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Screenwriting for Television and Film (Retreat) (MA)

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Course overview

PLEASE NOTE: This course will run in September 2016

This is an innovative course, taught over four, week-long residential retreats over one year (full time) and will commence in September - some of these are in Central London, others in beautiful Egham Campus near Windsor.

Between retreats the course is run via distance-learning with a website, chat room and e-tutorials. This makes it possible for those living outside the UK, and those with busy working lives, for instance freelancers and those in the film and TV industries, to take time out to attend. We have a wide variety of students on the course including established actors, comedy writers, editors, producers, novelists and many others.

During the MASTFiR course (MA in Screenwriting for Televion and Film - Retreat) you will cover writing for feature film and television as well as new developments such as web drama. You will develop a range of ideas, then go on to write film and television outlines, and several drafts of a feature film screenplay, a TV single drama, or a TV series or serial bible and sample episodes. You will be immersed in a creative atmosphere conducive to concentrated learning and group interaction; a core unit is the Development Lab, where you will present your work in progress to the group for criticism and feedback, and experiment with co-writing.

You will also meet and work with industry and independent producers, directors, agents, writers and actors to provide a production context. We have recently had guests from Working Title, Channel Four, the BBC, Script Factory, Blake Friedmann Agency and many others.

Key facts

Key facts about the course
Qualification Master of Arts
Duration One year through a series of retreats.
Department and Faculty Media Arts, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Partner institution(s) --
Course director

Ivan Levene

ivan.levene@royalholloway.ac.uk 
+44(0)1784 443 734

Contact for more information Angela Godden
Angela.Godden@royalholloway.ac.uk 
+44(0)1784 443734

Fees / funding

Please visit the Fees and funding pages for the latest information about tuition fees and the different sources of funding which may be available to you.

How to apply

Applications for entry to all our full-time postgraduate degrees can be made online.

Further information on making an application, including the documentation that you will need to submit with the application is available in the How to apply section of this site.

If you are interested in applying to Royal Holloway, why not arrange a visit to our campus to see for yourself what academic and student life is like here. More information on arranging visits is available on our Open days pages.

 

Entry requirements

Entry criteria:

UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1) or equivalent, in Literature, Theatre, Media or a related discipline.

Students with degrees in other subjects will also be considered, as will those with relevant professional or creative experience in fiction writing, the film and TV media, theatre, radio or journalism.

English language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall with 6.5 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores. For equivalencies see here|.


 

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

 

Additional requirements:

  • you will be required to submit up to 50 pages of creative writing, preferaby pieces intended for film or television and in film/TV format, though other forms of creative writing such as short stories or plays will also be acceptable.

A successful applicant will usually:

  • have experience in creative writing and an interest in the film and television industries
  • be very motivated; in the periods between teaching, you will work independently on writing assignments, supported by on-line tutorials and by a dedicated website with an e-notice board and chat-room.

Why choose this course?

  • in the fast-changing world of digital drama, new media and new film markets, you will become skilled in producing strong and original fiction writing.
  • the course director is Ivan Levene, a practising screenwriter and script editor with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He currently has two produced feature films, and has been involved in the development of numerous other film and TV projects, including a recent major international release. Before this he worked in acquisitions and development, advancing over £15m of film and TV production from inception to marketplace. Current commissions include a supernatural thriller with Matthew Rhys, and a biopic set in Gilded Age New York about Harriet Hubbard Ayer - socialite, proto-feminist, and the first person to create an international cosmetics business.
  • teaching television is screenwriting lecturer Adam Ganz, whose TV credits include Pillow Talk and Murder Without Motive; and guest lecturing in television are Gillian Gordon and Jonathan Powell.
  • despite the first students only graduating in 2008, we have already had a host of successes with many of our students finding success in the industry.
  • you will meet and work with industry and independent producers, directors, agents, writers and actors to provide a production context. We have recently had guests from Working Title, Channel Four, the BBC, Script Factory, Blake Friedmann Agency and many others.

Department research and industry highlights

  • the MA Screenwriting for Television and Film Retreat course (MASTFiR) only began graduating students in 2008 but already we have had a host of successes - Janice Hallett's feature screenplay Retreat is now being shot in Canada with a star cast; Olivia Wakeford has a writing credit on the feature film Baseline (2009) and several writers have gained agents and development commissions. Kay Stonham has work commissioned by the BBC and two of our younger writers are working on a C5 youth drama series. Adam Rolston has had a highly successful musical on Doris Day's life performed at a variety of London venues. Many students have won festival awards for their short films.

Course content and structure

You will study four core course units.

Core course units:

Script Craft
This unit will focus on the acquisition of basic writing skills, and is a gateway to the ‘Story and Theme’ unit. You will explore the specifics of scene and dialogue construction, formatting and issues around research and around adaptation from source materials – e.g. plays, novels and news stories.

Story and Theme
This unit teaches the essential components of story and structure, the specific language of film storytelling and genre. It will include lectures, screenings of films and extracts, and individual and group analysis of films. You will produce ideas, formal outlines and a feature-length screenplay or TV series bibles and episode.

Development Lab
This is a discussion forum to which you bring the work above, where it is critiqued and debated from a number of points of view including aesthetic, generic, marketing, audience and budget. Development Lab is interactive and is at the core of the course; it replicates many of the development processes you will face in the film and television industry.

Contexts: Current British Film and TV Practice
This unit covers current aesthetic and generic trends in British film and television. There will also be lectures and seminars on budget, schedule, commissioning, finance, contracts, casting and marketing, and you will explore the production and marketing implications of your own screenplay projects. 
 

On completion of the course graduates will have:

  • the ability to discriminate between project ideas, present ideas and drafts to others effectively, and both give and receive constructive criticism
  • the understanding of the aesthetic and economic conditions of the marketplace, how their work may be viewed in terms of budget and audience, and the stages a screenplay will go through in development and production
  • a broad and detailed understanding of the nature of the film and television screenplay- how it signifies, how it communicates meaning to the film producer, director, actor and to the audience
  • advanced understanding of the processes of writing a screenplay, from initial concept to final draft
  • advanced understanding of the various stages of script development and how each is documented- outlines, treatments, pitch documents and so on
  • critical knowledge of the current genres and trends in film and television and how they have evolved in recent years, particularly in the context of economic and market developments in these industries
  • an understanding of the UK film and television industries, including their structure, institutions and working practices
  • a broad understanding of the group nature of writing and development, and how the roles played by the various parties- producer, script editor, director and so on- shape and influence the screenplay.

View the full course specification for Screenwriting for Television and Film (Retreat) (MA) in the Programme Specification Repository

Assessment

Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including script outlines and scenes, a completed feature film screenplay and/or TV series episode and ‘bible’, and marketing and pitch documents.

 

Employability & career opportunities

On graduating, you will be well prepared for careers in television and feature film screenwriting and script development. 

Our recent graduate successes include: 

Janice Hallett's feature screenplay Retreat is now being shot in Canada with a star cast; Olivia Wakeford has a writing credit on the feature film Baseline (2009) and several writers have gained agents and development commissions. Kay Stonham has work commissioned by the BBC and two of our younger writers are working on a C5 youth drama series. Adam Rolston has had a highly successful musical on Doris Day's life performed at a variety of London venues.  Many students have won festival awards for their short films.

 
 
 

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