For those of you who don't read the Shooting People List any more because of the amount of cyber whining that seems to go on, there's a "debate" raging at the moment about whether it's fair that the UK Film Council exclude non-repped writers from the 25 Words or Less Scheme. Oh, and yet another accusation has been levvied at Adrian Mead. I love Shooting People, it's a fabulous resource, yet people are being put off posting - even their grammar and spelling is under scrutiny! This is crazy. Anyway, I waded in this morning: you know me, I can't keep my big gob shut...
So, Adrian Mead's a "Spammer". The UK Film Council are fascists who won't let people in on their scheme. On other lists, blogs etc: The BBC Writing Academy are being unfair by only allowing people who have a produced film or have completed Skillset-approved courses. People shouldn't expect others to work on their films or at their agencies, companies etc for nothing. The BBC Writers' Room take too long to get back to people. Only people with perfect grammar and no typos are allowed to post.
As I'm fond of saying on my blog: WTF?!
I've not met Julian, but I have met Adrian and as Andy says, he's one of the "good guys". He's personable, approachable and his classes are cheap, fun and you'll get a lot out of it. He disseminates information readily in an engaging way - and yes, it's your choice if you sign up for it. No one forces you to add yourself to his email list.
I totally concur with Julian on his assertion that the UK Film Council wants "quality, not quantity". It's a sad fact of life that when one first starts writing scripts, they're not going to be your best work. You're working through you understanding of what a story is and trying to find your voice. My very first script was a scary mess of mad structure, bizarre character motivation, on-the-nose dialogue and freaky arena choices. Not because I had no talent, but because I had no experience.
No one expects to be able to make the perfect table the first time they pick up a few tools, yet it would seem there are a lot of people who believe they can write a brilliant script first time by reading a few books, internet sites or going on a two-day course. Like any craft, screenwriting is something you have to practice and hone. It can't be perfect, "just like that". It's something one has to invest in heavily, over a period of years - not just through the actual writing, but as Julian says, through networking and studying the industry as well.
A year ago I was unable to enter 25 Words or Less. I made it my mission for the year ahead: I would get an agent and enter the next year. Guess what? I'm entering this year. Maybe I'll get through, maybe I won't, but I'll have had my chance and this is (in part) what the business is about: chance. Because it's about chance then (among other things obviously, like commerce), bodies like The Film Council want a more steadfast guarantee to counter-balance that chance, like the writer's experience. That does not seem all that unreasonable to me.
So, if you want something, go get it... No one and nothing is standing in your way. Make those "barriers" your goal.
...No doubt a few accusations will be chucked my way tomorrow. I'll let you know! ; )