SCRIPT ADVICE – NEWSLETTER 08
· Spring is here!
· Story telling for Telly
· Short Courses from SCRIPT ADVICE and other interesting stuff
WHAT THE SCRIPT FACTORY SAYS ABOUT SCRIPT ADVICE:
“We can heartily recommend Yvonne’s workshops – she unravels television like no one else! www.scriptfactory.co.uk
Find out if I can help you with your current project@
offering writers mentoring, training and script editing services in order to develop their work and talent. Please pass on this link to your fellow writers.
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SAWR is all about writing and writers. Here you can share your thoughts about writing; the creative process, the highs and lows of it all. You can also access this group for information about writing workshops that I am currently running, also script editing and mentoring services that I offer. My expertise lies in Television drama but any writer is welcome to share their experiences and their aspirations here.
Or to see my newsletter online, access my Blog@http://www.scriptadvice.co.uk
SPRING IS HERE!
At long last I can see grass where formerly there was mud and the Magnolia is about to burst forth with such a gorgeousness of budding flowers that, typing this and looking out of the office window at the unfurling creaminess of each folded petal, I feel the urge to go all Robert Frost and wax lyrical about sap rising and the strangely lyrical sound of a wood pecker hammering the heck out of the oaks in the nearby wood. It’s been a long winter but at long last the air smells like the soil is beginning to do it’s job and get stuff growing again, and in this vein of re-birth and new growth – on with SCRIPT ADVICE NEWSLETTER for SPRING!
STORY-TELLING FOR TELLY
If you have ever sat across the table in a restaurant, pub or bar, and listened to a long, boring, interminable, flat, dry, tale told in painstaking detail by a relative, friend or just someone whose chair leg is intertwined with yours, and found that you can not escape this hell because either a/ you are linked to this person by bloodline and gene pool or b/ you can not get past without taking their shin bone marrow with you, then you will no doubt agree with me, that telling a good story is a skill not everyone possesses.
And amazingly, the truth is, that this is even the case amongst writers. The skill of telling an engaging, teasing, compelling narrative within the pages of a script and in scene form, with a beginning, middle and end which delivers a connective cohesion from the first scene to the last, is very much what the business of television story telling is all about and a particular craft that all writers wishing to get on in television, to pay their bills by writing and to ultimately get commissioned, should definitely get their heads around. Being creative and having a good idea is no longer enough. Being able to creative characters and write good dialogue is also a must, but having the confidence and skill to handle a layered narrative which rattles along and produces the pre-requisite peaks and troughs of an accurately timed television episode is where the real job lies.
Where can you learn this rigorous, exacting skill? Writing for series and soaps, that’s where. I firmly believe that once you have earned your stripes on programmes like EASTENDERS and HOLBY CITY you will be able to tackle absolutely any writing challenge you may meet in the future.
This is not to say (and I must stress this) that our series and soaps much loved by television audiences, are mere training grounds for writers, but they are, by nature of their format and disciplines, excellent arenas within which you can hone and develop your story-telling skills and where you will learn how to structure, pace and deliver a compelling episodic story which will be enjoyed by millions.
Soap-land is where great writers grow up.
Lisa Campbell from Industry Bible, Broadcast Magazine on the value of Soaps – with which I heartily concur:
It may be going too far to suggest that without EastEnders there would be no King’s Speech, but director Tom Hooper is just one example of the scores of people who have worked on the BBC’s continuing dramas and honed their skills.
And it’s not just directors, writers, producers and commissioners; we can add Kate Winslet, Aaron Johnson and Orlando Bloom to the list.
So it is no doubt with some relief that the BBC greeted the largely positive findings in this week’s National Audit Office (NAO) report into the costs of producing continuing drama.
It showed that the cost per hour has tumbled by 20% over the past eight years at the same time as audience approval has increased – testament to the dedication of BBC in-house teams and the many freelancers who ensure that the continual squeeze in budgets hasn’t led to a continual decline in standards.
The Trust-commissioned report concluded that costs were tightly controlled, but – and it’s a big but – said it is impossible to tell whether the shows represent value for money. This was exactly our reaction when we saw the figures, which are published for the first time.
Without any context or comparisons, they are pretty meaningless. A 2010-11 budget of £29.8m for EastEnders – 3.5p per viewer – sounds like a bargain, but without any benchmark, without any figures from other broadcasters, how can we tell? I can’t see ITV rushing to provide the numbers for Corrie any time soon.
While the report made some sensible recommendations, the Trust has rightly rebutted one: that the series should have some ‘audience-related performance objectives’. This is exactly why bean-counters’ scrutiny of output sets creatives’ hackles rising.
