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Week 11 in the Team Writing For Television process, and all nine teams went through the agony and ecstacy of a mock pitch in the sultry conditions of Room A 104 at the Ayr Campus. This is in preparation for the real pitch which will take place next Monday in the more salubrious environs of the Main Lecture Theatre at UWS Ayr.
The brief last Monday was deceptively simple. You have 10 minutes to pitch your team ideas for a long running TV Series. No AV, no music, no graphics, just a personal team presentation designed to convince a broadcaster to part with the millions of pounds required to set up such an enterprise these days. No pressure there, then.
I haven’t really gone into the detail of the specific ideas on the blog so far, and I am reluctant to do so in any detail, for the simple reason that I reckon that some of these ideas really do have the potential to end up on your TV Screens. What I will say is that the ideas range from Zombie Death Squads, through Murders In Space, by way of The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse, Religious Fervour and a tense Scottish Historical Drama spanning the war years and their aftermath. A kaleidescope of creativity and ideas from a group of committed and talented students.
The standard of the mock pitches was very high. There was not one of them which would have looked out of place in a professional context. In fact, if truth be told, the art of “The Pitch” is one of the least developed within the British Creative Industries. So rarely do real creators and writers get to actually meet the people who can green light their project, that the role of the writer is usually to sit in her or his garret, playing solitaire and waiting for the phone to ring. Writers as a breed in Britain tend to be on the outside looking in , waiting for the thumbs up or down from their producer who has been the only one at the meeting to promote the idea to a Channel Controller who holds the fate of the series idea in their hands.
That is NOT the model which we are pursuing in Team Writing For Television at Ayr. We aim to train articulate, confident writers and creators who are able to develop their ideas, and present them in a professional manner to the Threshold Guardians of the TV industry.
Next Monday, the TWFTV class will carry out precisely that task. The time of the pitches will be extended to 15 minutes in which time the teams can use music,computer graphics, web sites and ideas for 360 delivery in front of two leading members of the Scottish Creative Industries. Mike Ellen, Script Development Exec for the BBC at Pacific Quay, and Kate Croft, head of Scottish Drama Development at Shed Productions , will sit in judgement of the nine teams as they sell their idea through the use of series arc grids, character breakdowns, an exploration of theme, tone, episode ideas, hooks and springboards to (hopefully) the successful second series.
The industry practitioners will contribute to the assessment of the teams, giving their honest opinions, and there will also be a peer review process where the individual team members will make an appraisal of one anothers contribution to the entire team creative process. All of this makes up 30% of the student’s grade.
20% of the grade is in an argumentative essay, and most challenging of all, 50% of the mark is based on each student’s individual episode script which they will write to take account of the overall series plan. In other words, at the end of the process, each team will have literally created the entire cultural artefact required for the birth of a new television series, from Bible all the way through to the first draft scripts.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Before all that, the Industry Pitch on Monday . Watch this space for details