THE INSIDER INTERVIEWS: NISHA PARTI
The Insider Interviews series started in 2010 as a set of recorded interviews, featuring the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Gareth Unwin, who produced THE KING’S SPEECH, Ben Wheatley and Hossein Amini, the Oscar-nominated writer of DRIVE and THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY. You can watch these here.
The Insider Interviews now exist as live monthly events in central London, which is a combination of a compered interview and taking questions from audience members. If you would like to check out future speakers and join an Insider Interviews Live evening, you can see more details here.
Nisha Parti has extensive experience in the film industry, having spent over 10 years working at internationally high-profile companies including Warner Bros, Warner Music UK, New Line Cinema and leading film agents ICM (now Independent).
Working with David Heyman, Nisha was the first to read and discover the unpublished manuscript of HARRY POTTER and recognise its potential which lead to him securing the film rights for a joint venture between Heyday Films and Warner Bros.
Nisha went on to create Parti Productions, a company that aims to produce commercially successful films for the International market that have at their heart a link to India. She has an exclusive first look deal with Kudos to discover new talent and develop and produce TV drama with them.
This interview was hosted by producer, James Cotton.
What are you doing day-to-day as a Producer in 2016?
I’ve been a producer for ages, but I feel like I’m finally at the point where I’m actually making stuff. There is a process where you say: “Okay, I’m going to leave my paid job, and go out and actually set up a production company and produce.” There’s quite a long gap between deciding to do this, and then finding projects, developing them and getting them into production. I’m finally at a place where I’ve been wanting to get to for quite a long time.
I’d say I’m straddling between feature film and television. I’m very excited to now be in pre-production on a feature film, which we’ll shoot in Autumn this year. I’m also in pre-production on a single drama for BBC 2 that we just got green-lit last week. You’re the first ones to know about it actually, which is very exciting. The press release goes out at the end of this week. In a way, it feels like a film to me, because it’s a 90 minute single. I do that through my deal with Kudos. I have an over-head deal with Kudos, which is nice, because they look after me very well, and that takes care of my television side.
In my film side, I’m very much an independent producer, in that I can work with whoever I want to. So apart from the two things in pre-production, I’ve got probably around 15 other projects in various stages of development. I work totally by myself, so I just run around doing lots of things.
You have a Bsc in Physiology and an MA in Film Production, two subjects that could not be further apart. What happened?
Basically, I really, really wanted to be a doctor. Not due to pressure from my parents, I really genuinely wanted to be a doctor. At 18, I got a D in my physics A Level and I didn’t get into Manchester Medical School. I was desperate to leave home, so I decided to go through clearing and do the closest thing to medicine I could find, thinking that I would later wheedle my way into Medical School. So I got into Leeds to do Human Physiology. But I hated my degree, and didn’t manage to wheedle my way into Medical School.
Instead I spent most of my time at university fulfilling my other creative passion for film. I spent my time directing plays, taking photographs until I realised that this was what I wanted to do. So I applied to Film School, with the extra-curricular stuff that I’d done at university, and that was enough to get me in to do an MA in Film Production.
I’ve always recognised that I’ve got a very creative side, but I’ve also got a financial, scientific and organised side, so producing felt like the right thing to do. Having done my MA in Producing, I knew that that’s where my skill set lay, and that it was what I really enjoyed. The rest of the journey was about how to become a producer. A lot of it was about luck and opportunity, and some of it was slightly more strategic.
A lot of people started out with more ‘sensible’ subjects before entering into the film industry. Do you still feel pressure from your parents about your job?
Yes, absolutely, they still have no idea what I do. They still keep on asking me ‘When are you actually going to make a film?’ I then explain that it takes about five years to make a film. I don’t think that they’ll ever really understand what I do, because I’m not an accountant or a doctor, and my parents are traditional Indian parents. I’ve defied their expectations, but I think that they have accepted it now.
Your first industry gig was with ICM, which is now Independent Talent. What was it like seeing the industry from that perspective?
I think it was a brilliant first job in the industry for me, although again it was slightly by chance. I probably wrote letters to 200 companies to try to get work experience, when I graduated. One day somebody called me up from ICM and asked me to come and intern for them in my holidays. So I did a two-week internship there, and they then offered me a job, to stay on as an assistant to an agent. I did that job for about a year.
