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Katie Morag fans should note that Stuart Hepburn, Martin McCardie Sergio Casci and Lindy Cameron of Move On Up TV have been nominated for Best Children’s Screenplay in the British Screenwriter’s Awards as part of the London Screenwriter’s Festival . We all owe a great debt to Mairi Hedderwick for her fantastic books, and to Director Don Coutts and his Cast and Crew. If you are fans of the CBeebies and BBC Childrens series  about the adventures of the wee girl from Struay, you can vote by clicking here. VOTE FOR KATIE MORAG

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In schools and colleges all over the country, students interested in the Performing Arts are thinking about what their next step should be.
There have been lots of exciting developments in the performance subject area  at University Of The West Of Scotland in the past year.
We have formed a teaching partnership with the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr.
We have brought BA (Hons)Musical Theatre in-house to our £81 million campus in Ayr.
We have a brand new Technical Theatre Degree delivered through our partnership with the Gaiety .
Most importantly, all our Performance-based degrees are now 3 year Honours with entry levels at second year (Level 8) as well as third year (level 9).
All degrees require an audition, but students can apply to the courses in second year with :

3 Advanced Highers BCC or plus English at Higher level and Maths at Standard Grade 3 or above, National 4 or Intermediate 2.
3 A levels BBC or
An HNC (120 points) or
A B Tec 4 or
Intermediate 2 or
An International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma: 28 points.

All our degrees also have a level 9 entry with an HND or equivalent to our DRAMA UK recognised degrees.

With all this expansion, we want the best students to come to UWS Ayr. Every year , more and more students apply through UCAS, and the standard of work and quality of candidates is increasing.

Two of our students from Edinburgh College, Emily Barr and Jennie Walker have made a short video about life at UWS.
If you have any contacts at your old college or know of any British or Overseas students who might be interested in a 3 year honours degree, please share this post with them so that they can get an idea of what it’s like being a student at UWS Ayr.

Also, here are the links for anyone of your friends or relatives who may be specifically interested in our 3 years honours degrees.

BA(Hons) Musical Theatre
http://www.uws.ac.uk/ba-musical-theatre/

BA(Hons) Performance
http://www.uws.ac.uk/ba-performance/

BA(Hons) Contemporary Screen Acting
http://www.uws.ac.uk/ba-cont-screen-acting/

BA(Hons) Technical Theatre (subject to validation)
http://www.uws.ac.uk/sp…/technical_theatre_(3rd_year_entry)/

Please feel free to share this and spread the word to your old colleges , colleagues or friends. If you think that your old college would like a visit from UWS staff to talk to students, then please let us know too.
Any questions, email stuart.hepburn@uws.ac.uk


 

Celebrated Scottish actor David Hayman visited University of the West of Scotland’s Ayr Campus recently to take part in the UWS collaborative creative industries project, StudioLab.

StudioLab is an ongoing project where students from all the University’s programmes related to the Creative Industries collaborate together to create recorded work and closely replicates the work of the professional Creative Industries, where teams of different disciplines get together to create a final product.

Hayman was at the University’s state-of-the-art recording studios at its Ayr Campus on 11 March to record a live Q&A session with third year Contemporary Screen Acting and Performance students .

David Hayman, the founder of SpiritAid  urged acting students to “follow their dreams” when he visited the Campus. He enthralled the audience for over an hour telling them of his humble beginnings in the business, right up to recent work with Oscar Winners Michael Fassbender and Marilyn Cotillard.

David Hayman commented: “I was completely knocked over by the talent and enthusiasm of the students and the outstanding preforming and recording facilities at UWS in Ayr. I am already planning my next visit to follow up the wonderful work being done at UWS Ayr.”

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The Photo above was taken by UWS Student Oliver Karaschewski .

It was an inspirational experience for students and staff which we recorded and will publish on our School Vimeo site.

Visits like these are an invaluable part of the process of the students gaining the skills, confidence and insights to enter the professional arena and we are planning more of these for the future. Watch this space for details.


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BAFTA MASTERCLASS: LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU     

THURSDAY 18 APRIL

CCA, 6.30PM

Tickets £5 from CCA Box Office

 

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Do you want to work in TV entertainment?  Are you interested in hearing how some of the biggest hits in UK television were devised?  Get the inside track on how to create and produce award winning TV entertainment with a panel made up of the cream of British television production – Andrew Newman, David Flynn and Karen Smith.

 

Andrew Newman started as a runner on The Big Breakfast before going on to produce The Word and Brass Eye.  In 1998 he became Entertainment Commissioner at Channel 4, overseeing shows like TFI Friday and Da Ali G Show. After a stint at Five, he returned to C4 as Head of Comedy & Entertainment, commissioning 8/10 CatsPeep Show and The Inbetweeners. He joined Objective Productions in 2009 and became Chief Executive in 2011.

