Media Parents

Monthly Archives: June 2015

win scripting coaching from John Yorke


We’re delighted to announce that John Yorke, the man behind many of Britain’s best dramas, is acting as a mentor on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme, and has also kindly donated a place on his storytelling for screen course to one lucky Media Parents member. For details on how to apply by THURS 18th JUNE please see the watercooler at

John Yorke and the cast of Shameless. Huge thanks to John for mentoring for Media Parents and for this opportunity.


Rachel, UK

“Brilliant course. It’s been a blast. I’ve learned a lot from all my fellow writers. All David’s help and feedback during the course has been fantastic, and as a result of the course, I feel much more confident about tackling difficult story lines than I ever have done before.

The final report in particular was very useful. I have learned a lot, and I have loved it. I know I still have quite a bit of work to do, but I don’t mind hard work. All the feedback and encouragement has been extremely valuable.”

Norman, UK

‘The end-­‐of-­‐course feedback was fantastically helpful – I’m already at my desk, working on the next version of my treatment.

David has given positive and focused criticism throughout the course – and this, combined with the insights from John’s book, mean I really feel a lot more qualified to write a script now that I have done the course. The beauty of structure!”


• The course lasts 16 weeks.
• Each of the first 6 sessions runs over 2 weeks; the final session runs over 4 weeks.
• All the teaching, interaction with participants and tutor moderation takes place in an online classroom, accessed via a website, and course materials and forums are open 24/7.
• Sessions open on a Monday; assignments must be completed and uploaded by the following Wednesday with critiquing of fellow participants’s work completed by the final Sunday in the fortnight, before the next session opens.
• Completed sessions remain open throughout the course so that you can review course materials and revise your work.

The course is taught using the following:
• Short audio files from John Yorke.
• Short video files from John Yorke, David Roden and/or other industry experts.
• Online guidance notes and directed prompts and exercises, devised by John Yorke.
• Directed reading and viewing lists from John Yorke.
• Online peer critiquing from other participants in the group.
• Tutor moderation (David Roden).
• The support of an online community and virtual classroom.
• A dedicated resources area, continually updated by the Into the Woods course team.


At the end of the course, you will be invited to submit a 4-­‐page treatment for one of your own stories. This might be for a drama, documentary, corporate video or reality show.

You will receive detailed written editorial feedback (of up to 1,000 words) on your submission from John and David, to evaluate your ideas and handling of techniques such as acts, scenes, and use of suspense, action and visual thinking, plus advice on where to take your ideas next.

Session 1: Introduction to Storytelling Part 1
This first session is about reading, watching, thinking and experimenting. You’ll start by thinking about the grammar of storytelling and the essential elements of a story, and experiment with summing up a protagonist’s wants and needs. This session is also about getting to know your fellow participants.

Session 2: Introduction to Storytelling Part 2
The second session builds on the basic building blocks of the archetypal story identified in Session 1, examining structural form in more detail. Now you can identify a story’s protagonist, antagonist and desires, we’ll look at the inciting incident, the character’s journey and story endings (crisis, climax and resolution).

Session 3: Essential Storytelling Tools
This third session is about being able to see if a story works – how to ‘break a story’. You’ll start by thinking about the essential elements of a story, and experiment with three-­‐act structure. By the end of this session you should be able to deconstruct a story.

Session 4: Five Act Structure
This session breaks down a story into five acts and looks at why this is such an invaluable tool for storytellers. Practical exercises include identifying turning points and midpoints and rewriting a TV soap episode in five parts.

At the end of this session there is a live Q&A chatroom session with John.

Session 5: Building Stories
Introduces the basic building blocks of stories – scenes – and their properties, and explains why you need to get inside characters’s heads to make them work. Practical exercises include identifying the different parts of a scene and writing a story in five scenes.

Session 6: Top 25 Storytelling Tips
By now, you should know how to create your story, know how to test its elements to ensure it works, and structure your story into beats, scenes and acts. This recapping session takes you through some of John’s simple tips that we hope will inspire you to look at stories and scripts with a fresh eye. These are the 25 most important things to bear in mind when creating drama, and there are mini-­‐exercises and clips throughout so you can check your knowledge and learn from masters of story structure in TV and film. If you have a problem with a story, these 25 tips probably provide the solution.

At the beginning of Session 7 there is a live Q&A chatroom session with John.

Session 7 Developing your own Treatment
Every television show will ask you – before commissioning a story – for a synopsis and a treatment. We start this final session by looking at the difference between a synopsis and a treatment, then learn the rules for writing a successful treatment.

This final session lasts four weeks, with two weeks to write your treatment and another two weeks to give and get feedback from your peers.

Approximately 2–4 weeks after the course finishes you will receive detailed individual feedback on your treatment from David and John. You will also have the option to continue working with your peers in a specially created course alumni area online.

The online classroom closes at the end of this session, but you can join the alumni area for an annual fee of £50. This gives entry to an archive of course materials and allows you to continue posting work for review from your peer group.


