BAME WRITERS’ BOOTCAMP: Creating an Original TV Drama Series

New dates TBC

BAME WRITERS’ BOOTCAMP: Creating an Original TV Drama Series

Date: (awaiting dates)

Duration: 15 days over seven weeks
Times: 10am - 5pm
Capacity: Max. 6 participants
Fee: £300 Includes Creative Skillset subsidy.
Course Leader: Carol Russell

We are grateful to Creative Skillset's TV Skills Fund for subsidising this programme in 2015 and 2016. The BAME TV Writers Boot Camp is presented by Fresh Voices and LFS Workshops.

Recent calls from the major broadcasters to address the lack of diversity behind the camera are beginning to gain traction. Sky’s announcement last year that 20% of writers on all shows, except those written by an individual, or partnership will be ethnically diverse, looks set to herald a new dawn for BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) writers. Channel 4, in association with Creative Skillset and Acme Films, has launched the Studio4 initiative.

The London Film School, in association with Fresh Voices UK, is delighted to offer the third edition of the BAME Writers’ Bootcamp; an intensive and extremely practical programme for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic TV drama writers with some experience of writing TV drama.

After the first edition of the BAME TV Writers Bootcamp in 2015, two of the six writers’ original projects went into development, one with the BBC, and one with a major independent. A third writer in the group was given a trial in the Coronation Street writers’ room. 

Structured around the development of six writers' original projects, the course reflects real industry experience with an emphasis on collaboration, deadlines and artistic ambition. Over a period of seven weeks each writer will develop the pilot episode script and create the bible for an original TV drama series in the collaborative atmosphere of a professional writers’ room. In addition, a variety of industry guests from, award-winning writers to drama commissioners, will drop in on the workshops to offer guidance and advice.

Course Aims

The aim of the Writers’ Bootcamp is to give six writers the three things they need to transition to the next stage of their careers:

  • A stunning pilot script that truly demonstrates their talent.
  • Access to those in the industry who decide what gets commissioned and those who develop and produce high-end drama.
  • The opportunity to build relationships with the confidence to be tenacious.

"I would recommend this programme very highly. I would tell other writers that they will be encouraged, but pushed to produce their project; so they should be prepared to work... Fresh Voices and the LFS provide a great environment to be in. Carol Russell genuinely wants to create something whereby we (writers of different ethnic backgrounds) are not just used for the fashionable moment, only to disappear again. She genuinely wants us to have a proper foot in the door, and a proper chance to succeed." Abigail A-Mensah, BAME Writers' Bootcamp, Class of 2015

Course Overview

The Bootcamp comprises a total of 15 workshop days, delivered in three "blocks" across a 7-week period. All sessions take place at The London Film School in Covent Garden.

Block One (10 days): An intensive, 2-week planning and writing period, designed to take each writer’s original project from pitch document to first draft pilot script. The writers will explore the requirements for series and serials through watching and analysing iconic series and serials, paying particular attention to grabbing the audience’s attention in the first few minutes, act breaks and endings. They will also get input from industry guests and each script will receive a table read from professional actors.

Note: Overnight assignments are a key element to this stage of the programme. During the first week, participants must be prepared to dedicate part of their evenings to set writing tasks, in order to meet strict daily deadlines. There will also be a weekend assignment, plus additional writing tasks in between each block.

Block Two (3 days): The writers review their series bibles, before taking part in a 2-day workshop around creative identity, career management and presenting your project to the industry.

Block Three (2 days): Each writer pitches their project to leading production companies and commissioners, and attends a networking party with broadcasters and producers. Each writer will be introduced to production company and broadcast executives appropriate to their project.

Application Requirements

This is a workshop for BAME TV drama writers with some experience of writing TV drama. Applicants should have written at least two episodes of a TV drama series, broadcast on a UK network.

"The short courses currently being offered by The London Film School are hot property...They fill a really important training gap, targeting already skilled filmmakers moving on and up." John Whiston, Creative Director, Serial Dramas, ITV Studios. Read full testimonial.


