Tom Carlin graduated from the MA Screenwriting in 2017.
A Q&A with Tom Carlin
What has the MA course done for you?
The MA Screenwriting course has gone above and beyond my expectations. As you would expect, my ability to write for television and film has significantly improved and I am now much more confident in my abilities. I have developed such a distinct awareness of what makes a good story in both mediums, to the extent that I sometimes laugh at ideas I had before I started the course! It offers so much more than enhancing your ability to write though - the course has given me an understanding of the industry and though the professionals who teach the course set very realistic expectations around the difficulty in starting your career, I still feel so much more confident in my ability to be a successful writer and how to go about it. Before it was just a bit of a pipe dream! The intimate class size also means that I have made some brilliant mates and generally just had the time of my life doing the course.
How has the course changed your writing?
Throughout the year there has been so many "Oh, yeah!" moments. The course brings to light so many elements of television and film that as an audience member we're not consciously aware of when we're viewing, so it was really exciting to learn about these (things like structure, genre tropes, universal themes) and apply them to our writing. Emma and Tim's course is so thorough and informed that it is difficult for your writing not to improve. I would say that I, like my many of my peers, started the course with some raw talent and were able to nurture this throughout the year. Also, rather importantly, the personable style of teaching has helped me to develop my own voice as a writer, what kind of messages I want to explore and what style I want to do this in.
Would you recommend anyone doing the course?
I'd recommend the course without hesitation, though it's not to be taken lightly and you need to be serious about making the most of what is on offer for the benefit of your career. I was lucky enough to share a classroom with eleven other incredibly passionate and talented people and we brought the best out of each other. Collaboration with your peers is a massive part of this course, as is working closely with Emma and Tim. Constructive criticism comes thick and fast and you have to deal with it professionally. I've wanted to work in this industry for as long as I can remember and if you have similar aspirations to me, you will struggle to find a better MA to provide you with the grounding to begin that journey. The teaching is first rate, the countless talks and meetings with industry professionals (some real big deals) are priceless opportunities and I personally found that I really grew as a person over the course of the year - clichéd I know but also very true.
What does the future hold?
After completing my summer placement with L.A. Productions in Liverpool I was thrilled to be asked to continue to work for them in a paid role. At the moment, I am reading scripts and writing reports remotely, then if all goes to plan I shall be back in the office in November. I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity but at the same time, I simply applied everything I had learnt on the course to the work I was doing. Also turning up early and leaving a little bit later than expected was sound advice from Tim. The experience so far has also benefited my own writing so much; it's such a good opportunity to read other writers work that hasn't hit the screen yet and to get a feel of what works and what doesn't. My other short-term aspirations are to get myself an agent as soon as possible and to start writing and producing my own short films as of 2018.