It’s been a frantic weekend for me, given that it’s supposed to have been a bank holiday. On Saturday, I ran a seminar at the Roundhouse in Camden, for the London Film Makers Convention, part of the Portobello Film Festival. It all went very well and we enjoyed a very lively conversation about the nature of stories and why we as human beings are drawn to drama.
Following quickly on the heels, Sunday afternoon was dedicated to the Script2Screen event with Dean Craig, writer of ‘Death At A Funeral’. Around 60 film makers were in attendance for a few hours of inspirational and informative chat about being a successful writer in Hollywood. Dean shared some insights about his success, which he believes began when he was a professional reader, a job that gave him a solid foundation from which to build his own career.
Dean got his first break as a script reader by sending out 100 letters, offering his services for free. One producer got back to him and offered to hire him, for free (!), to read a mountain of scripts and provide reports. This gave him the chance to get valuable experience and resulted in a pile of reports. All GREAT prep for when he applied to Working Title Films for the job of script reading – he then had both experience and examples of his work, and he was hired.
During this time he shared that some of the simplest things irritate script readers and therefore lead to negative reports. Spelling mistakes and bad formatting were simple examples of writers submitting work before it is ready, and this would always reflect badly. He also realised that if a script made him laugh out loud, that was always a positive experience, and that, he believes, is one reason he began writing comedy.
There was also a great deal of chat about agents, managers and lawyers and it became clear that Dean was also a savvy businessman with these three partners (agent, manager and lawyer) helping get his work and himself out into the script market in a professional, sustained and dynamic way.
The big takeaway here was the value of relationships and being ‘good in the room’, meaning being enthusiastic, open to collaboration and engaging in meetings.
Onwards and upwards!