Personal Growth - How Much is Good for You

For all you film-makers and film-viewers out there - I hope you'll link up and share your thoughts.

Comments from Graduates and Industry

 “You are a fantastic teacher/ speaker... I had a lot of fun... learned a lot."
   - Ashley Horsley, screenwriter on SAI Short Course, 2014

“I came out with two projects picked up by producers who had been a tutor and mentor - and who both won Oscars during the course. So I guess the benefits of the course and the quality of the teaching go without saying.
Longer term, after four years and countless drafts I think I'm beginning to put into practice all of the things I heard about from Steve May, Steve Brookes, John McNally and Justin Trefgarne, other staff as well as my fellow students - sometimes without thinking about it or noticing it at the time, so the teaching must have a true heuristic quality - like being taught a foreign language and find you can actually say things without it being a translation - and some of them are things you never thought before.
I could mention the sheer energy generated by the course, how people outside picked up on it and gave me more commissions in a shorter space of time than ever - give a job to a busy man I guess. One was a short for the Red Cross and one was a MIP pilot for an animation TV series from a billion dollar grossing director.
The networking with my contemporaries continues”
- Patrick Woodward, class of 2006 (responding in Oct 2010, and now commissioned by Oscar-winning producer, Peter Fudakowski, to write an original feature.)

4 Years earlier, Patrick said:

“First, the pitch session on Wednesday was a powerful reminder how lucky we've been to have 5 tutors like that.” - Patrick Woodward

“Easily the best part of the course was the practical, hands-on approach to screenwriting -- reinforced by a strong foundation in theory. We were given the to tools to craft a story to a professional standard; and then had to put those tools to use in order to deliver -- all under the watchful eye of our professor as well as our tutors.
Exposure to industry professionals was invaluable and well worth the price of admission. To make close personal friendships with some of the UK's brightest and best screenwriters and producers is something I'll always cherish.”
- Jeremy Wadzinski, class of 2009, Emmy award-winning writer/producer.

“I want to say how invaluable I think your course (and in particular your personal attitude) has been to me.
Most people don't really understand the creative process (or give it an impenetrable theoretical reasoning or have their own weird ideas about it) but you are able to articulate it in a way that makes complete sense and enables your students to focus on what's important. You also nurture talent and don't preach, and you seem to really give a shit. Which is pretty rare.
The other tutors were also well chosen, down to earth and it was most helpful that they came from professional rather than educational backgrounds.
I wish you all the best with this, long may the course continue!”
- Tom Levinge, class of 2008

“The course is rammed with ripened wisdom - understanding story structure and character development, the ways of the industry, learning the rules and how to break them, handling criticism, and more importantly it teaches you how to apply all these things to your own work.”
- Dan Smyth – Part-timer, 2007-2009. Winner of Cannes Short Corner Jury Award with “Diary of an Online Warrior”; currently developing a new short project (F-Hole) as Writer-Director with funding through Vision+Media and the UK Film Council.

“I learned loads in your MA programme and that am very proud to have been a part of it.
Today I got two amazing news for my career. The first one is that I got the Portuguese Film Fund (national competition, so competing with Big cheeses) to direct the short-film.
The second one is that I got a job in a creative production/agency as Assistant producer / production manager. They make films for the BBC and many other companies.
I am very happy indeed.”
- David Bonneville (class of 2008), emailing November 2010, from 2011 a Digital Producer
with BBC World Service

“I lay in bed this morning feeling pretty pleased with my script, and I realised how far I've come on in the two years I've been taught by you. So I want to thank you a great deal for that. I couldn't have done it without you!”
– David Balfe (Class of 2005/6 erstwhile producer of "Blur" and inhabitant of the "big house in the country"), Dec 2006

“I think I have learned ****loads of stuff this year, much more than what I expected really. It has definitely helped me a lot. It’s just brutal to see films dissected the way I do more clearly, albeit still imperfectly, now. I thought I was a pretty good analyst before the course - I was a child! Honestly, very naive. The course touches on strong, direct points and I feel much less escapes our eyes now, our standards for an effective story and its seeds are much, much higher. How the **** did you do that?”
Joaquim Ghirotti (Class of 2006), Nov 2006 (now a Professor of Screenwriting in Sao Paulo, Brazil)

