The Writing Journal #22

It’s a well-worn saying in life that “it’s not what you know, but who you know” that determines your success in a whole range of fields. Whilst this is often used as a rallying cry against nepotism and social elitism, there is also a more pragmatic truth at the heart of this that can sometimes be forgotten, particularly when it comes to the creative industries.

Filmmaking is such a long, arduous, expensive process that you naturally want to be going into it with people you know you like and, more importantly, people you know you can reliably work with. Costly “creative differences” halfway into production might be easily swallowed by studio behemoths, but there aren’t many other producers and commissioners who are in such a favourable position, and such expenses could be the death not only of that project but their companies and their careers too. Starting the production journey on the basis of a speculative email or phone call from someone you’ve never met is not an impossible endeavour but it is incredibly risky; the only way to begin mitigating that risk is to work with people you have that personal, human connection with in whom you can place more trust that they will deliver you that end product (which, even then, is no guarantee).

How those relationships get a chance to form is a different matter entirely, and I agree wholeheartedly that everyone deserves a fair crack without nepotism and elitism of any kind blocking the way for anyone. Luckily for us now, many organisations are beginning to level the playing field with a far greater number of open networking opportunities to start these crucial relationships. I discovered this first-hand with the incredibly supportive and welcoming networking event run by Ffilm Cymru at the beginning of the month, and the subsequent follow ups I have made this past week as a direct result of that event. However, what these last couple of weeks have also reminded me, is that the onus to make the most of these opportunities falls squarely onto you, and that all the talent in the world could still not be enough to make a career for yourself as a writer if you don’t nurture these relationships alongside the writing itself.

Target Number 1: Write two more short stories.

No further progress has been made on this first target. None whatsoever. Partly because the week ran away into research rabbit holes, and partly due to a flash of inspiration for the novel which is also simmering away on the back burner. It’s still early days, and still plenty of time this month to start these stories so no need to jab the panic button just yet, but perhaps a few more moments thought could be directed this way this week to avoid any last-minute panics like there were in February!

Target Number 2: Find 5 industry sources to pitch my sitcom project to.

I’m making a list, I’ve not checked it twice (yet), but I’ve already been rewarded with something quite nice. In exploring some of the options that were recommended to me in Cardiff at the beginning of the month, I have found an opportunity that has already yielded some exciting initial results for the sitcom. I am exercising extreme caution here, and I have everything crossed and touching wood to hopefully not jinx things at such an early stage, but it is a promising start and one that I am cautiously optimistic about. If nothing else really is to come of it, and least it adds another name to this particular list that wasn’t there before, therefore moving me closer to the five-source goal and taking me one step closer to ensuring I don’t fail this target. Again.

Target Number 3: Complete a visual mood board for my feature script.

Much of my creative process is about throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks (and hoping that is where the similarities to the old saying end…). It feels like this mood board will be no different. As I said last week, this is new territory for me, and whilst I have a rough outline as to how I think it will work best, it seems quite likely that the end product could be entirely different. It’s been a fun process so far, and I’m enjoying looking at the script and story for the feature from a new perspective which can only do it good, especially at this relatively early stage of its life cycle.

The Birthday Bandwagon rolls into town this week, so there may be some time taken away from the keyboard for cake and videogames (at least one “Treat yo’self” day is imminent). A couple of new opportunities have also surfaced over the weekend that again may distract more time away from the targets above but, luckily, there are still three full weeks left in March to crack on with so I won’t start panicking about these deadlines…yet…

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