I went a seminar last night at a popular local arts venue. An Exec producer of a really (Really, internationally) popular TV show, in conversation with the new Head of Drama at the studio within which she works.
It was a rather intimate affair; a small screening cinema, no more than about 50-60 seats maybe (which were all full). A lot of the conversation, and the questions from the audience afterwards, steered towards writing – what types of new material he wanted to see produced, where he might source writing from, how new writers would go about getting discovered or catching his attention. Since I had gone in the context of being and actor working in the region, I hadn’t even considered the implications of a new head and prospective expansion of production would have for writers.
Just the night before, I had put the finishing touches on the first draft of a screenplay I’d been working on; and during the conversation, he discussed his favourite genre…how he’d like to see more of these produced; along with content that was based here in this region, reflecting life in this region. It just so happens that the screenplay in question PERFECTLY MATCHED HIS DESCRIPTIONS! It’s set here, based here, using local talent; and is the very genre/genres he was talking about.
Of course, he didn’t go handing out his contact details to everyone in the room and certainly wouldn’t be pleased if every prospective writer in the room (of which, from the questions and discussion after the talk, there were many) suddenly showered him with unsolicited scripts; but the idea that he was open to the very thing I’d just been writing about was a boost.
I had, during the seminar, thought I recognised a couple of ladies a couple of rows in front of me. As everyone prepared to leave, I got closer and realised it was them – Another actress with whom I’ve crossed paths a few times, not spoken with much but we’ve worked with a few of the same people; and the producer of a feature I’ve been cast in (we’ve filmed a sizzle reel they’ve been using to help secure funding). They’d asked a couple of questions during the Q&A section, and the producer had been taking notes; so it was a great conversation opener. We decided to have a coffee in the bar together before we left. We had a lovely chat, comparing notes and what we thought of the conversation. We had a slight discussion of how the prep of the feature was going (rewrites and feedback so far and so on), and discussed writing, and filmmaking, and life in general experiences. The actress mentioned about a story she had been wanting to write, and then, as though it was a huge barrier, admitted ‘I’m not a writer’. The producer and I guffawed and immediately shot down her assessment.
We basically came to the same conclusions:
- If you write, you’re a writer
- If you want to be a writer, do some writing
- go in to any bookstore – there’l be shelves of accomplished writers and poets and Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners; all published and selling; but selling more will be the reality TV ‘star’ who got paid to tell a ghostwriter what to write about how she ‘survived her first year of parenthood’ .. because HER experience is worth paying for, the millions of us ‘normal’ people’s experiences of parenthood don’t count…
There is always the ongoing debate of ‘training’ and where it stands in relation to talent and natural ability – kind of a ‘Nature vs Nurture’ argument. But since that pertains to both Acting and writing, I think I’ll leave that to another post…