“Just a quick thanks for organising such a brilliant PitchFest. I think you should be really happy and proud, because we students were all extremely pleased, and I believe (and hope) it was the same with all the tutors and agents/producers!
This extends to a most sincere thanks for the excellent MA. I am looking forward to getting through my script next year, so do remember to use me as much as you want in terms of meeting the new students and offering them feedback.”
– Julio Bonet (Class of 2006), Dec 2006 (now a producer with Disney. He was post-production producer on ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’ released by Disney in 2010.)

“Congratulations on your great work this year – delighted to be a part of it."
- Nick Marston (Media Director, Curtis Brown Group) – Dec 2007

“The Story-Huddle was a great success. Thanks for the invite!”
- Selina Ukwuoma (Eon Productions, producers of the James Bond movies) – Dec 2007

“That's sweet of you Steve, actually I felt v inspired by your performance in the Crits, excellent notes, inspirationally delivered. Your students are bloody lucky to have you, is all I can say.”
– Peter Ettedgui (writer/producer, Kinky Boots, Eugene Onegin, Unmade Beds), May 2007

“Just a quick note to thank you for inviting me to the workshop. I've attended a few of these things in my time but this was without doubt the best.”
– Tony Mason, writer, May 2008

“From the one term that I did, I've gained a good understanding about how to structure a feature, developed my pitching skills, learnt to 'write on demand' rather than when inspiration strikes me and expanded my self-perception of what I can do. Currently, I am mainly co-writing comedy sketches and co-writing a feature.”
– Vera Filatova, class of 2009 (part-time, on hold because of commitments as an actress, “The Deep”, “Peep Show”, “Lesbian Vampire Killers”)

“I was unsure about the term times - Feb-May, then 4 months off, then Sep-Jan. However, this structure is ideal for the preparation, writing and editing of our feature scripts. The input of my tutor in developing my script has been invaluable.
The course was very busy from the start -- with frequent coursework deadlines in multiple disciplines - short films, viva, outlines, treatments, reports. To manage this required discipline and flexibility, and is therefore, I believe a great preparation for the realities of being a working writer.
There is very little on the course that hasn't had a clear application to my career as a writer, whether it be improving writing techniques and structure, or learning about the industry.
The Contemporary Production Class was daunting to myself and many classmates as it deals with the harsh realities of the industry, rather than creativity. This course has, however, been incredibly useful, and I now feel like I can talk to people in the industry in an informed and professional manner.”
Paul Joseph, (class of 2010, and winner of the Raindance pitchfest 2010)

“For me, personally, this MA has been an amaaaazing experience, and I can even write that with capital letters. It has been really really good and I have learnt a LOT. I think the practice we have done with our scripts and the training we have received has made me evolve a lot in my writing. Working along with producers from the industry has been great. My tutor, Nick Goldsmith (producer of “Son of Rambow” and “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”) has been excellent in following me and my group in our work. I am really happy with all the work I have done with him. The writing tips/skills that we have learnt in class with you Steve have been excellent and very very practical. I am really happy and satisfied with the course because it filled a lot my expectations. What I wanted was intensive training in Script-Writing and that is what I received. All this, added to the fact of coming to study to London has really been great to complement my education (specially after having done my BA in France and Italy).
Concerning my latest achievements in the industry, I was hired as a Production Co- ordinator during this last summer for a feature film that we shot in Gloucester. The budget was £20,000 and I had the possibility of working with Joerg Stadler who worked with Steven Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan, and opposite Brad Pitt in Spy Games, and I also had the opportunity of making a lot of contacts in the industry, who are actually quite interested in the feature I'm rewriting. Furthermore, I am pitching a 10 episode TV series that I finished writing with Canadian script-writer and producer Darlenne Susan Girard. She is pitching it in the States to Latin-Amercan producers and I have a producer in the UK who is also quite interested in investing in the pilot.
Again, thank you so much for this opportunity. “
Valeria Puig, class of 2010 (during final semester)