Women in TV

Women in TV

I’ve just read a great piece about women in TV written by Emma Reeves,  a show creator, playwright and WGGB award winner, into her research with the Writers Guild of Great Britain. Thanks to Philip Gladwin at Screenwriting Goldmine for letting me share it here.

Here are some headlines:

  • Analysing data from the five main channels over a five month period,  70% of all prime-time drama credited to a single writer was written by male writers, and 30% by women writers.
  • There was only 1 week when slightly more drama (55%) was written by women than men. But there were several weeks when 75% or more of prime-time drama episodes were written by men.
  • Of 106 episodes of Eastenders, for example, 70 were written by men – almost exactly 2/3 of available episodes.

So, what’s going on? Click through (no commission or gain to me!) and have a read:

https://www.screenwritinggoldmine.com/why-dont-more-women-write-for-tv/

 

Craft Work and Magic Pennies

Craft Work and Magic Pennies

Phew. This summer had roller skates. Creatively, it was wonderful, and then whoosh! There I stood, messy making everywhere I looked, enough mucky creative output to dance in for months!

And so. Back to school, while devouring new drama on t’telly, in the wicked playhouses and yet more in those moving picture theatre halls.  And here, in the imaginarium?

  1. Draft Two (caps intentional) of the spec TV pilot I’m obsessed with (an elite public school in the Scottish wilderness is the battle ground for parental titans, demolishing the society around them as they war over their dead son’s legacy.)
  2. Tour planning for Glitter Knickers in 2017 – a wee show I might have mentioned once or twice.
  3. Sleeve-rolling collaborations with writers, makers, and creative entrepreneurs.

There’s two tunes playing in my mind that I want to inject into yours: the beautiful clockwork of dramatic structure, and the joyous Play-Doh Barber’s Shop game that happens from generous collaboration.

First of all, I’m just loving learning how my craft makes my writing so infinitely better.  PEGGY’s first draft grew from a well-critiqued treatment, and then ten pages (thanks to script editors Philip Shelley & Yvonne Grace respectively). I left it well alone (very tough) for 6 weeks and have gone back to edit like a mad editing monster.  I could now see the problems, the (very) weak spots, the frankly cringe-making things that needed sorting.  And then I set myself the kind of challenge I could never have done without (a) a lot of learning from cleverer people than I, and (b) that 6-week break.  Eh? What? Or, yes, sorry – to solve the problems!

  • THAT’s no good as an excuse for his behaviour – WHY?
  • Oh, come on – his character is weak! What’s he up to? Make him work!
  • Ah. Great antagonist motivation. But now your heroine is nothing by comparison! Even out the score – fight that fight!

The first draft’s OK…BUT, nowhere near good enough. But I’m confident enough to know it’s still like a wobbly clockwork thing. It needs several wheels taking out, binning, replacing, moving…. Heck, I might have to lay the whole thing out on the kitchen table and put it all back together again. But that’s OK! Because if this story is worth telling – and it is! – then getting it right is going to make it absolutely marvellous!

Now, the other thing. The magic pennies of the title. I;m going to save that for my next posy (a) because you’ve read enough and (b) there’s more stuff to do before school pick-up and this is the luxury!

The Awful Art of Unwriting

The Awful Art of Unwriting

[stories] squareI’m not entirely sure why but er, um, I haven’t written a speculative  screenplay (plays, I have done) for err, um, five years. There you go. I have no more secrets.

What the merry heave-ho have I been doing? ‘Cos I’m pretty sure I call myself a writer a lot of the time.

There’s been some very masterly prevarication going on*; so good, I didn’t really see it. I mean, I’ve been busy doing writerly things, including theatre script-writing. The wise counsel of script consultant Philip Shelley last week made me blush: “Before all else, get yourself a new calling card script.” That’s what I’m working on at the mo (this is my break after a 5h stint, I promise!)

But I’m here ‘cos I wanted to show you how EASY it is not to write your new spec script, day after day…for a very long time indeed, without even noticing.

Here’s Gill’s Blush-Making Guide to Not Being an Unwriter:

  1. A great theatre show might get your work some attention from screen professionals, BUT it isn’t a screenplay
  2. Doing courses and reading experts’ blogs are not writing your screenplay
  3. Treatments are not your screenplay
  4. Teaching writing isn’t
  5. Housework CERTAINLY isn’t (tho’ parenting, love, loss and life all do help)

These are all things you rightly want (scripts onstage, networking, learning craft, working with writers, a clean home & a balanced life). They are ALL GOOD. But I did them AND I AIN’T GOT NO SCREENPLAY. And I do very much want to write – er – screenplays.

