If you submitted to Script Room and haven’t checked your inbox, then there should be an email winging its way to you with our longlist decision – ie whether or not your script is being given a full read and feedback. It’s taken longer than we hoped, simply due to the sheer numbers of submissions, and our need to be as thorough and rigorous as we can when dealing with so many scripts. We had a team of 16 readers working across 6 solid weeks to get from the full set of submissions to a longlist of scripts getting feedback.

So here are some stats about where submissions got to in the process – and a few thoughts about the process as extrapolated from the stats.

First sift

At the first 10-page sift, 83% of all submissions were given a NO verdict, which means they didn’t progress beyond that first sift stage. Proportionally, that’s more or less the same as the last two Script Rooms - which means that since we had more scripts submitted, more scripts progressed through and there was physically more work still to do. What we have noticed is that at this stage, the proportion of scripts in particular genres that were given a NO were more or less the same as those received overall – so no marked difference in how genres progressed at this stage.

At the first sift, 5% of submissions were given a MAYBE verdict – which means the reader wasn’t sure and wanted another reader to take a look at the next sift stage, at which point it was given another 10-page look by another reader and either became a NO or was put through for a full second stage sift. Which means the remaining 12% were put through to the second sift as a straight YES.

I’ve blogged before about why script didn’t progress so I shan’t repeat myself here, other than to say the key thing at this stage was identifying the spark of something interesting enough to make the reader want to read on.

Second sift

At the second stage, we asked the readers to do a 20-30 page sift of all scripts – making sure that a new reader looked at each given script, ie one reader didn’t sift the same script twice across the two stages. First, we looked at the MAYBEs to decide which would progress to the second sift. And then we began looking again at everything that had progressed from the first sift. Some felt confident after 20 pages of making a verdict, some read further, and sometimes readers read beyond 30 pages if they felt they needed to in order to make a final decision about the longlist. It was at this stage that the decisions in some senses became more difficult, less immediately clear, less clear cut, and therefore harder work. As such, what was a little different at this stage was seeing if and how that spark of something interesting managed to develop and grow as the script progressed. At this stage, having a fantastic first 10 pages wasn’t enough – the script needed to keep on being effective and engaging.

At the second sift, over half of the 12% we started with was given a NO verdict – which left us with a remaining 5%.

Full reads

So, the percentage of scripts going to a full read this time is 5%. That’s exactly the same percentage as last time round, and slightly less than the time before (though we did receive far more scripts this time, so it’s actually more scripts). We don’t work to a quota – so it’s interesting how close those stats are. These scripts will get a full read, feedback, and then we’ll sit down with the readers and decide which of those scripts they are recommending for a look by someone like me in the writersroom team. (Again, no quotas on that – but previously between 30-40% have then been recommended on.)

A few comparative stats for you:

Total Submissions vs Full Reads

TV/Radio Comedy 33% TV/Radio Comedy 20%
TV Drama 24% TV Drama 27%
Film 23% Film 23%
Radio Drama 10% Radio Drama 8%
Stage 8% Stage 16%
Children’s 2% Children’s 6%

As you can see, Film stayed the same and TV and Radio Drama changed a little, but the proportion of Comedies progressing dropped a lot, while the proportion of Stage scripts progressing doubled and Children’s scripts trebled. You wouldn’t want to extrapolate anything concrete from this necessarily, other than the fact that at the second sift stage of further deeper assessment, some genres fared better than others. (We’re still collating the stats the readers gave us on the reasons for saying NO at different stages.)

What I hope is clear from this is how intensive the process has been. 2,800 scripts, 16 readers, 6 weeks. If you are one of the people getting a full read, then very well done on getting this far. If you are not – then don’t despair. Which is easier said than done, I know. But when we receive nigh on 3000 scripts in one go, the odds are always going to be stacked heavily against you. And as I think it’s always important to note, just because we are saying no, does not mean we are saying your script wasn’t any good. Our job is to rigorously work our way through everything and find a way to identify what will necessarily be a small proportion of writers that we think we should begin to develop our relationship with.

