Thrill­ing, inspir­ing and full of excit­ing encoun­ters! That was Seri­al Eyes’ trip to Lon­don from 26 Feb­ru­ary to 9 March 2017, a great mix of hands-on work­shops, net­work­ing events, lec­tures, case-stud­ies and vis­its to some of the most fas­cin­at­ing com­pan­ies in the UK TV industry.

After set­ting up our headquar­ters at the Lon­don Film School (LFS), loc­ated in the pic­tur­esque Cov­ent Garden neigh­bor­hood, the first three days of the trip were all about work­ing with our Brit­ish film school friends. Under the dir­ec­tion of BAF­TA award win­ner Bri­an Hill (Fall­ing Apart) and screen­writer Anna Malo­ney, the Seri­al Eyes par­ti­cipants were divided in groups and spent the first day writ­ing a scene based on a real event. The fol­low­ing day the writers col­lab­or­ated with some LFS dir­ect­ors, act­ors and sound record­ist to shoot the scenes. After spend­ing the morn­ing edit­ing the scenes, we fin­ished off with a grand screen­ing of all three pro­jects. Not only did our writers get a chance to see their words turned into action and learn to col­lab­or­ate closely with oth­er cre­at­ive tal­ent, but the writers could also reflect on how poten­tial short­com­ings in the writ­ing could be adjus­ted and improved dur­ing the film­mak­ing process.

After the LFS work­shop our par­ti­cipants got a chance to meet with some UK-based TV pro­du­cers. Warp Films’ Ruth McCance presen­ted her com­pany, known for its edgy, auteur-driv­en con­tent, and dis­cussed upcom­ing TV co-pro­duc­tions. Then, the par­ti­cipants vis­ited the offices of Cata­lyst Glob­al Media, which, offi­cially launched in 2015, cre­ates and fin­ances ori­gin­al film and TV con­tent and has a devel­op­ment deal with Warner Music Group. CEO and founder Char­lotte Walls and Devel­op­ment Coordin­at­or Emily Bartte­lot dis­cussed their cur­rent pro­ject in devel­op­ment, Cog­ni­tion, a TV crime thrill­er that they are partnered on with John Woo’s A Bet­ter Tomor­row Films. The Seri­al Eyes tal­ents were thrilled to learn that the com­pany is act­ively look­ing for con­tent in sev­er­al genres that may just coin­cide with what some of our writers are work­ing on.

Anoth­er com­pany in search for new ori­gin­al con­tent is Lionsgate UK, the Brit­ish divi­sion of the US Amer­ic­an stu­dio respons­ible for some of the most pop­u­lar TV series, includ­ing Mad Men and Orange is the New Black. In the meet­ing our par­ti­cipants got a chance to pitch their pro­jects to Lionsgate’s Marc Lorber, Cre­at­ive Dir­ect­or Steve Novem­ber and Exec­ut­ive Pro­du­cer Sarah Conroy.

Get­ting a chance to pitch to a UK pro­du­cer without hav­ing an agent is a rare occa­sion. So we called on some agents to find out how you actu­ally get rep­res­ent­a­tion: Emily Hick­man and Jonath­an Kin­ners­ley at The Agency, and Pau­line Asper of Pau­line Asper Man­age­ment. After provid­ing an over­view of recent trends in the UK TV industry, Jonath­an and Emily talked more spe­cific­ally about the rela­tion­ship between writer and agent and the oppor­tun­it­ies afforded to for­eign writers work­ing in Eng­lish these days. In addi­tion, Pau­line Asper was able to provide a help­ful over­view of com­mon deal terms in con­tract negotiations.

The Lon­don trip was com­prised of com­pel­ling case-stud­ies, too. Vet­er­an pro­du­cer Paul Trijbits (Cas­u­al Vacancy, Fish Tank, Tamara Drewe) held a case-study on the fin­an­cing of his TV mini-series Dan­cing on the Edge, delving into the intric­a­cies of inter­na­tion­al pre­s­ales. The Ori­gin­al Ben Har­ris and Luke Frank­lin illus­trated the struc­ture and core ele­ments of a pro­ced­ur­al show through an in-depth ana­lys­is of their CBS/​TF1/​Global TV show Ransom. After­wards, the par­ti­cipants had to come up with their own pitches for a pro­ced­ur­al show. After this exper­i­ence the group agreed that “pro­ced­ur­als are really hard.”

A Seri­al Eyes trip to Lon­don wouldn’t be com­plete without pay­ing a vis­it to Big Light Pro­duc­tion. There, we had the pleas­ure to meet BLP’s new cre­at­ive dir­ect­or Katie McAleese and former Seri­al Eyes Head of Pro­gramme Lor­raine Sul­li­vane, now Devel­op­ment Pro­du­cer at Big Light. Sit­ting in Frank Spot­nitz’ spa­cious office (aka the Ransom writers’ room) was a spe­cial treat for the participants.

Not­with­stand­ing the fas­cin­at­ing meet­ings the group had, the mas­ter­class with Jed Mer­curio was without doubt the high­light of the trip. The showrun­ner of Line of Duty­ — the crit­ic­ally acclaimed Brit­ish police pro­ced­ur­al, now in its fourth sea­son on BBC One — talked about the role of a showrun­ner and his daily respons­ib­il­it­ies, from writ­ing and lead­ing a team of writers to resta­ging a flag­ging scene dur­ing pro­duc­tion. The Seri­al Eyes par­ti­cipants were also able to explore more tech­nic­al ques­tions such as craft­ing layered char­ac­ters with an exper­i­enced and art­ful writer. Based on his own pre­vi­ous exper­i­ence as a doc­tor, Mer­curio was able to provide encour­aging tips to our par­ti­cipants on how to pur­sue a career as a showrun­ner com­ing from a dif­fer­ent background.

Our trip to the cap­it­al of pubs was not all hard work, though! In the even­ings our par­ti­cipants enjoyed chat­ting over drinks with their tutors, mingled with LFS dir­ect­ors and screen­writers, and got a chance to par­ti­cip­ate in the Women in Film and TV Net­work­ing Event. All in all, our trip to Lon­don was a bril­liant and inspir­ing invest­ig­a­tion into a thriv­ing TV mar­ket where we made valu­able con­tacts for the future.

We wish to thank Jane Ros­coe and Dan Lawson of the Lon­don Film School for host­ing us and all our tutors and guest speak­ers for ded­ic­at­ing their time to Seri­al Eyes. Cheers, mates!