Saturday, July 07, 2007

Good Writing Will Find Its Way

On the final day of the International Screenwriters’ Festival, Abi Morgan, writer of Sex Traffic and the film version of Brick Lane, and Diana Ossana, Oscar-winning writer of Brokeback Mountain and the Lonesome Dove miniseries, were asked about their experiences as women in the industry. Both agreed that, in the end, it comes down to the work – that’s all the matters.

It seems to be generally accepted, both in the UK and the US, that while working in the film industry can be damaging and oppressive to a writer’s spirit, in TV the writer is much more highly regarded. It would have been interesting to have heard from successful British TV writers such as Andrew Davies, Lynda La Plante, Russell T Davies, Paul Abbott and Kay Mellor about their experiences.

It seemed to me that what came out of the four days in Cheltenham was this: If you are a good writer and if you write with intelligence and passion about something you care about, then your work will get noticed. Sure, if you work in the film industry, you may get screwed along the way. But writing and getting paid for it can be a wonderful way to make a living. You don’t have to do it and you have to take responsibility for the choices you make. When you write a script (as Michael Goldenberg put it) you are making a series of tiny little choices about how to tell a story. And if you want to see that script become more than a pile of paper, you have to choose your collaborators carefully, stay true to your vision and know when to walk away. But you should never get discouraged. Never give up.

As Diana Ossana said, ‘Good writing will find its way’.

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