9th décembre 2010
Falmouth masters students work with BBC executive to push the frontiers of internet drama
MA Professional Writing students at University College Falmouth have won high praise from the Controller of BBC Drama Production and New Talent, John Yorke, after producing three internet dramas in five days.
John Yorke took time out his busy schedule to visit Falmouth twice in two weeks. On his first visit he delivered a lecture on the future of drama in a digital world, drawing on his experience of making groundbreaking productions such as E20, the EastEnders internet spin-off.
He then asked MA Professional Writing students to pitch ideas for their own five-minute online dramas. After giving feedback, he left them with a tough challenge: to turn their ideas into reality before his next visit by writing, casting, shooting, editing and posting their films online.
As if that were not enough, he also asked the students to raise finance and sponsorship for their projects and develop social media strategies to attract online audiences.
Teams of students worked around the clock on very three different ideas, drawing on the advice of scriptwriting tutor Jane Pugh, who has herself written 19 short films, one of which won an Oscar. MA Television Production students provided expert sound, camera and editing services, with Performance and Music students acting in and scored the productions.
The three dramas comprised Lemony Fandango, a fly-on-the-wall “mockumentary” focusing on perhaps the world’s most pretentious band; Lost Bride, a contemporary ghost story filmed at Pendennis Castle; and Dead Fresher, a dark comedy set on a university campus.
John Yorke watched the films on his return visit to Falmouth, and they exceeded his expectations. He said: “We’re in frontier country here, and it’s great to see students at Falmouth venturing into it with such energy and imagination. All the teams tackled their very different projects in brilliantly interesting ways. I’m impressed not only by their creative flair but also by the entrepreneurial spirit they’ve brought to the challenge of fundraising and sponsorship.”
Students succeeded in raising money and help in kind from a wide range of sponsors, including restaurants, an online TV company and a travel agency. They also made creative use of social media to build a buzz around their projects. The team behind Lemony Fandango, for instance, created an “in character” Twitter account and used it to heap scorn on X Factor contestants. Within a few hours they had gathered scores of followers, including Island Records.
The production teams had to contend with some severe weather conditions. Professional Writing student Sean St John said: "We anticipated problems, but nothing as serious as a torrential storm during our night shoot. While parts of Cornwall were being destroyed by winds and torrential rain, we were out filming, with a ‘show-must-go-on’ mentality. This involved ditching the soaking wet script and rewriting the story. It was exceptionally hard work for all of us, but together we survived the storm and produced a piece we’re proud of."
The internet is increasingly seen as key to the future of TV drama, with self-financed shoestring pilots such as James Moran’s Girl Number Nine being turned into successful international series.
John Yorke said: “In a world of slashed budgets and rapidly multiplying digital platforms, online drama offers an exciting way of reaching new audiences and keeping them engaged. For writers with fresh ideas and a professional approach, it holds tremendous opportunities. It’s about asking yourself not just what audiences are looking for, but what will get your work noticed. All the students working on these projects rose to this challenge admirably.”