Last weekend I went to London to do a two day Introduction to Screenwriting Course at the Met Film School in London. I had literally no idea what it was going to be like (the welcome pack was pretty vague) or what to expect from it – my friend who works in film casually mentioned (after I’d already paid the £300 fees) that she’d never even heard of the place, so to be honest my expectations were pretty low! Really, I just wanted to get an idea of what an MA might be like and remember what it feels like to be a student. Plus, I was hoping they might throw in a free lunch.
They didn’t throw in a free lunch, or even a free cup of coffee, so the fact we all really felt like we would have paid double that price by the end of the weekend must speak very highly of the quality of the teaching. I arrived at the end of the central line and found myself wandering around Ealing studios for ten minutes searching for some kind of sign post, but they hadn’t felt the need to bother with any of that nonsense. In my mind I’d been picturing a lecture hall and one of those trestle tables that you pick your name badge up from and a branded carrier bag with a free pen in it (well, they had said to arrive 15 minutes early for registration.) But it turned out that registration involved Erin ticking six names off a, er, register, since six of us were all there were. It was less of a lecture, more of a workshop. Six women, sitting around a conference table and immersing ourselves in screenwriting for the weekend.
After short introductions, Erin Cramer, our tutor for the weekend, jumped straight in to writing log lines. It was so much more practical than I’d expected – we had to share our work right from the beginning, starting with writing a log line for a well known film and asking the others to guess it, moving on to a one page synopsis and then a treatment for an entire film. We also did role plays for character development and a lot of discussion around short films and clips from longer features.
Erin pitched the level perfectly – there was a lot that had already been touched on in what I’d read, but she went into more depth and gave us exercises to put it into practice. The group was really mixed in age and background but we all got on so well right from the start and felt comfortable sharing ideas with each other. Erin was also really good at giving feedback and making you feel like your work and ideas were interesting and worth talking about.
By the end of the two days, I’d never been more sure that this is what I want to do with my life. It also made me realise how much the last five years in Paris have taught me. It wasn’t until the end of the first day that I realised I hadn’t once been nervous to speak up or share what I’d written, and not only that but people liked it! When I look back at myself, reading a short story to the writers group at Le Chien Qui Fume when we first arrived in Paris and almost not being able to make eye contact I was so terrified, I feel really proud of how far I’ve come.
Another thing that was really great was finding out how much I love being a student, particularly when you feel passionate about the thing you’re studying. I think it might be the only time in my life when I’ve been in that kind of situation and not once looked at my watch or wondered when break was. And even in the break, it was so great to be talking about something that we were all passionate about, rather than the latest techniques in classroom management.
After the course, I went home and everyone I spoke to about it told me how excited and happy I seemed ( or “enthused!”, as my mum put it) and one of my colleagues even said it was like all the stress at work just goes over my head now because in my mind I’m already somewhere else! So I think on balance I’d definitely have to say the Introduction to Screenwriting course at Met Film School was very much worth doing, even if we did have to pay for our own coffee 🙂