The course has been carefully designed by John Yorke with the Professional Writing Academy, which has extensive experience in delivering writing courses online in universities, for CPD training, and for recreational writers. The course is intended to develop the skills we believe are essential for good writing in every medium, from novel to screen, including:

• greater knowledge of story structure
• an understanding of the writing craft and professional conventions • discipline, independent practice and confidence in your work

• the ability to critically evaluate writing (your own and that of others) within a professional context.

The learning model is structured around a combination of peer and tutor feedback and aims to develop and hone your critical faculties through constant practice and revision.

You will not be given detailed tutor feedback on every piece of work you submit (there are mentoring schemes offering this, if that is your preferred route). You will receive individual tutor feedback on each of your final session pieces, and then detailed feedback on your treatment from your tutor and John Yorke at the end of the course, which discusses your strengths and weaknesses, and offers advice on where to take your work next.

Although your tutor monitors your work through the course, perhaps more important in the learning experience are the close working relationships you establish with other participating practitioners, who will include writers, editors, creatives and professionals from the writing and screen industries.

The practice of critiquing each other’s work increases and refines your understanding of what makes a good story – and the working relationships that form very often carry beyond the course to provide you with ongoing discussion and feedback from a close-­‐ knit group of practitioners you trust.

Sometimes, students with little experience of critiquing or working in a group can feel rather intimidated by the process at the outset – often because they think they will feel more comfortable with a one-­‐to-­‐one relationship with a tutor.

This is fine, but it isn’t what we offer here. So please think carefully before accepting a place that will challenge you, develop your work, and require you to work with other writers and to deadlines.

This course is not a passive experience predicated on submitting work for ‘marking’ by a tutor, but a challenging, dynamic process that we know will help you grow into the best creator of stories that you can be.


John Yorke is former Controller of BBC Drama Production, Head of Channel Four Drama and Managing Director of Company Pictures. As a Commissioning Editor and Executive Producer, John has championed many of the defining works of British television, and is responsible for some of the biggest audience for drama in UK TV history. He has overseen some of the UK’s most enduring and popular programmes, from Shameless and Life on Mars to EastEnders and Holby City, alongside award-winners like Bodies and Wolf Hall.
John has worked with a vast array of talent, from Paul Greengrass and Paul Abbott to Debbie Horsfield and Jimmy McGovern. In 2005, John created the BBC Writers Academy, the only writing course in the world guaranteeing broadcast work and which has produced a generation of successful television writers. His first book Into The Woods (Penguin) is the UK’s bestselling book on narrative structure.

June 14, 2015 @ 6:50 am Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Jenn Westlake AP and PC at Creative Week UK


I remember when I first started working in TV, I was told by a producer that I should either have kids now (age 18), or wait until I was 40. I didn’t really take much notice at the time, but I soon began to realise that I very rarely saw women working in TV who had kids and if they did, they were at a very senior level. So I have to admit that when I became pregnant a couple of years ago I did feel like I was committing career suicide.

AP Jenn Westlake meets with Sugar Films' MD Pat Younge, ex BBC Head of Vision.

While my career is very important to me, having a baby wasn’t something I was going to put after it; I wanted to be able to have a baby when I wanted and still return to work when it felt right. I had Alexa (now 15 months) after working in Canada for a year. I then moved to Germany and came back to London when she was 6 months old. I started to look for part time work, but I was at a bit of a loss as to where to start – the company I had worked at for a couple of years before moving to Canada had closed their TV department and my other contacts only had full time work to offer, which I wasn’t comfortable with as Alexa so young. I did eventually manage to get a brilliant AP job at Bare Films, working from home for a few months, but knew that was very rare and lucky!

AP Jenn Westlake (right) with Back to Work Media Parents PD Victor Schonfeld (left) and Shooting AP Luke Jameson at BAFTA.

By chance came across Media Parents, after a friend had ‘liked’ it on Facebook. I’d never actually heard of Media Parents before (wish I had!), but realising that there were people out there trying to help people like me gave me the reassurance that there was flexible work out there to be had.

I immediately signed up to Media Parents and soon after won a place at their Back to Work scheme, where I attended at day at Creative Week UK. Amy Walker was such a great support right from the very beginning and really boosted my confidence when it came to networking with everyone there. Listening to the talks and chatting to others really reignited my passion for the industry and made me realise that not all employers discriminate against women with children!

AP Jenn Westlake with ITV Shiver's Head of Talent Michelle Matherson and the Back to Work Team at BAFTA

It was great to be up to speed with the industry trends again and to hear first-hand from directors about the challenges of taking risks and having a passionate commitment early on, with the reward of a great film afterwards (i.e. Jonathan Sehring on Boyhood).

Boyhood Producer Jonathan Sehring (right) talks to Matt Mueller from Screen International at Broadcast's Creative Summit.

With branded content being a hugely talked about thing within the industry, it was really interesting to listen to Amy Kean’s (of Havas Media Labs) fun presentation on the future of technology and the possibility of ‘dreamvertising’/ advertising to you in your dreams. While the notion seems quite far-fetched, it definitely got me thinking about where the industry will be in a few years’ time.

