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Writing an Original TV Drama Serial

Our new screenwriting course returns to London. Features masterclasses from top TV professionals and Curtis Brown agents. Scholarship available.

COURSE DATES

4 Apr 2022 - 1 Aug 2022

In London

Live teaching sessions in-person

Selective Entry

We offer places to the most talented applicants

Course Fee £2,800

Work on your idea with TV drama professionals

Overview

From pitch to pilot – work on your original TV drama with top industry professionals. During this eighteen-week course, fifteen talented writers will each develop an idea for a drama serial, write a sixty-minute pilot episode and evolve a plan for further episodes – supported by the expert teaching of experienced screenwriter, producer and director Jamie Nuttgens. Each writer will also receive an in-depth one-to-one tutorial from an experienced script editor Clare Alan as well as a series of five masterclasses from leading TV-industry professionals. Curtis Brown’s Theatre, Film and Television agents will deliver a pitching session – and each writer will have the opportunity to share materials with the agent team at the end of the course.

This course will help students to develop their work to the best of its potential and will also be highly practical, giving a real-world education about what the industry is looking for and how to pitch their work effectively. Students will work on a range of important materials as well as writing their pilot script and workshopping extracts from it. They’ll be getting advice from top professionals on how to develop their idea, and on how to write pitches, outlines, treatments, character biographies, scenes and sequences, series overviews, and more.

While we don’t guarantee that students will find representation with Curtis Brown, our agents will be on the look-out for exciting new talent and will call in the full scripts of writers whose work they particularly connect with.

In the eleven years since we’ve started Curtis Brown Creative, over 150 of our novel-writing students have gone on to get major publishing deals for their novels, including Jane Harper (The Dry), Kate Hamer  (The Girl in the Red Coat), Nicholas Searle (The Good Liar is now a major feature film starring Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren) and Jessie Burton, whose debut The Miniaturist sold more than a million copies and became a BBC mini-serial. Read more about the published authors who’ve studied with us here. We launched our first Writing an Original TV Drama Serial course in 2020 and are thrilled to be running it for the fourth time with the support of Curtis Brown’s Theatre, Film and Television department.

Tutors

Jamie Nuttgens, Screenwriter

Jamie Nuttgens is an award-winning writer, producer and director in TV and Film with over 25 years’ experience working with writers across different genres and platforms.  After a career in Rep and Devised Theatre and as a Writer-Producer in Commercial Radio, he joined BBC Drama Serials to Script Edit Jimmy McGovern’s The Lakes.  After a stint at Casualty he moved to ITV to produce The Bill and a spin-off series, Burnside.  For Channel 4 he developed and co-produced Red Riding, a series of TV films based on David Peace’s Northern Noir novels.  He has produced the award-winning work of UK Indian writer-director, Smita Bhide, including Cup & Lip, The Blue Tower (Best UK Feature Raindance Film Festival) and Another Planet (Golden Award IFF Goa).  His own writing has included Casualty, The Bill and Crossroads.  He is currently Head of Drama at Ten66 Television (Black Lesbian Handbook / Love In The Flesh). At the Met Film School, Ealing Studios, he headed the MA in Screenwriting since 2013, is currently Lecturer in Screenwriting at Oxford University and has been a visiting lecturer at NFTS, La Femis Paris, Northern Film School, Westminster, Polish Film School Lodz, and Blanquerna Barcelona.

Clare Alan, Script Editor

Clare Alan is a script editor and producer who has worked on a range of TV and film projects in the UK and Ireland. Her script editing credits include Solomon & Gaenor by Paul Morrison and controversial C4 factual drama The Investigator by Barbara Machin for September films, Dangerfield and Silent Witness for the BBC, and four series of The Vice for ITV. Clare moved to Touchpaper TV as head of development in 2001 and began producing on shows by Julian Fellowes, Barry Simner, Edna O’Brien and Colin Teevan. In 2017 she set up Pamela Productions where she worked on ReefTV’s biopic of Mahler for BBC Music & Arts, Draco by Clive Bradley  and A New Dawn by Bronagh Taggart for BBC Northern Ireland. She has also worked as executive producer on C4’s new writing and directing scheme Coming Up.

TEACHING IN LONDON – SUPPORTED BY ZOOM

We are so excited about the return of our London courses. We love the energy of our in-person courses, and so do our students. However, your safety is our first concern. We are carefully monitoring the ongoing Covid-19 situation, factoring in government guidance, and listening to feedback from our students. We hope to run all sessions at our central London location, with some visiting speaker sessions to be held on Zoom. Should it prove necessary we will move some or even all classes of this course to Zoom.

In-person classes will be held at comfortable, spacious venues in central London (Asia House, unless otherwise specified), and will be fully compliant with government rules on distancing and hygiene. We have a Covid protocol, the current version of which can be read here. The protocol is reviewed, ongoing throughout the duration of the course, and our students and staff will be kept fully informed of any amendments made in their interests.

Teaching sessions and workshops will take place weekly on Monday evenings. Please read to the end of this course description and schedule for full details.

For those not familiar with Zoom, it’s a video conferencing platform that enables you to meet up virtually with others. You’ll be able to connect with your class and experience live teaching as if you were all in the same room. You’ll get to ask questions and give your thoughts, ensuring the natural back-and-forth you’d encounter in the classroom. It’s easy to use – we’ll send you a link to join the relevant masterclass sessions by email – and the CBC team will be on hand to help if you have any problems.

If circumstances dictate that this course runs entirely on Zoom, the fee will be reduced to £2,600.

WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?

Five Industry Masterclasses

Top TV professionals share their expertise

During these five special Zoom/in-person sessions leading figures from all key stages of the production process will guide students through the process of drama development, with focus on students' work.

Group Workshops

Led by Jamie Nuttgens

On ten evenings, Jamie Nuttgens will lead group workshops live in London or on Zoom giving dedicated feedback on 2,000-word extracts of your pilot script. Each student gets two workshops focused on their own work across the course.

Teaching Sessions

Led by Jamie Nuttgens

Jamie will teach on topics important for developing and writing a TV drama serial – and which support the masterclasses. Topics include character development, structure, plot, endings and more.

One-to-One Tutorial

Choose what to bring to your tutorial with Jamie

You'll get a 25-minute one-to-one video/phone tutorial with Jamie, who will read up to 2,000 words from your work ahead of time. You decide whether to show him script material, outline, pitch etc.

Agent Masterclass

Pitch your serial to the Curtis Brown agents

TV agents from Curtis Brown will talk about the agent's role and answer questions on the industry and how to get your work noticed.

Clare Allen., Script editor

Tutorial with a Script Editor

Get expert feedback from Clare Alan

Near the end of the course, you'll get a 45-minute video/phone tutorial with professional script editor Clare Alan, who will read your 50-word pitch, the first 30 pages of your pilot script and a 300-word outline of the rest of the serial and give a valuable industry-oriented perspective.

Curtis Brown Creative learning platform forum

Student Forum

The hub of our online courses – find your writing community

We have developed a bespoke learning platform exclusively for our students. Here you can give and receive feedback, and discuss the week’s topics with your fellow students.

Joe Phillips, TV Agent

Share Your Work with Agents

A chance to share material with the Curtis Brown agents

At course end you'll have the chance to informally share with the agent team the first fifteen pages of your pilot script (max 2,200 words) plus 50-word pitch and 300-word outline for the series. Agents may request to see more.

MASTERCLASSES FROM TV PROFESSIONALS

This course will feature a series of five special masterclasses delivered by TV professionals – organised and ordered to reflect the process of real-world television drama development. Students will be asked to prepare a specific piece of work relating to their own project for each of these sessions. The masterclass will start out with the guest TV professional giving the inside track on their role to demystify it for the students, and answering their questions – and will then move on to discussion of the students’ work. Each guest professional will discuss in detail the work of three students – and will do so in such a way as to be educational for the whole group. Each student will have their work specifically considered in one of these masterclasses (see the schedule below for details of the focus of each masterclass and the work to be completed). Former masterclass speakers for this course have included the best the industry has to offer, including Sally Woodward Gentle, the BAFTA winning, Golden Globe and Emmy nominated, executive producer of television dramas including Killing Eve, The Durrells and Whitechapel, co-founder of Bad Wolf Productions Julie Gardner best known for her work helping to spearhead the revival of the BAFTA-wining series Doctor Who, and Manda Levin, Senior Commissioning Editor for Development at BBC Drama. Masterclass speakers for this course are yet to be confirmed, this page will be updated with scheduled speakers as they are announced.

Working with other writers

We pride ourselves on the tightly-knit writing communities that are established on our courses. As well as getting feedback on your work-in-progress during the course, we’ll be asking you to read the work of your fourteen fellow students week by week, and provide constructive comments (both in writing and verbally at the group workshop sessions). We find the process of offering feedback to others helps you to reach important conclusions about your own work and sharpen your material. On ten evenings across the course (as detailed in the schedule), three students will have 10–12 pages of their pilot script (up to 2,000 words on each occasion) workshopped by the rest of the group and the tutor. It’ll be your turn to get the group’s dedicated workshop attention twice during the course.

Applications now closed

Our selective applications process means that you will be writing your script in a peer group of 15 students working at a high level.

The course fee of £2,800 (inc VAT) per student is payable, in full, by bank transfer. Funds must reach our bank account before the course begins. If you are unable to pay the full fee upfront, let us know and we can arrange an instalment plan.

Read this blog for advice on preparing and formatting your application. Please upload your application via the form below. If you encounter any problems during the application process, or have any more questions about the course, please email cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk for assistance.

Scholarship

The Breakthrough Scholarship for TV Screenwriters will award one talented writer with limited financial means a fully paid place on this course. If you’re without the financial means to attend a Curtis Brown Creative course, this scholarship opportunity is for you. To submit your application for the scholarship place please fill in the form found here. Deadline Sunday 20 March.

The scholarship is part of the Breakthrough Writers’ Programme, a major outreach initiative offering opportunities to under-represented writers.

Masterclass Tutors and Agents

Read about the industry professionals who’ll be teaching the student group in our five special masterclass sessions – and the agents who’ll be giving feedback on your pitches (full details of contributors will be added here as soon as they are available). Masterclasses will be held in London or on Zoom, depending on the speaker.

Nish Panchal

In 2007 Nish joined BBC Films where he worked as Development Assistant across a slate of award-winning feature films and BBC Four single dramas, including An Education, Brighton Rock and Toast. He moved to Curtis Brown in 2011 to work with Joe Phillips and his list of brilliant directors and writers in theatre, film and television. In 2013 he joined forces with Sam Greenwood and they started building their own list of writers, directors and filmmakers from the ground up.

Nish Panchal


Agent

Course Schedule

All teaching and workshop sessions take place on Monday evenings, in central London from 7pm to 9pm. Some masterclass sessions may take place on Zoom, these will run from 7pm to 8.45pm.

The exact dates and locations of the masterclasses are to be confirmed. Classes may be moved from London to Zoom depending on circumstances, with prior notification to all concerned.

WEEK 1

Introduction

Monday 4 April

Introductory session with Jamie Nuttgens, CBC’s senior manager Abby Parsons and courses manager Jack Hadley. Welcome to the course and information on how everything works and what you should do to get the most out of the 18 weeks.

see more

WEEK 2

The Pitch

Monday 11 April  

Teaching from Jamie Nuttgens on what is a pitch and how to develop your core idea, and discussion of some Aristotelian principles – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.

see more

WEEK 3

Central Character

Tuesday 19 April   

Teaching from Jamie Nuttgens on how to develop your central character and how this translates into story and story arc – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.

see more

WEEK 4

Masterclass 1: Showrunner/Writer

Monday 25 April

Screenwriter Richard Warlow (Ripper Street, Mistresses, The Serpent) will give the inside track on his role and lead a masterclass on refining your pitch (50-word pitch). (These are absolute maximums – there are seldom extra minutes granted in TV!)

see more

WEEK 5

Plotting the Serial

Tuesday 3 May  

Teaching from Jamie Nuttgens – how to plot your serial; where to start and where to aim for both your series and your whole serial, plus exploring plot development – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.

see more

WEEK 6

Masterclass 2: Producer

Monday 9 May    

Our guest will give the inside track on their role and lead a masterclass on the serial overview – with focus on three students’ work.

see more

WEEK 7

Plotting the Pilot

Monday 16 May   

Teaching from Jamie Nuttgens on how to plot an episode, once more considering plot development on an episode level and finding the right place to start your story – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.

see more

WEEK 8

Masterclass 3: Script Editor

Monday 23 May    

Script editor Clare Alan will give the inside track on her role and lead a masterclass which centres on how to write the treatment for your pilot – with focus on three students’ treatments – five pages (maximum 1,250 words).

see more

WEEK 9

Scene-writing 1: Structure

Monday 30 May   

Teaching from Jamie Nuttgens on how to write scenes focusing on dramatic structure – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.

see more

WEEK 10

Masterclass 4: Commissioner/Executive Producer

Monday 6 June

Our guest will give the inside track on their role and lead a masterclass on the serial overview – with focus on three students’ work (2–4 pages overview, maximum 1,500 words plus images).

see more

WEEK 11

Scene-writing 2: Point of View

Monday 13 June

Teaching from Jamie Nuttgens on how to write scenes focusing on the key question of point of view and how to write to it – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.

see more

WEEK 12

Scene-writing 3: Writing Through Action

Monday 20 June  

Teaching from Jamie Nuttgens on telling story and character through action (and reaction), with a focus on the uses of the action sequence – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.

see more

WEEK 13

Masterclass 5: Director

Monday 27 June  

Our guest director will give the inside track on their role, and lead a masterclass on scenes – with focus on three students’ scenes or sequences (10 minutes of material – 1600 words of text max including all stage directions).

see more

WEEK 14

Dramatic Time and Pace

Monday 4 July  

Teaching from Jamie Nuttgens on dramatic time – how to create a sense of time and dramatic pace within your drama and using effective cutting and juxtaposition of scenes to achieve this – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.

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WEEK 15

Endings and Rewriting

Monday 11 July   

Teaching from Jamie Nuttgens on finding the right place to conclude your drama on an episode, series and overall serial level, plus the joys, dangers and importance of ‘the rewrite’! – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.

see more

WEEK 16

The Pitch/trouble-shooting

Monday 18 July

Jamie Nuttgens final full teaching session will help students to prepare for their pitching session with the agents and get answers to questions that are troubling them – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.

see more

WEEK 17

Masterclass with TV agents from Curtis Brown

Monday 25 July

Agents from Curtis Brown’s Theatre, Film and Television department will talk about the role of the agent and answer questions on agenting, the pitch and the TV industry.

see more

WEEK 18

Conclusions

Monday 1 August

Jamie Nuttgens and Jack Hadley will lead a concluding session, looking at next steps for the students.

see more

Ready to apply?

Please apply with the opening of your pilot script (up to fifteen pages – maximum 2,200 words) in industry standard format, 300 words synopsising your entire pilot episode and 300 words synopsising the rest of your serial. All of these materials need to be in the same document, as you can only upload ONE PDF file. The CBC team will select applicants based on the quality of the writing sample provided. The deadline for applications is midnight, end of day Sunday 13 March, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 17 March.

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