Friday, 18 December 2009

Get off your arse and make it happen!

That's an order! You're in control of your own life and only you can make shit happen! So right now, get off your arse and do what needs to be done!

Actually, read this post, then get off your arse.

Far too many writers sit around, waiting for someone to come up to them and say "Hey! I'd like you to write a script for me. And here's a bundle of cash as incentive!" But if you do that, you'll have a long wait. You need to get out there and write and be active in getting that work seen by the right people. The film industry isn't going to come to you. You have to make the effort.

Every established writer has worked to get where they are. It's not luck, it's not fate, it's not chance, it's not Divine Will - it's hard work and dedication. They got off their arses and made stuff happen. For themselves.

I'm at the starting point of my career and I can already see what needs to be done. I'm at university and have been for the last two and a half years. I also have a part time job selling people chocolate. I make time to hang out with friends and family (maybe not as much as I should, but I do.) After Christmas, semester two at uni demands that I read and study 36 books in 4 months. Is that going to happen? I doubt it! I'm not the busiest person in the world, but neither am I the person with the least to do.

I recently spoke to a writer from Portugal. You think it's hard not having a clue how to get into the industry when you live in the UK? Try living in Portugal!

He messaged me asking - what do I have to do? I thought "I don't know, I haven't done it yet myself!" But we all help each other in any way we can. I gave him the advice I could. That advice I receive from other, more experienced writers in the trade.

You have to have the will to work at what you're doing. You have to put up with hours and hours of dealing with people you'd rather avoid. And to do that you have to love the actual writing - the telling of a great story. Without the love of one aspect, you can't tolerate the other. It's not just writing. A teacher has to love shaping children's learning in order to put up with the less enjoyable aspects of the job. It applies to every profession.

You can't beat the system. You can't just wait for someone to come along and hand you a break. Maybe your screenplay is the best ever written, but why should someone pay you for it if you're not prepared to work?

Ok, now I've successfully pissed off the few readers I had, here's the point of the post. Once you get off your arse, how do you make stuff happen?

I'm not the best to answer this question - I don't really know myself. There are bloggers out there who know a hell of a lot more than me about the evil empire industry. But as I mentioned earlier, we play our part. So here are a few things you can do:
  • Facebook - network your arse off on facebook. Annoy your 'real' friends to impress the directors you're chummy with. Join film groups for writers etc and post all your projects. Say you're available for work. The first 'break' I got was on facebook.*
  • Twitter - do the exact same thing. There are thousands of writers on there and we all tweet about our new blog posts and what we're working on. We're a friendly bunch, always there to offer advice.
  • Websites - there are numerous websites available to help you network with other film industry professionals. This one is my new favourite - iFeatures. But why not look here too?
  • Get a site - a professional site is a great way to drum up trade. If anyone's remotely interested in you, you can point them to you site where you have a list of projects, credits, testimonials, services etc. Note: get your own domain name for under a fiver to make sure people take you seriously.
  • Blogs - get a blog. If you don't want to, read them. Read the musings of all those more experienced writers I mentioned earlier (check the blogroll to the side of this post)
  • Get a friend - no doubt you have one or two of these already (three if you're really popular!) but I'm talking about someone you tell everything to. By everything, I mean everything writing related. I'd never consider sending anything off to anyone before letting my best writing bud Michelle have a look first. Having someone there to rip your writing to shreds is always helpful!
Those are just a few things you can do once you get off your arse. Now what are you doing sitting around reading this?! Go make shit happen!!!

*The first 'break' I received was amazing fun
for a few months, but then became a
nightmare. Do I wish I'd been wiser? Yes.
Do I regret that it happened? No.


scriptwrecked said...

My advice would be to spend most of your time worrying about getting a butt load of quality scripts written.

It's really the best way to break in. Even if you're living in Portugal -- that may be a bonus if it allows you free time to write.

If you're starting to get off your ass and make inroads in Hollywood, one of the first questions you'll be asked is, "How many scripts have you written?" There's a real cache that goes along with having multiple scripts that are in submission-ready condition.

This past summer at the Great American Pitchfest in Los Angeles, there was a panel of A-List screenwriters talking. Peter Briggs related a story of how Shane Black had told him about a great script he had read from a new writer he discovered. The first question Peter asked was, "How many scripts has he written?"

Shane Black replied, "He has six more just like this one."

"Well in that case..." was the response. Peter Briggs not only enthusiastically read the script, but later signed on to Direct one of this guy's scripts.

Moral of the story -- spend your time writing several quality scripts (it dramatically reduces your competition). The rest will follow.



Manda said...

I've obviously never met you Neil, but I've followed your blog for awhile, checked out your website etc and I really admire how professional you are and how much initiative you're taking at such a young age. (That's not meant to sound patronising- I'm actually two years younger than you.)

Neil said...

@scriptwrecked: Yeah, writing has got to be the most important thing. Write write write, that's what they say. But I think sometimes people can have a "if I write, I'll be successful" attitude that can destroy everything. So I think a balance is important. By all means research the industry, network, get your name out there etc, but not at the expense of the writing itself.

I know I'm a procrastination mastermind! However, most of my procrastination these days is film related in some way - reading/writing blogs, networking etc. Procrastination is going to happen to us all to some degree so I'm just happy mine is slightly useful lol

@Manda: Thatnks, appreciate the kind words. I'm by no means and expert on any of this but it's just how I see things. I think one of the most important things in any area is to have self-belief. If you don't believe you can do it, why will anyone else?

That can sometimes come off as arrogance, but people who know me will (hopefully) see the other side. Determination and belief in what you're doing is the way to go. As my dad says - "Don't let the buggers grind you down!" There are plenty of people out there ready to put you down etc so no reason you should add to the numbers by being one of them lol

The Kid In The Front Row said...

Glad to see you writing in this way, in fact-- you sound a bit like me! haha. Keep at it dude!