Being a scriptwriter is easy.
As a fellow delegate of the London Screenwriters’ Festival once told me: if you write scripts, you’re a scriptwriter.
Myself, I used to deny the title. I always felt strangely embarrassed whenever I referred to myself as one, even in the company of other likeminded people. (I still do, sometimes.) I thought it was a little conceited. What have I done to earn the right to meddle in the art of Charlie Kaufman, Emma Thompson, William Goldman, or Paul Thomas Anderson?
Well, to be blunt, I wrote some scripts. A person who boxes at amateur level is a boxer no less, so even though I currently write scripts at a similar non-professional level, write them I do.
See? I told you it’s easy.
Making a living from it, however, is not. Nor is it easy to get to the point where your work howls off the page. And to increase your chances of making a career, you must spend many an hour putting in the hard work to become as close to great as your abilities allow. Great work doesn’t just happen. You have to make it happen.
To quote Aristotle: “Brilliance, then, is not an act but a habit.”
I’m lucky. I’ve had things made already. In 2013 I worked on a film set for the first time, and within a year we had set up a filmmaking collective that eventually became System Street Films Ltd. Some of the films we have made are from scripts that I’ve written, and I continue to write actively as we strive to realise bigger and better projects in the future.
As nice as that is, I’m a long way from where I want to be as a scriptwriter. To paraphrase an old maxim, you can learn the basics of scriptwriting in a day, but it takes a lifetime or more to master. (The first part of that may be a little exaggerated, but the second is very, very true.)
And that’s what Synoptic Nerve is all about: a guy on the fringe of the industry, tirelessly pursuing his passion alongside regular life, learning whatever there is to learn and sharing all he can along the way. It’s the account of my own adventures in the screen trade, however modest or grandiose they may turn out to be.
So, in spite of all that I’ve learnt so far, the journey ahead is what excites me the most. There is still a mountain to climb, mistakes to make, firsts to achieve and paths to cross. The pursuit of great work and the search for that elusive career well and truly continues.
In many ways, it has only just begun.