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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pitches - Adrian Mead

A little more on Pitching from Adrian.

The most important thing about Pitching is ownership. This is your story, so personalise it. Make it accessible - even if that means stretching the truth a little. Relate the story to your own, or another's experience.

Did Adrian Mead just condone lying?? Well. Us writers fib for a (hopeful) living, don't we? Our entire career is built on what are essentially fibs: though we might tell our own stories, we tell them through the eyes and mouths of of fictional characters. It's important to remember that even in biopics, our representation of that "real" person is just that - and thus "unreal". I'll give you examples, by pitching my own scripts infomally, with this idea in mind:

HUSBAND AND FATHER, feature (low budget): this is a story about pregnancy, responsibility and child abuse. When I was a teenager, I had a friend who was abused by his parents. He was horribly treated psychologically, yet there was not one mark on him and Social Services never became involved. I knew about his torment, but did not appreciate exactly what it was doing to him. As far as I was concerned, his parents were just awful people and soon he'd get his exam results, go to uni and escape them. So, no one had any doubt that this normal, middle-class family was anything but - until he attacked and killed his parents with an iron bar. Originally blamed on a burglar, this only came out when his girlfriend gave birth to a little boy. It was this that gave me the idea for my feature, which focuses instead on a female character who kills her abusive father when he attacks her for damaging her dead mother's piano: she buries her traumatic past until she falls pregnant herself.

THY WILL BE DONE, feature (mid-high budget). This is a story about the choices we make and whether it's possible to attain redemption for even the most heinous of crimes. When I was a little girl, a child from my class went missing. She was gone for approximately six months: there were numerous TV appeals and her case even appeared on Crimewatch. Though I didn't know the girl well or even play with her much, I remember watching her heartbroken parents on the TV - these were people I'd seen at the school gates. It was weird. Eventually, her body was found in a warehouse on the outskirts of Birmingham. She was badly decomposed - police estimated that she'd died the day she went missing. It turned out that her older brother, aged eighteen, had accidentally killed her, panicked and hid the body. My script focuses instead on a man who loses his daughter during his regular parental access, only to discover she has been murdered when he goes looking for her and he is the culprit.

KINGS OF THE CASTLE, drama series. This is a story about making it against the odds. When I was fourteen, I went to work at a holiday attraction on the North Coast each summer. It was there I met my husband, who's a little bit older than me. He was a student and apparently became fixated with me, though I didn't notice - I was quite a young teen in that I wasn't interested in boys (until I was 18 that is, then I made up for lost time!). The Holiday Attraction was a castle, that had been built as a folly in Victorian times and then left to fall to ruin. The family who moved into it in 1979 built it up from scratch as a museum and theme park and employed people like me and my husband to show people around, work in the cafe, etc. I loved working here with lots of other young people and decided to write a family's journey of restoring an old castle into a functional business.

So...Only one is 100% true. Which one do YOU think it is?

14 comments:

Lianne said...

Kings of the Castle?

Lucy said...

Interesting... the least horrifying one is the one you think is true!

You have a reason in particular for believing that Lianne?

Gotta see what Others will say first before I reveal all...

potdoll said...

Oil go for the first one. I'd love to see how he managed to hide his guilt and behave 'normally' enough to have a relationship etc. And I'd be interested in how you manage the timeline.

It might not be true but it's the one out of the three I'd pick to watch. (not sure how influenced I am cos I've already read the second one...)

The third one sounds like it could be real but where is the drama? The first two are bulging with it but you have withheld it from the third.

That's cruel!

Lucy said...

That's an interesting point you've raised there Potdoll - Lianne's read KotC, so perhaps that's why she picked it as the "true" one?

Funny you should mention the timeline, 'cos H&F is non-linear. I think it works and it has attracted some praise for it, but I wonder if it stands in its way sometimes with lots of new writers attempting non-linear narratives. Time will tell I suppose.

As for drama in KotC, I think it's within the family and their outer struggle (the castle) and their inner conflicts (one kid hates the castle, it's a step family, etc). It's WILD AT HEART meets DOWN TO EARTH, as one producer said recently... And then didn't take it! Grrr.

Dom Carver said...

Thy Will Be Done get's my vote.

I have to say, Lucy, you've been posting some good stuff recently. I'm in here at least twice a day at the mo.... you're responsible for my constant procrastination :-P

Lucy said...

So one vote for all three... But then you've read the one you're voting for, Dom!

And thanks muchly, but you are your OWN man, mister. You procrastinate, 'tis your fault...I can't help being brilliant!

Lianne said...

Kings sounds like the most likely but that doesn't mean it is the only true one. It was just a guess on my part. Don't think it was influenced by which ones I've read because I'm fairly sure I've read all or most of H&F, and I am familiar with Thy Will Be Done too if you remember ;-)

Lucy said...

Likeliness? This is ME you're dealing with, anything can happen!

You read H&F when it was Near To Darkness Lianne, it's quite different now. However, the themes are the same so I'll give you that.

And aha! A final admission on the THY WILL BE DONE front. Knew it might come your way!

Lianne said...

I haven't admitted to anything other than to have been a regular reader of your old AOL blog in which you have previously mentioned Thy Will Be Done. AND you told me the story in detail in an IM once and I don't forget these things. So you've got nothing! Nothing, I tell you!

Lucy said...

You take this confidentiality thing WAY too seriously!!! Rmbr what Adrian said - STEP AWAY FROM THE NDA's!!!

Jason Arnopp said...

I say the third one's true. Just seems like the kind of thing you wouldn't make up.

In the first and second ones, I like the way you add the ring of veracity by pointing out that you've slightly changed the content/protagonist of the actual story, compared to the 'reality'. Good work!

I don't think lying in these 'ownership' pitches is a bad thing. The main goal is to hook in the listener and get their attention, Doubt they'll hold such white lies against you when the ratings and awards are pouring in. ;)

Lucy said...

I don't think of it as "lying" so much, or even embroidering the truth...This is what Writers do: you make stuff up. I find, sometimes, especially when looking back at my childhood, that I cannot distinguish fact from fiction.

Scott the Reader said...

I think it's the third one too, because if it was made up, there'd be someone with an iron bar in it.

Lucy said...

You think I'm THAT twisted Scott???

You'd be right.

So are Jason and Lianne. KotC is 100% true. Who'd have thought that I could work in such a fluffy, lovely place hey??

As for THY WILL BE DONE - that story was lifted from the news; it really did happen, and around the time I was a child - it stuck in my mind because I was the same age I supoose - but I didn't know anyone involved.

H&F - though I was a teen mother myself, I did not know anyone who had been abused. The iron bar story I took from that news item where that private school kid bashed his parents to death with a hammer recently.

The moral of this story - read the news!