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The Screenwriter and the Industry - Summer School

Venue: Online

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Join Birkbeck's annual Screenwriter and the Industry Summer School, organised as part of the MA Screenwriting programme, and get a view into the realities of being a screenwriter in the industry. We've planned expert panel discussions and interactive workshops. You'll hear insider advice and insights and get answers to your questions from the experts. On Sunday, 12th July, you can practice what you've learned by making your own pitch.

When: Friday, July 9th - Monday, July 12th, 2021
Where: Online

All sessions are free and open to all Birkbeck students and alumni, as well as to the general public. 



Please note: The pitching slots on Sunday, 12th July are limited and offered to Birkbeck's MA Screenwriting students in the first instance.

Session topics, timings and speakers are subject to change.


DAY 1: Friday, 9th July

Tanya Nash, Anna Maguire, Paul Gallagher


'Adaptations and True Life Stories': a panel discussion about topics including: copyright, agreements, novels, research, finding structure, pitfalls. Followed by audience questions.

1.30-2.30pm - Lunch


'Adaptation and True Life Stories': A series of three short talks with writing exercises to follow to let you uncover the thinking of the creative screenwriter.

2.30 pm Research, interviewing, and dialogue
3.30 pm Visual logic, observation, time and scene sequencing
4.30 pm The Inner person, choices, decisions, emotions, psychological changes


DAY 2: Saturday, 10th July

Barbara Cox, Mark Norfolk, Ken Williams


'The Working Writer': a panel discussion on topics including: organizing your time, and your money. Different kinds of writing and commissions. Copyright. High and Low concept ideas. What to write, what the industry is looking for. Collecting stories. Synopses. Readings, Getting feedback. Rewriting.

12.30-2pm - Lunch


'Working with Others…': a panel discussion on topics including: TV and film practice - markets, games, internet, co-writing, approaching and working with companies. Covering letters, pitching, meetings and contracts. Working with directors, actors, script editors, producers, agents, fees and payments, lawyers, managers. Followed by audience questions.

4-4.30pm - Break


'Where to Now?': Developing your career – where to go and what to do next? We answer your questions.


DAY 3: Sunday, 11th July

Paul Gallagher, Tanya Nash, Ken Williams, followed by our guest speaker Phil Parker

Where, When and How? Two workshop sessions where the principles and practice of storytelling and pitching are explained. Then participants can try out a practice session in a friendly environment and pitch their projects, receiving constructive feedback from the panel.

Please note: slots for pitches and storytelling are limited and are offered to current Birkbeck MA Screenwriting students in the first instance.


Storytelling: How to tell a story - with a storytelling practice workshop

1-2pm - Lunch


Pitching: How to pitch – with an elevator pitching practice workshop

4-4.30pm - Break


Discussion with Phil Barker - ‘Coming out of Covid - new opportunities’
A short talk on the industry as we come out of the pandemic and pathways in your career followed by a Q+A session.


DAY 4: Monday, 12th July

Speakers: Frazer Lee, Tanya Nash, Paul Gallagher


The Principles and Practice of Rewriting: what is the concept? Is it film or TV or...? Genres, Audiences and Themes. Writing Stories in Prose and Script. Co-writing.
Project Development. Outlines, treatments, premise, beat sheets, story graphs, and different drafts of scripts.
Pitching and Storytelling. Reading scripts, different kinds of reader?
Contracts. Working with feedback in the industry. Script Reports. Script Editing.
Rewriting. How do you make a good script great?


Open session for audience questions - we invite questions about anything and everything you ever wanted to ask about screenwriting!



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Guest speaker:

Phil Parker

One of Europe's leading content development consultants. He has worked with C4, BBC, and Aardman animation in the UK; ifs, and Berlin Medianboard in Germany plus CEE Animation, and several European independent companies. He founded the UK's most successful screenwriting course. Graduates won several BAFTA's, a Palme D'Or and were Oscar nominated. In 2000 he set up the UK Film Council’s development training programme and has supervised 5 PhDs to completion including two award winning screenplays. Currently working on projects from China, Czech Republic, Germany, Slovenia, and the UK.. Author of the ‘Art and Science of Screenwriting’.


