Leeds branch of National Film and Television School 'looking for the next Sally Wainwright' with screenwriting course

A television talent course hoping to find the "next Sally Wainwright" will be run in Yorkshire - but the application deadline is looming.
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Submissions need to be in by December 8 for the National Film and Television School's Screenwriting: Finding Your Voice course in Leeds.

Sheffield-based writer Paul Fraser, who has worked on numerous projects with long-time collaborator Shane Meadows, will teach on the course and has told The Yorkshire Post how the diversity of talent in the industry has improved in recent years.

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The National Film and Television School (NFTS) set up a base in Leeds which opened in January after years of screen industry growth in the region.

Sally Wainwright. Picture: Tony Johnson.Sally Wainwright. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Sally Wainwright. Picture: Tony Johnson.

The screenwriting course - which has previously been taught at the organisation's main base in Beaconsfield - will allow people who want to stay in Yorkshire the chance to hone their craft at home instead of thinking they have to go to the capital.

It will be a mixture of face-to-face group classes and online one-to-one sessions and tutorials. Selected participants will be "helped to discover their own individual voice and mine their own lives, experiences, dreams and obsessions to find stories that resonate personally," says the NFTS.

There will be guest tutors and masterclasses throughout the course, which after seven months will culminate in students pitching their work to a panel of industry experts.

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The institution said it is "looking for the next Sally Wainwright" - the Yorkshire-born writer of television hits such as Gentleman Jack, Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax.

Paul Fraser.Paul Fraser.
Paul Fraser.

Meabh O'Donovan, head of NFTS Leeds, said: "A lot of people feel they need to be writing for what they think somebody in London might want."

The Leeds course will help them to write for themselves, she added, but the NFTS's industry contacts also means that there is a good opportunity for committed students to actually get work after they finish the course - the institution has a 91 per cent graduate employment rate.

Mr Fraser, whose screenwriting credits include A Room for Romeo Brass, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands and Somers Town, says he has been involved in training for around 20 years.

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He said: "I think the diversity of students is definitely something that's come forward and the type of person who's engaging, as well, has changed.

"In the past it felt like a lot were from a certain place and had a certain confidence."

Graduates from the school's original sites include Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, Oscar-winning animator Nick Park (the creator of Wallace & Gromit), acclaimed directors Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here, We Need to Talk About Kevin) and David Yates (the Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and renowned documentary makers Kim Longinotto (Pink Saris, Gaea Girls) and Nick Broomfield (Whitney: Can I Be Me, Kurt and Courtney).

Applications for the course, which costs £4,750 , can be started here.