Wannabe scriptwriters proceed to checkout

Want to be a scriptwriter? Well you’re in luck! There are HUNDREDS of ways you could pay for the privilege.

OK first I need to admit … I have parted with money to get where I am. I got my MA in Scriptwriting and it was super useful. But what’s surprised me since embarking on my career – and what I’m writing about here – is just how many people there are out there who dangle success and opportunity in your face and then want your Visa card details.

I was at a Film & TV event day recently – a writer was giving a talk about their experiences in the industry. Except they weren’t. They were giving an hour long sales pitch, selling their services as a career coach, script reader and networker. All of which I could enjoy. If I paid. This was a Government-funded event to help people working in the industry … I took the leaflets, we swapped cards and I dropped it all in the waste basket.

Industry magazines offer lists of production companies that are taking unsolicited scripts … yours for £20. Organisations arrange script competitions (which are designed to give the judging panel access to new talent) that you pay to enter. Websites charge a premium for special access … pay to read more …

When you’re starting out as a writer you’re probably not going to be over-wealthy. Maybe you’re working part time so you can write, or you’ve dropped your job completely. You’re starting from the bottom up. So having to fork out regular sums to try to catch that elusive break is a cruel step and one that’s going to hit the least well off the hardest. Will only the wealthy, privileged few afford to get the breaks?

Full marks to competitions like BAFTA Rocliffe – which gave me my break – BBC Writersroom and others who give everyone an opportunity at no cost. We need to raise awareness of these and encourage more outlets to showcase and develop talent. Everyone should get access to opportunities, regardless of how much they can afford to pay.

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