For those interested in writing short stories for radio inspired by classical composers, take a look at the new competition for The Verb on Radio 3.
Archives for April 2009
Entries pouring in from all directions here too. Well, we've had about 60... plus a couple of hundred started but not submitted yet. About the same as last year at the same stage. There's been a few queries about file formats. The BBC office (no, I don't print them all out myself) that deals with these applications have asked for text files - probably because they've got to print out 500 odd scripts, and lots of different file formats would drive them insane. Might try and get them to allow Final Draft next year, if that's what most people work on?
Make sure you have uploaded your writing sample when you submit your application. I'm told we've had a few sent through with no scripts attached. I'll try and chase a few of these and let them know.
12 days to go....
Applications for this year's College of Comedy close at noon on the 24th, and the volume of submissions is increasing as the deadline approaches. Last year, as the clock ticked down, we watched entries arrive in the in-box as fast as it could handle them, a sight that may or may not be repeated this year, since the more stringent entry qualifications have led to a lower number of entries so far, albeit that many are of a very high quality. While we have come across some of the writers, the majority are from people new to us, and that is exciting in itself.
As we did last year, assessment will be in the form of an inverted pyramid, with more people being involved as the shortlisting progresses, ending with the most promising being read by the head of comedy, the creative director of the writersroom, and my executive colleagues in the comedy department, which will lead to interview invitations and then the final six.
Meanwhile, I've been doing an evaluation of the first year, looking at what worked and what might have worked better, drawing on the views of the first year 'students'. As a result, this year will be more rigorous in some areas, with strict script deadlines and parameters for how many characters and settings the scripts should involve.
There are plans to take the college on the road, with workshops in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and given that we will be running one workshop for the college writers rather than two, there will be some individual events. We also plan to link more with radio.
But first we have to find the six, a process to which I'm very much looking forward.
This year's BBC Drama Writers Academy is now open for applications.
The Academy offers writers with one or more professional commissions the opportunity for three months training, followed by a rotation across the BBC's Continuing Drama series.
If you don't yet have a professional commission, don't forget that you can always send your work to us at the BBC writersroom.
The winner of this year's Tony Doyle Bursary for New Writing, which was supported by the BBC writersroom, is Martin McNamara for his screenplay Sworn Virgin. The runners up were Stacey Gregg, Alan Blythe and Deirdre Kinahan.
We interviewed Danny last year together with Lenny Henry about the show that Danny and Dan wrote for Lenny to star in, Rudy's Rare Records.
And here's the last one, number 10:
People have commented on the passion instalment how they were pleased to see it there as it's the kind of thing you don't usually get in script writing books etc. I think being yourself is just as important. Writersroom is primarily in the market for finding people to develop. If we find a great script that goes on to be made, then that's brilliant. And it can happen. But the most important thing is to find original voices and writers we believe can go on to great things. And the only way to do this is for you the writer to be yourself.
We want an individual voice. A distinct voice. A writer with something to say and an original, surprising, unique way of saying it. By this, I don't mean wacky and unconventional for the sake of it; I mean a writer whose passion for an idea, for characters, for a subject, for the need to write, whose understanding of the important of stories and storytelling, literally drips off the page.
It's hard to express and define precisely what this 'thing' actually is, but one way of describing it is a writer who has written a script that no other writer you know would have written the same way - has tackled an idea, imagined a world, voiced a character, engaged my attention in ways that no-one else would.
Crucial in this is to make sure you are not 'sub'-anybody. Of course, you will have writing heroes and heroines, people whose style you love, whose very individuality you wish to emulate in your way. But it's unfortunately far too frequent that I find myself reading a stage play that is sub-Beckett/Pinter/Kane, or a film that is sub-Charlie Kaufman, or a TV script that is sub-Paul Abbott etc etc etc. It can take a while and will certainly take a lot of hard work, but you need to learn how to follow your own instincts and forge your own path.
There are a great many writers out there. Some have more and less experience, and most are trying to break through. The last thing anyone in the industry wants is an automaton that simply churns out scripts. It may be that for a variety of reasons and circumstances, a finished production/episode can seem like it's emanated from the metallic hand of a robot. But it's almost certainly the case that at an early stage in the process a writer has been commissioned because someone somewhere is genuinely excited about them and believes they will deliver something special. At worst, they will commission someone they know can deliver on the evidence of their success in the past. At every stage, you commission an individual rather than a machine.
So, you need to invest time, energy, thought and work in what it is that's unique about you and what you have to offer. And then you need to make your scripts somehow express that you-ness. Because when all's said and done, when I've run through all the things - idea, world, characters, coherence, structure, dialogue, surprise etc etc etc - that figure in my thinking, I'm usually left with a gut instinct about whether any given writer simply makes me want to send that email or make that call and say: when can you come in for a chat?
For those that bemoan the lack of single drama from the BBC, it's worth flagging up Five Minutes of Heaven, an award-winning drama about reconciliation in Northern Ireland based on real events. It airs at 9pm this coming Sunday on BBC Two. Be aware that some listings mags may tell you it's on Saturday, but that isn't right!