Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Year in Rear View

2010 - what a year you have been! From being made redundant; to the suicide in the unit next door; to participating in Feature Navigator; to flaming out in screenwriting competitions; to a misdiagnosed heart scare; to having potentially three feature scripts in play for next year; it has been a rollercoaster year.

What have I learnt?

Don't send a script out too early!
I had some positive feedback on one script, and while it was shortlisted in the Bill Warnock Award, it tanked in a couple of US screenwriting competitions and an AWGIE category. That sort of rejection can be a little soul destroying! Simply, it wasn't ready.

Be persistent!
While that script didn't do anything - and I was told by one writer to drop it altogether - I took on board the feedback and did a rewrite that streamlined and simplified the story. That draft was selected for Feature Navigator where it had a very positive reception. Two months on, there has been a page one rewrite and it's only getting better.

Confidence is everything!
The reason I put that script out is I finally found a voice in the local funding body that supports my writing. That has lead me to other allies - a script consultant in the US - who I hopefully will work with again next year - and other experts from overseas. Along with my key collaborators, this sort of positive reinforcement is invaluable when you're slogging through rewrites.

Take the meeting!
An email query from a director new to Perth with an interesting CV and slate of projects came with the seal of approval from a person whose opinion I respect. So I took the meeting. Out of that unexpected encounter we are now working on one of my older scripts (that I used as a writing sample) and likely to work on a brand new idea in 2011.

Never toss anything!
The above is one script from the bottom drawer. Another has found favour with my TRB director when he finally read it - after like two years - and liked it. We will discuss further in the new year but he already has asked to send it to a local producer and an actor maybe on the cusp of big things in the US. Rewrites beckon but nothing should ever go to waste. All it takes is one person who loves it who wants to fight for it to get made.

Rewriting is mandatory!
This is the hardest but most rewarding part. Scripts evolve and mutate, grow and slowly take shape. In Hollywood they spend dollars, time and writers developing scripts. Here, things can tend to be rushed into production before they're ready. It can be a slog, no doubt. But getting the script right is critical.

Do the damn notes!
I've always hated writer's notes for funding submissions - "tell me everything you forgot to do in the last draft that if you had remembered (or known) you would have done". Luckily, I sat on a couple of panels during the year and saw the level of detail some writers provide to support their script. The light bulb finally went on - it's so competitive that the supporting documents are critical. Take the time to do them right.

On the personal front, I never thought I would be made redundant from my 'day job'. It stings the ego and the way it was done really jarred. You realise you're just a number not a valued employee, even after 21 years. I haven't been looking for a 'real job' so the acid is on to make a fist of the writing. Kind of scary and liberating at the same time. It means I have time to work on scripts and meet deadlines. I don't ever want to go back to an office if I can avoid it.

As for the health scare and the suicide, those things showed me there are more important things than petty grievances and whinges, gossip and controversy - of which there has been plenty in the local Perth film-making scene of late. I try and stay away from all that and do my own thing with the people I want to collaborate with who I trust and respect. It's taken a long while but I am happy with the circle of creative people around me.

I look back at 2010 as a year where the foundation for 2011 and beyond was erected - renewed confidence in my ability, new contacts and collaborators, old scripts resurrected with current ones born anew.

So here's to a safe and happy festive season and a creative new year!


  1. A good and timely reminder of the need for perseverance. Good to hear your positive news, I'm sure you'll go from strength to strength in 2011.

    Keep up the good work!


  2. Thank you Elliot. All the best in 2011 for your creative endeavours!

  3. Well done Richard for staying sane through some tough times and coming out the other side, with such fantastic possibilities!
    2011 is going to be - well, an ELEVEN year signals great things happening!

  4. Thank you Frances - I am developing a tough h(y)de! Have a great Xmas and may your 2011 also be creatively exciting.