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Journey Of A Script
Transcript of Journey Of A Script
GC1 - Screenwriting
From Concept to Screen
Commissioning - Screenwriter
What is a
A screenwriter is responsible for researching and developing the story / narrative, delivering it in the correct format (like using a Courier New Font). These are then delivered to the correct Development Executives. They are the source of the creative idea.
These screenwriters have great influence over the creative direction and emotional impact of their ideas, and sometimes the finished film. However this is not always the case.
They provide some sort of 'blueprint' for the other parts of the industry like Directors, Producers, Editors, Composers, Production Designers etc.
Commissioning - Screenwriter
If a screenwriter's screenplay or idea is optioned or sold it will start to go through the commissioning process.
The Jobs Within The Commissioning Process Are:
- Commissioning Editors
- Script Editors
Like a buyer, a Commissioning Editor is essentially the person who has financial and creative control to whether a script has potential to be used. Their aim is to ensure that a script or idea is the right one to have big film or television ratings. Being a long process, the script taken may have potential which can lead to having promising results.
Pen and Paper Picture
BBC Writers Room Picture
Writers Guild For GB Picture
Crazy Writer Picture
Laptop and Hands Picture
Story Board Picture
Director 2 Picture
Joseph Stalin Picture
Luke Block Picture
Sprout Pictures Logo
Pippa Best Picture
Curtis Brown Logo
'How I Write' Video
Hossein Amini Picture
National Novel Writing Month Pictures - http://nanowrimo.org/forums/nano-rebels/threads/135484
A Producer's job is bringing all of the elements together needed for a television programme or film. This can involve things like:
- Commissioning Actors
Producers are mostly self motivated in their own way. Their job is to turn the idea into a cinematic, profitable, entertainment. Their job roles spread over all five phases of production - Development, Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production and Marketing.
Through the Commissioning Editor the Producer would receive some information about the script, however it would not be normal to send a Producer a full written script.
The Director is essentially the person with the 'vision'. When a Director is given a script he will look at it (or hear an idea) and try and imagine it in his head, to see what it would look like on screen.
They have the decision is weather they like the idea or not, and if they want to bring the idea to visual life. Turning scripts to shots, Directors are very important in a any production.
Directors are only hired if a script has early been edited or if they have written their own scripts.
Pre - Production - Directors make crucial decisions which involve:
- Selecting the right cast and crew
- Selecting locations
They are also involved in other aspects of the production including camera, lighting, sound etc.
As a script writer, you may get feedback from a Script Editor, giving comments on weather the script has potential to be a standard film or television programme.
Benefits of a Script Editor is that as a screenwriter, you can have one-to-one contact with them just by looking on the internet, and if a letter is sent, the chances of having a script read will increase.
They will sit down with the writer and will constantly give feedback through each draft of the writer's script. They will suggest improvements to how it could be appealing for production.
Script Editors, when giving their opinions and assistance on scripts, they must give detailed explanations for their reasons. This gives screenwriters and producers the understanding of the amount of potential a script has.
As a screenwriter, you must have some sort of representative who will help you start your screenwriting career. However, writing one screenplay and handing it to an agent will not get you a career straight away. Writing more than one will show your interest and motivation to want to be a screenwriter.
- Secure appropriate deals for their clients.
- Negotiate deals and support their clients through the career journey.
- Maintain relationships with industries to build up contacts for their clients.
- Keep an eye on the industry's work to see if they would benefit their clients.
- Planning, organizing and managing the process of projects, once commissioned.
- Must decided to say
to the idea or script. Essentially they have the main power of the script.
Scripts may also be optioned - A promise not to sell the script to any other company in a period of time.
Besides the job roles that exist within the commissioning process, commissioning bodies must exist in order for a production or project to be created. There are four sections I would like to talk about that are seen as commissioning bodies.
- Independent Production Companies
- Independent Directors or Producers
Corporations are a group people that are authorized to act as an individual. They can involve many different areas of expertise however they act as one whole corporation.
In terms of the media industry an example of a corporation is the BBC
(British Broadcasting Corporation)
. Going for nearly 92 years the BBC are now one of the biggest and well known corporations in the world. They have areas of news, programmes, and weather but come together as one single corporation. For screenwriters, the BBC writers room is available for fresh new and enthusiastic writers who can gain exposure and possibly a commission.
Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki
Creative Skill Set - http://www.skillset.org/
BBC's Writers Room - http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/
Imdb - http://www.imdb.com/
Commissioning Process - http://orbmedia.weebly.com/commissioning-process-and-ways-forward.html
Commissioning Process - http://www.slideshare.net/treshammedia/the-commissioning-process-9507567
Corporation Definition - http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/corporation.asp
Hartswood Films - http://www.hartswoodfilms.co.uk/programmes/
Red Planet - http://www.redplanetpictures.co.uk/competition
Writer's Guild Of GB - http://www.writersguild.org.uk/about-us
Writer's Guild Of GB - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writers'_Guild_of_Great_Britain
Pre-Production - http://www.swampgirl67.net/iat242/week4/wk4-preproduction.htm
Pre-Production - http://www.film-foundation.org/common/11041/pdfs/tg_chapter2.pdf
Pre-Production - http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090112162800AA2i8r3
Working As A Writer's Guide - http://www.esfmedia.com/page/Working+As+A+Writer+Guide
Director Vs Screenwriter - http://work.chron.com/director-vs-screenwriter-17194.html
Shooting Script - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_script
Representative / Agent - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_agent
Royalty Payments - http://markets.ft.com/research/Lexicon/Term?term=royalty-payment
Royalty Payments - http://jamiegregorymedia.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/royalty-payments.html
Royalty Payments - http://hjones956.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/scriptwriting-royalty-payments.html
Professional Presentation - http://christianscriptwriting.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/professional-presentation.html
Pippa Best, Script Editor - http://www.creativeskillset.org/film/stories/development/article_3408_1.asp
Copyright and Plagiarism - https://sites.google.com/site/allaboutwritingscreenplays/how-to-copyright-a-screenplay
Film Censorship - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_censorship
Bias and Libel - http://christianscriptwriting.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/bias-and-libel.html
Luke Block, Commissioning Editor - http://www.prospects.ac.uk/case_studies_commissioning_editor_case_study_1.htm
Jan Dunn, Director - http://www.bbc.co.uk/filmnetwork/features/case_dunn
Gina Carter, Producer - http://www.bbc.co.uk/filmnetwork/features/case_carter
Examples Of Writers In Production - http://www.vanityfair.com/vf-hollywood/12-years-a-slave-feud
'Three Kings' Information - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120188/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Examples Of Writers Who Have Got Into Legal Or Ethical Issues - http://nanowrimo.org/forums/nano-rebels/threads/135484
Independent Production Companies
Independent Production Companies are good for screenwriter as there will be a large group of people that will see your work. This helps in possibly getting commissioned or at least noticed by some important people.
Some of these companies focus within one genre. This can help in terms of what a screenwriter should be aiming for if they wish to send a script to one of these companies. Research on previous projects would have to be done in order to understand the correct genre. Budgeting between different companies is also to be considered so that you as a screenwriter can write a story within the right budget, so that the chances for being commissioned, increases.
(Chairman Beryl Vertue) is an independent production company and is a great example of who to send your script to. They focus mostly in Comedies, Drama and Factual Programming and have provided programmes for BBC One, Two, Three and Four, ITV and Channel 4.
Independent Directors or Producers
As a scriptwriter getting your script seen be Director or Producer would increase the chances of being either optioned or commissioned. However the popularity and wealth of the Director or Producer has to be considered as it could determine on how your script could progress.
If you decide to send your script to a Hollywood Director or Producer, the chances of getting it seen are very slim. Showing it to an less-known Director or Producer may increase the chances, however research is needed in order to see how well they deal with scripts.
Independent Directors and Producers can usually have the job of producing their own scripts. However with a Producer, all of the decisions made are made on their head and are responsible for any problems. Another problem of being an Independent Producer is that you have to do your own script editing. However some people might want this.
With the internet growing nearly everyday, finding out about competitions is not that difficult. Just searching 'scriptwriting competitions' can almost immediately direct you to the right opportunities to get noticed. Most screenwriters can now upload, mail and email scripts to nearly any competition they wish to enter. However in doing so regulations are set in order to meet the competition's requirements. These can be things like the number of pages or what format you should send the script in etc.
One good example is the
Red Planet Prize 2013
. This company are bursting with motivation to find new, fresh and rich talent. Their competition states that the contestant must upload a PDF version of the first 10 pages of a 60 minute script for TV. It can either be a single play or a pilot to a series. Other requirements like a 16 word logline is also stated.
As a screenwriter your main goal is to get your scripts noticed and commissioned. Organizations in the UK and other places around the globe exist so that you as a screenwriter can get the opportunities to make agreements with other businesses so that the chances for a commission could increase.
Showing some kind of enthusiasm and motivation could increase these chances and also may come at a small fee.