David Flynn became joint Managing Director of Remarkable Television in September 2009, after taking over Brighter Pictures in 2007. Most recently, David created and executive produced hit game show The Million Pound Drop Live (Channel 4), and was involved in the show’s international roll out. He also co-created and executive produced daytime hit Pointless (BBC Two), Seven Days On the Breadline (ITV1) and Divided (ITV1).

Karen Smith started as a Day Producer on This Morning, going on to become Editor.  She then joined Endemol, helping to launchComic Relief Does Fame Academy (BBC 1).  In 2004, she joined BBC Entertainment and was the Co-Devisor and Executive Producer of Strictly Come Dancing, one of the biggest entertainment formats in the world.  In 2009, Karen joined Shine and became Joint Managing Director, before starting Tuesday’s Child in 2012.

BAFTA Scotland

249 West George Street, Glasgow G2 4QE

T +44 (0)141 302 1770

F +44 (0)141 302 1771

www.bafta.org/scotland


Recent years have seen a regeneration of Glasg...

Queer Street? Turn left at the Squinty Bridge.

David Gillick is a fourth year Performance student at the University Of The West Of Scotland in Ayr.

His Creative Project is a Mockumentary Film called “Queer Street ”

He is looking for male actors  to play larger than life  characters in this black comedy based on  the lives and loves of the participants of  a fictitious Glasgow gay scene.

They  all constitute  a group of misfit males trying to conquer and control Glasgow nightlife.
Think Rocky Horror meets the Sopranos with a bit of Stellar Street thrown in.

David  is also   looking for one male actor  who is comfortable in front of the camera  and would be the TV  interviewer of this Mockumentary.

David is  hoping to start workshopping this on the 15th of November at UWS Ayr or  in Glasgow, whatever suits majority of the cast.

David says that ”  I wont be forcing anyone to perform outwith their  comfort zone, as I  know some budding actors  may be put off by the sound of  the material and theme of the film…all I want is to make a funny film about a bunch of Glaswegian gays”

If you think you might be interested in the project, or know someone else who is , please email David Gillick at the address below as soon as possible and he will get back to you.

Many thanks.

B00193173@studentmail.uws.ac.uk


Logo of the British newspaper The Guardian

Image via Wikipedia

Once in a while I get loose from the UWS Mediaacademy and get out more and I spent a truly inspiring day at the Media Guardian Edinburgh Internaional Festival Network event the other day. The Network  (formerly TVYP) is run in parallel with  the International TV Festival and is committed to identifying and developing young  creative  talent who are interested in a career in Television. Thousands of hopefuls apply, and this year 80 successful delegates descended on Edinburgh for   four free  days of masterclasses, workshops and career chats.


"Writing's fine, but I really want to direct"

These  included….

– Learning the key ingredients for getting a start in TV
– Discovering just how huge and diverse television is
– Getting your hands dirty and finding out exactly how a camera works
– Meeting fantastically talented TV and showbiz types
– Understanding what all the people on a TV show’s end credits do
– Questioning TV execs who have the power to give you a job

As the Network website explains

“The Network  is now in its 20th year,  each year The Network delegates have the opportunity to meet, work with and learn from leading creative industry figures  ranging from scriptwriters to producers, presenters to publicists, programme schedulers to commissioning editors. Past contributors have included Chris Evans, Russell T Davies, Davina McCall, Jimmy Carr, Sir Trevor McDonald, Simon Amstell, Kirsty Young, Jana Bennett, Director of BBC Vision, Tim Hincks, Chief Executive, Endemol and Jon Snow.”.

My particular workshop was sponsored by the ALCS , and through them  I was fortunate enough to be able to discuss creativity and screenwriting on an individual basis  with 15 of the delegates this year, and an overwhelming and humbling experience it was too.

The cliche about “teaching” is that when it’s working well, the teacher learns as much pupil, but I can honestly say that after speaking in detail to the young delegates, I really did learn a lot. I learnt that the future of British TV, if this lot have anything to do with it, is in good hands. All of them had well formulated ideas to pitch, all of them were willing to listen, and all of them taught me something I didn’t know before. They even had Business Cards, putting me to shame..(Memo to self. Must get business cards printed.)


Tash Collie pitching her new Radio Drama.

The feedback from the whole event is just in, and modesty forbids me repeating it all here. Suffice to say the delegates went away brimming with ideas, enthusiasm and creativity. If you are a creative young person who wants to be involved in the TV Industry, keep an eye on the Network Website for details of next years initiatives. It’s well worth it, even for the old fogeys like me  who are supposedly “teaching” you.

