Saturday, 26 July 2008
July has been an interesting month. Firstly, attending the Screenwriters festival, and then to Inside Pictures 2 weeks later.
The two events could not have been more different, with one focused firmly on creativity, and the other on the 'business end' of film and TV.
Being lucky enough to attend both, I was able to look objectively at both sides of the fence and it opened my eyes considerably.
On the one side you have creatives who are trying to get a commission/sale/funding etc. On the other, you have commissioners/producers/funders who are looking for material.
The fact is that there are limited number of opportunities in the UK and that makes it very very tough for both sides.
From the writers and filmmakers points of view, they believe their project is the ONE, and not able to conceive of a scenario as to its failure.
From the other side, they only have a limited number of slots/commissions/slates and therefore they can only choose a handful of projects.
This scenario means that an awful lot of creatives are going to be disappointed, and probably angry, and the producers have got the thankless task of saying NO 90% of the time.
There are many conundrums the whole process throws up, here are a few to muse upon...
1. Creatives think their scripts/projects are great VS Producers/funders say the majority of scripts they receive are not good enough!
2. Creatives think that all commissions/pick-ups are given to 'mates' i.e. 'jobs for the boys' VS Producers are desperate for talent.
3. Creatives are frustrated that the commissioner's/producer's own personal taste will get in the way of objective choice VS producers/commissioner's/producer's NEED to be passionate about film/TV or how can they be any good - the argument that objectivity is not possible.
You see the problem from both sides.
I have a few of my own reflections on the whole issue.
Firstly, perhaps there is an 'X-Factor' element about all this. The idea that 'everyone' thinks they're good. When in fact true outstanding talent is very hard to come by.
Secondly, the idea of 'How qualified do producers have to be, in order for you to take their decision seriously'. This is a really tough one. Does a producer have to have a cupboard of Oscars and $$$$$$$ of Box Office in order for them to be qualified to like/hate your script?
Finally. There is a trend that worries both sides of the fence. That of 'the script' becoming something that loses its individual voice. Development, editing, shaping, consultation, advice, etc etc. there is a whole industry that surrounds writers, charging them money to improve scripts and adding to the already considerable baggage that the industry carries with it.
The purity of voice is in danger of being diluted and battered. What would a 'reader' make of a David Lynch script? Its a return to the X-Factor debate. What would Simon Cowell have made of Mick Jagger, Prince, Bob Dylan etc... ?
Without being indiscreet, I heard that a major British film was rejected by a big film company a few years back. The film was eventually made (by a different company) and was a critical and financial success.
The bosses at the original company were mad they missed out, and even more so when it was revealed that a 19 year old 'reader' had been the person to reject the script!
Whilst I sympathise with both sides, I do still firmly plant my feet in one camp. Not for pious reasons, but for heartfelt ones. I think creatives do need to be stronger in this current climate. But they must be true to themselves and NOT get disheartened by rejection (even though we all do).
If you sign up to all this you have to understand that EVERYONE wants to be 'in' too. which means 99% of your life will be hearing/reading the word "NO".
That's not being negative. it just means we need to create more and get it out there. And in everything you do, hang on to YOU.