What’s brilliant about that environment is that you get an amazing contacts list – I mean it was the biggest agency in London representing actors, writers and directors – so you really get to see who’s working and which production companies are doing what. It was a brilliant way for me to get to know who the people were that I needed to contact, if I wanted to be a producer.
It was a great first step, but I knew very quickly that I didn’t want to be an agent. Most agents assistants remain assistants for a few years and then become agents themselves, but I knew that wasn’t for me, so I started looking for other jobs.
Job number two was at New Line. What did they have in store for you?
They had just set up their UK production company, after having been incredibly successful in the States. They were looking for a development assistant, and they had heard about me through ICM. I think that ICM was the only job that I applied for. Once you’re in that network, luckily, hopefully, people then say ‘Oh, you’re quite good, why don’t you come and work for us’. So I found that job at New Line, and I was there for about two years.
At that time they were making movies like SEVEN, TWELFTH NIGHT and AUSTIN POWERS, so it was really the heyday of New Line. I worked on those scripts, but also did a lot of things like organising people’s meetings, organising screenings, or answering the phone. It was really my first insight into working for a production company, but also working for a big American studio.
Let’s talk about the next stage in your career, Heyday and ‘Harry Potter’.
So David Heyman, who was very new to the UK industry, came to London, having been a studio Exec in the States. He had a first-look deal with Warner Bros, and he was looking for an assistant and a Head of Development. David being David literally interviewed every single assistant who was working in London, and I was put through about five different interviews to get that job. It was gruelling, but brilliant, because we got on incredibly well.
To begin with, he literally didn’t have a car, he didn’t have a flat, so I would pick him up and we would go and find stuff together and I become his right hand woman. I did everything for him. For two years our job was to find UK talent and scripts for Warner Bros. For two years we struggled to find the right project. Our two-year deal was kind of up, and we hadn’t been able to do what we said we would, so we were incredibly worried that we were all going to be fired by Warner Bros.
It was a really interesting time, because we were an independent production company but we were being financed by a very big studio. My job, apart from looking after David and the office, was reading. I would read all of the stuff that he didn’t want to read.
There was a kid’s book that came in, it was unpublished. Kid’s books at that time, were really unfashionable, no-one was making kid’s movies. It actually sat on the bottom of my reading pile for about three weeks, before I finally got to it. By this point, I kind of had a reputation for reading a lot of stuff and coming back on Monday morning and saying ‘No, no, no’. But I started reading this book on a Saturday morning, and strangely for me, I just couldn’t put it down. It was amazing, and kind of came to life in my head.
I came back on Monday morning and said ‘You need to make this into a movie, it’s the first thing that I’ve read that I feel completely passionate about’. I did my coverage and sent it to Warner Bros. to see what they thought. They weren’t really sure about it, but then after David read it, he agreed with me that it needed to be made.
There was a little bit of buzz about the fact that the book was about to be published, and the publishing company were putting quite a lot of money into the project, so Warner Bros. started to take it more seriously. It was a really interesting time because I know that everyone else in town was reading, or was sent that book. None of them will admit it, but they all passed on it.
So I think we were just incredibly lucky, and we had absolutely no idea at this time that it would become the phenomena that it now is. But I’m sure that if any of you were doing my job at that point, you would have read that book and thought ‘this is a movie’.
So how many of the films did you go on that journey with?
Only one, I left after the first film. I felt like I was his assistant and that my journey to becoming a producer would not happen with Harry Potter, because it was too big of a movie for me to be a producer on. So I thought that once I’d done one film, was I really going to learn any more by doing the second one? I was still hell-bent on becoming a producer, so I felt like it was time to move on.
So did the contacts you made at Warner help you make the move to Warner Music UK?
A: Actually, totally by chance, David was starting to look for soundtracks for films and so he asked me to go and meet lots of record companies to make contacts. I had a great meeting with the guy who was then running Warner Music, and he said that he needed someone to come and work for them, to run music videos. He thought that me working in film was a really good match, and so he offered me the most amazing job for loads of money, with an assistant and an office and a car. It was the most amazing opportunity and I couldn’t turn it down.
What did you get to do day-to-day for that job?
I was head of music video for Warner Music, which was an amazing time, when we had lots of money. So any act that was signed to the label, David Gray or Simply Red, I had to produce all the videos. I would oversee budgets, choose the director and oversee the creative process and the shoot. What was brilliant about it, was that I was producing or making probably about one video per week.
