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Major Initiative To Develop Skills In Long Form TV Drama Announced
03 Sep 2015 : Seán Brosnan
Initiative funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and Screen Training Ireland
Big Stories on the Small Screen is a new initiative, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and Screen Training Ireland, focused on developing Irish skills in quality long-form screen drama.

Big Stories will support Irish-resident screenwriters, producers and directors who want to develop the essential skills necessary to craft a successful drama series for the international market.

It brings together some of the most eminent screen storytellers from across the world to work with Irish screen professionals. The initiative fosters the creative collaboration essential to developing successful long-form drama; participants learn skills in collaborative storytelling alongside skills in story analysis and script development.

Big Stories comprises two distinct modules and spans a twelve month period.

Module One

This event will take place in Dublin on Saturday 28th November 2015. The conference will hear from a range of top international industry professionals discussing their experience with an audience of up to one hundred writers, producers and directors.

Speakers at the event include:

  • John Yorke – author of Into the Woods: A Five Act Journey into Story; former Controller of BBC Drama Production; former MD of Company Pictures;
  • Michael Hirst – BAFTA-nominated screenwriter of long-form dramas The Tudors, Camelot and Vikings as well as numerous feature films including Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age and the upcoming Mary Queen of Scots;
  • Morgan O’Sullivan – producer and executive producer whose credits include long-form dramas The Tudors, Camelot, Penny Dreadful and Vikings as well as a host of feature films including Braveheart, Angela’s Ashes and Becoming Jane;
  • Ciarán Donnelly – acclaimed award winning director whose credits include: Vikings, Titanic, The Tudors, Inspector George Gently, Titanic: Blood and Steel and Cold Feet

Attendance at the event is limited and interested applicants can apply for a place via the Screen Training Website (www.screentrainingireland.ie) by 16th October 2015. Attendees at this event can consider applying to take part in the second module.

Module Two

This module begins with a five-day project-based workshop in May/June 2016, with a follow-up pitching session in November 2016.

Ten selected projects will be hot-housed in a writers’ room format event led by international professionals David Isaacs (Mad Men, Frazier, The Simpsons) and Tom Abrams (Oscar-nominee, Professor of Screenwriting at USC).

Subsequent to the workshop, participants continue to develop their projects in consultation with their tutors and collaborators via a secure online portal. In November 2016, participants pitch their packaged long-form drama to invited Irish TV genre heads, production companies and digital distributors.

Applications to attend Module Two will be accepted from 30th November 2015 via the Screen Training Ireland website.

Who Can Apply

Irish-resident Screenwriters, Creative Producers and Directors are invited to apply to Big Stories on the Small Screen. Teams or individuals may apply.

Screenwriters must have experience in scripted drama, with a writing credit on at least one produced script, which has been staged theatrically or screened on television or in cinema. Novelists with one or more published works are also eligible.

Directors must have experience in scripted drama, with a directing credit on at least one production of minimum 30 minutes’ duration, which has been screened on television or theatrically.

Creative Producers must have a minimum of three years producing experience with a credit on at least one scripted production for film or television.

Speaking about the initiative, Michael O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland said: “Big Stories on the Small Screen promises to be an exciting and valuable training initiative for Irish Screen Professionals who wish to develop long form drama projects. The scheme will benefit producers, broadcasters and the viewing public. The BAI is very pleased to support this initiative through its Sectoral Learning and Development Fund. We wish the participants every success.”

The Director of Big Stories, BAFTA-winning director and screenwriter Neasa Hardiman said: “There’s been a revolution in long-form screen drama; we’re seeing the boundaries between film and television dissolving. Rich, cinematic dramas like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad or Mad Men from the US and Borgen, The Bridge and The Killing from Denmark tell epic stories that reach audiences across the globe. Here in Ireland, The Tudors, Vikings and Penny Dreadful bring film production values to television in the same way, reaching huge international audiences. As a nation of storytellers, Ireland is well placed to contribute to this growing market for quality stories. We can develop a lasting landscape of screen drama here, if we incubate the skills needed to develop rich, original screen stories – big stories on the small screen.”

Teresa McGrane, Deputy Chief Executive of the Irish Film Board said: “Screen Training Ireland is very excited to be part of Big Stories on the Small. It is an important initiative to bring together the creative forces of Producers, Writers and Directors telling stories through the medium of long form drama. We very much value the creative partnership and vision of Neasa Hardiman and collaborative partnership with the BAI, Broadcasters and Guilds.”




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