So, don’t let those other things eat up your screenplay-writing time. Just throw them some nuggets if you must…

JKR housework

* Here’s the answer to how my five years got eaten. I’ve writ a very big play about “quantum mechanics ‘n’ life ‘n’ shit”, crowdfunded £2,000 R&D for it (thank you, again!); worked in Whitehall for a year (and various other clients the rest of the time); writ & run GLITTER KNICKERS (see earlier posts if you managed somehow to miss that one); escaped a Helen Archer-style scenario (you either get that or you don’t) & raised a 2,3,4 and 5 year old (the same human, in ever-changing form). I’ve done well in competitions, written 3 film treatments, run a writers’ group, had a few smaller shows on of existing work, written & pitched several treatments and done lots of reading about writing. And bought a house. So that’s the to-do list done. Now it’s time for the er…what did I come in here for?

Never quiet; always learning

Never quiet; always learning

Gosh – the sediment from Glitter Knickers has just about settled on the bottom of the jar.  The feedback just flowed in – thank you very much indeed, everyone – and in the next couple of weeks, it’s my job to package that up, with a whole load of metrics for The Next Stage. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, paid communications jobs have come in (yippee!) and I’ve just writ my first short film script. It’s an excellent discipline – I’m very much still wearing armbands. If you’ve met me, you’ll appreciate that verbal economy is not always my forte. I’m now a big fan of image boards, drawing out comic strips (as I did for Glitter Knickers) and running away from spoken words.

Y Grace bookI’ve also polished off a couple of TV treatments and had some very handy feedback on them. To make them/ others they best they can be, I’ve also  bought myself a new book (yes, that’s it in the pic). It’s stuff from the brain of Yvonne Grace, a TV guru of great experience who can be found here and if you’re also on facebook, here.

Last, my Jan – April season leading the Rondo Writers’ Group has just ended, with scripts from four of the writers heading into a professionally performed & produced show at Bath’s Rondo Theatre. If you’re local and have the wit to enjoy new writing (and believe me, the scripts, cast & director are great) you can catch this on 4-7 May, here! If you make it, let me know!

 

Does this make me a Marxist?

Does this make me a Marxist?

Busy, good times.

Last week saw the London VAULT Festival outing of Passion, thanks to  Allie Butler and Helen Cuinn at tidycarnage. I’ve also been working up the notorious ten-page treatment (and other stuff) required for ifeatures and proposals for Screen Yorkshire’s Triangle. And we’re moving towards the development day for the all-consuming quantum mechanics play (I still can’t thank everyone enough for their support. That includes offers of help in kind, which are still coming in. Thank you!)

Sadly, it’s all unpaid. In fact, it costs me money.

If I can get some spare time, I fancy speaking to some economists or think tanks about quantifying the “private investment” that individual artists give to the British economy. All that time given for free, subsidised by the individual. If we were rich/organisations/accountants, we might know. And if we know, we could perhaps argue for better funding models. And drama GCSE…

We might know the knock-on income we generate for our local economies (pay to venues, technicians, printers, costume hire; income for local pubs, restaurants, taxi firms). We might know the cumulative impact (say, 100 professional writers, investing X hours a month in one small city alone…). We might know what would be lost in the longer term if we stopped subsidising the public’s entertainment.

Where would the UK broadcast, theatre, TV and film industries be in ten years’ time if the underpaid refused to be unpaid? If it was decent pay or none?

If anyone knows of a union or think tank who fancy developing this further, I’m up for it…(you can reach the professional campaigning version of me at http://www.lyric-communications.com or contact me here. Love to hear from you.)

Get creative on yo’ ass

Get creative on yo’ ass

The other day, I remembered that 2012 is going to be an exciting year. And then realised we’re 7/12s of the way through.

Apart from making me feel like my brain is falling has fallen through a hole in my saggy toddler-mum trews and lies spat on, in a wet puddle alongside the rotted tendrils of my once-feted perspicacity*, my “WTF” double-take at the calendar brought me up short.

First, I reacted like a self-loathing drunk (swap “what did I DO last night?” for “where have I been the last 7 months?”); and second, I felt like a working-from-home parent who sees that it’s two-thirty in the afternoon (“Oh, shit.”) This is not diminished by often being that W@H parent.

“Yes, Kirk,” I muttered to no-one at all, “it’s time to get creative on yo’ass.”

Five months before 2013 gets here. It’s not a number I especially warm to.

So here’s the 2012 To-Do List (in the order in which they’re salvaged from that wet puddle of fallen brain):

  • Find two wonderful theatre producers. One for a big society drama that makes you weep, one for a physical, druggy, political, post-Afghanistan one-man show. I know you’re out there, Auntie/Uncle Magic
  • Complete my spec TV serial script (from that fantastic Channel 4Screenwriting thing that might have a wee connection with the first six months of my 2012) with the magic dust I pilfered off the shoulders of giants
  • Get a decent draft together of a new political show, inspired by a bloke in the South West. I say no more…
  • Pin down those two pitchable ideas that are haunting my head – oh, yeah: and PITCH THEM!
  • And if – in the middle of all that – I find a wonderful agent (another Auntie/Uncle Magic), I’ll be happy.

No pressure. Advertising it all on the web to make me accountable, no hassle. Ha ha ha bonk.

* I assume you know no different