Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with our Course Leader and Head of Screenwriting, Sophia Wellington. At London Film School (LFS), we offer an MA in Screenwriting which is an intensive one-year programme. Continue reading to see what Sophia told us about this excellent course.
How does the course equip writers for working and collaborating in the professional world?
The course is purely taught and delivered by industry professionals. From the start, students engage with people who work in the industry and share their valuable knowledge of how students can successfully navigate through it. The core of the course is developing screenplays and projects in small units.
All students have the opportunity to write a short film and a feature film supported by their tutors who are industry professionals. The students develop a clear creative process and an in-depth understanding of filmmaking as a whole, which is an integral factor in becoming a professional screenwriter. At the heart of the heutagogy is developing the writer’s original voice.
You mentioned the course is focused around helping develop the writer’s original voice, in what ways do they explore that on the course?
During the admissions process, we are always looking for storytellers who have a clear point of view or opinion, as well as a personal and specific approach to the world. Upon developing this, we unlock the writer’s connection to the material, strengthen the message and nurture their voice. It is something that is done when returning to your work and asking your characters questions such as, “I don’t believe that. Do they really feel that?” Getting beyond the surface of the screenplay is what students are encouraged to do.
We are proud to have a very international and diverse cohort at LFS, which is often celebrated. Many people with different backgrounds, perspectives and lived experiences come together in an incredibly safe and supportive space. This allows the development of authentic stories which creates films with depth that are unique to the writer and cannot be written by anyone else.
Working in small groups ensures discussions and feedback is always given in a respectful and collaborative way. We’ve been fortunate to have students who have also pushed us as lecturers to ensure we are forward thinking in our approach.
What makes a piece of writing really stand out to you, whether at application stage, during the course or as a post-graduate?
There must be a good level of craft and storytelling as well as visual storytelling which is built from the writer’s connection to the material, the writer’s voice and the writer’s point of view. Real honesty and authenticity in the writing is a must. This is unique to each writer, so it is about celebrating what is unique to them and accentuating it on the page.
What is the post-graduate community / network like for the screenwriting grads. How often do they work with each other and collaborate even after the programme has finished?
Working in small groups during the course builds solid relationships that continue beyond the course, students will frequently continue regular writers’ groups and support each other during the journey of their screenwriting career. We, at the course level, continue to support them beyond graduating by meeting for catchups over a coffee, reading their screenplays and giving industry advice. We encourage students and graduates to stay in touch with their mentors and lecturers and to cultivate that relationship in the right way.
We often stress that the greatest network resource our students have is their fellow cohort within the course as well as their peers taking other courses such as MA Filmmaking and MA International Film Business – collaboration between the courses is encouraged and sometimes this creates opportunities for the screenwriting students to work as a co-writer or script editor on a film production. Their fellow students are the most important industry contacts and is a relationship that can continue to blossom with the potential to be involved in many projects upon graduation and beyond.
Sophia ended our interview with some valuable final thoughts…
The screenwriting master’s course has been taught at London Film School for 19 years and will be 20 years next year. During that time, we have had the pleasure of teaching and developing many successful screenwriters including some that have won Oscars. Sharing the journey of being a new writer to becoming an experienced, successful writer with our students is a true delight. Many grads go on to make their own shorts, features as well as other content such as podcasts and all develop in interesting ways.
We hope to give you the tools to continue to develop as a storyteller and implement the entrepreneurial skills needed to become a professional screenwriter. So, not just waiting for the industry, but to feel comfortable to create and develop the industry.
Find out more about MA Screenwriting here MA Screenwriting Course Overview | London Film School (lfs.org.uk).
Applications open on Monday 9th January 2024. Apply online here.