Welcome to my blog!
Showrunners and Head Writers lead the creation of TV shows, seasons and series and manage the writers and research, whilst liaising with directors and producers- they are at the epicentre of screen productions...
To be honest, the more I read about leading collaborations as a writer, the more it looks like being a really good Mum: organising the home, homework, work, out-of-school activities, whilst providing equal attention to each person's needs, diplomatically dispersing arguments and difficulties, problem-solving, event-producing, and cooking really good nourishing meals. I used to refer to myself as a 'professional Mum', because I put so much effort into doing all these things concurrently, respecting the individual needs of each person in order to create as harmonious whole as possible within the limitations of differing personalities.
To be a top Mum, you have to squash your own ego and work towards the good of all, not the desires of one. (Long live the musketeers: "All for one and one for all!")
Still under the paw!
To be honest, it's no surprise that I have only started this course once my Mum duties have reverted to holidays only... because I need my mind for me, not for organising everyone else and putting them first. I am not quite equal to the pets yet, but I am no longer at the bottom of my own mental agenda!
Next I have to start working on the final assessments for this module. I feel at home in the creative writing, but the academic referencing in essay writing is not exactly a natural skill and my days of having time to read, read and read a bit more, undisturbed, disappeared a long time ago- in fact, once I became a Mum! Which makes the reflective essay the hardest part of the module for me. Still, it is time to dig in and get on with it. See you on the other side...
This week it’s all about the writer’s statement…
At first, reading the statement from David Simons, who wrote “The Wire”, I felt unconfident about how to present the underlying themes for my own short film. Because it’s a short and has a limited length, I cannot interweave too many themes or have both A & B stories for anyone other than the protagonist- not even for the antagonist, let alone any other characters can get a role beyond moving the narrative forward. So, that made me feel that I had not done a good enough job with my short at first and then I remembered how many hours of footage each series of “The Wire” covered and I suddenly didn’t feel so intimidated! Of course, I didn’t have time to tackle “national existentialism”, unlike David Simons!
And so, I started to write away with ease until I realised thatthe statement has a word count to stick to… Oh dear… I now have an editing job on my hands to cut back down to the 500 I am allowed!
We also looked at Kickstarter projects this week and I really enjoyed noticing the factors that drew me to a project and alsoremarked what did not work for me. It’s tricky to pitch the project in a way that will excite a viewer and inspire them to join in and support the creative process to its fulfilment.
When trying to understand what makes us support a project, I felt that, whilst these factors would modify in content slightly for everyone, the basics will remain the same:
1. An engaging image
2. A succinct description that has an incomplete sentence so that my curiosity is piqued, and I end up clicking on the project to read more.
3. A different angle starting the description if it is a current event / popular theme being explored.
4. For big budgets: it needs celebrity endorsement or involvement to raise those funds and get the social media advertising out there.
5. For mid-range budgets, if there is no celebrity endorsement… split the project into stages that get unlocked as the previous one’s pledge and reward scheme is fulfilled.
6. Have social media campaigns on the way to the final month of pledging to drum up interest and financial support.
7. Choose subject matter that is popular / universal/ topical /revealing.
8. Be original, but not too peculiar! Unless your budget is really low and you don’t need many pledges, make sure it’s not too unusual to drum up any interest. (Once people know your work, you can experiment more).
9. Make a professional promotional advert to describe the process your project will undergo on the road to completion. It needs to be heavy on short clips and graphics, with only short text.
10. Ask for sharing on social media.
11. Have a ladder of rewards that fit the donation and create excitement in the project.
12. If you have worked in a professional industry relevant to the project, make sure that is shared- it instils confidence in the potential supporter.
Screenwriters can benefit from drumming up interest in their projects early, to show that they will be successful when finished. They can use it as a marketing tool, promoting it via people’s interest and their social media contacts. Also, if they don’t attract any support, the writer will know that they need change the way they are promoting the subject- change the poster and the blurb and see if that makes a difference and gains more interest. A screenwriter can also prove to producers that this is going to be a successful film and that it is worth backing because it already has an audience.
Interesting, isn’t it? It makes me feel like there is an algorithm for success in Kickstarter… and that we are all simply a bundle of algorithms, just waiting to light up connections when the right project hits our minds!
The challenges over these two weeks have mostly been with writing drafts of short films and posting them for feedback.
At first, having to post anything online for feedback has felt nerve-wracking. Questions keep rattling around my head such as : will anyone enjoy it? Is it badly written? Am I being foolish imagining I can do this? I know so little about the craft as yet, that I surely am making a right mess of everything...
So, all sorts of self-doubt has bubbled up for me to ignore and "JUST DO IT ANYWAY!"
I am not the most patient with myself. Self doubt wracks me daily, not that anyone would know because I am a mistress at masking it... and of masking most things, to be fair.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed by self doubt, I remember my youngest child, aged about 2, stood on an elevated bridge connecting 2 railway platforms, above the train tracks. He was desperate to watch the trains, but as they came near, screeching and belching smoke, he suddenly felt frightened and held the bannister hard and said, "Be brave, be brave" to himself... if a toddler can do that, so can I. So, with the words "be brave, be brave" in my head, I forced myself to post a one-page short swiftly, without allowing myself too much time to criticise the narrative and twist. Sometimes it's good not to over-think and to be more instinctive.
Then, the first feedback came in and it was so helpful and practical. Phew! So, I learnt, "don't fear the feedback". In fact, just welcome it.
So, in week 7, we had to post a draft of our 15 minute short, which I have done and again, received some really useful feedback (especially from armchair detective, Kat). Again, reinforcing the message, "don't fear the feedback". Feedback shows us the gaps in our narrative, any errors we have made (and these might just be typos) and makes us communicate the picture in a fuller way to the audience. It is useful, helpful and non-judgemental.
I am trying to give useful feedback for other people's work as well, but do feel that my skillset is not currently in how to write in Final Draft, more on how to write a paced storyline and characterisations... how helpful I might be, I am not sure, but I hope I am pointing out any discrepancies with kindness. A writer is very vulnerable posting fresh ideas, so it's important for me to feel that I am helping to build their confidence, not take it away. We are all different and will appeal to differing audiences: no narratives are irrelevant.
With that in mind, I have some more feedback to give, before I return to my own rough daft to work on before my tutoral.
Starting a blog as I navigate an MA is all new to me. I am generally a really private person with an 'under-the-radar' online presence, so please delight in spotting my awkwardness at sharing all the tricky moments my course will put me through! As all irritating restauranteurs say nowadays: