Writing an Original TV Drama Serial
Our new screenwriting course returns to London, with some teaching online. Features masterclasses from top TV professionals and Curtis Brown agents. *Scholarship available.*
Sept 13 2021 - Jan 31 2022
In London & on Zoom
Live teaching sessions in-person and online
We offer places to the most talented applicants
Course Fee £2,800
Work on your idea with TV drama professionals
We are delighted to bring our new screenwriting course back to London. Tutor Colin Teevan and the Curtis Brown Creative team are looking forward to meeting our students in person!
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 celebrated TV-dramatist Colin Teevan (former Professor of Screenwriting and Playwriting at Birkbeck). Each writer will also receive an in-depth one-to-one tutorial from an experienced script editor 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. Across the eighteen weeks, 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.
In addition, students will enjoy access to our bespoke online Learn platform, which will enable the sharing of resources, handouts and homework tasks, and provide an opportunity to continue in-depth interaction and discussion of the workshop material with the group outside of the weekly teaching sessions.
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 nine years since we’ve started Curtis Brown Creative, over 130 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 third time with the support of Curtis Brown’s Theatre, Film and Television department.
Colin Teevan, Screenwriter
Colin Teevan is a celebrated playwright, translator, and writer for screen. He is writer, creator, and executive producer of Rebellion (RTE, Netflix) seasons 1 and 2 and lead writer, showrunner, and executive producer on Das Boot (Bavaria Fiction/Sky TV) seasons 2 and 3. He is also the writer and creator of Charlie (RTE), three original films starring Aidan Gillen, who won an IFTA for Best Performance. His other work for television includes Silk (BBC) starring Maxine Peake, Vera starring Brenda Blethyn and Single Handed (ITV). Colin currently has several new original drama serials in development with, amongst others, Warp, Freemantle, UFA (Germany), and Bavaria Fiction. Colin's theatre pieces have been produced by many leading British theatres including the National, the Young Vic, the Soho Theatre and the National Theatre of Scotland. He is Emeritus Professor of Screenwriting and Playwriting at Birkbeck, University of London where he has lectured for over twelve years. He has also been a visiting lecturer in stage and screenwriting at UEA, Durham, Newcastle, and Queen's Belfast.
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 AND ON ZOOM
We are so excited about the return of our London courses, but they will, of necessity, be a little bit different this autumn. Our feedback tells us that many students would not currently want to come to central London as frequently as they might have done pre-Covid. So this is a hybrid course, with some classes held in London and others on Zoom.
Teaching sessions and workshops will take place weekly on Monday evenings, and will vary between central London and Zoom. Your individual one-to-one tuition will also be delivered on Zoom (read to the end of this course description and schedule for full details).
Your safety is our first concern. In-person classes will be held at comfortable, spacious venues in central London, and will be fully compliant with government rules on distancing and hygiene. Should government guidance on Covid-19 mean that we have to cancel the in-person elements of the course, we will move the remaining sessions to Zoom.
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 Colin’s teaching live 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 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.
Led by Colin Teevan
On ten evenings, Colin Teevan 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.
Led by Colin Teevan
Colin 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.
Choose what to bring to your tutorial with Colin
You'll get a 25-minute one-to-one video/phone tutorial with Colin Teevan, 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.
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. You will also have the opportunity to pitch your work verbally to an agent and get feedback to help you sharpen it.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
The Breakthrough Scholarship for TV Screenwriters will award one talented writer of colour with limited financial means a fully paid place on this course. If you’re a writer of colour 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 application form found here. Deadline Sunday 29 August.
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).
All teaching and workshop sessions take place on Monday evenings, either in a location in central London or via Zoom. Sessions in London run from 7pm to 9pm, while sessions on Zoom 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.
Monday 13 September – In London
Introductory session with Colin Teevan, Clare Alan, 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.
Monday 20 September – In London
Teaching from Colin Teevan 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.
Monday 27 September – Online
Teaching from Colin Teevan 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.
Masterclass 1: Showrunner/Writer
Monday 4 October – Location TBC
A writer and showrunner will give the inside track on their role and lead a masterclass on refining your pitch (50-word pitch). (These are absolute maximums – there are seldom extra minutes granted in TV!)
Plotting the Serial
Monday 11 October – In London
Teaching from Colin Teevan – 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.
Masterclass 2: Producer
Monday 18 October – Location TBC
Our guest producer will talk about their role and lead a masterclass which focuses on the now honed pitch (50 word) and outline for your pilot and the series as a whole (350 words) – with focus on three students’ work.
Plotting the Pilot
Monday 25 October – Online
Teaching from Colin Teevan 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.
Masterclass 3: Script Editor
Monday 1 November – Location TBC
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).
Scene-writing 1: Structure
Monday 8 November – In London
Teaching from Colin Teevan on how to write scenes focusing on dramatic structure – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts
Scene-writing 2: Point of View
Monday 15 November – Online
Teaching from Colin Teevan 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.
Masterclass 4: Commissioner/Executive Producer
Monday 22 November – Location TBC
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).
Scene-writing 3: Writing Through Action
Monday 29 November – In London
Teaching from Colin Teevan 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.
Dramatic Time and Pace
Monday 6 December – Online
Teaching from Colin Teevan 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.
Masterclass 5: Director
Monday 13 December – Location TBC
Our guest director will give the inside track on his 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).
Endings and Rewriting
Monday 10 January – In London
Teaching from Colin Teevan 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.
Monday 17 January – Online
Colin Teevan’s 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.
Masterclass with TV agents from Curtis Brown
Monday 24 January – Location TBC
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.
Monday 31 January – In London
Colin Teevan, Abby Parsons and Jack Hadley will lead a concluding session, looking at next steps for the students.