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As far as the writing is concerned, the casting of Mairi Hedderwicke’s diminutive heroine completes a saga which began for me on a wet Sunday in November 2011, on the day of the Scottish BAFTA awards. I was meeting in a coffee bar with Don Coutts and Lindy Cameron of Move On Up TV . They asked if I was interested in the possible adaptation of the popular children’s series, Katie Morag, written and illustrated by Mairi Hedderwicke. I advised them that I was a great fan of Mairi’s work , but that if the large number of episodes (it turned out to be 26) which needed to be written were to be successful, then they should consider using the Team Writing For TV method .
My colleagues and I , Dr John Quinn, Dr Gill Jamieson and writer and actor Martin McCardie , have been developing the concept and practice of TWFTV through the module which we teach at University Of The West Of Scotland in Ayr . Over the past 5 years we have created a robust methodolgical approach to team writing which lays down a series of crucial production steps designed to ensure that the concepts of theme, tone and narrative coherence are successfully carried across the large number of episodes of a long running TV Series. Crucially, it requires ALL writers to be present at ALL storylining sessions, and for detailed beat outlines to be created by the the entire storylining team. All team members have access to all others scripts and beat outlines, and the entire final product is then passed through the hands of a single lead writer. The lead writer’s job is to unify the entire process and reconcile production, narrative, and executive notes in order to create a coherent shooting script.
I am delighted to report that under the stewardship of Lindy and Don, along with lead writer Sergio Casci, and Script Exec Angela Galvin of the BBC, the Katie Morag team have now brought the entire 26 Episode arc to a level ready for the production to go into principal photography at the end of April 2013. It is no mean feat to successfully bring such a large scale project to fruition in such a relatively short time. I think that the Broadcasters should feel indebted to Lindy and Don for whole-heartedly embracing the TWFTV process . At times it would have been much easier, (and certainly less expensive) to just send out spec outlines to a series of unconnected writers, but they held to the plan , and I am confident that the final product will reflect this coherent approach.
Katie Morag is Produced by the Move On UP team of Lindy Cameron, Margaret Mathieson and Donald Coutts. Donald Coutts will also direct all 26 episodes. Apart from myself, the series was scripted by writers Sergio Casci, Martin McCardie , Jan Storie & Louise Wyllie. Huge thanks also due to BBC’s Producers & Execs Angela Galvin, & Sarah Harkins . Angela was a key mover in the Team Writing Process, acting as the executive link between the writing team and the broadcasters and deserves huge credit for her role.
Katie Morag starts shooting in Lewis at the end of the month. I wish the entire team, the newly cast actors, and especially Cherry Campbell all the very best for a successful shoot. We should see all 26 Episodes on CBeebies towards the end of the year.
Full details of the BBC Katie Morag Press Release can be found here
I am very proud to announce that the Student’s Association of the University Of The West Of Scotland last night awarded me the accolade of their 21st Century Teaching Award. This is voted for by students across the 4 UWS Campuses to recognise innovation in teaching and the use of the new technologies. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the students who voted for me.
I would also like to thank my colleagues within the Performance team at UWS , including Dr John Quinn, Jane Robertson, Jo Ronan, Dr David Overend, Martin McCardie, Michael Hines, Ashley Cowie, Keith Bird and Jamie Hare for their continued help and support. Many thanks to all.
Rehearsals are well under way for my new play “Marco Pantani: The Pirate”. The play will be running at Oran Mor as part of the “Play , A Pie And A Pint” series from May 13th -18th. It will will also be presented at The Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock on Sunday 19th.
Details of bookings and ticket prices for Marco Pantani: The Pirate can be found online here.
The part of Italian Cyclist Marco Pantani will be taken by Scots Actor Jordan Young, who has just finished filming in Irvine Welsh’s new pic “Filth”.
The part of Tonina, his mother will be played by Blythe Duff, who has just returned from an Off Broadway production of David Harrower’s “Good With People.”
The cast is completed by actor James Smillie, who has appeared in a a multitude of television shows and stage plays, both in the UK and Australia. His television credits include The Tomorrow People, Adventure Island, Space: 1999, Thriller, Prisoner: Cell Block H,
The play has a real UWS feel to it. Director David Overend is a lecturer in Performance, our Studio managers, Jamie Hare and Keith Bird will be providing visuals, while UWS Radio Graduate Stuart Watt will be creating a bespoke soundscape using special recordings of cycle parts. The production team is completed by UWS Performance Graduand Deborah Lochran and Catriona Hepburn who studied Playwriting & Team Writing For Television at UWS.
