Writers Guild of America heralds Birkbeck alumna with screenwriting fellowship award

A creative writing graduate from Birkbeck has been awarded a fellowship with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) that will help to carve her career in screenwriting.

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images North America

Nicole Landau, a 25-year-old Birkbeck alumna from Dushanbe, Tajikistan was awarded the Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in screenwriting by the WGA for her screenplay Wolf Girl, which she wrote for her final dissertation at Birkbeck.

The purpose of the fellowship is to provide an opportunity for a graduating senior to develop an original screenplay and assist in entering the world of professional screenwriting.

The creative writing graduate said: “I’ve always loved film and TV, and knew I wanted to write screenplays. Winning the Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship has still not quite sunk in – I’ll probably need another 20 years to process this, but I am just so grateful and honoured to be selected.”

After leaving Tajikistan during the civil war in 1994, Nicole and her family spent eight years in Sweden before moving to the United Kingdom, where she worked in publishing before leaving to pursue writing for herself.

Her screenplay Wolf Girl is a feature-length comedy/drama in the vein of the 2006 black comedy Little Miss Sunshine about an emotionally damaged young woman who is forced to move back in with her dysfunctional family and their pet wolf, as they struggle to come to terms with their history of trauma and abuse. 

Nicole said: “When I first started the course at Birkbeck, I had very little idea of what I was doing; the degree taught me the fundamentals of the craft of writing. I completely fell in love with the peculiar style and economic format of the screenplay.

“I think it’s true for all creative degrees that they cannot teach you how to create, but they can provide you with the skills to harness your ideas, make sense of them, and formulate them to tell the story you want to tell most effectively.”

Nicole will receive $10,000 to write a new, original screenplay and be mentored during the course of the fellowship year by a prominent screenwriter.  The programme, now in its 10th year, is a partnership between the Writers Guild Initiative and the King Family Foundation.

Nicole’s supervisor at Birkbeck, screenwriter and playwright Daragh Carville said her writing ‘lifts off the page’.

He said: “Her writing is very visual, the storytelling is confident and muscular, but the real strength of Nicole's work – and of Wolf Girl in particular – is in the characters, who are drawn with such warmth and compassion and wit.”

“I think Nicole's success underlines the importance of not only putting the work in, but then getting the work out there. If she hadn't taken the risk of entering her script for this competition - putting her work out into the world, which is always scary and exposing - none of this would have happened.”

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