Up until then I was just developing and working on scripts, and I had never really left the office, and I had never really been on a film set (apart from HARRY POTTER). So this way, I was working with lots of different crews and learning what everyone did, about edits and special effects and everything else.
I want to ask you to cherry-pick the jobs that did in the gap between setting up Parti Productions.
I did a couple of more jobs after that [Warner Music] and then I got to the point where I just thought that I’ve got to set up my own company. There’s no good time to do that, and it’s incredibly scary, but for me it was a matter of saying ‘Ok, I’m just going to do it’. I felt ready. But of course it also means giving up a paid and secure job.
I think that what really helped, is that by this stage of 10 years in the business, I had a really good contact list. Now all the people at ICM who I was an assistant with, were mostly pretty powerful agents. So I could call up one of the agents at ICM, and they’d remember me because we used to have lunch together back in the day. After 10 years in the industry, you learn who the good people are, who will support you and who you want to work with and that’s really valuable.
With your own company you have a very interesting approach, in terms of who you’re working with and how you’ve built your slate.
I guess it goes back to a personal journey of mine, growing up in the industry I was practically the only brown person that I knew. I was literally the only person of colour at ICM, which was probably a company of about 100 people back in the day. I think things are changing, but I’m the only Indian producer working in London that I know of. I grew up watching television, and never really seeing my story being told in TV or film, and I just thought that if I don’t try to make a difference, or make this happen, then who else is going to do that for me?
I want to tell the kind of stories that I never got the opportunity to watch. I still get very depressed when I turn on the TV and I watch more reruns of GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME and CITIZEN KHAN where jokes still revolve around clichés and stereotypes. Where most Asians on-screen are terrorists or running a newsagents or being forced into an arranged marriage. That’s not my experience of being a second generation Indian in this country.
I also don’t want to be one of the 200 or so producers working in London, who just says ‘Oh I want to make really good films’. I think that it has really helped me to be able to go to agents and say what I’m very specifically looking for. Otherwise I would just get inundated with hundreds and thousands of scripts, that I could never read or process, and all of the good projects would go to bigger producers. I think that by doing something smaller and more niche, it has really helped me to create a name for myself.
You said ‘this’ in terms of what you’re looking for. What is ‘this’?
For me, it’s finding projects that have some kind of link to the Asian Diaspora. That could be as fluid as a story that just happens to be set in India, and THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is a really good example of that. [Marigold Hotel] was written, directed and produced by white men, but the fact that it was set in India made it interesting. It could be that it’s an Asian writer or director. But most of the time it is about trying to tell original, commercial, thought-provoking stories about Asians that will appeal to a wide audience.
Were you able to develop a relationship with Dev Patel through the ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, in order to have him attached to one of future projects ‘Stray’?
Yes, in fact we are producing it together, as well as him starring in it. I met Dev during Marigold, but really Marigold happened because I’m friends with Graham Broadbent who was the producer. Graham needed my help with some Indian facts, so I helped him with the development. John Madden, who was the director, had never even been to India before, so Graham asked me if I’d have lunch with him and answer any questions. So I was basically a consultant on that film.
Dev had an idea for a film that he’d been developing in his head, and he came to London to pitch it to quite a few producers, and I was just one of the producers who he pitched it to. It was an absolutely brilliant idea, so I persuaded him to produce it with me and luckily he agreed. It is now set up at the BFI where we are developing the script.
Once you hold up that signpost saying ‘this is me’, it can help you develop your niche. Would you say that’s the case?
With Stray I was aware that he was talking to other people, bigger producers than me. So it was partly me having the USP and him knowing and trusting that I get India and being Indian in a way no one else does. But that isn’t enough. It was also me convincing him that I was the right producer for the job.
There are lots of really brilliant Indian stories out there, which I’m not attached to, and much bigger, better producers are doing them. So I still have to fight for every good project. There’s nothing to say that if someone wants to do the next big successful SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, or the next big Indian film, that I need to be a part of it, in order for it to be successful. It is also now incredibly fashionable because of the whole diversity debate so I have more competition that I used to!
I noticed from your twitter that you support certain causes, some feminist. I wanted to ask you about the state of the industry and the inequality and your perspective on that.
