Given my youthful good looks (sic) it might shock you to discover that I’ve been around for a long time. Truth is, I’ve made so many trips around the block that I frequently navigate it in my sleep.
Along the way, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some incredible people but inevitably, I have also encountered some who are, shall we say, less than incredible.
That’s life of course. It would be a bizarre world indeed if we liked everyone we met just as it would be extremely odd if everyone who met us were dazzled by our individual charms. I’ve certainly met plenty of people who have come to regard me as an arsehole. Or worse.
But I can live with that. Life’s too short to work with people you don’t like and that obviously works both ways.
However, whilst normally I consign these individuals to the ‘bad experiences’ folder of my meagre brain, there will occasionally be someone who irks me to such an extent that they make it onto my s**t list. And if you make it onto that, watch out. Because I know it’s petty and it’s childish, but trust me when I say that at some point I will repay you in kind.
Oh yes, I carry a grudge.
I mention it here simply because I was recently given the opportunity to dust off said list and cross two people off it. Not because I had forgiven them for their transgressions, but because the opportunity had arisen for the delivery of some payback. Obviously, it was an opportunity I grabbed it with both hands.
Yes, I know that at my age I should be above such things, but when I’m looking at a potential cast list and see that two of the actors on it also feature on my s**t list, there is no way on earth that either is ever going to get a sniff.
The only sad thing, as I sit here basking in a warm glow of revenge, is that I doubt either of them will ever know that karma paid them a visit on my behalf.
But I know. And ultimately, that’s all that matters.
I’m not usually one for taking part in online debates about writing, mostly because I’m not that clever and have an adversity to making myself look stupid.
There is of course, also the risk that people will discover that I’ve been winging it all this time which wouldn’t do my agents heart rate any good.
However, I recently became involved in a fascinating discussion with a group of writers on the use of gratuitous violence in both books and film. Or to be more specific, the duty of the writer in the way they portray it.
I won’t go too deeply into the way it unfolded other than to say it veered from one extreme to the other and back again at least more than once. But whilst it was extremely interesting to learn how others perceive their creative responsibilities, little or nothing was said which made me change the way I think about mine. And mine, as I see them, are relatively simple. Indeed, they can be encapsulated in one single sentence. For when it comes to anything fictional, my job is to tell a decent story as honesty and realistically as I can.
This is underpinned by something I have said many times and that is the fact that the most important person in the writing process is the person at the end of the chain be that the reader or the viewer. And when you write the kind of things I do for the kind of people I primarily write them for (lads), then my sole duty is to give them something which they can not only recognise but hopefully, put themselves into the centre of without any difficulty.
In the case of a subject like hooliganism, that means street fighting and anyone who has ever been involved in a row at football knows that it isn’t Queensbury Rules Boxing or Tae Kwon Do, it’s short periods of scruffy, disjointed mayhem. It’s still violence, but it’s real violence as opposed to the stylised fighting we see in too many films and computer games and whilst for some it can be little short of a terrifying experience, for others it can border on hilarity.
That’s how I have to write it because that’s how it is. Anything else would be a betrayal and I’d lose my readers (and viewers) in a heartbeat.
Quite rightly too.
The next few weeks will hopefully see a couple of announcements on the movie front. The first will almost certainly be related to my thriller, Three Greens which has now attracted funding from one of the major distributors and the second will be details of the sale of my latest co-written project, Pizza & Miracles.
The latter script was only finished last week but has actually been a really interesting project to work on not least because it is as far from my usual genre as it is possible to get given that the subject matter centres around the subject of spiritualism and the power of the universe. But in many ways, that challenge is what made it the most fun. More of that as and when!
I can also tell you that work is progressing nicely on the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy as well as on Billy’s Log 2.
My intention at the moment is to self-publish both books but it may well be that someone comes along who will take them along the more traditional publishing route.
On which note, if you didn’t know, I’ve been publishing extracts of the latter online at Billys Blog. Feel free to take a look by clicking here!
