make any impact. The day job at Sainsburys or Subway is still your day job six months, possibly even a year, on. Nothing's changed and, seemingly, nothing will. It's all been for nothing and you should've listened to Mum and become a lawyer instead.

You're wrong. So very, very wrong.

Soon to graduate from the Met Film School MA Screenwriting programme, and with some work experience on the horizon, I learnt a lot that, in retrospect, I wish I had known when I graduated with my BA in Film back in 2015, only to meet with failure and confusion for two years before signing up to Met in desperation. Some of it felt so obvious yet, bizarrely, was never discussed back at University. Certain half truths of the industry and its ways that I once thought were absolute gospel were, basically, fictions. In short, I didn't know jack.

Examples of these semi-fictions?
  1. AN AGENT DOES NOT GET YOU WORK.
  2. YOU DO NOT NEED AN AGENT TO TALK TO A PRODUCER OR DEVELOPMENT PERSON.
  3. YOU DO NOT NEED TO SLAVE AWAY ON JUST SHORT FILMS FOREVER.
  4. THERE'S MORE TO SCREENWRITING THAN MOVIES AND TV.
  5. YOUR SKILLS ARE CROSSTRANSFERABLE AND CAN WORK IN MANY ROLES.
Interested now?

The goal of this series of posts is to help you, the graduating or even second year Film student with an eye for screenwriting, make smarter, stronger, clearer choices. I'm not here to give you magic formulas or exec emails, but to simply better prepare you for the industry and how you can actually make contacts, opportunities and yes, even a bit of money at it, even if it's not on blockbusters and prime time dramas. I should know, because I'm doing it right now!

The first part will be released next week, and every installment subsequent will be released fortnightly.And even if you're not a student and are just some fresh faced, wannabe screenwriter in the UK, then I hope these will be of service to you too.

Now then, are you sitting comfortably?

Good, then join me in Part One, when I look at the basics of craft and what you should be reading. Advance tip: get a library card.

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