The Truth About A Scriptwriting Masters…

So you want to be a scriptwriter?

Fantastic, good on you. Now the hard part…how do you get into the industry?

For me, I wanted the opportunity of being able to teach Scriptwriting so I decided to do a masters, that way I could get feedback on my own writing each week, meet other writers, have a writing structure and a qualification which meant I could teach. I’m also working in a part time teaching position whilst doing this, working on other writing projects and attending various networking events across the UK such as London Screenwriters Festival to help me break into the industry.

However, something that me when I started the Masters last year was how many of the other writers on my course believed they just had to do the Masters and they would be guaranteed a spot in the industry, a place at the table, blah, blah, blah. They turn up at class every week with their script and get their feedback and then moan that they’ve had no industry opportunities put in their lap. Yes, I understand that they’ve paid a lot of money to do the course (FYI, so have I) but if they want to be in the industry and they want to write then they need to be proactive.

A masters is cute and cushty and great to help with your writing development BUT if you’re going to use the masters as a way to get into the industry DON’T DO IT! save yourself some money and just go on a few writing courses, join a writing group, attend festivals. There are several other and cheaper ways of becoming a great writer.

Believe you and me, your wallet will thank you!

 

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Scriptwriting Opportunities for New Writers

As you guys know I’ve been a screenwriter now for about seven months and don’t get me wrong they’ve been pretty hard going! But once I had my first script under my belt I felt ready to go out into world of TV writing and kick arse!

In these last seven months, I think I’ve been on the majority of scriptwriting courses that are on offer to new emerging writers in the UK. Some of them, were amazing and I met some brilliant writers and learnt so much. Others….nawtt so much! If anything I just felt like I was literally throwing my precious money away.

Anyway I thought I’d present this little guide to going after opportunities as a scriptwriter to you guys so hopefully you can go after similiar opportunities and get value for your pennies!

Scriptwriting Opportunities that I found valuable:-

Scriptwriting North

Scriptwriting North is a fantastic hub for all writers in the North of England. It’s run by a really lovely woman called Beth who told me about the masters course that I am now on. For me, this place was absolutely fantastic as they taught me everything I needed to know before setting down a writing my first script. I have attended two ‘courses’ with them, one was a intensive day course for beginners which was a bloody brilliant day as it just gave me all the information I needed and in just one day! The second course was more like an intensive day of writing in various locations across Manchester but it was packed full of writing exercises, feedback sessions and food! If you live in the North and want to write, get in touch with Scriptwriting North.

BBC Writers Room

The BBC Writers Room is a great place with loads of resources for writers. The most amazing thing about the Writers Room is the extensive opportunities it provides for new writers on the scene. From it’s twice a year submission windows for drama and comedy writers to the external opportunities and competitions it posts on it’s ‘opportunities’ page. I also recently attended a free event in the BBC building in Salford with the Writers Room which had a Q&A with TV writer Sally Abbott. It was a lovely event and provided so much insight into the industry.

London Screenwriters Festival

This is like the holy grail for scriptwriters! Seriously! This event happens every year in London. Its a fantastic festival completely dedicated to all things scriptwriting that happens over the course of a weekend. Meet fellow writers, network, Q&A’s, pitch workshops, meet producers and so much more! The only downside for writers not based in London (such as myself) is the travel to London, the price of accommodation and then of course, the actual price of the festival itself. I couldn’t attend last year but I will definitely be attending this year, so will be blogging the entire weekend!

Scriptwriting Opportunities I regret paying for:-

Two Day comedy Writing Masterclass with Rob Grant

Okay, absolutely nothing against this course but I just don’t think it was worth the ridiculous price I had to pay! (£250, if your interested). It was run by Rob Grant, who was a writer and creator of a sitcom for a TV Series called Red Dwarf. Learning about how his career started and the in’s and out’s of what he knew was brilliant. However, the second day of the course, when he had to write a topical sketch show script for actors to perform that evening was totally pointless to me. I wasn’t interested in writing sketch comedy and if anything that’s the last thing producers want writers to send in to them.  If you’re in London though and interested in Sketch comedy then it’s right up your street!

And that’s it for now. I’ll do another writing blog post soon which will focus on writing competitions I recommend!

Good luck to you all and thank you for reading!

 

BBC Writers Room Event at Media City 

Well hello! 

On Monday I happened to attend my first ever BBC Writers Room event. It was specifically for scriptwriters in the industry and was absolutely fantastic as it gave me so much information and motivation to just get on my arse and write! 

It was a good opportunity to network with brooms BBC people, such as the head of the northern writers room and other writers. It was also a chance to have a sneaky look inside the BBC offices, which were so cool! Even if I did have to have an airport style security check before I got in! And I also got to wear a badge with my name on which made me feel so professional!


 The event was a Q&A with writer Sally Abbott whose written everything from Eastenders and Casualty to her own award winning afternoon drama called The Coroner. She gave us so much information including how she started out in the industry herself and how she goes about her writing process. 

