Hi There,


Central London July 13th & 14th

Phil Gladwin and I are delighted to announce that we have added TANYA TILLETT, literary agent from the Knight Hall agency, as special guest on this course. She will join BRADLEY QUIRK (creative executive at Pathé Uk, formerly at the British Film Institute and the UK Film Council) to discuss the current screenwriting marketplace and opportunities for screenwriters in the UK.

Between them, they have an unrivalled knowledge and insight into the sort of work being commissioned, and how to launch yourself as a screenwriter.

Before she became an agent TANYA also worked in script development; and BRADLEY was one of the original intake on John Yorke’s BBC Writers Academy scheme, and he went onto write for all the BBC’s flagship continuing drama shows (Eastenders, Holby City, Casualty, Doctors).

So they should be able to answer any questions you have about how to get work in the UK as a screenwriter, as well as being very useful people to meet in their own right.

Here is a brief overview of the course:-

Two day weekend screenwriting course in central London Kings Cross venue July 13-14 run by Phil Shelley – script consultant, script editor, producer – and Phil Gladwin – script consultant and screenwriter.

On Day One we cover the craft of screenwriting – with sessions on creativity, generating original ideas, story structure, dialogue, creating characters and how TV drama series work.

On Day Two we look at the business of screenwriting – how you go about forging and then maintaining a career – with sessions on written and verbal pitching, networking, how to get work as a screenwriter; and a session with our TWO special guests, film executive and screenwriter BRADLEY QUIRK, (Pathe UK, BFI, UKFC) and literary agent TANYA TILLETT (Knight Hall agency).

Look at our new dedicated courses website –

– with fuller information about the course, and a lot of glowing video and written testimonials, and details of how to book.

Book early to get our reduced ‘early bird’ rate and a free screenwriting book.


 A footnote to my blog from last week, triggered by excellent writer Kate Scott in her response, ‘Yup, guilty as charged. But you have to fail before you succeed…’

That is so true. You only get better at writing by doing it, by falling on your face, getting up and doing it again.

And it’s a million times easier being a script editor than it is being a writer. It’s very easy for me to get on my soap-box and hold forth about what writers are doing wrong – but everyone who completes a screenplay should be congratulated for it – because as I know from personal experience, it’s never easy. And as writers, you open yourself up to criticism in a very brave way. When people like your work, it can be hugely rewarding, but when they don’t it can be very painful.

What Kate says about failure is so true and it goes back to what three enormously successful screenwriters said about embracing failure at the London Sundance Festival. (see my May 3rd blog


What I learnt from this year’s C4 screenwriting course –

So the 2013 Channel 4 screenwriting course has come to a close. And here are a few thoughts triggered by the 12 writers we worked with, the 2nd weekend of the course, and the drinks evening we held for the writers on Tuesday.

It’s amazing what actors can bring to a script. Last Saturday we had a day of readings of 15 minute sections of each of the 12 scripts written on the course. As ever, this was one of the highlights of the course. We do get some very good actors (Thank you Patrick Brennan!), and invariably they bring the scripts alive, and alert you to qualities in a script you may not have been aware of when reading it off your computer screen. This is a real treat for the writers; and reminds you that a script without the performances to go with it, is incomplete.

One of the sad realities of the acting profession in this country is that there are a hell of a lot of good actors out there and not enough jobs. So, as budding writers, I would really recommend – when you feel your script may be ready for it – trying to get some actors together to do a reading of your script – even if it’s just for you and a few close friends – you will learn so much about your script from the experience and they will inevitably bring an energy and life to your script that will sustain you through those dark hours of staring forlornly at your reflection in your computer screen. And it’s great for actors to flex their acting muscles.

Being a successful screenwriter requires a lot more of you than just being a good writer. On Tuesday we held our annual Channel 4 screenwriting course drinks evening – a chance for the 12 new screenwriters to meet potential employers and agents from the industry. For most of the writers this is an understandably terrifying prospect. We stick name badges on them and parade them before people who have the power to transform their (working) lives, expecting them to pitch themselves and their projects. The positive way the writers responded to this potential ordeal (alcohol helped) was admirable, but did remind me of how vitally important this other (networking) half of a screenwriter’s working life is – Of course you have to be damn good at writing – but the bottom line is that the majority of work you get will be from people you’ve already met (and who like you!) It’s just human nature. SO you have to put yourself about – and learn how to enjoy it. Stamina and Endurance are vital qualities for being a screenwriter.

The power of the writers’ community – one of the things the course tries to do is get the writers to give each other constructive feedback on their scripts and swap notes about the process. When writers support each other, it makes such a difference. The writers from the 2012 course still meet up with each other – and me occasionally – and it makes such a difference – especially for such a necessarily solitary profession – for writers to be able to swap stories from the trenches and support each other.


From a personal POV it’s incredibly exciting to be in on the start of an amazing journey for some very talented but at this stage very inexperienced screenwriters. Watching the writers achieve success after the course is hugely satisfying.


There’s been some excellent television drama in the last 7 days.

‘The Fall’

So what did you make of the last episode? Hmm. The whole series was gripping but the conclusion was a bit of a tease. Are we supposed to give another 5 hours of our life to series 2 with the prospect of it ending with another complete lack of resolution? The thing missing for me was at least one big, meaty scene between cop and killer. I felt I’d earned that. Doing it on the phone just didn’t cut it for me…

…and switching straight over to C4 on Monday night…


I really responded to the ‘low-concept’ nature of this. Just two characters talking to each other across a table for 22 minutes. And it was so engaging. A real showcase for the writing (Brian Elsley). It renews my optimism that something this low-concept gets commissioned, and it’s reassuring that it can be so good.

Les Revenants \ The Returned

From the extreme of low-concept to real ‘high-concept’. I thought this was really watchable and I can’t wait for Sunday’s ep2

…and finally, look out for Channel 4’s forthcoming 4 part serial RUN, coming to our screens in the next few weeks. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of all 4 episodes because the two talented co-writers Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan and Marlon Smith came into talk to the C4 screenwriting course on Sunday.

This is really gripping, fresh and original. It’s also highly encouraging that this is the screenwriting debut for Dan and Marlon – a fantastic first credit, and great that Channel 4 Drama are willing to invest in new talent – and to give them (and exec producer Jaimie D’Cruz, directors Charles Martin & Jonathan Pearson) 4 hours of peak screen-time – their creative trust has paid dividends. The writing is deceptively good. The second story in particular, which features one of the least articulate protagonists ever, is an example of how the best screen story-telling is not about what characters say, it’s about what they do.

Until next week

All the best



twitter: @philipshelley1

June 14th 2013