Monday, 20 July 2015
Went to the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival at the weekend. Not that I am hugely interested in writing or reading Crime Fiction but they were advertising tutorials on script writing.
Two girls in the morning session ran an intensive workshop on scripting for TV and two people in the afternoon spoke about writing a radio play. There is only one consumer of radio scriptwriting and that is the BBC and both of them worked for that broadcaster; if they don’t like what you are writing, try something else.
The two television people were marginally more positive but like books and novels . . . it is obviously an overcrowded field. They had around fifty years writing and scriptwriting experience between them; one of them has written four books and the other had written a treatment of and then the full script of Raven Black by Ann Cleeves [which I read a few years ago but have no recollection of ever seeing on the television]. She gave us copies of the treatment, the original first chapter and the first few pages of the script she wrote. Very interesting but not sure there are transferrable skills there. It’s a craft and you have to learn it by doing it. They said that even after thirty years they still had to fight for commissions. Being masters of their craft didn’t count all that much, particularly with new, young producers who wanted to find and work with their own newly-discovered talent.
You win commissions by networking, it seems. Who you know not what you know.
I certainly came away completely disillusioned. I haven’t got enough life left to learn a new craft and get good enough to sell it and even if I did how would you break into that world?
Not the least interesting aspect of the sessions were their damning verdicts on current TV; Broadchurch [which I packed in around episode four] had hundreds of plot holes; Casualty worst of the worst. So how does the crap get made? Luck, largely. Who you know not what you know; so someone read Raven Black and thought it was atmospheric. And commissioned it. Plot holes? ‘Everything has plot-holes but the atmosphere carries the audience forward’. So there.
Hollywood? Don’t even go there.