Special thanks has to go to James, Suzy and Holly for all their hard work and for providing me with the photos.


Jim Sweeney, Kolin Ferguson & Stuart Hepburn

I first  met screenwriter Kolin Ferguson on a rainy Sunday in East Kilbride about three years ago.We were working on a short film by Write Camera Action Director Linda Campbell called “Stub It Out”. I was acting, and Kolin  was holding a mike boom on what could loosely be described as a “Geurrilla Shoot”. In other words there were three of us! He told me that he was no sound assistant, but was  a screenwriter, and was developing  a 12 part TV Series about Glasgow Gangsters called “The Crews”. Not only was he going to write it, he was going to shoot it, with little or no  budget. Along with Director Colin Ross Smith, and actors Jim Sweeney and Robert Harrison, they had the revolutionary  notion  that if they actually shot the first two episodes, then they would be able to raise the cash to finish the project. The whole thing was to be shot in HD, with broadcast quality sound. Oh and they were going to nip over to Amsterdam for a couple of days to shoot there too.  I nodded and smiled benignly . I admired their chutzpah, but doubted their ability to carry it off. Nevertheless, later that year,  Kolin  and Colin came down to talk to our students on the Performance Programme at UWS and we watched their short film Sandwich, which also introduced me to their hatchet-faced co-star, Robert Harrison. I asked them how “The Crews” was going, and they told me they were going ahead with the plan. They had bought an HD  camera, and it was all systems go. They thought it might take them six months.

“But’, I said patronisingly, “NOBODY does it that way. It costs too much time and energy to do that. What you have to do is write the first episode, complete a one page synopsis, and punt it round the broadcasters. That’s what EVERYBODY does”. “We’re not everybody”  they said, and ignored me. I am glad they did, because these brave, creative innovators have  at a stroke,   re-written the text book on  TV Script Development. I know this because on Tuesday night, a full two years after our conversation at the UWS,  I sat with an enraptured audience at Cineworld in Glasgow and watched the completed first  two episodes. All proceeds from the 300 tickets (sold out)  were going to Spiritaid, and I was happy to be there for  the good cause. Because of the way in which The Crews had been developed,  I had prepared myself  to be in turns embarrassed, bored or  even  mildly impressed. What I was not prepared for was to be  completely blown away by the whole event.  “The Crews” rocks!   Using complex  techniques such as  fractured narrative, flashback within flashback, and a bewildering  multiprotagonist storyline,” The Crews” is ambitious, demanding and unsettling TV. Its the sort of thing we normally see on HBO or  AMC. “The Crews” is tailor made for BBC4 or Channel 4. It’s the sort of show  which  unfolds at glacial pace and with the cadence and  authenticity of work  such as Simon’s  “The Wire” ( 2002)  and Scheuring’s  ” Prison Break” (2005). The  joint creator’s bill “The Crews”  as “The Glasgow Sopranos” , but for me, it has more in common with David Simon’s televisual masterpiece from Baltimore. You thought Omar Little was nuts? Wait till you meet Stevie Turner.

Whatever it’s worthy progenitors, while it’s Glasgow through and through, what makes “The Crews”  unique is that to my uncertain knowledge,  no one in the UK has ever done anything on this scale before . It’s no exaggeration to say that if this makes it to the small screen, this impressive product out of Dennistoun by East Kilbride and Ayr  could prove to be one of the most important developments in the history of British Television making, and you can quote me on that.

At the moment, the finished DVDs are with the BBC, and STV, and the guys are planning to take on the States at some point in the future, to see if funding can be attached. I am a writer and actor and no expert on the distribution side of things, but it seems to me that they need a selling agent or exec producer to convince a broadcaster to come up with the development and production money. They have personally spent more money than they can afford to get this far, and when I look at the standard of some of the stuff on TV at the moment , and think of “The Crews”, there is no justice if it doesn’t get made and seen by a wider audience. Kolin has the detailed plans for the rest of Season one, and , wait for it, has sketched out a full five season 60 Episode Arc.

Caveat Emptor! I can’t enthuse too much about this as I am a cast member too . The silver-tongued KColins managed to cast me in a small role. (In fact, the banner above is a still from ” The Crews”  taken by the Show’s make up artist, Yvonne Lynch. Yes, it was that sort of shoot!) On top of my cameo as DCS Watt, about 10 of our  Performance BA Students were involved in the project, with special mention to great performances from  Martin Haddow and Suzanne Morrison, and if you look very carefully you will see that quite a few of the locations were shot at our UWS Ayr Campus. Does this make it sound like some sort of an amateur profit share film? Possibly, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. “The Crews” is professional in all but name, take it from me. David Hayman’s another cameo player in the mix, and he shares my opinion that this work must be seen by a wider audience, and all the professional actors involved are of the same mind.