As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I am a huge fan.
To me it’s a great source of both news and amusement as well as being a fantastic way to promote my books and well, what I do. Most importantly for me at least, it’s a great way to interact with readers and it’s fair to say that I’ve made some great mates though twitter with I hope, many more to come.
However, I’ve also encountered some proper dicks over the years and received more than my share of abuse from all kinds of trolls. In recent months for example, besides the usual ‘shit writer’ fair I’ve been accused of condoning child abuse, being sexist, homophobic and racist. None of which is particularly nice I’m sure you’ll agree but, and this is the crux of this whole matter, I know how to deal with it. And by that I mean me. Not twitter, not my ISP and not the police, but me.
And at the heart of that is one simple statement, ‘it’s not personal, it’s Twitter’.
The day you start screaming blue murder about something mean said about you by some anonymous idiot on a social networking site is the day your life begins to spiral out of control. No, it’s not nice to be accused of being a Nazi and I’m fairly certain that it’s not nice to read that someone wants to burn you alive but by reacting, you do exactly what the person who wrote it wants you to do. You give them power by taking them seriously. And power is all they’re after.
This is where people are getting it wrong when they claim Twitter should be clamping down on trolls because Twitter doesn’t have to. You do, as the individual. It’s called personal responsibility.
Would you walk down a dark alley in a dodgy area in the middle of the night? No. Would you leave you front door wide open if you went on holiday? No. You take appropriate action to protect yourself.
So why don’t you apply that same thinking when it comes to social media?
Ignore, delete, block. Those three words should be beaten into the brains of everyone who uses either Twitter or Facebook because those three actions place you totally in control of what appears on your feeds.
And if it’s not on your feed, why do you care? Seriously, why?
Social media isn’t like real life. If someone is bad mouthing you to colleagues at work, there are processes in place to deal with it. If you’re having trouble with neighbours, then you tackle it face to face or if it’s beyond that, involve the authorities.
But social media is simple words. And unlike sticks and stones, they don’t break bones.
Yes, of course there are exceptions just as there are to every rule and yes, there will be instances where the law should and must get involved. But in the main, it’s a personal choice to react, ignore, delete or simply hit the block button which Twitter already provides for you to use in just such cases.
If you don’t understand that and don’t accept that in many ways, Twitter is the greatest manifestation of free speech we have, then rather than scream blue murder about the need for censorship (yes, censorship) why not take total control yourself and employ the ultimate sanction, delete your account.
Because you do actually have that option at your disposal and speaking as a Twitter fan, if you do indeed think that social media is there to serve you and not the other way round, then I’d urge you to do just that.
I never get bored of saying this, truly, I don’t. A huge thanks to everyone who is keeping The Crew at #1 on the Amazon and iTunes sports charts. We’re now approaching the end of our 6th year at the top of the tree which however you look at it, is quite something.
Top Dog is also sitting pretty as are most of my other titles which proves what I said years ago, that if you give people what they want as opposed to what you hope they might like, they’ll buy it.
Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.
As most people involved with the publishing world know, the Edinburgh Literary Festival is regarded as possibly the foremost festival on the publishing calendar.
It brings together authors and ‘thinkers’ from across the globe and over a week long period, stages all kinds of events ranging from impassioned debates to creative workshops.
Now I’ve never actually been to Edinburgh, or any other literary festival for that matter, but I mention it here for a very specific reason. You see a while back, I stumbled across a website which provided a guide to getting published. It was written by someone who described themselves as a ‘literary coach’ and was quite informative but actually contained little or nothing that any published author could have provided free of charge.
However, what did interest me was a list of services provided for potential authors and a range of prices charged for those services. It wasn’t cheap but I guess if you are desperate to get into print, you will do whatever it takes, or costs.
Anyway, seeing these prices, I researched said ‘tutor’ and discovered to my astonishment that they had a backlist of… well I hesitate to call it a list at all. Let’s just say it was less than five…a lot less. From what I can gather, their sales haven’t exactly set the world on fire either.
