In the 'No Signal' post 'PK' asked:
"My agent has told me not to bother writing screenplays at the moment. "The current climate, blah, blah. No one has any money to make anything..." How do you reckon things are going in the industry in that respect (and why was that previous sentence so clumsily phrased)?"
Hmm, interesting - I suspect it's because my agent recently had another client get a script made recently (it's been in the UK box office top ten in the last couple of weeks) - so maybe he just has a link to the lucky few who do have the ability/contacts/resources to get stuff made, and wants to strike while the iron is hot.
I'm not sure it's ever a bad time to write a screenplay though. Obviously you have to prioritise your work, but a good story is a good story. If you have a great idea that's film-shaped, you should probably find time to write it, because apart from anything else it's always good to have fresh work to show people. And most producers are looking for scripts around the 115 minute mark, so that's only three half hours, which isn't that much to write.
Quite apart from the creative element, that writers get better by writing more, all the spec writing I've ever done ('writing on spec' meaning to write something without having been specifically commissioned to do so) has paid for itself in the end. Either it's shown that I have my own voice when not writing as part of a team, as I had to prove after Green Wing, or that I can write in a different format or genre - my 'Hero Trip' spec screenplay showing I could write a longer form piece with a more dramatic element than my previous work had shown, although it was still a comedy at heart. And suddenly I was having meetings with producers who were happy to talk about me working on their one-hour drama shows, which hadn't been the case before.
I must admit to not having much sympathy these days for writers who complain about being pigeonholed in certain genres, whether that be soaps, kids' television, or animation. You have to prove you can write outside your comfort zone, and if that means finding an extra hour a day to work on something fresh (and as the parent of a one-year-old daughter don't think I say that casually), then so be it.