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04 December 2019

Announcing our new course: Writing an Original TV Drama Serial

Colin Teevan Screen Writer for TV
by Anna Davis Course News

We are pretty much beside ourselves with excitement about our big new course coming in Spring 2020 … Working closely with Curtis Brown’s Theatre, Film and Television agents, we’re launching our very first course in Writing an Original TV Drama Serial.

The course – which runs for 18 weeks from 9 March 2020 in our London offices, will be led by celebrated TV-writer, playwright and former Birkbeck Professor Colin Teevan, who will guide the 15 students through the process of developing their concepts and outlines for a six-part drama serial and writing a 60-minute pilot episode. It’ll be a very real-world course – featuring practical masterclasses from five leading TV professionals: A writer/showrunner, a producer/development executive, a script editor, a commissioner/executive producer, and a director. Towards the end of the 18 weeks, the students will get an intensive one-to-one tutorial focused on their pilot script with experienced script editor and producer Clare Alan, and the course will then culminate in a chance to share material with the Curtis Brown TV agents plus an agent pitching session and networking drinks with the agent team.

I’m personally thrilled that we’re launching this course. I’ve long nursed an ambition to run courses in screen-writing – but it’s taken some time to get it right. I’m so delighted that the Curtis Brown Theatre, Film and TV agents have decided to join forces with us in this new project – and there might just be more to follow – watch this space …

I’m particularly grateful to Joe Phillips (joint head of the Theatre, Film and TV department) for connecting me with the brilliant Colin Teevan, our tutor and collaborator. It was when I first sat down with Colin for a (slightly strange crayfish) lunch that this course really started taking shape. I’ve got a fair amount of experience under my belt when it comes to running creative writing courses and working with agents – but Colin knows exactly what writers need from a course in writing TV Drama. Having been a lecturer and then Professor of Screenwriting and Playwriting for 12 years at Birkbeck, he comes with rich and in-depth experience. And unlike many academics who teach screenwriting in a university setting, Colin is, himself, a leading screenwriter and playwright. In fact, one of our biggest challenges, in putting this course together, was finding a string of dates when he wasn’t busy with his current TV drama projects and would therefore be available to teach for us!

It was Colin’s idea that this course should take writers through the whole process of developing an idea for a TV serial via a series of masterclasses from key players in the process. His own teaching will tie-in with the work being done in the masterclasses – for instance, he’ll teach on issues relevant to writing a scene in a TV drama script just before the students get their session with a director on writing scenes and sequences. Three students’ work will be discussed in each of these masterclasses – in such a way as to be relevant for the whole group (and with every student being the focus of a masterclass at some stage of the course). Colin will also lead writing workshops based around extracts from the students’ pilot scripts – and everyone gets a one-to-one tutorial, which the student can direct towards whatever they need Colin to focus on.

It was also Colin who introduced me to Clare Alan, the very wonderful script editor and producer who will be giving students their final, in-depth tutorial. She’ll also be leading one of the masterclasses and will be presiding over of the selection of the 15 students …

I’ll stop waffling in a minute – thing is, I really AM VERY excited about this course … To finish up, I’ll just add that of COURSE the agents will be intricately involved – particularly near the end of the 18 weeks, when the students get to share work with them and learn to pitch with them – and they’ll be taking part in the drinks at course end and will be keen to get to know the students and hear about their work. As ever, with Curtis Brown Creative’s selective applications courses, we are looking for new talent – and are very keen to connect talented students with our agents. That’s when the magic can happen.

We’re also delighted to offer a brand new scholarship enabling one talented writer of limited financial means to join the course – provided by HW Fisher, the accountancy firm who have generously been offering scholarships with us for almost four years.

The only thing that remains is for me to encourage budding TV screenwriters to apply. ANYONE can apply for this course – whether you’re trying your hand at writing TV Drama for the first time – or whether you’ve already made short films, won awards, been selected for special writing schemes, studied for an MFA, taken part in writers’ rooms etc. You just need to be over 18, to have a good idea for a TV Drama serial that you want to work with for the course – and to write the first few pages in industry format (which means using Final Draft or similar to present your work in the professional format that is expected by the industry). We are expecting a lot of applications and will only have 15 places to give – so that does mean that some people will be disappointed. But DO apply if you want to join us. Places will be allocated based on the idea for the serial and the quality of the writing sent in – not on the basis of what you’ve already done. Our form does ask some questions about what your writing/TV/screen background is, but only because we’re curious and because we like to know a bit about the people who apply for our courses.

Oh – and if you’re thinking of applying, you do need to be able to attend a weekly course in Central London. We know this will be frustrating for many people who aren’t able to do that – but my hope is that we will be able to follow on soon with an online offering. We also hope to be able to offer scholarships soon for people with low income – we’ll be working on that.

So yes – if you want to apply for this course – just do it! Here’s where you’ll find the full details.

Applications are open till midnight on 16th February.

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