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First Draft – Call for Entries7 min read

14 April 2011 5 min read


First Draft – Call for Entries7 min read

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Organised by the British Council, First Draft is Singapore’s flagship twelve-month professional screenplay development programme.

It is focused specifically on developing the skills required for successful feature film screenwriting.

The course develops screenwriting abilities through a programme of professional one-to-one mentoring (both face-to-face and distance mentoring), residential group workshops, key lectures and screenings, preparing you for a career as a scriptwriter in film.

Who teaches the course?

As course Director on the London College of Communication’s MA Screenwriting and freelance script editor, Kelly Marshall has broad experience in screenplay development. She has devised and led several screenwriting courses, both in Britain and Europe, plus presented a public series of lectures in London “˜Knowing Genre’. Working in both live action and animation, Kelly’s work has been screened on BBC, Nickelodeon, Granada TV, Scottish TV, Carlton TV and Channel 5 and she currently has four original TV and feature projects in development. Her recent family feature script has won three US screenwriting competitions. Kelly has been on the judging panel of BAFTA’s 60 Seconds of Fame, the British Animation Awards, Screen South’s Digital Shorts and the New Zealand Writers Guild’s 2010 SWANZ Awards.

Tessa Sheridan has extensive experience in screenplay development. She has devised and led several professional film development courses, both in Britain and Europe. Tessa is currently senior lecturer on the London College of Communication’s MA Screenwriting. She has developed three feature film screenplays for the Film Council and Scottish Screen. She was also on the judging panel of the Times Short Film Competition and the Bush Theatre’s New Playwrights Competition. Tessa’s short films have won international awards and have been screened in cinemas, on BBC TV, Channel 4 and internationally. Her radio play Flotsam was recently commissioned and broadcast by BBC Radio 3.

First Draft 2010 feedback

“I have done several other screenwriting workshops.  They could not compare in terms of depth of analysis or breadth of writing and development tools.”

“A comprehensive and intensive course of the highest and more professionally demanding standard.”

“The two lecturers are truly excellent. They obviously know their stuff and compliment each other very well, providing different perspectives.”

“I have never experienced a work environment that has been so productive, engaging and inspiring.”

Who can apply?

We are only able to offer First Draft to Singapore citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents who are more than 21 years of age.

How do I apply?

Please submit the following items to the British Council by midday on Friday, 20 May 2011:

1. A copy of your up-to-date curriculum vitae.

2. A personal statement of no more than 1000 words detailing: (i) Your previous involvement with screenwriting workshops; production companies and other film-related organisations (if any); (ii) Which particular style or genre of fiction work you like and how this relates to your own work; (iii) Whether or not you have previously or would enjoy working with others and taking part in group discussion.

3. A one page (maximum) film outline, containing an overview of your narrative ““ including a beginning, middle and end.

4. A one page (maximum) summary of additional information including: (i) brief biographies of your main characters; (ii) a short paragraph on the tone and/or genre of the project; and (iii) an indication of intended audience and why they will engage with the project.

5. Two sample scenes in screenplay format, each being up to five pages long (maximum).

6. A recent photograph

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What are the selection criteria?

You will be selected based on:

– the strength, creativity and originality of the story concept (the material submitted must be an original creation with no copyright or third party infringements);
– the writer’s ability to develop this concept through an intensive workshop and mentoring process; and
– the potential viability of the project as a low-budget feature film, in the Singaporean context (estimated budget of SGD250,000).

Please note that the course will be conducted in English so applicants should be fluent in both written and spoken English. The final script can, however, be intended for translation and produced in another language.

What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline for applications is midday on Friday, 20 May 2011.

Will I need to attend an interview?

All short-listed applicants will be required to attend a short interview.

How long is the programme?

The programme runs for 12 months.

When does the programme start?

Monday, 25 July. Applicants are expected to commit fully to the programme’s timeline, which includes two week-long residential programmes.

What is the schedule for the programme?

1. Announcement of participants: Wednesday, 22 June 2011.
2. First Residential: Monday, 25 July ““ Friday, 29 July (inclusive).
3. Second Residential: Wednesday, 7 December ““ Monday, 12 December (inclusive).
4. Delivery of professional first draft screenplay ““ July 2012.

Where is the programme taught?

The residential programmes will take place near Changi. Monthly peer group meetings will be held at the British Council or another place to be agreed between the participants. The rest of the time, one-to-one distance professional mentoring will be provided by the two lecturers.

What equipment would I be expected to have?

A laptop computer is essential for the residential programme.  Access to a laptop or desktop computer at home or work during the course is essential. Participants will be required to have downloaded Skype and be a competent user for the one-to-one distance professional mentoring sessions.

Would I be expected to have any prior knowledge of particular software or technical skills?

You must be able to use and have access to Microsoft Word and Final Draft software for your screenplay.

What are the distinctive features of the programme?

The unique approach of the course lies in its combination of a theoretical framework, which is used to structure, develop and analyse screenworks, the use of workshop-based peer review, and the process of developing and writing an industry-standard feature screenplay. This distinguishing feature based around the experience gained from learning to engage with other writers’ work. The combination of workshops, reflective analysis, and research provides the course with a distinctive approach and profile.

What do participants do when they finish the programme?

By the end of the course, provided they have completed all of the tasks and worked continuously and diligently through the programme, participants will finish the course with first-draft screenplays of their original ideas. Their completed screenplays will be offered a first look deal with the MDA. Should this option not be taken up, writers are free to take their finished script out into the industry.

A “˜Meet the Producers’ event will mark the end of the First Draft programme and will offer participants the chance to take part in a speed-pitching session.

All participants who successfully complete the programme will also receive certification bearing the logos of the partnership organisations attesting to their participation in the course.

Who will own the copyright of the draft scripts?

Copyright will remain with the screenwriter. You will be required to respect the confidentiality of the workshop environment and you will sign a confidentiality agreement to that effect. The MDA reserve the first right of refusal to co-invest in the production of any film based on a script developed with the assistance of this programme, subject to the respective criteria of the MDA’s funding schemes.

Will there be funding after the course to produce the scripts?

There will be no guaranteed funding available to bring the scripts to production. However, participants will be eligible to apply for Singapore Film Commission script development grants for future development of the projects. If co-funders and producers can be found for the scripts, then applications can also be made to the Singapore Film Commission’s New Feature Film Fund Programme.

Will the twelve completed scripts eventually be pitched to overseas investors and agents?

Once the scripts are completed, the MDA has the first refusal but the script remains the property of the writer. The Singapore Film Commission and the MDA will help to promote the scripts they want to be involved in, while the tutors will provide advice on pitching and marketing your scripts during the course.

How much does it cost and how do I arrange for payment?

S$2400 per participant per year. Payment can be made by cheque payable to the British Council and delivered by post or by hand to 30 Napier Road, Singapore 258509. Electronic payment via internet banking is available on request.

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