Deadline for writer-in-residence scheme
Dancing Ledge Productions, the production company founded by producer Laurence Bowen, is calling for submissions for its writer-in-residence scheme with the next role due to be filled in January.
The winning entrant will be invited to participate in all in-house slate discussions, read material the team has in development and be given access to writers the company is currently working with for feedback.
Literary agents - not the writers themselves - should submit samples of their clients’ work by 31 October.
As founder Bowen (pictured above) explained, being the company’s writer-in-residence is a great opportunity to “see how the business really works, read other good material, get feedback from very experienced writers and make some friends.
“Writing can be a solitary and sometimes lonely business and this is a genuine opportunity to be nurtured. They’ll also have a desk and a phone and computer, for six months, which they can use as much or as little as they want and develop a pilot episode for a series with editorial feedback from the development team here along the way.”
Breaking into TV writing
As a well-established producer with years of experience reading writers’ ideas, Bowen has his finger on the pulse when it comes to being a new writer in today’s TV landscape.
When asked about the amount of ways in which new writers can break into the industry, and changes surrounding the system, he had this to say:
“I think, strangely, at a point where there is more money than ever flowing into TV drama, the money flowing into nurturing and training writers seems quite thin on the ground.
“All the broadcasters run schemes and the BBC Writers Room offers excellent support but it is still remarkably difficult to get a foot on the ladder if you’re trying to break into the industry as a writer.
“In the past, high-volume shows like The Bill used to be brilliant nursery slopes for commissioning and training talent but there are fewer long running series that are willing to take a risk on a new talent now.
“I think a few independents are really reaching out and trying to help new writers but a lot more could and should be done. It’s always been difficult to break in, but we need to move on from the ‘It’s Doctors or bust’ years.”
A love of television combined with ambition
Bowen was clear about how new writers should make their work stand out from the crowd.
“It’s always really been first and foremost about the talent and spark behind the writing. That’s the abstract at work that draws you in, the sense that’s there’s a truth there the writer has captured and mined. But there are quite a few things that impress in the room.
“I’d put quite high up the list of things that make a new writer stand out a love of television. You’d be amazed how many don’t watch it – or watch it enough – so aren’t able to talk about characters, series, moments they really love and find inspiring.
“Also ambition – a desire to go for bigger, really bold ideas. I think that’s changing as we see more and more exceptional shows on TV – War and Peace, Transparent, The Durrells, The Night Of, National Treasure – but it’s still surprising how few new ideas pitched at meetings really knock your socks off.”
Caroline Bartleet is the inaugural winner of the scheme; the winner of this current round of submissions will take over from her.
With thanks to Laurence Bowen and Amy Castle-Young for their help in compiling this article.
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