Serial Eyes is a full-time, residential postgraduate course that runs from September through May and takes place in Berlin. Participants must be present for the full duration of the programme. The programme includes seminars, workshops and writers’ rooms and three study trips: to London, to the Séries Mania festival in Lille, France and to meet with writers, producers and broadcasters in one other important European city. During the programme, each participant works on two projects: an individual, original TV pilot and a group project that is developed in conjunction with an industry partner.
The fall semester focuses on narrative design and storytelling structure in television series, story conception and development, and basic writers’ room protocol and methodology. Participants acquire skills and techniques for generating and researching new story ideas, develop those ideas further into concepts and pilot outlines, and study and apply writers’ room skills and team management techniques. Participants learn how to cooperate effectively in a group, handle criticism and gain experience working as a team, they learn how to deal with the authority of a head writer and how to lead during the creative process. Participants commence development on an individual project and a group project. The fall semester culminates with participants creating the board of the pilot for their individual project. A study trip to another European city acquaints participants with practices in the TV industry of that country and introduces them to local TV professionals.
Advanced Narrative Techniques & Individual TV Series Project Development
This module instructs participants in narrative techniques in serial writing and introduces them to the ideation process and the various modes for conceiving new series concepts.
Running the Writers’ Room
Through a combination of lectures and workshops, participants are introduced to the dynamics of the writers’ room and head writing techniques. Through practical exercises, participants practice leading and managing a team of creatives.
Advanced Project Development & Mentoring Scheme
Everything the participants learn during the course is applied to their own projects. A mentor is assigned to each participant to give one-to-one feedback on their individual project. The participants work on a pitch document and pilot in close cooperation with their mentor.
Storytelling for Digital Platforms
Participants will learn about multi-platform drama writing and creating content specifically for online digital use. We will discuss and practise how to engage viewers across episodes and seasons.
Pitching to the Industry
Participants will practice their pitching skills in preparation for the pitch sessions with the industry: the January Midterm Pitch, pitching in London and at Series Mania and the Final Pitch Session, which offers unprecedented direct access to TV executives from across Europe.
The spring semester focuses on writing the pilot, pitching, networking, and a more advanced understanding of the marketplace. This semester kicks off with the annual Serial Eyes Midterm Pitch, which allows participants to practice their project pitches and get feedback on their individual projects from high-level TV professionals. Participants complete up to three drafts of the pilot for their individual project and continue development on the group project. Participants gain further insights into the production and financing process and learn about specific European markets. These insights are complemented with study trips to London and Series Mania in Lille. The programme culminates with a presentation of all individual TV projects at the Final Pitch in May.
The writer as producer is a concept traditionally associated with the US television industry. Serial Eyes adapts this model to a European context. Experienced showrunners and producers teach the fundamentals of producing from a writer’s perspective, examining the complex challenges of serial writing and managing a team of writers, looking at development from the perspective of commissioning editors and other producers.
Understanding the Marketplace
This module addresses new trends and recent changes in the international TV industry with a specific focus on the European market, equipping the participants with the tools they need to write and produce for this and other markets and/or audiences.
Networking trips and events / study trips
Study trips and industry events introduce participants to a number of markets, to learn about similarities and differences in how writers interact with agents, producers and broadcasters and how development proceeds once a TV drama series has been picked up. Serial Eyes is ideally situated for the Berlinale Series Market and when there are relevant opportunities participants can engage with them. During the annual trip to London, Serial Eyes meets with key players from the world of UK TV drama. A trip to another European destination will also be organised, to allow participants to meet up with significant figures in the local TV industry. At Séries Mania in Lille, participants experience a TV co-production market and television festival. Here, in addition to the screenings, master classes, and panel discussions on the state of the contemporary TV industry, participants are expected to set up individual meetings with TV professionals. Coaching is provided on how best to engage with producers and commissioning editors, and participants focus on optimising the presentation of their material and themselves in a professional setting.