So my latest screenplay – “Otherworld” – has gotten through to the second stage of the Red Planet Prize. It is wonderful news, and a real opportunity. I’ve entered the prize once before, in 2008, with a script that was thrilling, exciting, far too expensive for production on TV budgets, but most importantly, incredibly undercooked. I’d not thought past episode 1. I’d certainly not thought of episode 5 or 50 or 500. With “Otherworld” I see all those episodes, I obsess of those episodes in a way I never have with a TV show before. Which is why I’m going to be so crushed if I fall at this hurdle – but I suppose why, if I do fall, I’ll take a week, then pick myself up, dust myself down, figure out where I went wrong (and not curse Red Planet for failing to see my obvious genius!) and work on something else. I already have a few great ideas stewing away.
Anyway, I wanted to bring your attention to another wonderful post on Jason Arnopp’s blog – with guest blog from Robert Thorogood – where Robert explains how he came to be commissioned with the wonderful Death in Paradise (clue: it started when he became a finalist in the Red Planet Prize, the same Prize I'm through to the second round with this year!) So can I push you in the direction of Jason’s blog and Robert’s oringal BBC Writersroom post where he explains some of the story behind how he came to be a produced writer? For the aspiring screenwriter, it is chock full of goodies!
What follows are my comments on Jason’s blog, which I thought I’d share with you all:
Thanks Jason for bringing Robert's article to greater attention. I'd read his original Writersroom piece and always wondered how and what he'd been selling before his first professional commission.
As somebody who has entered the Red Planet Prize this year – and gotten through to the second round so far (Yay!) – it is always helpful to read how people entered the industry. It sounds like Rob had made a large number of contacts before his first produced commission, but it was the writing on Death in Paradise that got him through.
As somebody who lives away from the city (rural Wales, in fact), apart from online I never to get meet industry execs. I spend my working hours in a convenience store stacking shelves while at night writing scripts, and finding ways of getting my work read (the Writersroom has been invaluable, and given me two page and a half deconstructs on the two scripts I’ve sent in, and my third script is the Red Planet one).
Sometimes, when you’re out in the cold, desperately knocking on the door to try and gain admittance, everything seems futile. People having the honour to see their work produced – you, Rob, James, Abi, Russell T., you seem like lottery winners, the lucky few – while the rest of us are stuck out in the wasteland, wondering how long it is before we devour the corpses of those who have already died out here. It’s easy, though, to forget that you all kept working, and working, and working until your fingers bled – and it’s tough to forget that graft, because we never had the (mis)fortune to read those horrors that dwell in your bottom drawer, to see those unproduced little monsters. So thanks Jason (and by extension Robert) for reminding us all out in the cold, dark hinterland of uncommissioned hell, that we have to keep working, and working some more, and keep pounding that door.