Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to a press screening for a new Channel 4 drama.
The production company was there and I suddenly realised it might be an opportunity to talk to its top executives about my novel and how to turn it into a film or TV series.
Now, I’m not the most confident person. I’ve had more than few knocks recently and on that Monday morning I was particularly down and out of sorts for some reason.
But the moment was there, right in front of me. I would kick myself if I let it pass without at least trying. So, I gathered my loins and plucked up the courage to introduce myself to the production executives, after the screening was over.
They were very charming and listened, patiently, as I spoke about Changing Trains as potentially their next big project; How this gay coming-of-age adventure was so relevant right now, with all the equality issues we face; How it could be seen as an important ‘love letter’ to Europe amid Brexit; And also as a commentary on youth discovering new places and learning about oneself through travel; How it was partly inspired also by the writings of Christopher Isherwood. I did all this, but kept it brief, knowing that I had limited time.
The executive gave me his email address and asked me to send over the story, with a brief paragraph or two outlining it all.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything more. When he asked me to send it over I thought ‘Whaaaat?’ I couldn’t believe it. With that in the bag, I thanked the exec over and over, so grateful to have been asked to do even that. So, I left the screening feeling very proud to have put my insecurities behind me in order to champion a book I truly believe is a worthwhile read and therefore, possibly not a bad film, either.
I duly sent over an email thanking him for his time and laying out the idea. And then I waited.The next day I received a reply thanking me for sending the story to them. They also said it sounded like a great idea, and, just when I thought I had won an opportunity to change my life, he wrote that there was only one issue, which was that filming had already started on another story about Inter-railing in Europe for the BBC.
The story in question in Us by David Nicholls, which tells the story of a couple travelling Europe by train while their marriage falls apart and their son comes out as gay.
I was truly gutted. They did say that both my novel and Nicholls’ were completely different – mine is based on a true story- but they also said that there was perhaps enough of an overlap to make it ‘difficult’ to pursue.
I wrote back thanking them for their consideration. I also cheekily added that maybe it WOULD be worth doing because the current production proves there is an audience for it and perhaps people will want more. 25 Bond films anyone?
I don’t know how these things work, but I do know that I love seeing films of a particular genre, style, time period, etc, so the more the better.Here’s a transcript of that the executive actually wrote:
It was a blow, but I’m determined to stay positive, so I’m now wondering now how one gets in touch with the ‘right people’ at Amazon, Netflix, ITV, Channel4 or even the BBC, for that matter?