Saturday, March 10, 2007

The going price for a script


Blogging about this earlier, I mentioned that I'd heard the going rate for a Malay script is RM 45,000. Well, I discovered that's actually for a whole telenovella season. (Psssss......Deflating).

And why am I suddenly so interested in Malay scripts?

It all has to do with Lydia actually. She called me a coupla weeks ago, sounding very excited. "You know," she says, "a production company just contacted me. They read Honk! and absolutely loved it. They also read your article in the Star (the one about the reviews), read your book and loved it, and are interested in making your stories into a TV series for ________ (name of extremely famous station/service provider). They tried to email you but never got a reply. Are you sure your gmail didn't junk it?"

Now, I've had brushes with TV series before that didn't gel. So I didn't allow myself to get too excited.

Anyhow, I called the number Lydia provided me. Indeed, there was an interested production house. They'd produced a very successful series for NTV7. And Dark City's stories are right up their alley. They have been trying (so they said) to contact me for a month. They said there are at least 6 stories in Dark City that can be made into a 1 hour program. (Hmmm, I wonder which 6). They said they particularly loved Coup of the Century.

Naturally, I offered, "I can do the script for you! I know how to write a script!" (I don't know if possessing the script to the Matrix qualifies me in scriptwriting, but there, I had to put my foot in my mouth).

And then they told me it was going to be in Malay.

(Flip.)

I haven't written in Malay since sixth form. And the going rate for a script is actually RM 1500. I checked with Nizam Zakaria, who very kindly shared with me his script format, and he said that was actually a good price. The production company said they were going to negotiate first and contact me later.

Hmmm. I wonder if anything will come out of this.

So - would you attempt to write a script in a language you're not that good in for RM 1500 (for every 50 minutes of air time)?

17 comments:

Lydia Teh said...

Xeus, I'm more excited than you are! I thought RM1,500 is not too bad for a 30-minute script which would translate to about 30 pages if I'm not mistaken. In script format, a page doesn't have an awful lot of words because there's lots of dialogue, right? But for 50 minutes air time, mmmmmm... If I were desperate to break into the scriptwriting market, I would do it. In BM pun bolehlah. I hope something comes out of this for you.

Xeus said...

Lydia, I try not to be too excited so I won't get too deflated if nothing happens :) But it's going to be a 50 minute script (10 min are for advertisments.) A script is 90% dialogue.

But what if BM isn't your first language? Wouldn't your dialogue sound funny? (The production company did mention that they believe that every character should be using the language they are supposed to be using. E.g: Chinese uses Chinese, Malay uses Malay.)

zewt said...

tell them you will be willing to squeeze your juice only if they up the price... RM45k that is.

Ted Mahsun said...

Congratulations Xeus! I'd pass writing the script myself. I got no confidence writing in Malay.

gRaCe said...

heyy...i'm so excited for you as well... i myself hav not written in bm(essay or wht not) since F5..quite karat ady..hehe...

i understand ur concerns..but well, the script doesn't have to be in perfect bm, like u mentioned earlier...jst use the everyday spoken bm lor..it is 90% dialogue.

have fun writing it!! =D

tunku halim said...

Xeus - but seeing your creation on screen? That's gotta be pretty cool! Just imagine, it'll be so successful, next time you can demand lots more RMs!!

Lydia Teh said...

Xeus, yeah lor. Hentam sajalah!

Tunku Halim said...

Xeus - in other words, simply whack lah!

Xeus said...

Zewt, it was great to meet you the other day. Looking forward to your contribution to Dark City 3.

I think no one commands 45K yet!


Ted, at least you are Malay :) But come to think of it, I'm Chinese and I can't speak or write in Chinese, so you might have a point there. Hmmmm.

Xeus said...

Grace, thanks :)

But I'm not sure they are going through with it yet. And maybe after they see the way I write Malay dialogue...they'd go Gakkk!


TH, seeing one's creation on screen is always cool. How's your script coming? I trust it isn't in Malay?

Xeus said...

Lydia and TH, hentam means 'Just do it.' Buatlah sahaja!

Kenny Mah said...

Hmm, I would say it's worth considering. Why not work with a translator for the first script and see if you are comfortable? If yes, then hentam the rest yourself and save on the translation fees, yeah? ;)

Tunku Halim said...

Hey, translator is very mahal lah!

Am holding off on my script for the moment and focusing on my encyclopedia.

Anonymous said...

Kenny, it took me 1 year to even get a translator for my first book! Thank goodness the publisher is paying because, as TH says, they truly mahal la.

Xeus

Kenny Mah said...

Ah, I see. Yet another thing I've learned from the great world of blogging. Thanks for sharing, Tunku and Xeus! :D

Anonymous said...

writing a script is not the same as writing fiction. it's very easy to destroy a good piece of fiction with a bad/mediocre script. A script is a technical document, it tells the story with visuals, action and inaction. there is pacing involved, not just dialogue. The number of scenes permissible is dependent on the budget, you may not have free rein with how to write the script. Budgetary contraints can affect the script in a number of ways: props, location, talent, amount of time spent on the show, and an experienced scriptwriter may know their away around such constraints (by still writing a script that works and delivers). i would ask for a good scriptwriter to write it, and you do a few scripts, with the guidance of the producers. you could also ask for Associate Producership if you want some control over 'the look and feel' of it.

because, it is possible to have a perfectly good book's image marred by a bad tv series.

when the producers say they have produced a 'successful' series for ntv what does it mean? what genre? have they done horror/thriller before? dramas are not the same. not trying to be a wet blanket, but this is the reality of things, just depends on what you want for yourself and your book's 'brand' at the end of the day. suggest you tread with foresight.

Xeus said...

Thank you so much for your advice, Anon. Let's see if anything will come out of this. It's always exciting to be contacted for TV or movies. But it can also be heartbreaking if it doesn't turn out the way you envisioned.