Initially bemused at how someone was getting away with earning between £25 and £50 an hour teaching about writing when they seemingly have so little actual experience of it, further research uncovered the fact that this person is a regular at festivals, including Edinburgh, where they are given a platform to inform the public about the process of getting oneself into print for the first time. At which point I shook my head and went back to doing something more constructive. I’ve been around publishing long enough to know how it all works. If your face fits…
Now I don’t say this through any sense of hurt or indignation, but it is a fact that in spite of having written 15 books, shifted many hundreds of thousands of copies around the world and as the person widely regarded (wrongly in my opinion) as the father of the genre known as ‘hoolie-lit’ I have only ever been invited to two literary events in the UK and one of those I had to get myself invited to. The other had been organised by a group of disgruntled authors keen to complain about the appalling PR provided by our mutual publisher. Aside from that, with the exception of the odd writing group, I have never been asked to talk about anything relating to my experiences of publishing let alone give my opinions on either the industry or writing generally.
I used to ponder the reasons for this quite a lot and believed that much of it stemmed from my reluctance to play the ‘networking’ game. For just like the TV and film industry, publishing tends to be more about who you know rather than what you can actually do.
However, the real reason was explained to me in extremely blunt terms by a very famous and very working class Cockney female author who told me at the aforementioned moan-a-thon, and I quote; ‘look at all these fucking snobs. I feel like I should be walking round with a tray of drinks’.
Yes, that’s right, snobbery runs through the literary world like a cancer and in terms of a clique, it makes the freemasons look like a youth club.
To be honest, I have always kind of understood why they might be reluctant to invite someone like me in. After all, I’m working class, write primarily about blokey things and to those who don’t know me, I probably appear as if I can’t string two coherent sentences together. I’m also prone, as you may have gathered, to saying things as I see them which doesn’t always go down well.
However, in recent years I have begun to consider another possibility. One that might not actually be as personal as I always suspected.
You see I write for a particular market and that market is me and people like me. In other words, working class lads. This, to me, is what ‘lad-lit’ is all about yet for whatever reason, it is a genre which even as a concept, the publishing world have never fully seemed to grasp properly. A simple truth underlined by the fact that it often refers to Nick Hornby as The King of Lad-Lit.
Now I have nothing against Nick Hornby who is after all, an awesome writer. However, I’ve always struggled with the notion that his output is targeted at the same market as the one I inhabit. Yes, we’ve all read Fever Pitch but no one I know has read Funny Girl or Juliet, Naked or for that matter, would ever want to.
The question of course, is why does the publishing world seem so desperate to steer itself as far away from the lad market as is possible? After all, with the economy as it is these days you’d have thought that they’d have looked at the success of ‘chick-lit’ and given more serious thought to how they could fully service the other 50% of the population.
Sadly, if they are looking at all, the only answer they seem to have come up with is to pump out ever more pallet loads of sports or gangster related autobiographies. Great if you like that kind of thing but not so great if like me, you regard 90% of sportsmen and gangsters as relatively uninteresting. However, the fact that they cannot or will not look beyond these increasingly bland and repetitive genres is, in my opinion, entirely down to anti-male snobbery.
You may laugh at this but it’s something I have heard referred to many times over the years and it stems from an unspoken belief within the publishing world that ‘blokes don’t do books’. The truth however, as ‘hoolie-lit’ conclusively proved, is that they do.
Quite why this incredibly patronising view of a section of male readers continues to impact on the industry escapes me but from where I sit, there is a lot to be said for the idea that publishing is still a somewhat elitist world. Therefore the last thing it wants or needs is to become infested with working class oik novelists who, perish the thought, might actually manage to become popular. I know that’s a contentious accusation but think about this; can you imagine a ‘chick-lit’ author with 15 titles and a three quarters of a million sales to her name failing to attract invitations to literary events? No, I can’t either.
