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The First Draft kicks off this week!

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A novelist, an actor, an arts administrator and an advertising executive are just four of the 12 participants of THE FIRST DRAFT, which starts next week with a week’s residential programme at Aloha Villas, Changi Village.

All twelve were selected from an open call for applicants launched last December and make up a diverse and colourful cross-section of ages, occupations and backgrounds. Applicants were selected on the basis of their script ideas and their ear for dialogue (they were asked to submit a basic idea and two sample scenes) and through interview.

They will be spending 5 days in seclusion at the resort in Changi in an intensive workshop with tutors from the London College of Communication where their ideas will be intensively worshopped and developed.

This workshop is just the first stage of the programme, which will extend over the next year and will consists of monthly meetings, Skype and email communications with the tutors and a further residential programme in September.

The programme is a collaboration between the British Council, Sinema and the London College of Communication and is supported by the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore.

The aims of the programme are:

  • To develop 12 basic screenplay ideas to the point where they are ready for pitching to the industry.
  • To develop the 12 participants’ skills in the area of screenwriting so that they will go on to form a solid core of writers essential for the growth of the film industry here.

This programme has been developed as a response to the widely-held view that the industry is suffering from a lack of trained screenwriters and that the weakness in scripts is a major obstacle that the industry needs to overcome if it is to produce films that attract a domestic audience while also having international appeal.

The screenplay ideas include a science-fiction thriller set in the business world, a blackly comic farce playing out on the factory floor, and a road trip for seniors. There will be a very strong focus on character and dialogue, and a considered practical view of what is possible in the Singaporean producing context, as the aim is very much to have ‘producible’ scripts by the end of the course, that can be fed directly into the further funding programmes of the MDA and SFC.

Quote from Dan Prichard, Director of Programmes, British Council:

“We are very excited about the opportunity this programmes presents to bring together 12 talented Singaporeans and to work with them to develop their distinctly Singaporean stories for the screen. Aloha Villas was selected as the venue for the workshop as it is the ideal location to give the writers an opportunity to step out of the hectic pace of Singapore life and the demands of their everyday lives.

“We are hoping that this ‘timeout’ will provide the right conditions in which to foster a spirit of community and mutual support necessary for the growth of a strong cohort of writers in Singapore. ”

Quote from Nicholas Chee, Executive Director, Sinema:

“At the end of the day if you strip a film bare from its devices and fancy effects, it’s about the story, nothing but the story – how it begins, develops and end. That is all that really matters.”

Mr Tham Wai Kin, Director of Talent Development, MDA, said:

“Through the Professional Screenplay Development Programme, MDA hopes to build deep capabilities in screenwriting in order to build up a pool of trained screenwriters who will be the bedrock of writing talent for the Singapore film industry’s future growth and development.”

For more information on The First Draft, visit http://www.samp.sg/thefirstdraft/

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