(Add 2 commissioning process examples from BBC or ITV websites)
Job Roles Within the Commissioning Process
Commissioning editors select ideas that they feel will work well and allocate the production team a certain budget to create the product. There are usually different commissioning editors for a specific genre, for example, there would be a different person selecting ideas for dramas to the person selecting comedies etc. Once the commissioning editor has chosen an idea and given the production team a budget they will follow the production all the way until it is ready to be transmitted or released.
Producers will deal with all areas of a production that the director doesn’t deal with. Included in this is overseeing and dealing with tasks such as legal issues, cast and crew, budget, marketing of the product and much more. The Producer can have also been the person who pitched the idea and they have control over who the director will be and who will be playing certain characters. An example of a Producer is Michael G Wilson (For Your Eyes Only, GoldenEye, Casino Royale, Skyfall)
The Director will take the idea that was pitched and will turn it into the images and sound that audience will finally see. The Director has full control on what is happening on set. For example they can direct the Director of Photography on certain shots that are needed and direct the cast on what to do during a scene. They can also direct the editor during post-production stages on what shots to use and sometimes to delete entire scenes from the product. An example of a very famous Director is Alfred Hitchcock (North by Northwest, Psycho, The Lady Vanishes, Shadow of a Doubt) a notorious control freak.
Script Editors do not simply just edit scripts, they have many different responsibilities including developing the storyline, ensuring the scripts are suitable for production and finding new writers for scripts. During each draft of the script the script editor will work with the writer, giving them tips, suggesting improvements and ensuring that the length of the script adheres to the running time of the production. Script editors will usually work closely with the producers during production.
Writers in the media business work freelance as do 89% off all film and TV employees. To be a professional screenwriter no education or degrees etc. are needed. Some screenwriters start by writing scripts without being hired, in a way just to get into the business and get their ideas onto paper.
Commissioning bodies are used when someone is trying to sell their product to a production company.
A film corporation is a company that releases the finished productions. They make their money from box office revenue of the film and sales of the film. A film corporation will not want a film to flop because then the corporation will make a loss. Because of this they cannot afford to release lots of bad movie or movies that no one has interest in. They like to release sequels to blockbusters because they have a more likely chance of grossing more money. Examples of major film corporations include; Warner Brother, Disney, MGM and Paramount.
Independent films are feature length professional films that are not released by the major film corporations such as Warner Brothers. Instead they are released by independent production companies. The writers for independent films are usually unknown as they are cheaper to work with. Example of Independent productions companies include; Film4 Productions, Lions Gate Films and Summit Entertainment. There are also Independent TV Companies that release TV shows. These include; Tiger Aspect, Avalon and Endemol. They can also be people who want a change or who make careers out of indie films.
Independent directors usually produce their own screenplays that they have written themselves or have taken a big part in the screenwriting stage. It can be difficult for a director to be in the stage where he has the funding to produce their own screenplay. So this can make it hard for this to happen. Robert Rodriguez wrote and directed the film El mariachi (Rodriguez, 1992). People who make independent films usually have multiple roles to lower the cost of paying more people to work.
Organisations exist to help screenwriter work with actual writers. Instead of financing screenplays they help to develop the scripts and give feedback and improvement that can be made. An example of an organisation that does this is BBC Writer’s Room.
Some organisations use competitions to find new writers. Again the BBC Writer’s Room is an example of an organisation that does this. The competitions sometimes have certain requirements such as length or genre or they can sometime be open to whatever. The rewards are usually money and the chance for the screenplay to be made into a production.
Agents are used by writers to help find them jobs. The production company will usually contact an agent to see if their client (the writer) would be interested in writing a script for them. Independent writers may not have an agent due to cost but almost all ‘big-time’ professional writers will have one. The agents are sometimes given the job of deciding on what the writer will work on next.
