(L-R: Angelina Karpovich, Nathaniel Price and Oliver Henderson)
Despite huge competition and 1200 applicants, no fewer than three NFTS students and graduates have secured places on Channel 4’s prestigious 4Screenwriting scheme, which is open to 12 writers new to television drama.
Recent NFTS Screenwriting MA Graduates, Oliver Henderson and Nathaniel Price and current student Angelina Karpovich have been offered places on the scheme and graduate Jonathan Harbottle was also offered a place but was unable to take part due to work commissions. (There is an NFTS Screenwriting open day on Friday 30th March – sign up here!)
Script Editor, Script Consultant, Producer and 4Screenwriting Course Leader,
Philip Shelley said: 'It’s fantastic to see so many NFTS graduates take part in this year’s scheme. Having read all the stand-out scripts, it wasn't until we started looking in detail at writers' CV's that we realised what so many of them had in common! I am really impressed with their work and am sure they have successful careers ahead of them!
The NFTS seems to not only school writers thoroughly in the craft of screen-writing and effective story-telling - but also, importantly, uses its extensive industry contacts to make sure that the writers all meet a lot of important, influential people - the sort of people who can offer them screenwriting work!
The Channel 4 screenwriting course is now in its 7th year. Every year we work over 6 months with 12 new, talented writers to develop a one hour pilot script. It's a great introduction to Channel 4 Drama and the industry for the writers, and we have had a lot of exciting success stories from the course. Getting onto the course in the first place is highly competitive. This year we had over 1200 applicants for the 12 places.”
I met with Oliver, Nathaniel and Angelina and asked them how it feels to be accepted on such a sought after course as well as how the NFTS MA has prepared them and what their future plans are.
How does it feel to be accepted on the 4Screenwriting scheme and what has it been like so far?
Oliver: Having made the shortlist a couple of years ago it was great to get on the scheme at the second time of asking. The competition for places is fierce, even more so than at the NFTS, and over the last few years it has launched the careers of writers like Vinay Patel and Charlie Covell so it's very exciting. The scheme itself has been an absolute dream so far, with talks from writers, directors and scripts editors who have worked on some of the biggest productions in film and television over the last decade. I've also been assigned a fantastic script editor from New Pictures (The Missing, Indian Summers) and a development exec from Channel 4 who have helped me to expand what was an embryonic idea.
Nathaniel: I was absolutely delighted to have been put forward and selected for 4Screenwriting. It and Philip Shelley are very highly regarded within the industry. I'd been fortunate to meet and work with a few of its graduates previously and they all couldn't recommend it highly enough. The first weekend of the course definitely lived up to the hype. One thing I really enjoyed was meeting the other writers and sharing our experiences. They were all really cool (as were the script editors and trainee script editors). We had fantastic speakers (writers and script editors and commissioners) who were all open and honest and provided invaluable insight into the industry. It's just great to be writing a script and honing my craft (because let's face it, treatments can get a bit tedious), and I'm really enjoying having Philip as my script editor.
Angelina: 4Screenwriting is a hugely respected and very competitive scheme for new television drama writers, and being selected to participate in it this year feels like a massive validation of how far my writing has developed since I’ve started on the Screenwriting MA at the NFTS.
Eggshells, the screenplay with which I applied to the 4Screenwriting scheme, was developed at the NFTS, during the 1st year “Movie in a Month” module, where each of us wrote an individual feature screenplay from scratch in a month, supported by regular feedback sessions with our fantastically insightful tutors, Angeli Macfarlane and Brian Ward. I used this opportunity to venture outside my comfort zone by writing in a genre I hadn’t worked in before, by exploring some dauntingly “big” themes, and by writing something much more personal than any of my previous work. Looking back at the screenplay now, I know that I would have never achieved those aims on my own, without the structure and the support put in place by the Screenwriting MA tutors.
How has the NFTS Screenwriting MA prepared you for the 4Screenwriting course?
Angelina: If you’re serious about developing as a screenwriter, then the NFTS offers an unparalleled opportunity to examine and refine your own writing, and to work with immensely talented people who are just as passionate about storytelling as you are. You can - and should - read all the screenwriting textbooks, but none of them can teach you how to make specifically *your* writing better. This, in my experience, is what the NFTS excels in.
Nathaniel: Applying for the NFTS Screenwriting MA is one of the best decisions I ever made. Once I realised I was serious about wanting to become a professional screenwriter, the NFTS was the place I was continually advised to apply to. It gave me such a thorough training across all the mediums (film, TV, theatre, radio and games) in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere. The tutors at times went above and beyond in helping me develop my writing. Also, the fact they're all active in the industry, you can't help but find their advice helpful and inspiring. The NFTS also provides you with access to the industry prior to graduation, which has proved extremely helpful for my career.
Oliver: The TV module we do as part of the MA at the NFTS follows the same structure as the 4Screenwriting course in terms of feedback and outcome, so the transition has been relatively seamless so far. The 4Screenwriting course is a great platform for new writers and is renowned throughout the industry, acting as a bridge into the professional world of writing. Out of the 12 writers selected this year, 4 were from the NFTS, so if you apply then you've clearly got a very good chance!
What are your career aspirations?
Oliver: If I can make a living doing what I love then I'll be happy, but creating and writing my own series is the dream. Ideally I'd like to work across both film and television, and I currently have a number of projects in various stages of development, but my focus is on the script for C4 over the next couple of months.
Nathaniel: I've been lucky enough to be working constantly since I graduated last year. Recently, I've had a short monologue, Special Delivery released on BBC3 as part of the BBC ‘Writersroom's The Break II’ series. My first radio play, Baller, was broadcast earlier this month on BBC Radio 4 and was selected as their 'Drama of the Week'. I wrote Episode 5 of Five by Five, a co-production between Green Door Pictures and BBC Studios, featuring Idris Elba, which will be released on BBC 3 on Monday 27th April. I've also been selected as a trainee writer by Kudos for their new Sky Atlantic show Tin Star, and so will be involved in story lining series two. I've also just had my first feature play commissioned with the Nottingham Playhouse. Finally, my first feature film, Scandinavian Silence, that I co-wrote with director Martii Helde, will be released later this year.
My real aspiration is to continue to work on exciting and varied projects across the mediums and continue to develop my writing. Ultimately, I'd love to have my own TV series on day. I'm fortunate enough to be working on developing original ideas with a number of great production companies so... fingers crossed.
Angelina: I’m still at the start of the final year of the MA, so my plans for what to do after leaving the NFTS aren’t very firm - I feel that I still have so much to learn and explore while I’m at the School! Television is my first love, I grew up practically glued to the screen, so writing television drama would be amazing, but ultimately I just want the stories I tell to find an audience, be it on television, in film, or on the stage.
For more information on the NFTS Screenwriting MA, please visit https://www.nfts.co.uk/our-courses/masters/screenwriting (application deadline 4th May 2017 with a start date of January 2018). And for more information on Channel 4’s 4Screenwriting Programme, please visit http://4talent.channel4.com/get-involved/work-programmes/4-new-writers/4-screenwriting