Friday, 23 November 2018

Developing Your Story Into A Marketable Concept With Script Editor & Producer Andrew Oldbury


Script Editor & Producer Andrew Oldbury has credits including television series Endeavour, Holby City, Agatha Raisin and Coronation Street - as well as having produced several award-winning films, animations and a VR Game over the course of his career. 

With Andrew's extensive knowledge and experience in development, he is in the KNOW when it comes to writing the script EVERY producer wants to get their hands on! 

So, if you'd like to know what it takes when it comes to producing, developing a marketable concept and the key ingredient  every story needs - Andrew's the man to listen to:

PERSEVERANCE PROVIDES OPPORTUNITY

I think like most people I spent my teens emailing every production company in sight begging for work experience, and often struggling to even get a response.

I still have my very first rejection letter, as I remember being told that even though they didn't have any available spots to keep going and always try to have a positive attitude. 

The very next letter came offering me the chance to help out at Glimmer Short Film Festival in Hull, where I had a fantastic time meeting filmmakers and soaking up all their war stories. 

Perseverance really does pay off.


  • My first break in scripts came as a work experience placement on Holby City. I think the soaps and continuing dramas sometimes get a bad reputation, but in my mind they remain one of the best places to learn your craft. 
  • They're a real baptism of fire for writers as you've got to juggle not only strict deadlines & production constraints, but learn how to also put your creative stamp on your episodes. I had a wonderful time working on Holby & Corrie, as it gave me the chance to work with so many different writers, some of whom I'm still working with, and learn how each of their approaches to writing varied. 
  • It's pivotal for script editors & producers to remember that when you're working with a writer, director, or anyone really, that there's no one size fits all approach, and you have to adapt to their process if you want to have a truly collaborative approach.

THERE'S NO ONE ROUTE INTO PRODUCING - USE THIS AS YOUR ADVANTAGE!

I think there are so many different routes into producing, that no one ever has the same experience or journey. Which I find really exciting as it means literally anyone can do it. 


My biggest tips are:

Always be kind.
Always be curious.
Do your research.
Don't be afraid to take risks. 
Keep going.

It can sometimes feel like the game is rigged against you, but if you surround yourself with great people and truly believe in your story there is an audience for it. 

WRITING THE SCRIPT EVERY PRODUCER WANTS


My two biggest questions are always why are we telling this story & do I empathise with the characters, which isn't the same as making them sympathetic. 


There's a lot of fantastic films & tv series out there with protagonists who if we met in real life we'd be terrified of, but the stories are told in such a way we can't help but be drawn in due to empathising with their situation.

  •  Whenever you pitch a story you'll constantly hear "why today?" Commissioners, financiers and producers are always trying to find material that has something to say about the world around us. 
  • Sometimes it can be quite obvious in what you're writing at, other times it's more nuanced and layered, or maybe you just want to tell an entertaining story. 
  • There's no right or wrong approach to it. It's about what you want to say, but always know that before you pitch then you can confidently answer when it inevitably gets brought up.

PREPARE FOR THAT FIRST IMPRESSION

Always do your homework. It doesn't matter how many events you go to or how many people you speak to, if you don't know who you're speaking to. 


  • Usually the worst pitches or follow ups are the ones where it's clearly a copy & paste job that's been sent to every person that the filmmaker/writer met that evening. 
  • You can't be expected to know everyone by sight the first time you meet, but there is an awful lot of information online about them so always check what they've previously made and what their interests are. 
  • If you've got a great horror script but that financier is only interested in romcoms, then it doesn't matter how great your pitch is as all you've done is waste your time and left a bad first impression.

EMPATHY IS KEY IN ANY MEDIUM


It all comes back to empathy and why we're asking the audience to go on a journey with us. There's a danger with new technology that this all gets forgotten and we try to dazzle audiences with some fancy new gizmo. 



 Whilst you want the audience using VR/AR to be free to explore the world you've created, personally I think the strongest things I've seen are things like Notes On Blindnessor Millions March NYCwhere you're continually drawn back into the story because it's so compelling and moving.

In many ways VR/AR is more akin to theatre than film, you aren’t forcing them to look in one particular spot but instead trusting that the story and decisions you’ve made will help guide them along.

REMEMBER...


"Failure is not a bad thing, as long as you learn from it."

From the moment we start school we're taught that failure is an inherently bad thing, and that there are very specific ways of doing things. 

This is a disastrous approach when teaching children about the arts as we're conditioning them to avoid taking risks or trying new things. 

As long you as you learn from your mistakes, then you’re honing your craft. No one can be expected to write or make the perfect story on their first attempt.

It’s only through retaining that childhood sense of wonder and a willingness to push boundaries that we ever improve as storytellers.

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