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Can’t Get Read, Won’t Get Read

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard in seminars or short courses or read on forums and message boards the following lament:

But I can’t get read…

Really? You’re a scriptwriter, you’ve got a script – and no one in the whole universe will read it? Come on.

The problem with a lot of writers is they set the bar too high too early in their careers. They write their *brilliant script* which *this BIG production company* simply MUST read… Then go to their website and see “no unsolicited material” and get disappointed. Disappointment is swiftly followed by bitterness and before long they’re telling all and sundry how difficult it is to get read – which, if you pardon my bluntness, only serves to make said writer look like an arse.

Whether you see writing as a job or a vocation, either of these have a path. If you were a trainee doctor, you wouldn’t just be handed a scalpel and told to get on with it having read a few books about surgery, would you? Whilst scriptwriting is hardly life-or-death (apart from maybe to the writer concerned), it’s the same sort of thing: you have to earn your stripes first.

Realism is the scriptwriter’s friend. Knowing exactly where you are on that “path” is key to getting satisfaction from your journey as a writer. So if you’re right at the beginning, accept you may not be able to run to your writing heroes’ front doors and bang on them. Instead, you may find yourself collaborating with producers and directors – most often for no money – that you find off Shooting People, Talent Circle and Mandy. As time goes on, you may be targeting the likes of Digital Shorts or asking for money from various film funds and initiatives. You may find yourself doing corporate work like virals, pop videos, website copy or text message alerts; you may find yourself in writing side avenues like journalism or radio.

And what, pray tell, is wrong with any of those? Absolutely nothing. You may earn a little money here and there, you may earn nothing at all – but you’ve STARTED your journey, you’re moving along the path. You’ll be meeting people, making stuff (or at least developing it) – and that is what is key, that is what will get you ahead in the long run. Not getting read by the big production company.

Besides which, you can always get read by anyone you choose to tip your hat at if you try hard enough. Even at the start of my career, I still managed (embarrassingly, now I think of it: my scripts were BAD) to get read by loads of big companies, even those that stated “no unsolicited material” on their websites. How? By asking. It helps to meet people face to face if you can, but even if you can’t, sometimes people do say yes when you ask them nicely. Drawing on a personal link between you and the person or company helps; I discovered one lady Dev Exec had gone to the same school as me via a Facebook alumni page for example, I wrote to her with that as the ice breaker. It worked, she read my script – she hated it, but hey ho there you go.

So just get on with it. It’s not easy, but it really is as simple as that.

Written a script, but not sure what to do next? Check out my “Now What?” post and/or Script Angel Hayley’s posts on the subject and list of screenplay contests.

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