Students often ask whether networking really works. In this interview Scott Mather, a second year Screenwriting student, tells how he successfully made contact with a British BAFTA-winning television writer and benefited hugely as a result.
What made you decide to start networking in the first place?
It was something Alison McHale who teaches our Work Based Project module said to me. Alison basically said that things don’t come to you and I needed to get myself out there. I knew this beforehand of course but Alison gave me the nudge I needed so I really do credit her for that.
How did you manage to get television writer’s contact details?
I just looked online. They all have agents so I managed to find the agent who represents her. It’s a good idea to check the validity of every website you go on though just to make sure they still represent the client as these often change.
How did you make the approach and what did you say?
Once I managed to find the details of the agent, I sent them a letter and politely asked if they would pass it on for me. They did and the screenwriter and I wrote a couple of letters to each other. I asked her for advice and told her how much I admired her work. A good tip here is to always make sure you send a self addressed stamped envelope for them to write back to you.
What have you gained from the process?
I got to meet the woman responsible for igniting my passion and love of writing! I was so lucky she invited me to meet and have lunch with her. It was like meeting a friend. She made me feel very comfortable, gave me advice and invited me to go on set with her when she films her new TV series! She also offered to review one of my scripts and pass it on to her producer.
What tips would you give to other students considering a similar approach?
Do it! In any creative industry, there are always disappointments and rejections but there are also triumphs too. I never thought the screenwriter would write back to me, let alone arrange for me to meet her. At the end of the day connections are important and even if nothing comes of it, it’s only costing you the price of two first class stamps.
Scott Mather, BA Film and Screenwriting