Writing an Original TV Drama Serial
Write a pilot episode & outline for an original TV drama serial on our brand new course. With masterclasses from top TV professionals, including BBC Commissioner Manda Levin, and the Curtis Brown TV agents. *Scholarship available*
Mar 09 2020 - Jul 13 2020
In-person course in central London
We offer places to the most talented applicants
Course Fee £2,800
Work on your idea with TV drama professionals
We’re proud to unveil our exciting new 18-week course in writing an original TV drama serial, working closely with Curtis Brown’s Theatre, Film and Television agents. Fifteen talented writers will each develop an idea for a six-part serial, write a 60-minute pilot episode and evolve a plan for a further five episodes – supported by the expert teaching of celebrated TV-dramatist Colin Teevan (former Professor of Screenwriting and Playwriting at Birkbeck), plus an in-depth one-to-one tutorial from an experienced script editor and a series of five masterclasses from leading TV-industry professionals – including Manda Levin, Senior Commissioning Editor for Development at BBC Drama. There’ll also be a pitching session with Curtis Brown agents – and the opportunity to share materials with the agent team and meet them for networking drinks at the end of the course.
The 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.
The group will meet on one evening per week, with all classes taking place at Curtis Brown’s central London offices.
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 eight years since we’ve started Curtis Brown Creative, over 75 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. Our new course in Writing an Original TV Drama Serial has been in gestation for some time now, and we are thrilled to be launching it for Spring 2020 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 and executive producer of Rebellion (RTE, Netflix) and lead writer, showrunner and executive producer on seasons 2 and 3 of Das Boot (Bavaria Fiction/Sky TV). His other work for television includes Charlie (RTE), Silk (BBC), Vera and Single Handed (ITV). Colin’s theatre pieces have been produced by the National, the Young Vic, the Soho Theatre and the National Theatre of Scotland. Until recently he was Professor of Screenwriting and Playwriting at Birkbeck, University of London where he had lectured for twelve years.
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.
WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?
Five masterclass evenings
Top TV professionals share their expertise
Leading figures from all key stages of the production process will guide students through the process of drama development, with focus on students' work. Including screenwriter Tony Saint (Das Boot), producer Joe Donaldson (Cobra and Peaky Blinders) and BBC Senior Commissioning Editor Manda Levin.
Ten workshop evenings
Led by Colin Teevan
On ten evenings, Colin Teevan will lead group workshops 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.
Ten teaching sessions
Led by Colin Teevan
In the second hour of his ten classes, Colin will teach on topics important for developing and writing a TV drama serial – and which support the masterclasses.
A one-to-one with your tutor
Choose what to bring to your tutorial with Colin
You'll get a 25-minute one-to-one 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.
Agents' pitching session
Pitch your serial to the Curtis Brown agents
TV agents from Curtis Brown will read and listen to your pitches and give verbal feedback to help you sharpen them. They'll also talk about the agent's role and answer questions.
Longer tutorial from script editor
Get expert feedback from Clare Alan
Near the end of the course, you'll get a 45-minute 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.
Show your work to the 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.
Join a networking drinks evening at course end
As the course wraps up, you'll be invited to a drinks evening with the Curtis Brown agents and professionals from Cuba Pictures production company – to talk about your work and make useful contacts.
Presentation from Cuba Pictures
From Idea to Screen: The Inside Story
Join Dixie Linder and Louise Mountain from Cuba Pictures for a masterclass on how to develop a TV project – from idea to script to production to broadcast. Including insights from McMafia, a Cuba Pictures production for BBC One, which won the International Emmy for Best Drama in 2019.
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.
Applications for this course are now closed. For those of you who would like to apply to the fully funded HW Fisher Scholarship place, please click here for more details. The deadline for scholarship applications is February 23rd.
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).
Executive Producer, Head of Film & Television at Cuba Pictures
All sessions take place at Curtis Brown’s offices in central London. The masterclasses and the workshops and teaching sessions with Colin Teevan all run from 7pm–9pm (with tutorials immediately prior to class – 6pm–7pm).
The masterclasses and the agent pitch session are all hosted by a member of the Curtis Brown Creative team.
The final session on 13 July starts at 5.45pm, with agent-drinks immediately afterwards, from 6.30pm.
Monday 9 March
Introductory session with Colin Teevan and CBC’s Managing Director Anna Davis. Colin and Anna will welcome the group to the course, explain how everything works and share what students should do to get the most out of the 18 weeks.
Monday 16 March
Teaching from Colin Teevan on what is a pitch and how to develop your core idea, and discussing some Aristotelian principles – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.
Monday 23 March
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.
Thursday 26 March
The team at Cuba Pictures will talk to the group about developing a TV project from idea to screen, using their award-winning international thriller McMafia as a case study. There will be time at the end for questions.
Masterclass 1: Showrunner/Writer
Monday 30 March
Award-winning screenwriter Tony Saint will give the inside track on his role, and lead a masterclass on refining your pitch and central character – with focus on three students’ character biographies (50 word pitch, 350 word character outline). (These are absolute maximums – there are seldom extra minutes granted in TV!)
Plotting the Serial
Monday 6 April
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/Development executive
Monday 20 April
Our guest producer Joe Donaldson will talk about his work on acclaimed TV dramas Cobra, Peaky Blinders and Ripper Street, and will lead a masterclass which focuses on the now honed pitch (50 word) and outline for the serial as a whole (350 words) – with focus on three students’ work.
Plotting the Pilot
Monday 27 April
Teaching from Colin Teevan on how to plot an episode, once more considering plot development on a 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 4 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).
Scene-writing 1: Structure
Monday 11 May
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 18 May
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
Tuesday 26 May
Our guest Manda Levin will give the inside track on her role as Senior Commissioning Editor for Development at the BBC, 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 1 June
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 8 June
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 15 June
Our guest director (tba) 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).
Endings and Rewriting
Monday 22 June
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 29 June
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.
The Pitch - with TV agents from Curtis Brown
Monday 6 July
Agents from Curtis Brown’s Theatre, Film and Television department will talk about the role of the agent and give advice on how to pitch. They’ll then run a pitch workshop – listening to the pitches of all fifteen students and giving their verbal feedback.
Final session and drinks with the agent team
Monday 13 July
Colin Teevan and Anna Davis (CBC’s MD) will lead a concluding session, looking at next steps for the students (starting 5.45pm), followed by …
Networking drinks with the agent team from Curtis Brown’s Theatre, Film and Television department plus representatives from Cuba Pictures production company and other course contributors.