Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sending scripts to agents and production companies

The UK Scriptwriters message board recently discussed the sending of unsolicited scripts to agents, the BBC or production companies. Andrew Rainnie weighed in with this advice for new writers, based on his experience as a reader for a literary agency in the UK.

“I was an intern at a small literary agency for seven months, and now work as a freelance reader and editor, and in all that time I have read about four unsolicited scripts worth making - not a lot given I was reading or glancing over 10 or 12 every week.

“Writing is rewriting”
As other people have pointed out, there are a lot of 'daft' writers out there, although I would be more kind and use the word deluded. They simply do not understand the sheer volume of scripts out there, and if they are like one writer I spoke to who gets 'tired of reading' his own scripts, then that is tantamount to laziness. Writing for film and TV is all about rewriting, so if you think you can simply write a script, put it through spell-check then send it off, you are deluding yourself and wasting a reader's time.Another major problem with unsolicited writers is that they refuse to show their work to anyone else for fear of someone stealing it. Again, while an intern, we received many a call from writers who didn't want their scripts read by 'just anyone' and that it was for the agents' eyes only, which was ridiculous. If you want a different perspective, you need to allow others to read your scripts. I know it is easy to become lost in the work itself, but if a writer is unwilling to consider changes then it is the sign of a true amateur. Many amateur writers will not listen to input, deluded by the thought that they are better than whoever is giving out advice.

Get some advice
And for all those out there who expect a full report from the BBC - stop complaining. The readers at the BBC work incredibly hard, and they are the only broadcasting company who invite unsolicited material all year round. If you only get a standard letter, it means your script isn't good enough. Sorry, but it’s a fact, most people send the BBC shite expecting to be given a contract. And if these people keep complaining about the fact that the BBC don't give them respect (or even worse, that the BBC is stealing their ideas), then eventually the BBC will turn around and say 'Fine, we're not accepting unsolicited material anymore.' So stop spoiling what is a great scheme [the BBC Writers’ Room – ed] by simply getting some advice about your script before sending it in, letting others read it beforehand and being open to suggestions and new ideas. Maybe once you focus your attention and energy on your script rather than complaining about the BBC you will find it improves.”

Rainnie has an MA in English Literature and Film & TV Studies, MA/PGDip in Screenwriting, seven-month internship at Blake Friedmann Literary Agency (also worked on Julian Friedmann's DTP title ScriptWriter) and has worked for the Writers Guild of Great Britain. To reach him, send an e-mail to
fresh_rain@ntlworld.com.

4 comments:

Optimistic_Reader said...

Excellent advice and I couldn't agree more - thanks for posting. What forum was Andrew's post originally on? Could you post a link?

Michael Leahy said...

Excellent request!

Andrew's comments were originally posted on

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/UKscriptwriting/

It's a fun and informative group that also features a fair number of non-UK writers.

Optimistic_Reader said...

Hi Michael - thanks for that, I'll take a look.

Anonymous said...

you give to the point advice.
and at this point in my writing career, i'd take a rejection letter smiling, to know someone read what i've written.