Pitch & Polish.

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Promotional image by Luke Fielding for Allen Road – our TV Pilot Script.

 

Luke and I have been working like crap to get the pilot script of Allen Road ready to be pimped at a pitching event in November.  It was meant to be a few weeks back but the organisers had a few issues and it was cancelled.  This was frustrating as I had booked a hotel room and gone to other expense and it did make me ruminate on the cost of promoting work, especially screenplay.

I don’t know that it is necessary to spend as much as I have along the way but I also know it is pointless sitting at home and fervently wishing your script appears on the telly all by itself.  Just a smattering of money thrown at projects includes:

  1. Competition entries – can be free or around 50 quid even, although you get feedback sometimes.  I had good feedback from Bluecat even though I didn’t place.
  2. Script Analysis – we paid around 120 quid for Allen Road to be analysed by Philip Shelley, a well respected script consultant for Channel 4 and as a result have some awesome quotations for the promotional stuff.  His feedback was very detailed.
  3. Cards – to hand out at events.
  4. One Page Pitch – this is basically a short synopsis but as Luke is a graphic designer by trade we tend to go all out on this – see above for some of the kick ass imagery we have put together.

It’s a balance – you need to make sure you are only spending what you can afford and target your investment rather than entering and going to everything.

Anyway.  Pitching my screenplay to LA like the fucking lunatic I am was a zillion times more complex and ten times more expensive.  So that’s some sort of comfort when I’m watching my bank account get hammered for the British stuff.

Next up, the Polish.  And you can say that like the country or the verb – both apply.  I was invited to join a writers’ group earlier this year run by Clare Morrall, the Booker shortlisted author as well as some other very experienced writers.  I was very much the newbie and even, entertainingly for me, possibly the youngest in the group (been a while since that happened).  It was an intense full-day’s worth of group analysis and it took me a week to get over it.

I submitted a chapter of The Challah Tin, one I thought was very evocative of the scenes set in the Polish village.  This included a version of the “bottle game” with amusing and unlikely pairings, (the busty 15 year old Magdalena with short fat 12 year old Roman, for example).  The group did like it, but I had masses of feedback including my old achilles heel of quite a few technical faults.

Other feedback was to slow the pace and immerse the reader more into the detail of these scenes. I enjoyed the rewrites in this respect; it’s such a cliche but the scenes do feel like they exist already and I have only to think about them and all the detail is there.  It is a comforting place.  Grammar improvements are not remotely comforting, however, and leave me drained and irritable.

In all it was bloody hard work but the chapter is better after the polishing – no two ways about it – and out of that meeting I was asked to be a Reader for the Rubery Book Award so I’m pleased with that.

I have been to various writerly groups over the years and they are very much like Forrest Gump’s box a chocs – you never know what you’re gonna get.  Some ask you to do exercises – especially writing prompts.  Others you take something you wrote and everyone does the praise sandwich on it.  Other times someone is just talking and you play on your phone until it’s time to get a drink and gossip.

I think I like the drinky gossipy types of groups the best.  Or perhaps I just like drinking and gossiping.

It’s the people that make the event anyway – I love meeting other writers and so will be looking forward to the Birmingham Literary Festival next month and recommend it to anyone who wants to talk writing.

Or just come and drink or gossip with me.

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