Thursday, January 22, 2009

Teen Drama Project Timeline

Because a lot of people seem to think that television programmes get made about a month before they're due to be screened, by someone going 'Ooh Christ, we're supposed to making a buddy cop show/thing about mismatched paleontologists/a thing that's like Star Trek only with fish' and then renting a big room and sticking a camera at a load of people larking about (well, all right, that's what I used to think), I reckoned it might be, if not exactly interesting, at least salutary, to work out just how long it takes to develop the first two scripts of, say, a teen drama series.

Also, it occurred to me that if ROCK does get commissioned, it looks like I'm whining about how long it took, and if it doesn't get commissioned, it looks like I'm... whining about how long it took. So while ROCK hangs in the weird Schrodinger's quantum thingy state of being Not Dead, but Not Exactly Alive Either, let's see just how long these things take to at least get to the point where you're seriously starting to think about what actors might be good in it.

ROCK timeline

First meeting: 5th August 2006

One-page outline commissioned: 9th September 2006

Pilot script commissioned: December 2006

Pilot script first draft completed: 7th January 2007

Pilot script fifth draft accepted: 12th December 2007

Episode 2 script commissioned: 20th March 2008

Episode 2 script draft three accepted: 20th July 2008

Pilot script and second episode sent off to BBC heads of Fiction and Serials: mid-August 2008

Pilot script and second episode okayed by BBC heads of Fiction and Serials, passed on to controller of BBC3: 20th October 2008

Final decision of whether to commission series or not: Pending.


17 comments:

Neil said...

Well that gave me a good insight, thanks!

Good luck with ROCK. Hope it works out for you.

Piers said...

Darn it. And I have yet to pitch a one-pager.

[returns to the word mines]

Salvadore Vincent said...

I read that whilst visualising a time-lapse animation of flowers growing and dying, rivers eroding rocks, civilisations rising and falling...

james henry said...

I could have also put that when I started the first episode I was single and living in a rented flat, but by the time the second episode was okayed, I was living with my partner in a house we'd bought together, with a new baby.

But that might have sounded like whinging.

Ek said...

It makes you wonder how they ever make drama series that resonate with current affairs...

Mike said...

This is enlightening. Thanks.

Prior to that first meeting, had you put any work into the project on spec?

Boz said...

Well all fingers crossed at this end.

Do BBC3 not know this programme already has a legion of followers, and it is still only words on a page!?

('Only' words on a page. Yes, I realised about that as I typed it.. making it sound so easy and all..)

Jayne said...

Good god. And I thought publishing was slow.

james henry said...

Mike: hmmm, I did a little bit. I think after that first initial meeting, I sent the producer three or four one-page outlines for various silly ideas. Then we had another meeting where she said 'how about forgetting all that and doing something based in Cornwall, since what was what we talked about in the meeting?' So I did a little bit on spec, but as soon as it moved off the one-page outline, the BBC were very generous.

Boz: well exactly.

Jayne: remember, if it does get made, there'll be nothing on the screen for another year at least....

Annie said...

This whole "time" thing is really annoying me at the moment because I can't publish any of the artwork I made for the Tudors until it's been screened on TV, which is ages and ages away. And I need a job.

Pfft, it's not like Lost where I could be giving the plot away. We know what happens: he marries a lot of women and then cuts their heads off.

Imo said...

So does that mean that by the time you've written 13 episodes you'll have six kids and the first grandchild on the way!

Jayne said...

We are obviously being too nice to people who send us unsolicited mss. We undertake to get back to them in 6-8 weeks and they get very shirty if you don't. Even if their book is written in green biro and illustrated with crayon.

I ought to send them to the beeb...

james henry said...

Imo: ah, but if it get commissioned, they may well expect the next six episodes in about three months, so it's a whole different ballgame them.

Jayne: noooo, they'd trace it all back to me, and I'd get in trouble.

Jayne said...

I'm a member of the NUJ - we always protect our sources...

Fat Roland said...

Wooooah.

I've been planning that reply for months.

Valerie said...

My friend Jim's a professional writer and his novels typically show up on store shelves somewhere around two years after he finishes writing them. And that's fast and only because he's got a hot agent and is very well respected in the industry — else it could be far longer.

Is it hard to stay excited about an idea for that long?

james henry said...

Erm, it can be. It's not so bad if you're doing a few other projects at the same time, because that can distract you to some extent, but if this if your one big thing it can be hard to regain that initial momentum, yes. On the other hand, there's lots of new people involved when something gets commissioned (or just generally goes up a level), so that can really help you remember why you liked it in the first place, as you talk to them about it.