I really want to write a historical drama...
The first thing I tell all my students is be careful who you let influence your writing! Not all advice is created equal. And I guess your chat group are the only people on the planet who never saw the films The Imitation Game, Gladiator, or Brave Heart, or best of all, Shakespeare in Love. ALL historical movies, may I point out, and all major, major cinema hits.
That said, the writers of these screenplays did beat the odds, or the prejudice of the marketplace, if you prefer. Producers are the people who find the money to actually film the movie from your screenplay. And good producers are smart, film-savvy and pennywise, not pound-foolish. That’s how you get bankrolled to green light another film – by paying attention to the bottom line.
The reason that period pieces or historical films put fear into the hearts of most producers is you can’t just walk out the door and start shooting. You will need period specific costumes (ka-ching), period accurate locations (ka-ching) and often set design (ka-ching), and all kinds of specialty coaching for your actors (sword play, accents, horse-riding, (ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching). And all of this before you ever shoot a foot of film. Little wonder the mere mention of a historical script sends most producers screaming from the room.
But, back to the opening paragraph and those fantastic period piece films which all won rave reviews, I might add. The one thing they all had in common was a fantastic screenplay. Fantastic scripts make believers out of top-tier actors, who are always craving a part to really challenge them. And top-tier actors make believers out of tight-fisted producers and distributors.
So my advice to you, and any writer is always write what you LOVE. Write your period piece screenplay to the absolute best of your ability. Create a main character that every actress on the planet would kill to play. Create a story line and theme that is timeless, and your audience will not care that the lead actor wears a codpiece.
I hope this helps.And good luck with your screenplay. I can’t wait to see it at the theatre