One Rule for All
CBBC’s new commissioning structure
Monday morning, 26th September and Jon East sets out the new submissions and commissioning process for CBBC drama.
The talk was a mixture of creative and commercial talk, a reminder that television is first and foremost a business. Jon East’s plan is aimed to drain what he termed the ‘swamp of development’ and streamline the commissioning process to aid both writers and the BBC’s own strategic aims. Gone then is the rolling commissioning process which is now replaced by a one date for all. Come the 16th January all in-house, indie produced and writer produced submissions will be judged together.
The Submission Process
All submissions must be made to the department on (or for up to approximately two weeks after) the 16th January. Six weeks after submissions close, a letter will be sent either accepting the idea for development, or rejecting it outright. No discussion, or further development will be entertained after a rejection. At the moment 2007/08 is partly commissioned and 2008/2009 is virgin territory. There are seven slots per year and each of these will only have around three to five ideas per slot taken forward from the first round of submissions.
No support will be given to writers during this stage and no pitching meetings will be sought. Writers may still go in to meet BBC personnel and discuss slots, but staff won’t be available for pitches.
Summary – single page submissions only (+covering letter and c.v.), submitted once per year on January 16th.
Stage 2 – A paid process (as are all subsequent stages) taking the successful one page ideas and expanding them into treatments. The requirements for each treatment will be discussed on a project to project basis.
Stage 3 – Survivors from Stage 2 will be asked to develop a bible and detailed story outlines (six pages per episode detailing each story beat).
Stage 4 – Will see a pilot script being written for submission to CBBC’s controller for commissioning and production.
Any project rejected at any stage will be returned to the writer, possibly with the copyright returning to them as well. No further development work will be done on any of these projects.
Gone too are age specific requirements. Now all projects must fall into a 6-12 age bracket (centring on the 10 year olds) with a generic ‘U’ classification feel to them. Submissions may be in any style but should meet two main requirements (outside of the usual budgetary constraints) –
1) They must provide the audience with emotionally ‘nourishing’ material (tell good stories in plain language).
2) They should employ innovative visual strategies.
Further to this the stories should fall into either 10 x 27min or 20 x 27 mins series (this meaning either series or serial but with an emphasis on one ep stories with some serial elements). CBBC retains one slot per year for larger projects appearing as either a 1x 90 or, 2 x 60 minute format. They should, of course, all be child centred. Bonus points are available for projects that have a possible interactive element.
Meetings will still be taken and writing samples read for team writers on projects.
Existing Development Projects
Will learn their fate as soon as possible but definitely before the 16th January.
This process is still to be decided. Books may be sent to the BBC before 16th January for consideration to see if they will accept them in a one page pitch in the 16th January submissions round.
As this is a new process Jon East was at pains to point out that there would be no exceptions to the 16th January except the exceptions. As with any new system, time will be taken to iron out the kinks and to see how it works in practice. This is an attempt to remove many of the pitfalls of the current commissioning process and to foster a new creative atmosphere at CBBC.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Guild Children's Committee Chair, Andy Walsh, reports from a meeting on the new submissions and commissioning process for CBBC drama.