Three Key Lessons
Kaie Ames1 November 2021
May 8th, 2021. It was full steam ahead for another action-packed, psychologically-thrilling, dog-loving, storm-fuelled Rocaberti Virtual – and that was only in the introductions.
With incredible mentors, Jen Grisanti, Kala Guess, Joan Lane and Scotty Mullen in attendance, the Rocaberti mentees had a wealth of experience to pull upon in the five-hour Saturday session.
The focus was on writers creating their unique voices. Mentors shared their views on how to know if you’re the right person to write a particular screenplay or TV series; how to find your voice; and how to use social media in order to get yourself noticed.
How to know you’re the right person to write a particular screenplay or TV series
During the pitch sessions at Rocaberti, mentors always ask why you think you’re the right person to write a particular screenplay or TV series.
- It could be you have a family connection to the subject.
- It could be your profession.
- It could be you’re co-writing with someone who is an expert.
- Or it could just be something which you feel very strongly about.
Whatever the reason, it’s important you have a connection to the story you’re writing. If you’re a writer trying to write a particular historical/cultural story and your background is not the same as the culture you’re writing about, you have to stop and think – will your work be taken seriously? Are you a credible source?
There are certain cultural sensibilities of which to be mindful, as you start to think about a story with a strong cultural heritage other than your own. If you really want to write it, and you think you’re equipped to, you might want to consider bringing in a co-writer from the culture you want to write about.
How to find your voice
Rocaberti mentors always stress how important it is to write with your authentic voice.
What does that mean, exactly?
It could mean that you always write in a particular genre, such as horror, or that you write about strong female characters, or are more investigatively-inclined and enjoy writing about true crime stories.
There are a few writers out there who write across genres and on subjects as far apart as sharks and softball, for instance – but it’s quite rare. And managers and agents find it harder to market a writer who doesn’t fit in a particular box.
However, the most important thing for finding your voice is this: write what makes you happy!
How do other writers and industry experts find you?
Social media is a networking game-changer for writers.
There are writers’ groups aplenty on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also, this last year, many of the film festivals, competitions and workshops have gone online, meaning they’ve become much more accessible to international audiences.
If you’ve taken advantage of these events and screenwriting opportunities over the last year, how do you make the most of your new connections, and, even more importantly, make more?
Let’s take Twitter, for example:
There are many screenwriters, producers and script consultants on Twitter – huge communities full of knowledgeable industry experts. Here’s how you find the ones which matter to you:
- Google the films and TV series which you love.
- Identify who wrote, produced and directed them.
- Identify the industry experts who manages them.
- Find their Twitter handles and follow them.
However, there’s a right way and a wrong way of building your profile on Twitter! You shouldn’t follow someone and then DM them straight away to ask them to read your screenplay – you’ll get blocked.
The way to build a strong Twitter profile is to follow the people you feel you have something in common with.
- Like their posts.
- Share their posts.
- Comment on them.
- Be credible and polite.
In other words, celebrate everyone else’s good news! Over time, the people you admire might just follow you back, so make sure you’re also putting your own tweets out there:
- Share your good news.
- Share others’ good news.
- Share competition wins.
- Share new job announcements.
- Share great workshops and courses.
- Talk about networking events.
In other words, show people you’re in this for the long-term.
And follow the people you meet at Rocaberti – they’re great people, with fantastic ideas.
So, how might you get a coffee with that executive you’ve always wanted to speak to?
Spend at least six months following someone and being in regular contact before inviting them for a virtual coffee – or, if possible, an actual one. And when you get that coffee, even then, don’t ask them to read your script!
It’s really important that when you do start to ask people for coffee, your work is the best it can be – have you entered it into competitions such as Final Draft’s ‘Big Break Screenwriting Contest’? Have you had feedback from a script consultant? Also, it’s always good to have more than one script to share – you never know!
Hopefully, the exec will ask you what you’re working on and ask to see some of your work. And if they love it, they’ll tell people about you.
That’s the really important thing – if someone reads your script and they like it, they – and you – can share the news on Twitter, so make sure your account is up and thriving!
That’s how you make sure you’re the right person to write a script – you put the work in, both personally and professionally. Become the best writer you can be, continually striving to be better by learning from others who are better… until one day, you’re that writer who people want to follow, and it will be your turn to pay it back.
Attend a Rocaberti Writers’ Retreat
And if you’ve not attended a Rocaberti Writers’ Retreat yet, you should seriously consider doing so.
These five-day scriptwriters’ retreats are held in castles in France, Spain and Italy and offer writers the chance to share their projects with some of the most experienced professionals in the industry – Oscar-winning screenwriters, producers and directors.
Several writers now have their projects in development and/or have found representation as a result of attending what Academy Award-winning screenwriter Pamela Wallace (WITNESS) calls, The ultimate writers’ retreat … on steroids.
Find out more here: https://rocabertiwriters.com