Thursday, 14 May 2009

On a roll?

I've spent the last week reading round an idea for a new piece. I'll be collaborating with a friend and now we've got to the point when we think can take the idea to a meeting with some confidence that we can make it stand up. In other words if we do any more work on it we'll be in deep and there's no point in continuing if it's not going to be commissioned.
I've found it increasingly difficult to work on something that hasn't been commissioned. When I was trying to get out of the slush pile I did it all the time, but then I was only hoping to have someone read it, I never seriously believed that any of my work would get produced, I knew they were calling cards. I got GFA money the other year to develop and write a play and it's not bad, people like it, it's got me work, but it hasn't found a production. I can't bear to put all that graft in if it's not going to be produced. I do write all the time though around ideas I've got to see how they might play out, but that's not the same as committing myself to a complete play with no sign of interest.

Now, because I've got an unexpected gap thanks to Hannover, I am working on an idea I've had knocking around for a time and I keep returning to it and I think each time I do it gets simpler and therefore better. The other day I worked on it morning and afternoon and then when I was on my own in the evening instead of falling in front of the TV for some aimless channel hopping I went back upstairs and carried on. I feel as though I'm on a roll, but it could be an illusion. Again.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Somebody actually reads this!

In the last couple of days I've met two people who've confessed to reading this blog which was ... nice. I haven't consciously thought about anyone reading what I write which is probably a good thing. I try to make what I write reflect what I'm doing at the time, and of course it is an act of shameless self promotion because what I'm really about is getting people interested in my work. I do know that I'm not as honest as I could be all the time. I don't mean I make things up, but I don't think it would endear me to potential employers if I started sounding off about how this director ruined my work or that literary manager demonstrated the cultural awareness of a flea. Not - I hasten to add - that any directors or literary managers I have had dealings with ever since the dawn of recorded time could possibly fit either description.

I was talking to colleagues about pitching the other night which is surely one of the black arts I have yet to master. If you know and have worked successfully with the person you are pitching you can just about get away with - I've got this idea about three blokes on a mountain, I don't quite know what's going to happen, but it's going to be good - provided under interrogation you're prepared to flesh it out.
Assuming you've requested a meeting with someone you haven't worked with yet there are a number of pitfalls to be avoided. I don't think you should give your idea away in advance of the meeting because it gives them too much time to come up with a mountain of reasons why they don't like it before they've even met you. Too much detail is a bad thing too. So I believe is relying on the stunning one line - Think War and Peace set on a lighthouse helipad. Obviously that is an inadequate example because I'm not going to waste something good, but you get the point. If someone tells you to think something, the natural response is - shan't. The best thing is if , by subtle prompting, you can get the pitchee to pitch your idea back to you the pitcher, so they become totally committed to the idea believing that it was theirs in the first place, but, be warned, it's high risk and I've managed successfully only once. The worst moment is when you see the glazed look descend within seconds of opening your mouth. Then the best thing would for both of you to admit that the meeting will go nowhere, but politeness prevents this and for the next half hour you listen to yourself losing the ability to string together a half decent sentence until the outline of your wonderful idea starts to sound like a badly told joke - There's this man, well, actually there are two men, and two women, but there's only one man at the start, and he's got this wheel barrow.... etc after boring etc.