I feel like finally we’re having an open discussion about the fact that there aren’t enough women or minorities across the whole board in film. I try particularly hard to work with up and coming Asian talent who just can’t find a voice or an agent and help give them a voice. But the pool of talent is small.
I do think things are changing. But I’ve found, particularly over the past year, that I get invited to so many panels to talk and debate, and that’s important, but I feel like there’s a lot of talking about it, but little action. Commissioners are really supportive and keen but it’s really up to me to make a change, because we the producers and creatives are responsible for creating the material that will make a difference.
If we don’t present good work to the decision makers we cannot blame them for not making it. I hate people who complain and say ‘I haven’t got that job because I’m brown or because I’m a woman’. I think you potentially have to be better because you’re brown or female, but you can still make it happen. Don’t ever feel sorry for yourself or use it as an excuse. It will get you nowhere.
I feel a responsibility to make this change happen, and I am making it happen. Last week, the project that was green-lit for the BBC is a project about mental illness in an Indian family, which is a story that has never been told. I can’t tell you the battles I fought to get it made.
It’s up to me to go in there and tell them why they should be making my project and not another project, and it’s really hard. The first feature film I made was about an honour killing, it was a story that needed to be told. But it was an Asian thriller with a lot of new faces. A very new prospect for the industry. We only really got that project financed because of Paddy Considine.
Were there any cringe phrases that you heard from agents or financiers along the way to making ‘Honour’, in relation to them needing a Paddy Considine for international sales?
I think most people are actually really honest behind closed doors, which is that we need an actor who is going to sell this project. If you don’t have Dev Patel in your film, there is no other brown actor in the country at the moment who can sell your movie, there just isn’t. So right from get go we knew it would be useful to put a white character in the script which would help get it financed.
We didn’t have a sales agent on board when we made it, we were lucky enough to finance it with no presales. When we presented it to sales agents, everyone came to watch it and no one would buy it. People liked it but were nervous. No-one had ever done an Asian thriller before, so no-one wanted to take the risk because they didn’t know if they could sell it.
They weren’t sure who the audience was and there were no comps. So we struggled a lot with it, and as a result I don’t think that it was distributed that well. We did get theatrical distribution in the UK and the US in the end, which was great, but it was still small. But we learnt a lot of lessons from it about how to work the system.
You’ve mentioned a couple of names such as David, as mentors along the way. Did you seek out Elizabeth Carlson and Christine Langan for the Breakthrough Brits, when you were named one three years ago?
The great thing about the Breakthrough Brits is that you get to say to them, these are the producers who I want to meet. I had been very lucky because there were lots of producers who I’d already met and had contacts with, so I could easily give a list of people that I hadn’t met. I just wanted to reach out to women and find out how they had done it, and how difficult it had been for them. But also I wanted to meet producers who I just thought were brilliant, that I didn’t have contacts with.
Final question, is there anything I’ve missed?
I’ll just give you an idea of what I’m working on now. The Kudos project that I mentioned is an adaptation of a book called The Boy with the TopKnot, a Sikh drama about mental illness.
The two other projects that I’ve got with Kudos at the BBC, one of them is a six-part drama written by Peter Moffat about rape in India, which is a criminal justice type story set in Delhi. For me, it’s about sexual politics in India and what’s happening over there at the moment, but there will fundamentally be a British link to it. I’m also doing a four-part drama that Ashley Pharoah has written, called MARRIAGE MATERIAL, also based on a book, which is about three generations of an Indian family.
One thing that I think is really important to mention, is that all of my three projects for the BBC are being adapted by white men, which is the opposite of my goal in life. The reason that I’ve done that is because they are all men who I know the BBC love, and will more likely commission into production, because everything they write gets made. But also because they are brilliant experienced writers who have all the skillset for these particular projects.
So I’ve been quite canny about the hoops that you have to jump through, because I know that once I’ve made those dramas it will be much easier for me to go in to the head of drama and say that I’ve got a new writer, and you know that I know what I’m doing, so give them a chance. At the moment I’m still proving myself and being clever about who I work with.
Film-wise, I’m producing a thriller with Dev Patel, who will star in it, about the gold smuggling industry in Bombay. The other project is a small psychological horror called DARKNESS VISIBLE, which is in pre-production and the BFI are financing it. Neil Biswas will write and direct that.
