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.