CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE 2017
I’m delighted to announce the start of the CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE for 2017.
Information about how to submit an entry for the course is here –
and this entry link will be open this coming Monday Sept 5th (from 9am) for three weeks until midnight on Sunday Sept 25th.
I hope all the information that you need to make an informed entry is up on the webpage. I’m afraid I have a policy of not entering into any email correspondence about the course entries. (If I didn’t, I would simply be overwhelmed by email correspondence – and, having honed the FAQ’s over 6 years, I’m pretty confident that all the necessary information is up there).
AND I’d like to stress that this is FREE to enter, and if you get accepted, you are paid a small fee to participate in the course. (Thank you Channel 4!)
2017 will be the 7th year of the course. We’ve now had 73 new screenwriters come off the course in the last 6 years, and the general level of success of the 4Screenwriting alumni is very high. In 2016, for instance, of the 12 writers chosen for the course, 6 already had agents, 6 didn’t. Now all 12 of those writers have agents (and very good agents too).
(NB see the course testimonials on the website page)
At the end of the course in mid-June, we hold a drinks evening at Channel 4 in London where we introduce the year’s 12 course writers to potential employers from the industry (producers, script editors and development executives from many of the top UK indie drama and film companies, literary agents). Attendance at this drinks evening has grown every year. This year we had approx. 200 guests, and loads of meetings result from the contacts the writers make at this evening (initiated of course by the brilliant scripts they’ve written).
From the writers who have done the course, within Channel 4 drama, Melissa Bubnic went on to write on SHAMELESS, Tom Wells and Vivienne Franzmann on COMING UP, Anna Symon on 2 series of INDIAN SUMMERS, Cat Jones on YOUNGERS (E4), Charlie Covell on BANANA (E4). And several of the writers from the course have projects in development with the channel.
Many of the course writers have projects in active development with indie producers – and many have also gone onto do brilliant work for other broadcasters (eg MURDERED BY MY FATHER – written by Vinay Patel, and MURDERED BY MY BOYFRINED, written by Regina Moriarty, both hugely successful, critically-acclaimed films, which both writers went onto write straight from 4Screenwriting).
Entry is open to any writer who doesn’t have a TV broadcast credit or hasn’t written a theatrically released feature film. Initial assessment is based on the script – for its all-round quality, and its suitability to C4 / E4 drama – although I would say it’s the quality of the script – in terms of originality of voice, entertainment value, ability to tell a gripping story, having something to say and creating memorable characters – that is the most important.
We also ask you to submit a CV so that we can find out a little more about the person behind the script – your interests, your working life outside of screenwriting, your writing credits and life experience. But this is obviously of far less importance than a cracking script.
We then formulate a shortlist of writers (usually 25-30) and carry out 2 days of interviews at Channel 4 in London in early December. We’ll send you more information about what this interview involves nearer the time if you get onto the shortlist.
For me and the other readers of the scripts, it’s an enormously exciting, stimulating and privileged process working our way through the submitted scripts. The general quality of the scripts seems to get better and better every year, and we have some incredibly tough choices to make. It’s always really nice to be able to offer the chosen writers a place on the course – but the other side of that coin is that we are obviously going to disappoint the vast majority of applicants. If you don’t get chosen, you should console yourself with the fact that you’re in very good company – we have to turn away many outstanding writers and, at the end of the day, however hard we try to be impartial and objective – and we try VERY HARD – there is inevitably an element of personal taste in the final selections – my readers and I always have some lively debates and disagreements about the scripts. The final selection is never easy.
I was reminded of the fact that no two people ever seem to feel the same about a script by an article I came across by script guru Robert McKee about the film / screenplay ROOM. IMO this was one of the outstanding films of last year – a really wonderful film with a great script by Emma Donoghue. But this is what McKee said about the script –
‘It doesn’t work…Why has ROOM’s writer strung together two simple, shallow, half-stories, rather than create one profound, complex, complete story? My guess…creative inertia… Hows of story can break an author’s back and brain. Some just aren’t up to the heavy lifting. ROOM does not work because neither half of the film comes anywhere near its generic potential…’
And there’s more along these dismissive lines.
When I read this, I was gob-smacked by how utterly wrong I thought it was. But generally I think McKee talks a lot of sense, and his books and lectures have some brilliant insights about the craft of screenwriting.
Which just goes to show how incredibly hard it is to objectively assess a screenplay – and should teach you writers to try to be as thick-skinned and philosophical about knockbacks as you can (although it’s never easy).
NB Incidentally, Channel 4 Drama run a number of other scriptwriting schemes that you should know about – information here –
C21 DRAMA SERIES SCRIPT COMPETITION
…and while you’re at it, here’s another very worthwhile screenplay competition, which is accepting entries until Oct 13th.
Here’s some of the blurb about this competition –
‘Six finalists will be announced on October 28. Those finalists will be partnered with a mentor to polish their script and pitch to win at C21’s International Drama Summit in London between November 29 and December 1, 2016. The winner will be announced at the event following the pitches and receive 10k development funding, time in a writers room on a current series, and assistance in taking their drama project to series, with unprecedented access to the global television drama market…This year we have added a mentor stage, which will see a leading drama executive work with each of six finalists to get them ready to pitch their script at the Drama Summit. New talent is around every corner, and the Script Competition is a great way of connecting new writers with the global drama business.’
As you’ll see, the entry fee for this is quite high – but, reading about last year’s scheme, they received 220 scripts (as opposed to the Channel 4 course which received 1200+) – so statistically your chances of success are much better on this scheme.
C21’s partnership with eOne means that the successful projects go into development with eOne – which is another good incentive.
Here is a link to more information about this scheme –
And entry link –
The next newsletter will be on Sept 16th,
All the best
Sept 2nd 2016