SCREENWRITING & SOCIAL MEDIA
This topic – the connections between screenwriting & social media – is on my mind right now for a few reasons. Last Monday I ran one of my regular SCRIPT READING & DEVELOPMENT Q&A’s on zoom for 8 people interested in this area of the industry.
One of the questions that always gets asked, and which the discussion tries to address, is the obvious one, ‘How do I get work in these areas?’
Thinking about this and the job opportunity information I had recently passed on, so much of it came from Twitter posts. Twitter is much maligned and often for good reason (especially recently) but I think it is a really important source of industry information for people looking for openings in TV & Film, in writing, development, script editing. On the day, I had racked my brain and come up with a short list of people and organisations that had posted about various opportunities in the preceding few weeks.
In the session we talked about some of the delegates’ reluctance to use social media for all the usual, much-discussed reasons. But I argued in its favour, pointing out that, to use the opportunities Twitter offers, you never need to actually tweet, you can have a locked account so that only those you absolutely approve of or already know can be allowed to follow you (not that they’ll want to if you never tweet!) BUT you will then have the benefit of access to the wealth of information there undoubtedly is on Twitter.
This was then forcibly brought home to me the following Thursday when Emma Obank, literary agent at Casarotto, and one of those brilliant people who is unceasingly generous in sharing their industry knowledge and expertise, posted on Twitter thus:
‘Social media can be a great place to hear about Film & TV opportunities and keep up to date with industry news. I’ve put together a quick thread with some accounts to follow (production companies, broadcasts, initiatives, news, etc) as a starting point. Feel free to add…’
Followed by a long list of Twitter names / accounts – Initiatives/Outreach/Education; Production Companies; Broadcasters; Film / Festivals; News Awards – concluding –
‘This is by no means an exhaustive list, it’s very much a starting point which will hopefully help populate your Twitter algorithm full of Film & TV. Do feel free to add to the thread with anyone I have missed.’
This was exactly what I’d been advocating a few days beforehand – but done far more comprehensively. Emma’s list is a brilliant starting point (@emmaobank). Following all of these organisations – and adding and subtracting as you gradually gain a sense of how valuable / interesting each of them might be to you – will, without any doubt, hugely increase your industry – and craft – knowledge; and will provoke other ideas and insights that will be enormously helpful. (NB There will be accounts you don’t enjoy, that you don’t connect with – unfollow them!). But Twitter is without doubt one of the places employers go to tell potential employees about job opportunities in Film & TV.
I also think Twitter can be a great creative resource. Over the years, I have bookmarked and come back to so many tweets & links to extraordinary, potentially dramatic stories or brilliant craft insights.
So, for instance, checking my recent bookmarks, there is a wonderful poem in three parts, a brilliant example of how to tell & structure a story. A link to the wonderful Katie Hims audio drama Waterloo Station. A powerful photo of a suicidal man being pulled back from the edge of a bridge. A video of girl’s amazement at discovering she’s pregnant. Ethan Hawke’s ‘Before Sunrise’ pitch. And links to other images, stories and interviews that I found striking – much creative inspiration
Linked-in, I hope they won’t mind me saying, is a little dry and far less seductive and shiny than Twitter. But the same principles apply. Connect with the right people and you will find out very useful work information that you would otherwise know nothing about.
I’m not the biggest fan of Facebook in its rather tricky blurring of the lines between the social and professional, but one area where I think it can be very useful is in Groups. I have two private facebook groups – one consisting of writers who have been on my courses (328) and one of script readers, editors etc from my more recently created Script Development & Reading Q&A’s (37). Both groups give respectively, the screenwriters and script editors / readers, the chance to share industry opportunities and craft knowledge and to ask each other relevant questions. The asking of a simple craft question in one of these groups can often lead to a brilliant, helpful creative, generous conversation / debate that is often helpful to far more than just the person who asked the question. (Indeed a couple of times I have used one of these debates on my screenwriting course attendees group page as a basis for one of these newsletters).
It is very possible to drown in a plethora of whatsapp groups – so be selective about the ones you sign up to! But again these whatsapp communities can be a great way to keep in contact with fellow creatives, to facilitate social and professional meet-ups and share information.
One of the important things to remember with social media and its potential industry usefulness is a wider principle of work (and life as a whole?). So please excuse my amateur psychology. The more generous, informative and engaged YOU are on social media, the more you will find helpful people following and connecting with you.
I have met certain people in real life having followed them for some time on social media, having perhaps swapped occasional direct messages with them, having enjoyed and responded to their content. And when you meet them in real life, it often feels like the social media connection has eased the real-life introduction, has indeed informed you that this is someone whose company you will enjoy, with whom you have things in common, with whom you might be interested in working.
There are of course all sorts of apocryphal social media stories of fake identities, cons, scams, trolls and subterfuge, so you do have to be careful. These do of course exist – but I think they are the minority not the majority. Over my many years of running the C4 screenwriting course, of having to turn down literally thousands of writer applications every year, I have, as far as I can remember, acquired only 1 troll so far. This man used an anonymous email address – but had then used his real name in his C4 application! After I pointed this fact out to him in an email, he (thankfully) stopped with the sweary emails.
MY SCRIPT LIBRARY
I am delighted to have been able to add several new scripts –
Big Time – STACY EVANS
Girls in Therapy – YAZMIN JOY VIGUS
Logan’s Third Law – PAUL PRESTON
Preconception – KATHERINE MIDDLETON
Llwyn Cadno – MARED SWAIN
The Reappearance – PAUL J. KENNEDY
Very Bad Things – CARYS THOMAS
Playing With Fire – APPHIA CAMPBELL
It goes without saying, I think these are all brilliant, original, distinctive scripts. They are all scripts that were submitted for 4screenwriting 2023 and didn’t quite make it into the final 12 (although all were on a list of the standout scripts that we read).
They are hugely varied in tone and content but what I think they all share is that they are utterly distinctive and memorable in their own unique ways. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I and the team of readers did. And I hope they will prove energising and inspiring for your own screenwriting,
The next newsletter will be on Friday March 10th
February 24th 2023