UWS STUDENT WORK WINS BAFTA
WINNER: The State of Greenock
Gavin Grant, David Newman, Pamela Barnes
University of the West of Scotland
UWS MA Creative Media Practice student work has won a BAFTA New Talent Award.
The film, ‘The State of Greenock’, was developed by Gavin Grant, David Newman and Pamela Barnes as part of their MA Creative Media Practice course work last year. Both Gavin and Pamela graduated from the programme in November, whilst David continues on the programme on a part-time basis.
The BAFTA New Talent Awards, took place on Thursday 21 March at Glasgow’s Òran Mór, to recognise and reward outstanding new practitioners in Scotland’s moving image industries.
MA Creative Media Practice student Gavin Grant said: “We’re all very proud that The State of Greenock has won the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award. The news has come at an exciting time as we have just started filming a follow-up web series, which will pick up where the film left off.”
Anne Gifford, Head of the School of Creative and Cultural Industries, said: “This is fantastic news. The MA Creative Media Practice degree was newly launched in 2010 and already our students are making an impact on Scotland’s film and TV production.”
Scottish actress Blythe Duff recently visited Contemporary Screen Acting students at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and took part in the ongoing StudioLab collaboration project.
Blythe was visiting the studios to record excerpts of Scottish Poetry which will soon be seen on the Infinite Scotland website. Blythe then followed her recording session with a Question and Answer session chaired by UWS Student Natalie Smith, where she answered student queries on the subject of contemporary screen acting. The entire process was recorded by UWS students and will be edited by the UWS technical team of Jamie Hare and Keith Bird and placed online soon.
Blythe Duff with UWS Filmmaking student Elsi Vehkaniemi.
Blythe said: “I had a fantastic time with the students at UWS. I had no idea that the studio facilities at UWS Ayr were so advanced.The whole StudioLab project where students collaborate with one another across programmes is exactly what the professional business is really like. I will definitely be back in the future to see how their work is progressing and wish them all the very best ”
The University’s BA (Hons) Performance, BA (Hons) Contemporary Screen Acting and BA (Hons) Musical Theatre programmes were among the first in the UK to achieve Drama UK Recognition – a New Level of Quality Assurance for Drama Training Providers. This recognition offers students and their future employers assurance that a course with this award has been through a rigorous assessment including a visit from a panel of industry experts to ensure that it delivers what it promises and provides a real benefit to the industry.
Tutors at UWS are committed to giving students an authentic experience of the contemporary creative industries practice, and structured workshops and visits by practitioners such as Blythe Duff are an essential part of that process.
For more information on Contemporaray Screen Acting at UWS, please click here.
This video was created by University Of The West Of Scotland students to publicise and market their Contemporary Screen Acting Degree.
If you have a Higher National Diploma or equivalent in a Performance -based subject, then this two year top up Degree Programme is designed for you.
This Video was made by UWS Contemporary Screen Acting students.
PRESTIGIOUS DRAMA UK RECOGNITION FOR THE FOLLOWING PROGRAMMES
Three University of the West of Scotland (UWS) degree programmes are among the first in the UK to achieve Drama UK Recognition – a New Level of Quality Assurance for Drama Training Providers.
Drama UK, the organisation which champions quality drama training in the UK, has awarded the first of its brand new quality marks to three courses at UWS – BA (Hons) Contemporary Screen Acting, BA (Hons) Musical Theatre, and BA (Hons) Performance.
The new quality mark entitled ‘Recognition’ offers students and their future employers assurance that a course with this award has been through a rigorous assessment including a visit from a panel of industry experts to ensure that it delivers what it promises and provides a real benefit to the industry.
Ian Kellgren, Chief Executive of Drama UK, said: “We are delighted to award the first of our Recognition marks. We have piloted this new level of quality assurance thanks to support from Creative Skillset.”
Historically, industry accredited quality assurance has only been available to vocational courses at conservatoire drama schools. The development of this new quality mark is part of Drama UK’s mission to broaden the reach of its quality assurance in the sector.
Kellgren added: “The drama training landscape has changed significantly since quality assurance for drama training was originally set up by The National Council of Drama Training (NCDT) in the 1970s. We have acknowledged that there are now many more providers in this sector and there is a need to provide quality assurance for courses that are less vocational than conservatoire training but offer a very real benefit to the industry.”