COURSE SCHEDULE

BLOCK ONE: Ten Days

Block One will run from Mondays to Fridays with no classes scheduled at the weekend.
Note: There will be a number of overnight assignments. 

Day 1:

Introductions and definitions. Participants view and deconstruct a number of pilot episodes, and then present their own series ideas. Overnight assignment: a written series outline.

Day 2:

A review of different kinds of series, and the series characters they demand. Plus group discussion of everyone’s series outline. Overnight assignment: a written pilot story outline.

Day 3:

Series Story: Structures and mechanisms, acts and beats. All participants’ pilot story outlines will be reviewed by the group, plus an industry guest. Overnight assignment: a written pilot step outline.

Day 4:

All participants’ step outlines will be reviewed by the group, and an industry guest. Overnight assignment: each participant will write the first ten pages of their pilot script.

Day 5:

A ‘table-read’ of all participants’ first ten pages, by the participants, with an industry guest.   

Weekend assignment: Participants will re-write the first ten pages of their pilot, and write the next ten pages. 

Day 6:

A ‘table-read’ of all participants’ first twenty pages, by the participants, with an industry guest. Assignment: each participant will re-write their first twenty pages, and complete their pilot episode script, to be delivered on Wednesday 18th February.

Days 7 & 8: Tue 9th & Wed 10th Feb

Writing days: all participants will complete their pilot scripts. 

Day 9:

Reading day: all participants will read each others’ scripts.

Day 10:

There will be full-script table reads of each participant’s pilot script, by professional actors, with industry guests. Each writer will present their plans for how their series will continue.

Assignment: each participant will write the bible for their series, to be delivered in two weeks’ time.


BLOCK TWO: Three Days

Day 11:

All participants’ series bible will be reviewed by the group.

Days 12 & 13:

Creative Identity, Self-presentation and Career Management. A two-day workshop by Shiona Llewellyn & Archie Tait, including a writer’s guide to the TV industry, and pitching practise. 

Assignment: each participant will re-write their series bible, & complete the second draft of their pilot script, to be delivered in two weeks’ time.  


BLOCK THREE: Two Days

Day 14:

Series Surgery: each participant will have a 1-to-1 session with Carol Russell, to get notes on the second draft of their scripts & bibles.

Day 15:

Industry Day: each participant will pitch their series to commissioners from a production company and a broadcaster. In the evening, there will be a networking party, to introduce participants to a range of industry guests.

"Never in a million years would I have believed that after just a few weeks, I would be selling an original idea for a TV series to one of the biggest production companies in London. It sounds like a fairytale. I know I am a long way from actual production but I could not have done it without this programme... I think there are so many jobbing writers out there who would benefit from the chance to step away from the treadmill of continuing drama, or just the grind of making a living, to polish up their pet projects and see them fly." Catherine Johnson, BAME Writers' Bootcamp, Class of 2015

This scheme is funded by Creative Skillset’s TV Skills Fund.

Tutor profile: Carol Russell, Writer

Carol Russell originally trained as an actor and worked with companies such as The English Shakespeare Company, Oxford Stage Company and national and International touring companies. As a writer Carol has written novels, her first, REUNION was shortlisted for the Saga Prize, and NINE NIGHT was long listed for the first Lit Idol competition.

Her screenplay, HOUSE OF USHER, was one of six short films made by Crucial Productions as part of the BBC’s Windrush series, STILL HERE. She was one of the principle scriptwriters for two series of COMIN’ ATCHA, starring pop group, Cleopatra for ITV. Carol has also written a half hour single drama, A SUITABLE CANDIDATE, for Red Productions, Channel 4, and was commissioned by Granada Television to a write a series based on HOUSE OF USHER. Her monologue, HORNS OF A DILEMMA, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. She was also one of the BAFTA nominated team of adapters of Jacqueline Wilson’s STORY OF TRACY BEAKER. In 2010 she won the BAFTA/Stellar Network pitching competition.

Carol’s original drama series, MACKENZIE’S LAW, is currently in development with ITV Studios and has gone to script.