Two days at the Soho Theatre in Dean Street for The Script Factory’s take on TV drama. Mornings featured lectures by Rob Ritchie: four-act structure, handling multiple storylines, writing to immovable deadlines, dialogue vs. pictures, rules and conventions of British TV drama formats… and that was just the first morning. As ever with Script Factory courses, participants receive a helpful binder of notes covering the content in great detail. I’ve heard some Script Factory presenters simply read these notes out, which is dull, but Ritchie was far more adept, rounding out the printed content with explanation, anecdote and reminder, deftly using audience questions to segue to his next point. Informative, engaging; I’d certainly go to hear this presenter again.
The afternoons were given over to guests. On day one we heard from Emmerdale’s Bill Lyons and Kate Rowland from the BBC Writers Room. I was particularly glad to hear Kate as her presentation at SWF had been full to overflowing and I hadn’t been able to get in. Her advice was “be emotionally bold. Take us on a challenging, complex emotional journey.” For the submission of series ideas, write one episode only; a one-page synopsis of the remaining episodes will do.
Day two featured morning lectures on creating characters audiences will return to week after week, developing a precinct, story bibles, pilots, plus a discussion of sitcom. In the afternoon Michael A Walker talked about his role in co-writing Collision. At that time only four of its five episodes had been broadcast, so discussion of the series was limited to prevent spoilers. Finally, Tony Grisoni talked about adapting Red Riding and explored his collaboration with Samantha Morton on The Unloved.
The class, accessible and entertaining, is not necessarily for beginners. With the exception of Bill Lyons, discussion focused on the creation of an original series; but it is the rare writer who manages to get an original series greenlit without first gaining credits on Doctors and other continuing drama series, and these shows require a different skillset. The course is probably more useful to those who already have credits, and indeed one participant was a graduate of the BBC Writers’ Academy.
Many thanks Hilary, some great insights there! I was very interested in this forum, but the price tag was just prohibitive for me so soon after SLASH and so close to Christmas. Did you go to the Forum as well? If so, let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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