Commissioning: What you know or Who you know?

This was originally a post on the British Comedy Forum but read as a bit of a blog post so I thought I would bore you with it here too!

For years people on writing forums debate whether your script gets commissioned based on its quality or if you know someone in the industry. And often complain how they are not succeeding because they don’t know the right people. That last bit always gets me. Here are my thoughts. WARNING: Unlike most of my posts, this one doesn’t contain any nob gags.

It is both what you know and who you know that will get you the best chance of getting commissioned. That’s what I have learnt in the last year.

The competition is fierce out there, not in terms of quality submissions (quite the opposite) but in terms of the sheer number of scripts that are being sent out at the moment. Producers and the like are struggling to get enough time to read it all. Especially as they know a lot of it will be crap. They are actually human. So lots of them refuse to read unsolicited scripts for this reason.

So how do you become unsolicited? It really is piss-easy. You can sometimes just simply phone up the prod co or even email them. Some of them are on twitter – have a bit of banter with them first and then try. These are less effective methods though.

If you are serious about your writing career you really have to be pro-active. That’s actually what they want. Anyone can email them a 45 page bag of shite. But they want committed and confident writers to find them. That’s why they go to events, festivals, road shows or the such like. So you can meet them, so you can KNOW them, so you can be unsolicited.

If you are serious about writing then you should know about these events from various blogs, twitterings, websites that you should be subscribed to.

I went to the Cheltenham Screenwriters Festival last year knowing no one in the industry at all. Just some radio credits that had lead to a dead end. I walked away from that festival with three producers (one from Big Talk) and two agents that were interested in my projects and I know can contact directly. I’m working on a feature with one of them.

That was a priceless experience. There are cheaper, even free, events you can go to too. This years festival’s a lot cheaper (see my signature). I’m involved with some website stuff only through contacts made last year. And now I’ve made even more.

Of course you can do nothing but send scripts out. But you risk it taking a lot longer and also for it get dated or already done as a result.

So there! This is as much applicable to getting your script read as it is to getting commissioned.

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