Drama UK took on the Quality Assurance role from National Council for Drama Training (NCDT) when it merged with the Conference of Drama Schools in June, and continues to champion quality drama training in the UK through advocacy, advice and assurance.
Jane Robertson, UWS Senior Lecturer and Performance Area Subject Leader said “We are delighted that all three UWS performance related degree programmes are among the first in the UK to be granted Drama UK Recognition, a quality assurance mark that UWS staff and students are very proud of.”
A new Drama UK website, www.dramauk.co.uk, is due to launch later this year and will contain the full list of all Accredited and Recognised courses as well as other vocational training available. There will also be information and advice for students looking for drama and technical theatre training.
UWS School of Creative and Cultural Industries – a Skillset Media Academy www.uws.ac.uk/cci provides industry-ready degree programmes, designed by staff with wide-ranging experience in broadcasting, film, journalism, music, performance and the visual arts. It strives to produce graduates who will be able to compete successfully in their chosen sectors, set up their own production company/creative business, and demonstrate a critically aware, theoretically informed view of their discipline. The School leads UWS’ Skillset Media Academy – one of only three Skillset Academies in Scotland – an industry-accredited network of excellence.
Drama UK provides a unique link between the theatre, media and broadcast industries and drama training providers in the UK. It gives a united, public voice to this sector; offers help and advice to drama students of all ages; and awards a quality kite mark to the very best drama training in the UK.
Creative Skillset (www.creativeskillset.org) is the Creative Industries’ Sector Skills Council (SSC) which comprises TV, film, radio, interactive media, animation, computer games, facilities, photo imaging, publishing, advertising and fashion and textiles. Its aim is to support the productivity of our industry to ensure that it remains globally competitive. It does this by influencing and leading; developing skills, training and education policy; and through opening up the industries to the UK’s pool of diverse talent.
Congratulations to all staff and students involved in the bidding and evaluation process!
Just got this on the hotline from my colleague Dr David Manderson
“Congratulations to Kirsty McConnell, a graduate of last year’s Honours Screenwriting/Film-Making degree, for winning first prize in the London Screenwriters’ ‘Fifty Kisses’ short film script competition for her short script ‘Enough.
You can read her script and the judges’ comments here:
Well done Kirsty! A career beckons.”
This week Contemporary Screen Acting students at the University of The West of Scotland took part in the launch of a unique new creative Screenwriting project. “Studio Lab” is based in the UWS new 80 million pound Ayr campus where students have access to two full HD state of the art TV Studios.
As part of their final year Research Project, Ba (Hons) Contemporary Screen Acting students are creating an hour long drama which will be recorded live in December at UWS studio 1 .However, what makes this cross-over project unique is that students from other UWS Programmes are being integrated from the beginning into what will be a 12 week process.
Every Wednesday afternoon, Film Making & Screenwriting students will help to develop the narrative, Broadcast Production students will be in charge of the recording and vision mixing it, Commercial Music students will supply the soundtrack and so on. The whole enterprise will come to a climax on Dec 5th when the entire team , directed by “Chewing The Fat and “Still Game” director Michael Hines, will record the drama “live” in the TV Studio.
As leader of the Programme, I am supposedly in creative charge of the whole process but if truth be told it is the students who are leading the way. The first step was taken in our main Studio 1 yesterday when the actors took started their initial improvisation .They are charged with the task of creating three dimensional characters who will eventually go on to improvise a script which will then be rehearsed and acted out in the drama.
While the Screen Acting students took part in a tense “hot seat” improv, Film Makers recorded their every move on two HD cameras. By next week we will have a digitised and edited Quicktime of the process created by the Film Makers , and it will be viewed by all participants . They will then discuss the characterisation , decide what to use and what to drop, and then move on to recording the next stage of the improvisation, and so on. A script will evolve over the first 6 weeks of this process, and by week 11, a fully fledged unique studio drama will have emerged to be recorded in the final week.
Students at the first session described the process as being “an intense experience”……”as soon as I was under the lights, all the stuff I had planned on using disappeared, and I found I was really being the character”.
The whole idea of the “Studio Lab” process is to create an exciting collaborative environment where we mimic the professional Creative Industries where teams of different disciplines get together to create the final product. If the first week is anything to go by, it will reap creative rewards. We don’t know if the final programme will be a comedy, a drama, or a mixture of the two genres, but it will certainly be a unique experience for all concerned.