My only non-brown film is a comedy about a woman who doesn’t want to have kids. Morwenna Banks is writing that for me, and we’re in the financing stage for that. So that gives you a flavour of the kind of stuff I’m doing, it’s Asian but it’s commercial, international and original. It’s about telling stories that I don’t feel have been told yet, but in a way that doesn’t just appeal to brown people, but to everyone.
Any net points in Harry Potter?
No, sadly. I was a lowly assistant who was just doing my job. But in all fairness to David, I think that he does mention me in every interview that he does, and I get a very nice present from him in every Christmas. I also have a wand in the wand room at Harry Potter. And he is the most amazing supportive mentor which means the world.
Do you approach your work for TV in a slightly different way than your work for film?
No, what normally happens is I get pitched a project, or I’ll read a book and think this is really filmic or this is for television. So I tend to just know. But things are also really changing, I feel like I’m picking up much more stuff for television. It’s easier.
I’m very lucky because I have such great backing with Kudos. I kind of feel like you can tell much better stories now [with TV] because you’ve got more time. So for example the Peter Moffat story, the fact that we’ve got six hours to tell the rape story, rather than two hours means that we can go into so much more detail.
I suppose with TV if it’s an Asian story, it’s also a human story, so people will watch that. But for film, there’s a slightly different selling point and you have to think about how the audience will be brought into the cinema to watch it.
I think the other thing for television is that it tends to not be cast dependant at all. Topknot has just been green-lit without a cast or even without a director, just on the back of the script, which would never happen in film.
Presumably there is also a difference in the development process, for a film you need to have a script. Whereas, for TV you might have the first episode at most, and the outline for subsequent episodes.
I think that what’s also nice about television is that you set it up with a broadcaster while you’re developing it, most of the time. I went into the BBC with a two-line pitch, saying that I wanted to do a story about rape in India and Peter Moffat is going to write it, and they bought it in the room and they gave us money to go to India and for Peter to write the script.
That would rarely ever happen in film, because I would need to pay to develop it or set it up with the few developments fund out there, which is very tough to do. When you do TV with a broadcaster they finance it, they pay for the script and then they show it, and they have the UK TV rights, which is just much easier. It’s simpler.
Talking to the women involved with the BAFTA rising star programme, when you asked the women how they achieved their success, did they offer advice?
I guess I had different questions for different people, but I generally find most people fascinating and just want to know how they got there. With producing, everyone’s story and journey is completely different. I think for all of us, the one thing that’s really hard is learning how to pay the mortgage, when you’re still trying to making a living.
I have a totally different day job so that I can drive a nice car and live in a nice flat, because it’s just impossible to survive with this job. My side career is Blink Brow Bar, and we’re in various department stores. The only connection between the two, is that it’s an incredibly Asian business. We now employ over 200 Indian women who we’ve trained, which kind of links to what I do in film is some tenuous way!!
It’s interesting because as a producer, every project is still a series of hurdles. So for me, it’s really interesting to hear other people’s hurdles and how they’ve overcome them.
The producer and the writer are the two people who go on the longest journey together. How do you work with different writers, who all need to be encouraged in different ways?
It’s always the best and the worst part of the job. Writers are quite a difficult bunch, I have to tell you. Well sometimes! They have a really difficult job, they spend most of their time on their own. So you’ve got to be encouraging and inspiring, but you also have to be really honest with them about how you can make the script into a movie.
With Morwenna it’s been a really amazing journey, because I’ve literally paid her with my personality for four years. She’s done it because that relationship works, and we both believe in each other and the project so much, but as a result I have to wait for her if she’s going off to do something else, because it’s not a funded script. That’s why it has taken much longer.
It’s one thing to get a brilliant script from a writer, but then sometimes what happens is that when you meet them you think, ‘there is no way I can spend the next five years working with you’. It’s based on different things: it’s chemistry, it’s ‘am i going to enjoy working with them’, ‘will they listen to me’ can I make this better? It should be a really fun, enjoyable process for both parties.
Sometimes you make mistakes, but it’s all about learning how different people work. Some writers are incredibly needy and will want to talk to me every week. Other writers will go off for six months and don’t want to be disturbed. My job is to bring the best out of the writer who I’m working with.
When you’re working with a writer who is a client of the agents you know, do you get any favours?
Normally, the bit where the agent is most useful is in getting to the writer in the first place. It’s good when there’s someone who you want to work with, but have never met before, and they have no idea who you are. So that’s when you call up the agent and ask to meet their client. Once you’ve met the writer, it’s all about what the writer really wants to do.
