For our iWrite Regional Partnership, we’ve teamed up with a host of regional theatres to give eighteen emerging voices the tools to develop their talents for the screen.
Supported by BFI NET.WORK, iWrite has enlisted a cohort of writers from various backgrounds and places, inviting them to attend a series of intensive workshops held with our regional partners across the UK. Whilst on the programme, each participant has access to established talent, industry experts and Creative England support to help them write a brand new short film and develop an original feature film idea.
So far, the process has taken our writers to Bristol’s Old Vic, Birmingham’s Repertory Theatre and Manchester’s Royal Exchange, where the team have delved deep into the cinematic writing process, learnt how to generate, develop and structure ideas for the big screen and had scenes from selected in-progress shorts workshopped with actors and film directors.
The programme is produced by Anna Seifert-Speck, supported by Alice Ramsey from Creative England’s Talent Development team, and guest contributors have included OSCAR winning writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz, BAFTA-nominated writer/directors Rachel Tunnard and Nick Whitfield, and story experts Pavel Jech and Kate Leys. Five months in, with trips to Writers’ Centre Norwich and Newcastle’s Live Theatre to come, the iWrite cohort are well on their way to bridging the gap between stage writing and screenwriting.
Working on iWrite
“It’s been amazing,” explains Birmingham and London-based writer Charlene James, whose iWrite short ‘Dark’ takes an emotionally charged look at skin bleaching and the pressures of youth. “It’s been so helpful to have that team around us, constantly giving feedback suggestions and building ideas for us. That’s been really beneficial,” she says. “We’re all playwrights and we’re all coming from the same place. We’ve been in sessions where people will just bounce these brilliant ideas around and there’s no threat there - you don’t have to feel intimidated by it, it’s just really helpful.”
Fellow playwright Kefi Chadwick, author of black comedy short ‘Cycle’ following a woman’s unlikely route to liberation via an unwanted house guest, has similarly found iWrite invaluable for introducing her to new working techniques. “What’s brilliant about this scheme is that it’s so applied,” suggests the Brighton based Chadwick. “You don’t just sit around talking about watching short films and creating character arcs, you go and do it for yourself. It’s really experiential first rather than academic,” she adds. “To have the luxury of making the work and the time to really explore it and be supported by such fantastic people and fabulous minds of cinema - it’s an incredible gift. You feel really supported.”
For Paddy Campbell, whose short ‘Unaccompanied Minor’ draws partly on his real-life experiences working in the care sector, networking has been an important part of the process. “It’s been a really good opportunity to meet lots of people in a similar situation and stage of their career,” explains Paddy. “It’s always helpful to talk to people about work rather than working away on your own. Also, the people we’ve had in chatting to us on the course have been brilliant. I’ve absorbed so much from them and Anna and Alice from Creative England have been really useful as well.”
The programme’s ability to connect stage and novel writers to a host of new contacts in the world of film has been a crucial asset. “It’s vital,” says Chadwick. “There are lots of great writers in London who have everything available to them, particularly with film because that’s where the industry is. If you don’t live in London, it’s difficult to get on the radar and get noticed. To reach out to the regions is brilliant because it gives us an opportunity to get into the world of film,” she adds. “It really expands the voices and stories that can be told.”
Fellow iWrite talent Charlene James echoes Chadwick. “For me as a playwright, if I hadn’t done this scheme I wouldn’t really know where to go to write films or TV,” she admits. “Through it we’re going to be introduced to producers and directors and even if our film doesn’t get made, it’s having those contacts and being able to say ‘I’ve written this, I can put something together’. I definitely think more schemes like this need to happen.”
- Short Film Funding