While it is right to expect channels and genres to have key objectives, trying to apply them to individual programmes risks hampering creativity and reducing it to nothing more than a box-ticking exercise. Bafta award-winning series need creative freedom to flourish, and as we’re constantly hearing, there’s quite enough red tape at the BBC already.
The NAO acknowledges that purely financial and quantitative measures only tell part of the story. It fails to mention, for example, the series’ role in our national culture, in refl ecting contemporary issues or in fostering talent. Series such as Holby, Casualty and Doctors are as relentless as they are rewarding, but those who have served their apprenticeship always acknowledge that without it, they wouldn’t be where they are today.
It was a similar story with The Bill, hence the strength of reaction among the drama community after its demise. Its loss places even more responsibility on the BBC and, as continuing drama boss John Yorke asserts, without such series, there wouldn’t be enough jobs in the UK drama industry to sustain it, nor enough trained people to man it.
So to put a value on that? Priceless.
OTHER INTERESTING STUFF
SCRIPT ADVICE COURSES:
Storyline Plot & Development
31 May 2011 to 03 June 2011
This is a four day course exploring the business of creating, plotting, shaping and developing storylines and ideas for long-running dramas.
SUMMER SOAPS HOW TO WRITE FOR SERIES TELEVISION
I am so looking forward to running this one, it will be intensive, collaborative and challenging and there will be great guest speakers to give you the chance to put your questions to professional writer/developers currently working in the industry.
The dates are July 4th – 8th and then a three week gap for writing. Followed by another two days for script editing.
Check out all the details of both courses on the NFTS website. And if you have any questions, email me at Yvonne.email@example.com.
Hope to see you at one or both!
LONDON SCREEN WRITERS FESTIVAL:
This is an informative and all round jolly nice blog from Hayley McKenzie, Script Editor and Script Consultant – what she says here about the need for writers to get their head’s around comedy writing is very true – read and take heed! (Also, if you can, I would check out the London Screen Writers Festival – an excellent place to network and get inspiration!)
I chaired this forum a few years back for the Script Factory and would recommend a visit – they are generally great all round drama types and are always appreciative of the courses I have run for them check it out:
THE SCRIPT FACTORY:
The Script Factory TV Forum
…is a two-day training and networking event devoted to writing for the small screen (or even the plasma HD-ready widescreen…). While Film and Theatre traditionally require the audience to come to you, television reaches them right where they sit. If you are serious about a career writing drama – and want to actually make some money doing it – then spend two days with us finding out how to get your work into living rooms across the land.
Through a combination of training and guest speakers TV Forum aims to inspire participants to consider how their talents, ideas and aspirations may be suited to the wide range of TV drama opportunities, from soap writing to original single dramas or innovative sitcoms. Over two days, we aim to give screenwriters an essential overview of the current TV landscape coupled with the language, resources and industry knowledge required to further explore how to forge their own TV writing career.
BBC DRAMA WRITERS ACADEMY: Applications for the 2011 BBC Drama Writers Academy will be open on 11th April 2011. Check out their website for more details
Script Advice meets IN DEVELOPMENT: I will be Guest Speaking at their first Development Meet in London April 12th at the BFI Benugo Bar, where I will be most likely drinking a glass of something lovely while passing on some of my knowledge and experience of SCRIPT EDITING AND PRODUCING for Series Television. Details below in an email from Sarah:
Dear Development Friends!
Let’s celebrate Spring! April’s In Development drinks gathering is taking place on Tuesday 12th April, at The Benugo Bar, BFI Southbank, from 7.30 p.m.
Our featured guests this month are Yvonne Grace and Philip Shelley, coming along to chat with us about combining work as a script editor and producer in TV and moving between these roles. Both have an impressive list of TV credits on numerous hit shows which you can check out on their profiles.
If you’d like to come along and chat to them informally over a drink, gain some insight from their experience and share some of your own, then please RSVP to this email.
We’ll be in the bar until closing and look forward to seeing you soon!
Sarah and Hannah
In the BBC official blog, John Yorke writes about the benefits of getting your head around series storytelling
Here’s useful source of info for all budding writers of any genre:
Here is a link to Laurence Timms SAWR member blog NOONE CARES ABOUT YOUR BLOG LAURENCE – I think this link is really useful – thanks L!
WRITERS GUILD OF GREAT BRITAIN
And a last mention to the WGGB because they do such a lot of work behind the scenes for professional writers
I hope I can help you with your writing; be it a television script, short (or full length) film or screen play, treatment or outline, novel or radio play, I read and script edit them all and can definitely help improve yours. Drop me an email@ Yvonne.firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get working!
BYE FOR NOW AND HAPPY WRITING.
Copyright Yvonne Grace Script Advice March 2011