28 September 2011

The Birth of the Writers' Factory Introduction to Screenwriting Course

I've started studying at Screen Academy Scotland, which turns out to be on the way to my old school. I must have walked past it without knowing it was there hundreds of times.

I rather fell into their beginners' course by accident, my father sending me a link two days before the registration deadline. It's free for the unemployed, so what's not to love? I signed up immediately.

In the first class we covered the origins of the course. It's an interesting tale. Back in the Noughties, or so the story goes, the outgoing chair of the UK Film Council's Lottery funding committee left a stinker of a memo in his successor's in tray, underneath the stationary bill.

He wrote that the quality of the Scottish films he was asked to assess was "disappointing" because of their poor writing. He concluded that Scottish screenwriters needed to step up their game a lot if the films coming out of Scotland were going to be any good.

The current course tutor described this memo as "unpopular with the film community". Can you imagine?*

The story has a happy ending, however. Rather than retreat into a self-righteous huff, the UK Film Council commissioned Phillip Parker ("the closest thing the UK has to a screenwriting guru") to write the course I am currently studying. Its purpose was to catalyse a new wave of Scottish screenwriters - that's us!

* Note that this man (who is, sadly, unnamed, which means I cannot pray for him) was the 'outgoing' chair of the Lottery funding committee.

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