If true, it is a tragedy. Not least because there are some great male authors out there who, if given the chance, could actually forge a decent career for themselves by providing some fabulous and inventive popular fiction for male readers. OK, they might not win any Booker Prizes, but that’s not what it’s about at all.
You see somewhere along the line those individuals who make editorial decisions seem to have forgotten one fundamental and inescapable fact and it is this: The single most important person in the publishing industry is the reader and irrespective of their gender, politics, religion or class, if you keep them happy you’ll do the one thing that everyone in the industry is desperate to do, you make money. And if the phenomenon of hoolie-lit proved one thing, it’s that there is plenty to be made from working class male readers. Lots of it.
You just have to look under the right rock. Or rather, you have to want to look.
I shall, from the outset, put my cards on the table and say that I am, at least numerically speaking, old. I don’t feel it mind (and I certainly don’t act it) but it is fair to say that at 58 I’m much closer to my closing scene than I am to the opening act.
The reason I mention this is because for fairly obvious reasons, my age impacts on my writing output. Rule number three in Doug’s Guide To Writing is ‘write what you know’ and since I know more about being a male over 50 in 2017 than I do about being a teenage lad in 2017, my central characters tend to be older and I hope, more realistic. There will after all, be a part of me in all of them.
Thankfully, this is working to my advantage. For example when I worked on We Still Kill The Old Way it received a great deal of press because of the age of the main cast. Great for me, the film and the actors involved, most of whom were actually older than I am. And that leads me nicely into the central reason for this blog.
You see generally speaking, when I start thinking about a project, be it book or film, one of the first things I consider is who is going to read or watch it. But recently, when it comes to screenplays, I also think about who might be can cast. Something which helps me actually create the role.
Therefore with that in mind, what follows are 5 reasons why these days my mind tends to wander to those actors who have actually been around for a while.
Choice – We have a huge untapped source of talent in this country and it isn’t lurking in acting classes or talent schools, it’s working in small theatres or sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Sad for them but great for writers like me when you’re working on something and putting together a dream cast because you know that there’s a bigger chance of actually getting them.
Gratitude – The main reason why they’re sitting at home is because the phone rarely rings. And it rarely rings because there are so few decent roles being written for people over 60 (let alone 70!). As a consequence, if you create these age specific roles and cast accordingly, not only are the actors grateful, but they give you everything from vast experience to PR gold!
Talent – To me, it’s criminal that all this amazing acting talent is being allowed to go to waste. Aside from the ones I’ve already worked with, I can think of ten amazing actors and actresses I’d crawl over broken glass to hear reading my words yet I doubt one has had a decent film or TV role in ten years. That’s tragic, not least because, as has been proven time and time again, the public genuinely want to see these great actors on screen.
Fun – If you don’t think working with legends of the entertainment world is fun, you really shouldn’t be writing screenplays.
Inspiration – When an actor you’ve watched for years and who you have nothing but respect for comes up and not only praises your script but thanks you for the opportunity you’ve given them, it’s both humbling and gratifying. But equally, such praise drives you on to create more of the same which is exactly why I currently have two projects in development that will feature ensemble casts of actors over 60. And d’you know what? I can’t wait to get them moving primarily because above all, they’re going to be fun. Which is kind of why I started doing this in the first place.
The problem of course, is that the production process isn’t down to the writers or the actors, it’s down to those mythical beasts called producers. So what’s really needed are a few of those to step up and take a chance or two.
The talent is there, the ideas are there and as movies such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (1&2) and Philomena proved, the audience is certainly there. So how about it? Why not take a shot.
As some of you may be aware, I’ve been beavering away on a couple of sequels for a while now. Well the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy is almost done and then I’ll dive back into the latest exploits of Billy Ellis. On which note, I’ve published a few extracts of ‘Billy’s Blog’ online to whet the appetite.
Please click here to visit and if you enjoy it, feel free to spread the word!
Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.