The point is, will the industry listen? My hunch is that middle of the road  TV exec  types  will  probably look on “The Crews”  with mistrust . Why? Because this is a done deal. The talent is in place, the roles cast, the director decided, the first two episode shot and edited. Conventional Producers and Broadcasters( in Britain at least)  tend to defend and implement  their right to make major creative decisions over the heads of the real creatives at the cliff face. Will any of them have the stomach to  put their money and reputation  into something as left field as this which has been created by a bunch of  virtual unknowns from Glasgow? Only time will tell, but I for one won’t bet against Colin and Kolin  making it against all odds. All it will take is one broadcaster or commissioning editor, one cable company or distributor  with enough courage   to back them.

You can get an idea of the show from this interview on”  The Culture Show” , if you go to 17 mins and 15 Secs , or have a look at this trailer on Youtube.

If anyone deserves a break, it’s the  KColins and all those who backed them from the start.

If you want to support them, please forward this blog to anyone you think  may be able to  help get this on screen.

The UWS Crew. Anna Barclay, Suzanne Morrison, Garry Hogg,Kirsty Bagan, John Quinn & Evelyn Caputa


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Can Students Invent?

Well, here we are at the end of the creative process in the UWS Module, Team Writing For Television. This  20 Credit  module is part of the Filmmaking And Screenwriting Programme at the UWS Skillset Media Academy at the University Of The West Of Scotland  in Ayr,  and is delivered at Level 9. The class is made up of  60 students comprising  9 Writing  Teams, creating 9 Series Bibles, and with each student responsible for writing an individual episode of their team series. Three tutors oversee all the creative elements of the students work, with 3 teams allocated to each. Thus the tutors act as defacto Showrunners.Now, after 14 weeks of intense work,  the students have finally handed in their assessemnts.

What the written  assessments amount to is 9  full  breakdowns for a brand new long running television series .  Bibles, Scripts, Character Arcs, Viral Ads, Music, Design,  and  even Springboards for the second series. So rather than being in the customary  position , as academic  assessors, of surveying 60 separate examples of students work, the tutors  are more like directors or producers, sitting down to read a new, integrated  creative artefact.

Stuart Hepburn "working the grid" at BBC Scotland

We   start with the Pilot Episode, usually written by the student whose original idea was adopted by the team, and read  on as the series unfolds week by week by week. Each team was jointly responsible for creating the Characters arcs, Series Arcs, Episode Breakdowns and Springboards for the new series. Each team MEMBER was responsible for writing their own individual episode ensuring that it fitted in with the overall plan and development grids.

Throughout the process, the teams have engaged with  their tutors and one another in a whole series of  ways.

1.Weekly short lectures exemplifying contemporary team writing with reference to  individual Long Running Series such as True Blood, Glee and The Tudors.

2.Weekly team meetings where the students hammer out the team series grids for a couple of hours, ending with  class plenary feedback sessions.

3.Daily Online Team  discussions using the Virtual Learning Environment, Blackboard.

4. Nominated Scribes publishing  a weekly  Team Blog on the VLE  evidencing their progress to their classmates.

5. Communicating  with team mates  creatively  in live chats  using the Wimba Pronto suite.

6. Publishing their collaborative  team bible on their individual Team WIKI.

7. Pitching their Bible in an assessed session  to top industry practitioners.

8.Creating, developing and writing their own individual episode,  feeding back and forward to their individual tutor through their individual shared ePortfolio.

9. Finally writing their own reflective 1500/2,500 word essay on particular aspects of the creation of Long Running Television Series.

This has been a  mountain of work, totalling over 2000(and counting)  separate messages, posts, ammendments and digital artefacts. Some of it has worked better than we hoped, some of it worse than we might have expected. There have been ICT glitches, team breakdowns and team buildups, but the main thing to say is that the whole has been greater than the sum of the parts. I have been stunned at the quality  and coherence of the best work.

My colleague John Quinn and I will spend the summer doing a bit of number crunching and analysing student feedback  to work out exactly what worked and didn’t work, and why, and we will consolidate this work into developing the module further next  academic year. You can expect a paper or two to emerge from this which we plan to publicise in the Autumn. In the meantime, I would like to thank my colleagues, John Quinn and Dr Gill Jamieson, who have supported and encouraged the entire creative experiment. My greatest thanks, however, goes most of all to the  students at the UWS School of Creative and Cultural Studies, for their energy, commitment and creativity.

“Did I ever tell you the one about the zombie killers in a space hotel? It’s a kind of CSI on the Moon meets Buffy….it all starts one day when this spaceship finds a beacon with a very strange message………….”

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