I knew Morwenna’s agent as she also repped the writer/director of HONOUR. It’s all about persuading the writer once you have them in the room, but the agent helps you get your foot in the door.
Do you ever deal with unsolicited scripts, or do you recommend that everyone has to get an agent?
It’s really rare that I deal with unsolicited scripts. For two reasons: 1. I work on my own, so I read everything that gets sent to me, and there is only so much that I can read. 2. you know that if it has come through an agent then it will be of a certain quality. But I will read an unsolicited script if the pitch sounds really great, or it feels like the sort of project that I would like or if it comes highly recommended by someone whom I trust. I still get a lot of cold emails, and I tend to not read those scripts cold, but I’ll say send me a logline.
You mentioned that you learnt some lessons from the distribution of ‘Honour’, could you maybe expand on that?
I think what we did was try to make it more of a commercial thriller rather than a docudrama/worthy piece on honour killing. But what happened is that it sat between two stools, so it wasn’t a classic thriller genre movie, neither was it an arty, festival film. So we struggled to get distribution. In retrospect what I thought was a great idea in trying to make it a commercial movie, kind of backfired. I think that because cinema is now becoming so conservative, if your film doesn’t fit a genre it has to be an art film. Things that fall in between the two are actually the hardest things to get made.
If you read a script that was great but wasn’t exactly what you wanted to make, would you pass it on to other producers to read?
Yes, absolutely. I meet with producers all the time who ask me what I’m working on, or if I’ve read anything that I don’t want but they might like. We all talk to each other and it’s quite a small world. If I’m about to sign a writer, I will call every producer who has worked with them and ask them what they were like to work with, if they’ll work with them again etc. Your reputation is really important, don’t fall out with anyone. Everyone talks to each other.
Would you take a writer more seriously if they had a segment of financial backing for their script already?
It depends where the financing comes from. If it’s a really recognised financier who I trust, then it really helps. If you came to me and said Film 4 or BFI are financing this that would be really encouraging. If you told me that a private financier who I’d never heard of was putting money into it, then it doesn’t really make a difference to me. All I’d be thinking then, is that I don’t really want to get in bed with your rich uncle or whoever it is. I’d rather you just gave me the script and I had complete control over it, so that I can work with the people I want to work with. So actually I think that it might put me off.
I’m interested in your approach to financing, because I don’t really know where to start. Both financing production and development.
Financing development and financing production are really separate. As I was starting out, I didn’t have any money, so I was only working with writers who didn’t need to be paid. Most of my early projects were working with writers because they just wanted to work with me. Then it’s about getting the script to the best possible stage, and taking it to the BBC or BFI and asking them to develop it, but that is notoriously hard.
I try to develop things for free, if you can persuade writers to write for you for free you have so much more creative control. As soon as you get development finance on board, you will then have other executives in that meeting, each of whom have their own opinions and their own notes. So it will go from being a really great creative process, to something that will drive the writer mad potentially.
If you’re persuading other people to work for free then you also have to work for free yourself, so I would recommend going to get a paid job somewhere else. You have to do this until you have a good enough slate where you can try to get backing. Production financing is different because there is no way that you can do it for free, you just have to find the money from somewhere.
Ultimately it comes down to the quality of your script. The fewer people involved in the development process for me the better, and then with a good script you just have to try to get funding however the hell you can.
What about crowd funding?
I think it’s really risky. I don’t do it, it’s not my way of working, but it works for some people. I tend to be quite conservative in the way that I finance films, I want to work with people who I trust. I’ve heard so many horror stories about people promising money that never gets delivered. If you work with a financier that you don’t trust, then a film can just come crumbling down at the last-minute after years of hard work. The people who you work with are so important. If you have one bad apple then a whole film can be ruined. It’s amazing how easily a film can be ruined by one bad decision.
What would be your final piece of advice?
Ultimately as a writer I think you have to write something that feels unique and personal to you and something you feel very passionately about. If you don’t believe in it no one else will. But at the same time, think about who will want to tell this story for you, finance it, dedicate time and energy to it. Where will it be seen, who is your audience, have a clear vision of where it sits and what it will become. That is an essential start. But you must enjoy the process because there are no guarantees it will get made. If you don’t enjoy the journey and the craziness of it all get out!