I recently made the comment that the difference between being an author and being a screenwriter is the same as the difference between an immaculate conception and an egg donation.
This seemed to cause some confusion in certain circles although as someone who writes both novels and scripts, it seems to me to be a totally accurate statement. Therefore, what follows is a slightly tongue-in-cheek guide to the essential difference between the creative processes involved in what are after all, two very different writing disciplines.
As an author, when you write a novel, it is your baby. You sit, plot, write, edit, rewrite, edit again and then when you’re happy, you send it off to one or two trusted mates for their comments.
Dependent on what they say, you will either rewrite or polish your manuscript and then take the plunge into the real world and send it off to either your agent or your publisher. This is the terrifying time for all authors as these will be the first people within the industry to see, and judge, your latest efforts.
In response to their comments, you’ll either do more polishing or more rewriting after which it’ll go off to a proper editor who will fix your appalling grammar. Only then will it head off in the direction of the actual production process and eventually, print (or internet).
Yet from concept to shelf or kindle, the writer retains pretty much total creative control and as such, the finished article remains in essence, all your own work. Indeed, once it’s published the whole thing becomes about you and you alone. Have you ever seen a book publicised as ‘edited by….’? Of course not.
This is what I mean by immaculate conception. You’ve created something from nothing and now face the consequences. Be it praise or grief.
A screenplay is a totally different animal because in terms of the creative process, you as the writer have very little power over what finally ends up on-screen. Yes, you might well come up with the initial concept and you will certainly put the initial layer of flesh on the bones but generally speaking, your place is and always will be on the bottom rung of a very long development ladder. Indeed, a script will go through so many rewrites it might as well be written in pencil and it’s certainly safe to say that by the time it gets to the point when a director calls ‘action’, the shooting script will be very different from your initial draft
There are of course, very specific reasons for this be they creative improvements the director has made or something as mundane as location, cast or budget. Yet however much it might irritate you as the writer, everything is underpinned by one very simple fact and that is that everyone involved in the process wants to get the best thing that they possibly can onto the screen.
And that is the key difference. For unlike a novel, a script is a true collaboration and your pages are usually the starting point. Or to use my original statement, the egg.
You see, simple.
There are of course, occasions when the two elements meet and an author ends up adapting their own novel for the screen as I did with Top Dog. Whilst an interesting experience, it was quite possibly the single most challenging thing I’ve done as a writer and whilst I learned a lot, it’s not something I would advise an author to do unless they have either a very thick skin, a good therapist or access to a shotgun.
I first posted the following blog in the spring of 2012, the year that footballer Andre Gray posted a series of homophobic tweets which saw him spread across the sports pages of the British press.
You would hope that things would have changed in recent years but last night, as I watched the Gareth Thomas documentary on homophobia it became horrifically clear that nothing much has changed at all. And to me, the reason is because the finger of blame is far too easily being pointed in entirely the wrong direction.
To be fair to Gareth Thomas, at least he had a go at taking the game to task and the appalling car crash interviews given by Gordon Taylor and Simone Pound of the PFA coupled with the refusal of the FA to respond to him underlined everything I say below. But where were the interviews with current Premier League players or coaching staff? Why no contribution from the likes of Lineker or Shearer?
Instead, he fell into the now traditional trap of attacking the supporters using social media to try and underline his case. Consequently, by suggesting that the reason why no players have come out as gay was due to potential abuse from the terraces, all he really did was further demonise the very people who will ultimately win the war against homophobia in football. The supporters.
As I said, the blog below was written five years ago and it angers me that I’m being forced to repost it. Because the fact that we’re still without an openly gay footballer in England isn’t simply tragic, it’s shameful.
As you may or may not know, Downing Street will today play host to a summit which will discuss, amongst other things, the issues of racism and homophobia.
Leaving aside the simple truth that I actually think our PM has more important things to be doing at the moment, the reason this summit is taking place is apparently to take a fresh look at both ‘problems’ in the face of recent events and, in the case of homophobia, in the wake of the BBC documentary which looked at the lack of any openly gay players in the professional game.