Amy managed to set up meetings with Talent Execs and MDs for me, which really gave me the push I needed to get my name out there and make new contacts. I’m really excited about what the next few months will bring and hope that I manage to find a job that enables me to balance my family life with work. I work as an AP or Production Coordinator, you can see my CV and contact details here when logged into Media Parents :

June 4, 2015 @ 1:20 pm Posted in News Comments Off

media parents mini back to work scheme delegates at Broadcast Creative Week


Media Parents is delighted to partner with Broadcast Creative Week for our latest Back to Work Scheme. Below are the latest successful Media Parents delegates who will be attending the conference days at BAFTA, learning and networking alongside Media Parents Director Amy Walker. Please contact us through if you would like to meet at the conference or would like to receive anyone’s CV.

alana baily, development producer

An experienced development executive and producer, I enjoy working across a broad range of genres from documentaries and specialist factual to factual entertainment and formats.

I have developed ideas for all UK broadcasters as well as many US and European networks in previous roles at ITN Factual, Princess, BBC, Love, Ricochet, Optomen and numerous others.

My credits include the critically acclaimed presenter-led series ‘Reggie Yates: Extreme South Africa’ for BBC3, documentary single ‘How To Find The Perfect Flatmate’ for C4 and the award-winning BBC2 series ‘Climbing Great Buildings’.

I worked so hard to get into TV in the first place and I really love what I do – I think I appreciate it even more since I’m on a forced break from it – that I really don’t want to become another ‘mum who leaves television’ statistic. Whilst I’m incredibly keen to get back to work, I’m not prepared to sacrifice seeing my son during the week so am determined to persist with trying to find a part time position.

jenn westlake, AP / PC

I am an organised, effective, hard worker with a wide skill set from assistant producing to coordinating to editing. I have experience working in the UK and Canada and am confident in setting shoots up abroad. I can turn my hand anything and enjoy having a varied role. I’m self motivated and equally happy being part of a team.

I have a one year old daughter and am initially looking for part time work until I am ready to go back full time. I have a baby at home who is obviously very important to me, but my career is also very important and after a year of being at home I’m really itching to get my teeth stuck into something. I am really struggling to balance the two at the moment, but am confident that with some coaching I can make it work.

Kirstin Cameron, Producer, Glasgow

Kirstin Cameron, Producer / AP

Timing as they say is everything and after years of trying, the joyful but unexpected arrival of my baby son has put my career progress from AP to Producer on hold. With the Television industry in Scotland being a small network, and therefore opportunities for new Producers limited, working away from home to pursue my goals would be the obvious solution but being away from my son who is still only 9 months old, isn’t feasible at this stage.  Limited opportunities, healthy competition, a lack of credits, poor confidence combined with parental guilt, is a terrible combination!

Growing pains of a new Media Parent aside, there are projects which I’m keen to pitch, Producing skills I would like to hone and after establishing a good reputation and collaborating on (I hope) exciting productions, ultimately I want to take the next step to Series Producing. I feel my adaptability, forward planning, problem solving and creativity have probably improved thanks to my son arrival but its time to put those skills to use outside of the home!

Kyra Beguiristain, Producer

I am an experienced Producer who works across a wide variety of genres, from Current Affairs (the Tonight series) and Consumer (Rogue Traders, Cowboy Builders, Homes From Hell), to Fact Ent (Britain’s Secret Shoppers, A Place in the Sun), and primetime Features docs (The Day The Immigrants Left, The Town That Never Retired, Embarrassing Bodies), bringing a sound journalistic approach to every job I do. I have also worked in Development and I am a confident shooter.

One of my key skills is negotiating difficult access, with Government institutions such as the Ministry of Justice, Scottish Prison Service etc. as well as large multinational companies and NGOS. Very comfortable dealing with difficult contributors, in often extremely sensitive situations.

I enjoy working with complex legals and secret filming; very used to dealing with programme lawyers and compliance issues! I started off my TV career cutting News for BBC World; I am very keen to make use of that experience and would love to do more work in the edit!

NB: the large gap in my CV is due to taking a couple of years’ maternity leave!

Luke Jameson, shooting AP / vision mixer, Manchester

I have lots of experience in different areas of TV, radio and online production, including sport, fact ents, obs docs and Childrens TV.

I’ve recently qualified for and completed a Creative Skillset funded Vision Mixer training course at BBC Wood Norton, after directing (some vision mixed) over 40 hours of multi camera motor sport output for Motors TV in 2013.

I’d like to progress with Vision Mixing but would consider other appropriate opportunities. I could do with a little help to get me started.

Victor Schonfeld, PD

I have developed and researched, as well as written, produced and directed internationally acclaimed, award-winning documentaries with highly sensitive subject-matter and controversial viewpoints. Credits include ITV, Channel 4, BBC, etc.

I took a long break from documentary making for family reasons and to pursue other professional interests. I am now eager to resume documentary production, bringing my zest and proven high standards to big and small projects.

For more information and each freelancers’s CV and profile please see talent section.

Please join for great jobs, networking and events.

June 1, 2015 @ 4:10 pm Posted in News Comments Off