Panel speakers:

Barbara Cox

Oversees the BA Screenwriting programme at Birkbeck, University of London. Barbara has extensive experience as a professional scriptwriter and script editor and has worked on numerous TV drama series for both adults and children, including The Bill, Wycliffe, 99-1, Love Hurts, Cardiac Arrest, Bootleg, I Was a Rat! and the multi-award-winning Pig Heart Boy. She won a BAFTA Best Adapted Script award in 2005 for her children’s drama Wipe Out. Barbara combines teaching at Birkbeck with continuing her writing and editing career and has recently been commissioned to write a TV series proposal and pilot script and a non-fiction children’s book The Encyclopaedia of Scary Things, as well as developing several feature film projects.


Paul Gallagher

Oversees the MA Screenwriting at Birkbeck, University of London. Paul is a company Director of Twelve Chairs Films Ltd developing film and TV projects. He was a script consultant on feature films: The Birdcatcher 2019. Starred Up 2013, and Desiree 2014. He was founder and CEO of Euroscript as an EU MEDIA programme [96-02] developing feature scripts with writers and EU production companies, including: Little Ashes 2008. He was the editor of Screenwriter magazine for a decade and a columnist for magazines: Savvy, Screenwriter, and Filmwaves. He has had numerous articles, short stories and poems published, and a book Dancing in the Waves [Mer, 2009]. He has run international workshops and delivered talks at International Festivals in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, London, and Lisbon, as well as sitting on International Film Festival juries and funding panels in Portugal and UK.


Frazer Lee

Frazer’s screenwriting credits include the acclaimed horror/thriller feature film Panic Button (Movie Mogul Films) and award-winning short horror movies On Edge & Red Lines (which he also directed) and Simone (386 Films). His numerous screenplay and script doctor commissions include works for producers including Marloo Media Films, Cylinder Production and Vanquish Alliance Entertainment. He is also the author of several published novels, including The Lamplighters,which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. He teaches Screenwriting to BA and MA level at Brunel University in addition to his work at Birkbeck.


Anna Maguire

Associate Lecturer. Anna is British/Canadian writer, director and actress. Her directorial work has screened at festivals including TIFF, Palm Springs, PÖFF Black Nights and the BFI London Film Festival where she was nominated for Best Short Film with Your Mother and I in 2016. She has won awards at Rhode Island International Film Festival, The London Short Film Festival, Thessaloniki International Film Festival and Underwire Film Festival among others, was long listed for a BAFTA, and nominated for Best Short Film at the London Critics’ Circle Awards in 2018. Her penultimate short Constellations has screened internationally and It’s Nothing, her latest short film premiered at TIFF in 2019. She is currently writing her first feature supported by BFI Network. Anna has taught filmmaking and film theory at institutions including TIFF and the BFI and has been a tutor on the BFI Future Film.


Tanya Nash

Associate Lecturer. After 15 years with the BBC working in Drama she freelances in script and story development. - Script edited award winning short film, Hannah Cohen’s Holy Communion (winner of Pears Short Film Fund 2012) and screened at London Jewish Film Festival and Dublin Film Festival 2013. Script editor and Producer Holby City (BBC 1), Eastenders (BBC 1). Producer, Radio Drama for 10 years working in Wales, Northern Ireland and Birmingham. (She produced a variety of genres, singles and returning series for BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4). Writers she has worked with on radio include Emma Donoghue, Dominique Moloney, Juliet Ace, Peter Sheridan, Lin Coghlan, Annie McCartney, Mavis Cheek, Peter Tinniswood and Tanika Gupta.


Mark Norfolk

Mark studied drama before working as a sports journalist and researcher in television production. He then went on to study Independent Film Production and avant-garde Film Studies at Cardiff University and has won a number of awards at home and abroad for his films. As well as writing for the screen, Mark also writes for the stage and radio and has recently been collaborating on international film and theatre projects, most notably in the Balkans.


Ken Williams

Associate Lecturer. Ken is a freelance Screenwriter. His first film, Life & Lyrics, funded by BBC Films and the UK Film Council, premiered at the 2006 Edinburgh film Festival and distributed by Universal. He is currently at work on an original feature, Remembrance, commissioned by Scottish Screen Cacti Films and Fiesta Productions. Remembrance will be directed by Kenny Glenaan (Gas Attack, Yasmin, Summer) and is due to start shooting soon. Ken is working on a number of other projects in development including a political thriller, Garrisons, animation series City Limits, multiplatform youth drama series, Our Life and a police procedural for TV, Stolen.

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