Just over a month ago we told you, dear readers, that we would be taking something of a hiatus from the film making and blogging businesses. This was owing to our demanding, time consuming work with the BBC. As we explained, we are in the BBC Birmingham Runners Pool, and are currently being employed as a footage logger on a new BBC1 series. This involves going through the shot footage of a given day, or “rushes”, and making notes on them so the editors have less to search through to find the nuggets they require to make television gold. While we’ll have to tell you about that some time soon, for now we are going to focus on another bit of news that involves dear old Auntie in some way. And as this concerns our film making and writery aspirations, we thought we would break our vow of silence and tell you about the feature film script we have written, and where we have sent it. Can you guess?
If you surmised we had sent a feature film draft to the folks at BBC Writersroom, you would be correct (sadly, no prize, except maybe an unaccountable increase in self worth; bonanza!). For those not in the know, BBC Writersroom support, encourage and generally bang the drum for new writing talent across theatre, radio, television, and film disciplines. Their excellent website provides resources for budding screenwriters, playwrights and other writey persons, including a library of BBC scripts, from the latest sitcoms and dramas to kids TV and radio, provide useful hints and tips and post updates about the latest opportunities to get one’s work noticed. And that is where this ballad begins. When the Writersroom newsletter pinged into our inbox, one initiative smacked us right between the eyes; Heartlands. The individuals at Writersroom in cahoots with the team at the BBC Birmingham Drama Village (with whom we shot our RTS Midlands nominated short film The Interviewee) were on the look out for West Midlands based talent with a hankering to write drama for television. We eagerly and immediately applied for tickets to the Q&A featuring Will Trotter, Executive Producer of Doctors and Land Girls, both made by the Drama Village, Peter Lloyd, Senior Producer on Doctors, and mediated by Paul Ashton, Development Producer at Writersroom. It wasn’t until we read the fine print our hearts sank: “You must not be a BBC employee or any person connected to the scheme or their close relative.” Catastrophe! Disaster! Fiddlesticks! Altogether now: NOOOOOO!
That’s what we thought. However, ever the conscientous sort, we emailed the organisers and asked whether our specific situation constituted “BBC employee”. Staggeringly, with us being a BBC employee, yes it did, thank you very much. Just as we were about to sob, a ray of light shone out of the opened email. As a BBC employee, we are not allowed to participate in any talent search Writersroom hold. But as a trade off, we are allowed to send our scripts to Writersroom via the BBC’s internal post system and receive an automatic full read with feedback! This certainly put the spring back in our step, and we wasted no time in taking them up on their generous offer. So, a week ago last Friday, we popped an envelope with 120 pages into the internal mail, hoping it would arrive. Well, it did. The pictures that top and tail this post are from the very natty postcard Writersroom send to say they have received your submission. Whilst it betokens nothing outside of that, not whether your script is less valuable than toilet paper, not whether you have a blockbuster on your hands or untold wealth to follow, it gave us the warm and fuzzies that they took the time to send one out to ease our mind about that at least. Of course, we remain anxious whether they will like the piece, as since sending it we have thought of plenty of flaws that we would correct, orders to shift and things to tighten. But we await their much more considered view than our boundless neuroses. A big thank you in advance to the Writersroom team for reading it, and for those with any writing ambitions or pretensions should get on their website immediately, as it’s ace. (Hopefully such shameless flattery will curry favour with those mighty lovely script readers…) Also, Midlands based peeps, you have until 9am on Friday 2nd December (this Friday) to get your submissions into Heartlands. Go, go, go!
So, what is our magnum opus about? Well, we have told you before. One of our most cherished projects is a green screen film noir set in a fictional American metropolis, inspired by the novels of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. It exists, and has previously existed in many previous forms, but our favoured two are a six episode web series that serves as a prequel to the feature (which we will soon redouble our efforts to get funded as the Sky Arts IdeasTap Ignition Futures Fund reopens) and of course the feature itself. Due to our paranoia we will say no more than the bare bones of the plot: a private detective uncovers city corruption whilst investigating the death of a sleazy photographer. The draft we sent to Writersroom we are very satisfied with, with a much better structure than previous wishy washy drafts, a better handle on both the characterisation and the hard boiled dialogue thanks to the web series scripts, and with some standout scenes we are very smug about. Of course, it is far from perfect, and the more we think about it the more we chew our nails as we pick more and more holes in our lovely weaving. But fingers crossed within four months the chaps and chapesses in the Writersroom office will think we’ve got some new talent worth supporting in whatever form that support takes. Until then, we have our pretty postcard.