The Writers Guild Of Great Britain is a great example to use as they represent writers in TV, film, radio, theatre, books and multimedia (video games). They negotiate a series of minimum term agreements which will govern writer's contracts. This will then cover things like fees, royalties and residuals, rights, number of drafts, script alterations etc. They also provide a contract vetting for freelance writers working in TV, film, theatre, books, radio, Children's and new media.
Working As A Writer
Every screenwriter is different in terms of getting their script completed and trying to get it commissioned. Some writers tend to present their script differently to others, the same as some writers like to pay a small fee while others do not.
Either way there is some kind of path that screenwriters follow and some may vary. These are, inquiring an agent or representative, royalty payments, professional presentation and time management
Writers Role Throughout Production
Once a screenwriter has been commissioned the script must go through different people and areas of a production. These are pre-production, planning, script-editing, director or producer involvement, production, page lock-down, and adjustment during production.
All of these areas may or may not need the original writers involvement and could end up with the writer not having any kind of liability for change. However if the writer is involved, changes are most likely to be made but with the consent of either the writer, director or producer.
Many factors can influence change like, time, budget, weather, location, personal opinion etc.
Pre-Production / Planning Stage
During this stage the writer may work close with the research team in order to get an exact wording for the production phase. The script writer may also research into what facts might convey the best video message. From there they will then paraphrase the research materials. The script may also not contain full factual information due to the writer adding dialogue for the characters and entertainment-based conventions.
The writer may also revise their script altering here and there. However, sometimes the writer will have no involvement in the pre-production stage. They may only be needed for re-writes and logistical opinion.
Some writers may not even be allowed on set during production reducing their involvement in the production process.
Script Editing Stage
In this stage the script may be altered by script editors with or without the original writer's consent. This can cause a bit of frustration to the original writer.
The script may be alerted for many reason like budget, location, or to fit a certain target audience. Again the writer may not want the change of target audience but may not have a choice.
A Script Editor will help you as a screen writer along the process of developing your narrative so that it fits your creative desires and the desires of the marketplace. This can be done through meetings with the Producers and the Script Editors.
Director or Producer Involvement
When it comes to Director and Producer involvement, they may be hired after a script has been commissioned and must try and depict the narrative visually using their own skills. They may decide to change or alternate some plots within the scripts narrative with or without consent, depending on who owns the rights.
Again this can be common within the industry but is the decision of the screenwriter weather or not to bite the bullet and get commissioned or avoid change and stick to your own creativity.
A Producer may finance for the rights to a screenplay, approve of script changes during the Production stage and will decide the final shooting script for the Production stage.
A Director may work with a screenwriter during pre - production and production to get an understanding of the setting, dialogue, scene directions, and characters. A screenwriters involvement is decided by the Director and the Producer.
Shooting Script Stage
In this stage, during production, the screenwriter may work close with the producer with the shooting script in order to understand how each scene is going to be filmed.
The scenes are numbered and will have any other additional scenes / pages added on after page lock-down.
is when a script can have no more alterations to it besides added pages / scenes. These pages can not be implemented half way through the script. They will be added at the end giving them a sub category eg. page 45B.
The page lock-down allows the original decided script to be organized, dealing with extra scenes at the end of shooting.
Agents / Representatives
This has been briefly covered in previous slide, however as a screenwriter you might want to get an agent or representative who can guide you and help you through the process of getting your script commissioned. This can be very valuable for a screenwriter as agents and representatives have up-to-date knowledge with the industry and what is expected from different companies or directors etc.
They also try and keep good relationships with contacts so that you as a screenwriter can have a chance at getting commissioned. Some clients or representatives may require you to show your enthusiasm and motivation for screenwriting by producing a couple of different scripts so that they can decide weather you have potential or not. They will make the decisions for you along your commissioning journey.
Some screenwriters will sell their script to companies for a fee. They may decide to set up royalty payments for that script. This then allows the screenwriter to gain exposure and gain a profit at the same time. Each time the produced script is shown to the public the original creator will receive a small payment. Royalty Payments also applies to books. The original creator will receive a percentage of the payment and the rest will go to the producer, agents and other areas of the production.
Having a good agent will get you a better deal or sale on your scripts however a big percentage may go to the agent and very little to you. Obtaining a deal without an agent would depend all on your reputation. Questioning your agent and the buyer could help you understand what the buyer wants.
As a screenwriter it is important that when handing in a script to a director, producer etc, you must make sure that it is laid out in the proper format because if it is not, it will not be read at all. This is because commissioners want to see that you understand the knowledge of writing and laying out a script which can help in showing your enthusiasm for screenwriting.
Here are some simple script conventions that you must know:
Have a title page with your contact information on it.
Use CAPS for NAMES.
