Fatjo On Writing For TrekBy Caillan
August 7, 2001 - 11:48 AM
Sending tangerines to the Trek producers may not seem like the perfect way to guarantee that your script gets produced, but according to Lolita Fatjo, it's just one of the many weird and wacky submissions she received during her term as Star Trek pre-production co-ordinator.
The crate of fruit was sent by a fan to accompany their script, entitled 'Tangerine,' Fatjo told the audience at the Odyssey convention held in Heathrow, England, this May. Voyager executive producer Brannon Braga was convinced that the tangerines were poisoned and they were thrown out, according a report by Rowan Green at The Borg Grail.
During the run of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, the Star Trek offices received approximately 50 scripts a week, but by the end of Voyager, that number had dropped to between ten and twenty. Less than one percent of writers ever progressed to the pitching stage.
Although the script guidelines sent out to all prospective writers are clear and precise, there were many submissions that didn't follow the rules. The guidelines say that the script must be between 55-65 pages in length, yet Fatjo received scripts as short as ten pages, or as many as 100 in length.
Full script credit merits a payment of between $26-27,000 for the first and second showings, according to Fatjo, with the royalties decreasing for each successive airing. However, the payment depends on the level of credit - a writer with a 'story' credit is paid less than someone with a 'teleplay' credit.
Perhaps most importantly, Fatjo noted that it is vital not to give up, even if your script is rejected. Owing to the fact that so many submissions are received each week, there are many reasons why scripts are not accepted. Fatjo said that if an element similar to your script turned up in a later episode, it should be perceived as a compliment, because it showed that the script was along the lines of what the producers wanted to see.
On the subject of Enterprise, Fatjo said that she felt that the series probably wouldn't accept speculative script submissions. Even if submissions were accepted, it wouldn't be until a least a year into the show's run, in order to allow the staff writers time to grow acclimatised to the characters.
The full Odyssey convention report, including further comments from Fatjo and the Deep Space Nine Ferengi cast members, can be found at The Borg Grail.