The Role of the Writer throughout Production
Pre-production planning for a writer can usually include researching the subject that the script is on. For example if the script is set during Victorian times, the writer will want to research how people lived then, who was in power or the way that people talked. The more research that the writer does, the more authentic the production will seem. If there are any mistakes with the research people may be offended or put off the production. Also there can be legal implications if the events are not depicted accurately.
Script editing is done by a script editor. Feedback is given the screenwriter on how he can improve the script. The screenwriter does not have to make these changes if he does not agree but it is best to. Instead of pointing out problems the script editor will help the screenwriter to identify the problems and help improve the overall script.
Directors and Producers can sometimes ruin how the screenwriter pictured the final screenplay. The Director pretty much has the final say on how the production will be so if he pictured the production differently there may be disagreements between the two. For example Lee Hall wrote a script for a film version of his play I Luv You Jimmy Spud. He had almost finished making final changes to his script when the director sent him his own version. Hall hated this script so he left the project.
To make the script easier to shoot, before production begins page numbers and scene numbers are added to the script. Sometimes changes need to be made to the script when production has already begun. If this happens there are guidelines on how this should be distributed and logged. These guidelines usually include something such as sending all cast and crew that the changes will affect the new pages with the changes on them.
Page lock-down is when if any changes to the script are made, they are coded and sent as separate pages. This is done to save time as if the changes were added to the complete draft of the script the whole scene numbers will have to be changed. The added pages are given codes such as 42a rather than 43 if it goes after page 42. If a page is cancelled from the script it is either taken out completely or there are clear notes stating this this scene had been cancelled.
Working as a Writer
A lot of the time scripts are recycled or have used part of existing screenplays. When this happens the production companies that used the material have to pay royalties to the original writer or whoever owns the rights to the material. If this is not done the person/company that owns the material could sue the screenwriter for plagiarism.
Writers usually have to have a professional presentation. This can include the clothes they wear such as a suit and clean pressed clothes and the presentation of their work such as a well laid out PowerPoint. This is important as the production company needs to know that can rely on this person. However sometimes this is not the case. During the production on Lost (Abrams, 2004) a crew member made a good impression on J.J Abrams when he turned up to a meeting wearing a Star Wars t-shirt.
Time management is important to a writer but it can also be a burden. Writers usually work to a certain deadline so that production can start on time. This can be a problem as some writers do not work to their full amount if they are not in the right mind or mood and can sometimes get ‘writer’s block’. If the screenplay is being written without a deadline it means that the writer can work when he can or when he feels like it. Working hours are very ‘free’ as it can vary from working for example one hour a day to working 20 hours a day. If they fail to meet deadlines there is a chance they will be fired from the production and someone else will take their role.
There are lots of legal and ethical considerations that a writer has to take into account when writing a screenplay. The most common law that is broken is copyright. It can usually happen accidentally as a lot of stories have been told so there is little originality left. Writers also have to make sure they are not biased unless their point of view is true. They also have to take watersheds into account as if the screenplay they were writing was going to be broadcast before the 9pm watershed they would have to make sure that there was nothing inappropriate in their script and that it meets Ofcom’s guidelines. If there is anything inappropriate then some scenes in the production may be censored and cut from TV broadcasting. The writer needs to take into account the BBFC rating that the production is aiming for. For example if they are aiming for a PG certificate the writer needs to make sure that there is nothing in the script that will mean it can’t be PG. Libel problems also need to be considered so that no one is offended by untrue remarks. If the screenplay does commit libel laws they are at a high risk of being sued.
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Bibliography: 2016, I. plc. (2014, February 6). Commissioning. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from http://www.itv.com/commissioning
Bibliography: 2016, I. plc. (2014, February 5). Drama. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from http://www.itv.com/commissioning/drama
Bibliography: Professional studies for screen-based media. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from https://media3.bournemouth.ac.uk/profstudies/5commissioning/03process.html
Bibliography: BBC. (2016). Policies and guidelines – commissioning. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/commissioning/tv/production/articles/policies-guidelines