Scriptwriting can be a long process with some big movies taking more than 2 years to write. Overall 900 people are employed in scriptwriting in which, 471 are permanent employees and the other 519 are freelancers. Women count for 1/3 of that group of 900, of that the ethnic minorities make up less than 5%.
Like I said earlier scriptwriting can be a long process it can take about 2 years from the initial concept of the film to the final draft. The majority of film/TV products (including advertising) have what’s called a pre-agreed script. A pre-agreed script is when they screen the product before shooting.
There are a wide variety of journalism, English and creative writing courses. These courses do not make up creativity and enthusiasm.
The skills you need to become a scriptwriter are:
1. Ability to research
2. Write and Edit scripts
3. Need to accept criticism
4. Creativity and Imagination
5. Excellent written and oral communication skills
6. Firm grasp of the English language
7. Ability to realise other peoples ideas
8. And finally the Ability to meet deadlines
There are 4 different areas of scriptwriting that you can go into. These are Scriptwriter, Script Developer, Script Editor and Script Reader. The Script Developer works closely with the Scriptwriter and helps to develop the script, a Script Editor meets the production standards and the Script Reader reads the scripts.
In order to protect yourself as a writer, if you wish to produce a script, you are protected by 2 agreements. These agreements are The Scriptwriting Agreement and The Underlying Rights Agreement. The Scriptwriting Agreement makes sure you get paid. Usually you get paid in stages and if you’re film is made you may get a significant fee. There are also warranties. The work will be original to the writer and will not be at defamatory to others. The credit and services will be agreed on
The Underlying Agreement deals with basically any copyright work. What happens if the Author is still alive he/she will allow the piece of work to be licensed to the director for a period of time. They have to agree on the purchase price and the credit given to people. An example of a film that uses the Underlying Agreement is the successful Harry Potter series which needs permission by J. K Rowling first.
When you have come up with a idea for a film or TV show you can pitch the idea to a key contact within the BBC. The BBC operate a rolling system.
Once you have pitched you’re idea and submitted your proposal they will get back to you in 2 weeks if they are interested. In a different genre it would be 1 week.
If they say yes they will ask for further information. They will then look at the development portfolio to see what development is required.
Once that has been done they take it to the genre controller. If they agree they give it the 1st tick. The genre controller takes the front-runner to the channel controller. BBC 1 accept things slightly safer. If the channel controller likes it, it gets the 2nd tick. Once that has been done it is a quick process. Initial Idea to it being Commissioned takes about 17 weeks.
The genre controller makes sure that there is a level playing field between the house and production companies. When you submit your proposal to the BBC they only want 1 page. This proposal should indicate the channel and time slot, have delivery details and dates, 1 paragraph on how the product can be interactive and the company details. When the BBC agree they will treat your work confidentially. They would like the production ideas and proposals to reflect modern Britain and all its cultural and its graphical diversity.
BBC and many other channels are deer to code of practice of submission of production proposals which was agreed between the alliance for the protection of copyright and terrestrial channels.
When it comes to hand in the work to the unit (e. g Comedy or Drama) they will only accept the script other work such as the treatment, comedy sketches, books, poems e. t. c they will not accept. They need a outline of the product, self addressed envelope and the scripts need to be typed out. If they like the script they will ask for a meeting and will give you a producer and script editor.
For the script to get the 2nd tick you need to do at least two more drafts. When it has got the 2nd tick and attached with the director and the ideal cast the production is then commissioned for a pilot or a series of six. If a programme is commissioned for a pilot normally it does not get picked up for a series for months after the pilot. Examples of this include Cold Feet and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. You can either submit a detailed treatment and a outline of the product or a full script and a character breakdown. You need to at least have 6 episodes planned and the series must at least run for a potential of 3 seasons.
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