Saturday, June 18, 2011

6000 and Marketing

Marketing is not a dirty word. Without it nobody would know you exist. The person who said that "if you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door" was only partially right - they have to know your mousetrap exists otherwise they won't know where to beat the path.

This is why new writers are told to network and why social networking is considered important. People have to know you exist - it's how you put yourself out there.

Back in April I noted that the number of people looking at my Shooting People profile hit 5000, and now it's just passed 6000. That's a smidge under 100 per week which is pretty good.

I don't use Twitter at present, but I have been reading up on it and studying it, seeing how I can use it (or not). But what I do is blog (like this), and I can also examine the statistics of how many people read my blog.

However I also had this blog tied in to automatically post to my Facebook account. Which means I could not count anyone who read the blog there - because there are no statistics. So, what to do?

I notice that other blogging screenwriters write their blogs and then put a note about it on FB (often via Twitter) with a link to the blog page, which means their blog page count is accurate. So I spent half an hour yesterday finding out how to disable the auto-posting to FB - got there eventually but it wasn't easy - so that I can do the same.

And then there's link shortening using a service like You've probably seen shortened links, but one of the clever things about them is that bitly provides statistics as to how often that link is clicked. So I converted all my major web links into shortened links and replaced them on my various websites and profiles. So now when someone clicks one of those links to go from one page to another of my pages, I'll know about it.

Why bother?

Once you're an established writer it probably matters less - because the access to your potential market  becomes easier and can become more focused. But as someone starting out you need to be communicating to every possible contact you can, so how do you know you're succeeding if you have no way to measure it?

Of course what you really want is someone contacting you and saying "I've read your stuff, would you like to write something for me?" but that becomes more likely if you're contacting more people.

What's on the turntable? "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire (let's boogie!)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I got the final feedback on a feature I had sweated blood over, in its 5th major rewrite. This time I knew I'd got it right, I had really got a feel for the theme and the characters, it was all there.

I knew it.

Jez was very apologetic in saying there were serious issues. The US coverage company were businesslike in their damning analysis. Philip Shelley was somewhere in between with his negative appraisal.

Though they all agreed it had something solid at the core, the implementation was something else.

It was about this time I started to realise that perhaps I was not quite as good as I thought I was. Humility is a good thing, it just hurts a bit when you're forced to remove the rose-tinted spectacles. Producing two very good scripts early on gave me the wrong impression.

And I have this web series to write.

I was reading Bill Martell's screen tip and was forced to acknowledge that the flood of the first draft (or even the flood of the fifth draft) is not a replacement for the hard work you actually have to put in to make a script really work.

What's on the turntable? "Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Blankety-blank! or Who's creativity is it anyway?

This time I'm not talking about the collaboration aspect of film/TV production.

This is a reference to something I wrote about a long time ago (2009); how factors like sub-text, the "off-screen screenplay", "in late, out early", dramatic irony, character emotion, and so on, are all aspects of the same thing: audience involvement.

I was reading the Bitter Script Reader this morning and he was also talking about this subject.

Then I thought what are we doing, really?

Aren't we encouraging, nay, forcing the audience to be creative? Because we are forcing them to fill in the blanks?

Of course if they are unwilling to do it, or can't see what's supposed to go in the blanks, they aren't going to enjoy it, are they? And everybody is different because they have different ability to fill in the blanks.

Genre? Same thing. Genre is something that has a given set of blanks that the audience is expected to fill in simply by knowing what type of production it is. If a person does not like a genre maybe it's because they don't understand the blanks.

The same thing applies to a crew making a film - do they understand the blanks? If they don't, they will do an adequate job, but if they really get the blanks, they'll know which blanks they should fill in and which they should leave uncoloured-in, for the audience to do it.

What do you think?

What's on the turntable? "A Hazy Shade of Winter" by Simon & Garfunkel

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

It's more than writing

David Bishop just* posted a blog on the invisible bits of a writing career, which reminded me that I needed to write an email to a producer. Which I was just doing when I thought that's something that needs saying.

I have a feeling that new writers think the only thing that's important in a writing career is the writing. Even though all the experienced writers will tell you that networking, staying in communication with people and knowing what's going on in the market are very important.

As a web developer I have to stay up-to-date with my industry: learning all the new stuff; seeing what the trends are; even staying aware of relevant legislation. Because even though the visible part of my job is to "just create websites" according to a supplied specification, my skills have to stay relevant and I need to know whether any new laws affect what I'm being asked to do (which happened recently). This is all part of the job. And if a website specification says "do this" and I know that "doing this" might contradict a relevant law I can say so (at the very least it protects me) - and that's what makes me a professional in my industry.

As a writer it's worth knowing, for example, when the BBC commissioning rounds take place. Because it's worth talking to producers and production companies in advance of those commissioning rounds if you have a script that might go into them. And giving that as your reason for contacting the producer shows that person that you are a professional.

And that's why I had to write an email to a producer. There's a commissioning round on the way (only four months, so it's close) and if the producer likes the script we can put it in.

And if I hadn't been to the Kid's TV event on Friday, I wouldn't have known. And if I didn't read David's blog I wouldn't have been reminded, because even reading blogs is part of the job.

* When I say "just" it was a couple of days ago but I have delayed publishing this blog entry.

What's on the turntable? "South Horizon" by David Bowie from "Sound and Vision"