Monday, May 16, 2011

I done wrote a spec sitcom script

'Spec' is short for 'speculative', which means no-one commissioned you to write it, or probably even showed the slightest amount of interest in it as an idea, but you went ahead and wrote it anyway, because you're a writer and THAT'S WHAT YOU DO. Also I need to keep my agent happy, and giving him a shiny new spec script every now and then is a cheap way of doing this, like when I give my son a ricecake, and the slow smile that spreads across his face melts my heart as I think 'hahaha you fool, they were in a 3 for 2, and probably stale!'

Anyway, the last time I wrote a spec script (actually co-wrote with @Patroclus), I punted it up to various London types, then got the next train up to see how it had landed (this is how scriptwriters talk when we get excited, it's sad really).

PRODUCER 1: We loved it!
ME: Really?
PRODUCER 1: Seriously, we thought it was great. Timely, smart, funny (those were all @Patroclus's scenes). We'd love you to leave it with us, and maybe we could start sending it out to a few people.
ME: Hurrah!
PRODUCER: Although, erm, we haven't actually got any money at the moment.
ME: WELL GOODBYE!

I love it when producers say 'we haven't got any money'. When they say it, I like to take a long lingering look around their expensive London offices, the various members of staff in expensive glasses scurrying around with their iPads, and the gold-plated water coolers that dispense only Icelandic glacier juice, and then look back at them, with a cold, Paddington Bear-style stare.

Next meeting:

PRODUCER 2: It's not really working for us.
ME: Ahem, I think you mean 'we loved it!!!!!!'
PRODUCER 2: Not really, In fact, for a comedy, we couldn't see where the comedic element was supposed to be.
ME: Right, fine.
PRODUCER 2: At all.
ME: RIGHT, OKAY, YOU'VE MADE YOUR POINT.
PRODUCER 2: We still love you though. Kissy kissy.
ME: FINE. Kissy kissy.

Producer 2 is, genuinely, lovely, and it's far better for someone to tell you outright that your script doesn't work for them, than to show polite interest, then faff around for weeks trying to think of a nice way to say 'no'. The nicest way to say 'no' is just to say 'no'. Nicely.

Final meeting:

PRODUCER 3: We loved it!
ME: Mmm hmm.
PRODUCER 3: We had a read through, the whole development team went for it, we'd love to pick it up.
ME: Riiiiiiiiiiiight.
PRODUCER 3: If you get your agent to talk to us, we can discuss money!

Pause, while I blink for a bit. Eventually:

ME: (excited) MONEYS!

We have a few more chats, I do a little rewrite, as per their (intelligent, helpful) notes. Later I get word that the head of that particular production company read the script, hated it, and the whole thing is off.

Anyway, I'm sure this time it will all be different.

4 comments:

Tim Footman said...

Why doesn’t Producer One go round to Producer Three and duff them up and nick his dinner money?

james henry said...

Interesting point, I should have suggested that. Also: all the Producers are, in fact, LAYDEEZ.

James Moran said...

Bloody good point about the expensive offices. Next time I hear "we don't have any money", I'm going to say "sell one of your fucking chairs, then." Then I'll stare at them, deliberately wet myself, and leap out of the window. Textbook.

james henry said...

EXACTLY. This is why I only have meetings in ground floor offices these days.