Courses, feedback & recommendations

Hi There,


We have now confirmed the interviews and I have emailed everyone who wasn’t successful. Apologies if you haven’t heard back from me. Inevitably there are always a few who for various reasons slip through the net.

I would like to reiterate what I said in that email – that we are blown away by the standard of the scripts we received. It’s so hard choosing between equally excellent scripts in very different styles and genres; and it’s a real honour for us to be able to read all this new work from the UK and Ireland screenwriting communities; and to meet and discover so many brilliant new voices.

In the next few newsletters (probably starting in the New Year) the scripts readers and I will be sharing some thoughts about the experience of reading so many scripts in such a short space of time with (I hope) some helpful pointers about the particular requirements of initiatives like 4screenwriting but also thoughts and observations for your screenwriting more generally.

I have also encouraged this year’s excellent script readers to get in touch with writers whose work they particularly enjoyed but who didn’t make the 25-strong interview list.

Thank you very much for entering. It is a pleasure and a privilege to read your work. I just received one response to my email that I would like to share –

If a person can make a few submissions and can keep going, they will get better – maybe not to TV or Radio production standard, but much better than the original effort and eventually they will find a genre or range which they find fertile to some degree.

Am I disappointed?  Yes, a bit, but  to anyone wavering as to whether they should make a submission  of their work or idea to a ‘competition’ like the Channel 4 Screenwriting course, I  would say  – do it – make a submission.  Don’t die wondering.

I think this is a really good attitude. I understand that not getting one of the 12 places is disappointing. But being able to take only 12 writers from 2050+ submissions means that you are in very good company. And the more you submit for initiatives like this, the more you use them as deadlines and motivation, the stronger your writing will get.


‘A new initiative to help writers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds

kickstart their careers and gain proper access to the TV industry.’

Set up by Phil Temple of new indie production company Birdie Pictures and actors Stephen Graham and Hannah Walters of Matriarch Productions, this is an exciting new scheme set up to tackle the obstacles faced by working-class writers trying to break into the industry.

You can find all the details you need here on the Birdie Productions website.

I think this looks like a brilliant scheme, set up by really impressive industry names. Please can I ask you to spread the word about this new initiative.

NB The deadline for submissions is Monday January 8th 2024.

The Arvon Foundation – Totleigh Barton Screenwriting week

I was lucky enough to co-run my 2nd Arvon Foundation screenwriting tutored retreat of 2023 earlier in November. Totleigh Barton in Devon is very isolated and very beautiful. I ran the week with excellent screenwriter and 4screenwriting alumna Regina Moriarty (Murdered By My Boyfriend, The Light In The Hall) and it was a really enjoyable, mind-expanding, creatively fulfilling week.  It feels very good for you being forced to mix with new people, so many different writers with so many original, fascinating story ideas. 12 women and the most formidable, inspirational 93 year old man, who had many brilliant tales to tell.

Here are just a few thoughts / ideas that were discussed & explored during the week –

‘Finding connections – conversations about education, hothousing, tutoring, parental competitiveness, the pressure heaped on children, teenagers, gen z, exacerbated by the rise of social media – the ‘insta’ generation – the gap between the reality of young lives and the glossy presentation.

Discussion of one’s social media footprint – what one unwittingly reveals about oneself – how your digital footprint outlives you. Echoes of a life lived that linger on after you’ve gone, waiting to be discovered and explored.

From a 93 year old perspective – epic stories that bridge the 20th century and its history through an individual lens.

Sibling disputes triggered by a parent’s death – the division of the spoils causing rifts and resentments.

The ‘indulgence’, feelings of guilt, of a woman spending time away from partner and kids to focus on writing – is this a uniquely female response?

The teenage girl arriving at her first mixed school, coming home to tell her mum, ‘The boys put their hands up to talk and they don’t even have a question to ask!’

Observations / memories of particular men who grandstand / opine in course situations and being asked – politely – by women to ask them to shut the f**k up (my words not theirs). Men and their certainties / opinions. Which lead to…

This generation of private-school-educated emotionally-stunted, authority figures with attachment issues – who contrived to do all they can to f**k up this country in the last 10 years (especially when comparing dysfunctional London to, for instance, Amsterdam and Geneva).

Another thing discussed was the sheer difficulty of writing – the challenge of silencing your inner critic, having the mental focus and space to be able to sit down and write something that subconsciously we know will be submitted and judged, continually putting yourself on the line like this…submitting yourself to this daily challenge that never gets any easier.’

Anatomy Of A Fall

I went to see this film last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the way that one simple (if highly dramatic) incident was the basis for the whole story, how this event allowed the writer to explore the family and characters involved in such forensic and intimate detail, as the ripples from this incident spread. It’s a classic courtroom drama. But the format is used in surprising and brilliant ways to illuminate and dramatise the characters. At the centre of the film is the outstanding Sandra Hüller – impressively different to her character in The Zone Of Interest.

The next newsletter (and the final one of 2023) will be with you on Friday December 15th,

Best wishes



Twitter / X: @PhilipShelley1

Friday December 1st 2023