Tuesday, 19 May 2015

I just got asked by someone how to get into the film industry as a writer. Thought I would repeat the advice I gave him here. There’s nothing definitive about this, I’m sure there’s lots of ways in, this is just what I know. 

First, get a copy of FINAL DRAFT or one of those other script writing programs and get yourself used to script format, it won’t take long. I hate script format, I convert my stuff from word into proper format by copy and pasting when the thing is basically finished - but you can’t not submit your stuff in the proper format, because the people who you hope will read it won't read it unless it’s in the right format. So that’s lesson one.

Go look at shootingpeople.com. You’ll find up-and-coming directors on there who need scripts. Maybe they’re film students, or deluded accountants with a new camera, who cares. They need stuff to shoot. Bang out some short scripts. Keep it simple, two actors in a room or a park or such like, ten pages long. Don’t get involved in the production, let them do the hard work of getting the thing made and then entering it into festivals and all that. There’s probably lots of other similar websites, have a nose around. Basically there are a lot of people out there who want to make a short film but don’t know much about telling a story - go help them.

When you’ve got the knack of short films, have a go at some longer form stories - a feature or a TV pilot. Then enter competitions, lots of competitions, you'll find lists online. 

Now, with a couple of short films under your belt and third place in an obscure US script competition, you can try the next stage, approaching agents and production companies. You can get a list of agents out of The Writers and Artists Yearbook. These people are deluged with stuff, but the fact that you’ve had something shot and been placed in a competition gives you a vastly better chance of getting some kind of hearing. Enter the Channel Four Coming Up competition too. 

Films need producers, directors and actors. Make connections with people who want to do those jobs. And stay in touch with them. Maybe four years on that deluded accountant has raised a million dollars for a feature... 

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