Now my views on racism at football are in black and white for all to see, be that on this very blog or in my book Kicking Off. Homophobia however, is something I have never really discussed before and there is a reason for that.
You see speaking as a football fan, it is my assertion that there isn’t actually a problem to address at the moment and nor will there be until such time as we have a player with the bottle to actually come out and admit to his sexuality. At that point things will change immediately because then the anti-homophobia campaign will have an actual focal point or to be blunt, a potential victim. As a result, then, and only then, will we know if we actually have a major problem at all. Because at the moment, it is all supposition.
That is I know, a very simplistic way of looking at things but let’s face it, once inside the confines of a ground, football fans become fairly simplistic beings. All too often the concept of right and wrong is neutralised by raw emotion and whilst any form of abusive chanting is unacceptable, the real key to stopping it isn’t legislation, it’s by changing the mindset of the minority who do it.
The precedent of course, is racist chanting. For as black players made more inroads into the game, supporters eventually began to realise how futile and pathetic abusing them was and that soon became so ingrained in their psyche that to even utter a racist term stopped occurring to all but the most rabid of morons. Indeed, far from knocking football for being racist we should be applauding it for driving the anti-racism message deep into the heart of British society.
I believe that exactly the same thing will happen with homophobia and I would argue that it would happen in a fairly short space of time if not immediately. After all, one only has to look at the TV to see how much has changed with regard to British societies acceptance of homosexuality in recent years.
Yet as the noises being made ahead of this summit clearly seem to prove, both the game and the authorities would like the great British public to believe that the second an openly gay player steps onto a field, the terraces will resound with cries of ‘they don’t like it up ‘em’ or ‘I’m free’ and the sight of fans mincing up and down behind the goals. Indeed the reason I sat down and wrote this very blog is because I have been so offended by some of the things I have been hearing this morning. Football fans may not be perfect, but the suggestion that more than a tiny minority are genuinely homophobic is beyond offensive,
The question of course, is why such things are being inferred and the answer, like most things to do with the great game, is fairly obvious. It’s a basic diversion tactic. Because if you point the finger of blame toward the fans, you don’t actually have to apportion any blame to yourselves.
Like it or not, if you are a pro-footballer be it at Old Trafford or Roots Hall, the nature of the beast is such that getting abuse from the terrace is going to be part and parcel of your career. Brutal though this might be, it is a nailed on fact and if you don’t like it or don’t think you will be able to take it, then don’t do it. It really is as simple as that.
The key to dealing with that abuse is to understand why it happens and what it actually means. Because for the most part, vitriol will only be coming at you from opposing fans if you’re pissing them off by doing a good job. And as long as you’re doing a good job, as recent history has proven only too well, your own supporters will not only forgive you anything but they will continue to heap adulation on you. Since they are the ones who ultimately pay your wages, they’re the only ones you really have to worry about.
However, if that grief comes not from the terraces but from your peers, especially your own team mates, it is something else entirely because it goes beyond banter from the crowd, it becomes personal.
Anyone who has ever been in a changing room knows that many of them are like a scene from Animal Farm (the George Orwell book, not the porn movie!) and any individual who shows even the remotest sign of being in any way different becomes fair game. Remember the stick Graham Le Saux used to get simply because he has a brain in his head? Much of that focussed on his supposed sexuality and let’s face it, if you were gay and saw that as a potential warning of things to come, why on earth would you want to put yourself in the firing line?
Of course not all players are like that and I’m sure that there are certain changing rooms which are delightful places to be post-training. But there are plenty which aren’t, especially if you’re not one of the towel-snapping, prank playing, tart shagging brigade and it is that ‘closed shop’ lad mentality which David Cameron and the various cronies and cling-ons should be discussing not the old chestnut of fears of abuse from the terraces.