For me personally it was so motivating to be in a room full of writers and inspire each other. Also, Sally’s experience and expertise was invaluable advice and guidance which has really give me the kick up my arse I needed for my writing. 

Comedy Writing Course in London! 

Hello there! 

So I’m back this week with an exciting travel/ work blog. Last weekend I braved the capital all on my lonesome for a course in comedy writing. 

As you guys know my true ambition is to write a sitcom one day so I thought this course would be right up my street! 

I stayed in a shared apartment in Camden, the accommodation itself was quite affordable and convenient. I will admit I had a tiny panic when I got to the entrance and thought I wouldn’t be able to get in and then walking up the stairs with no bannister. But in the end the place proved quite good value for money. However, I think next time I’d stay somewhere a little quieter as I was right in the middle of Camden market! 


I choose the two day course at The Comedy School as its a truly unique organisation that specialises in all things Conedy and also does amazing charity work and providing fantastic opportunities for up and coming artists in comedy. 
The course was run by the writer of a well known and long running British sitcom called Red Dwarf. His name was Rob Grant and he was absolutely lovely and hilarious. His story into writing was very inspiring and it was brilliant to get an insiders guide into how the industry works and where the best opportunities are at. The first day of the course was mostly Rob talking about different aspects involved in comedy writing, it was really informative but by the end of the day we were knackered! 

In terms of food, it wasn’t all posh cuisine I’m afraid as such as I’d have loved to have tried loads of different cuisines I was so knackered by the end of the day that I couldn’t be bothered queuing for restaurants. On the Friday night I got a takeaway, it wasn’t all bad though as I went to Itsu. Itsu is a London based  Japanese chain which specialises in Sushi, Noodle and Broth dishes. I ordered the vegetable dumpking broth, it filled me up but it wasn’t the nicest thing I’ve ever had from there. On the Saturday I just grabbed a sandwich from spar and then had a McDonalds. So glamorous! On my last day I treated myself to Pan Au Chocolat and a cup of tea to get me through the last day. 

The course was based right by Regents Park so it meant I was also able to do a little exploring of the park and the beautiful Camden. On the last day of the course, we split up into groups and wrote sketches for a radio style sketch show that would be performed by actors that night. It was intense but an amazing learning curve and although sketch writing isn’t my forte it brilliant to see the whole process taking place in just one day. 


The actors delivered our material brilliantly and I was very impressed with how they interpreted our writing. The course was quick and very intense. I’d say the first day was more for sitcom writers and the second day was more for sketch writers. Of course, both days were useful. All in all, after an exhausting weekend I left more inspired and determined to succeed as a comedy writer! 

Scriptwriting Books I Use

Ok, so I decided to do a different sort of blog post today. 

As you guys know I’m currently studying for a masters in Scriptwriting and as I’ve been a budding scriptwriter for a couple of years now I’ve decided to share with you guys some of the secrets and tips I’ve learnt over the years, starting with the books. 


Believe it or not but scriptwriting is not as easy as you think it is and good books written by people in the industry can make all the difference with your writing. However, saying that these books are still just guidelines for writers and are not the be all, end all. If I were you, I’d try and find at least one book on screenwriting that you find useful and use that as a reference point. 

I’m going to talk in detail about three I highly recommend and then briefly touch on two that I also believe to be quite useful. 

I Highly Recommend 


Save The Cat by Blake Snyder 

This book is a bestseller and it’s no wonder why, Snyder reveals the industry standard secrets that have helped him sell screenplays. It’s funny, candid and full on so be prepared to be overwhelmed with information. Snyder believes every script follows 15 crucial steps which break the story down. However, I would be careful as I don’t fully believe you can apply his method to every script. If you want to write a movie then this book may be for you. 


The Coffee Break Screenwriter by Pilar Alessandra

Alessandra is a leading Hollywood Screenwriter who has written the perfect book for anyone whose ever wanted to write a screenplay or TV pilot but struggles to find the time. It’s full of quick writing exercises to motivate readers into potential screenwriters. The book is easy to follow so you won’t get overwhelmed with information. If you’re gonna get this book I recommend getting the second edition as it has updated writing tools for TV pilots and pitches and structural shortcuts. 



The Screenwriters Workbook
by Syd Field

Now, this book is quite different to the others. It’s more like a step by step manual to writing a screenplay with different exercises for you to do. This book also includes script analyses from different films so it’s almost like your getting bottle-fed Field’s guide to the perfect script. It’s clear and expert advice. 

And Other Recommendations…
If you’re as passionate about scriptwriting as me then there are two other books is recommend to all you budding writers out there. The U.K. Scriptwriters Survival Handbook by Tim Clague and Danny Stack is fantastic for anyone whose trying to crack how to get into the industry and offers insiders insights on how to get…inside. Another book is recommend for anyone writing a sitcom, like myself is The Little Book of Sitcom by John Vorhaus. This little book is brilliant at helping all sitcom writers with every aspect of their script. He even breaks sitcom structure down into fifteen basic steps which are easy enough for a child to follow. This guy knows comedy and he also knows how to sell it. For me, this book is a personal must have.