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MA Media Interview

Posted on 19 February 2010. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
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WriteWords talks to John Foster of the MA in Writing for the Media at the University of Bournemouth

Tell us all about the course

This course is called MA Writing for the Media, it is in its first year and is proving to be very successful, with a high standard of work from students. The course is based at the Media School at Bournemouth University. The Media School has built upon its very successful screenwriting programmes with the introduction of this innovative postgraduate degree, which is taught entirely by professional writers. The course enables writing students to find their unique creative voices and to develop an individuality of approach to the art and craft of scriptwriting as well as working in creative teams within a creative community. Scripts written by the writing students are made by fellow students on producing and directing degrees in an umbrella suite of postgraduate courses of which MA Writing for the Media is a part.

Writing students work with student directors, producers, editors, new media and radio producers. The writers also independently produce an impressionistic radio documentary supervised by radio producers. A group of students with diverse talents work together to produce new cutting edge programmes.

Writing students engage with film, television, radio and new media. An innovative range of assignments enable students to embark upon scripts for a variety of forms and genres, including Graphic Fiction, Interactive Narratives, Online Drama, Digital Writing, Twitter Fiction, animation and short film dramas for mobile phones.

For their MA Major Assignments, students can write a full-length screenplay, radio play, drama series, graphic novel. Alternatively students can compile a portfolio of work consisting of a variety of projects a short film script, a radio drama, webisodes for online drama, Twitter Fiction, graphic fiction. The course aims to be as flexible as possible and encourages diversity.

What qualifications do people need to apply?

Usually a good undergraduate degree, but several students are on the course who have no academic qualifications, but who are excellent writers and they have been given a place on that basis. You need to send me some samples of your writing when you apply -- these don't have to be scripts, but can be prose, poetry, lyrics, graphic fiction. I quite like applications from people new to scriptwriting -- many of the current students are new to scriptwriting but very good writers and who learnt to write scripts on the course.

I am very keen to encourage international students to apply. At present we have students from Russia, Bulgaria, Portugal, South Africa, Canada and India, although most students are from the UK. International students enrich the experience of the course.

Likewise I am very keen to encourage mature students to apply. The age-range is from students in their twenties to mature students in their fifties. Female students predominate.

Does being a working writer/having some background in media help?

Yes, definitely. More important than your degree is your experience and the kind of things you have written and the quality of your writing. If you are interested in the course, email me and arrange an informal meeting or telephone conversation so we can discuss your options. We also have Post Graduate Open Days where you can visit Bournemouth University, have a tour of facilities and discuss your possible application for a place on the course.

What career prospects might a student from this course expect to have?

An important aspect of the course is to acquaint students with the media industry and to familiarise them with professional practice.

We have an Industrial Advisory Panel of professional screenwriters, development executives, script editors, producers, directors and agents. We are also a Skillset Academy, which means we have access to funding for special projects and to special guest speakers. The Media School is also a Centre for Excellence in Media Practice which also funds certain of our projects.

Course assignments are designed to engage students creatively, but also to prepare them for participation in the industry and the collaborative role required of screenwriting professionals, underpinned by the collaborative design of the degree. The course provides a context which supports students in evolving their individual talents and the creative relationships to nurture them.

The course will seek to train students in scriptwriting skills in a variety of creative and production genres. The course will develop the fundamental qualities of creativity, imagination and application in students so that they are enabled to write, script edit or produce within their chosen discipline. The course aims to produce media literate students who will take positive and visionary approaches to the industry in helping to imaginatively shape its future.

Students will be trained in a range of disciplines which will provide them with a variety of formidable employability attributes. Graduates would leave with a mix of skills: creativity; creative discipline and the ability to meet deadlines; working to specific and variable formats and briefs; multi-tasking; media literacy; leadership; self-learning; flexibility; the ability to work in a team; organising ideas and selectivity; packaging; critical thinking; research, networking and presentational skills; experience in working with fellow professionals; interfacing effectively with industry personnel; producing and agenting.

Specific script-related graduate skills would be: scriptwriting; pitching; script editing; script reading and assessment; synopsising; production budgeting resourcing and media industry analysis; rewriting; adaptation; format creation; development skills; media journalism.

Specific occupations available to graduates: freelance scriptwriter; script editor; script reader; script supervisor; development supervisor; researcher; agent; packager; writer-producer; writer-director; media journalist; media teacher.

The course assignments have strong industry-related content designed to embrace the new digital opportunities. Students wishing to pursue traditional scriptwriting pathways are able to do so, but there are also opportunities to learn and become involved in creating new drama series and the writing of webisodes for online drama, writing short films and mobisodes for mobile phones, Twitter Fiction, Oral Storytelling, new media, interactive and cross platform narratives.

The course explores the new scriptwriting opportunities made possible by the digital revolution, already an important source of income and employment for graduates.

We are in the process of developing an online soap which will be made at the Media School and released through a Media School exhibition website where student work will be placed online. Students will graduate from the course having already achieved writing credits.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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