But that will only happen when the game actually admits it has a problem in-house and we all know how reluctant it is to do that. Especially when you have a mute and already demonised scapegoat ready to hand.
Thanks to all those people who continue to keep both The Crew and Top Dog at the top of the various download charts. It really is humbling. Could I please ask that if you have read either book you leave a review of some kind as they are a great help both to me and to potential readers. And don’t forget, my latest comedy ebook Wings of a Sparrow is also available both in print and to download.
My last blog on the subject of trolls certainly generated quite a response.
Most, admittedly, were in agreement with me in that the best, if not only way to deal with trolls is to adopt the ignore, delete and block approach. For in doing so, not only do you instantly deprive them of the one thing they crave which is attention, you also save yourself a lot of both grief and time.
There were however, a number of people who disagreed with me, some vehemently. To a man (although oddly, most seemed to be women) their argument was not based on the issue of hate crime, which is a very different issue, but was more about their own personal experience. And it was all along the lines of ‘if someone is abusing me, why should I be the one to leave?’ which is fair enough in one sense but totally bloody stupid in the other.
This isn’t rocket science folks. If someone is giving you grief, the only sensible thing to do is to distance yourself from that person and that principle applies as much to social media as it does to a dodgy pub on a Saturday night. The only alternative courses of action are to stand there taking it until someone comes along to deal with them for you or, assuming you have the balls to do it, you go nose-to-nose and respond in kind (although to be fair, as a veteran of many a troll war, trust me when I tell you that this approach rarely ends well).
Not surprisingly, when I made this point in response to those telling me I was mistaken, some of them not only continued to disagree but a few actually ended up becoming abusive. One even began to tag my agent into posts accusing me of being homophobic which obviously saw him instantly blocked for what was, ironically, fairly textbook trolling.
And there’s the rub folks. Yes, trolls are a pain in the arse but the simple truth is that absolutely anyone who uses social media can find themselves acting like one.
Not everyone however, is smart enough to understand that if a troll does latch on to you, all the power you will ever need to deal with them is simply a few key strokes away.
Finally, a lot of people have been asking about my next movie project and whilst Three Greens continues to head toward production, I can tell you that if all goes to plan, details of another movie I’ve been working on will be released at the Cannes Film Festival next month.
As someone who has pulled it off more than once, I’m often asked how to go about selling a script.
Whilst an obvious question, it is actually the wrong question. For the truth is that anyone can sell a script just as anyone can buy one. So what people should be asking is what are the chances of selling a script into the industry. Be it to a producer, a studio or even to an agent.
The answer, for a first time writer is slim, very slim. In fact the odds are stacked firmly against you. Not because the film industry is some kind of closed shop -although in many respects it is exactly that- but because of simple mathematics.
You may well have written an awesome script, maybe even a potential Oscar winner, but the second you send it out into the world you’re entering a competition for attention and that competition is fierce. Not merely in terms of quality, but because of pure numbers.
The Writers Guild of America register anywhere between 30 and 50 thousand scripts every year. A number that can probably be doubled if you factor in screenplays written by writers who don’t register their work but still punt it out. That’s EVERY year, and the average screenplay floats around for at least 5 years, usually longer. So even using conservative figures, that’s 250,000 spec scripts floating around waiting to be picked up at any one time.
Since the vast majority of movies which actually get made are written by writers with some kind of track record, as a first time writer the chances of anyone even reading your script let alone buying it are reduced even further. Indeed it is estimated that even in a good year, only 50 spec scripts are actually sold into the business.
In real terms, that’s 1 per 5000 or 5000 to one. Or, to put it in more realistic terms, you’re twice as likely to die by falling in the shower as you are of someone buying your script.
Simple as that.
(It’s also important to remember that selling a script, whilst a great achievement in itself, does not guarantee that it will ever get anywhere near actually being filmed. And before anyone asks, it’s also worth noting that many spec scripts are sold for nominal fees, sometimes as low as £1!)