Okay, here's a thing that started on Twitter, but I'm going to bring it over to the blog via Storify, because I think it's important to get the right context on this. I said this:
Which got lots of lovely responses, sympathy, pats on back, funnies etc.like these:
...which are lovely, but without wishing to sound ungrateful, that's not quite why I tweeted in the first place. 'Too esoteric for us' is genuinely quite a fun reason to give for turning something down. Hence:
... which is true. It's quite an odd idea (not going into details, as the script has only just started going out), but it's a crime story, about two mismatched cops from very different cultures, who have to track down a killer whose crimes threaten to destabilise an already-fragile peace process. The 'esoteric' bit is that it's set in a Britain that isn't ours, where history diverged at a significant point (not the Nazis, we never got as far a Nazis in this world), so everything is familiar, yet very different.
If a broadcaster decided it was 'too esoteric', that suggests I pushed the weird aspect of it too much in the pitch document (there's a pitch document, a visual guide, which is basically a mood board grabbed off Pinterest, a first episode script and a series bible), whereas maybe I should have focused more on the familiar 'mismatched cops' aspect, because everyone likes mismatched cops.
Like many of the things I pitch, this would all be a lot easier if it was based on a book, or a comic, or something I could wave around in a pitch meeting rather than convince them I made it all up in my head.
But anyway, this was supposed to be a little insight into the tos and fros of getting a script out there, not a whinge that a broadcaster said no. Because they will say no a lot, and often for good reasons that you can't take personally: they just commissioned something very similar, your idea would simply be too expensive to make, or they think it doesn't quite work as a series, and they might be right.
Cor, that was fiddly, got there in the end. But yes, if I went on Twitter every time a script was rejected by a broadcaster, I would be on there a LOT, because the majority of scripts are, it turns out, not made. And as if to prove that's not the end of the process, a script I started nearly ten years ago, that was so close to being made we could all taste it, got taken out of the drawer last year because the producer at the time has now moved away from the BBC to somewhere else, where she has the power to, say, have another look at scripts she developed nearly ten years ago.
So we've spent months retooling it from an hour-long comedy drama into a finely-honed half hour comedy, and it's being sent off RIGHT NOW to broadcasters. And most of them are going to turn it down again. But one of them might not. And wouldn't that be fun?