CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE 2023
I hope you’ve all had a good summer and are ready for a successful and creative autumn. One of my summer highlights was the industry drinks evening for the Channel 4 screenwriting course in July, the first time we’ve been able to hold it since 2019, where the 36 writers from the last three years of the course met up with literally hundreds of guests from the world of UK TV and film scripted fiction. After the three year break, it was great to catch up with so many familiar faces and industry friends and to be able to introduce these talented writers to the people who will be working with them in the coming months and years.
So I’m delighted to be able to announce that we will once again be running the CHANNEL 4 SCREENWRITING COURSE in 2023; and that the entry period for script submissions will run from next Friday September 16th – Monday October 3rd.
You can find all the information you need, including the entry Form (only available from 9am on Sept 16th) on the relevant page on my website –
The purpose of the course is to find 12 talented new writers, writers who don’t already have an on-screen TV or feature film writing credit, work with each of them on developing a TV pilot episode script over the first six months of 2023, then introduce them to an industry that is hungry for new writing talent. I think it is fair to say that, based on the calibre of the brilliant writers on the course over the last 12 years, so many script editors, development executives, producers and literary agents in the UK eagerly await the scripts and writers that come out of the course every June / July.
A few thoughts / pointers about the course and some specific detail about the 2023 course –
It’s so hard to be definitive about what we are looking for in the scripts. The team of seven script readers and I look for scripts that excite us, that have something powerful, distinctive and provocative to say, that make us laugh, cry and engage us emotionally. We are looking for writers whose voices feel fresh, original, full of conviction and passion for the stories they’re telling and the characters they’re creating. We’re looking for writers who have an instinct for and understanding of story and how to hook the reader (and then the audience) into that story. We are looking for writers with a creative connection to the sort of work Channel 4 Drama produce. To understand more about what Channel 4 Drama is and aspires to be, look at this page –
(and watch Channel 4’s drama output!)
‘Channel 4 Drama’s aim is to commission and broadcast the most talked-about and original drama in the UK. We commission new work from both established and up-and-coming drama writers, in order to be a surprising, thought-provoking, entertaining alternative to the drama output on other channels.’
We are looking for writers who love TV drama, watch it voraciously and have a passion for TV drama screenwriting and have strong opinions about it.
If you are interested in applying, it’s important to be aware of the work involved. The course is designed so that it should be possible to do a full-time job simultaneously. But it is very hard work; and if you get on the course, we expect you to want to commit to pursuing a career as a TV dramatist and screenwriter. The course will offer you real career opportunities and we want to have people on the course who are going to grasp these opportunities with both hands.
Part of the profile of the course and of the identity of Channel 4 Drama is a commitment to storytelling diversity in all its forms. We aren’t primarily interested in mainstream genre television (unless they’re executed surprisingly and subversively). We are more interested in genuinely innovative and surprising stories from voices that we’re not used to hearing from on our TV screens.
One of the entry criteria is that you are only allowed to submit a script that you haven’t previously submitted to the course (we do check!). But, based on some of the brilliant writers who have come through the course in the last few years, we are particularly keen to read work by writers who identify as disabled – to hear and to foreground the stories they have to tell. So, ONLY if you identify as disabled, you ARE able to submit a script that you have previously submitted.
But we are keen to encourage all aspects of diversity in writing – whether that’s in terms of gender, sexual orientation, class, geography, ethnicity, age, subject matter, etc etc.
Some other specifics for 2023 –
Unlike previous years, there is no space for a personal message with your application. Instead, there is a maximum 50 word box where we ask you to write the logline of your script. If you aren’t clear what this is, google it! We hope this will give the readers a useful overview / introduction to the story you’re telling. And we’d rather spend our time reading your scripts than long messages about why you think you should be on the course.
Generally speaking, we CAN’T answer your email enquiries (the only exceptions being if the questions you’re asking genuinely aren’t covered by the course information page and FAQs). Again, I’d rather spend my working days reading your scripts than trading emails. If you send me a question that is covered in the information on the course page, I won’t answer.
Please be careful when submitting your script and CV. Don’t submit more than once – we don’t accept duplicate entries – and be careful to submit the right document in the right box.
Please try not to submit your application on the final day (Monday October 3rd). You will avoid a lot of unnecessary stress by not applying at the last moment!
NB If you do have any questions that aren’t covered by all the information on the entry page, please email them to me or tweet me (@PhilipShelley1) and I will try to answer them in my next newsletter on Friday September 23rd.
SOME OTHER EVENTS / OPPORTUNITIES
STUDIO 21 SCRIPT COMPETITION
This excellent competition is now open for entries – until 30th September. This is a very reputable, well-established script initiative. It costs money to enter – but this at least means there will be fewer entries and therefore your statistical chances of success are a little higher than with 4screenwriting!
I’m running this in-person session at the BFI / Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York on November 2nd. I hope to meet some of you there.
With writer and 4screenwriting alumna Tolula Dada, I’m running this Arvon Foundation residential week (also in Yorkshire!) in February 2023.
September 9th 2022