Guest blog post: Screenwriting lessons learned in recent years…
December 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
It’s time again for a guest blogger here on MY BLANK PAGE! Appearing for his second time with another superb guest blog contribution… let’s welcome back U.K. screenwriter Niraj Kapur.
SCREENWRITING LESSONS LEARNED IN RECENT YEARS
by Niraj Kapur
In the last few years I’ve made three trips to L.A. for pitching events and meetings with producers. I’ve attended classes. Had a script coach. Hired script editors. Sacrificed family holidays and social time with my friends. I even had a signed contract from Electric Pictures, producers of Olympus Has Fallen and Lovelace, only to have it cancelled weeks later.
Here’s what I’ve learned which I hope create some valuable takeaways for my fellow screenwriters worldwide.
Writing, like most good professions, requires enormous investment and education. Screenwriting books, watching new movies, attending pitching events, writer’s conferences, flights from England, Uber, hiring script editors, have taken their toll, especially when you have a family to support. As successful people will tell you, “You get what you invest in.”
WRITE BIG, THINK SMALL
I’ve made the error of writing big budget commercial projects. While this has been an incredible experience and helped me develop more screenwriting skills, when I recently got mentored with a studio executive and also a top manager, they both said the same thing: “You know how to write, however, it’s going to be almost impossible to get anyone to fund a $100m script from an unknown writer” — even though I’ve had several commissions under my belt. “Focus on a small personal project, let your voice shine through. That’s what more writers should be doing, especially outside L.A.”.
NETWORK… WITH WRITERS
When I attend networking events, I’m surprised by the number of writers who speak to nobody, or else complain there are no agents to connect with. Having a writing group — or friends who are writers, is a blessing and they’ve been there for me more than any agent or producer ever has. A strong support system is vital in screenwriting when you’ve had yet another rejection or spent endless hours during the week working by yourself.
DEAL WITH THE BIG REJECTION
Getting rejected is part of the business. When you get replaced on a movie by another writer, have a contract cancelled through no fault or your own, or meet a production company that is associated with a big movie star, the pain is greater and it takes longer to recover. It’s natural to feel sorry for yourself, but don’t overindulge. Winners get back on their feet and keep fighting.
KNOW WHEN TO TAKE A BREAK
After three years of relentless work, six days a week, it’s important to take time off to regenerate, read, grow, develop, watch movies and live life. Now I’m back into the swing of screenwriting and enjoying it more than ever.
Good luck to all writers in 2017.
Niraj Kapur worked as a writer-for-hire on several kids shows on British TV with numerous screenplay commissions and options. His first movie Naachle London was released in 2012. Find him online: www.nirajkapur.com