I’m running a one day script editing course at the Indie Training Fund on Jan 17th next year.
CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE 2017
After a lot of admin and even more reading we narrowed down the 1356 submitted script entries to a shortlist of 32 writers whom we’ve been interviewing at Channel 4 in London over the course of this past week. We will be able to inform the 12 successful writers in the next day or two. So – if you submitted a script and haven’t heard back from us, I’m afraid that means you weren’t short-listed.
It’s a hugely difficult task picking 12 writers for the course from so many submitted scripts. We try as hard as possible to get a wide range of different writers – writers from film, TV, theatre and radio, from all different areas of the UK, as ethnically and culturally diverse as possible, a group that’s varied in terms of their writing experience and gender. All of this has to be factored into the conversations about who we offer places to on the course. But ultimately what attracts us to a writer is a script with which we connect on an emotional level. There are very many scripts we read that are objectively excellent – very well-written, interesting and commercially realistic. But that isn’t enough in itself – a script also has to have a visceral effect on the reader to really stand out – it has to be entertaining and thrilling. So inevitably there is an element of subjectivity in the selection of the 12 course writers.
One other thing that is worth saying is that, increasingly, however good the submitted script, writers are sometimes only getting onto the course after several attempts – over the last 2 or 3 years, there have been several writers who have been short-listed for an interview one year, haven’t made it onto the course, but have then submitted a different but equally excellent or even better script the following year, and have got onto the course then. And if you’ve submitted different but excellent scripts for 3 or 4 years, that’s highly impressive and obviously more persuasive than a single excellent script.
So, disappointing as I know it is to not get onto the course, you need to think about a screenwriting career as something that is long-term. If you’re serious about this, you’ll be in it for the long haul. Setbacks won’t put you off your stride, and you will continue to produce quality work until you’ve battered down the doors of the industry.
But to everyone who entered a script, I would like to say a massive thank you. It’s always really exciting and enjoyable reading the huge variety of story that comes in, and I feel privileged to be at the coalface of new screenwriting in the UK. I’m sorry that we don’t have the time or resources to give individual feedback to writers, or to get back to each writer individually with news about the outcome.
From the point of view of all of us who read the scripts – myself, 18 readers, and several members of the Channel 4 drama department (who read the short-listed scripts) – it’s very frustrating that we can’t take more than 12 writers, and that the outcome for writers is getting on the course or nothing. I do my best to identify the best writers who didn’t make it onto the course and to track their work, and keep in touch with them.
And I’m a great believer that, if you are determined enough and your scripts are genuinely excellent, you will break through. Despite the apparent obstacles in place, there are a lot of smart, passionate people in the industry who are actively looking for new, talented writers.
Completely unrelated to the C4 screenwriting course, I held a script showcase this week in which 6 wonderfully talented actors performed 10 minute readings from 5 of the best scripts that have come through my script consultancy this year.
It’s been a particularly good year for the quality of the scripts that have come into my consultancy so I was motivated to put on this showcase. There were so many scripts that I’d read and worked on with the writers that I feel confident are good enough to attract industry interest for the writers.
So on Wednesday at the Tristan Bates theatre in central London we had a full house of development executives, script editors, literary agents etc from film and TV coming to hear this showcase. The initial response seems to have been hugely positive, and I’m really interested to see how this will turn into real professional leads for the writers involved – I’ll be coming back to write more about this after Christmas.
TRIBUTE MONOLOGUE PODCASTS
This is my other recent creative initiative through my website / newsletter. With 13 excellent scripts, and 13 excellent actors, we have now recorded and edited these dramatic monologues – 10-15 minute eulogies to fictional dead people (which are hopefully inspiring and life-affirming rather than depressing!). In January I will be releasing them through a new website and itunes. And again, this is something I will write about in more detail in a future newsletter when they’re ready to launch. But it has been really creatively exciting working with (mainly) new writers on these scripts, and seeing their scripts come to life with some wonderful performances by some outstanding actors. The writers came to the recordings to meet the actors, and be part of the production process – and we had a brilliant time recording them.
C21 DRAMA SUMMIT
I attended this event which took over Picturehouse Central in London last week. There were very many fascinating panel sessions and interviews all about TV drama – and my head was spinning after two days of these panel discussions. I made copious notes and, again, I will be sharing much more of this with you in newsletters in the New Year.
The next newsletter will be on Dec 23rd,
All the best
Dec 9th 2016