If you get the chance to pitch your script, it is also a good idea to not ramble on too much and only give the information the commissioners want to here, which is the 'amazing' idea. Make sure you explain all of the important plot points of the narrative as well as a resolution and explain why it is different to any other idea out there. Using Standard English and the right presentation skills also help a lot in how you look as a person. Revising your presentation will look a lot better than reading from a piece of paper.
As a screenwriter it is important that you manage your time efficiently in order to carry out certain goals. Within the media industry it is important to meet goals without any delays. If delays are made it doesn't make you as a worker of the media industry look good.
So managing your time is a very good skill to have. Some writers try and set a goal to write 10 pages of a script a day, despite how good or bad the content is. Once the script is finished it will be alternated in the second draft. A screenwriter may also try and follow a daily routine. For example a screenwriter may wake up and write a couple of pages and then have an hour break, continuing to write 5 more pages after their break. Like any other industry most screenwriters, book writers, musicians etc, all manage their time in order to fulfill their goals.
When managing your time make sure that you know what your writing, because writing too much about one plot could end up with you writing a book and not a script. Spend time looking at your characters and their personalities, motives etc. This could help in creating a better narrative.
Example Of Writers
- Writer for the BBC's
'. Tony never was really into the crime solving genre of TV and refused a commission from the TV show
. Tony was a man who venture out of his comfort zone and attempted something new. This can be popular with screenwriters as it is a way to expand their knowledge and skill in screenwriting. Tony enjoyed the spying of neighbors and the relations between an inspector and a victim.
Steven Moffat -
Worked (as a showrunner) on the
'Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special'
. When developing a character Steven makes sure that he has a cliche of each character (dippy, funny, smart etc) and spends time working through some scenes and picks out any faults that may not work for one character. This then allows him to develop the character through the scenes he creates. This is a good example of a writer who has a different work ethic to others.
Information and examples from the BBC's Writers Room.
Legal and Ethical Consideration
A screenwriter's idea may become the best piece of work a commissioner has ever seen, however it may not to to other people. Screenwriters are encourage to run away with their imagination and write what they love, weather its love, laughter, thrill etc. However, there are legal and ethical issues that need to be considered.
And these are:
Copyright / Plagiarism
Spending endless amounts of time producing a script can be pain staking and time consuming, so it is important that you make sure that your idea and script is copyrighted. This is the same for the industry. If you have an idea make sure that you don't write it similar to anything that is or may already be in production in the industry. This can be classed as plagiarism and could result in you going to court under the copyright laws.
However some screenwriters do fear that their script or idea could be 'stolen'. One way that a screenwriter could protect their work is through third-party companies like banks and solicitors. This can add to the security of your script and will have a document that is dated, signed and witnessed. It will then be locked in a vault to which it can be used as evidence if necessary. This however will come at a small fee. This will not stop plagiarism but will give you a leg to stand on if you decide to take the matter to court.
Simple ideas like keeping another original copy locked up in your draw could help in proving that you are the creator of the original script.
Bias Within Screenplays / Scripts
When coming up with an idea you must know if your idea will contain any information about a certain culture, race, religion etc. If this is not considered then this could raise some issues of you being to bias towards certain groups or events.
The best way to avoid this would be to research any information that could raise some of these issues. For example if you were writing a script that involved an Egyptian culture, then it would be wise to make sure that you understand what their main religion and language is along with any other important information like corruption within or around the country. This then could help in avoiding any bias issues and could help with the development with your narrative.
This can be the same for true events as some people may not believe that the information you create is accurate or correct. Again researching into true events before writing them may help in avoiding these issues.
Film Censorship / Watershed
After 9PM in the UK, more explicit content is allowed to be shown on TV. This is called the Watershed. The explicit content can range from bad language to sexual images / references.
This can also link to censorship. One example is the age certification for certain content. Explicit content could be age certified 15 - 18. Whereas less explicit content could be age certified between U - 12.
If you want your script to be shown on day-time TV (if it is a TV series) be sure that you have the right amount of content for it to be shown in that time period. If it has too much explicit content it may not be accepted. Make sure you do your research on the watershed and censorship in your area before writing. It could save you a lot of time on pointless work.
The people who deal with this kind of judgement of content are the company
who take action if a complaint has been made against a specific piece of film or TV content.
In screenwriting libel is a big 'no!' Libel means to deliberately implement text that will offend or corrupt the reputation of another group of individual. To avoid any issues from others try and implement true events or people through 'fake' characters and exaggerate them. This way you will be making your point without deliberately writing to aim hatred at someone. However it is a fine line to work on.
