Take ’em out back and shoot ’em in the head

A few years back (2004? 2005? Can’t remember) a producer I knew was going to Cannes (maybe it was 2003?) and he wanted ‘ a pile of feature scripts’ to take with him.

It was 2002, definitely.

Or maybe 2001.

Fuck it, it was years ago whenever it was. Anyway, in January he said he was going to Cannes. By May I’d written him six feature scripts. Two of them were re-writes of earlier scripts, four were completely fresh.

As it turns out, he didn’t take any of the scripts with him – he either forgot them or didn’t have space in his suitcase or some other fairly useless excuse.

Over the next few years those six scripts, with the addition of one more became my spec library. I whittled away at them on my own for a while, submitted them to TriggerStreet and used the feedback to re-write them until they were all in the top ten.

Satisfied they were all of a reasonable quality, I sent them out to anyone and everyone who would read them. Currently, of those seven scripts, three are under option; one lies in pieces, after I dismantled it to discover why it was shit and never quite got round to putting the pieces back together again; and three have never had any interest whatsoever.

Well, that’s not strictly true. One of them won me some script coverage which in turn got me a discussion with an American manager which in turn led absolutely nowhere. The general consensus is it’s a fantastic script; but too British for America and too expensive for Britain.

The other two … nothing. No one has ever shown the slightest bit of interest in them. One of them is a very personal story which doesn’t quite work. The other is a rom-com: a great concept which isn’t quite realised properly.

A while back I came to the conclusion these scripts just weren’t good enough; but I continued to send them out on the grounds someone might be stupid enough to make them. I mean, people like all kinds of shit so why not these three? Maybe they’re not as bad as I think they are?

Or maybe they are exactly as bad as I know they are.

Today though, I have decided: no more. I am officially retiring the last of these three spec scripts. No more will I send them out in the vain hope of finding a home for them. These three club-footed children of mine are finished. It’s over. Nobody loves you kids so get in the sack, hold onto these bricks and it’s a dizzying plunge into the icy waters of oblivion for you.

Bye now. See ya. Bye, bye.

I’m not deleting them, of course – just in case; but I’m no longer actively sending them out or letting people read them. If someone happens to ask me specifically for something which is identical to one of the scripts then maybe I’ll fish them out of the river – but barring that unlikely scenario, they’re gone.

With that in mind I’ve also removed all of the sample scripts from my website. All of the sitcoms and TV series and short films – all gone. None of them are representative of my writing now, they all show what I could do three or four years ago.

I’d like to think I’ve improved a little since then.

My watch word from now on is quality, not quantity. I’ve build up a nice CV and it’s now time to focus on newer and better material.

So there.

As an aside, I’ve just had an email this morning telling me one of the three under option, FLEECED, starts shooting in 18 days. That’ll be my third feature produced this year and we’re only half way through. With a baby arriving this month, another blackbelt grading this weekend and The Wrong Door hitting BBC 3 in the Autumn … I’m really liking 2008 so far.

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Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show, Career Path, Fleeced, Progress, Random Witterings, The Wrong Door | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Take ’em out back and shoot ’em in the head

  1. Way to go, Phillip-san!

  2. “The general consensus is it’s a fantastic script; but too British for America and too expensive for Britain”

    I’ve got a couple of those in my portfolio – it’s a bugger, isn’t it?? Almost worse than writing a shite script that everyone in the known universe thinks is shit (got a couple of those too).

  3. of course, under a fine bottle of malt, you will wonder what would happen if you combined all three “retired” stories into one massive ball of… well, you’ll know what it is ha

  4. Screw scripts, am I reading this right that you’ll have three black belts this time next week? Blimey, I’m never picking a fight with you.

  5. Assuming I pass, which is looking doubtful at the moment. I seem to have lost all sense of balance one side.

  6. Ah. I thought you had a blackbelt in screenwriting.

    Now I’m less impressed.

  7. crustynomad

    I have a black belt – it has a nice silver buckle and stops my jeans falling down (most of the time)

  8. Nick Pilgrim

    No no no- that belt’s not good enough! What we’re talking about HERE is holding your trousers up with sheer scriptwriting ability!

    Right?

    We are right?

    Are we?

    I think we are?

    Yeah, I’ll go get my coat…

  9. Wow, that’s a whole lot of jokes about belts.

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