02 July, 2008

Red Planet Prize 2008 - 1


"Red Planet Pictures is set to announce the second year of its writing prize to find the best of Britain's unsigned writers.

Last year, Tony Jordan's production company received over 2,000 entries in an attempt to win the £5,000 prize which was eventually claimed by lexicographer Joanna Leigh. The winner will also have a script commissioned by the company.

Jordan said: "As last year's competition proved, there is a wealth of fresh, unique voices out there but in the current climate there are few chances for them to get themselves heard. The Red Planet Prize offers an exciting opportunity for aspiring writers to get their screenwriting talent recognised and develop their ideas into potential series."

Hopefuls must initially submit the first 10 pages of a 60-minute script along with a one-page outline about how the potential series could be developed. Shortlisted entrants will spend a day with Jordan, the co-creator of Life on Mars, to talk through their work and receive guidance. The deadline is 30 September, 2008."


There's some welcome changes I commented on last year:

Firstly, it's three months not two months to write our scripts.

Secondly, it's a level playing field of 60 minutes.

In addition, the official site now looks great, we have to post our entries and there is only one entry allowed per person.

I think those of us, including me, still smarting from Sharps should stop sulking or self-pitying and start story creating. We are better writers now after our Sharps experience - and definitely better writers since our entries for Red Planet Prize 2007. It's just a fact.

So we have our 30 minute spec for our portfolio - which we can put away in a drawer and re-write later if need be - and now we can work on our 60 minute one. The advice I've got previously was that the 60 minute spec should be the pilot to a TV series so you're killing two birds with one stone: a sample of your writing and also something that could be sold. Now Red Planet has this as one of the rules, it has to be a pilot.

I read one of the requested scripts from last year's comp by Andy Conway and that was a pilot which you could see as a series. The competition isn't entirely altruistic, they would love to discover and develop commissionable series. Every one of us who has ever shouted "what's this bloody rubbish?" at the TV screen should put our pens where our mouths are and try and do better.

I recently met an indie producer, with Andy, who needed TV pitches very quickly but too quickly for me. Andy was more prepared and had fully worked out proposals. He's now working with them. This competition gives me a spur to write down all my ideas properly and choose the best one to take to script and submit to the competition.

Networking is all very well and good but we need to have the portfolio and series proposals to back it up. Good luck everyone!

Red Planet Prize competition page
Red Planet Prize Blog: Danny's first post gives an overview of last year
Last year's winner - inspiring story


Added to Deadlines Calender


Caroline said...

Hi Robin,
What's your take on whether the pilot *has* to be for a series that can run rather than a mini-series for example?

Useful post. I'm still smarting from Sharps too so it's good to have a fresh focus.

Robin Kelly said...

Hi, maybe it's up to each individual writer. I love the challenge of creating a returnable series as I love watching them - even the weak ones - but I know writers who can't stand them - even the excellent ones - but who love mini-series with a definite end.

One may be more commercially advantageous than the other but that shouldn't be a factor for us and I doubt it will be a factor for Red Planet - if the quality is there.

Lucy said...

It HAS to be a 60 minute series??


That's me out the running then, there's no way in the world I can get a NEW series written, even by the 30th of Sept. And I know peeps mean well when they say YES I CAN, I CAN DO ANYTHING I PUT MY MIND TO but I am already working 16-18 hour days at the mo, thanks. I do actually want to sleep AND be a parent. Oh, and a wife. Shit, way way too much on.

Rach said...

Worth popping over to David Bishop's. He's put up some info from Tony Jordan's presentation at SWF. Don't shoot yourself yet Lucy. There is hope. And who needs sleep anyway.

Robin Kelly said...

I'm sorry, Lucy, but I'm not going to let you off - not for that reason.

Although it might seem like it, they're not asking for the whole series/mini-series just the pilot and an outline of what the series/mini-series would involve. It might seem too hard but it isn't.

Physically writing a 60 minute script takes about two weeks full time and a month part-time and that's being generous. That leaves two months for series, character and story creation. Most of which can be done while you're doing other things.

Instead of watching your favourite soap for fun, watch it critically, think of alternative outcomes for the characters or different and better stories.

Instead of reading bedtime stories to the little ones, read them your episode outlines. ("And then the detective shot the serial killer in the head and they all lived happily ever after. Except for the serial killer. Obviously.")

Instead of lying back and thinking of England, think of your main character's journey over 3 episodes of a serial or 13 episodes of a series.

I agree about David's post, Rach. But I think we need to pay attention to his reports on the Machin and Mackie sessions as well.

Andy Conway said...

Hi Robin, thanks for the mention. I'd thought you were going to Cheltenham so was disappointed not to see you there.

I do work constantly on my One Page Pitches so that I have them ready for anyone who needs to see them (had a pile printed off at Cheltenham). And I do work on keeping old scripts up to scratch just in case anyone asks for a read.

Not sure I'm entering RPP this year as I entered both my pilots last year and even though they've been extensively revised, I don't feel right about re-submitting. Jason was urging me to, though.

See you soon.

Robin Kelly said...

Andy, I'm with Jase on this one. If you have two pilots ready that have been improved substantially then I think it's a question of choosing which one to enter rather than if you should enter or not. It's not going to cost you anything but postage and hope.