CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE 2020
After a very enjoyable summer break I’m delighted to say that the 10th CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE 2020 will be accepting script entries from Tuesday Sept 10th – up until Friday Sept 27th.
All the information you need about the course and submitting your entry can be found on my website –
But there are a few things I’d like to add –
There is one big change for this year – we will NOT be accepting the same script that you have submitted in previous years. If you have entered in the past, the script you submit this year needs to be entirely different.
The information / FAQs on the web page have been re-written and developed over the years – so I hope pretty much all potential enquiries will be covered if you read all of this information. Please only get in touch if you have a question that genuinely isn’t covered. I tend to receive a lot of questions / queries either via email or social media and if I answered all of them it would be prohibitively time-consuming. I’d far rather be reading your scripts than answering unnecessary questions. So (as stated in the information on the web page) I will not be answering any entry enquiries unless they are about something that is not covered in the information.
Please try to enter as early as possible during the entry period and PLEASE TRY TO AVOID SUBMITTING YOUR SCRIPT ON SEPT 27TH. In the past couple of years we have received more than 50% of the submitted scripts on the last entry day – and the website has crashed due to the weight of traffic. If you enter on the last day and the website crashes, the process will be stressful! (Both for you and me). We won’t be extending the entry deadline beyond 5pm on Sept 27th. SO I would please urge you to submit your entry as early as possible in the 17 day period.
As ever, we are looking for exciting, distinctive, original and ambitious writing voices. Passionate writers who have something to say – and are saying it in unexpected, striking ways. We are looking for as broad a range of voices as possible in our selected 12 – in terms of gender, age, class, regionality, ethnicity, sexuality, subject matter.
Good luck and, in advance, thank you for entering!
TRIBUTE SERIES 2
I have finally managed to read all of the 80+ scripts submitted for this project and have now responded to everyone who sent me a script. Many apologies for taking so much longer than I initially said to get through all of the scripts. Reading all of the scripts was a great pleasure. There was a mind-boggling range of stories and the standard was remarkably good. I decided to limit this 2nd series to a maximum of 8 scripts which made the final choice even harder. But I’m delighted with the 8 scripts that I’ve chosen and excited to start working with these 8 writers on their brilliant stories.
One of the books I read and very much enjoyed on my break was THE GOLDFINCH by DONNA TARTT. Reading it on my kindle, I was some way into it before I realised it was a whopping 784 pages! But I loved its scale and ambition – and it reminded me that two of my favourite recent stage plays were also big, international epics – SMALL ISLAND by Helen Edmundson, adapted from the book by Andrea Levy; and THE LEHMAN TRILOGY by Stefano Massini, adapted by Ben Power. Both weighed in at considerably over 3 hours – but in both the time flew by because the story-telling was so strong.
There is a lot to be said for really BIG, epic, ambitious stories.
The Goldfinch – epic story-telling is something more writers should aim for. The universal in the specific.
Seeing that there is shortly to be a Hollywood film adaptation of THE GOLDFINCH made me think about the differences between how you read a book and watch a film and why watching the film after you’ve read the book is so often disappointing. When reading the book, we fill in the pictures and gaps for ourselves, take possession of it in a way that’s not so easy with a film. But this idea of imaginative gaps and empowering the reader to fill them in for themselves is equally important in screenwriting. You need to trust and invest in the imagination and intelligence of your audience / reader.
First person narrative is another important element in the way the story is told in THE GOLDFINCH. The narrator’s perspective – how reliable / artful are they in what they give you? Lines in the book like ‘…and it would be a long long time before I heard anything from Boris again’ are few and far between but vital moments in piquing our intrigue and maintaining narrative tension.
EUPHORIA / SUCCESSION Series 2
Definitely the two TV viewing highlights for me over the last few weeks. SUCCESSION maintains the brilliant levels of series 1 – it’s funny, shocking and the characters, although objectively hateful, are so engaging. EUPHORIA is not an easy watch – the way the story is told is challenging and disturbing but the characters and their stories grow on you with every episode; there is such visual flair and the series has some really important, difficult things to say about what it is to be a teenager growing up in our current over-saturated world of social media and sexualisation.
All writing is political – SUCCESSION and EUPHORIA in their different ways are brilliant examples of really politically-engaged, committed, impassioned writing. How is your writing political?
Other observations – there is so much narrative inspiration for your fictional work in the real world. For anyone into cricket, the last few hours of the Headingley Test Match were the most exquisite narrative roller-coaster (and another piece of epic story-telling – in that the tension was all the greater in that it had taken five days to build to that brilliant last hour).
And watching events unfold in the House of Commons on Tuesday was also brilliant theatre. There were so many compelling character moments – Theresa May very deliberately sat next to Ken Clarke, looking like an entirely different, more relaxed person than when she was prime minister; the arrogant, patronising verbal and body language of the vile Rees-Mogg, and the fury he generated; Rory Stewart finding out by text that he had been sacked by his own party while at the GQ awards to receive his prize as ‘politician of the year’! So many extraordinary, rich character moments. TV drama has a hard job in coming up with anything as compelling.
One final thought for this week – Indulge yourself. It’s so important to find that time to read, to plan, to dream, to strategise.
The next newsletter will be on Friday September 20th
All the best
Sept 6th 2019