Monday saw the CBBC Screenwriting Q&A in London which I didn't attend but many in the local scribosphere did - the list is summarised by Robin in this blog entry (and includes two people I wasn't previously aware of, they are added to my huge number of blogs). Since I sent my entry - Air - three weeks ago I can't change anything but I am very interested to know whether I got it right or not.
So I have analysed each blog to arrive at the definitive list, so thanks to everyone who took the trouble to (a) go; and (b) share:
- Relentlessly exciting;
- Expanding the imagination of kids;
- Show the world differently;
- Educate and inform through entertainment;
- Don't talk down to them;
- Help children find their place in the world;
- Provide quality shows that will be remembered into adulthood;
- Child-driven story - they are the protagonists, they do the problem solving;
- Real characters with depth;
- Small cast but enough to allow for replacement in case of illness (more common in kids);
- Mix of characters in scenes for both potential illness and allowing for restrictions on performance that kids have;
- The protagonists must have exciting lives;
- Be scary as appropriate - but not too scary;
- Think big, go anywhere;
- Take risks - if the characters are good you still might get the commission even if it means toning down the risks;
- Make sure you balance emotion with action;
- Know your genre and use it;
- Have a solid/unusual concept;
- Don't do personal relationships with the kids (target audience is too young);
- Different cultures;
- Mental illness (wha?);
- No less than 28 pages (no more than 32);
- Do number scenes;
- Write from a child viewer's perspective;
Everybody mentioned this as well (wording nicked from Jez though he didn't write it): The drama should be all of these: MAGICAL (like waking up and seeing carpet of snow for the first time) THRILLING (like a ride at Alton Towers) and EXCITING (like Christmas Eve when you're a kid).
As mentioned yesterday this is a selfish blog because I am happy to report that Air meets pretty much all the requirements, except it's 27 pages (they won't shoot me for that will they?) And I did number the scenes because that's what most of my readers want - it makes it easier to discuss points.
I never talk down to kids, and never have - they're human beings who happen to have smaller bodies than adults. (I could never comprehend people who have the idea that they "own" their children. We are given the responsibility of bringing up a child so that he or she can survive successfully in this vicious world we live in: they have to be tough without losing the love.)
Funnily enough, I even have the mental health thing in there - since the main adult character assumes the protagonist has been abused and has created a fantasy world of her own to escape it. Amusing.
Risks? Yes. Conceptually big and unusual? I think so. Scary? Oh yes.
Without really thinking about it I do have a good mix of scenes some not involving the kids. I was well aware of the licensing issue since our children have done professional performances. (We've just received the paperwork for the Boy's licencing for recording Bamzooki.) Mind you the illness thing kind of surprised me, our two are almost never ill - neither of them has seen the inside of a hospital since they were born. The Daughter was personally affronted when she got a cold a couple of months ago, how dare the virus come her way.
No boy-girl (or any other variation) planned in Air. Though, funnily enough, one of my readers suggested there might be something between the protagonist and one other character. Quite surprised me. It's not in the outline.
Most of the other stuff is there too. So I heave a sigh of relief.
If you want to read the first 10 pages of Air you should be able to download it from my Shooting People profile. If you're a member, you can read it all. (Note: as of 9:00pm this evening this page is generating an error for some reason.)
And did they really say that Buffy was about slaying vampires? How silly. It was about being a teenager and how hard it is growing up. Air, on the other hand, is about family.
What's on the turntable? "Mother Stands for Comfort" by Kate Bush from "The Hounds of Love"