I was chatting with a friend and fellow graduate of the BA (Hons) Screenwriting for Film and Television at Bournemouth University and was surprised when he mentioned that when he graduated a couple of years ago the university still didn’t include an industry training module as part of the course. There wasn’t one when I graduated in 2001 either, but I would have expected them to have introduced one since then. After all knowledge of the industry is a vital part of a successful screenwriting career. Without it, you’re floundering in deep water with nothing to cling on to but your writing skill.
When I left university with my screenwriting degree I thought I knew it all and it was only a matter of time before my work was recognised and my career took off. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It didn’t matter how good my writing was, my lack of knowledge of the industry held me back. It took me nearly nine years and a lot of wasted hours to finally discover this. You guys have it much easier though. There’s so much more information out there on the internet than when I started out. All you have to do is hunt it down.
Industry knowledge is just as important as your writing. Without it, you’ll be sending your work out blind and that will never do you any good. Remember, first impressions count. It was only when I realised this that my career started to go somewhere.
It’s not even enough to occasionally check what’s going on in the film and TV world, you have to spend at least twenty-five percent, if not half of your time on this. It is equally as important as writing. Writing isn’t enough on its own. You might be the world’s greatest writer but if you don’t know where, when and how to send your work out, you are going to fail.
So what do I mean exactly by ‘industry knowledge’? Industry knowledge is:
- Networking – meeting and forming relationships with other media professionals.
- Approach – how to conduct yourself so you will be remembered for all the right reasons.
- Social Media – how to use it to your advantage and what mistakes you should avoid.
- Trends – knowing what producers and broadcasters are working on and looking for and how to approach them.
- Knowledge – making sure you read industry publications such as Broadcast and Screen International regularly.