I’m writing this post on my phone as I’ve abandoned my laptop for a few days of R&R (as you can tell it’s going well!) so this is a bit tricky to do on my iPhone screen.
After a series of team meetings with The Script Department members over the last few weeks, I came away feeling like it was now time to set down our mission statement in stone.
Its easy to say what we do as a production company - we tell great stories and we do them as podcasts and when the money is there, as films as well. What’s not so easy to communicate is why we do this.
We've always said we put the screenplay front and centre. But isnt that what every production company does? Doesn't every company aspire to tell great stories? For me, this simple explanation doesn’t go far enough towards explaining who we really are and how our drive and experience separates us from other types of production houses.
Our rationale stems from a point of contention that we all seem to share with the mechanisms of the industry - one that you only learn when you have been out in the cold for too long. The problem with screenwriting, and one that no one ever seems to discuss, is that being a succesful screenwriter boils down to whether or not your script gets adapted for the screen. You can spend ten years working with the top filmmakers in the industry, but if these projects don’t see the light of day, you will be of less value than the writer who has a single IMDB credit to their name.
And thats the problem. We have become an industry that gives far too much weight to companies like IMDB - if you aren’t on it, you don’t count. Writers don’t get taken seriously when they say they’ve written twenty screenplays. They only get validation when those screenplays are transformed into screen works.
And what happens then? Well, most likely, your script gets buried - the producers would prefer audiences to see the film instead of reading the script. Critics and viewers alike will judge the film and judge your writing skills based on what they see on screen - as though the final film and your script are the same.
My PhD supervisor once pulled me up on a remark I made once about a film’s writing. I said the script was terrible. He asked me if I had read the script. I said no. “So how do you know it’s a bad script?”. It changed my outlook.
I started this company as a way to produce films, yes, but first and foremost to produce scripts and showcase them to the widest possible audience. We do this through a podcast, and though our audience is small, it will grow. For us, producing a war epic and a personal drama set in single location are equally feasible due to our method of production. And sure, a podcast is not the same as a film, but I realised a long time ago that I’m not a film director - I’m a writer. So I write. As do we all. And we strive to grow our audience so that we can showcase the script as it’s own art form and take emphasis away from the final film as being the deciding factor in whether or not the writer should be validated for their efforts.
So, I give you our mission statement:
Run by screenwriters, for screenwriters, The Script Department exists to celebrate the screenplay as an art form and the writers who work behind the scenes, often without credit or validation.
We produce a fortnightly podcast which showcases the original work of writers in an accessible format that everyone can engage with. These scripts are read by voice actors and feature atmospheric sound and cinematic music. The end result is an experience that sits somewhere between listening to an audiobook and watching a film.
We encourage writers to tell the stories they want to tell, without concern for budgets or production logistics. When you do, we will give the story a home.
Welcome to #TheScriptDept.