Month: May 2014

Launched to success through The Novel Studio

By Emily Pedder

Before embarking on a novel writing course at City, University of London, Steve Young worked as a freelance comedian and theatre director: “I toured the UK performing, and directed several times with the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival. I had a personal interest in writing and wanted to explore it. I had written thousands of jokes and vignettes, but was looking for a forum to go into more serious writing.”

Steve chose to pursue his love of writing in London, “the heart of literature central.” But it was a WWII veteran, and literature graduate from Oxford, who suggested City. “His professors were JR Tolkien and CS Lewis,” says Steve, “he told me I reminded him of CS Lewis…unfortunately, having more to do with my physical size than talent. He heard me read a bit of a novel-in-progress at a local social event, and we met.  I used to come by his home, have a few scotches or schnapps, and I’d read aloud whatever I was working on. When it came time to look for a course, we considered the possibilities, but agreed City, University of London was the right fit, I was impressed that the faculty were all writers and editors.”

Steve started by completing two short story courses, and was advised to apply for The Novel Studio, which he felt helped his work enormously, “I had excellent instructors working in the field. They pushed and challenged me.  I loved the fact that they were direct and honest about my work. The rigorous student selection process created a group of extremely talented beginning novelists, who made a huge contribution to my work.  I always felt there was a vested interest in my work and my classmates were committed to my success and I to theirs.”

Since completing The Novel Studio at City, Steve has found great success as an award-winning playwright. Under the Overpass won the TeCo New Play Competition literary award, and The Wal*Mart-ians was a finalist for the Reva Shiner Comedy Awards at the Bloomington Playwright Project out of a thousand entrants. The King’s Face won both the FutureFest and Southwest Playwriting Competitions, and is currently a live semi-finalist at the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, receiving a staged reading in May at the Blank Theatre in Los Angeles. A few amongst many other varying accolades. Steve’s new play, The Night Witches, will be performed at the Brighton Fringe Festival in May.

“I had some mild success as a writer prior to the course, but The Novel Studio really launched me forward.  It made me brave on the page. It gave me a discerning eye.  I loved every minute of it.”

For more on the course and our growing list of published alumni visit our home page here.

For updates on courses and event follow us @cityshortcourses.

Kickstarted by Screenwriting at City

By Gemma Holdway

Before I started the Screenwriting course at City, University of London, I was an Assistant Producer for a production company.

I decided to pursue a short course because my profession was not creatively fulfilling. I needed to explore something different. Screenwriting was at the top of my list.  I was passionate about film and writing and had always wanted to combine the two. But I had no formal training. I’d read Robert McKee’s Story and enjoyed the read, retaining as much as I could. But for me personally, reading a book doesn’t give me the drive I need to pursue a new creative outlet. So, I decided on an evening course once a week. As I worked long hours, this was what I could commit to for 10 weeks.

I knew City’s reputation prior to signing up for the course. City has a relationship with Ryerson University in Toronto. Ryerson is where I studied journalism years ago. Both institutions value practical experience and that’s something I appreciate. Theory is certainly important but I wanted to come out of the programme feeling more confident about writing in the screenplay format.

I studied Screenwriting at City. We met for a few hours once a week. It was a good amount of time to go over some theory, analyse clips and complete a few writing exercises as well. Every class had a focus like visual storytelling or perspective, or character but Dictynna Hood, the course tutor, kept it interesting. We’d learn, apply what we’d learned in groups or independently and then we’d share. Classrooms can be intimidating but we had a great group. Everyone was supportive. And by the end, we walked away with a completed short script and thorough feedback from Dictynna. That’s a huge plus in my books. Overall, it’s an excellent introduction to screenwriting. You learn the basic tools and walk away with the confidence to use them.

Studying at City, University of London was a good experience because the course kickstarted my life in a completely new direction. After I completed the course, I knew in my gut that this was what I was supposed to be doing and I was hungry for it. I took a leap of faith. I quit my job and literally pursued my dream. This was a career path that I didn’t think was attainable but it is. You just have to want it enough. If I hadn’t taken the short course, I don’t think I’d ever have taken such a risk.

I’d love to come back for more courses. I’m living in Vancouver, Canada now but I miss London and a short course is the perfect way to get those creative juices flowing, meet people or just try something new.

As for immediate plans, I’m just about to take off for Victoria to work on a new series as the script coordinator. The series is called Gracepoint. It’s an adaptation of the very popular British series Broadchurch. David Tennant will also be reprising his role in the US series.

How one student turned his computing hobby into a full time career

by Dionisios Dimakopoulos

Lukasz Buczynski came to Britain to learn English so that he could further his career back in Poland. But after living and working in London, and meeting his fiancée, Lukasz decided to embark on a new career here in the UK.

At City Lukasz took two short courses in computing. At first he viewed computing as a hobby, “I had always seen computing as an entertainment tool for games, movies and music. I had always been interested in computers and electronics but I never thought of working as an IT professional.”

Despite considering some online courses, Lukasz decided that learning in a classroom environment had more advantages: “You can talk to people interested in the same things as you, and develop valuable contacts. In my opinion, classroom based teaching is the best experience you can get.”

I wanted to do something that I love and that would also give me real satisfaction. City’s Java programming course offered a really good coverage of programming in Java for beginners, plus the price was really good.”

City, University of London was the perfect place for Lukasz to study for his new career, as it offers short courses for all levels of competency, from beginners to advanced: “I gained a really good foundation, including how to develop computer programs and how to communicate in a technical environment. I liked the Java course so much that I enrolled myself to Level 2, and I also started to prepare myself for the Oracle Certified Java Programmer qualification.”

It was these courses and qualifications that led to Lukasz being accepted to study an MSc in Computer Science at Birkbeck University of London: “The programming foundations and qualifications I gained at City helped me a lot, and even though I work mainly in C++, I’m sure that without attending the Java course, I wouldn’t be so successful now. Whilst still a student, I was offered my dream job, and now work for an internet security company as an Associate Software Engineer. I can’t imagine myself being anywhere else. I think that if you want to start something new, change your lifestyle, career, this is the way to go.”

“My hunger for knowledge is always increasing so it is very possible I will come back, especially as City, University of London offers the biggest range of courses I have ever seen.”

To view our full range of computing courses visit our home page here. Or follow our updates on events and courses on twitter @cityshortcourses.

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