Should I write a spec script? (bios below)
Okay, we all get it by now – unless you’re filthy rich already, writers can’t write just to write anymore. There are bills to pay and expenses to be met. So if you want to write and carry on writing, you have to write to SELL.
So why not aim big? Why write the $1m movie when you can write the $100m movie instead? Spec scripts are still a great way to kick start a career in a fully vibrant industry.
So do you invest your time and efforts into your hard to sell passion project or take a chance on the ‘one in a million’ high concept big budget blockbuster that the studios are crying out for every summer?
This panel full of experienced industry folk who’ve been there and seen it all will tell you exactly what you can realistically expect in return for a spec script in 2010.
OLLIE MADDEN - VP Production | Warner Bros. UK
Ollie Madden started his career at Graham Broadbent and Damian Jones's company, Dragon Pictures. He later became an Acquisitions Executive at Atom Films, the world's largest short film distribution company. In 2001 Madden moved on to be a Director of Production and Development at Miramax Films, where he worked for three years and was involved with such films as DIRTY PRETTY THINGS, BRIDE AND PREJUDICE and PROOF.
In late 2004, Madden joined Intermedia Films as Head of UK Production and Development, where he worked on THE HUNTING PARTY and produced comedy MAGICIANS for Universal. Working closely with Scott Kroopf, Intermedia's President of Production, he was involved in the expansion of the UK development slate as well as acting as a production executive on all films shot in the UK and Europe.
In 2007 Madden joined Warner Bros. as their UK based VP of Production where he's been involved with SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and Guy Ritchie's SHERLOCK HOLMES.
NIK BOWER - Investment Director
Nik trained as a barrister and worked in the City as a lawyer and a banker before joining Ingenious Media in 2005. As head of the film team at Ingenious, Nik is responsible for sourcing evaluating and negotiating investments in television and theatrical feature film production.
Over the past 12 years, Ingenious has backed scores of films, including SHAUN OF THE DEAD, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, CHILDREN OF MEN, HAIRSPRAY, VERA DRAKE, STREETDANCE 3D and the highest-grossing film of all time, AVATAR.
DANIEL MARTIN ECKHART - Screenwriter
Daniel is a scriptwriter with a passion for thrillers, cop stories and all things dark and twisted. Before hitting his scriptwriting stride, he played around in the army, protected the Pope in the Vatican, got shot at for the UN in Beirut, narrowly avoided a kidnapping in Tehran and escaped the war in Baghdad. During his classical actor training in New York, the passion for scriptwriting took centre stage - and it's been there ever since.
Working with some of Germany's best networks, producers, directors and actors, he's been busy creating top-rated TV movies. His work has been Grimme-Prize nominated (Germany's top TV honor). Daniel has also worked on action and thriller TV shows, creating bibles and writing episodes.
More recently Daniel has been focusing on adaptations. He adapted THE COFFEE TRADER by David Liss, a high-budget period film currently in financing stages. His latest adaptation is BROTHER GRIMM by Craig Russell - the film will have its prime-time premiere on the main German network exactly during the London Screenwriters' Festival. Daniel may ask you all to keep your fingers crossed - because if the ratings fly, it'll mean the beginning of several more to come.
KATE HARWOOD - Controller Series and Serials | BBC Drama
Kate Harwood graduated from Birmingham University with a degree in Drama. She joined the BBC Drama Serials Department in 1990 where she worked on many productions first as a script editor (BAFTA winner HOLDING ON), then as a producer (CLOSE RELATIONS, BAFTA winner CHARLES II – THE POWER AND THE PASSION, DAVID COPPERFIELD) and executive producer (DANIEL DERONDA, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT).
In March 2005, Kate became Executive Producer of EASTENDERS and took the show to a position where it won a BAFTA and two National TV Awards. Kate has since been appointed Controller Series and Serials Drama Production. Under this title, she has been responsible for recent dramas such as CRIMINAL JUSTICE 2, FIVE DAUGHTERS, FIVE DAYS 2 and LUTHER.
JONATHAN NEWMAN - Screenwriter / Director
Writer/Director Jonathan Newman has been described as one of the UK's 'most exciting filmmakers' to emerge in recent years, and was recently longlisted for the Hospital Club's top 100 media hotlist, chosen by industry peers around the country.
2010 sees the release of two feature films shot back to back, both written and directed by Newman and produced by partner Deepak Nayar (BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB).
SWINGING WITH THE FINKELS shot in 2009, tells the story of a bored couple who decide to spice up their marriage by swinging. It stars Martin Freeman (LOVE ACTUALLY), singer/actress Mandy Moore (CHASING LIBERTY) comedy legend and father of 'Ben', Jerry Stiller... Jonathan (WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S) Silverman and Angus Deayton. The film was based on Newman's award winning short film of the same name.
Almost immediately after, Jonathan shot the feature film FOSTER, a magical and heartwarming family film starring Emmy Award winning actress Toni Collette (THE 6th SENSE) , Ioan Gruffudd (FANTASTIC FOUR), Richard E Grant (WITHNAIL & I) and Oscar winner Hayley Mills (POLLYANNA, THE PARENT TRAP). The film was also based on his award winning short film which screened on both HBO and BBC and earned Newman a BBC new filmmaker nomination.
Jonathan's short film FATHER’S DAY, made for the 2010 Ford Mustang, won grand prize in a worldwide competition held by ad agency JWT and Filmaka. JWT subsequently hired Jonathan to shoot a 6 part documentary series in Japan on the art of drifting for the reveal of the new Ford Mustang.
British born, Newman spent his formative years in LA before returning to the UK. He earned his MA in Film Production from the Northern Film School and currently resides in London.