CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE Jan – June 2016
Entries for the 2016 Channel 4 screenwriting course will be open from this coming Monday Oct 12th at 9am – and will close at 6pm on Friday Oct 30th. ie we’re only open for submissions for 20 days – so don’t miss the window of opportunity.
Here’s the link – http://www.script-consultant.co.uk/channel-4-script-submit/
But the way-in to the entry system won’t be open until 9am Monday.
Please read carefully the ENTRY FAQs on the information page – I think we’ve got pretty much everything covered there – and the fact is I don’t have time to answer email queries. To be honest I’d far rather spend time reading your scripts than trading countless emails about the minutiae of the entry procedure.
NB if you do have questions that you’d like to ask me, that you think will help with your application (whether about the application process or the course itself), please email as a response to this newsletter and, if there are enough, I will dedicate next week’s newsletter to answering those questions.
2016 will be the 6th year of the course and the course has gone from strength to strength since we started it in 2011. I’m enormously proud of the success that many of the course graduates have achieved. I’ve learnt a lot from running the course, and we tweak the way it’s run a little every year. The course is aimed at finding the best, most exciting writers, and then helping them as much we can to achieve screenwriting success when they come out the other end of the course.
If you’re coming to this year’s LONDON SCREENWRITERS FESTVAL, I’ll be running a session about the C4 course on Sunday Oct 25th 2-3pm where we’ll tell you everything you need to know. I’ll be joined by –
LISA WALTERS Development Programme Co-ordinator from Channel 4 drama who has been involved with the course over several years, and is also across the other Channel 4 Drama initiatives for new writers – of which there are several – here’s a link to their page on the 4Talent website – http://4talent.channel4.com/work-programmes/4-new-writers
Screenwriters ANNA SYMON and JANE EDEN. Both are graduates of 4Screenwriting – Anna in 2013, Jane in 2014 – and both have achieved great success since their time on the course, and will be able to give you many great insights – about how they got onto the course, the script development process on the course, and how they used the course as a springboard for further success, and how they have sustained and managed their careers since – and about the craft of screenwriting.
So what are we looking for in writers who apply to the course?
Above all we’re looking for writers with a strong, distinctive voice – an originality of outlook and agenda, but also people who have an appreciation of the craft of dramatic writing, an instinct and ability for story-telling, for keeping us turning the pages with anticipation and a sense of excitement.
This is a course for screenwriters and generally over the years, we have chosen most writers from screenplays (rather than stage or radio plays). But we like to pick a broad mix – and last year in fact the submitted scripts we chose were – 6 stage plays, 2 radio plays and 4 screenplays. What we’re looking for above all is writers who can tell a story skilfully, who have something to say, and who are focused and ambitious to establish themselves as professional screenwriters.
We also aim to choose a broad mix of writers in terms of gender, age, culture, region and ethnicity.
In the last two years we have added interviews to the selection process as we’ve come to realize that being a brilliant, talented writer is only half the battle. As writers you also have to enjoy going out there and selling yourselves and your work, you have to enjoy collaboration and working with other people, and, as in every other business, you have to be organised, focused and be prepared to take some knocks along the way. Screenwriting is tricky in that it requires you to be sensitive enough to tap into inner-most truths for your writing – but also at times have the hide of a rhinoceros in order to deal with rejection and setbacks.
It’s also important that the writers we choose have a passion for TV drama in general and Channel 4 drama in particular.
The selection process is exciting but also frustrating – exciting because it’s great reading so many original, excellent scripts, discovering new, talented, exciting writers. Frustrating because we have to disappoint so many people. We generally receive about 1200 scripts and can only choose 12 writers each year – so inevitably we have to turn down very many enormously talented writers.
We have a panel of script readers who are all experienced, talented junior (or in some cases very experienced) script editors – but however objective and analytical we try to be about the submitted scripts, there is inevitably a strong subjective, personal response to the scripts. You should console yourself with the fact that if other people were picking the 12 writers then they’d quite likely choose 12 entirely different individuals. And there are quite a few writers who have applied for several years in a row before getting selected – it’s always impressive if writers submit different, but equally excellent scripts year after year.
Every year the course seems to attract more attention and interest. Not only do we hear from individual writers – but some of the better literary agents are keen to get their clients onto the course, knowing the boost it can give to their clients.
And every year, I get more and more approaches from potential script readers and trainee script editors. The course takes on 4 trainee script editors every year, and they shadow the experienced script editor, working with three writers on their 1 hour series or serial pilot scripts. This is a unique script editor training opportunity, working with writers over 5 months, that I’m not sure exists anywhere else in the UK.
I look forward very much to reading your script (not that I personally read all 1200!) Good luck and if you do enter – thank you very much!
All the best
Oct 9th 2015