INDUSTRY MISCONCEPTIONS AND REALITIESThere were so many things I got wrong when I was starting out. The biggest one was not realising that being a freelancer is hard - the easy bit is making a film the hard bit is making a living! That the phrase ‘hurry up and wait’ is true. I had no idea things took so long to happen. This is hard work and it isn’t all glamour.
ROCLIFFE NOTES ON MISCONCEPTIONS & REALITIES
KATE OGBORN: One of the myths is that this industry is very adversarial. I don’t think it is; it’s hugely collaborative and that’s the pleasure of it. The great people I’ve worked with know that and instinctively behave like that. A good idea is a good idea and it doesn’t matter where it comes from. There’s too much energy spent on building it up as an industry which is competitive and adversarial, which I don’t think is the truth.
BRONA C TITLEY: One scary thing is how GLACIAL it can feel at times. Everything seems to take FOREVER in development and by the time your script gets to TV it’ll be 2090 and there won't even BE TVs anymore, as we'll all be watching TVs in our EYEBALLS. The way to overcome that is to have lots of projects on the boil “and lots of ideas in the bank. Try and strike a balance between the projects you do for money, the ones you do for your career, and the ones you do for your soul. People think comedy writing is a difficult industry to get into. The truth is it's actually a lot easier to get into than you think. Producers WANT to find great writers – their jobs depend on it. If you can write good stuff, get it to the right people, and follow it up with more good stuff, you'll be laughing. Not necessarily all the way to the bank, but certainly all the way to an envelope under your mattress where you can stick that £300 you just earned.
KATE LEYS: People seem to think there’s a special secret that film industry insiders know and that functions as a sort of golden ticket in, and if they can just figure out the thing, or get someone to tell it to them, they’ll be sorted. Everyone in the film industry is making everything up as they go along and asking their allies and peers and friends for advice every day. Which is what anyone who wants to work in the film industry needs to do: have allies and peers and friends (people who care about the things you care about and are trying to achieve the same things you are), ask their advice, and then get on and do stuff. There’s an awful lot of waiting around to be noticed by someone successful when what people really need to do is get on and do stuff with the people around them. And become successful! It’s a real, massively successful industry. This means that a) there’s room for everyone, and b) it’s not amateur hour.
TONY COOKE: I’d say the industry’s very random. The ‘sure things’ don’t come off, while the ‘long shots’ can suddenly take flight. It’s exciting, but the uncertainty can be tough. The best way to deal with it is to not get too buried in one project. Always slightly spread your efforts, keep half an eye looking ahead, plan for things not to happen, and maintain a delicate balance of development and commissioned work. And if anyone knows how to do that, please tell me.
ANNE-MARIE DRAYCOTT & CHARITY TRIMM: There’s always the fear that people won't find our work funny or ‘get it’, but you have to trust that what you're doing will capture someone's imagination and share it anyway. The levels of bureaucracy a script has to go through before anyone decides whether to make it – or not – are unbelievable. We've been told that many stars have to align before a script actually gets made – so maybe during a Mercury Retrograde when Saturn passes Uranus we'll get another commission.
KAYLEIGH LLEWELLEYN & MATTHEW BARRY: A writing career isn't a series of rejection emails, it's a series of unanswered emails. The industry's ability to ignore you is both impressive and devastating. Not working is a constant worry. Fear that your scripts will never receive any recognition. Oscillating between crippling self-doubt and dizzy elation. You've got to think you're the best and the worst. This business takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. Our mantra is, ‘Throw enough mud at a wall and some of it's bound to stick’. We say this to each other constantly, when one of us needs to be talked down from a bridge. If you work hard and stay motivated, it will pay off eventually.
DAVID FREEDMAN: Nobody hands over the ‘rich and famous’ contract like in The Muppet Movie. It’s a job. A great job. I get to live in my own imagination for 70 per cent of my day. The other 30 per cent is email, procrastinating on Facebook, and frustrations like any business. I know what frustrates me. But thankfully no terror… yet. I have worked with a few unique people who are notoriously ‘terrifying’ but, at the end of the day, when they’re finished shouting, it’s just a job and shouting is just how they talk.
Excerpt From: Farah Abushwesha. “Rocliffe Notes: A Professional Approach for Screenwriters and Writer-Directors.” iBooks.