Sunday, 2 June 2013


With each call for scripts, many writers wonder what sample to submit. Isn't it so hard to know exactly which extract to pick? Some people think we ask for your first ten pages. This isn't the case... and there is no special secret or formula - send us your ten BEST pages! We want to say we were the ones who discovered a new writing talent and that new talent could be you. So we want to see ten pages that sell you and your story.  

The most important part of a submission is the extract. When the support material is weak, the extract is always the deciding factor. 

Here's what some of our jury members have had to say about extracts:
“Your first scene is almost certainly too long. Make it shorter and get the story going more quickly.” – Kevin Cecil, writer (Black Books, Little Britain) 
“If possible, don't submit an extract from an opening episode: First episodes can all too easily become bogged down by the set up. A later episode can often showcase the comedy and the characters far better.” – Saskia Schuster, Commissioning Editor, Sky Comedy
My Ten Rocliffe Tips:*
  1. The Rocliffe Forums are staged readings but make sure that the scenes you pick aren't just chat. 
  2. Choose an extract that is dramatic and dialogue driven and relates to the central question or plot. It must sell the story.  
  3. Don't just use the first few pages of a script because you think it'll make more sense: for instance in the horror genre the first few pages are about set up and atmosphere but we want to see drama! SEND YOUR BEST SCENES.
  4. Some writers worry that a scene is too visual. Some of the best writing is in the action. Our narrators will bring that to life. Although avoid unnecessary action ie chase sequences, helicopters.
  5. Make sure the scenes are representative of what you have told us in the the treatment (overview).
  6. Don't worry about how many characters there are in the scene - our directors and casting director will work with you on the extract.
  7. Remember you have to entertain the reader/panel. We're looking for work that is a 'must read' not 'nice to read'. Allow us to get caught up in the story and ultimately want more. 
  8. Don't think about what you think the panel want or what is the most appropriate for the stage - ask yourself is this the best extract to demonstrate your skills as a filmic story-teller? 
  9. No matter how tempting it is to want to feature more than 10 pages - a solid 10 page extract will entice an industry executive to read more of your work. If they don't like the ten pages little persuasion or an extra page will entice them to read more. Check Rocliffe's Terms & Conditions as page counts may vary depending on each particular script call. 
My writing quote of the week:

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make ~ Truman Capote

*Since first publishing this blog, feedback from the jury was that non-consecutive scenes were confusing and as a result this is now, no longer an option.

Keep writing...