Friday, 28 November 2008

A to B (And All the Way Back Again)

Once upon a time, I wrote a script. In chronological order, this is what happened to it:

1) To start with, read about Terry Illot and the Hammer Films episode here.

2) After that, Marchmont Films got their grubby little hands on it – you can read the full sorry lowdown here.

3) More or less at the same time, this happened (hello Yellow UK!) (I never got those script reports done, incidentally).

4) November 2007, and the script is selected by METLAB for development and eventual pitching to a cabal of investors. After a meeting in January 2008, I launched upon a month’s worth of rewrite and whizzed the new draft over to the truly gorgeous Lucy Vee for comment (Lucy is/was METLAB’s script editor of choice). Notes came back: super! At this stage, I was hoping to get another meeting with both Lucy and John Sweeney (METLAB head cheese) as per the original ‘calling notice’ to discuss potential ways forward. For whatever reason, the meeting never materialised. Wary of putting a lot of work in for no discernible gain, I turned my attention elsewhere (I was mid-way through a tricksy collaboration/treatment; stay tuned for more fun and games on that one at some point). Over the next few months, I waited for a meeting and a plan of action from John Sweeney, but nothing turned up. By now, I was starting to get the feeling that nothing was going to come of this (my sixth sense by now is quite well attuned to episodes of this sort). The project sat on the backburner for several months until I e-mailed John asking him what was going on (and giving him an ultimatum of sorts). I received this in reply. Game over.

5) In February 2008, I got this from an agent at United Agents:

...I absolutely loved it. It is smart and witty and unsettling.

...I’d love to read anything else you might want an agent to sell and I’d love to meet, if you’re still looking for representation.

Er, let’s think about this for a second – yes please!

Then: complete and utter silence for months. I chased up Mr Agent on a couple of occasions - he was always politeness and charm personified, but still nothing doing. Is it worth another chase? Probably not.

(Apropos of nothing at all, United Agents represent Henry Naylor: a couple of friends of mine were on the same Cambridge Footlights revue as Mister Naylor, and had a frankly uncalled for rhyme whenever his name arose in conversation: “Henry Naylor, Henry Naylor; about as funny as Vlad the Impaler.” Honestly, there’s just no need for it (*chortle*)).

6) “Notable Producer X”: I am wary of blogging too much about this at the moment, as I might say something I'll regret (as if that's ever stopped me before).

7) BBC Writersroom: a couple of months ago I got a lovely letter from Writersoom with a couple of pages of notes saying how much they liked the script and inviting me to send my next grand opus in (which I duly did, only for it to come back a month later – they’d already read it, you see. Oops).

Strangely enough, I wrote this in a post on 30th July 2007:

... if you want to know where NOT to send your speculative scripts, then stay tuned – I seem to have an almost supernatural knack for ferreting out production companies for whom procrastination is a profitable pastime...

In a bizarrely circuitous fashion, over a year later I’m back to where I started from - which really does go to show that if you want a successful screenwriting career, keep one eye permanently glued on Unfit for Print. Whatever I do, do the exact opposite: you really can’t go wrong.

2 comments:

Rach said...

So that's where I'm going wrong? Following your lead? Does that mean I have to stop writing instead. No way.

Sorry you didn't get through. I got that blasted email too.

Chip Smith said...

At heart, Rach, I regard this blog as being a public service: read, digest, do the exact opposite ;-)Whatever you do, don't do what I do! Doesn't mean I'm going to stop writing tho' - I enjoy it too much to think about that.