Judging by previous times, in the end we may only be able to bring together a final group of around 25 writers – and a quick go at the maths tells you this is less than 1% of the total of submissions. With odds like that, it’s important that you don’t see failing to reach that small number simply as failure. See it as an incentive to send a better script next time. To try something new and do things differently next time. To watch more TV, listen to more radio, read more scripts in our archive, see more interviews with established writers. Whatever it takes to get better, do better, get closer. Because the real danger for that 1% is that they might think they’ve made it and the pressure is off – but they haven’t, and it isn’t. It’s just the first step on a long road – the same one you are all on. And that’s the same one all writers are always on for as long they have the desire to create better work, communicate with audiences, and continue to express their voice.

Comments

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  • Comment number 178. Posted by gem

    on 27 May 2014 12:05

    I hand my script to Michelle at the Euston Road building, my laptop having died of exhaustion on the final day for submissions. But I've had no feed back.

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  • Comment number 177. Posted by gem

    on 27 May 2014 12:00

    I haven't had a Bad Luck or a Thanks for Trying message. Did my script go walkabout? Gem

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  • Comment number 176. Posted by milari

    on 15 Aug 2013 16:01

    I sent my latest script to the writers room armed with a confidence born out of good reviews from successful producers. I was curious to see what the readers would think of it. Did the writers room work? A previous piece of low budget rubbish I had sent in - a story set in the East End about a dullard who keeps seeing things - had been considered worthy enough by the readers to be selected from the sea of hope and considered in the last 5%.

    Surely my latest script about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a script put through coverage by an Oscar winning production company, a script which reached the latter stages of appraisal for funding at the B.F.I, would be a shoe in. To my surprise it didn't make it past the first ten page clear out.

    So don't despair if, like me, you have been rejected after a ten page read by the readers, it doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad script, in fact it probably doesn't mean much at all.

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  • Comment number 175. Posted by Peter Wheeler

    on 25 Jul 2013 11:40

    No gripes about falling at the first hurdle. However, did enclose SSAE with my script ('Hemingways-
    TV Comedy), but have not received it back yet, can you tell me what happened to it please?

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  • Comment number 174. Posted by Thomas Hall

    on 24 Jul 2013 23:19

    This time round I actually submitted on behalf of somebody else, worked a script editor, then became named writer due to substantial input. This submission was a first rounder, the script was a touch offensive, but I was suprised about the first round rejection, though I suppose it was a particularly competitive script window. Slightly defeated I turned on my TV, and what did I find 'BADULTS' the saviour of my comedy writing, if a misguided commissioning editor was able to find a nutty grain of hope in this pile of culutral feaces I'm sure I will have better luck in the future. On fourth to the next rejection.

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  • Comment number 173. Posted by Stevieboo

    on 24 Jul 2013 20:37

    @paul
    I meant that on NETFLIX for example they have "TV Comedy Drama" "TV Comedy" and "TV Drama" (as do other sites), my work I class as "TV Comedy drama, 1 hr episodes" -- so does that go into "Drama" in the next window or Comedy?

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  • Comment number 172. Posted by Stevieboo

    on 24 Jul 2013 17:48

    @ paul
    cheers.
    What do you class breaking bad? Blackpool? Californication? All dark, with comic elements and also drama -- this intrigues me. I wasn't clear -- I see it as a "dark comedy drama", as I do the above examples... or am I talking babbage...

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  • Comment number 171. Posted by Paul Ashton

    on 23 Jul 2013 08:14

    @ annied + rickanne - all verdict emails have gone out - if you've received nothing then email us to find out writersroom@bbc.co.uk. Don't resubmit until you know for sure if it has been received and assessed.
    @ stevieboo - no it really doesn't matter. You've answered your own question - if you see it as a dark comedy then surely it's a comedy not a drama?

  • Comment number 170. Posted by Rickanne

    on 22 Jul 2013 11:51

    I read a mail which informed me that the submitted scripts were going to be reviewed by mid May. We were then told it was taking longer than expected, because of the big response. However, we're at the end of July & still no word..?

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  • Comment number 169. Posted by Stevieboo

    on 19 Jul 2013 08:59

    Hey Paul, two questions...

    Does it matter if there is a single or double space after a period/full stop?

    For the next window, does a dark comedy Tv script come under TV DRAMA?

    cheers Paul

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