For example in
the Russian Politicians are seen as farm animals. The pig
is based around the Russian dictator
Example Of A Commissioning Editor -
Luke has a degree in English with Creative Writing from the University of Greenwich. He now works as a Commissioning Editor for the company '
Luke really wanted to be an editor and a book publisher as he enjoyed illustrating and writing. Went through some work experience at various publishing houses. His first job was an editorial assistant before progressing through different roles which lead on to him becoming a junior commissioning editor.
His role consist of going to lectures educating authors, going to strategy meetings about finance and the market within their list, brief cover designers, publicity, author counseling and many more. He quotes the
"list goes on"
. He says that keeping contacts before and after completing a degree is always handy to have.
Example Of A Producer - Gina Carter
Gina's first job in the industry was working as an production assistant on a period crime drama
'Let Him Have It' (1991)
. She has worked as Line Producer on many other projects like
'Bright Young Things'
. She has also worked on many film and TV projects with various Directors like
Gina also has her very own independent production company
'Sprout Pictures' (founded 2004)
, along side with
Gina completed a degree in Performing Arts. She then started working in theatre before the company
offered her a job on her first film. In that company she was a assistant for four years. She also worked as Production Coordinator, a Production Manager and a Line Producer. She quoted it was a
. After working on a couple of shorts, Gina took a break as a line producer and then went into TV. From there she was allowed to develop her own projects.
Gina then wanted to produce, and started to expand her knowledge as Producer. Her first produced film was
Example Of A Director - Jan Dunn
Jan started off as an actress before changing careers to become a Film Director. '
was one of her first documentaries among many other short films.
was about the Second World War and The Women's Timber Corps.
Jan had been into acting for some years before becoming interested in Directing and had a wide knowledge in film, however she never really studied it. She then joined the London Filmmakers Co-Op in the early 90's where she taught her self to use a camera.
was her first feature film and was suggested by a person who had seen her shorts. The feature film turned out to be a big success in the UK. Jan now has a independent production company called
They work seven days a week for 365 days a year, taking some holidays off. She said in an article that once you get your foot in the door you have
"become a part of this small group of British Filmmakers".
Example Of A Script Editor - Pippa Best
Pippa Best explains on the 'Creative Skills Set' website what her life is like as a Script Editor. She explains that it involves a lot of meetings of sitting down with the screenwriter and if anything is unclear or doesn't fit, then the Script Editor will explain why that is.
She first reads a screenplay and tries to implement it visually in her mind. She will then write down when she got bored within the script or when she didn't emphasize with a character.
She will then explain these reasons through a second read of the script; talking it through with the screenwriter, exchanging opinions.
She will spend nearly five to six days on one draft with the writer which will consist of one day reading the script and other days watching films that could spring motivation or inspiration.
Example Of An Agent - Curtis Brown Company
The Curtis Brown Company are one of the world's leading literary and talent agencies.
Film and TV Writers and Directors
Theatre Directors and Designers
TV and Radio Presenters and Actors
For screenplays they do not accept unsolicited film scripts as they prefer to work off recommendations or contacts. However they do accept screenplays for theatre.
Time Management Examples
As said before some screenwriters tend to follow certain routines or rituals in order to achieve their goals in their script.
In this video most screenwriters said that they tend to get up early in the morning to start writing. Then they will work until midday, occasionally going back to the research, reading it through and will then continue writing.
'Snow White and the Huntsman'
) said that when he writes he starts around 7:30am and doesn't stop until about 2:00pm. After then he will read through his research or watch films similar to his idea to gain inspiration to write more and to make sure he stays in his 'zone'.
Impartiality is an important issue that needs to be considered as a screenwriter as it could lead to many ethical or legal problems.
For example if you are working for a news station and are required to provide a script for a news report, then the information integrated in that news story needs to be accurate and not opinionated.
This can be a problem as the process of selecting news stories comes from certain individuals which in theory can be seen as being impartial.
Examples Of A Writers In Production
'12 Years a Slave'
- The director of the film (Steve McQueen) made some edits to the script before shooting and was not credited at the end for being the 'Script Editor'. This rumored to stir some conflict between the original screenwriter (John Ridley) of the film and the director.
John Ridley also got into some conflict with the director of
, David O. Russell when Ridley didn't see any of the changes to the script. He quoted that David was trying to
. Once he received the script back after it's changes his named wasn't even on it. Eventually he got credited and was given a
Examples of Writers Who Have Had Ethical Or Legal Issues
One writer (named
) on the
'National Novel Writing Month'
website wrote that he / she found it difficult to write their ideas as its contents were too personal and confidential to expose. However he quoted
"a name change would be enough to avoid general recognition"
. He quoted that he / she would rather write
"a real memoir instead of an unreal novel"